Friday, April 30, 2004

A discussion about John Byrne's Doom Patrol revamp on Micah Wright's forum surreally becomes a discussion on Batman's sexuality:

"So, I was shooting the breeze with a DC editor one con and he talked about the day he walked by the Bat Offices and overheard a half-serious debate about whether or not Bats was still a virgin."

"Obviously he is. Bats' super intelligence and ability to beat any other character in the DCU one handed stems from absatining. It's like that episode of Seinfeld where George becomes a genius while abstinent, but on a much larger scale."

"See my take is that Batman... he's into being the dominant alpha male in costume right? Mr. in control. Mr. high and mighty over all the other heroes. The man runs a multi-billion dollar corporation. Now setting aside the preference for molding young minds. I betcha dollars to dogshit that $1500.00 a night hooker steps on his balls with a 3 inch heel and makes him crawl around on all fours in a diaper saying 'mommy never loved me'"

"Batman is impotent. I mean, he can't kill The Joker, he can't kill any of those guys. He can't 'follow through' on any of his actions. And plus, his chances of still being able to maintain an erection after so many nut-shots/hours spent wearing spandex is highly unlikely."

"Denny O'Neil has retired, but even though the ghost of Wertham haunts the Bat-Office, I've heard that under Denny the internal line was that The Joker was homosexual."

Go and vote in The Squiddies, the second-oldest comic book awards still around.

(Via Johanna, whose blog you should all be reading anyway).

Previews is, apparently, too big for some people:

"As I was flipping through the last issue of Previews, it hit me that there are ALOT of comics book companies. Is this really a good thing? I hear people complain all the time that there a really good indie books that deserves to sell 100,000 copies an issue, but because it is an indie comic it is only selling 1,000 copies an issue. Wouldn't the market place be better served if say the top five comic companies bought up some of these smaller companies to streamline the marketplace some?"

"Think outside the box. Instead of being so Marvel/DC-centric, think about these other companies and remember that they are sovereign entities and more than that, they've been in business for years too! Conglomerates are the worst thing in the greater trade industries. Nothing of any substance can exist because about four or five companies control EVERYTHING. Its horrible. That's what independent companies are about. Existing on one's own without the aid or dependence on corporate control. Why in God's name would a fully operational company want to subjegate itself to another's rule? Most people would close up shop and call it quits before they go from being independent and being their own bosses to having to answer to the Marvel Board of Directors, or the Kingpins of DC, aka AOL-Time-Warner. Its like going from the master of your own destiny to a slave."

"More consolidation means less choice for consumers. I see what your thinking but in practice it does not work. Consumers end up with less and less choices and often higher prices because there is no competion to keep prices down. Often time the message or media delivered becomes more homogenous."

"Now, should there be even more diversity? Of course! It's kind of sad that Crossgen is going down in flames - from what I saw, they went for a genre that, while I wasn't very interested in it, wasn't really being served by anyone else. The best publishers are the ones who do what they want, publish what they want, and can afford to - most of the time. That's what I like about Fanta and D & Q."

Comicon posters are concerned about DC's Focus:

"I'm reading HARD TIME and find it a decent comic. I haven't tried the other three books. My bias — and it's an illogical one, I admit — is against the introduction of an entire line of books by one of the major publishers. Throw four or six or eight books at me at once, hype the hell out of them as a package deal, and I'll ignore all of them. Now, if you separately introduce a couple of new books, I might give 'em a chance. DC's CAPER, for example, which I recommend. But an entire line ... well, experience has taught me that one or two books in a line will be worthy, and the rest will be filler crap launched only to flesh out the publication schedule. Can anyone recall "The DC Explosion" of the 1970s? Would the DC Focus line be more successful if DC had introduced the books separately, at staggered times and on their own individual merits?"

"Sadly,I dont really expect the books to last.I was looking for something at least a little different and Steve Gerbers name was enough to interest me.But god forbid someone from skipping another fucking X-men comic to try out anything new..."

"Well, I personally didnt buy them because they are not in the DCU. I primarily only get DCU titles which include Vertigo titles that can be considered in the DCU. That is simply because I dont want to follow tons of different universes and it helps keep my monthly comic budget reasonable."

"This [referring to the above quote] is one of the most depressing posts I've ever read."

Robert Aguirre-Sacasa on adapting the new Spider-Man movie into comic book format:

"Adapting something — as the movie Adaptation shows in a great way, actually — is always a little bit tricky... You’re struggling with being true to someone else’s story (be it a screenplay, a novel, a New Yorker article, whatever) while — at the same time — trying to get your voice in there somehow. I’ve adapted some novels into plays before (for example Dracula for a community theatre, please don’t ask), and that requires a lot of condensing, of course, but it also requires you to find a way into the source material, if you know what I mean... Ditto adapting the Spider-Man 2 screenplay. Like with any story, you have to find a way into the story — or a way to unlock it — before actually writing it, you know? I didn’t get to see the movie early, alas, so I mostly worked from the screenplay and the movie preview. I remember when I got to the scene of Peter and Mary Jane talking in the café in the screenplay, when MJ asks Peter to kiss her, it was such a great scene, I was like: 'Oh, that has to be in the adaptation.' So I put it in and was much relieved when I saw that scene in the preview and was like: 'Oh, great, that did make it into the movie.'"

Of course, now that he's mentioned Adaptation, I want Charlie Kaufman to adapt Spider-Man 3 when it comes around.

Newsarama, like Pop, will eat itself:

"OK, I know we have talked about this before, but this is getting ridiculous. Read the responses to either/both of the Joe Quesada interviews. What. The. Hell. I wish I could find someone who likes ANYTHING about comics right now. HELLO!!! IS THERE ANYONE WHO LIKES ANYTHING REGARDING THE COMICS INDUSTRY!!!!??? ARE THERE ANY FRICKIN CREATORS OR EDITORS THAT YOU ACTUALLY LIKE!!!???? WHY DO YOU READ COMICS AND THE NEWSARAMA NEWS IF YOU HATE EVERYTHING!!!??? God."

"i totally agree. it seems all these fans do is complain. for example, now that hal jordan is coming back they are complaining about losing kyle rayner. it is just sickening. myself, i read the online preview of dd:father and i'm looking forward to it, i like joe's art and it looks like a more traditional dd story. as far as hal is concerned i am glad he is coming back. i was a big fan of his character when gerard jones wrote it. and i also like kyle so i hope they both stick around."

"I keep on hearing Joe Q dismissed the internet and when you look at stuff like that, it is easy to see why. Snipes everywhere you look. I read FATHER, and it was beautiful in everyway, I cant imagine someone not liking it, if they liked Joe Q prior work or the DAREDEVIL character. It shows that there are more comicbook politicians out ther making there voices heard then true comicbook fans that are too turn off by the negativity to make a peep."

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Hey! It only took one day! Joe Quesada on variant covers:

"It's bad for business. I've been hearing that our largest competitor is considering these covers 'competing' with us, that's not competing, that's spiking sales artificially. That's adding extra innings to the ball game after you've lost and the winning team has hit the showers. They began competing fairly when they started to put some good talent on good characters and decided to tell some good stories. That's fun and that's competition that I can get behind, encourage and more importantly, respect. But, to just desire the top spot and not care how many multiples copies of the same issue you have to sell to one person to get there is just stupid and harmful to our business. Look, my editors and I spend so much time trying to make what's inside the cover of a comic great so that our readership will want to come back month after month. Now we have to spend time wondering how to spike the comic so that retailer and fan has to order more based on an alternate cover rather than the story or creative team. We as an industry need to stop this now before it's too late. So, you have to ask yourself is that really competing or is it just forcing units into the market place. Remember that the big complaint from our opposition when it came to no overprint was that new readers will get shut out, well of course we found that to be false, but what does this say about their attitude now towards new readers? Do they want new readers or are they looking for new collectors? What it says is that they've given up on it and are now catering to the completist mentality in order to survive. Look, this may sound like much ado about nothing, but I know what's coming down the pike, I know what's planned by other companies and it's not going to be pretty. We have worked so hard to stabilize our market in the last four years, and now we're going to push the greed button before it's even remotely healthy. Don’t get me wrong though - I don't mind an alternate here or there when it's something super special, but ask yourself, what's the only reason why someone does an alternate cover? It's to force the retailer into buying more of the same books and the fan to purchase the same comic over and over again."

FOUR versions of the first issue of Astonishing X-Men, remember.

Ron Marz on comics:

"I think the monthly format is a teat the American comic industry will never been fully weaned from. Too much of the industry's economics are based on the monthly format. It keeps a steady cash flow to the publishers, to the retailers, to the creative talent. You do see original graphic novels from DC, and from some independent publishers, but it's an expensive, risky proposition. It's a lot safer to serialize your story, then collect, so you can count on two revenue streams from the same material. It's an economic reality that won't change unless the overall comics market turns itself around in a substantial way."

New Marvel Fanboys live up the last part of their name:

"Ok, we all know that the Ultimate line was created both as a modern interpretation of old characters and as a way of getting away from heavy continuity. Now, the Ultimate line is pretty light on continuity errors, but they happen occasionally (Like Banner was supposed to be a vegetarian, but ate a steak at his meeting with Fury in issue 2 of The Ultimates). Again, nothing that's that big of a deal. But, UFF #5 brought up a very interesting continuity error. According to The Ultimates, the FF were established way before the Ultimates were (Since Stark and Fury discussed adding them to the new team). In Spidey, Dr. Parker, in the Venom arc, was discussing Reed Richards back when Peter was very young, not to mention the Reed Richards Building that Peter and Eddie went into AND when Spidey met the very-well established FF in the Super Special. But all of this is thrown into question because in the first battle of the FF, Dr. Storm shouts to Johnny 'Let the Ultimates handle this!' So, which is right, The Ultimates and Ultimate Spidey, or UFF? Sorry for being such a geek about this, but it just bugs me."

