Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rusty, we barely knew ye...

I know that it was a while ago that my friend Rusty Haller passed away, but this eulogy that I wrote for him at that time has just shown up in print in Jim Main’s Comic Fan #6.

I wanted to alert you all to Jim’s very cool fan publication, and to urge you all to rush right out and pick up a copy of your own.

Jim (and the guys who work with him on each issue) work hard on this stuff, and do it for the love of the industry. They could use your support.

Plus the stuff they talk about is wicked cool.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot (in fact I actually did) I wrote reviews of three (very cool) indie comics in that appear in this issue. So you’ll want to pick this issue up for that as well.

All in color for a buck!

After the relative success of Watchman the Movie, Dc began re-issuing a number of their touchstone comics initial issues for a buck, with an “After Watchmen What's Next?” banner. These included Identity Crisis, Saga of the Swamp Thing, Kingdom Come and others.

I picked up several of those titles and rather enjoyed several of them. Well, Marvel has (finally) caught on with what a smooth marketing concept this is, and is re-issuing a few of their own recent comics for a buck under the “Marvel’s Greatest Comics” banner.

Now while I personally would argue with parts of this (and some of their choices), but I understand where they are coming from, and certainly applaud their (and DC’s) attempt to interest fans in other comics that they might have missed.

Personally, I think that (as I’ve stated previously) that both companies would sell more comics if they used less expensive (and totally necessary) paper stock and lowered the price point on their respective lines.

Again, the likelihood for that happening, is , well pretty much non-existent, but mostly because it makes way too much sense.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Two more nukes?

I don’t normally get political in this blog, but there is a "funnybook" element to this post, so bear with me. Needless to say, this is why we we will never get anything done in this country, because we keep electing people this stupid.

Now all we can do is quote Bugs Bunny and say, “What a maroon!” Eh?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Slick shiny things

OK, so I realize that as a culture we have a tendency to be distracted by pretty, shiny things and all, but really, can we stop? Am I the only only one who is driven to distraction by the slick, shiny interiors of today's funnybooks? I mean, seriously, perhaps it is because I wear glasses, but, these days, I’m having the damnedest time trying to read comics than I used to (and no, it is so NOT because I’m old), either.

No, it is because whenever I try to read a comic, these days, I find that I have to keep shifting the page back and forth so that the light source I'm using to read by, isn't so badly reflecting off the surface of the page that I often can't read it.

In fact, whenever I am reading a comic, I find myself wishing for the cheaper, flat surface of the old newsprint-style comics, so I can just read them without having to go through all the mechinations and contortions just to read them. I don’t have this problem with any of the slick color magazines I read, so why do comics have to be like this?

So they look “cooler”? I think not. I’m sure that most of the funnybook readers that I know would prefer to go to a cheaper (less expensive), form of (non-reflective) paper that would make the comicbook reading experience easier, and reduce the cover cost of the book (even by 50¢) a comic.

If Marvel, DC, Image, and the other companies want to know how to increase market share (and revenue), they should try something like this.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The coolest of the cool

Normally I don't do stuff like this in this blog, but I felt in necessary to note the recent passing of Robert Culp. I grew up watching I Spy on TV, and thought (and still think) that he (and Bill Cosby) as Kelly & Scott were the coolest of the cool. They were America’s answer to that Brit double-aught spy from across the pond, and even though they were on TV instead of the big screen, they we truly so much cooler.

"It appears that the individual (Culp) had fallen down and struck his head. It's still a preliminary investigation and we're still waiting on the official cause of death," she said, adding there was no indication of foul play.

Culp, who was born in Oakland, California, and attended university in Washington state and California, earned his first major television role in the late 1950s Western "Trackdown," playing a Texas Ranger.

But his most famous TV role was that of Kelly Robinson, a secret agent with a double life traveling the world as a top-seeded professional tennis player in "I Spy."

Culp also wrote scripts for seven episodes of the show, which ran from 1965 to 1968 and featured Cosby as his partner, Alexander Scott.

