Friday, February 27, 2004

Making comics better, and making getting into comics better as well, now. Larry Young launches Proof of Concept:

"Nobody wants to do something for nothing, and I get that. And it's real hard for an unknown to just flat-out break into comics, cold, with an assignment for a monthly book or a 96 page graphic novel. So every two weeks, you can read a twelve page script here, on Comic World News, by me. You have fourteen days to draw the script. Pencil layouts, inks, paintings, charcoal marks on grocery bags, I don't care. Just twelve finished pages, ready to be published. I'll critique ‘em, give some dos and don'ts, tell you what I like and don't like. I'll pick the best one, and publish it. We'll go until June or July or so, and we'll collect ‘em all in December, so you've got copies for Christmas."

Fuck, yes:

"Comics need more fun, dammit. Sometimes it's easy to forget that comics are fun. There's a seemingly endless amount of white noise dedicated to attempting to suck all the enjoyment out of the comic industry. 'The direct market is dying,' 'The artform is ignored,' 'The speculators are returning,' 'Manga rules the world and no one seems to care,' 'The publishers are flooding the market,' 'Wolverine's back in his yellow spandex suit,' are all great topics of discussion and worth putting thought into. But this industry was built on the backs of enjoyment, entertainment and good old-fashioned fun. In the world of meaningful discussion, analytic analysis and complex discourse, it's easy to forget that the reason that we care so much about the funny books is because reading comic books is fun. Emphasis on that 'fun' word (my other favorite 'f' word)."

Rob Liefeld remembers the good old days of Heroes Reborn:

"People often comment about the poor quality of the back 6 issues of Cap and the Avengers produced by Wildstorm, and frankly, it's a point I can't argue. They represented a serious drop in quality from the Loeb/Churchill, Loeb-Platt-Liefeld issues that were scheduled from my studio. Funny enough, Lee attempted to hire all of them away to continue the vision we had established at Extreme, but they resented the behind the scenes shenanigans and jumped on board to launch Awesome, which even if it only lasted a year was a more profitable venture for each of the aforementioned gents..."

(and in a later post:)

"Heroes Reborn had a year 2 planned, both Extreme and Wildstorm had options on expanding with more titles but hats off to the savvy editorial brass who figured out (brilliantly) that the best way to put the kibosh on the entire "west coast outsourcing" was to try and renegotiate my contract, knowing full well I'd walk away. My people had already signed on for significant page rates and reducing them would be equal to firing them in this instance because all parties would have pursued other gigs for high rates rather than stay on at lower rates. Once I was gone, they gave the books to Wildstorm, informing me all along that Jim would take the reduced deal and fill up the books with lesser talent if I opted not to comply, and the entire line went to hell in a handbasket and editorial argued that the whole thing was shoddy and cited the dramatic sales decrease therefore nixing year 2 and creating a situation that found Jim looking to sell his company in order to subsidize the lost income. Jim and I shared the same agent in Hollywood during this period so I was privvy to all sorts of candid details. Divide and conquer works every time out...

"Bottom line, while I compensated with selling a million dollar screenplay, The Mark, and starting up Awesome, the fans got shafted. Despite anything you ever hear about Heroes Reborn, it was politics from start to finish and Bob Harras played his cards out wonderfully in the end eliminating outsourcing from his tenure."

Millarworld discuss Bryan Singer Presents Ultimate X-Men:

"[T]alk about pandering to Hollywood."

"What's wrong with it? Singer presents it and sales will come in. Do we want sales to rise in the comics industry or not?"

I can see the scene in the bookstore now:

"Ultimate X-Men? Nah, I don't like superheroes... Wait, Bryan Singer Presents Ultimate X-Men? The director of The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil and... well, the X-Men movies? That changes everything! I'll have five!"

More on the big Hollywood names Marvel are hiring:

"Singer, who helmed the two X-Men movies, is teaming up with X2 writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris to write for an existing title, Ultimate X-Men, the trade paper reported. Singer's role will be more as an overseer, though he will write some issues, and the title of the book will include the words 'Bryan Singer Presents.'"

So the book is going to become Bryan Singer Presents Ultimate X-Men? Um. Wow.

The Pulse continues to crunch numbers. This time, DC's and some indies.

Found via The Comics Journal message boards: Cutie: Comics For Girls. Check out the Joan and Jackie strip in the monthly section.

Newsarama's story about Slave Labor's future plans surprisingly got the nostalgia going in me with this line:

"[W]e have a suspicious number of the Bill and Ted comics that Evan wrote and drew for Marvel in the early nineties in the office right now. Dorkin fans can expect an announcement about a Bill and Ted trade paperback in the coming months."

You don't need to read Chuck Austen's Avengers. Nick Locking has done it for you:

"Here's another piece of classic dialogue - remember, this is from an English girl of about six or seven whose mother has just died and whose brother seems a bit more interested in meeting Cap than grieving:

"Girl: I hate you! I hate you, Martin! You think this is all GRINS AND GIGGLES! You don't care! You don't even care that Mum's dead!

"Grins and giggles! Nice! And then they all cry."

John Byrne's "Title Withheld" possibly the Doom Patrol?:

"I was just looking through that new issue of Previews when I noticed the censored covers for JLA 98 and 99. There are these panels covering parts of both covers that say "top secret", but one can still make out the charaters. That's the Doom Patrol! IT HAS TO BE!! It looks like Rita Farr is there to!"

Le sigh.

Comic-related cartoon madness: Krypto the Superdog gets his own (Paul Dini-written) series possibly for Cartoon Network, and Kids WB announce the new Batman series (which has lovely promo artwork, see below) is scheduled for the fall.

The Pulse offers Paul O'Brien's analysis of Marvel sales, which make for interesting (and probably somewhat depressing, for Marvel) reading.

Lion's Gate are making more Marvel movies:

"Lions Gate Entertainment, the premier independent filmed entertainment studio, and Marvel Enterprises, Inc. announced today that Lions Gate has been granted licenses to develop, produce and distribute theatrical film releases based upon two popular Marvel(R) properties -- Iron Fist(R) and Black Widow(R). The announcement was made by Lions Gate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer and Avi Arad, Chairman and CEO, Marvel Studios. The new agreements expand the pre-existing relationship between Marvel and Artisan Entertainment, acquired by Lions Gate in December 2003, which allowed Artisan to produce and distribute feature films based upon The Punisher(R) character."

What's that, you say? Iron Fist and Black Widow are fairly minor characters? Not at all! As the press release continues, "Iron Fist has been a major force in the Marvel Universe for 30 years, combining the action and adventure of a Marvel Super Hero(R) with the skill and grace of a martial artist" while Black Widow is described as "[o]ne of Marvel's most prominent female characters". Who knew?

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Marvel has stopped doing proper press. Ellis on Ultimate Fantastic Four? The only official word from Marvel came on their website. And now, the same has happened for Bryan Singer on Ultimate X-Men:

"Singer - one of Hollywood’s hottest talents - first became involved with the world’s best-known super team as director of the X-Men movie franchise, thrilling everyone from hardcore comic fans to general moviegoers. He and his team are now bringing their cinematic sense of action and drama to Marvel’s top-selling ULTIMATE X-MEN comic book for a 12-issue run. Details for this story arc will be announced over the coming months but all parties are genuinely X-cited by the possibilities springing from telling a tale unfettered by the restrictions of a real-world special effects budget.

"Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad added, 'Bryan’s vision for the X-Men franchise has already changed the way the world looks at these amazing characters. It’s an absolute joy to have him now take his vision from the big screen and adapt it to the comic book format. It will be interesting to see how Bryan approaches the X-Men within this no-holds-barred medium. No matter what, he’s sure to entertain.'"

I love the mention of Bryan's vision having "changed the way the world looks at these amazing characters" quote. Sadly, there's no mention of the Reload relaunch doing its best to try and change that back to the way the world looked at them in 1994.

"More Mickey Eye right after this shocking interlude from News Of The Sea!"

Millarworld's Mostly Wanted webzine increases its comics coverage (which may give a needed focus to the zine), but needs someone to fact-check:

"To be caught reading a comic is going to be the next big fashion statement. Since fanboys, such as Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino, made it big and Hollywood discovered in comic books a goldmine of original storylines and characters they had not yet plundered, comics are becoming more and more mainstream. Hulk may want Freddy Prinze Jr., but Freddy Prinze Jr. and other, much better known, actors want Hulk and any other comic based film they can get their thespian hands on. It started simply enough with the Superman films -- nice films, entertaining, a box office success, etc. Then nothing really happened for a few years until somebody decided to make a few movies about Batman, which we won't talk about. And then the floodgates opened: X-men, Hulk, Daredevil, Spiderman, Hellboy, Superman again (some day), Wonder Woman; comic writers writing scripts, scriptwriters writing comics... It's reached a point where even films not based on comics, such as Underworld, will print one along with the film (Just in case?)."

Because comic book adaptations of movies (and radio shows, TV shows, toy lines, etc.) definitely haven't been happening for years, obviously (Those links courtesy of my nostalgia). And it started with the Superman movies? I could've sworn there was a weird-ass pop phenomenon in the 60s based around a TV series and movie that were adapted from a comic starring a crime-fighting millionaire and his young ward that made said characters into some of the most recognised fictional characters of the 20th Century. Maybe I dreamt that.