"There is no justification. This was just a flat out mistake. I wish someone at Marvel was still, you know, 'editing.' And this isn't some stupid little fan boy nit picking, this is a very very VERY OBVIOUS error, and it's really a shame that they can't get their shit together with such a new universe."

"I was really, REALLY bothered by this. Millar and Bendis don't seem to give a damn about their OWN continuity, let alone anyone else's. I was willing to overlook the fact that the FF are young and just starting out (since it could all be taking place in the past), and even the fact that Ultimate Marvel Team-Up established that Reed Richards went to college with Tony Stark (since, well, Peter Parker could simply have been wrong about that). But this is the final nail in the coffin. I'm thinking of dropping this series altogether. I could maybe overlook this error if the series was actually any good, but it's really not. I'm curious to see what Warren Ellis will do with it, so maybe I'll stick around until then, but, truth be told, I've never really liked anything I've read by Ellis, so I don't have very high hopes."

"Yeah, I have to say that this continuity error bugged me. And believe me, I'm usually one of the last guys to get irritated about continuity mistakes, especially when dealing with 40 year old universes, but this was real sloppy. No other way to look at it."

There is, apparently, going to be another JSA mini-series. This one by Kevin J. Anderson and Barry Kitson, who seem to like it; just listen to Kevin:

"Barry Kitson brings a majesty to this time period and these grand golden-age heroes that I've never seen before. In his own words, Barry says ‘the superheroes feel 'at home' in this era - it somehow seems to me they are given weight and presence by being shown in the era in which they were conceived.’ I took the pencils and immediately went to show them to my wife and frequent co-author. This is why I like writing comics!"

Millarworld is ambivalent about Jim Lee and Brian Azzarello's Superman:

"Well I've just finished reading 204 which I got from a friend and have to say that it seems to be a perfect match....was always sure Jim would do stellar art(check out the pics of Supes in space :) ) but never sure bout Azz's Superman. Story has a really nice flow to it and am actually surprised at Brians version of Clark...seems to be a very,very interesting concept for the story-arc...dont know how to do spoilers so won't say much but this will definitely be a great run...screw superman batman...this kicks its ass!"

"Loved this issue. I opened up to double page splash of Superman facing the space army or whatever it was and got very close to yelling out 'Holy shit' on the packed tram I was travelling home in."

"I bought it. Usual Azzarello 'snappy' dialogue IMO it felt really out of place. His characters are always talking like Atlantic City street hustlers...which is fine in 100 Bullets but the back and forth banter between the preist and the policewoman at the beggining seemed way too forced."

"Tried looking at this because of the art work, it looked great but the dialogue was painful to read"

Me, I thought it was just okay...

So it's Matt Haley who designed the Seinfeld Superman! For some reason, I thought it was Ty Templeton. Whatever happened to him, anyway? Here's Matt, anyway:

"A pal of mine, Shaun McLaughlin, is a producer at Warner Brothers Animation... He called me in a panic and asked if I could bang out a 'Curt Swan era Superman' animation model sheet, as nobody in that studio was into that style, so I did. It was fun, as I used to really love the Swan Superman, and it was quite a challenge to match his style... I sat with a ton of old Superman comics for a night and just soaked it all up. I enjoyed getting to see the finished product. Patrick Warburton did the voice of Superman, and he's perfect for it."

Oh yes, Wyoming!

Is Spider-Man going to age? Does anyone really care? Apart from the folks at Newsarama, that is:

"Let's leave aside the fact that the aging many feel is so integral to Amazing Spider-Man doesn't apply to his Ultimate counterpart. Taking in to account that comic book characters age slower than we do, where do you see this desire for aging ultimately going? Okay, you want a child from his marriage, you've got it. You want her/him to grow up too, you've got it. If you accept the idea that the world doesn't want to read about a Spider-Man that's pushing 40 or older(he's not the lead character in Spider-Girl and the sales speak for themselves), you must either accept the fact that Peter won't always be Spider-Man or that they'll restart the series. You may want to see another character become Spider-Man(as long as he's not Ben Reilly, right), but do you think Marvel will ever really do it?! It's all well and good to say that you probably won't be reading the books then, if you're even alive, but you must follow through on the changes you're demanding now. Where do you see it going?! They're going to have to pick up the pieces of the changes readers are demanding and they won't be able to freeze time at any point because this isn't Ultimate Spider-Man and readers supposedly won't stand for it."

"If Spider-man was never going to age, then why would they have glimpses of his future in the book? In #500, Spider-man saw his beginning and his end. He was told things about his future by none other than his future self. Aunt May will die, he will have a son named Ben, and other things seem to be implied. Perhaps Ben could become the next Spider-man. We even see a new Spider-man costume, and lo and behold a couple issues later, along comes this taylor for super heroes who designs the very same outfit for Spidey as seen in 'Happy Birthday'. It will be sad, yes, but I do believe that Spider-man will indeed have an ultimate ending. I don't know when and I don't know how, but I hope Marvel chooses what they think would be right for the character and the many fans that love him."

"I always liked the five to one theory. Five years in the real world equal one year for comic book characters. If we use the 5 to 1 theory, 616 Spider-Man will be 40 in about fifty years. By then Spider-Man will be public domain and any one will be able to make and sell any type of Spider-man comic they want. That is of course if there is still things being made called comic books. Story wise, if the older Spidy still sells that would be grate. If not, start over with 'Ultimate 2, the New Universe.'"

Geoff Johns on Green Lantern: Rebirth:

"This is a project that’s extremely important to all of us. This can’t be just a good series – it’s gotta be a damn great series. REBIRTH is the return of Hal Jordan. But we are not out to wipe the slate clean and go backwards to 1975. That’s immediately a response from some. Or that nothing ever changes. Or that someone 'lost' and someone 'won.' Truth is, you don’t know where we’re going, but we're going forward. And that’s good. Let the debates continue. We’re out to tell a killer story utilizing the Green Lantern mythology. There will be a lot of surprises, a lot of curve balls, some major revelations and some amazing artwork. Ethan’s pages are spectacular. The endless arguments of who the best Green Lantern is means nothing to us – Green Lantern is cool. Period. The concept is one of the richest in comics. Batman, the Justice League, Alan Scott, Green Arrow, the JSA…most every major player will be seen in REBIRTH. There are going to be a hundred different questions we get asked from here until October. What’s going on with Kyle? John Stewart? The Spectre? The Guardians? Guy Gardner? Kilowog? All I can say is -- it’s all in the book. I won’t be answering many questions beyond that statement."

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Matt Brady interviews Joe Quesada about Daredevil: Father, including trying (twice) to get him to talk about the interesting new misshapen look Quesada has given DD:

"It's simple, Matt, I'm just letting my hand draw, I can't explain it further than that. I'm just having fun working with these big shapes and graphics and I can’t stop... I’m taking liberties as an artist. As a comic book artist we are afforded certain liberties and certain tricks that we use to enhance our stories. Just like film directors have computer graphics and certain techniques they can use, we have everything from distortion, forced perspective, panel breaks, splash pages and many other tricks to get a point or a feeling across. Yes, there's a difference in Matt's stature and posture when he puts on the suit. Of course it couldn't happen in real life, but that's why I draw comics. You ever see someone get dressed up in a suit or a tux who you're not accustomed to seeing dressed that way? There physical size hasn't changed, but somehow they look bigger, or perhaps seem to be standing straighter. They may not have changed but our perception of them has change. That's simply all I'm playing with."

Padding your resume. Now, we all have done it, from time to time. But I think that, in Steve Englehart (whose work I loved in the 80s on things like West Coast Avengers and Green Lantern Corps), we have discovered an example of a pad too far. Some examples of his building up his part too much:

On his Detective Comics run with Marshall Rogers: "From the moment this eight-issue run appeared, it was dubbed the 'Definitive Batman.' ...This series made The Batman someone an adult could appreciate, introduced his most famous woman, Silver St. Cloud, and showcased his most memorable encounter with the Joker in 'The Laughing Fish.' At the same time, it reestablished the dark, pulp roots of the character; I even asked for the panel borders to be thicker, to get more black on the page. It defined a man, a city, and an ambiance. The first Batman movie (the good one) was based on these stories. When Warner Brothers was stuck because two screenwriters failed to adapt them adequately, they brought me back to write a film treatment that did. Two other writers then finished the screenplay. This was the second film made from my stories, following Dr Strange and preceding the NightMan television series. Batman: The Animated Series and The Adventures of Batman & Robin, with their emphasis on 'Dark Deco,' were born of this run. Batman: TAS adapted the Hugo Strange stories and took 'The Laughing Fish' almost word for word. In short, these eight issues define the modern Batman franchise."

On making DC more tolerant: "[M]y insistance on including a gay hero, first in MILLENNIUM and then [in New Guardians], paid off down the line when DC founded a sub-line called Milestone and allowed it to use gay issues with no interference from above."