It was the first U.S. prime-time network drama to feature a black actor in a starring role and both men were nominated for Emmy Awards in all three of the program's seasons -- with Cosby beating out Culp each time.

I met Culp a year or so back at the New York Comic Con. I t was then that I thanked him for all that coolness from all those years ago, and asked him to autograph a copy of my comicbook, Agent Unknown. I told him that the characters that he and Cosby played in I Spy all those years ago inspired the main characters in my comic, which helped kick-start the comic itself.

Well, I am now (with the help of the Chris Torres), re-launching that series with a modern-age version of Kelly & Scott. I hope that you will all get to see it soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fall of the Hulks

OK, truth in Blogging time. I’m really not reading the Fall of the Hulks storyline — or, more to the point — I haven’t been faithfully reading it. I’ve only “sampled” the storyline, buy picking up the related comics that contain an appearance of Spider-Man. (Hey, you have your bias, and I have mine.) Anyways, from what I have been able to glean, Greg Pak & Jeph Loeb (a pair of writers whose work I do really enjoy), grew up on Dr. Seuss, and are now channeling him in their current work (Red Hulk, Green Hulk, Blue-Hulk(?), She-Hulk, Red She-Hulk, Savage Red She-Hulk, et. al. nausium.

All of which is not to say that I’m not enjoying the parts that I’m reading, all of which seems quite well written, and quite engaging. Still, there is a bottom to my wallet, and I’ve long since reached past it, so — as good as it is — I’m still going to have to pass on acquiring the full run (for now at least).

Still, near as I’ve been able to gather several of the very smart criminals (Leader, M.O.D.O.K., etc.) have taken it upon themselves to kidnap the eight (10?) most intelligent people in the world. Given that this is the Marvel Universe, those folks include Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, T'Challa, Hank McCoy, and possibly one or two others). My problem with this list is that it doesn’t include Peter Parker.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be (and n0, not just because I’m a Spidey-Geek), but because Pete is really a world-Class Scientist. Sure, sure, he hides it well (and the writing and editorial staff seem to be willing to conveniently forget this). Just for the record, I’m not the only one who thinks this. Back during Civil War, Tony hired Pete to work for Stark Enterprises, and not just because Pete (as Spidey) was an Avenger, but because Pete is positively brilliant. (Again, not just because I say so).

Nope, Hank Pym also says so. Again during Civil War, Pete (as Spidey) paid a visit to Pym at his scientific retreat, where Pym learned that Pete designed his web shooters as a 15-year-old and (thoroughly shocked), admitted to Spidey that he is smarter than Pym (Pym recently ascended to “Scientist Supreme in Mighty Avengers, so imagine how smart that makes Pete).

Thus, the only reason that I can think that Pete wasn’t included in the abduction list by the Intelligentsia, is because they simply don’t know who he is (this in spite of the fact that it has been made clear over the years that Pete has published a number of scientific papers). Still, he technically isn’t working as a scientist these days, and (as a freelance photographer) largely works below the radar). So, in this regard I’m going to give Pak & Loeb a pass, and enjoy the parts of the ride that I’m experience.

Still, someone from the Marvel Handbook crew is going to tell me how this story fits into the Siege storyline which is also currently ongoing throughout the Marvel books.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lawyer-Man to the rescue!

The next big superhero fight won’t be some massive inter-company event, nor will it take place on the silver screen in 3D, but instead it will occur in the courtrooms as the lawyer who once made the low-budget film Zombie High has a new calling as an intellectual property litigator while he now battles a real-life corporate Goliath in the form of the Walt Disney company on the behalf of the heirs of comic book artist and legend, Jack Kirby.

Yep, that’s right, Marc Toberoff is attempting to secure the rights for the heirs of artist Jack Kirby — who have sued Marvel Entertainment and its new owner the Disney Co. — as part of an effort to reclaim ownership of the characters he created and/or co-created.
Toberoff claims Kirby created his characters on a freelance basis, rather than as works for hire, and he may reclaim their ownership under a provision of the copyright law that gives authors or their heirs such rights after a given number of years.

The law creates a 56-year threshold for ending older copyrights and a shorter period for newer works, according to the Times.