Heidi McDonald is still talking with Paul Levitz:

"THE PULSE: Marvel, on a corporate level, makes is very clear that they're a licensing company. Publishing is one of the things they do, but that’s really what they're in the business of now. Do you think DC will ever go in that direction?

LEVITZ: I hope not. I think we believe, and I don't know if it's right for anyone else in the world, but we believe that the creative skills that exist and the talent pool in the comic book business are tremendous. They're in tune with the times. They've often been prescient of the times, and to sit there and say all we will ever have to sell is what existed in the past would be a very limiting way to think of ourselves."

The perils of trying to interview Dave Sim:

"Got a faxed response today, mocking my questions and answering some of them. In a couple of cases, he said 'Is this really the question you want to ask?' implying that I was wasting his time and our space with trivialities, and in a couple more cases, he said I was a typical leftist/feminist, circling around the real issues instead of coming to grips with them, and that the question I clearly wanted to ask was this specific other thing, which he answered instead. The last two pages of the fax are a fictional transcript of a Jeopardy! game, with Dave Sim hosting and The Onion playing. I think he's making a point about the shallowness of the questions and possibly the predictability of the format. Next step: Transcribe what we have and see how much space is left for follow-ups such as 'Yes, that is the question I wanted to ask, that's why I asked it' and 'No, that's not the question I really wanted to ask, or I would have asked it.'"

Well, this is interesting:

"I used to think that McFarlane actually had some rights in Miracleman. He told me he had, after all -- he'd bought what was left of Eclipse from a bankruptcy court -- and that he very much wanted to swap those rights for my rights in Cogliostro and Medieval Spawn. He never sent me any of the papers, though, after I agreed to the 97 character swap, although he sent me the film for several issues of Miracleman. Then, a month after sending me the film, and having told me that he had transferred his rights in Miracleman to me, he sneakily filed an application for the trademark on Miracleman. Then a year or so later, he abandoned that trademark application. (This was something I didn't know, but that came out in the run-up to the court case.) ...As part of the court case, we finally got to see the Miracleman paperwork. It turned out the entire paperwork that Todd hadn't sent me consisted of an expired Eclipse Trademark registration for the MM logo. From another source I also got to see the original contract, under which Eclipse had obtained their license to a part share in the Miracleman character, and it was explicit in saying that in case of Eclipse folding, or even substantially changing directors, that Eclipse's share in the rights to Miracleman would revert.

"So one thing that the court case did establish was that Todd obviously didn't, as he had been claiming, own all of Miracleman. As far as I can tell, or any of the lawyers working with us on the case could tell, Todd probably doesn't actually own any share of Miracleman. He certainly has no copyright in any of the existing work."

"Animenation reported today on its news site that author Ken Akamatsu was shocked by changes made to the English edition of his Negima manga, the first manga title announced by the Del Rey imprint of Random House, the first major U.S. book house to enter the manga market. According to Animenation, underwear was drawn in to cover some exposed posteriors and strategically placed towels obscure breasts bared in the Japanese version."

An interesting (somewhat car-crash of a) thread over at Millarworld, about Igor Kordey. From the Marvel defenders - "All through the interview a 3-word-thought kept running in my head 'Come-fucking-on!' I mean, yeah, they fired him in a bad, bad way. Not cool. But they're paying him for the work he did, so it's not like they stole from him. The main beef I have with what he says is about how they abandoned him and how he has kids and how he fought the popy spandax and tried to make a diffrence and all that. Well, let's get real for a moment. Mavel is a company. It publishs books. Kordey has a certine style. If it fits and Marvel wants him, good. If not, it's their choice. No need to go ballistic and attack Marvel, comics readers, and the entire United States." - to Ethan Van Sciver's insight as another NewXMen artist Marvel fucked around with - "At the end of the day, Marvel is about exploitation, no matter what they tell the audience. Igor was exploited while his employers worked out a way to get rid of him legally and with as little mess as possible. I understand his rage at this, and can relate somewhat." - to Kordey's own postings (including attacking Van Sciver, despite Van Sciver defending him: "I'd yust like to remind you that it was me, saving your ass (not once) three years ago, 'cause you'd be always so damn late, spending too much time in front of the mirror,worshiping yourself, instead of working on your storytelling"), the whole thing is fascinating.

Greg Rucka talks about his upcoming collaboration with Scott Morse:

"It was a no brainer. Scott is just so staggeringly talented. Normally for projects like this, the hunt for an artist is really, really arduous, but in this case it was really, really easy. Scott isn't just the artist on this, he's the other 50%. We're absolutely co-collaborating. I figure, in large part, my job is to get out of Scott Morse's way, which is not a bad place to be."

As Top Shelf celebrates their 100th publication (Be A Man by Jeffrey Brown), they provide a potted history of the publisher.

More Igor Kordey, at Newsarama:

"Newsarama: Speaking of the corporate, you’ve mentioned that you were asked to take a lower page rate than what you originally agreed upon in your exclusive contract. Was any reason given? Was the offer made as a 'take it or leave it,' that is, if you turned it down, you would be leaving Marvel?

"IK: It was clearly 'take it or leave it'. There were no other options. My demand to respect the contract was followed by comment "that contract is a piece of toilet paper anyway". I accepted this "offer" which I call blackmail, 'cause they knew that I didn’t have any other choice. From that moment my loyalty stopped to make sense. I did my job professionally, but gave myself right to be loud on public sites and express myself, feeling betrayed and backstabbed."

Robert Rodriguez to adapt Frank Miller's Sin City for the big screen. Film and comic geeks rejoice:

"This is the first time a graphic novel will be treated with absolute respect in how it is brought to the life. My pitch to Frank was that I didn’t want to adapt Sin City, but rather translate it to the screen."

Wasn't that the kind of thing the Hellboy director said about his movie, as well? Maybe it's just Dark Horse movies.

Aquaman #15 sells out. Pulse readers aren't convinced:

"how about a number for this sold-out issue? is announcing a sell-out, DC's new thing?"

"Holy $#!t More than ten people besides me read this!!!!"

"According to Diamond's number, the previous issue (14) sold a bit more than 24000 copies... If they kept the same numbers for issue 15, no wornder they sold out. It doesn't mean of course, that this is a success, just that people were curious enough about the book to buy it..."

Rafer Roberts writes about APE for The Pulse:

"The no belt thing. So, I had the idea to dress up nice for the show. Khaki pants, button down shirt, the whole thing. However, since I had neglected to pack a belt, and my khakis were a waist size too big (I've been working out. Oh, you could tell? Thanks!) I had to resort to twine. That's right, I wore a belt made from twine. I would have worn cardboard if I had any, but I didn't, so I used twine. It made peeing interesting as I refused to untie the twine, so I guess I'm lucky that I didn't have to poop. So... Yeah, let's talk about the show and drop some names. Just pretend like you missed that part about the pooping."

Chris Claremont in political allegory shocker:

"To me, a critical function of an escapist medium is not to mirror the life in which we live but present a brighter, more hopeful, dare I say more ultimately enjoyable alternative that possibly enables us to cope just a little bit better with all the crap. Here, in Excalibur, we start on the day after Armageddon — and the struggle here will be between those whose response is that of anger and retribution (yes, my friends, 16 Million has a critical place in the first year arc — the blonde from X-Treme #30 has a name and a purpose and pals) and those who want to try and build something better from the ruins. Not that much different from the struggle we see being played out in the Middle East."

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Frank Hampson's Dan Dare: Pilot Of The Future to be collected in hardcover by Titan. Somewhere, my dad (who grew up with this strip) is very happy.

San Francisco's SF Weekly wasn't that impressed with APE:

"...I went to the show with cash to burn, thinking I'd find all kinds of clever, gorgeous titles, and ended up bringing home very little. Sure, I could have bought a cool hat or covered my tote bag with humorous buttons, but that's not why I was there. I admit I was hoping to discover a new Maus, Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel from 1986, something that I'd feel compelled to pass around. Maybe that was asking too much."

Igor Kordey unbound, over at Waiting for Tommy:

"Ex-president of Marvel, a man with two children, was so eager to fire me a year ago if I didn't accept having an inker, knowing full well that I have three children. But I was an obstacle in HIS way to profit and prosperity... and so on and so forth... The [Excalibur] cover assignment was taken from me last Monday, that's how it all started. And they won't get rid of me totally - they still owe me royalties for upcoming X-Treme books and trade collections. Unless they decide not to publish them, but then that's not a profitable decision... It was goin' on for some time - this cover is good example: I got a notice about their 'sudden' decision on Monday, and saw the new, painted cover on Wednesday on Newsarama - got the point? They like to keep people in the dark..."

Dirk Deppey updates the status of Journalista:

"Some permutation of Journalista will likely return to the site within the next 2-3 months, and I'll probably bite the bullet and install some form of software to do the job -- if for no other reason than that it'd be impossible for me to do the same amount of work on it as I did before becoming managing editor of the Journal, which means recruiting co-bloggers to help pick up the slack. (No, I'm not taking applications right now, so don't ask.) That said, there's no way I ccould afford to spare the time for the legwork necessary to do any of this right now, thus the current hiatus."