On the concept of Millenniums: "It's worth noting that we created [the millennium mini-series] in November 1986, when the concept of a Millennium was essentially unknown - a new era as yet nowhere close. We were probably the first to deal with it."

Of course, you could just ignore my snark and go and see all the comics that Englehart has written. There are some really great ones in there... and then there are the Malibu ones.

Marvel unveil their latest variant cover for Astonishing X-Men#1. As one Newsarama poster points out, this will be the fourth version of the book they'll be putting out; something to bear in mind the next time Joe Quesada complains about DC doing variant covers.

My only response to this, honestly, is fucking finally:

"DC today announced that it has acquired the North American publishing rights to all existing and future comic material from the UK’s Rebellion, publisher of 2000AD as well as Judge Dredd Megazine and others... The new arrangement came about as a result of ongoing conversations between DC and Rebellion which began shortly after they purchased 2000AD and its character library in 2000. The relationship grants DC access to the full library of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine material, including well-known (but rarely seen in the US) works by Garth Ennis, Simon Bisley, Frank Quitely, Mark Millar, Chris Weston, Sean Phillips, Glenn Fabry, and others. The relationship calls for a schedule that breaks down to having DC publish three volumes of Rebellion material a month. 'We’re going to start with two a month, for the first four months, which will be September through December, and then we’re going to go to three books a month starting in January, and there may be a couple of special books here or there,' said Georg Brewer, VP — Design & Retail Product Development. 'At least that’s our plan going out the door. We’re going to start the launch with a reissue of our Batman/Judge Dredd Files, which collects those team-ups. That will be in regular comics format in terms of trim size. The 2000AD material will be in trim size similar to the Humanoids books…7 3/8 by 10 and 3/16th inches.'"

Okay, so starting off my wishlist of reprints: Really And Truly. Sooner or Later/Swifty's Return. Revere. Big Dave. And if anyone can work out the fucking rights issue, Zenith.

Huzzah, I think:

"Reuters is reporting that Futurama co-creator David X. Cohen is teaming up with premium pay channel HBO to produce a cable series based on Joe Matt's Peepshow comic book series, which was collected into The Poor Bastard graphic novel published by Drawn & Quarterly... David X. Cohen plans to mix live action and animation in The Poor Bastard TV series in much the same way it was done in the American Splendor movie. Joe Matt will be an executive producer on the series and Donick Cary, who writes for the Simpsons, will work on scripts for the planned HBO series."

Paul O'Brien looks at Marvel's sales for March, commenting on the low sales of the launch issues of She-Hulk and Iron Fist:

"This, basically, is what you get if you launch an ongoing title starring a third-tier character with creators who aren't particularly well known in a month where they're bound to be overshadowed by other new titles. Let's be absolutely clear about this: HAWKEYE #1 sold better than either of these. I don't want to be too negative, because SHE-HULK is actually a very good comic and I'd love to see it do well. Nonetheless, this seems to be the basic sales level that Marvel can get by soliciting the first issue of, well, pretty much anything. Swift decline and cancellation inside of a year is almost invariably the result. (In fact, RUNAWAYS is about the only recent exception - and it's a Marvel Age book, so the normal rules don't apply.) If either of these books is going to buck that trend, they'll have to be very quick about it."

Axel Alonso talks about the upcoming Spider-Man "event", Sins Past:

"Sins Past digs deep into Spider-Man's history and unearths something big - something that no one will see coming... It also introduces a new character into the Spider-Man pantheon who's bound to raise some eyebrows. [The effect the story will have on all the titles] is hard to calculate, but it's safe to say, there will be no going back."

Silly Axel. There's always going back. Remember Aunt May dying, the Green Goblin dying, Peter Parker being revealed to be a clone of the real Peter Parker who was for some reason blonde and called Ben Reilly... The status quo always wins out in superhero comics, even if it takes eight years and the formation of an acronymonous lobbying group.

We all knew it was coming: Greg Land quits Crossgen. The Pulse has what little there is of the story:

"Land joined CrossGen a few years ago after a successful run on DC's Nightwing. He worked on several projects for the imprint including the fantasy series, Sojourn. Land was reportedly working on a new project for CGE, since he and writer Chuck Dixon's American Power series was shelved. The reasons for Land's leaving CrossGen are unknown at this time."

Ed Brubaker seals my interest in Ex Machina, as if Chris Butcher's Previews Review review wasn't enough:

"I just finished reading an advance copy of the first issue of Ex Machina, and it's one of the best first issues I've read in a long long long time. This book is beautifully drawn, and probably the best thing Brian Vaughan has written yet. If any of you were thinking of passing on it, don't. It is not to be missed. Seriously."

(This may also be the comic for my wife, as she loves Y The Last Man and practically everything Brubaker writes...)

Bendis starts raising the bar in Hollywood, as Jinx moves onto the big screen, to star Charlize Theron:

"“My manager and producing partner was talking to hers... And if I ever say anything more Hollywood than that you have permission to hit me about the head and neck with a USM hardback. After winning the Oscar, she then had the most unHollywood notion of honoring her word after she became a big time Oscar winner... So on top of my admiration for her obvious talent, I am quite pleased with her entire team's character. Good people."

Hal Jordan is back, in what may be the worst kept secret in comics. Newsarama reports what Wizard reports:

"Newsarama has learned that tomorrow’s Wizard #152 will send Hal Jordan fans into fits of glee. The issue contains an article outlining how, in the October-debuting Green Lantern: Rebirth, a five issue miniseries by Geoff Johns and Ethan VanSciver, Hal Jordan will return to the DCU in a costumed form, and with a ring. The current Green Lantern series will end with issue #181 in September. Johns is quoted in the article, saying that the storyline will encompass all facets of the Green Lantern mythos, including John Stewart, Guy Gardner, the Spectre, Alan Scott, and Kyle Rayner, who will, according to Johns, play a major role. And somewhere, members of H.E.A.T. (Hal's Emerald Advancement Team), who have lobbied for the return of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern for eight years are smiling – some for the first time in eight years, when it comes to the franchise."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Crossgen announce that, surprise surprise, things aren't going to plan for them with one of their planned launches:

"According to CrossGen, Raven House has been pulled from the schedule for June, and will now ship in August with a new artist attached. Raven House was to have been the next series in a line of diverse genres that also included the pirate series, El Cazador, the tongue-in-cheek spy thriller, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and the recently cancelled-before-launching American Power... Originally, Leonardo Manco was attached to the project as the artist, but has since departed the miniseries. According to CrossGen, current Kiss Kiss Bang Bang artist Mike Perkins will now be the artist for Raven House. Questions about the future of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, (which was conceived of by Perkins) about the future of that series to CrossGen by Newsarama went unanswered."

Okay, I know I've been away and all, but did I miss the press release announcing that the Comics Buyer's Guide is going to become a monthly magazine? Even though I've not read an issue in years, there's something oddly sad about that for me...

Jason Pomerantz interviews Neil Gaiman about 1602 and other things at Comic World News:

"What I specifically wanted to play with was the feel of the original Stan Lee (and Jack and Steve etc) characters. I wanted the simplicities. I wanted to write the characters I fell in love with when I was seven (in UK reprints, so I got the Marvel universe from the start). I didn't want to do something that was like a Marvel version of Alan Moore's 1963, though -- apart from anything because the original Marvel comics were those things that Alan was recreating, which meant that if I went that route at best I'd come up with something that was an imitation of what Stan and Jack had done. So I decided to do something else instead."

Brandon Thomas is still feeling the aftereffects of the cancellation of Wildcats and Stormwatch:

"Personally, I wish I’d taken the time to write one single solitary letter to Wildstorm in appreciation of what they brought to the table. Yeah, I raved about Eye of the Storm in the column, yeah I told Joe Casey he was the shit, but that was the extent of my contribution. Haven’t written a letter to the editor of my favorite title in years, but if anyone deserved it, the decision makers at Wildstorm did, and bridging the gap between online support and 'real' support is critical. The Internet helped save a company once, it put Mark Waid back on Fantastic Four, and it resuscitates Spider-Girl whenever she’s about to get the ax. The online comics community is the staging point for change, so what happens from here is entirely up to us. Next week there will be another set of announcements and developments to talk about, and ultimately distract us from the disappointment of these latest cancellations, but we can’t afford to let this stuff slide. Or we’ll only return to this point a couple months down the line, another title lost and a petition too late to save it.

"We have to work with our retailers to bring books to their attention that are potentially overshadowed by the sheer volume of material coming out. We have to stop 'waiting for trades' because if the book isn’t an immediate sales force, than the mythical collected edition will never see print. If there is a title on the stands that isn’t resting comfortably in the top 50, and you’re interested in giving it a shot, drop that extra Bat-book and get behind it immediately, otherwise you’ll be waiting forever. And when that’s settled, we have to tell the publishers why there’s a larger audience than they might suspect for books with something more to say.

"The majority may be speaking loud and clear, but seriously, they’ve given us reality television, teen horror movies, and manufactured pop music… When has the majority ever known what’s good for them?"