Toberoff’s suit claims the heirs should profit from new works involving Kirby's material, including movies such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Marvel has licensed rights to many of the characters to rival studios, further complicating the suit, the Times says

Comicbook-wide crossover "Events"

I’m not a fan of blockbuster-style crossover event comics that involve the entire line of a company. I don’t care if it is DC, Marvel, Image, or anyone else. While these types of events might have worked in the past, when publishing houses were smaller, they certainly don’t work when there are 30 or 40 (or more) titles to ring in, or when they take a year or better to play out.

First of all, they disrupt the normal flow of events in any one particular title in that the writer of said title has to interrupt the ongoing flow of their narrative in order to shoehorn in some editorially-mandated “event.”

Point in Fact. I just finished reading Dark Avengers #15, and that team is still in NY, beating up on each other, while over in Siege, and Siege Embedded, they are out in Ohio, storming Asgard. It makes for a disruptive reading experience for those of us readers who actually are trying to follow what is going on in the comics.

As for me, I long ago gave up buying every single comic cited in a crossover event (only to discover only a single related panel). Still, I'm no fan of Event Comics (especially when one event dovetails into the next with no end in sight, and especially when there seem to be multiple multi-comic events going on involving essentially the same characters.

Personally, while I do enjoy a cohesive universe, I can do without every single comic needing to intersect with every other single comic in the line ever single month ad nausium.

I have a unique idea. How about just telling good stories each and every month? How about that?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Comic Book Myths come to life?

OK, this is an interesting tidbit that I just came across today, Apparently back in 1954, over in Scotland, there was a vampire-hunting posse of youngsters who were, ah “staking out” a particular cemetery at night thinking that there were vampires there.
When Pc Alex Deeprose was called to Glasgow's sprawling Southern Necropolis on the evening of 23 September 1954, he expected to be dealing with a simple case of vandalism.

Titles like Tales from the Crypt were accused of corrupting young children

But the bizarre sight that awaited him was to make headlines around the world and cause a moral panic that led to the introduction of strict new censorship laws in the UK.

Hundreds of children aged from four to 14, some of them armed with knives and sharpened sticks, were patrolling inside the historic graveyard.

They were, they told the bemused constable, hunting a 7ft tall vampire with iron teeth who had already kidnapped and eaten two local boys.
Needless to say, not only was there no actual vampires, but as it turns out there was never any mention of a creature matching the description of the Gorbals Vampire in any of these EC comics cited. Further, there actually is, a monster similar in appearance (with iron teeth) that is from the Bible (Daniel 7.7) and in a poem that was taught in local schools.

As can be expected, no one wanted to pay attention to the actual facts as the media and political frenzy that followed was loudly demanding that action to be taken to prevent even more young minds from being polluted by the terrifying and corrupt American comic books.

Needless to say, it was shortly after this that Fredric Wertham’s book, Seduction of the Innocent, hit the shelves in the U.S., which, as we all know, lead to the CCA, and a couple of decades of repression for our industry.

Go Figure

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The future of comics

I think that before I discovered funnybooks, I was a fan of syndicated comics in the newspaper. I totally love it when these two worlds collide, as they did this week in Foxtrot.

It kinds of sneaks up on you, doesn’t it?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In support of the arts

I just learned of a couple of projects that some (very talented) friends of mine are involved with, and I wanted to pass the info along to you folks.

First up is Rick Parker’s graphic Novel Deadboy which is all about a very troubled, misunderstood youth with a very bad attitude and a craving for adventure. Apparently this lad also has a tasty bar of chocolate. According to the promo copy, he and his naive (formerly-dead) friend, accompany a wise-cracking crow (who believes himself to be a raven) as the three of them “circumnavigate a nightmarish, surrealistic landscape inhabited by love-starved, violence-prone zombies and all manner of strange creatures large and small.”

Rick, in his uniquely-sarcastic way is suggesting that the book only be read by mature and well, immature readers.

it is a print-on-demand book, and can be found online here. you can preview the whole book by going here.

