Thursday, March 31, 2005

The best sentence I've read all day:

"After years of aggressively sculpting some areas and delicately shaping others, the direct market now looks pretty much like the giant, clay Lionel Ritchie head the big companies want it to be, and it's perfectly logical that they're able to move whatever effort they strongly back through it with only a minimum of blood and fuss."

The context is here. Thank you for the horrifying mental image, Tom Spurgeon.

All is right with the world, as Mark Millar talks about Superman again:

"No offence to the creators, I speak purely as a fan, but Superman and Batman have mostly sucked ass, as you Americans say, for the best part of fifteen years. Again, speaking as a fan, they're my two favourite characters and I find the entire take, tone and set-up completely unreadable for the most part. Just my 0.02."

Responding to the accusation that complaining about other creators is a crass way to hype yourself:

"Quick aside: I would NEVER single out a creator. Wouldn't do it when I didn't have a pot to piss in and wouldn't do it when I'm lucky enough to be writing three top 20 books. It's uncool. I was speaking here about a general direction over fifteen years. I didn't single anybody out. Superman and Batman have just been unreadable for 15 years. My first answer to that is Red Son and, if I get the opportunity to revamp Superman, I'll put my money where my mouth is. But this was a very general comment in an interview. I just don't enjoy the books going back maybe 150 issues on ALL the titles for both characters."

Responding to the suggestion that perhaps he's just outgrown the characters:

"Nonsense. I loved Superman and Batman in Morrison's JLA and will doubtless love All-Star Superman when they have a crack at the character. This seems very uncontroversial to me because readers clearly agree given that nobody has really bought the books for a decade. I loved Superman for All Seasons, Secret Identity and many of the specials, but the actual in-continuity, regular books have done nothing for me. Kingdom Come is the greatest Superman story of the last generation and I felt ten years old when I read that book. It's a cop-out to say I've outgrown the characters. I want to see them being a success again more than anyone."

Responding to the disconnect between wanting to revamp the characters and stating that he won't work for DC again:

"Uh, because I won't [work for the company again]. I stand by that. The current regime love what's happened over the past 15 years. They defend it to the death, which is why the new stuff had to be shunted into an All-Star Elseworlds. They'll defend this forever because it's their legacy and I personally-- as a reader-- feel it's the wrong direction. I'd rather just wait until they're gone and do it right (as I see it). I'm not going to suck up to people I think have made a mistake. PS Please note that this does not mean they're evil or I hate them or any teenage crap. I just disagree with their take. But it's their ball right now. I'm just a freelancer. They are absolutely in their rights to do what they like. I'll just come along later."

More on the above:

"I think it's very simple. Paul and a couple of others are as adamant that this way is right and they see no need to change it. This isn't a feud of any kind. It's just their opinion. As long as they believe that and want writers to work within those parameters I have no interest in writing those characters. I think this is the reason so many good creators have produced boring books for those characters and why the only ones we all seem to like are the out of continuity specials. I suggest reconstructive surgery as opposed to a band-aid and would like to fix it. If they agree, I'll be happy to help. If they don't, I'll wait. These people are all at least 20 years older than me. I have time on my side."

On why he won't give specifics about what he wants to do to the characters:

"I can't get too specific on my Superman and Batman ideas, unfortunately. Other writers read these boards, but hopefully you'll see what I mean at some point in the future when we get our shot. In the meantime, Ultimates, etc, occupies our every waking throught."

And, just because I always love to pull up this 2003 quote everytime Mark says that all Superman comics in 150 issues of each title have been unreadable:

"DC stopped sending me comp copies about a year ago so I don't have as much access to this stuff as I had before. However, I do try to pick these up because I think the three guys they have on these books are great and probably producing the best material we've seen since John Byrne. I miss Jeph Loeb's Superman because he's pretty much the best American writer in the business at the moment. He and I share very similar sensibilities with these characters and I'm looking forward to World's Finest [later retitled Superman/Batman] enormously."

Steven Grant writes about rape in superhero comics:

"Not that I want to see male rape become the hot new thing in comics, but it's clear that female rape in comics is acceptable while that's next to unthinkable. It's considered perfectly all right to humiliate heroines, taboo to humiliate heroes in the same way, and beyond the purely sexist paranoia reasons for that, there are commercial reasons as well, the main one being: a raped character becomes pathetic... It's generally allowable for heroines because women are considered minor characters in comics, window dressing, even when they're the lead characters... If you can't come up with better storylines or characterizations for female characters, particularly heroines (or the hero's girlfriend) than that, something's wrong. At minimum, something's derivative, lazy and uninteresting. How about a voluntary ban on rape storylines for the foreseeable future? Even better, how about an end to women in comics as mainly victims or props? We've been doing this for around 75 years; you'd think women as genuine characters would be par for the course by now, instead of special events."

(He also mentions Identity Crisis's rape of Sue Dibny in suitably sensible manner: "The real problem is that the murder makes the rape redundant - bad as rape is, it's hard to get more brutal and humiliating than murder - and the function of the rape in the story has nothing, essentially, to do with Sue Dibny at all. It occurs as a motivation for subsequent events, as a red herring to steer the heroes (at least temporarily) away from the true murderer, as an avenue for revelation of the heroes' previous unheroic behavior. It's a very strange story in that the rape is absolutely necessary to it and absolutely superfluous.")

Mark Millar doesn't like the new Krypto cartoon, as he explains in a thread he entitled "Krypto Sucks Kitten C*ck!":

"Okay, I can't believe I was kind of interested in this, but I'm such a buff I had to keep watching when I switched on BBC1 on Saturday morning and saw the first episode of this new cartoon. It's not just bad. It's 80s bad. It's all those bad jokes and utterly forgettable characters with bad puns for names and Krypto is right up there with Scrappy Doo for annoying. I don't know why I thought I'd like this. Maybe it's because I loved the Batman cartoons, etc, I just assumed the same excellence would make it through, but there's no Dini or Timm here. This is just bad, bad, bad TV. PS My six year old daughter thought it was OK, though. About the same level as Lilo and Stitch, or maybe slightly under, she reckoned."

Of course, the series is aimed at kids instead of thirty-something comic writers, so if a six-year old thinks it's okay then it's probably reaching the target audience. Next: Mark Millar thinks that the Teletubbies are "gay". "One of them even has a handbag!" he exclaims.

Lea Hernandez offers up nostalgia, pain, in introducing her new comics manifesto:

"Back in the old days, when the Warren Ellis Delphi Forum was open, there was an outbreak of manifestos. That's exactly the way I mean to say it: it was like a rash. The first one was okay, but all the ones that followed were as much fun as wiping with poison ivy, and as painfully squirm-inducing. There was a lot of 'saving', 'bettering', building a moat around, being gentle to tender little geniuses, and RAHHH COMICS-ing.
But no one ever suggested that what comics needed was a really good ass-whipping. Or maybe what comics needed was for people to stand up and say, 'Hooray! I'm for the other team!' Comics need hurting. Go on, hurt them."

Comics - Bringing Peace To The Middle East since 2005:

"According to a listing on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the Army is looking to develop a comic book that will be distributed to youths in the Middle East, or, as the posting puts it: 'In order to achieve long-term peace and stability in the Middle East, the youth need to be reached. One effective means of influencing youth is through the use of comic books. A series of comic books provides the opportunity for youth to learn lessons, develop role models and improve their education.' The army has already designed the characters and plots, so the work will be a collaborative effort with Uncle Sam. ...In addition to being able to produce the work, the Army is looking for a creator well-versed in Arab languages and cultures, as well as law enforcement and small unit military operations. Again, the posting: 'The comic books will be produced in Arabic so the boxes will have to follow a sequence of right to left and top to bottom. Although knowledge of Arabic is not required, the contractor must have the capability to incorporate Arabic text into the final product and also provide a copy with blank bubbles and void of all printed text and sound effects.'"

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Larry Young tells a story, and announces that he doesn't have "bitches" on today's very special episode of his daily update.

Want to see something cool? Go here, and wonder how much we have to bribe both Mr. Jean and Mr. Quesada to have a James Jean Fantastic Four graphic novel in our hands anytime soon. And I don't even really like the Fantastic Four.

(Thanks, Chris.)

So, that list of House of M spin-offs that Tom Brevoort gave the other day? Add another one, as District X gets cancelled and replaced - due to House of M reality-altering antics - by something called Mutopia. Writer David Hine explains, and comes close to giving up the "secret" of what House of M's reality altering is meant to be about:

"This one came together very quickly... A few months back, [editor] Mike Marts mentioned a new major event in the Marvel Universe and said he would like District X to be involved. He gave me the quick two-line version of the House of M concept and the title, 'Mutopia' and left it at that. Half an hour later I e-mailed back the concept. I don't normally get off on these big cross-overs, but this one seemed to press all my buttons. I instantly started getting all these flashes of how the losers of District X would play it if things went their way for once."

Who is the most evil guy in the Marvel Universe? The Brian K. Vaughan board wants to know:

"Bill Jemas"

"The Red Skull is a fucking Nazi. That's pretty evil."

"I gotta go with Doom, because he made everything deeply personal. Folks like Galactus and DP (Dark Phoenix Len ) are amatuers with their whole mass destructo impersonal game. They never see the faces of their lambs at the slaughter. Doom, he fucking makes armor out of his ex lovers skin Buffalo Bill style. He sends children to fucking Hell, and he frightens blind children. Doom don't fuck around, when it comes to heinous deeds, he's your hombre. The X-editors are a close second though. What they do to the fans is unforgivable."

"Dude, the Skull's a freakin' Nazi!"