Brian Michael Bendis writes:

"i totally intended to stay on UFF for the duration and we gave a lot of work and thought to the future of the book, but what we have planned on the new books is so shit crazy exciting that it was worth bailing on the number one book in the country. and for the record, we bailed on the number one book in the country to do this. so next time you think i am hyping, i did put my money where my mouth is. you will hear my announcements first, the big story is in issue 151 of wizard but parts of it may break earlier or at wiz la. i would come by my panel on saturday if you are there. and i never leave books so you know this is big."

As big as whatever you left Elektra for (What was that, anyway? Alias?)?

(And is it just me, or does anyone saying that they "bailed on the number one book in the country to do this", especially when they follow up with "so next time you think i am hyping, i did put my money where my mouth is" just bring to mind Todd McFarlane talking about leaving Marvel? He'll be suing Neil Gaiman next, take my word for it...)

The greatest message on Chris Claremont's message board on Comix-Fan:

"Seasons come seasons change, and so do creative teams on the X-books. X-treme X-men, a title shunned by some, loved by others, but always at the centre of some sort of heated debate or discussion when it came to the three core titles.

"Casey fell away and was replaced by Austen, Morrison stayed and was as controversial as Claremont, when it came to the fans. Some loved him, regardless of what he wrote or how he wrote it, others would be more harsh in their approach to his work and his person. But through it all, through some turbulent years, the title, and the writer, who had to struggle most for recognition, now has the last laugh.

"So how does it feel, to know that you've survived the writers, Casey and Morrison, who were presented with much hype, hot air, and tons of promotion and coverage in different media?
How does it feel to have the last laugh?"

Sadly, Claremont does not reply.

Newsarama poster Youdon'tlikeme (No, really, that's his name) puts forward his message for creators:

"If you are being paid to do something than you should have the maturity to do it on time and to the best of your ability. A comicbook artist has the responsibility to tell a story, usually someone elses.I dont care what your particular art style is, that must be sacrificed for the sake of the story.Pin ups and abstract expressionism is find for a portfolio, but horrible for a comicbook.If you decide to take on a monthly book that many people's livelihood depend on, not just yours. Then have the decency to put it out on time. You are not more important then the countless people who depend on you.

"Why do I constantly hear writers bitch about continuity. You are writing about a character that existed before you got the job.Why in the blue hell would you decide not to read the source material for said character.Would you start a business without knowing how it operates. The best way to start a new business is by studying the business practice of others especially those who are in the same business yoy are going into, it keeps you from repeating their mistakes and build upon their successes. The same is true for a new writer. You must study the source material,if you plan on writing a book.If you dont want to put in the work of a professional, maybe you shouldnt be a professional."

Holy Deja Vu: The Marvel Solicits are finally officially released. And look! Joss Whedon is doing a brand new X-Men book! How did Marvel keep THAT one to themselves?

(That said, I didn't notice when they were leaked that Iron Man has three issues shipping in May. What's going on there? And Igor Kordey is still listed as Excalibur artist, meaning that the books are returnable if they ship without his work...)

Millarworld has a preview of Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men script. The reaction is mixed:

"Wow I really enjoyed that, good to see the costumes not mysteriously appearing! I can't wait to read more Whedon Emma"

"Fuck what I said before. I'm picking this up. Wolverine and Emma are spot on."

"I appreciate that now that Scott is in charge, we're seeing his ideals, his thinking, his take. We're see that there is a reason for things. A natural evolution, if you will. Scott was always supposed to be the superhero. Jean said she was his favorite superhero, and now with him completely in charge, that is the direction they're going to go in."

"The dialogue does come off as very contrived and I agree with J Brian that the justification for the reintroduction of the clown costumes sounds rather retarded. 'Superheroes wear costumes, and we're superheroes so we're gonna wear costumes. Durr!!!' Fuck the X-Men."

I'm mentioned twice in the new edition of The Beat, which is nice, but not enough reason to read it. That said, Heidi McDonald's writing about releasing comics news via Wizard, is:

"Print has all the advantages of beautiful layouts, time to think about what you are writing, input from a staff, and so on. All of this makes Wizard a lively, thick magazine that is very much in touch with its audience, and takes a whole month to put together. But that doesn't mean it's timely. Throw in the little fact that Wizard subscribers get their copies before newsstands – the newsstand release date is the theoretical embargo date. Come on! You would have to be played by Tom Hanks in the movie version to ignore something you got in the mail.

"But Wizard itself seems to be aware that this gentleman's agreement is held together by a lick and a promise. It was their own website which actually, officially broke the news about Whedon and Cassaday we'd known all along."

Neil Gaiman beats Todd McFarlane for the copyright of his Spawn creations. Or, as he puts it:

"You know, if I were Todd McFarlane, I would simply have apologised a long time ago. Instead, Todd threw a lot of money at lawyers, and lost the legal case in every way he could lose it, and then threw a lot more money at lawyers to appeal and just lost it again, for good."

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Wildstorm? Feh. Old news. Someone else is making a(nother) claim to the title of HBO of comics:

"At San Diego this year, I kept hearing from agents and producers that AiT is 'the HBO of comics,' and I have to say I kick myself for not having come up with that one myself because it's so nail-meet-head. So while we have all ages appropriate stuff like Electric Girl and Colonia like HBO's morning programming, and comedy stuff like Sky Ape and Mantooth! and drama and action like Last Of The Independents and The Couriers that echoes HBO's prime-time offerings, Codeflesh fits right in to what we're doing like that after 11 pm slot where you can get your thrillers and slam-bang with your mature audience advisory. A little something for everyone."

Igor Kordey, fired from Excalibur?

"In a startling announcement following the details surrounding May's 'Reload' events at Marvel's x-office, ComiX-Fan has been told that artist Igor Kordey has been let go from the Chris Claremont-penned series Excalibur and from Marvel in general. 'Here's the news,' Kordey said. 'I'm fired.' For fans wondering, Marvel has not reassign Kordey to any other projects and has been asked to cease all current work on Excalibur. 'I'm fired completely- no replacement books for me,' Kordey said."

Newsarama also reports that his previously-drawn cover for the first issue has been replaced.

Christopher Butcher, I love you:

"Wildstorm does not have the potential to be the HBO of comics. I mean, I’m trying not to make the definitive statements or whatever, but Wildstorm is superhero trademark characters who say fuck. It isn’t Sex and the City, it isn’t The Sopranos. There are no tits, no dicks, no diversity of genre, no creator ownership, very limited creator participation, no ‘free reign’, none of the prestige that accompanies an HBO series, and %90 of what they publish are owned wholesale by Time/Warner or are licensed from Cartoons. It'd be like 'What if HBO only did gangster series, but took out the violence and sex?' They do Sopranos, yeah, and do it well. It's a mature take on gangsters (although we gotta cut-away on all that violence and fucking-the-therapist on the desk!). But then they do Sex and the City, but Mr. Big is a gang boss, Carrie's constantly in danger, and it's just called ...and the City. And Six Feet Under, but the family is in debt to the mob so they're always having to do funerals for goodfellas for free, and all of the drama is gangster-related (David is still Gay, but really camp and stupid)."

The San Francisco Chronicle profiles Adrian Tomine:

"The recent success of the movie versions of American Splendor and Clowes' Ghost World have brought the inevitable prospectors to Tomine's door. 'I don't get too heavily involved,' he says with a sigh. 'There's always some offer, and it usually fizzles. I'm not financially obligated to make that leap yet. Hopefully, I can hold out long enough until the thing seems right.' With sales of 'best-selling' alternative titles in the decidedly modest 10,000-20,000 range, Tomine is both mystified and amused by the Hollywood interest. 'Clearly, they have a skewed perspective about how lucrative an Optic Nerve movie would be. For all I know, some of them could think Optic Nerve is the name of a character with super vision.'"

Peter Tomasi talks up his seemingly-under-advertised new series, Light Brigade:

"I made sure the objectives of the series were clearly laid out in the proposal so Paul Levitz wouldn't be surprised at the twelfth hour. And I don't think DC has trouble tackling religious issues, just look at the output over the years be it DC or Vertigo, regarding religious themes. Sure, there's been a hiccup or two, but in the scheme of things, there's no other mainstream comic book publisher that has taken the risks that DC has with subject matter... At first I had thought about exploring other religions through different soldier's belief systems, but it became unwieldy and felt forced, It started to come across like a thesis paper instead of a story, so I jettisoned it all and narrowed my focus to one soldier who had a crisis of faith."

Heidi McDonald interviews Paul Levitz:

"As long as we have a significant portion of our readership going in weekly wanting fresh entertainment, I'd be shocked if we didn't have a periodical form where we were able to deliver them fresh hits every week. I think you will see more difference over time in the kinds of stories that are told in different formats. There are things that have been published in periodical format only because you couldn't put them out in book format. Ten years from now when we're sitting here looking at this, I think you'll be able to do those in book format so you won't have a first serial run of it, but you'll have it come out first in the book format."