Chris Giarrusso is working on a new G-MAN story for a project called Reading with Pictures, which is a is a newly-formed nonprofit organization that is looking to revolutionize the role of comicbooks in education. It is their intention to actually work with academics in order to cultivate groundbreaking research into the proper role of comics in the realm of education. It is their intention to collaborate with cartoonists in order to produce exceptional graphic novel content intended for scholastic use. Most importantly, they are going to partner up with interested educators so as to develop a system of best practices for use of integrating comics into their curriculum.

Seriously, how cool is that? Want to know more? The check them out at their site. for a video that will tell you more, follow this link.

Both of these guys are wicked-talented, and very cool (and both talk to me, so that lets you know that they are also very tolerant). So I highly recommend that you support them and their work.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Liberty for the Defense

Back in January, I told you all about Liberty Comics, that I (re)joined the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and that I had ordered Liberty Comics #1 (I had found issue #2 on the shelf of my local comic book shop). Well, even though I had joined the CBLDF back then, it apparently took ‘til now to process it.

Not sure why this happened, but I’m not upset, I’m glad it finally came through, as I got to read this very cool comic. Mine cover-features Danger Girl by J. Scott Campbell (an alternate version features Hellboy by Mike Mignola).

The comic features a handful of stories from top creators, most of which revolve around the theme of censorship, so yeah, it is a very cool comic, and (of course) the money goes to a very good cause. So look the CBLDF up, and check them out!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

To the stars & beyond

OK, I finally managed to track down a two more Star Wars items from McDonald’s. they appear to be a craft and a figure (Luke?)

Now I only have one more item to go. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find the final craft before the end of the promotion.

Broadway Bound (again)

Buck-up kiddos, we have just received word that Spider-Man the musical, is headed back to the Great White Way.

The financing is now in place, with a chunk coming from Disney, which recently acquired Marvel Comics.

The show will likely begin previews in September and open in November, sources told The Post.

Jim Spellman/WireImage.com
Actor Alan Cumming is on board as the Green Goblin for the Broadway production of "Spider-Man, Turn off the Dark," which stalled due to a lack of funding. It is now set to premiere in fall 2010.

The story in the NY Post goes on to say that that refunds are available for those people who purchased tickets for the original performances this spring and are not interested in exchanging them for the new dates in the fall.

Who ya gonna call?

OK, this one is for my good buddy, Chris, who loves this stuff...

As you can plainly see, IDW is gearing up for a new Ghostbusters comic. Happy now, Chris?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beware the Invisible Hulk

OK, this is just too cool not to re-post.

We say again, beware of the invisible Hulk.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Defending the indefensible

I don’t normally blog like this, but I just read most of an article on Comic Book Resources (CBR) that reported on a Marvel panel at the Emerald City ComiCon. Most notably at this panel was Marvel EiC, Joe Quesada, who fielded some questions about the current non-state of Peter and MJ. Personally, I really wish I had been there, because I have some follow-up questions that I'd like to posit to him.

The first question Quesada was asked was:

To what level do I have to debase myself to get Spider-Man and Mary Jane back together?” The fan then threw out a couple of suggestions, including “I’ll even take a guest spot on ‘Heroes.’”

His response was that he acknowledged the controversial un-marrying of the couple and indicated that Marvel have no plans to undo the undone. He then explained:

“We worked too hard to get Peter to this point. I can understand why some of you want to see the characters grow old, but we have to manage these characters for the future – a future beyond you and me. A married Peter Parker – as cool as that may seem – from a creative standpoint, it handcuffs the character. It’s a very problematic thing for Peter because it cuts him off and makes Peter the oldest person in the book.”

OK, let’s parse this for just a minute. “We worked too hard to get Peter to this point...” A valid point, but how about the 25+ years of work that it took for the previous creators took to get Peter and MJ to the alter, and the 20 years that they spent as a happily married couple? What gives you the right to simply undo all of that?

“...from a creative standpoint, it handcuffs the character...” Doesn’t making him a white male from a working, middle-class, Christian background also handcuff the character? Not to mention loading him up on such high moral standards? Why not make him more like Wolverine and have him simply gut bad guys? Well, that because that‘s so not who the character is. You‘ve set the rules, now you need to abide by them.