A1, one of comics' better anthologies, returns again with another publishing of Alan Moore and Steve "Never Given His Due But He's An Amazing Artist" Parkhouse's Bojeffries Saga:

"Gracing A1’s return to form is Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse’s lost classic of supernormal suburbia, THE BoJEFFRIES SAGA. Featuring 17 pages of SAGA material, A1 BIG ISSUE ZERO features the first story arc in a newly reformatted 13 page version (unavailable anywhere else), for all those Moore completists, as well as Alan and Steve’s original 4 page prologue that introduced the clan to an unsuspecting world. In addition to THE BoJEFFRIES SAGA, A1 also features the work of master storyteller Steve Dillon, perhaps best known for his runs on PREACHER and THE PUNISHER. For BIG ISSUE ZERO, Dillon will be scribing a brilliantly poignant tale of life and loss, as only he can tell it, KATHLEEN’S HOUSE. Piling onto the list of top-line talent is Dave Gibbons and Ted McKeever. Two of the premiere writer-artists of the direct market, they’re teaming together for SURVIVOR - a fabulous mini-epic that’s been called a startling dissection of the demi-god hero genre, and often recognized as the best non-Superman, Superman story ever written."

Augie De Blieck Jr. offers a differing view on The Losers than the usual comics internet experience:

"The one big shortcoming of the book for me is its visual style. The one-named wonder, Jock, has a harsh angular art style that grates on my nerves. Imagine Mike Mignola or Matt Smith, but with less definition and much dirtier. Jock is good at displaying emotion and has some strong facial expressions in his toolbox, but at least two characters on the Losers team look alike, and hiding them half in shadows so often doesn't help the cause. The art problems carry over to the coloring. I think Lee Loughridge is one of the best colorists in the business today, but usually gets overlooked. Hopefully, Loughridge will be overlooked on this book, which does not point to any of her strengths. This book is filled with muddy earthtones, flat backgrounds, and flatter characters. Of course, the colorist has to deal with the art as given, and I'm afraid there's not much for her to work with here."

I have to admit, though, that even if I hadn't seen any of Jock's work before, just the description of "Mike Mignola or Matt Smith, but with less definition and much dirtier" would probably be enough to make me a fan sight unseen. Diff'rent Strokes for Diff'rent Folks, as Gary Coleman has probably never said in his life.

Hawaiian Dick's B. Clay Moore signs up to be Image's PR and Marketing co-ordinator:

"With the leap to Image full-time, Moore hopes to assist in realizing the vision put forth by Publisher Erik Larsen and Managing Editor Eric Stephenson. 'I think Image Comics is not only a terrific publisher, but a vital cog in the industry,' said Moore. 'Whether people care to admit it or not, Image helped revolutionize the way comics are made, and I honestly believe a strong Image is good for the industry as a whole. I want to do anything in my power to promote awareness of the terrific things going on at Image these days. My goal is to be a visible, easily accessible and tireless promoter of Image Comics.'"

The Harvey Award Nominations are announced. Dave Johnston for best cover artist, please.

Who's The Man at The House of Ideas? Millarworld get on the case:

"In light of the recent Robert Morales events at Marvel I got to wondering about who is the true boss at Marvel. I know it's not Quesada or Buckley. But is it Gui Karyo? Avi Arad? Ike Perlwhatever? Is it the shareholders who call all of the shots? If so who has the most in stock? Who's the chairman of the board? I mean, does Marvel even have a CEO? I'm trying to figure out who's the one guy who can fire everyone in the company if he one day decided. At DC it's Richard Parson's. Paul Levitz answers to him (though I'm pretty sure Richard Parson's could care less about what happens at DC as long as they make money). But who do Buckley and Quesada answer to? And whoever they do, who's their boss?"

"Ike Perlmutter.. wasn't he the guy who pressured Marvel into moving Jemas away from the publishing side of the company? In which case I'd say he's a pretty powerful guy."

"Ike is the largest shareholder, so he has the most clout in terms of major company actions (selling it, restructuring, i.e. drastic changes) In terms of day to day operations, whoever is being the most successful probably wields the most power. Up until this year, I would say Avi Arad has basically been the guiding force since the movies have been the most successful. However, with two flops (Hulk, Punisher), I think his clout has been cut back. On the publishing side, I think Buckley is definately in charge (recent events seem to dicate this). Quesada probably could lead, but I think he wants to keep his reputation clean, so he lets others (Jemas, Buckley) do the dirty work and receive all the fan hate mail."

Sometimes, quashing rumours is more important than anything else. Ask Brian "Michael" Bendis:

"ITEM! no one on line and almost no one in the comic industry knows the final avengers line up. there's a monkey on millarworld spouting like he knows. he is either lying or being goofed on. ITEM! just because i do not comment on rumors posted about my buisness dealings, it doesn't make them true. i just feel that there are quite a few people using the shit out of me on line, for attention or whatever, and i don't feel like contrubiting to any of it. theres more but i have to pea..."

There then follows eight pages of comments by people waiting for Bendis to return from "pea"ing...

Jim Valentino talks the return of normalman:

"This particular book started percolating in October of last year. Eric Stephenson was trying to talk me into reprinting the whole oeuvre into a phone book sized Essential or something and I was reluctant to do that. The following day, oddly enough, a buddy of mine, Todd Tochioka was over at the house smoking some beers and told me that he thought that all of these horror stories I told him about other peoples' experiences and mine would make a great vehicle for a new normalman book. I chewed on it for a few months, and then wrote the first half of the story in early January. I took a few days off in the middle of February - do the math, folks - to begin penciling it, then wrote the later half in the end of February, finishing the art in March."

Stuart Moore is concerned for the comics industry. And not in the way you may think:

"So why is the collective internet convinced that the Direct Market is in its death throes? At the same time that ICV2 reports that, in the first year-on-year comparison of Diamond’s new orders-tallying system, direct-market sales of new comics are up 17% and trade paperbacks are up 2%?... This subject came up recently in conversation with Matt Brady, Newsarama’s Grand Master of All He Surveys (Via Phone and E-Mail). And we came up with a possible answer. Actually, he came up with it -- but it’s so obvious and fits so well with the overall theme of this column, I’m happy to steal it here. It’s the World Outside. I don’t think I’ll get a lot of argument if I say that we’re living in chaotic times. And this country in particular is as polarized, as divided down the middle, as I’ve ever seen it. I highly recommend a recent Washington Post article (free registration required) on the subject, which builds off of an Austin American-Statesman analysis of the 1976 and 2000 election results.

"Speaking only to the Americans here: Half of you believe that the President is pursuing the only possible course to deter terrorism and keep our nation safe, and that his team is courageous, on the ball, and willing to make the necessary tough decisions. You fear that a Democratic president would be soft on terrorism and lead to more deaths and a weaker United States. The other half of us believe Bush is deluded, possessed of inherently bad judgment, and that his team is an incompetent group of political hacks who’d rather spend time on TV, defending their policies by splitting semantic hairs, than actually doing anything. All this, while Cheney and his cronies systematically shift more and more wealth to the world’s richest men, and distract us with ill-advised tax cuts and scare tactics about terrorism. To put it simply: We’re all a little worked up."

Monday, April 26, 2004

Rich Johnston reprints Robert Morales' post on the Joe Quesada board about what happened to his Captain America run in this week's Lying In The Gutters:

"Yes, Steve Rogers was supposed to eventually become an independent vice-presidential candidate, and he was supposed to eventually become President of the United States. But the challenge was you'd never get a real handle on his political stance - it was all about his character, and what everyone else would project onto it. In early February, Joe and Axel and I went out to lunch - pretty much to part company, but instead Joe came up with another story arc that was really great and challenging. We fleshed it out and were surprised at how positively the afternoon turned out. However, Buckley killed that idea. Then Axel came to me again and asked if I could come up with something else, so I suggested retelling Cap's origin for a modern audience, which hadn't been done in awhile. You'd find more about Cap's interaction with real history, where his shield and costume came from, it'd have cameos by Sgt. Fury and Bucky and Hitler and Ike - a big, sweeping historical epic. Buckley decided that World War II wasn't big enough - and it was clear to me then that Marvel management just didn't want me writing Cap, period... Cap as President was supposed to be a highly-publicized event - unlike Luthur's win, which I didn't know about for a while, and I follow comics. That they'd decide not to go with that storyline is understandable to the extent that Marvel isn't doing the kind of outside media promotion they used to for their books... I committed to doing 18 issues of Captain America; my run will end with eight issues. I've turned down any further work from Marvel, including a 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' series and a '1602' spin-off."

In happier news, Morales is moving onto doing more work with Kyle Baker...

Jae Lee's Hellshock to be completed, published by Dynamic Forces:

"This won’t be a mere reprint of the series. Fans will finally be able to read issue #4 of Hellshock Volume II in its entirety. Half of the issue was done 5 years ago. The other half will be done now. There will also be tons of behind-the-scenes materials. If you’re at all interested in what it takes to put a comic book together and the chaos that can follow, you’ll be able to read my first hand account of the story behind the story of what really happened during the making of Hellshock -- It’s insane. It’ll be but one of the many bonus materials that will be included in the Hardcover collection."

In other news, hell may have frozen over.

Newsarama has preview pages from the second issue of Astonishing X-Men. Just to add to that idea that the comic is going backwards with the (re)addition of costumes, these pages feature the heroes having a slugfest. It's a nicely drawn one, admittedly, but still...