The Joe Quesada board wonders how to improve itself:

"how about this...a little respect for fellow posters? i dont mean you cant argue with them but just think before you post. i have posted things and started threads on here about my love for the comics marvel produced in the 70s and 80s and people will inevitably post things which demean my love for these things or even worse...statements which have absolutely NO bearing on my thread to start with. the one that peeved me the most was from groble. i started a thread after valentines day telling everyone that my wife was cool, kind and wonderful enough to track down and spend $100 on a hardcover limited edition copy of neal adams green lantern/green arrow run. grobles response...'err, to each their own.' now usually, things like that dont peeve me off and i just let them slide off my back, but that kinda irked me. i was sharing how wonderful my wife is and that's all he has to say? just dont say anything!"

"The thing about moderators is that it always starts out as a well meaning thing but it never stays that way. Mod's get power hungry, and if they post regularly they hold grudges and abuse power. It's inevitable. Ask Warren Ellis, he was well meaning with his moderation."

"Heres a great Idea. Why dont all of Us take responsibility for our own words and actions.. If you make a mistake, fess up, and try to never let it happen again..Pointing fingers, Banning people or I.p's isnt going to solve anything. Also The old outage of 'This is Just a Message Board' wont help either, because if that was the case we wouldnt be trying to fix the problems with it.."

Monday, February 23, 2004

Peter David mentions, in passing, a recent meeting of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:

"With various states stepping up various laws ostensibly designed to 'protect the children,' but which can be used to cripple comic book stores (not just comic book stores, but book stores, magazines, even 7-11s), we're thinking that the next year (or four, if Ashcroft remains around) could potentially be a horror show of litigation. Check in with the CBLDF site for details, and watch for announcements as to future activities."

Mike Netzer has an... interesting take on Marvel's relationship with Dave Cockrum:

"Last week, Clifford Meth said he'll wait to see if Neal's diplomatic efforts would show a sign that Marvel's becoming inclined to do the right thing with Dave Cockrum. This week Neal told us that no such signs are coming from the corporate comic book giant: 'I have extended my hand in friendship RE Dave to Marvel and I have been ignored.' ...The Marvel echelon has learnt an important lesson from the DC/Warners affair of a quarter of a century ago [about Siegel and Shuster recieving credit and compensation for the creation of Superman]. Marvel will give Dave Cockrum part of what he has rightfully coming to him - but they're about to make our team work very hard for every penny they give.
Marvel wants the publicity from this story. They're hoping we'll put up a good and loud fight for Dave Cockrum. The publicity Marvel will get out of this - especially when they finally settle with Dave - will be worth exponentially more than what they'll pay out in any settlement. Marvel Comics has taken the lead in this campaign. That's fine. We're also just getting started."

One of the most low-key Marvel announcements ever:

"Last evening on Fanboy Radio, Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada confirmed that Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen will be the new team on Ulimtate Fantastic Four, replacing Mark Millar, Brian Bendis, and Adam Kubert. According to Quesada, Ellis will remain on the title for at least two arcs."

On Marvel's website, Ellis makes it look like an act of charity:

"Mark and Brian were in a hole. I've known them both for years. You don't leave your mates in the lurch. Simple as that."

Mark Millar explains:

"I'm way ahead on Spidey and Ultimates and so I pitched Marvel another series. This was accepted in early December and everything was ticking along nicely. Ultimate FF was just a plotting gig and not a huge amount of time, the Millarworld books were all done and, like I said, Spidey and Ultimates were doing great.

"My huge mistake, of course, was heading to the Marvel editorial summit with Bendis and we both got talked into taking over two new books which were just too bloody interesting to pass up. We were also both handed two of our favourite artists and the decision was really horrible. A new book each meant we had to drop something, but UFF had launched as Marvel's #1 title and the second issue was still sitting at the number one spot in January's sales charts. If we left after our first arc, we'd be seriously fucking letting everyone down and so we vowed that we would only go if we found a replacement who was actually better at this stuff than we were. Cue Ellis.

"I called him up, explained the situation, told him we were in a wonderful, but nightmarish position and asked if he'd help. He thought about it, asked a lot of questions and then agreed to save our arses and our reps. He's a lovely man and my favourite writer and I obviously don't need to tell anyone to pick this up. This book is about to go through the fucking roof."

Mark Millar is feeling optimistic:

"The Ultimate Vol 2 is going to stock-pile loads of issues from Bryan so we don't get any more daft delays and this is set after EVERYTHING with completely new looks and situations for many of the characters."

Stockpiling issues? As in holding them back until you have enough to publish at a regular rate? Does that mean Ultimates Volume 2 won't appear until 2006 or something (How late is Ultimates #13 now? Four months?)?

Michael Deeley, whose 52 Wednesdays column at Silver Bullet Comic Books was a favourite of this parish, resurfaces to protest the cancellation of the Epic Anthology:

"Marvel Comics’ 'Epic Anthology' has been cancelled after one issue. THIS IS CRAP!!! From the start, the Epic project has been sabotaged by internal politics at Marvel. What started as a new comics imprint was whittled down to a few mini-series, then an anthology series. When the book was solicited with an incorrect, higher price, Marvel did not make strong moves to tell retailers about the mistake. As a result, shops ordered few or no copies of the book. These actions by Marvel are nothing less than a crime. A crime against the creators, a crime against us readers, and a crime against the medium. When a publisher releases the first issue in a series, it is committed to completing that series. A story begun must be finished. I appeal to anyone at Marvel Comics who maybe reading this to please publish the complete stories begun in 'Epic Anthology' #1. I liked the comic. I liked the stories and artwork. I want to see the stories told, eitheras a continuation of the “Epic Anthology”, or as individual mini-series.

"I, Michael Deeley, would buy more issues of the 'Epic Anthology', or mini-series based on the stories it featured."

He's wants other people to email Marvel alongside him to continue the protest: "If we all work together, if we repeat our message often enough and loud enough, we will get their attention. We will make a difference."

Rich Johnston reports:

"Expect some major changes for Marvel in the months to come. Cancellations of books you wouldn't expect. The word I hear is that if there isn't a film deal in the offing for a title, then it had better have something bloody good going for it (basically high sales or an outreach publishing plan) to survive. If you're in the Top Twenty, fine. If you're not, and you're not a Spidey, X title of something being pitched to Hollywood… well then… What future has 'Avengers?' 'Iron Man?' 'Thor?' 'Captain Marvel?' And I hear a Spidey book might be for the chop, too."

That will be Spectacular Spider-Man, then...

Friday, February 20, 2004

Mike "S" Miller has shown up in the Newsarama thread about the changes at Image. As usual, he's not letting his previous dealings with the company colour his opinions of what Valentino may have done wrong (Scroll down):

"Not accepting the adaptation of the NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING DRAGONLANCE: THE LEGEND OF HUMA was just stupid. As was not accepting THE HEDGE KNIGHT. Both these books will, in the words of DIAMOND BOOK DISTRIBUTING 'Break sales records' in trade. (Image takes 25% of trade revenue, so that would be a good chunk of change for the company to work with) Bookstores are already chomping at the bit for both trade paperbacks.

"I'm sure someone wised Jim up about THK in time to publish it, but accepting LEGACY, a no-name writer, no-name artist, no-name studio book OVER an adaptation of a NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR, by a known and capable artist... Well, it wasn't genius.

"And if he had the forsight or common sense to accept Dragonlance, we would be publishing it through Image right now."

(Elsewhere on the same story, Top Cow's Matt Hawkins sets the record straight regarding Top Cow's role in the changes: "Just an FYI but Top Cow is 'not waiting in the wings' to take over Image Central. We will be working very hard with Erik Larsen to build a bigger and better Image.")

A return to variant covers at Marvel? Newsarama shows some more X-Men Reload covers, including this one for Astonishing X-Men #1:

But, if that's the cover for Astonishing X-Men #1, then why was this originally released as the cover image?:

Wasn't Joe Quesada complaining about DC using variant covers recently?

Have you heard about The Great Marvel Comics Cover-Up?:

"So why are generic 'iconic' covers bad? Let's consider a shelf full of comics, somewhere on the order of fifty to a hundred and fifty depending on the degree to which small press books are represented at your local comic shop (at bookstores there are usually none). Now imagine that every single book on that shelf has a cover image of some character or characters who may or may not actually play a role in the issue in question, just standing around posing, as if on the cover of the latest issue of Maxim. Well at this point there's pretty much no way to distinguish one title from another. If one is to take the covers at face value, apparently every book on the market would be about someone posing. Obviously this is not the case, yet one can see how these kinds of covers can have a negative effect on sales. The cover of a comic tells you what to expect inside; good covers tease you with info and make you curious to experience the tales within. This sells comics, pure and simple. If you're not interesting people in what your book has to offer you're not selling comics, and are contributing to the future collapse of the industry, especially if you're the #1 publisher in the biz... Now I could be blowing things all out of proportion, but I sincerely believe that in a time where more than ever we need to attract new readers or wither and die, the industry leader needs to be taking every opportunity to attract new readers. This is far from what Marvel is doing in this instance. Joe Quesada has done a lot of great things and I love the guy for it, but we need to make it clear in no uncertain terms that this policy needs to die!"