“it cuts him off and makes Peter the oldest person in the book.” Ah, Joe, do you read the book? Aunt May? Joe Robertson? Ben Urich? JJJ? Seriously, your answers are making less sense than some of the silly crap I’ve heard attributed to Stan (and I really like Stan).

Joe continued with ...

“It’s very tough to write because you want to see Peter and M.J. happy, and in a book where, really at its crust, is a soap opera about Peter’s life, the minute he gets everything he wants and life is happy, the stories get boring. So how do you create [the conflict the drama needs]?” OK, that’s a valid point, but my counterpoint to this is, if you can’t find writers who can write interesting stories based on the parameters of the character, then, well, you need to hire writers who are more talented.

John Byrne once told me that, when writing Superman, he really needed Superman to utter a curse word, only, Superman simply doesn’t talk like that, so it required John to challenge himself to write believable, powerful dialogue that conveyed the same range of emotions without using the epithet. To my way of thinking, if your writers can't write compelling stories, stop making excuses for them and admit they are simply not talented enough, and you need better writers.

When the fan countered that reading the current spate of stories of a single Peter Parker felt like the character was treading over preexisting territory. Quesada responded by saying,

“I totally understand. But while it may feel like a retread to you, if I talked to a ten-year-old right now who just started reading Spider-Man a year and a half ago, this is totally brand new. And when you look at every iteration of Spider-Man out now – the movies, the cartoons – he’s a single guy.”

Again, is Joe Q. that far out of touch with his fan base? I truly believe that if you spoke to a 10-year-old about Spidey, they would all know who he is, but you would be hard-pressed to find one that was actually reading the comic. I’ve said it over and over, but Joe is not only pitching the book to an audience that simply does not exist, but to one that hasn’t existed in the better part of a decade-and-a-half. Further, isn’t that why the Ultimate and Marvel Adventure universes created? To appeal to a younger (more diverse) audience?

Sure you’ll find youngsters who go to the movies, play the videogames, and watch the animated adventures on TV, but few (if any) of them are actually buying the comic (if they were, sales of the comics would be at those over-inflated ‘80 & early ‘90 numbers, instead of where they currently are today).

No, I'm not buying the company line that Spidey has to be perpetually younger, not when the same folks who are buying Spidey are buying comics featuring adventures of adult characters, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, etc. Also, Peter is one of the most moral and upstanding characters in the Marvel Universe. He would never make a deal with the Devil (completely ignoring that any deal with the devil always ends badly for the person making the deal, as well as the fact that my own moral upbringing prevents me from acknowledging that Mephisto has that much power).

As I’ve told Spidey editor, Stephen Wacker, I’m too much of a fan of the character to boycott the book, and I’m too professional to get mad at the creators to yell at them in public, so I’ll keep reading the title and hope that eventually editorial will come to their (spider) senses and simply fix the book. ‘Til then, I feel that it is my own moral imperative to continue to remind them that “With great responsibility...”

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

These ARE the Droids you're looking for...

So, if you have been following us (and we hope that you have), George Lucas’ Star Wars characters are currently visiting McDonald’s. We already scored a couple of the four (clip-on) figures, and four (rolling) vehicles, and today we managed to acquire another three (two more figures — Yoda & R2D2 — and one vehicle — an X-Wing fighter).

Chris Giarrusso is Back!

Hey kids, if you (like me) are a fan of Chris Giarrusso’s über-fine work (Mini Marvels, G-Man), then you’ll want to rush right out and score a copy of Image United #0 as Chris has a four-page back up in that issue, that is worth the cover price.

Yeah, you heard me right, Chris’ work is just that good.

This (all-too-brief) tale is Chris taking a comical whack at the whole Image United story, and he does it in his own inimitable style.

As for the up-front tale of Image United itself, well, I’ve been following this series, and well, it reads just like I remember Image Comics reading back in the ‘80s.

(Feel free to interpret that last comment as you wish.)