Top Shelf decide they want all of my money this summer, god damn them:

"Exciting news for Craig Thompson and James Kochalka fans. Both will be appearing at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, debuting FOUR all-new books (timed to hit retail stores on the exact same day in July). All four titles are featured in the current Previews Catalog, so be sure to get your local retailer to pre-order them for you today! Here's what's coming... CARNET DE VOYAGE by Craig Thompson. Craig Thompson -- the award-winning creator of Blankets and Good-bye, Chunky Rice -- spent three months traveling through Barcelona, the Alps, and France, as well as Morocco, where he was researching his next graphic novel, Habibi. Spontaneous sketches and a travelogue diary document his adventures and quiet moments, creating a raw and intimate portrait of countries, culture and the wandering artist... AMERICAN ELF: THE COLLECTED SKETCHBOOK DIARIES OF JAMES KOCHALKA
(OCTOBER 26, 1998 TO DECEMBER 31, 2003) by James Kochalka. With an introduction by Moby Kochalka's diaries have utterly redefined the daily comic strip. His attempt to document the minutia of his life results in work that explores the full spectrum of human emotions. Drawn with verve and confidence by a cartoonist at the height of his powers, it is ambitious, hilarious, moving, and quite addictive! This astounding book follows the ups and downs of Kochalka's life through FIVE (!) full years of the strip, plus also includes 32 full color pages of supplementary comics and other artwork. Quite simply, this is Kochalka's masterpiece... CONVERSATIONS #1 by JAMES KOCHALKA & CRAIG THOMPSON. Two of our best cartoonists go head to head in this freewheeling collaboration/argument, discussing art and religion, confronting each other and playfully confronting God in one of the best comics "jams" ever set to paper. Kochalka and Thompson draw together, trading the pages back and forth, adding to each other's drawings as the conversation turns in unexpected directions. A wild energy forms as their two drawing styles merge together. It's like a comics version of My Dinner with Andre, but with a giant killer octopus."

The fourth title isn't actually a book, but a soundtrack CD to Blankets, which isn't my bag so much. But nonetheless, good lord, those other books look great.

Jim Valentino on why he left Image:

"Here's what I have to say about that; the real story is in the new normalman book. It's not hidden, it's not a sight gag and Newsarama readers, being the astute lot they are, will have no trouble picking it out. So, I expect every one of them who is even mildly interested in this nonsense to buy a copy of the book! Who says this isn't the age of shameless self-promotion?"

Newsarama asks Micah Wright about Stormwatch's cancelled third trade selling so well on Amazon.com's preorder list:

"I fell off my chair yesterday when I checked it three hours after I posted the URL. The book was up to #2471. Then later in the day, 1273. I never thought we'd break 1000. Then we hit 959. 669. Hellboy was #505. No way I can pass up Hellboy, not with a movie out. Two hours later, we're at #332. I told Alex Sinclair, my Editor on the book that if it broke 200, I'd buy him a nice lunch and if we made to the top 100, we were going to Vegas. I went to bed thinking that I was safe at 212. I woke up and it was at #162. Now I'm terrified that I'm going to have to fly Alex to Vegas for girls and gambling!"

Micah Wright presents today's True Manga Horror Stories:

"The thing that no one has realized about Manga yet, though, is that the more it spreads, the more chance it has of accomplishing in American Comics what Anime has accomplished in American Action/Adventure animation: utter devastation and decimation of the talent base.

"People ask me all the time why I don't sell Constant Payne to Cartoon Network. Why? Because to make that show right, I'd need $400,000/half hour... but why should CN take on that kind of production budget when they can lease an Anime show for $50,000/episode? This kind of thinking has led to the utter decimation of the domestic American action-adventure talent pool. Fewer and fewer shows are made here... Teen Titans and Justice League are the last two big shows, but they're both being made solely for the Synergistic Exploitation which comes from attacking on all fronts with comics, tv, toys, etc. There hasn't been a new American action show worth it's weight in salt in years. With brilliant storyboard artists like Dave Bullock reduced to doing covers for Superman and several other talented directors/artists getting into other fields or moving to Germany and Canada, I don't know if there are enough people left in this town to DO a good action/adventure show. Even if there were, I'm not sure that any of the big TV companies would be willing to lay out the cash for it because 'we can always go to Japan.' If DC is seriously successful with CMX, you can expect people to start asking 'Why do we publish books like 100 Bullets or Human Target or Y the Last Man? They sell 1/3 of what our Japanese imports sell and they cost us a LOT of money to pay the creators and produce.' Because it will ALWAYS be cheaper to license a completed product from another country than to make a new book and pay the American talent.

"And before you say 'no one would be stupid enough to fire all of the talent and make them angry and allow them to slip away never to return, I'd like to point out that this is EXACTLY what ABC TV did when they put 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' on TV seven nights a week. When Millionaire became an overnight sensation, ABC killed all of their underperforming or struggling new shows and subbed in episodes of Millionaire. Not only did they kill shows on the air, though, they also killed EVERY SINGLE show in their development slate because it cost almost a million bucks to make a new sitcom episode, but only $250,000 to make an episode of WWTBAM and no new show was going to perform at Millionaire's ratings level. So when the fad died, ABC was left with a decimated schedule and NOTHING in development to put on the air. That one decision is effecting their ratings even now, years later... because not only did they anger the people whose shows they killed and the people whose shows were in development that they killed and the people like Steven Bochco whose multi-show contracts were ignored, they also sent a massive signal to the rest of the industry that they were willing to do something that everyone saw as sure suicide, and it's made everyone very reluctant to deal with them.

"I'm not saying that this is what's going to happen at DC, but the precedents are there in fields which earn far more money than comic books. It's difficult to see how those market pressures will be resisted for anything other than company-owned superhero books with Synergistic potential... IF the CMX Manga experiment is successful."

Ladies and gentlemen, the end of the world. Actually, it gets worse...

24-Hour Comic Day was, apparently, a success:

"Various creators have already posted their stories in the Web, and some of the event hosts are quickly publishing photocopied versions of stories made in their store. [Event founder Nat] Gertler himself will be sifting through all the comics submitted to pick twenty interesting examples for the upcoming anthology 24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2004. 'People have been asking me whether they should submit their stories even if they didn’t make it to 24 pages, or even if they were collaborative comics. Absolutely! The book is meant to capture what happened on that day, and while it will include mostly proper 24 hour comics, it wouldn’t be complete without at examples of collaborative comics and other things that happened during this vast creative whirlwind.' Cover sheets for submitting works are available on the www.24HourComics.com website."

What do Millarworldians think about the DC Focus line, asks Aaron Mehta. DC may not be happy to hear the responses:

"I purchased Hard Time #1 mainly for Brian Hurtt's art, and the previews in the back. The title was very average, and incredibly predictable -- seemed liked a Vertigo-lite for teens, or something along those lines. None of the other titles really interest me, but one thing about the line in general bothers me like hell -- what's up with the coloring (or non-coloring)? Everything's so terribly bland and gray."

"The only one that interested me in the previews/solicitations was 'Hard Time' so I picked up the first issue and found it to be incredibly cliched and underwhelming."

"I think that Hard Time will survive, if DC release a timely collection of the first storyline, but, without wanting to seem overly cynical, I really don't think that the rest of the books have a chance."

Still catching up on stuff: James Sime thinks about what went wrong at Wildstorm:

"You know what I'd like to see from my friends at Wildstorm? A strong and simple company trade dress for their line. Trade dresses sell comics. They make the issues look sexy all lined up next to each other and if a fan likes a book and wants something similar, a good trade dress is an obvious indication that a book may have a similar attitude, if not a similar theme. A sharp, creative trade dressing on a line of comics makes a line pop off the shelves. And I would really like a consistent cover design or motif that unmistakably says 'this is a Wildstorm Eye of the Storm book' from twenty feet away."

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Brian Michael Bendis wants to be part of the solution:

"we have gotten bloated and lazy as a comic book community and the recent slaying of some quality titles with the shocking underperformance of dozens of others means its time for all of us, creators, retailer, fans, and hell yes!! publishers to shake off the sillies and get out the big drum and start whapping it. we have another free comic day around the corner, we have potential summer blockbusters hitting the cineplex every two months. we have books we love, we have a medium we love...SO WHAT ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO??!! sadly going on millarworld or this board and yelling WHY ISN'T ANYONE BUYING MY FAVORITE TITLE!! isn't nearly enough. its time to be creative. its time to open a dialogue with your retailer. tell him what you want! tell him why!!"

Millarworld also talk about most comics fans of a certain age's first comics crush, Kitty Pryde:

"Kitty is gonna have a big part in astonishing x-men. But, where has she been and what has she been up too in the marvel U?"

"Long story short, she's been paying her way through college by stripping at the local Coyote Ugly knockoff campus bar in Chicago. Also, her and Xi'an Coy Manh are kind of an item."

"There wasn't even really a thing b/n them at all. Just a moment.....nothing happened. Kitty's one of the most dynamic, strong women characters in comics today in my opinion. We need more Jewish heroes too!"

"I have no problem with a character coming out as gay - even though she's had two - to my knowledge - very realistically handled heterosexual relationships. (The issue where Colossus breaks up with her after the X-Men return from the first Secret Wars is one of a very small number of comics to actually make me cry.) But stripping??"

"She was just a bar tender, and her and Xian were just friends, Kneisel is making-up wild rumors about Claremont as usual. Though everyone would probably think the made-up scenario was totaly cool if done by someone else."

A poster at Millarworld claims to have the new members of The Avengers, post-Bendis revamp: The Thing, Spider-Man and Wolverine. No-one seems to be that impressed:

"I really, really, REALLY, hate Marvel right now... I know it'll pass, but right now... I just.. Ugh..."

"Now Wolverine is in his own team. The Thing is part of his own team. And Spidey's a loner. There's NO REASON AT ALL FOR THEM TO BE IN THE AVENGERS! It would be like Hulk, Ghost Rider Spider-Man and Wolverine suddenly being the new fantastic four or something, it's absolutely ridiculous."