John Byrne tells his fans the good news:

"Mike Carlin informs me initial orders on JLA 94 are nearly 50% higher than previous issues and will very likely get into the Jim Lee BATMAN zone by the time all the counting is done."

Not that this stops the traditional complaining ("Of course the nay-sayers will be pouring over the figures like flies over shit." "What happened to all those Doom Merchants on DC's JLA board who were going to skip the run then?") or delusion ("Here's the intersting question .... will there be a drop-off between 94 and 95. I don't think so. This isn't a new series launch where everyone grabs the first issue." "I don't anticipate any considerable drop-off by most retailers."), mind you.

The Pulse talks to creators about Jack Kirby, a decade after his death. Gail Simone:

"Jack invented Capepunk. He was perfectly happy doing comics that poked you directly in the eye, brain and heart. It takes courage to write and draw like that, which is why his best stuff cuts so deeply while so many stories of his time barely register at all. I like working in his industry."

Jimmy Palmiotti (and co-writer Justin Gray) on taking over Hawkman and working with Ryan Sook:

"Being a fan of Ryan's work, the first time we actually spoke was on speaker phone and it reminded me of the scenes in Charlie's angels where Charlie talks to the girls."

A day in the life of James Sime:

"Next up on my day's agenda was a trip to the dry cleaners to pick up a huge stack of my suits. When you wear a suit every day of your life, even to dive bars and filthy rock and roll concerts, you get to be fast friends with your dry cleaner. My guy's name is Thomas, pronounced 'toe-mas.' He's a fun guy who loves his work, and as much as I l appreciate this fine gentleman who keeps my suits fully pressed and lightly starched, every day I leave that place I thank the gods above that I get to pimp comics for a living. Sure, Thomas gets to watch E! True Hollywood Story all day long, but I'm happy to give up a little bit of knowledge about Carmen Electra's marriage with Dennis Rodman if it means I get to hang out at a cool comic shop and talk about the fine ladies that Wally Wood drew and the cool comics Greg Rucka writes all day long."

Good Lord, but Kevin's on fire today with the linkage.

Mark Millar explains why he hyped up a Marvel Press Conference on Wednesday that turned out not to exist:

"Yeah, I read it here [on Millarworld] too and assumed someone else know what was going on. Apologies for any confusion.

"(actually, I quite like causing confusion so I retract that apology)."

So he didn't know anything about it, and yet still felt the need to comment that it was going to reveal " a few interesting tidbits"? Interesting. Maybe the hype thing is involuntary?

DC's war heroes, recently revisited in projects like DC: The New Frontier and the Sgt. Rock hardcover, now find themselves in the middle of another terrible situation... being made into action figures.

Jim Valentino replaced as Image Publisher by Erik Larsen, who promises a return to mainstream "good" books:

"Jim came from very much the alternative camp of the world of comics and I'm much more from the mainstream, funny book, end of things. The thought was that if I was in charge and running the ship that perhaps some of those avenues can be opened up a bit more. That's kind of what I'm looking at, to be able to say that we've got different types of creators coming in and kind of rebuild some of the luster that Image has had in the past and more of the kind of books that excite me as a reader. In the meantime, we're still going to be publishing a number of books that would have been considered alternative comics back in the day. That's not going to change. The idea here is that we'll do more of the good books, less of the bad books and trim the fat where it needs to be trimmed."

Thursday, February 19, 2004

JP Dorigo talks to Craig Thompson, despite phone difficulties:

"[JP]: It seems like everyday I’m reading that Blankets won another award, and folks are already talking Eisner, so did you ever think Blankets was going to be as huge as it is?
CT: Oh I’m definitely surprised. You know I was hoping, well, I was hoping it would offend any of my existing fans. I was hoping it would be as good as Chunky Rice or at bet as popular as Chunky Rice. And it was far better. Do you hear that beeping?"

Larry Young talks to Rich Johnston:

"We have to turn down DEMO because it's not an OGN? I mean, it's a comic book; it's not like I'm asking people to buy cuts of meat or something from us all of a sudden. I have to say that if I have some sort of Jedi marketing powers and have mass-hypnotized our audience into buying our books, well, then, sure, I can see where someone might feel badly upon awakening to see that all of a sudden they've purchased a bunch of comics they didn't want. But of course that's not the case at all. So, someone thinks I'm the champion of the book format? Leaving alone whether or not I agree with that characterization, does that mean we can't do a project or two in a format we're not known for? How does a company grow, if not by challenging their own status quo?"

Whatever happened to yesterday's Marvel press conference, which (according to Mark Millar) promised "a few interesting tidbits"? The one that Marvel didn't seem to have told any journalists about? That's what Millarworld is asking itself:

"Maybe Quesada is too busy scrubbing egg off his face right now."

"Was there even a press conference? Marvel didn't say anything about it all month, let alone this week."

"You would think Marvel would like to make the big announcements instead of having them leaked out by the Diamond info. They definitly need a PR guy to handle press releases. This is ridiculous."

Aside to Mark Peyton:

"Please tell me where I said these were facts and not my opinions?"

That would be when you said "It's a sad fact that for someone who rails against the genre so much, does his best work in it."

And it's a blog, not a column... *sigh*

To everyone else: Good morning. It's a bit dull today after all the Marvel leaks recently, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Fun with expectations. A few days ago, Kirk Boxleitner wrote the following post on Micah Wright's forum:

"I can't help but believe that, if all the newcomers who jumped onboard the X-Men when Morrison took over really did care about the stories and the writers as much as they say they did, then The Filth would have done a lot better business on the market than it did, or at the very least, Morrison's JLA run would have sold much closer to what the X-Men's numbers were at that exact same time, when he was competing against writers on the X-Men who were not only NOT Morrison, but not even HALF as popular as Morrison was, among either the auteurs, as you call them, OR the superhero fanboys...
[W]hat's going to be interesting about this will be when we see just how many of the aspiring auteurs aren't just a more snobbish breed of superhero fanboys, deep down inside.

"As for the following quote... 'Anyone reading the title for Morrison really wouldn't care that Joss Whedon is going back to Jean-Scott (if in fact that's the case) or what ever else they're undoing.' ...I'd be VERY interested to see what the reaction would be, if someone were to post this assertion on, say, MillarWorld."

With the release of the preview images for Astonishing X-Men, we can see that very theory being tested. On Millarworld, as requested:

"FUCKIN' YELLOW SPANDEX. FUCK. <_< There is no need for Wolverine to be in a yellow body-suit and mask. And Cyclops got that old do-rag on again. It's nice art. But a leap backwards, IMO."

"i guess my brief return to x-books is over. i love whedon. i love cassaday. and it seems a crappy reason to drop a book, but its just my cup of tea. later guys."

"what the ? No , no spandex is a thing from the past when it comes to the X-men , please don't make it so . I sincerely hope this is some sort of "flashback" issue , because Wolverine in bright colored tights , it does not fit his character any more !"

"I was planning to add the book to my pull list but after seeing the cover, am having doubts....i guess i'll have to wait and see..."

"Morrison wrote the costumes out in his first issue. I can understand Shadowcat wearing a suit, if that's her. I can almost understand Beast wearing one (I think it fits his personality), and I cannot CANNOT stand him in trunks (which, unless he's naked, he's back to wearing that stupid jockey). The man is the smartest most highly evolved creature on the planet, period. And he wears a wrestling suit to a fight? Nope. The cover alone ensures that I won't be picking this up. Thank God Marvel keeps giving me reasons not to pick up their books anymore."

"never, in my wildest nightmare would I expect such a tragedy t show up on a cover of an X-men comic anymore. The covers actually are a 'midpoint' - between crap and sh*t, that is...THIS is what's suppose to lure the video game fans, the manga fans, the moviegoers to comic books?!?! After seeing the two movies, you think anybody would give a sack of wet crap to spend over two bucks on this printed tragedy?!I am left speechless..."

Newsarama has cover images to Astonishing X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. In Matt Brady's own words:

"Houston, we’ve got spandex."

Newsarama reports the Ellis/Immonen Ultimate Fantastic Four team rumours. The response is positive, shall we say:

"Whoa, talk about a jaw dropping announcement. That hasn't happened to me in awhile. But with this, Joss and John's Astonishing X-Men, and Bryan Singer on Ultimate X-men, it is making Marvel look really damn appealing."

"If Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen are doing UFF, I'm totally there. The ONLY thing that could beat that team combo would be Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. But that dream, for now, would only be a cloud in my coffee."

"Warren Ellis AND Stuart Immonen on Ultimate FF?? Exscuse why I fall of the floor giggling like a school girl! Ellis was made for this book and Immonen draws on of the BEST Ben Grimm's I've ever seen. Dear lord this is so friggin cool..."

The John Byrne board discuss X-Men Reload, and it's exactly what you'd expect:

"Unfortunately Joss says he has really liked the past couple of years of the New X-Men, which means Grant Morrison's view. Too bad, if Joss feels that Grant's take on the X-Men is really cool, I don't hold out much hope for his run on the X-Men."