The Bendis Board asks the questions that matter:

"Wolverine's citizenship [...] Where was he born? I know he lived in Canada for a long time, but now he pretty much lives in the US. If he's a Canadian citizen, I can't imagine how a rabid murderer was able to get a US visa, let alone permanent resident status. So what's his deal? Living in the US illegally or comic book land has relaxed immigration policies? Discuss amongst yourselves."

"He's a super-heroic rabid murderer. That makes all the difference."

"He's a Canadian citizen. He's got SHIELD and Canadian intelligence connections so US passport control can't be much of an issue (now, the metal detectors, on the other hand...)"

"Call INS and homeland security and get that Canadian mutie deported!"

Here's something we haven't seen for awhile - Mike Mignola talks Hellboy, the comic:

"I've sat down to do this book three different times and each time I had a completely different story... The problem was that at the same time we were trying to do the movie, I would start on this miniseries and then I would have to drop it and go to Prague or go to L.A. or wherever I was going, be there for a chunk of time, and when I would come back to this I had changed my mind on what I wanted to do. I think it started out to be a two-issue miniseries. Then the second time I sat down to do it, it was a three-issue miniseries. They all started roughly the same way, but they all ended completely differently. The last time I sat down to do it, I realized people are going to end up waiting years for this comic, so I needed to reveal something about the character to justify the wait."

Apparently, the false starts may be included in the eventual trade paperback of the new series.

Millarworld breaks the news of Wizard breaking the news:

"From Wizard #163, out tomorrow: Geoff Johns and Phil Jimenez are the creators on the 7-issue Infinite Crisis mini series, launching in October. More information, including a 5 page article on Infinite Crisis, is in Wizard."

The fans react:

"Now there's an Infinite Crisis miniseries, to boot? Much as I've enjoyed the "return to continuity" here, with ID Crisis, Countdown & it's four spinoffs, isn't yet another miniseries pushing it a bit? We're all gonna' get burnt out and numbed by continuous 'Crisis', don't ya' think? It's like endless Ultimate mini-series. Y'stop caring after a while."

"And some people wonder why i steer clear of the mainstream DC universe?"

"This will be interesting. Johns does decent crossovers and the best thing you can do for art is get Jimenez. SOLD!"

"Ill be skipping this, I dont care about these event comics, I understand from a money standpoint, they do great, but I am one of those crazy fans who feels to understand a comic I buy, I shouldnt have to buy one I dont buy. Especially at these inflated prices. Toss in, from the spoilers I have read on both, I.D. Crisis and Countdown sound like they are putting the characters in directions I do not like. Im getting sick of it, and to be honest, I was considering subscribing due to a lack of a comic shop, but now I may not, it just doesnt pay. Heck, even the UMU is supposedly crossing over, and those were books I was considering. These event comics may just drive me away from comics....again."

DC announces that Countdown To Infinite Crisis has sold out:

"Two days before arriving in stores on March 30, the spectacular 80-page COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS Special has sold out at DC Comics. Now, DC rushes this pivotal, can't-miss comic back to press for a second printing with a new, variant cover by Jim Lee & Alex Ross that reveals the shadowy figure in Batman ' s arms as the [character that everyone knows but I'm still blanking out. Newsarama has the 'variant' cover, though.]"

But here's the interesting bit: "Scheduled to arrive in stores on April 13, COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS Second Printing (FEB058329) will have a cover price of $1.99 U.S., and will include the full story written by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Judd Winick with art by Rags Morales & Michael Bair, Ed Benes, Ivan Reis & Marc Campos, Phil Jimenez & Andy Lanning, and Jesus Saiz & Jimmy Palmiotti."

Yup, the second printing is practically twice the (admittedly very low) price of the first...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Damon Hurd and Matt Fraction talk about writing X-Men stories for the first time. Fraction:

"Man, I phoned it all in, knowing that Sam [Keith, artist of Fraction's story] kicks enough ass for the two of us or, failing that, he could at least carry my punk ass and make me look good. I don’t even think I wrote in complete sentences in the script. It was, like, WOLVERINE CLAWS FIGHT SENTINEL SPLODE SAD LOGAN THINKING THEN KILLING! AARRGH. That line right there is page four of my script. I have gone ahead and cleared off shelf-space for the Eisner (Award)."

Meanwhile, Matt also talks about the experience to Joe Casey in the Basement Tapes this week:

"It feels... good? It feels different, you know? Like, here's a thing I can do. And as I've talked mad shit about stuff like this before, the decision to go after it, the decision to stick with it and see the process through, to take the ride and work through it all was pretty satisfying. And I knew the editor wasn't going to let me just float by, and I knew I wasn't-- it's a different kind of exercise, these kinds of stories. I knew it wasn't going to be a single-draft kind of experience, and I wasn't really looking for one. Like, there's a part of me that's very much thinking 'know who your enemies are,' you know? Put up and shut up time. On the flip-side of that is my inner nine-year old that wants to see stuff exploding and dudes getting kicked, and having the chance to tear shit up Wolverine-stylee was pretty *sweet*. I mean, Devil Dinosaur eats him on page one. IT IS RAD. And, dude, Sam Kieth is drawing it! Fuckin' A!"

Attention all those in Seattle or online - Comic writers will be on the radio in your area:

"Comic scribes Ed Brubaker (SLEEPER, CAPTAIN AMERICA), Joshua Ortega (SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED, STAR WARS), and Paul Chadwick (CONCRETE) will be featured on NPR this Thursday, March 31st at 10am PST. The show will be broadcast on NPR-affiliate KUOW 94.9 in Seattle, and live on the Web at <>. The three writers will be interviewed by noted journalist Steve Scher, host of the popular WEEKDAY program, and longtime comic fan. Brubaker and Chadwick will discuss their impressive, award-winning careers in the comic field, while Ortega will discuss his transition from critically acclaimed author to comics writer."

The Bendis Board think about their comic emporiums:

"Do You Find That Your Shop is always trying to improve, make new displays and signage, etc? Stephen and I decided to take a tour of some of our competition that I'd never been to, one shop in particular was dull, smelled of cigarettes, had barely any organization, no indies except one or two Image books, and they had a lot of old toys just sitting their yellowing and collecting dust. I know I look at my shop and am always trying to make it better, even if I can't afford all my plans, I still have them and want to implement them. Do a lot of you find that your stores have kind of given up on being better?"

"My LCS is currently remodeling last time was like eight years ago, as the owner has been trying to fight off a rat infestation. The dead rats were getting so bad that me and the other Thursday regulars helped, the owner move a comic shelf that was very heavy, just to get a the maggoty corpse, idiot chewed through the light cord. But on the plus side, the store smells better and the owner found full runs of Ellis' Ruins and Morrison's Aztek and Skrull Kill Krew and put them in my box."

"Yeah, as a maater of fact, the store I go to, sells dvds and video games as well, and the comics were shoved upstairs, however recently the comisc started selling so well, they moved them downstairs, and now they have a big 2 rows to themself, they also are gettting more indy stuff in now, which is a plus... The bad news is, about 2 weeks ago, a stupid kid (I hate people who are my age, when they act like this) came in and pushed loads of comics off the shelf for no reason, luckily hes now banned, but it's enough to make you want to starngle the kid.)"

"People like this are the reason taintpunching was invented."

Revealed: Mark Millar is Ashton Kutcher. Ed Brubaker talks about a strange interview experience - "Could this 'Terri Australian' be some prankster trying to get someone from DC to talk about racism because of this recent interest in the subject on a popular message board? Someone trying to play a gotcha? I know I certainly didn’t enjoy being accused of racism simply because Bob Kane hadn’t decided to have Batman be a black man in 1939." - and Mark Millar owns up:

"Of COURSE it was me. But he missed out my punchline 'Okay, how about you make him Chinese?' Yes, this is how I waste my time and I have maybe twenty of these things piled up from the last couple of years. The plan is to get them all together and do a charity book somewhere down the line, but only after the individual pros all get an advance look and agree to be used first. You should see the Quitely one; the Make a Wish Foundation get in touch and ask if a terminally-ill kid can come and live with him for two weeks. Quitely, being a saint, actually agrees despite the fact that they just had a new baby in the house. Cancer kid, two carers and a parent all coming from the states to stay in Quitely spare room so this (really obonxious) kid can silently watch Quitely work in his final days... And don't get me started on the Bendis one... Anyway, you'll see all these released at some point before the end of the year, hopefully."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Now it can be told: The Isotope Virtual Lounge v2.0 launches today, with forums for the store, as well as Jock, Ed Brubaker, Bill Crabtree, Alex de Campi, Jay Faerber, Maureen McTigue, Tony Moore, Rick Remender, Mark Ricketts, Josh Richardson (bringing his "In The Trenches" column/posts from Millarworld) and Larry Young. What are you waiting for? Some kind of special offer to get you to visit? Well, Larry's got that covered. A 24-page PDF preview of True Story Swear To God: This One Goes To Eleven to tempt you. So, go, visit and join up. You know you want to.

Over at Micah Wright's forum, Countdown to Infinite Crisises has famed comics internet personalities Frank Davis and Jesse Baker at war with each other. Frank, why don't you start, by telling us why Countdown is good?:

"Dude, the thing that DC needs to do in order to compete is not give a shit about b list characters. Comics like everything else is about the franchise hit."

Jesse, your response?: "Frank, Frank, Frank, are you always so myopic to the point of not being able to see the forest for the trees or do you practice every single morning at being so utterly stupid with your shortsightedness?"