"Spidey I could deal with. Ben Grimm and Wolvie? LAME! They both are two involved in X-Men and FF stuff. Leave them were they belong."

What happens if your principles are at war with your business interests? Well, if you're Joe Quesada, apparently you ignore your principles all together. Luckily, Gui Karyo is on hand to play Jimmy Cricket to Quesada's Pinocchio in a story that Newsarama really should've called "A House (Of Ideas)... Divided!":

"At a meeting today at Marvel, Joe Quesada who has pointedly said that he doesn’t want the return to variant covers, was trying to make a beachhead of the [second variant cover to Astonishing X-Men#1]. Quesada is, reportedly, taking the stance that Marvel is being forced to move back to variant covers by DC’s recent variants. But – if that was where the market was headed, Marvel should answer with another variant cover for Astonishing #1. Although Quesada had been recently strictly opposed to variants as a matter of course, President of Publishing Gui Karyo is now the one with his finger on the stop button, with reports of Karyo keeping an eye on the bottom line, and not wanting to put unnecessary inventory in the marketplace as a matter of course. Publisher Dan Buckely, reportedly took the middle ground in the meeting over the variant cover, which was at times heated, saying that some fans will want the cover, and, if treated as a incentive for retailers, it rewards retailers who take a strong position on the book. Since the variant cover was already announced to retailers, it won’t be pulled, according to sources, despite the disagreements in upper management."

Note that Newsarama's source just so also happens to have previews of the possible covers to show. Not that I'm saying that this is just all an attention-grabbing show on Marvel's behalf to get some more hype for Astonishing or anything, you understand.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

I'm back. No new blogging until Monday, but I just wanted to thank Michael, Ed and Maria for their week of fill-in fun while I was out climbing every mountain...

(EDIT on Sunday: Okay, so I'm blogging today. So I was wrong. What else is new?)

Friday, April 23, 2004

Presented without comment (or, if you will, lazy blogging):

Did you know that there's a whole message board devoted to PHANTOM JACK?

Thanks to Tim Hartnett of Silver Bullet Comic Books, I guess I can turn in my "elitist" hat...

"Don't these people make you sick? They're on the message boards, they're in the comic shops, they're looking over the creators' shoulders every last second. They're quite possibly the reason why the popular comics industry has suffered so much in recent years. They are…the elitists!

"These self-proclaimed (hardly) Messiahs of the comic book industry are everywhere to be found these days. Their very presence scares many would-be fans from the comic racks. Their walls are plastered with posters of the works of Alan Moore and Frank Miller; John Byrne and Walter Simonson are on their dartboards. Everything they read is dark, dreary, scary, and sophisticated…at least to them. Everything has to be "mature." "Adult." "Unconventional." And if God forbid anyone say anything against Grant Morrison, The Dark Knight Returns, or the writing style of Mark Millar, they will tear you apart.

"These are my worst enemies."

In all fairness, he does make some sense at parts, like pointing out that a lot of the books some fans call "mature" are anything but, and that the majority of comics-related marketing just preaches to the choir. Still, trying to say that "everything" these "elitists" read falls into these categories smacks of as much close-mindedness as The Comics Journal is often claimed to embody.

Now, I'm off to find my own "worst enemies." If he can have some, so can I.

Over at Comic World News, Rachel Gluckstern on the events in this week's Doonesbury:

"The blatant portrayal of his injury is new as well. Though death has been depicted, it has been so discreetly. Even the sight of ill Andy Lippincott was kept off-panel for quite a while. Those who have passed on have only had portions of their heads showing, no face at all, and perhaps a leaf or two fluttering in the silence. BD is completely revealed, face, hair, missing portion of his leg and all. One might argue it lacks for subtlety, but few can dispute its impact and gravity. It is strong. It is stirring without being sappily sentimental. It is definitely tragic. And it illustrates more vividly than all the pokes at the president and his administration where exactly Trudeau stands on the issue of Iraq."

And, unlike some comic books today, I don't think that BD's leg is going to be brought back into continuity to appease the audience.

If Graeme were here, I'm sure he'd be happy to link to Johanna Draper Carlson's new blog, Cognitive Dissonance. I don't want to, though, because her first blog entries are about a hundred times more interesting than my fill-in blogging for Graeme. Damn your talents, Johanna.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

"Bill" aka David Carradine is one of us, too.

"How old were you? Six, I think, six or seven. But then I kept collecting comic books all along and he eventually gave up on that and let me have them. I'd trade them and steal them and I read them all, everything from “Little Lulu” to “The Dark Knight” which I guess is my favorite. Then, I've kept up with all of the Marvel things. I read Frank Miller's illustrated novels and there's a whole other series of illustrated novels that appeared 10 or 15 years ago, or maybe more, where they take a science fiction book by someone famous, Phillip K. Dick, or somebody like that and they do it. I was into science fiction too so naturally, I would read those. Then, “Heavy Metal” magazine, and then there's extremely erotic comics too. I read them too. I read them all, and I read at least one newspaper everyday and I follow the comics in the newspaper. I read every single one of them, even the ones that bore me."

Well it's just a fact. Comics are BACK. ICv2 has this month's estimated sales figures, and sales are UP, with 14 of the top 25 titles showing a sales increase. The top ten are:

146,908 Superman/Batman #8
143,565 Avengers/JLA #4
117,253 New X-Men #154
108,791 Superman/Batman #7
106,873 Ultimate Fantastic Four #4
101,329 Ultimates #13
97,002 Ultimate X-Men #43
93,025 Ultimate Spider-Man #54
91,525 Ultimate Spider-Man #55
86,431 Uncanny X-Men #441

Of course, we need Paul and Marc's sales analysis to show us what's really going on.

Cartoons invade Cannes: Both Shrek 2 and Innocence (the sequel to Ghost in the Shell) have been placed in competition at this years film fest, surprising some. (Animated films were only reintroduced into competition a few years ago, after a nearly 30 -year ban.) Screenings out of competition include Troy, Kill Bill 2 and the Dawn of the Dead remake. Nerd Crown Prince Quentin Tarantino heads this year's jury.

Newly annointed Xeric winners Angry Jim and Karl Stevens are outed over at the TCJ board. I know another winner but I'm not allowed to say yet!

Over at Micah Wright's forum, it's been discovered that The third Stormwatch trade is still on Amazon, and Wright has declared a grassroots campaign to save it.

"Someone at DC hasn't removed StormWatch Trade #3 from the Amazon.com listing.

"So go pre-order a few copies."

The groundswell pushes the trade to #169 on Amazon's best-seller list. Come on kids, try to hit #100!

This calls for a little salt and what not, but according to the boisterous lads at AICN, David Hayter's Watchman script is to be directed by Darren Aronofsky. Moriarty quotes Hayter as saying:

"That said, I have continued to impress upon the Producers that they must not just give this film to some, so-called "A-list" director just based on name alone. You may have heard who they are talking to at the moment, and I, for one, thought it was a pretty impressive idea. One I was genuinely excited about. Please feel free to announce with my enthusiastic endorsement."

"This man has done little research, less exercise, and stains the name of TRON."

Angry V-sters rip fat scary Tron guy a new one.

Mark Evanier pays tribute to animation veteran Pete Alvarado, who recently passed away. (Link courtesy of The Pulse.)

"I just found out that Pete Alvarado, one of the most prolific comic book and animation artists of all time, passed away last January 30 at the age of 83. During his career, he worked for almost every animation studio in existence including a long stint for the Warner Brothers cartoon studio during its Golden Age. The Animation Guild's newsletter, via which I learned of Pete's passing, notes that he worked for Warners, MGM, UPA, Hanna-Barbera, DePatie-Freleng, Krantz, Sanrio, Ruby-Spears, Filmation, Marvel, Disney and Hyperion, and that he was awarded the Animation Guild Golden Award in 1987"

Over at Newsarama, Ryan McLelland recalls an early example of cross platform promotion in Marvel Team-Up #74

"Live from New York it's Saturday Night Live with your host -- Stan Lee?!?! And musical guest Rick Jones!?!?! That's right ladies and gents because Marvel Team-Up #74 doesn't team our pal Spidey with The Thing, Moon Knight, or Obnoxio the Clown. This time out Spider-Man teams with those wacky Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players!!! (And this is years YEARS before Assistant Editor's Month)."

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Photos from the Atlanta Comicon answer the question whatever happened to Jeff Jones? Hint: he doesn't have a beard.

Seen around:

In the future, all poorly-reviewed, moderately successful superhero movies will have sequels, that is, if local film commissioners have their say!

"The movie [The Punisher], filmed in Tampa last year, opened on Friday. While it has received mediocre to bad reviews from a majority of critics, Emerald said everyone seems to agree on one thing: Tampa looks great."

"Pretty little ex-Hooter girl" writes Spidey fanfic at Millarworld

Neil Gaiman has a beard now. Thanks to Paul Sizer for the link.

Finally, Marvel's side of the Icon story. Gui Karyo speaks!

NRAMA: Can you discuss a little about Marvel’s benefits in something like Icon? Business-wise, for a big company to publish and expend resources in something it doesn’t own at the end of the day doesn't seem very prudent. Marvel won't own anything, you'll only get a small fee per book, no matter if the book is a through the roof seller, the creators can pack up and walk. Where's the benefit here for Marvel?