"With no disrespect intended towards Whedon's talent, I can't help thinking ~ every time yet another "media star" is hired ~ that there's an ACTUAL COMIC BOOK WRITER out there who could use the work. Not to mention the shitload of lifelong readers who are waiting to get into the business, and aren't Johnny-Come-Lately hipsters who first discovered the X-Men (or whatever characters) in a movie theatre."

"Isn't the completely CRAP comic writing of Kevin Smith enough? Jeeze! If the Star of the minute is M****l's NU gimmick then count me out! I like stories written by writers not celebrities of the minute."

"Well, I will give the new X-books a chance. I will wait till I see them to judge them. Who knows ..they might be good. And as for 'the book formerly known as New' X-Men.... hopefully Austen will keep the Juggernaut around and give Cyclops his gonads back. I like some of Austen's work. If Juggernaut is around I will probably end up buying it. I did not like Morrison's New X-Men work at all, so Austen is an improvement in my opinion. However---it DOES bother me that a 'cool Nu-Marvel author' could write an X-book and to hell with streamlining the total number of X-men books, but XMHY gets cancelled! If I didn't know the REAL reason XMHY got cancelled I would be confused. Now I am just disgusted."

"joss doesnt appeal to me as a comic writer unlike Smith who has a deep love of comics and is a very good writer, Joss seems to be far from that. And as said he seems to love the current new x-men which is not a good sign at all."

"Ok, so when does JB get his own TV show? I mean this is quid pro quo, right? If a TV writer gets work that would normally go to a comic writer, shouldn't it go the other way, too? I can't wait to read David E. Kelley's Avengers or Aaron Sorkin's Superman. I'd just like to be able to watch a cool sci-fi show from Walt Simonson or something with a horror theme from JB once in a while in return. But since that ain't gonna happen, how about we let actual comic book writers write the friggin' comic books?"

When internet rumourmongers get defensive... Jeez, Millarworld is just the hive of activity today, ain't it? When one MW poster gets called on his "rumored" future X-Men projects, he 'fesses up:

"I pulled all of that crap out the air, just for my own amusement. Imagine my surprise when a couple of days later Markisan is reporting the story - WHICH I MADE UP - as having multiple sources. Not only that, I have him and Rich contacting me for info, like i'm some kind of Marvel mole. Some guy even though I was Bill Jemas! Oh well, fun for a while. I would have got away with it too if it wasn't for you pesky kids. But is internet comic journalism really that sloppy?"

Markisan, never one to back down from... well, anything, really, responds:

"You give yourself way too much credit. The Mack rumor did come from several sources and not you. Not only that but I speculated from actual conversations I had with David. I did contact you the other day after I saw all the stuff you were posting (after Rage went up). It was worth exploring the possibility that you were on the level. Maybe you noticed, but I didn't write you back. I had a feeling you were full of shit. And even if I didn't think that I would have looked into your claims before running them in my column. And lastly, a rumor column should not be considered journalism. If you believe it is, you don't know what you are talking about. I don't post this news as fact, which is required of journalists. Journalism: Writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.

"By all means continue trying to trick me, Rich and your peers. But don't think for a second we aren't looking out for people like you. When I first started doing Rage Warren Ellis told me that people will try to play with me. I haven't forgotten that."

He then continues:

"So, just to clarify for everyone else who isn't a dick.. I believe David Mack will be doing something X-related."

Which is somewhat more vague than what he wrote last Sunday ("There's a rumor going around that David Mack will be writing New X-Men instead of taking on the previously announced Ultimate X-Men assignment... Some of you may think this Mack on New rumor is steaming pile of midget shit, but I have to tell you I think it’s a real possibility. I recently interviewed Mack about his creator-owned series, Kabuki and about his then upcoming run on Ultimate X-Men. A couple days later, after learning that Brian Vaughan (Runaways) will be writing an arc for the title, I emailed David two or three times to try and verify his start date on the Ultimate X book. He never replied to my inquiries. Now David is a nice guy, so I originally assumed the lack of response was due to a heavy workload. I didn’t think anything of it until this new rumor surfaced.."), which didn't seem to be working from a position of "Mack on New X-Men is a pile of shit..."

A packed, and interesting Permanent Damage this week. Bits about dialogue on covers, the rise and fall of self-publishing, and Julie Schwartz:

"Julie Schwartz was the Silver Age, but the Silver Age died long before he did, and it's time to close the book on it once and for all. The world's a worse place for Julie no longer being in it, but there's no reason the spirit of his work can't live on, in new forms more appropriate to the age, while the body of that work is finally laid to rest. Julie was that era, but the era's over."

Go read.

Bill Oakley, letterer, died recently. Chris Eliopolous remembers him:

"I came to discover that Bill was as nice a guy as he was a great letterer. I would talk to him on and off over the years, keeping in touch. Then we learned he had cancer. Went through the usual treatments and thought he was better, but a couple years later discovered it had spread. He had no medical coverage because he had a previous medical condition and the insurance companies refused to cover him. So all the time he was getting treatment for his cancer, Bill would letter comics to help pay the costs-- many comics you have in your collection were lettered in a hospital room. But Bill was proud and never asked for anything from anyone."

Reaction to Warren Ellis confirming that he's written an episode of the Justice League cartoon:

"Isn't this the same man that hates superheroes and berates others for working on them?"

"Nope, he does seem to like ranting about the follies of a market aimed at aging men who like superheroes though. What a fool! Anyway, writing cartoon - whatever, writing Ultimate Fantastic Four - big old dolop of hypocrisy."

"He's actually gone further than that in the old days of the WEF. Huge diatribes, usually in the weekly picks lists, about crappy characters."

Also on Millarworld, the Grand Poobah himself appeared to say:

"Today's Marvel press conference sounds like it might have a few interesting tidbits. Otherwise, I can say now more...

Lotsa l,

Positive spin against the leaking of the Reload details, Variety reporting Bryan Singer doing an X-title and news of Warren Ellis doing Ultimate FF leaking out early? Or is there more coming?

X-Fan also picked up the Marvel leaks (to a much more happy reaction, but that's to be expected: "OMG!! WHEDONOMG *gasp for air*"). Millarworld, where the leaks originated, weren't too happy about other people stealing their thunder:

"I just removed the link in my previous post, as I put in there for MWers, not for all newsarama readers. If you want the link, PM me. edit: nm, they chose Elias's server instead of mine. edit again: apparently they DID link to me, they're getting an email."

"Relevant parties should email Newsarama to remove the links from their article, as they linked to a private server."

"Isn't it great we're the center of the comic news universe most of the time, we're being reference everywhere. ;) We rule!!"

"X fan should remove the text and post a link back to here. It's only fair given they've asked us to do the same in the past."

"I'm editing the document now. Any suggestions as to what offensive phrases I should include?"

"This is what they are linking to now."

"HA! WE are the future"

Newsarama picks up the Marvel Solicits. The fans are less excited than Marvel would have hoped about the X-relaunch:

"What happened to the idea of paring down the plethora of X-books? Remember that was their stated reason for cancelling X-Men: The Hidden Years. So I guess thia means they will attempt to get John Byrne to resume the series? Looks like there are now almost double the amount of books that existed before May 2001."

"Wow, I'm excited about the Whedon/Cassaday Astonishing X-Men, but wow there are a lot of other books. I'm praying that they don't plan a big event requiring the purchase of every title to follow the story. Except for Astonishing, I really can't work up much enthusiasm. Perhaps the sheer volume of titles is just too overwhelming."

"I kinda lost focus since there were so many titles listed, but overall this just means more to buy and more to be disappointed by. Did New Mutants really need to become New X-Men? Is any of this gonna matter a year down the road? I bet a big no-prize that Randy Green doesn't make it past the issue 8 mark on New X-Men. I like his work, but his name is synonymous with delays. And Excalibur... Whose idea was that? I just hope that they don't try to do all of these grandiose things just to repair the void left by Morrison. What he did on these books was as close to genius as anything in recent memory (X-books only), and I'd hate to see Genosha suddenly be rebuilt and everything he did for naught. Time will tell."

"Isn't Cassady notorious for lateness? While his art is pretty, I would not be picking up any seriously late books or crappy fill-ins. I quit buying x-books over a year ago after almost 20 years straight, and so far I see no incentive to return."

"This Reload of the X-Universe is about as disappointing as the Reload of the Matrix. This new, conservative sales approach/risk-averse corporate strategy makes me long for the days of Jemas' Ultimate, Epic and Tsunami lines -- certainly more interesting in their mixed successes than this stale, tired cloning of the X-books."

"Well this isn't quite the news I was expecting. Not that I"m disappointed...well not completely...but I was expecting something more momentous than this."

Millarworld's leaking of the solicits gets an interesting reaction, too:

"Ohhhh....somebody's gonna get in trouble......"

"Ha ha ha, I love it when an embargo gets broken. Seriously, Marvels solicits have been later and later each month for no reason I can see other than to bitchslap the fans around a little bit. DC's are consistently posted around the third Tuesday of the month, maybe this leak will teach Marvel not to get all Richard Nixon on keeping theirs secret..."