Answer the man, Frank: "The view i bring to you is the unvarnished truth. Remember the universal law of quality. If it's good, it'll sell like crap, when it is crap, it'll sell great. Quantity overrules quality everytime. The average fan want the hits of comics (Spiderman, JLA, Batman etc) like the way most people want Law and Order seven days a week. It's dependable pop reading that they can toss away and have sex afterwords. The obsessive want the c-list nostaligia (Old school Avengers New Warriors, The question, Giffen League) They want more. They are not looking for cheap thrills, they demand emotional satisfaction like you do. Your love of crappy comics defines your life. That's cool, but there are maybe 7000 to 12000 people like that in the world. You are the uber fan, but there will never be more like you. I have my obsessive quirks and c list character love, I only admit that the characters are fictional and I move on when things change for the worse and can go grab a girl and some drinks and think of ways of getting laid tonight. Draw your own conclusions from there."

Jesse, if you can give a strangely-censored rant here?: "Under that logic, next time someone brings up wanting to save Sleepers, Runaways or some other flavor of the week non-big franchise book I can tell them to obsenity delete off since said title aren't worth saving/being published. Let's obsenity delete face it, comics need more diversity ESPECIALLY with the spandex books. Especially when you take into consideration that JLA has been so utterly worthless and unreadable since Waid's 'Queens of Fables' story.

"So why not obsenity delete keep the Giffen JLA around? Obsenity delete, if DC can commit to 12 issues of Joe Kelly's fecid turd droppings of a Justice League Elite mini-series, why not give Giffen his own ongoing JLA book with his cast of favorite characters? Hell, why not obsenity delete flush Plastic Man and John Stewart out an airlock where they die horribly horrible deaths in the main JLA book and replace them with Booster and Blue Beetle? It's not like the book couldn't use them as written by Giffen to liven the obsenity delete up the JLA book, which has become so utterly boring you could sedate paranoid schizophrenics with it? Same with New Warriors or even obsenity delete Runaways. Hell, the obsenity delete fact that Marvel pissed away the chance to relaunch Runaways as their new big teen book so as to give that nod to that little 'I wish I could lick the mud off Joss Whedon's boots' Heinberg's Young Avengers shows you that we shouldn't take your myopic, narrow minded opinions seriously.

"Hell, have you though WHY sales for comics are down? Because Marvel and DC are so narrowing down WHAT books that they put out that they piss off and drive away longtime customers who have been told their money isn't good enough for Paul Levitz/Dan Didio and Joe Quesada. Let alone the new reader who would read a copy of Ultimate Spiderman and say 'I'm not going to waste money on this obsenity delete that has zero happening in it!' or 'I'm not going to buy JLA because it's boring as obsenity delete!'.... The more books out there the more variaty and the more catering to the long-time fan is what comics needs. All of this 'Osenity delete the old reader in the ass and kick them to the curb because we want new readers' garbage has done obsenity delete for the comic industry. The Ellis Manifestos FAILED. And rather than cling to that, the industry needs to go crawling on it's stomach to get back the readers it told to go obsenity delete themselves. If it means bringing Hal Jordan back as GL and firing Bendis from Marvel over the obsenity delete nature his Avengers revamp so as to bring the original Avengers back? So be it."

Frank! Strike back!: "Fuck the long time fan. The long time fan is why comics are the way they are. The long time fan contributes shit and whines when progress is made in order to make money, which is the key to everything. Money. You live is some world where you want fan dollar to dictate everything. But to be honest, the fact that only you and your ilk are the only ones left indicates that comics is dead. Thank you for killing comics for everyone except the movie studios. The big two are finally getting it right by telling the whining bitch long time fan to go fuck their mothers and leave. To be honest, that is not a bad thing. Fuck me and fuck you too. P.S. Young Avengers is a damn hoot with funny ass dialogue. Runaways is great too. Also get this notion out of your that there is a need for superhero diversity. The moment you get over that, the sooner you can have sex and the world will be a happier place."

(Others respond to Frank's post:

"Books like Identity Crisis, Avengers Disassembled, etc. are tailored to the long-time fan. They're engineered to create controversy. These sorts of events are based on shaking up/changing/ass-raping characters that long-time fans know and love. The long-timers buy the books, because they buy the books no matter what, and nerds like me go along for the ride because we want to see what the rest of you are yelling about."

"Well, fanboys like Jesse and desperate groupie starfuckers like you who bang on about fanboys to the exclusion of all else in hope you'll be invited to the cool kids' party, because if there really was a magical mainstream acceptance day and 'the real world' finally noticed 'us', then there wouldn't be much value in feeling superior to the nerds anymore, you'd actually have to contribute. Jesse may be an idiot and an asshole, but at least he still gives a shit, and not just hangs around so he can snark and beat nerds down. Can you honestly say the same?"

"Is this parody? Because if so, top notch job.")

Back to Jesse: "At least I'm not a pouser latching onto the 'let's mock the mainstream so I look like less of a nerd while saying jack shit in terms of HOW to improve the mainstream' fad that has ruined comics and made mainstream acceptance even more of a pipedream like you..."

Frank: "Superhero comics need to go and die already. The mainstream is not salvation for the art form, but they can pump in more money with product deals and that's okay by me. The real world cannot be the salvation of comics. Comics needs to save themselves and refuse to do so, so why play the hate game? I have never understood the need to be accepted or something to be hot, but I know what can make money. I am all about sex and money. Comics are a form in which I entertain myself and I refuse to take certain things in it with any seriousness, particually comic book characters. They are fictional characters like yourself. You dance like a monkey for us as you rant about shit level superheroes liek they are your sister whose honor you need to defend,and it entertains me. I in turn throw feces because you deserve the abuse, and I sometimes like making the V laugh."

Hopefully, making the V laugh was the main motivator behind the line "I am all about sex and money."

Jesse: "Do you even read the shit you type? Fanboys want good stories. And we are the biggest ones who fucking SAY we want fucking GOOD stories and don't take no god damn bullshit from people like Ellis, Millar, Bendis, and the little shits running DC and Marvel based SOLELY on personal vendettas, ass-scratching of their friends, and 'I am so great' masturbationfest. You don't give a flying fuck about comics, at best you are a trendy who MAYBE reads one or two books because it was the 'KEWL' thing to do and consider everything else shit under your shoe. It's people like you who need to be driven out because you have no fucking joy about the comic genre. It's all bitching and cursing and acting all smug and superior to you. You're last two post alone prove you don't give a fuck about fucking good stories, just that smug sense of self-satisfaction you have bashing people who fucking have fucking JOY about the comics genre."

Frank, to you, the last word (well, for now): "I love comics, but I have the love of diminished expectations. If I'm not disappointed, I'm mildly satisfied if not made completely happy by my shiny 60 dollar a week habit. Also fanboys do not want good stories, they want to go hang with their buddies without any sense of drama. Readers demand entertainment by the virtue of mayhem, carnage and weeping men everywhere. your tears of character pain bring me pleasure. Also joy is overrated, so are children."

At which point, it becomes self-parody for all involved. I also have to say, if I had a love of diminished expectations, I'd probably try and spend less that $60 a week on it, but then, I'm cheap.

Tom Brevoort talks House of M spin-offs:

"They all spin fairly directly out of the core books to one degree or another... Iron Man is in House of M, as are the characters in Fantastic Four House of M and Spidey. They’re stand-alone enough that you could pick up Iron Man: House of M #1-#3, and get it, although if you want to know more about the larger world that Iron Man is in, I’d advise you to pick up House of M as well. They all help to form a larger tapestry and a richer picture. Conversely, you don’t need to pick up the miniseries or the tie-in issues to enjoy House of M itself. Brian [Bendis] is writing a linear story across the course of those eight issues. There are opportunities over the source of that story to delve into these characters and the world around them in greater depth, and we get to see some of that in these side projects."

In addition to the three House of M mini-series spin-offs (Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Iron Man), the story also crosses over into Excalibur, Captain America, Wolverine, Black Panther, Uncanny X-Men, New X-Men, Cable & Deadpool, New Thunderbolts, Hulk, Exiles and The Pulse. Also at Newsarama, writer Greg Pak talks about his Iron Man House of M mini-series:

"On an emotional level, it's about a conflict between a son and his father, about that moment when a person realizes he needs to make his own decisions about what's right or wrong, regardless of what his family or community or world say. In short, it's about the moment Tony Stark becomes a hero. On an action level, we've got robo gladiators, giant robot showdowns, and mayhem in the streets of Chicago. Yow!"

How much does New Avengers artist David Finch like Spider-Woman? Let's ask him:

"I just wish the script allowed for more of those [full-length Spider-Woman] shots! Something like:

"Panel 1

"Huge panel, two pages tall. Spiderwoman bends to pick up her pencil.

"Panel 2

"Everyone stands around and drools like idiots

"Panel 3

"Spiderman slaps the pencil out of her hand.


"Next Page

"Panel 1

"Huge panel, two pages tall. Spiderwoman bends to pick up her pencil......

"Anyway, something like that. I pitch this stuff to Bendis all the time, and he never returns the email. It's gold!!! Bah."

Newsarama has an eight page preview of new "Tank Girl meets Doctor Strange" series Strange Girl, from Image. Go and see the gorgeousness of Eric Nguyen's art.