GK: Well, first, since the economics of the deals with our creators are confidential, and will remain so, I don't believe your assessment of the fiscal value of this venture is accurate, and we do expect, in the full course of time, for Icon to make a healthy contribution to Marvel

Scary fat dude makes Tron costume.

This is not your father's Tron costume...oh wait, I guess it is. As a Tron-fanatic friend told me, "His ass is shaped like a toy boat."

Wednesday's with Steven Grant, over at CBR:

"By now you may have recognized that comics companies do a crappy job of promoting, particularly with new "untested" concepts. Comics companies, like most other American entertainment media these days, are geared toward The Franchise, that "iconic" product that can generate sales on name alone and will, theoretically, continue to do so for the indefinite future, from a variety of sources. (With a big enough franchise, like Superman, the actual comics sales become irrelevant to the secondary market money.) New properties have a major liability: they aren't franchises and most aren't likely to be, and no one has yet figured out the formula for deciding what the next big franchise will be, try as they might to pretend they do."

"But it's hard to think about happy lunches when a gentleman Lieber refers to as The Presenter comes by. From time to time at shows, you've no doubt felt awkward talking to someone at a table, standing over them so they have to crane their neck up to talk. This health-conscious fan has an interesting solution to that: he uses his limberness to stretch his legs apart and come down to your level!"

Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber invade Long Beach,
make a pilgrimage to Dean Cornwell, eat peanuts, sell comics, and tell THE LAST GALACTUS STORY. Great reading from these gentlemen, as always.

Newsarama has previews of the upcoming Superman/Batman-Supermancover swap. Methinks Jim Lee has been looking at too many Italian fountains of late. Newsarama posters respond with incontinence.

The 2004 Harvey Award nominees are up at The Pulse. All in all, a slightly odder and less expected list than the Eisners, as usual. Big scores for Louis Riel and...Joe Kubert? Charles Burns is to the Harveys as Brian Bendis is to the Eisners. Discuss.

Agent Necrotron here! Calling all agents! Calling all Agents! While the cat's away, the mice will wear party hats.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Blogging is addicting. Now I want one. But, until then, I'm just going to shamelessly shill for Comic World News. Because Graeme told me I could. Big Daddy Kane was wrong.

Generally speaking, I'm not the biggest fan of Underground Online. I love Rich Watson's column, and I read Hannibal Tabu's "The Buy Pile," but had Brian Jacks not posted this to CBR, I probably wouldn't have even seen it... It's a great time waster where you play charades with Michael Winslow, the human beatbox from the POLICE ACADEMY movies. I'm a sucker for a human beatbox.

Even though he's not linkblogging anymore, Tim O'Neil is still one of my must-reads. Today, he's looking at the clusterfuck that was DC's MILLENNIUM event. Not only is it funny, but he makes some very cogent points...

Previews Review is up for June. Something that caught my eye:

By Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris
$2.95, 32 Pages, DC/Wildstorm
Order Code: APR04 0356

"It starts in the middle of the “real world” in 1999, and just twigs a little something so that things go in a very different direction. Using advanced technology and superhero realism in the same way that many contemporary authors use “magic realism”, EX MACHINA becomes immensely compelling historical fiction of the history of our day-to-day lives. It’s political commentary with a shocking amount of immediacy, something I honestly couldn’t see DC ever publishing (but then it is coming out isn’t it?). It names names, it uses contemporary language in a realistic and engaging way, it uses contemporary storytelling in a practically-unseen way in comics, it’s beautifully drawn, and it’s RELEVANT. It’s a superhero book that is relevant. Let that roll around in your head for a moment."

And the cover is pretty as hell, too:

In a column on the silliest comics-related collectibles known to man at The Pulse!, "Bagheera" decides to take the column (and the site) to task:

"Again, Heidi and Jen, I ask you to consider the message you're sending to the comics community at large by CONTINUING to print these inane and completely ludicrous tales of an immature man-child. Remember, this is a COMICS site. Not an action figure site. (There are plenty of those for Mr. Dill to frequent, I'm sure.)"

Jen Contino's response gets the cookie:

"There are just as many people who would slam all of us regular comic readers and say we're immature and holding onto childhood by reading comics! I don't see any of us here as able or qualified to slam Dill for his love of toys, when * most * of us are into comics."

"Bagheera" later apologizes for overstating his case...

Preemptive nostalgia, or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Present," or something.

"There have been multiple threads in the past month about what you loved (or loathed) about previous decades: the 80's, the 90's, etc. However, while it's always nice to show your love and appreciation of history, what about nowadays?

Nostalgia is always in. Some fool is always waiting for The Beatles to get back together or for Madonna to return to her Like A Virgin look or for Jim Lee to draw X-Men again. But what do you appreciate about the 2000's so far? We're almost halfway through them. What do you think you'll miss about this decade when you look back on it, say, 10 years from now?"

Isn't it just a little early for '00s nostalgia? Hell, isn't it a little early for '90s nostalgia?

Future Comics is back. And as of yet, no one has made a lame Back To The Future joke...

Monday, April 19, 2004

Conan has a few creative changes, namely Greg Ruth filling in for Cary Nord on #8 and Leinil Francis Yu taking over as cover artist w/ #9. Ruth yay, Yu nay; Busiek stays, hooray hooray. That is all.

You know, for a fill-in guy desperate for some comics news, the gossip columns are really disappointing today. Rich Johnston's got next to nothing this week, acting as if the Wachowskis publishing new Steve Skroce and Geoff Darrow comics is something that happened recently. Oh well, we can all pretend, right? Other than that, he continues to live in the past, talking of Liefeld's Heroes Reborn and Wildstorm consipracy theories, amid plugs for Holed Up and Waiting For Tommy. Usually he has some good stuff. Here's the link.

Devil's Due solicits are ready for your viewing pleasure, too. Granted, '80s nostalgia comics are probably NOT the target audience for FANBOY RAMPAGE, but Army of Darkness is awesome. They can't screw it up too bad, right?


Written by Andy Hartnell, art by Nick Bradshaw, finishes and colors by Etienne St-Laurent, covers by J. Scott Campbell, Marc Silvestri and Ben Templesmith.

Featuring characters from the Sam Raimi film, Army of Darkness, the first issue of this new ongoing series features Ash having to leave behind the comfort, safety, and convenience of the S-Mart when a face from the past recruits him for another go-round with the Necronomicon and its minions. Ash gets a "do-over" to set right a new problem caused by his misspeaking those notorious magic words and is charged with the unusual task of returning to a certain cabin in the woods on the fateful night he first learned of the existence of The Necronomicon."


Dark Horse's July solicitations are up. (They were actually up on April 9th, but Graeme was in full-ICON mode on that day.)

Lots of these books look good, particularly Milkman Murders, by Joe Casey and Steve Parkhouse:

"The most horrific of all Dark Horse's new brand of horror comics comes from the mind of Joe Casey and Steve Parkhouse, who exposed the absurd side of British suburban life in his collaboration with Alan Moore on The Bojeffries Saga, and later took on global madness in Grant Morrison's The Invisibles. Now the two turn their attention to the depraved American suburb, where a forlorn housewife faces facts about the American Dream. The unraveling of her hopes leads to unprecedented terror, heralded by a demonic vision from some twisted parody of a Norman Rockwell image as painted by serial-killing folk-artist John Wayne Gacy--The Milkman."

Plus: The Ring will be a five-volume GN series, the Shockrockets TPB gets a home, Chronicles of Conan begins the John Buscema reprints, and Brian Vaughan, Dean Haspiel and others contribute to Michael Chabon's The Escapist #3 (was it just me, or did that first issue suck? Mayhaps they should have left the novel alone.).

.... I hope bringing up relatively old news like this isn't cheating. I don't know if I can handle scouring a dozen message boards.

Entertainment Weekly questions comic book movies' longevity, and racks up last weekend's revenge flicks:

''Kill Bill -- Vol. 2'' grossed an impressive $25.6 million in its first three days, according to studio estimates. That's 16 percent higher than the $22.1 million ''Vol. 1'' earned last fall. Terrific reviews combined with high audience expectations fueled the debut. The coming weeks will tell whether the sequel can top the $69.9 million take of the original.

Second place, as expected, went to ''The Punisher,'' the comic-book-based thriller starring Thomas Jane, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and John Travolta, with $14 million. That's considerably lower than the $23.2 million debut of ''Hellboy'' two weeks ago. Could audiences be tiring of these comic-book flicks? With ''Spider-Man 2'' less than three months away, don't count on it.

(You may need to be a subscriber to read the article.)

All The Rage has all the good gossip this week. Take, for instance, the beef with Thomas Jane (a.k.a. The Punisher):

“[Jane] spoke in a weird low voice and looked down at the floor the entire time. He didn't look me in the eyes once."

That's the best quote they had, really. Thank God for disrespected fanboys and their online revenge.

Over at The Fourth Rail, Don MacPherson takes a look at some of this week's releases.

DC Focus provokes another shrug, with Fraction #1:

"The essential premise behind this story is what four regular guys of varying degrees of amoral personalities would do if they happened upon Iron Man's armor. It's a solid premise, but the plot here is more than a little transparent. The story's predictability is its greatest liability, but there's plenty of potential in the premise and these characters, once the writer gets a chance to explore them in depth."