"I thibk it's quite funny that this info leaked so soon after Joe Quesada went online and blatantly lied to people, saying the rumours of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday on X-men were untrue. I know he said 'they're not on New X-men', which was his cover-up, but it's still a lie. This info leaking out is a bit of karma for Mr Q! Hopefully next time a rumour leaks, he'll just keep mum on the subject rather than trying to cover it up by lying to the fans!"

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Oh, look: The Epic Anthology has been cancelled. That is such a big, big surprise.

No, really.

More on Whedon/Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men from Wizard:

"While Whedon’s team members are still top secret and he’s wary of releasing too many details about his upcoming 12-issue run, Cassaday did mention that it was a hard deal to turn down after the artist heard about the cast of characters he’d be allowed to draw."

12-issue run? Remember when those would just be mini-series, instead of ongoing launches that would be taken over by Chuck Austen after those 12 issues are done?

Leaked Marvel solicits (text only) here (via Millarworld) [EDIT: That first link may no longer be worksafe, as MWers have been editing the original lists because other sites have linked them. Be warned]:

* Astonishing X-Men by Whedon/Cassaday leads the Reload event. Elsewhere, Morrison gets revamped:

"The children at the X-Mansion thought they had it tough when Professor X was running things – but now that X-Men Cyclops and Emma Frost have taken over the reins of the school, they're wishing for the simpler times of yesterday! Codenames, school-issued uniforms and mandatory training sessions in the Danger Room are just a few of the changes being implemented around the Institute..."

...making it just like the olden days of Generation X or New Mutants (This from the solicit of the relaunched with a new title - Academy X - New Mutants title, by the way).

* Mystique's writer Brian Vaughan gets congratulated for making it one of the few non-cancelled Tsunami titles by being replaced (He gets a fill-in run on Ultimate X-Men to make up for it, though).

* Mark Millar's new Spider-Man title has a big spoiler in the solicit for its second issue. And not for something that happens in the first, either.

* Runaways and Spider-Girl are officially swallowed up into the Marvel Age imprint.

Drew Geraci shares his Steve Ditko story (because, really, don't we all have one?):

"Remember when Crossgen press released that it was going to hire veteran Marvel artists from the 60's bullpen for some special projects? Well, this random phone call was the closest thing to it having happened."

(Via Tim O'Neill)

John Byrne invites his message board to pre-empt criticism of his upcoming JLA run by guessing at what "trolls" (ie, anyone who doesn't love his work) will be saying. Wouldn't it be great if some of them correctly guess at the plot of the arc?

Matt Maxwell: I know you were looking for something like this a couple of days ago...

Mark Millar wants your vote:

"I don't care WHO you vote for as long as Wanted gets best new comic, Planetary gets best monthly comic, Millarworld gets best site, Ultimate Cap gets best character and one of my hareem gets best artist. Oh, and Switchblade Honey should get best original graphic novel if there's any justice in the world and X2 for best movie/ TV. However, don't let me influence you... EXCEPT WANTED AS BEST NEW COMIC!!!!"

(If you're not British, Mark Peyton wants you to help ballotstuff anyway: "And for those foreign posters who want their votes to count list your address as somewhere in Britain." Naughty...)

They're talking about this:

"The 7th [British] National Comics Awards (2004)... The Best Comic? Best Character? Best Artist? Best Writer? - Only YOU can decide! From The Beano to Batman, from 2000AD to Warhammer, from Spider-Man to Striker, any comic is eligible. You are invited to vote for any comic, of any nationality published since May 2003."

Personally, I think all British people should vote for The X-Axis to win best speciality magazine or website, just because Paul deserves awards.

Looking over DC's May solicitations, with the usual coo-ing at nice covers:

* Bizarre reprint of the month: DC 100 Page Super Spectacular. Now, I love that DC are reprinting old stuff on a fairly regular basis, but still, this was a surprise to see...

* Pretty:

* The Filth! In one volume, despite the fact it's thirteen issues long!

* Seaguy! With the amusingly named sidekick, Chubby Da Choona! Brand New Grant Morrison madness, with art by Cameron Stewart, which could easily make it the greatest series released this year.

It's ridiculously anal, but I can't help but agree with Augie's one complaint about Sleeper:

"The only jarring thing in the series is the sudden shift to computer lettering in the final quarter. The slick ultra-round font used in Carver's narration doesn't fit properly in the caption boxes, and the whole package loses part of its organic feel."

Marvel's Warren Ellis on Ultimate FF rumour breaks. Millarworldians aren't convinced:

"Two words that sound like more: No way in hell."

"This is bullshit. First of all, Ellis hates superheroes, and has no desire to write them, and secondly he has said on more than one occasion that he has no desire to write for Marvel again any time soon. Not necessarily because there's any bad blood between him and the 'House of Ideas', but because there's nothing there that interests him. And Ellis isn't one to go back on his word the moment a big, fat cheque is waved in his face either."

"No bloody chance. Which is a good thing, as it's sad enough to see talented writers like Bendis wasting his time on a boring old concept like the Fantastic Four without Ellis following suit."

"The smell of horseshit coming off this rumor is overpowering. I repeat Richard's two words- No fucking way in hell. Edit: Although, if we're being honest, if this happened I would blow ten loads into my pants."

Stuart Moore tackles the idea that All They Care About Is Making Money:

"A related complaint is this: Why Don’t Publishers Stick With a Book Long Enough for It to Find Its Audience? The answer is that, in the direct market, very few books launch low and then trend upward significantly. In the past ten years, I can name these: Preacher, Bone, Stray Bullets, Y The Last Man. Maybe Fables. Possibly Astro City, though I think its numbers were pretty healthy to start with... If you like Sleeper or Spider-Girl, the best thing to do is to tell people how great it is and why -- not to try and trick the company into thinking it can make a fortune off the book if only it would publish the thing in manga-size paperbacks. The company knows whether it’s making money or not, and in this changing market, any book with buzz is a good candidate for a trade paperback or an experimental format anyway."

Monday, February 16, 2004

For those likely to attend, a map and list of exhibitors for APE this weekend.

DC's corporate synergy strikes again. As the publishing company gears up to release a series based on the revamped Firestorm, now black and with a revised costume, DC Direct announces that they're going to be releasing an action figure of the character... in his original, white with puffy sleeves, incarnation.

Brandon Thomas on Rob Liefeld's publishing ventures:

"The second issue of Youngblood: Genesis should be out in March, I think, and I’m assuming Brigade will follow shortly, but that’s all I can comment on. There is a very logical and interesting explanation for the extended delay between issues 1 and 2 of both Genesis and Youngblood: Bloodsport, but if I say why, it’ll ruin the surprise."

Now I want it to be a good reason, not just "Rob ran out of money/couldn't be bothered/spent the year in Hollywood meetings" like usual. Something like "Rob was abducted by aliens and has been returned with six arms and the ghost of Jack Kirby in a jar, giving him instructions."

Markisan of All The Rage on Kevin Smith's announcement that he's going to finish his Marvel mini-series:

"I’ve really enjoyed your comics. Green Arrow should have actually used his bow, but I still enjoyed them. What bothers me is that you committed to a job and failed to follow through in a reasonable amount of time. Not only did you cause ridiculous delays, you made up lame excuses about having no time to write because of your Jersey Girl film. Um, you had enough extra time to suck up to Jay Leno, film commentary for DVDs and make 2000 stops at the local White Castle, but you couldn’t write 22 pages of frickin’ script for Spidey/Black Cat? For fuck’s sake, drop the sack of chicken rings and open up a word document, Silent Bob."

It writes its own punchline, doesn't it?

Mike San Giacomo turns his critical eye and razor-sharp gaze onto Wonder Woman:

"When you start peeling back the layers of Wonder Woman, and looking at her as more than a two-dimensional cardboard character, one with feelings, personal motivations, and one who responds to the world around her in her own unique manner, one elephant tends to remain in the room: what’s going on with Wonder Woman’s sex life? After all, Superman has Lois Lane, Batman can have any woman he wants as Bruce Wayne, and Spider-Man has Mary Jane Watson. Does Wonder Woman have a special man...or...? Let's just point to the fact that many of Wonder Woman's lesbian fans were heartened when she cut her hair nice and short a few issues back."

To celebrate President's Day, Rich Johnston remembers Marvel's onetime President, William Jemas:

"This week, Marvel editorial was having a 'fun' time presenting Bill Jemas co-replacement Gui Kayro a year-long publishing plan to show the rest of the Marvel board of executives. With the 'non-controversial' edict coming down how Marvel Publishing reconciles past and current publishing plans with the current wishes of their masters will be seen in the coming months. Bill Jemas' contract reportedly ran out in early February. But he's still there… New contract? Part time contract? Something else? Business as usual, just with different faces up front?"

Friday, February 13, 2004

Brian Hibbs returns with a look at how graphic novels and trades sell in the Direct and mainstream bookstore markets:

"The Direct Market’s buying power is clearly the engine driving the bus – those firm, non-returnable, sales are absolutely essential to the production of comics in America, and if the DM were to “go away” tomorrow, I think that it is clear that the bookstores would not be able to pick up the slack.