Tom Spurgeon reviews DP7 #11, from Marvel's New Universe line:

"It looks fine, with competent, three-tier storytelling from Paul Ryan and great-looking superhero inks from the breaks-your-heart-to-hear-it Al Williamson. But the story is so talky it's like reading a comic that intentionally hashes out every point because it's aimed at a specialty audience of dimwits or non-English speakers. 'I think I heard something move upstairs,' thinks our hero, moving upstairs. He manages to muse, 'They're never going to let up on me! Somehow as soon as I knew where I was, they did, too. All the hand-to-hand combat skills The Woodsman taught me are worthless while I'm a sitting duck' while leaping from a movie truck, where most of us would be thinking, 'Ow! GRRR! Unnh!'"

The review hits a chord with readers:

"I think Mark Gruenwald's death in 1996 sealed the fate of the New Universe, as he was the only remaining member on staff that championed it. In the past year or so, I've been hunting the quarter bins for old new universe books, specifically PSI Force, The Star Brand, and Spitfire and the Troubleshooters. The Star Brand is particularly fascinating since it's generally regarded as Shooter's autobiography, and afterwards John Byrne takes over and turns the Shooter avatar into an accidental mass murderer and complete psychopath, proclaiming to anyone who will listen that 'the old man gave me the power, and I must remake the universe the way I see fit!'"

(Funnily enough, I was rereading Legends, the DC mini-series that John Byrne drew just after he left Marvel in 1987, and Jim Shooter appears as a bad guy in it, wearing Star Brand's outfit. He shoots himself in the foot, in an act of unsubtle injoke commentary.)

"I don't regard the New Universe with as much derision as it seems most others do. Pick out the gems and don't sweat the dregs - they'll be mostly forgotten in the future anyway. I've read later interviews with Shooter where he stated that he was given a development budget for a big project for Marvel's 25th anniversary and then had it slashed and slashed again. In the end, he said that he had to make due with writers were already salaried at Marvel such as other editors, assistant editors, or sales managers. He said there was no money for big name artists, and that almost all the artists were newer untried talent. In hindsight that seems to have a surprising amount of truth to it. The writers were folks like Gerry Conway, Shooter himself, Mark Gruenwald, Archie Goodwin, Steve Englehart, Tom DeFalco, Terry Kavanagh, and Roy Thomas. There's clearly a big editorial trend there and the ones that weren't were hardly top-tier writers in the late 80s. There were artists like John Romita Jr., Mark Bagley, Ron Lim, Mark Texeira, Todd McFarlane - not to mention writers like Peter David and Fabian Nicieza - who only became bigger names much later in their careers."

"I admit to having a soft spot for the New U because most of the books were just downright bizarre in terms of tone. They deserved to die a quick death, because they were misfits... But oddly enough I think that the exception to this is the Star Brand series. If you ever get the chance to go back and re-read it I think you'll be surprised at just how many of the odd ideas Jim Shooter threw out in that first year of the book ended up becoming incredibly popular about a decade or so later. Historically, I don't think anyone's ever looked at that... which is not to say that it's influenctial, because that would imply that someone read it in the first place. But I do think that of all the New U books, the Star Brand was the only one that actually did have an interesting and engaging premise. I keep expecting that one these days here we'll get an 'Ultimate' Star Brand and then people will be amazed at how neat a concept it actually was."

Sadly, that concept was Green Lantern's (dying alien comes to earth, gives most powerful weapon in the universe to unsuspecting human)...

Tom DeFalco gets Cracked:

"Tom DeFalco, one of the pre-eminent names in comics publishing today, has joined the company as the new Editor-in-Chief of CRACKED Magazine. For over twenty years, DeFalco distinguished himself as a top writer and editor at Marvel Comics. For almost eight of those years, he was Marvel's Editor-in-Chief and was one of the longest-serving individuals to ever hold that post. DeFalco was a key member of the management team that took Marvel public and under his leadership, Marvel's net profits from publishing rose by over 500%. DeFalco is also the author of over a dozen graphic novels, several hundred comic book stories, several dozen cyber-comics, three novels and six children's books- including the best-selling Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide and Hulk: The Incredible Guide. DeFalco has personally created and developed over three dozen characters that have all been licensed for television, toys, t-shirts, posters, trading cards and other merchandise. He also worked with toymaker Hasbro on the G.I. Joe toy line and animated show and was also part of the team that introduced the Transformers to the American public."

And you thought he was just the writer of Spider-Girl.

Any morning that starts off with a nice email from Mike Netzer has to be a good morning, I think. Anyway, he's started his own blog, lauding Rich Johnston, asking Paul Levitz to return to comics, and offering his view of the comics blogosphere:

"In recent times, the blog has come to the forefront of this mix, almost overshadowing the traditional website format which preceeded it... The age of the blogposters is on the rise and in this spirit I'll attempt to widen the scope of my own rantings in presenting the next stage of the Michael Netzer Online revolution: Rise Of The Comics. The Headquarters and Blogpost presented here are perhaps a fitting format under which to launch the activity around the formation of The Comic Book Creator's Guild. The blog now comes to the forefront, the more traditional website format is pushed back to the recesses of the server directories - all however, always linked to and accessible from the daily blogpost. There's a considerable amount of new material to see here and I'll make use of this debut to give a little taste of it in the few posts below. Thanks for coming by, enjoy the show - and if you're compelled to do so, your comments will more than likely contribute heartily to the party atmosphere we hope to nourish here."

Go, see and comment.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Those of you in San Francisco who aren't celebrating their wife's return to the country with a romantic dinner for two can instead spend tomorrow evening in the company of Ed Brubaker at the Isotope, in an event they like to call Instant Brubaker.

Edit: It's actually tonight. Which is even less notice, but hmm...

This just in - Some comics fans are intolerant assholes. Specifically, Dare500 and Kyle Rayner, of the Broken Frontier message boards:

Dare500: "I read in the letters page [of Young Avengers #2] that there is a question on Hulking and Asgardian being gay. While I have no problem with that lifestyle, unless made to equal heterosexual life, I do not like issues like that in comics. This is an adventure book not a forum for gays. They have other avenues. We will see if and how this plays out as well."

Kyle Rayner: "I have to say I agree with Dare on the whole 'sexuality thing.' I mean, I'm no prude, nor am I some anit-gay bigot, but there is a time and place for discussion of such things and I don't think a super-hero comic, that is meant as an 'all-ages fare' is the proper venue for it. If you want a more 'graphic and socially conscience' type fo story, Marvel have the MAX line where they can tell those types of stories, which are clearly labeled for people who are (supposedly) mature enough to understand such things. Young Avengers is NOT a MAX line title. It is being shown as an 'all-ages fare.' That being the case, I don't think 'exploring the characters sexuality' is right. If Heinberg wants to write that stuff, take it to the MAX line."

Dare500: "What bothers me about the topic, as I said, is the characters' 'orientation' shouldnt be brought into the telling of the story. James is accurate when he states that the forum Marvel PG rating is not the place to have this discussion. I would go one step beyond and say homosexuality should not be in comics period. Why? Simple, comics equals escapism. Escapism does not encompass this reality. More importantly, it is my view, that there is a 'lesson' coming. The writer could be set to preach to us 'uneducated' folks on how we dont understand gays,etc.etc. I dont want to hear it."

Of course, then the fun starts, as other start to debate the issue:

"It's sad that you (Kyle Rayner and DARE500) think that comic books are no place for discussion of homosexuality. It's sad that you also think that making a character (or 2) gay is the same as 'discussing' the issue of homosexuality. And if you add those two together it's still not as sad as how you seem to think only heterosexuals read comics. Do you guys honestly think that there aren't gay teenagers and adults out there who read superhero comic books and would really like to see themselves reflected in a character or two? Gay people have as much right as you do to read characters that mean something to them, characters that they can relate to.

"It is a fact that people relate to characters because they see themselves in them. People don't relate to Spiderman because he wears red and blue tights, they relate to him because he's representative of every guy or gal (mostly guy, tho) who wasn't popular, or respected, or even liked. And people like Spidey because secretly, he's better and more powerful than all the Jocks combined, just like all us 'nerds' and former-nerds wished we were. Readers can suspend disbelief about the tights, super strength, adamantium claws, green skin, flying armor and other trappings of superhero comics because they can relate to the real aspects of the comics. Without the real, you wouldn't accept the fantasy. So then tell me why gay people can't have elements of what's real for them in the comic books they read? Why can't they enjoy reading about 2 (at this point) hypothetically gay characters in Young Avengers?"

Kyle Rayner: "Well, I'm sorry you think I'm 'sad' for finding it objectionable to having mature themes in an 'all-ages' comic. You seemed to have failed to notice that I didn't say that there should never be any gay characters or disucssion of 'character's sexuality'. I cited the Marvel MAX line as a place for such thing to be discussed and presented. That would easily allow your 'gay teenage and adult readers' to have these type of topics discussed, without putting into fare which is aimed (at least) partly at young kids. And I never said that comics were no place to discuss homosexulaity. I said and 'all-ages' comic, aimed (partly, if not primarily) at kids is no place to discuss it. There are plenty of other places it can be discussed, such as the Marvel MAX line... And let me add this... if having a character's sexual preference is what a gay person needs to make a character 'relatable', then 'all-ages' comics might simply not be for them. There's nothing wrong with that. There's no shame in it. Not everyone can like everything. But to put such material into an inappropriate venue, so as to placate to a certain sect of society (or readeship) is wrong. Not just because of the inappropriate nature of how that material is being marketed (to kids, believe that), but because it's also (I would think) insulting to the very sect they are trying to reach."