And he isn't too fond of Rucka's debut on Adventures of Superman:

"I'm a big fan of Greg Rucka's work, both in comics and prose, and I figured his strong characterization and penchant for realistic portrayals of dynamic professions would make for a nice fit with Superman, and more specifically, reporter Clark Kent. Instead, Rucka gets off to a somewhat shaky start, thanks to an obscure and rather uninteresting antagonist, a lack of clarity in the art and some rocky introductions to new characters. I remain interested in what Rucka may have in store in future issues, but I certainly hope it's something stronger and more coherent than this debut."

My two cents: Rucka rarely writes a bad comic, and he got me to care about Wonder Woman, so I'm giving this a shot. As for DC Focus, I'm all over the place. Hard Time started off strong but has now fallen into cliched routine (despite incredible artwork by Brian Hurtt), Kinetic is too early to tell, and Touch didn't grab me until the neat twist at the end. I'm thrilled that DC has an "indie" line, but why does it have to involve superpowers?

24: One-Shot writers J.C. Vaughn and Mark L. Haynes talk about using real time in comics:

"The format was indeed a challenge and it was difficult finding that balance," admitted Haynes. "We thought about the various mathematical solutions, but none of them seemed viable for either the publisher or the reader. For this project, though, we went with an even more fundamental approach. We stuck with what works for the show and that is characters you can develop a connection with, a plot with as many twists and turns as we can manage in forty-eight pages and, of course, relentless action."

"Comics can't ever replicate everything you see on a screen," continued Vaught. "It's obvious, but TV and movies have motion. On the other hand, the screen can't duplicate every element of the comic book experience either. There is that unique imagery conjured up in the mind by the combination of illustration and the visual representation of words and sound effects. While there are tons of similarities, there are still very unique components in each media form. Our best hope is to create something that could stand on its own, but functions better as a component of an overall experience."

There's also a page of preview art, sans dialogue. Seems difficult to make each page span half an hour....

Friday, April 16, 2004

Okay, so I'm off on vacation as of about ten minutes from now. All of you take care, and be nice to the three lovely people who will be filling my shoes while I'm gone. And to those three, play nice now.

I'll be back a week on Monday, barring unforseen horrific driving accidents.

The Batbooks get back to normal, if "normal" means a 25-part crossover between almost all of the line:

"[Editor Bob] story takes place within the grand scheme of things. Although a lot of people view events like this as 'money grabbers' and some are quick to complain before an issue even sees print. However, Schreck explained a little about why stories like Batman: War Games are necessary. 'We haven't done this since Bruce Wayne: Murderer & Fugitive which was extremely well received by our readers,' began Schreck. 'It's fun to shake things up and change the status quo and in the process, bring attention to these characters and let them strut their stuff. Why do people run to see Jason Vs. Freddie? It's obvious, isn't it? It's an event. We just don't settle that easily or aim as low as that example when it comes to our stories and we work very hard at putting together an event with some substance, with a story and drama that's worth the price of admission. Our writers and artists have been working with these characters for months and sometimes years on end, and they challenge themselves to construct a tale that they'd like to read themselves, if they were the consumer. I don't feel that raising awareness of our characters, providing solid entertainment and making a few dollars have to be mutually exclusive to each other.'"

Superman/Batman was the #1 book for March. Which, considering it outsold Avengers/JLA and Ultimates #13, is somewhat surprising...

Sid6.6 is upset about the way comics are going, at Millarworld:

"I don't know, guys. After what happened with Wildcats v3.0 and Stormwatch:TA i'm kinda jaded by comics now...everything seems so sinister...sales, bottom lines...does anyone remember when you used to read a comic without having to worry about that kind of shit? I read a few comics from every company but Wildstorm was the company that that got me into comics period. Wildcats and stormwatch were my 'anchor' titles that kept me grounded into this hobby and with both titles gone i don't really see the need to continue reading or supporting anyother books...i think i'm just gonna quit cold turkey. I'll still post here at Millarworld because i like the community and the discussions here but i'm am DONE with comic books...that's sad, i've been a reader since i was 8 and i'm 20 now...man this sucks."

Others respond:

"I've given up on comics before and said 'Nope. Never gonna read them again. Quality has gone down and the prices have gone up'. My willpower is too weak. The longest I've lasted without comics since 1987 is four months."

"Wow. Giving up on a medium because of the decision of a mainstream company. If you aren't just a melodramic moron, I don't know what is."

I'd plug my Broken Frontier column about this very subject (well, kind of) that's going to be up a week on Sunday, if it wasn't for the fact that no-one will remember I've done so at that point...

Heidi MacDonald interviews Chester Brown at The Pulse:

"THE PULSE: What happened to UNDERWATER?

BROWN: I ended it. It wasn't working out. I was thinking in terms of putting it on hiatus and getting back to it when I figured out what I wanted to do with it. It was this big, big story and I wanted to do in around 20 to 30 issues and by the time I got to issue 11 or so I could see that it was going to take a lot longer than 20 or 30 issues to do, so that I would end up changing the story somehow. It was piece done. I really should have fully scripted it before I started out, as I did with LOUIS RIEL."

Fantagraphics changes the look of The Comics Journal:

"This August, Fantagraphics will release Comics Journal #262 in its new format, featuring more pages, more color, better paper stock and a new design. This issue, with a cover by Alex Toth and an examination of his life and work by Bob Levin, along with thirty pages of Toth's rare comics, will be 192 pages, 64 in color, for $9.95. All these changes, including expanded news and commentary, as well as a comics section,follow the hiring of the new editor."

Brian Walsh and Mike Deodato talk up Witches, Marvel's long-delayed attempt at the Charmed market:

Walsh: "The story was a perfect fit for me, allowing me to explore different ideas. I've worked with John and Axel before, so I was confident that they would offer me a large degree of creative freedom and support."

Deodato: "In my case, [the appeal of the concept] was pretty obvious -- magic, babes, more babes, and Doctor Strange!"

Brian Hibbs (who is either sending me weird emails, or has a virus at his Comix Experience email account that he should take care of) looks over recent news in this month's Tilting At Windmills:

"From this retailer’s POV, there’s only two bad things about Icon. The first is that, due to my individual ordering patterns, I’m going to lose 1% of my discount on Powers and Kabuki. While this works against me, the hope (perhaps futile because we have a great individual market penetration on Powers) is that we can make up the loss of discount in increased volume. It’s hard to say how many retailers are losing discount in this move – discount tiers are one of the absolutely secret pieces of data in this industry – but I have to assume it’s a respectable number. However, some retailers are likely to gain some discount – perhaps as much as 3%. In the overall picture, it probably amounts to a wash, but this is definitely a concern for stores in my position.

"Of equal concern is backlist. Particularly on books like Powers or Kabuki Comix Experience ultimately makes more money on the TPs of the work than we do on the initial serialization. Apparently, all existing backlist will stay with Image, but Marvel will be handling new collections. This is a concern because Marvel still hasn’t figured out how to handle backlist with any appreciable skill. In fact, it appears to this observer that they’ve made an unannounced switch to treating many trades as “frontlist”-only items. Several recent Marvel trades appear to have been printed either at or very near to initial orders, judging by how fast they sold out. – Supreme Power, Thor: Vikings and Captain America: The Truth being the some recent glaring examples. All went OP within a week or two of initial release."

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Highlights of today's Millarhour chat on Millarworld, where MillarMark MillarMillar answered questions from his Millarfans (and Warren Ellis):

"No plans for ICON at all. I only heard about it when you guys did. Had no idea this was even happening until I read Rich's column. Do have another Millarworld book coming out in the place of the one-shots. Haven't figured out all the details yet or where it's going but probably Image or Top Cow and almost certainly this year. I have a few ideas."

"Image is very dear to me, actually. Marvel is wonderful, but it's a company like any other and everyone who makes it great could go on the whim of the board. Image was created out of necessity and so I really hope they stick around. I'm certainly planning most of my MW2 books from either Top Cow or Image Central with some huge name artists. It's five books, January 06 and genuinely the biggest names in the industry (exclusives will be up for many of them by then)."

"I've written Spidey up to issue eight. Huge fight with Venom and The Shocker. Wolvie's on issue 2/3 and Ultimates is on issue four."

"If I was a cheap 90s cover gimmick I'd be a new number one reboot, promising everything, but delivering nothing."

"[The comics sales] boom is getting louder every month. Look at all those lovely books in the top ten and, for once, the big sellers aren't shite. The reason I'm here is because I love it. Been offered MUCH more cash to do games and movies, but stubbornly stick to comics. I'd never do anything else until I;m utterly useless and leave through embarrassment (my early 40s)... Bad comic movies can't kill us now. The last wave of movies came on the success of BAtman and we died on the failures of Batman, Phantom, Rocketeer, Shadow, etc. Now we've just had too many hits. Around ten of them in total and not even Hulk or DD has lost money. We're here for a long time before it collapses in about seven or eight years. Even Sueprman and Batman have still to come."

"I'd LOVE to write Miracleman. It's in my all-time top 3 ever."

"Movie news, I'm currently working on three things. None of which are even at script stage but one of which is going to make a LOT of headlines if they let me take it to the next stage-- my recommendation was firing the producer. Can you guess what THIS ONE is?"

"Hitchy did the equiv of sixteen issues in 26 months. We're not even launching volume two until six issues are in the drawer so this means it'll be virtually impossible for any issues to be late. Even if he was hit by a bus we'd have six issues to roll out every month. V important 2 because volume 2 is very dense."

He also put up script previews of upcoming issues of Ultimates, Spider-Man and Wanted.

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