"One thing when looking at the Diamond numbers – there are a tremendous number of sales that simply don’t show up at all. For a really good example of this phenomenon, look at the Diamond Year-End report for TP/GNs: Watchmen comes in at #23 for the year over all. The item at #22 on the year-end is Trigun vol 1. ICv2 estimates sales as 6889 in October, 2981 in November, and 1691 in December – that’s 11,561 copies cumulative. This means that it’s safe to say that Watchmen almost certainly sold at least 11,000 copies in the Direct Market despite never once showing up on any monthly Top 50 list!

"Think about that one for a moment, eh?

"So to bottom line this discussion: most of the data we have is flawed or faulty, and generally speaking, we’re comparing one very flawed reporting method to a second very flawed reporting method. While I believe that some general shapes can be discerned, I am very mindful of the perversity that I’m comparing apples to sardines, and I don’t even know what an apple looks like, really."

"Ultimate Content—Ultimate Covers! Starting in April 2004 the world's ultimate comic book line -- that's every title in Marvel's best-selling Ultimate imprint -- will be upgraded to include a new and improved cover stock. Designed to better display the ultimate in cover art, the new 100# UV-coated cover stock brings the highest of quality to this powerhouse line."

Because, obviously, that warranted a press release.

James Sime writes a Valentine to romance comics of different stripes:

"Now I know this one might be tough to find, but if you liked 'Heathers,' 'True Romance,' or 'Natural Born Killers,' you'll love Grant Morrison and Philip Bond's 'Kill Your Boyfriend.' It's a classic tale of boy meets girl, boy and girl go on a roadtrip killing spree, boy and girl fall in love. It drives me crazy that this book is currently out of print! I wish I had a fat stack of these to sell over the Valentines' Day weekend. I shouldn't have to get this on eBay just to get my customers the good stuff. It's my hope that Vertigo will realize how much this lost treasure needs to be put back in print. And while we are talking about it, Vertigo should reprint that Peter Milligan and Duncan Fregredo mini-series 'Girl,' which would have made a nice addition to this list."

To which I add: Get the other Milligan/Fegredo book from that time, Face, back into print as well.

Scott Grunewald on The Unfunnies:

"In fact, the only thing funny about THE UNFUNNIES is the utter gall that Millar has in comparing the book to movies like Magnolia or Happiness and his claims that the book is shocking and uncompromising. You wanna shock me Mark? Write an anal rape joke that's actually funny."

Matt Maxwell is, again, a Guy Who Gets It:

"Personally, I don’t really care about most continuity issues. I did at one time. I was personally incensed that Marvel chose to bring back Jean Grey and make her sacrifice as the Phoenix in Uncanny #137 meaningless. That was a long, long time ago. At this point, I see her in New X-Men and don’t really even think about all the ridiculous backstory, that if you stopped to consider it would not only break the character’s metaphoric spine, but cause it to implode into a black hole due to the density of personal history packed in over the last thirty years.

"You’d go nuts thinking about it. All you need to know about the character can be summed up neatly. Troubled relationship with borderline psychotic loner husband, potential to tap into more power than humans should ever have access to, caring mother figure to her students. Trying to tie everything back to the days of Marvel Girl and the time that everyone up to, and including, Professor X was harboring a secret love for her is nothing short of a short path to madness."

Journalista goes on temporary hiatus as Dirk becomes the managing editor of The Comics Journal. It'll be much missed, and hopefully will return soon.

Jim Lee talks about Superman, Batman and other important subjects over at The Pulse:

"THE PULSE: Speaking of publicity seeking prosecutors, what's your favorite vegetable?

LEE: A good ripe roma tomato. Tomatoes are great on their own … or with salt or oil and basalmic vinegar. Or even with a pinch of sugar. Tomatoes … hands down."

Someone should tell Matt Brady that Ed Brubaker currently writes two books set in the DC Universe:

"Trading the WildStorm U for the DC U, Ed Brubaker heads over to Hawkman in April for a one-shot, 'Lives Past' story of a pre-winged Hawkman... Did this get your DCU jones out of your system, or do you see yourself coming back in to the world where Superman flies and Batman prowls?"

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Avi Arad talks about Marvel movies and Marvel comics...:

"IGNFF: Were you hearing feedback about the lack of kid-friendly books?

ARAD: Absolutely! Listen, my day job is also Chief Creative Officer for Marvel, and it's a very painful job because we publish a lot of books, and there are things I see where I can punch people out. Therefore, we have some new people now, and the kids are going to read our books.

IGNFF: But the previous editorial regime you speak of was in place for a several years, and they were years when there was virtually no consideration given to bringing new readers in… And that just leaves a diminishing reader base of established older fans.

ARAD: We are doing actually good stuff now. Listen, people like Brian Bendis did great things for comic readers, great things for comic readers.

IGNFF: But are those comics that a 6- or 7-year-old can come in and read?

ARAD: Not yet. Bu they are coming. I can promise you that. Let's have a follow-up just on comics. It's a fair issue that, trust me – it upsets me. Because there's no reason for kids not to read it. I am from the school, having not grown up here, that reading is fundamental. Kids go to college, they do well, they don't do well – it's all bulls***. I think well-read people – the world is open to them.

IGNFF: And there's an entire generation of adults that owe a large part of their vocabulary to reading comics as kids…

ARAD: Absolutely. So I… Listen, we are now working very, very hard to get our books into mass market, and we are successful. We are not ready to show it, but it's coming, and you'll see an incredible effort.

IGNFF: And no other company is actively pursuing it, which disappoints me.

ARAD: No one is doing it. I can tell you, no one is doing it because there will always be the fear – to be honest about it – that, 'Ah, if I do the books for the younger kids, are the older kids going to walk away from it?''"

Completely uncomfirmed post about the state of the X-Books from a source with unknown credentials:

"Okay lets end all speculation right now.

"Singer and co are moving onto Ultimate after Vaughn finishes his run. The plan is for this book to move into movie continuity, distinct from the mainstream X-verse.

"Mack will be going in on New. The idea is to continue along the lines set by Morrisson, moving into Marvel Knightsish territory.

"This would leave the other (Claremont led) X-books as old school super-hero stuff.

"The process will be roling out over the course of the year, with reload as a starting point.

"Something for everyone, covering all bases. This is the culture at Marvel right now."

Bullshit or truth? The decision is yours (but it's probably the former)...

Certain Millarworlders seems to be close to deciding to set up a new HEAT-style team for Tim Drake as Robin. Discussion of Drake's replacement as the Teen Wonder starts simply enough:

"I hope this is just a stunt, I like the Tim Drake character, and don't want to see him dumped."

Before moving onto stronger thoughts:

"This is the craziest shit i ever heard, i swear if Tim becomes another character with a bird of the night name which is most likely gonna happen i'm quitting his comic. I've been reading Robin and Nightwing for a while now and have been unusually 'drawn' to Birds of Prey ever since Ed Benes took over. Hopefully it's not Spoiler because she sucks as a character and she's also Tim's girlfriend. Which makes me think that somehow she learns quickly that she can't fill his shoes and he comes running back to papa Bruce and the Robin costume. This all sounds like a gay ass drama series to me and they are better off just leaving things as they are."

"Man.. DC sucks. Tim Drake was very good as Robin and should stay as robin. Guess I shall be dropping Robin."



Tom Brevoort writes a short but nice article on his history with the X-Men:

"Shortly thereafter, buoyed by the thoroughly-excellent limited series he’d done with Frank Miller, Chris started pushing Wolverine to the center of the series. I had liked Wolverine an awful lot in the early All-New X-Men days, as the spoiler character, the Hawkeye, the guy who causes friction. But once you made him the center, the whole paradigm turned on its head for me. I couldn’t, for example, accept the notion that Wolverine was somehow a better representative of the philosophies of the X-Men than Cyclops, who was now, by default, cast into the role of jerk, of stiff. The Cyclops-Wolverine rivalry worked for me when Logan was the ornery outside, but failed when he became the X-Men’s moral compass... X-Men by this point had become just as calcified as Spidey or the FF had been in 1978, a well-crafted series in which the boundaries are well-known and immutable, a series that had to work extra hard to convince you that something significant was about to happen, rather than just having it occur."

Stormwatch: Team Achilles is getting a cover makeover... complete with the return of dialogue balloons. Micah Wright explains:

"My theory is this: a cover is your advertisement. In the 1970's, covers served as the movie trailers for comics. What's in this Sgt. Rock comic this month? I guess it's a story about Nazis shooting Sgt. Rock but rock can't fire back because each of the Nazis have 5 orphans tied to themselves like orphan armor! WHAT WILL ROCK DO?

"In the 1980s, we moved away from this. We started having Posters for covers. Pin-ups of Namor stroking his pitchfork or Spiderman swinging from building to building. No story is implied. 'Cover text is too kiddie,' say many people. Those people are wrong. Without insinuation of a story, the only thing you have to sell your comic is the stunning art, and walking into a comic shop today is like being hit across the face with a 2x4 in the shape of 500 comic covers, most of which look identical.

"So here's my solution: I'm bringing back the mini-story on the cover. Note... this scene does NOT happen like this in the comic... but WHO CARES? It gets the point of the comic across in a big way."

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