Yes, he did say "sect". Ed Cunard takes the role of Kurt Busiek for this thread:

"I'm not going to call anyone a bigot, or anything like that--it's counterproductive to discourse. But I do find it... troubling... that, even in the 21st century, it's considered inappropriate to display homosexual relationships in an all-ages setting. It hearkens back to the recent PBS scandal, in my eyes, and much of the campaigning of the PTC. Did the letters page specifically say the relationship would be consummated? Is Hulkling going to take Asgardian for a ride in the sack right there on the page? That, I could understand some dissonance from folks, because I can't imagine that seeing Peter Parker taking Mary Jane to a special, quivvering paradise would be any more acceptible in an all-ages setting. However, if the romantic relationship and the feelings coming from that can't be shown in an all-ages comic simply because of the gender of the participants, then that's kind of wrong. Homosexual couples are no less loving or connected than their heterosexual counterparts. Pining for someone else, and unrequited love can happen to gays, straights and bisexuals, and makes for good storytelling in the hands of the right writer--and, I'd say, makes for better storytelling than twenty pages of 'let's you and me fight.'"

Over at the V, Matt Craig offers suggestions why DC Countdown to Infinite Crisis has people who don't normally give that much of a shit up in arms:

"Is part of it Sacrificial Lamb Fatigue, do you think? You know, like Sue Dibny, Spoiler, Jack Drake (whooo-oooo?[/Lard]), Gwen Stacy's Hymen, and now this other twat have all been mash up on the altar of Wider Significance, and there's a sense that:

"a. We've seen it all before. b. The memory of Sue Dibny's hand burning/Norman Osborn's vinegar face taints all subsequent appearances (see: Starman, JLAC, etc.) c. The characters deserve better. d. The *readers* deserve better.

"I'm not sure d. holds up under scrutiny - or a., for that matter. Or c.. And b.'s on shaky damn ground. What was the question?

"Oh yeah. Fatigue from seeing all these characters (some well-loved: every character is somebody's favourite) sacrificed to The Great Plot God. Which, in a way, is what they were there for, in the first place. The salacious disposability of the characters might cause people some concern, as well. The lack of any deeper motive other than to Fock Shit Op (again, not such a bad thing). There may be a desire to move back towards character-based drama, as opposed to anal violation. All sorts of things."

DC trumpet their wins in the annual Comic Buyers Guide Fan Awards:

"The May issue of Comics Buyer's Guide features the annual CBG Fan Awards, with DC Comics being named 'Favorite Publisher' for the eighth consecutive year. Many other DC talents and projects were honored as well, with DC winning in nearly every category. DC congratulates all the winners, and thank the Comics Buyer's Guide readers who participated in the voting."

DC titles won Favorite Comics Story (Identity Crisis), Favorite Comic Book (JSA), Favorite Graphic Novel or Album (The Originals) and Favorite Character (Batman). DC-exclusive talent won Favorite Writer (Geoff Johns), Favorite Penciller (Jim Lee), and non-exclusive-but-DC-affiliated talent won Favorite Inker (Scott Williams), Favorite Colorist (Laura Martin), Favorite Cover Artist (Alex Ross) and Favorite Letterer (Richard Starkings and Comicraft).

Message Board Car Crash watching reaches an all new high as the Byrne Board discusses politics, with the fun starting when poster Mike Mackey states the following:

"I have created the worlds first conservative comic. My question is am I ending my career as a writer before it begins, with such a divisive subject?"

There follows a synopsis of said comic:

"America’s future has become an Orwellian nightmare of ultra-liberalism. Beginning with the Gore Presidency, the government has become increasingly dominated by liberal extremists. In 2004, Muslim terrorists stopped viewing the weakened American government as a threat; instead they set their sites on their true enemies, vocal American conservatives. Terrorist assassins have thinned the ranks of the vocal Right. The few conservatives that survived attempts on their lives have been forced underground by the oppressive 'Coulter Laws' of 2007. In order to further their cause, they have joined forces and formed a powerful covert conservative organization called 'The Freedom of Information League', aka F.O.I.L. The New York City faction of F.O.I.L. is lead by Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, each uniquely endowed with special abilities devised by a biomechanical engineer affectionately named 'Oscar'. F.O.I.L. is soon to be joined by a young man named Reagan McGee. Reagan was born on September 11th, 2001. Reagan has grown to manhood in an ultra-liberal educational system: being told, not asked, what to think. With personal determination, which alienates him from his contemporaries, he has chosen the path less traveled…the path to the Right. Two decades of negotiation with the U.N., and America’s administration of 2021 (President Chelsea Clinton and Vice President Michael Moore), has culminated in a truce with fundamentalist Islamic terrorists, or so America is told. The honorable ambassador from Afghanistan has come to NYC to address the U.N., his name is Usama Bin Laden. Although, Ambassador Bin Laden has announced that he will publicly apologize for the 'misunderstanding' of the events of 9/11. In actuality, he intends on detonating a tactical nuke that is contained in his private diplomatic briefcase. It is a race against the clock to save NYC from a nuclear holocaust and the world from liberal domination. Only with F.O.I.L.’s help, can 'Liberality For All' once again become 'Liberty For All!'"

Suddenly American Power seems quite old-fashioned, doesn't it? The reaction is not entirely favorable:

"That sounds quite atrocious. I hope it's a joke of some kind."

"Study your enemy a little better."

"It was done before - the comics of the forties/fifties were full of it - jap bashing/commie bashing/viet cong/ you name it...world's moved on, squire..."

"I want to write Super Liberal. Able to smell BS from a mile away. Able to leap over right wing conservatives with a single bound. Wanting to help the poor and uneducated, while being accused of being too much in favor of big government. While his opponents abuse thier power in the government to over ride the court system in favor of their political gain. It's Super Liberal! His only weakness is women interns. Super Liberal coming to a comic shop near you!"

"If the basic premise, as presented, is that America is being overrun by a liberal agenda such that 'Usama Bin Laden' would be 'the honorable ambassador from Afghanistan' then I'd have to say a) that's terribly insulting to assume that if Gore won instead of Bush, we'd not only be placating a terrorist who killed thousands, but allow him to be ambassador, and b) I don't know what America you're currently living in, with a two-term Republican president and both the Senate and the House run by a Republican majority...so why all the anger, bile and contempt for those who hold views that differ from your own?"

"All else aside, I'm pretty sure you're proabaly about 65 years late with the 'World's First Conservative Comic.' ...and maybe you might want to read Cerebus 150-300."

And from there, the thread moves onto Liberal Extremism becoming a way of life in education, whether the Playgirl editor was fired because she was a Republican, and whether Ann Coulter is "a sexy Archie Bunker"...

Tom Spurgeon comes up trumps again, offering interviews with Dylan Horrocks, Mark Heath and Matt Fraction, as well as an essay by Bob Levin taken from a book Spurgeon edited about cartoonists and cartooning. Go read.

The Bendis Board reacts to Jeph Loeb and Greg Rucka's criticism of Superman clones (From a WWLA report: "When opened up to the entire panel, all of the participants agreed with Loeb's feelings, pointing out that Superman is too iconic to really be duplicated. For example, Loeb wondered out loud why JMS is doing 'Supreme Power,' why not either do new characters or do the JLA proper? Greg Rucka wondered why is JMS taking a piss on the JLA with 'Supreme Power,' as if the real toys weren't available to him and wasn't happy about it."):

"What is with Loeb and his relentless bias against Marvel/Superman fanboyism..."

"DC is quickly becoming obnoxious. Whereas Joey Q. mocks and jokes about DC sales, these guys are making things awful personal. I just hope there aren't any drive bys."

"He sure does have a bug up his ass about Marvel, huh? Or maybe it's that JMS is writing circles around him?"

"Fuck Rucka and Loeb."

"I didn't know either of the two were capable of spewing tripe of that level. I did know, however, that neither of the two and especially the 'superstar' writer whose work is ungodly putrid haven't written anything near as fantastically constructed as SUPREME POWER in their works combined. Mind you, the quality of SUPREME POWER rests solely on its production as it has no decades-old and popular characters to fall back on. It's now readily apparent that Joe Straczynski outclasses them beyond just writing ability."

"This argument can best be summed up like so... Supreme Power is one of the best comics published, not just by Marvel, but in general. And I wouldn't eat Superman/Batman if I were starving to death."

"Fuck loeb and his formelry Marvel groupies. Now they like hate the company that has been so good to them in the past. MARVEL is superior to DC and always will be, especially with guys like a certain bald writer who pronounces 'comics' like 'camics'. G2 love em though."

Nothing like incisive comics commentary first thing in the morning.

Lee Bermejo talks Lex Luthor:

"The first step in making Luthor someone the audience can fell for – soften him slightly. The change in my style is certainly one way I'm trying to make Lex an easier character to want to look at but I really don't want to change the essence of the character because that is not what we are doing... For me, Lex's eyes are the first and most important thing. When you look into this guys eyes, you have to know right away that he is smarter than you, more confident than you, and probably just as capable of blowing up a building as curing cancer. Part of the way I'm trying to do this is almost always double-lighting him. He has those two light sides, but the center, the core, is darker."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

This just in (well, it went up yesterday) from Alex De Campi:

"To promote Issue 1 of our IDW miniseries SMOKE (shipping in May), Igor Kordey and I are offering 300 limited-edition signed sketch bookplates to retailers. The first 30 retailers to contact us will get 10 bookplates each. The bookplates will have a new SMOKE sketch by Igor and be signed by both of us. I'll be mailing them out personally at the end of April before the book ships. We’re going to have fun with this. Igor and I may mix one or two different original sketches in, as little surprises; I’ll be writing little notes and doodling on the bookplates... You can’t sign 300 things without cutting loose a bit. Or at least, I can't."

Details on how to get your retailer involved and links to sample art at the link above.

James Sime on Marvel Comics moving into 7-11s:

"[T]he only real concern a retailer like myself might have is exclusive product. And part of Marvel's plan includes offering exclusive items, such as the soft-cover Marvel Masterworks that are exclusive to Barnes & Nobles. I'm not particularly pleased with any comic publisher offering exclusive product to retailers outside of the direct market and keeping specialty comic retailers like me out of the loop... but what the hell, there's more to the comic industry than just one or two companies. Because believe it or not, just like there are more retail outlets out there in the world for Marvel Comics than direct market shops like mine, there are a hell of a lot more comics out there to feature, to stock, and to sell. For every watered-down exclusive 'X-Men' comic that a 7-11 might get, there's a hundred 'Shaolin Cowboy,' 'Amazing Joy Buzzards' and 'Ex Machina' books out there just waiting for an audience. I'm happy to put my resources and shelf space into the things that differentiate the direct market from the generic chain shops where these other comics are being offered. So when those Barnes & Noble and 7-11 customers come in my front door looking for more comics than are available at those other outlets I'll have almost an entire store full of exclusives that those non-specialty shops either don't care about or have never heard about. And you had better believe that I won't complain about putting a copy of 'Ex Machina' in a new customer's hands."

In related news, Marvel confirms that the flipbooks in their June solicits are headed for the 7-11s.

Neil Kleid talks about pitching, with help from Brian Wood and Alex De Campi, in this week's Big Pond:

Kleid: "Two years ago, I went on the worst date of my life. The girl was unresponsive, and for a talkative guy like me, it was like pulling wisdom teeth in a five-star restaurant. I asked what she liked to do and she responded with, 'I read.' When I parried with 'What do you read?' she dodged with 'Books.' Why the hell would I go on a second date? Who wants to do that kind of work and pay for it?

"Ladies and gentlemen, that girl is you.

"Don’t make an editor work for a second date. There are dozens of writers looking for the same kind of commitment you are, many dying to volunteer the fact that they enjoy reading Chabon and King and if given a chance, could write books just like them."

Wood: "Of course, you can write the world's greatest proposal, but if its not what the editor needs right then, it won't matter. The best you can hope for in that scenario is better luck with your next one. I sent this one editor six pitches over the course of several months, and while he liked them all, they weren't good fits for any number of perfectly valid reason (not the right genre, too much like an already existing book they do, etc). I finally sent him one he liked, and his rejected pitches went to other publishers."

De Campi: "Most importantly, your first pitch to an editor is nothing but an opening salvo in a long-term conversation. Often it will take you three or more rejected pitches before you understand what the editor is really looking for. Listen to what the editor says, and learn from it. You must not get all bent out of shape if your masterpiece dream story gets dinged first-off. Chances are, it will. You’re a writer. Go out to the pub, bitch to your friends about how nobody recognizes your genius, then go the fuck home and write something else."

Jason Martin attended Allan Heinberg's "writing school" at Wizard, and tells you what he learned:

"As Allan got underway he expressed how he wished things were a bit more informal, and that he were 'sitting down'. He also added that calling the panels 'Wizard School' made it seem like he should be at 'Hogwarts', a bit of a crowd pleaser which would turn out to be the first of many. Heinberg, a former child actor, Yale educated, accomplished playwright, and Hollywood writer/producer turned comics creator, was very personable and quite capable of holding a room with his many stories and insights. The panel was a kick, and I wouldn’t hesitate to listen to him speak again."

Revealed at the panel: "He went on quite a bit about how just the name [Young Avengers] smacked of such an obvious money grab, or swipe at DC’s Teen Titans, and how he’d have to overcome that... He knew that the cover, with teen versions of Marvel icons, very deliberately, would make you think, 'I have to pick this up and see how terrible this is?!'" Shit. I'm so obvious.

The Bendis Board is concerned by a lack of Ultimates in Marvel's June solicits:

"I really, really wish they could combine George Perez & Bryan Hitch in terms of insane detail...and Mark Bagley in terms of sheer German effeciency. I mean...GOD DAMN, he's fast."

"You know, I would be a lot more tolerant of this had it not been for a couple of comments made by Millar himself. At WizardWorld Chicago last year, he was asked when Ultimates 2 would come out. He didn't speculate, but said that they were letting Hitch get a head start and that he was just finishing up issue 4. Two months later in a new interview, he was asked how far ahead Hitch was, and he said Hitch was just finishing issue 4 and starting issue five. I'm sorry, but this is so much bullshit I can barely wade through it. If you are going to schedule an obstensibly monthly book, the get the lead time you need to get it out monthly. Or even just freaking make it bi-monthly. Just stop it with the freaking lateness."

"Great results or no, it's outta line now. I don't care if you're DaVinci-- if you're drawing comics, you have a schedule. Period. This 'but the wait gives him more time to make it even more wonderful' argument is crap. It's past that now."

ICv2 has February's sales chart from Diamond. New Avengers, Astonishing X-Men and Superman/Batman make the top 3.

Greg Rucka talks Countdown on Infinite Crisis and The Omac Project:

"This all started in January of 2004... Somewhere, Dan has pictures of us in this big room with these giant pieces of paper on the wall, with all of this mapped out, and the names of the miniseries are at the top. The one piece that was missing, as we said earlier, was Countdown. We knew everything else, but we were missing that one piece to tie it all together. We had the structure, but were missing the keystone. There were certain things where we wanted a specific effect, and went for that, but in many, many others, we found the logical extrapolations of what was already going on – if this happens, then this would follow, then this, and this and this. That’s the other thing – we’re not playing the market share game. We’re giving readers the best damn stories we can give them, and we’re giving them stories that will stand apart, but viewed together, will build to Infinite Crisis. Dan is very inspiring when he talks about wanting to get people excited about Wednesday. I remember that feeling, and I can say without any hesitation of a doubt that’s what we’re all trying to do with all these stories – we want to give people a reason, a desire, an excitement to get into the stores on Wednesday and get their comics, and see what’s happening, and how the story is moving along. If we can do that – get people excited to come into shops and get the latest issue because they want to read a damn good story, not because they’re scared the issue will sell out and the retailer can’t get more. I think we’ll be doing the job we set out to do."

The trade dress for the four spin-off miniseries is revealed, as well, for those who care about such things.

Spoiler warning for those who care: The comments thread here discusses the end of Countdown to Infinite Crisis. Enter at your own risk.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Fuck "100 Things I Like About Comics". Tom Spurgeon gives 1000 Things to Like about Comics.

The fans, they complain about Warren Ellis and Adi Granov's Iron Man, as Newsarama previews the third issue:

"6 pages, 32 panels, 1 shot of the Iron Man armor. Definitely worth the wait."

"Hmm. Tony never even puts on the armor. No thank you."

"Ellis has gotten so bad at padding he has devolved the IronMan Armor. The Armor use to be able to fit in a suit case. Now, Tony has to put on some spandex outfit, which Warren will take 3 pages to explain. And now needs a crew to put ont the armor. Awful, get the man off the title, and let someone who WANTS to write IronMan write it. Not some hack doing it for the paycheck."

"Having the Warren Ellis Iron Man on the shelves now only highlights for me how exceptional Orson Scott Card's Ultimate Iron Man is. Orson Scott Card never showed the Iron Man armor either; but it was not missed due to the excellent characterization, story flow and defined finish and end. In one issue, we were treated to the short lived romance of Tony Stark's parents, and the human sacrifices and mistakes they made in bringing Tony into the world. Warren Ellis has in turn taken 3 issues to essentially show Tony in a board room and some guy vomitting black ooze (all of which was recapped *again* in the first few pages of issue 3 shown here). This comparison highlights why professional comic book writers tend to shape the medium into the cable television of printed media. We need more of the Orson Scott Card treatment showing these properties in a light the world can respect and truly enjoy; a light that validates the $2.99 price tag as more than a simple down payment on a six part story."

So, to sum up: The armor is the most important thing about Iron Man, it should be able to fit into a suitcase, and you must show it unless you fancy writing a story about Tony Stark's parents fucking. Now we know.

This also in from the land of unexpected movies:

"Writer Hadley Davis told SCI FI Wire that she is drafting the script for a movie adaptation of Zatanna, the venerable DC Comics sorceress, with an update for a teen audience. 'It's sort of an obscure DC Comic book,' Davis said in an interview. 'Well, I say that, and then people who know comic books know the comic. It has existed for years and years, but she is a female magician. It's for Warner Brothers and [producer] Denise DiNovi, and we've made her sort of a teen magician.'"

This just in from the land of "Whaaaaaa?":

"Variety is reporting that Sony Pictures is in negotiations with Marvel Entertainment in an effort to turn the 1970s Marvel comic book character, Killraven, into a major science fiction movie franchise. Unlike many of the films made utilizing some of the minor characters from the Marvel universe (Man-Thing for example, which is heading straight to DVD after a debut on TV), Sony is reportedly planning to turn Killraven into a major 'tentpole' release. The studio is negotiating with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle) to adapt Killraven for the silver screen."

Newsarama starts my day off well by announcing that James Jean is coming to San Francisco:

"Opening Friday, April 8th from 7-10pm at the Super 7 store will be Eisner Award Winning Cover Artist James Jean's Process Recess -- an art show consisting of his original drawings, paintings and prints. In the current wasteland of contemporary art, filled with the tired repetition of iconic characters, styles and motifs, James Jean is one of the few inspirational artists out there. Just one look at any of his works will immediately win you over. And he's definitely already wowed the comics industry, receiving the Eisner Award (the comics industry's equivalent to an Oscar) for his groundbreaking cover artwork on both 'Fables' and 'Batgirl;' breaking all the rules in terms of perspective, composition and color palettes. You've probably even already seen his work without knowing, the great illustration used on the Donnas' recent 'Gold Medal' album or San Francisco's own Stratford 4's forthcoming major label debut cover art, and spot illustrations in a variety of high profile publications. We're also proud to help spread the word on his new book, published by AdHouse Books, 'Process Recess,' which collects much of his work, including his amazing sketchbooks. The artist will be on hand to meet and greet, as well as for signings."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Tokyopop moves closer to the register:

"Tokyopop is using Clip-Strips to expand its offerings of Cine-Manga in Wal-Mart stores. Clip-Strips allow Tokyopop's Cine-Manga to be displayed next to the corresponding DVDs or to hang near toy isles or next to the cash registers to attract impulse buys... Tokyopop has also had success with the giant Target chain, Wal-Mart's largest competitor. This spring Target stores will begin stocking an 8-book offering of Tokyopop manga -- the largest and most extensive Tokyopop program yet in Target stores."

DC release previews of the covers of the final printings of the Identity Crisis mini-series... this time, the covers are recolored red, like blood. Because lots of people die in the series, get it? They're so clever.

Also, the series gets retitled and becomes COUNTDOWN TO COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS: IDENTITY CRISIS.

Over at Chuck Dixon's message board, politics in comics are being discussed. Chuck offers his theories:

"There's a lot of beautiful books out there. But I won't buy them if I have to read a political message along with the story. ANY political message even one (God forbid!) that agreed with me. Unless you're writing an intrinsically political comic, keep your views to yourself. Don't use comic icon costumed heroes to espouse your views. And my main problem with the politicization of mainstream comics isn't that I disagree with the politics (though that's a problem for me personally) it's that the views are part of an accepted, lockstep, unquestioned zeitgeist that's, frankly, tiresome. If a political issue appears on an episode of Law and Order then its sure to appear in a comic six months down the line. One cause du jour after another presented as though they were startling and shocking and...daring. Want daring? Try putting out a comic that's in support of America's War on Terror. I recently parted company with a comics publisher who wanted these same left wing views dumbly repeated in the comic I was writing for them. The comic I was writing was a military fantasy and there was no place and no audience for a liberal military shoot-em-up. No matter where you place yourself on the politcal spectrum you have to agree that there's no readership for a book like that... Today's crop of comics is far more to the left than much of mainstream entertainment. The PTB in comics liken themselves to the movie industry. But the film business, despite its Sean Penns and Michael Moores, produces a lot of entertainment that skews right of center. Any action movie. Any western. Horror movies are remarkably reflective of conservative views and aimed squarely at their largest and most loyal audience; the red states in flyover country... Comics today fly in the face of that by repeatedly turning off its core audience and failing to recognize a diversity in its potential readership. Have your left-skewed imprint like Max or Vertigo. But where's the comics for the rest of us?"

Peter David responds:

"As for politics in comics, Chuck, it's easy to make sweeping statements. But let's say I decided to revisit the Hulk as boss of the Pantheon. A commander in chief of a military organization that goes wherever it wants and does what it wants, up to and including overthrowing foreign dictators despite the wishes of most of the world. If I do that same story now that I did ten years ago, is it a politicized commentary on Bush? Anyone reading 'Fallen Angel #8' in which the heroine tortures a captive for info would see it as a commentary on Iraq torture scandals...unless they bothered to check the pub date to see that it came out two months before. What if I want to do a story about a man trying to let his wife die? Should I shy away from stories that are metaphors for steroid use, since there's congressional investigations? Abortion rights? Capital punishment? Teenage sex? Premarital sex? Marriage? Divorce? Terrorists? Should I studiously make sure that no comic have the slightest real world ties since just about everything winds up becoming politicized these days? That sounds rather unappealing. But that could just be me."

Chuck Dixon again:

"To use current events as an inspiration or backdrop for a comics story is fine for me. I've done it often enough myself. What I object to is using these events as a platform for political diatribe in a mainstream superhero comic. Want to present your views in the comics medium? Fine. There's plenty of small publishers or you can publish it yourself. But don't have Captain Sparkle mouthing your standpoint on late term abortions or gun control just because you've been handed a piece of a franchise and a waiting audience.
It's poor form and commercial suicide since you're dumbing down your demographic to people who agree with you. Comics desperately need to return to a mainstream comic reader base and writing comic stories that further marginalize them doesn't help. Every potential reader doesn't subscribe to the same e-mail chains as the writers and editors at DC and Marvel."

From there, the fans get involved and it gets messy...


"The Batman, holding a seemingly unidentifiable man while Earth's greatest heroes look on in shock and awe. Who is this man the Batman carries in his arms? Is he a family member or loved one; Alfred the butler, perhaps? Is he yet another fan-favourite supporting character like Sue 'Elongated Man's Wife' Dibney, murdered as part of a terrible conspiracy that will once again shake the very core of the DC Universe? The Blue Beetle, perhaps? No. No, this man the Batman holds so preciously is none of those things ALTHOUGH he is a hero. A fallen, forgotten hero. I wish it to be known in all quarters of that I hereby declare the identity of the so-called 'Countdown dude' to be none other than BARRY ALLEN.

"OBSERVE! Observe the reddish hue of the man's clothing. Observe the wide Silver Age Flash-style eye holes in the mask, with its torn bits dangling in the air. Observe the wing-like forms on the man's head. Observe the man's LEFT ARM -- STRIPPED of its sleeve, conveniently removing the Flash's signature lighting bolt design scheme. And remember that Barry Allen is more than anything else the true symbol of the Crisis on Infinite Earths; that most massive event COUNTDOWN mercilessly promises to excavate. The Blue Beetle??? My ass, NERDS."

I still think it's Blue Beetle, who'll then spend the Omac miniseries getting revamped to be Omac Beetle.

Todd McFarlane - Interesting take on reality:

"With the lawsuit, Gaiman walked away from Miracleman. I have the trademark for Miracleman. No one wants to say it out loud, but that's what happened with the lawsuit. Everyone was like 'Hah hah, he killed Todd,' but unfortunately -- or fortunately, depending on where you are standing -- he had to pick some copyrights to some Spawn characters or pick Miracleman. He didn't pick Miracleman... For whatever reason he walked away from Miracleman, so now Miracleman will be in the Image 10th Anniversary book."

(Via Newsarama.)

As Bill and Rob have pointed out in the comments, Neil Gaiman responded:

"If Todd actually owned a share of Miracleman (something that became more and more unlikely as we finally saw the actual documentation he had on it, which consisted only of: a contract that said that Eclipse's rights to the character automatically reverted if someone other than Dean Mullaney owned Eclipse, and an expired Trademark notice for a Trademark shared with me, Mark Buckingham and Eclipse) then, yes, he kept that share at the end of the trial. Meanwhile, Mark Buckingham and my share of Miracleman isn't in any doubt at all. I didn't walk away from what Todd had; Todd simply couldn't demonstrate that he owned anything that I was walking away from... I used to get hate mail from Image Fans accusing me of delaying the Image 10th anniversary book (which was due out in 2002) because, following the trial, I now co-owned the Cogliostro character, and people from Image were at one point, apparently, telling people that I was stopping the comic coming out, which came as rather a surprise to me, because it was the first I'd heard of it (and was also nonsense). Cynically, I can't help wondering if Todd claiming he's now putting Miracleman into the just-a-little-bit-late comic is just a way to put off actually publishing the comic for a few more years."

Tom Spurgeon comes up trumps again: Previews of new work from Dylan Horrocks? A John Romita (Snr.) interview? A Scott Mills interview? An interview with the marketing director of Pantheon's graphic novel line? Yes, please!

John Byrne holds court on rebooting continuity:

"Whether a 'reboot' works or is accepted seems to depend entirely upon the capriciousness of those who read them. As I have noted on more than one occasion, I was quite surprised when YEAR ONE generated not so much as a blip of complaint from the 'loyal Batman fans', as Frank changed about 90% of the backstory on the characters, far more than what I did in MoS. Eventually I realized that many of those fans, like Frank himself, did not actually realize the changes were changes. (Recall how Barbara Gordon came to be 'adopted' because Frank had not 'done the math' and when someone else did, it was too late.)"

Fans of DC's space-opera characters may geek out about Rann-Thanagar War (Oh, alright - Countdown to Infinite Crisis: Rann-Thanagar War), if Dave Gibbons has anything to do with it:

"The Legion make a fleeting appearance...We don't see all of the Omega Men, but Tigorr plays quite a large part in it. Hawkman and Hawkgirl as I said. Hawkwoman is also in there. We also have Adam Blake, otherwise known as Captain Comet. He plays an important part. He becomes somewhat of an ally of Kyle Rayner and teams up with him to attack this problem from another vantage point. Starman is in there, Prince Gavyn of Throneworld. He's not center stage, but he makes a significant appearance... We have the Khunds, and we have the Dominators, the Psions, the Coluans and the Durlans. There is a sense of everybody getting involved... I did want to make it science fiction rather than super heroics. I think the mix of characters we've got in it allows us to do that and certainly, I've been a fan of great space opera. I use to read all the Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke and Ian M. Banks books."

Matt Fraction on Image Comics, from this week's Basement Tapes (with Joe Casey, as always):

"In an ideal world or, at least, in a smarter one than this, Image should provide a mainstream alternative to the Big Two, where creators are treated well and where other pop pulp genres can grow, thrive, and take advantage of Image's brand and relative strength in the market so as to stand a fighting chance in that market. The miracle of Image's inception is that for what was arguably the first time in the industry's history, the creatives were the 900 lb. bears in the room. Those guys defined the industry itself around what they wanted, and so profound was that initial blast of popularity that we're still processing bits and pieces of them out of the mainstream. Overnight, these guys, and this company, went toe-to-toe with behemoths forty years old. And won. From there it's a long way down.

"The potential of the ideological and creative importance of Image aside, they've got a privileged piece of real estate in PREVIEWS and, even if they're a shadow of their former selves, they've got the only real chance to change the rules of the mainstream that I think we're likely to see. Ultimately, pardon the pun, Marvel and DC are too entrenched in their own cultures to go too terribly far into trailblazing and besides, it's not necessarily their strengths, or what anyone really wants, anyway. Image, though, can be anything it wants to be. It always could.

"In theory, its identity means otherwise closed avenues of the medium are open; it means those avenues are open to anyone that can produce work that Image editorial deems worthy. But theory and practice are two separate things, but not for lack of tryin'."

Over at Ninth Art, Bob Schreck talks about his career in indy comics in the first part of an interview with Alex Dueben:

"Nobody's perfect right out of the gate. Matt Wagner to this day still gets that old COMICO PRIMER with Grendel in it and his whole body just collapses. He's says, 'I thought I signed the last one of these, I couldn't even draw when I did this'. To this day I look at it and I just think of how cool that was when we first saw it. We knew there was some whole cloth in that and we were all right. Well, all twelve of us, you know, 'cause it didn't sell very well. So yes, it's the best part of the job to be able to extend a hand out and watch somebody grow. If you're not helping somebody learn their skills and find their dream, then why are you getting up in the morning? I might as well work in a tire factory. There's no excitement to it if you're not aggravating people and/or giving people a chance."

Heidi on Wizard World Long Beach:

"If last year’s Wizard World Long Beach was surprisingly good, this year’s was surprisingly bad, at least as far as sales and general excitement were concerned. By Sunday, the word 'terrible' was being thrown around. Although Saturday attendance was strong, the people roaming the floor weren’t in the mood to spend money, and that seems to have put some of the exhibitors in a bad mood."

Following on from the release of the full title to DC Countdown yesterday, Newsarama has the house ads for the four spin-off mini-series, all of which now have the prefix "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" attached: The Omac Project, Day of Vengence, Villains United!, and Rann-Thanagar War. According to Bob Wayne at DC, "I bet people will even find the ads exciting."

Monday, March 21, 2005

"Countdown to Infinite Crisis", then.


Tom Spurgeon's Comics Reporter is on a semi-hiatus this week, with Tom's usual reporting-that-puts-everyone-else-to-shame being temporarily replaced by essays and interviews that put everyone else to shame, instead. Today, a 1999 interview with Jeff Smith goes up (as do other articles) for 48 hours only, meaning there's only a limited time that you can read about Jeff wanting to hit Dave Sim:

"He's going on and on and on, and Vijaya and I are like going, 'Can we go to the bathroom now?' It was just so... he just wouldn't shut up. And finally I said, 'Dave, if you don't shut up right now, I'm going to take you outside and I'm going to deck you.'"

The Bendis Board salutes its former administrator, as Brian Michael Bendis makes an announcement:

"i spoke to [the Image boards' admin] allen today. i told him we'll just stay here on our own server. he has a lot to do all day and our board on top of all the others was too much. he was always gracuious about it, but when it crashed i could see what a headache it truly was for him. he's such a good guy, i felt i was taking advantage. he is slowly working on restoring the image boards. but we will be staying here. i will be visiting the image boards when they rebirth and hope you do as well."

"Very cool news to see you staying on your own! Two of the three biggest creator boards are now owned by the creators themselves (unless I'm now wrong as per usual) I can't believe it is taking them so long to get their boards up though. Look what has happened here in such a short amount of time. I'm looking forward to the return of Image's board though as I visited many of those rooms."

"Well, Allen is really busy with a lot of production stuff at Image, too, so it's not like he can dedicate all of his time to the problem... it's going to be back eventually, though..."

"Plus...from what I understand...he is not only trying to put the board back up, but also restone most of what was 'lost' including messages, PMs, etc. Almost make it as if the Russians didn't hack it. Allen truly is trying to work a miracle and if he does this, then turning water into wine will possibly be his next accomplishment."

"Absofuckinlutely! Allen's a genius... and yeah, when Image made the move to San Fran, Allen took on A LOT more job duties. He's a machine."

The Brian K. Vaughan board wonders what happened in the eighties. And nineties.:

"I started reading that article BKV posted and it got me thinking, what are the best or most popular characters created in the past 2 decades? An important stipulation, they must still be around and relevant, hence no Spawn or X-Man."

"Usagi Yojimbo-Come on, a rabbit ronin, what more do I need to say. Hellboy- A very interesting character concept for the time. Sandman- He is a pure bad ass."

"i think hellboy is pretty significant, as well as the bone characters. whether or not they're the 'best' is open to debate, but they've both spawned cottage industries and have had an impact in a very tight market."

"Use best as a loose term. I dont mean they have to be the greatest thing ever, but just important, relevant, and well recieved, as well as still popular today. Also, how about all of Sin City? Just look at the fervor around the movie over 10 years later."

Apparently, there may be something in that movie = comic sales thing, after all:

"Frank Miller's Sin City Vol.1 soared from #77 to #9 in the latest BookScan list of graphic novels sold in bookstores, as anticipation for the debut of the Sin City movie on April 1st continues to build. Many comic book-based movies have failed to make much of an impact on book sales in either the bookstore or the direct market, but Sin City is one property that has real potential."

James Sime surveys the comics internetospheriweb:

"At most comic blogs the vibe is private dinner party, it's a personal affair. Often times just you an a couple friends just sitting around talking comics. There can be no denying the appeal of a one-on-one connection that comic blogs offer... Messageboards, on the other hand, are the parties and clubs of the virtual comic industry. They might not be as intimate as the blogs, but you never know who you are going to meet or what's going to happen, but each of the industry's great comic message boards has a style that's all their own."

Watchmen gets reprinted, hardcovered, made larger:

"The new edition of the classic Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons story is currently being adapted to the larger, 'Absolute' format and recolored by original colorist John Higgins. The edition is being produced with the blessing of Alan Moore. The edition will run 464 pages (and will also double as a blunt object if need be), and will be a complete reprinting not of the original series as published by DC, but of the Graphitti edition, a collection published by Graphitti in the late ‘80s that included 48 pages of extra material."

The comments after the story at Newsarama are wonderful:

"I'll try and buy this, but my curse will fuck it up. Trust me."

"I think I just came."


Hannibal Tabu's report of the DC Universe panel at Wizard World LA will make you like Jeph Loeb more than usual:

"'In June,' [Bob] Wayne read from his notes, 'the writer of 'Young Avengers' and the writer of 'Teen Titans' team up to kick Mark Waid's butt.' He was referring to 'JLA' with Allan Heinberg and Geoff Johns, with covers by Rags Morales. With the cover image, it appears that Batman is finally going to deal with the issues brought up in 'Identity Crisis,' with Chris Batista and Mark Farmer on art. 'So you could say this is a sequel to 'Identity Crisis?'' Loeb shouted. Johns implied that it was its own story, to which Loeb returned with, 'But you could say it's like the son of 'Identity Crisis?'' Johns simply looked exasperated and things moved on."

Also, as much as I like Mark Waid's work, building a door out of Lego?

Tom Beland/Kurt Busiek fans: You heard it here first, surprisingly.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Bendis Board comments on the return of the Ellis board:

"I don't get this guy. He sends out missives that aren't allowed to be duplicated. He calls us all sorts of horrible names for what a couple of misguided people did. And now he's hosting a message board for only 12 hours? Love his work, but he seems like kind of a crank to me."

"Eh, thats kind of his charm. But, yeah, I didn't like being called a Rape-o either."

"Whats his beef anyway?"

"Not worth going into. Suffice it to say he doesn't actually have a problem with us, he made a comment about how the board would be perceived in the future that a lot of people hate."

Brian Hibbs on problems within the direct market:

"Why we don’t have directed and practical things like starting inventory packages, or management-oriented training like “how to do cycle sheets” and that kind of thing? Why have no publishers taken a lead on trying to get a standardized Point of Sale system set up for comic shops nationally? Why aren’t there rack programs any more? Why aren’t there co-op programs that working retailers will, as a body, actually use? Subsidizing basic start-up costs, and encouraging better business practices, these things couldn’t help but encourage more stores to start, and grow... I absolutely believe that resources put in to the Direct Market will always pay off at a greater rate than any other market segment – it is cheaper and more efficient to sell comics through the DM mechanism because that is what it designed to do."

Riff-raff! Street rat! Marc Sumerak’s not buying that! If only they'd look closer at Ororo: Before The Storm, he tells Newsarama:

"Although she’s clearly been dealt a bad hand in life, Ororo remains bright-eyed and optimistic — a quality that inspires those around her to succeed and excel. And despite the fact that she has been surrounded by so much death and despair in her life, Ororo still manages to embrace life in any form and to nurture those around her. Exceptionally loyal and warm-hearted, Ororo lives each day to the fullest and tries to make the best of her time as thief. And even though she disagrees with many of the tenets of life on the street, she does what it takes to help herself and her fellow urchins survive! And while the back alleys of Cairo are definitely our starting point for the series, there's so much more of Egypt to explore. It won’t be long before their acts of thievery lead them into an epic Egyptian adventure that would make Indiana Jones and Lara Croft proud!"

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