As we here in the wonderful world of Blog@ celebrate twelve glorious months of Newsaramaing, it only seems to make sense that, this particular Sunday, I look back not just seven days, but 365 of them, and tell you all what what happening on the mothership back when we got started.
That said, if your name’s Dan Didio, you might want to look away now.
DC, you see, had four interviews on the main site a week ago, each one with the writer of a series soon to launch, and each one full of optimism and enthusiasm for such series that shook the industry as The Omega Men (I’d make a smart comment like “Whatever happened to Andersen Gabrych, anyway?” but I think the answer is “The Omega Men”), AJ Lieberman’s revamp of Martian Manhunter (As “set up” by World War III!), and Howard Chaykin’s Green Lantern spin-off, Guy Gardner: Collatoral Damage. The genuinely sad thing is, I really don’t think I’m the only person who forgot that any of these series existed until I reread these interviews, and all of them hadn’t even launched a year ago.
The fourth interview – admit it, you thought my math had gone wrong – was, at least, for an ongoing series, as Andy Diggle explained how his pitch for Detective Comics turned into the launch arc for Batman Confidential – by being too superheroic:
It was my feeling that DC had tried so hard to ground Batman in a gritty urban ‘reality’ in the post-Dark Knight era, maybe they’d lost sight of that fact that at its heart it’s still supposed to be a superhero comic. And I passionately believe that superhero comics should be about speed and energy and movement, thrilling adventures and spectacular action. Not just, y’know, whining and soap. So my story begins as a mystery, develops into a conspiracy, and then explodes into all-out, balls-to-the-wall chunky robot action.
It wasn’t all bad news for DC, though; they issued a press release telling the world that the critics loved the first month of 52. If only they could say the same thing now about Countdown…
Marvel, meanwhile, was having a more mixed week. Yeah, sure, Civil War had a good first month – “If the second month of Civil War tie-ins is anything similar to that of the first, make sure to get your copies early as all of the Civil War titles get hotter, picking up new readers every day” said the press release – but at the same time, X-Men: The Last Stand wasn’t faring so well at the box office:
They can stand against Magneto, William Styker, and a world that hates and fears them, the X-Men fold like an aging boxer when it comes to a Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughn (here ever known as Vinnifer…or Vaughniston) romantic comedy. In its second week of release X-Men: The Last Stand fell 66.6% at the box office, bringing in $34.4 million. Aniston/Vaughn’s The Break Up, which ranked at #1 saw a $38 million box office.
Yeah, being beaten by “The Break Up”? That’s kind of embarrassing… Thankfully, it wasn’t all bad news for the X-Franchise, as Jeff Parker talked about the launch of his then-new then-mini-series, X-Men: First Class:
Often in the Marvel Adventures books, for instance, I try to give the villains more distinctive personalities because many older Marvel villains were essentially the same character. The heroes though, usually have well-fleshed out personalities for the most part. And sure, when you’re putting out as many books as they were at the time, definitely spend the character time on the people the book is named after! With that in mind, I tend to go over the old stories and soak in the characters, and then try to extrapolate from what was given. I get just as irked as any other reader when an old favorite is written out of character.
(Note to John Byrne: That’s how you manage to have respect for the core material without coming across as a jerk. And that’s why Hidden years was cancelled, while First Class became an ongoing series.*)
That said, not everything was going to be a success for Marvel. A year ago, for example, saw the start of Billy Tucci’s short-lived column about his equally short-lived run on Heroes For Hire, way before anyone had thought of adding the words “tentacle” or “rape” to that concept. But that’s the kind of thinking that makes corporations able to spend $100 million:
Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: MVL), a global character-based entertainment and licensing company, announced today that it has repurchased the full $100 million in common stock under its May 2006 authorization and that its Board of Directors has authorized an additional $100 million to be used for the repurchase of the company’s common stock.
In other fun business news from one year ago, Tokyopop moved into Australia and New Zealand and Red Sonja sued Conan the Barbarian (Well, kind of: “Newsarama has learned that Red Sonja, LLC (which owns the rights to the Red Sonja) character has filed suit against Paradox Entertainment (which owns the right to Conan and the rest of the Robert E Howard library), claiming unfair competition and trademark infringement. Red Sonja, LLC has brought four counts against Paradox, and is seeking $5 million in damages. The complaint was filed on April 25th in Distract Court for the District of Delaware.” Was this ever settled? I really can’t remember…). With an industry that centers around this kind of thing, who could blame Moonstone Comics’ Joe Gentile from wanting to tell publishers what they should be doing to take advantage of Free Comic Book Day?:
What may need a little more focus here is what is the perception of comics to a NEW reader who enters a comic shop on FCBD? Isn’t that what everyone REALLY wants here? To GROW readership? Having a (albeit cheaper) reprint of a first issue of a popular series that can be read by people of all ages…good! Now, I think we can agree that the inclusion of ads is an expected and understandable marketing idea, BUT…I think we need to have an entire story in the comic as well.Now, some publishers do this very well indeed. Like DC’s Superman/Batman giveaway. Makes perfect sense. On the other side of the coin, I still remember a FCBD with a very popular “movie tie in” book for ‘all ages”…that had characters being (pretty much) crucified on the interior pages! Um…”all ages”…geez, who was in charge of THAT idea…?) However, there were some books that had, oh I don’t know, about 6 pages of actual comic story telling! New customers MAY think that’s what comics are these days, and never come back!
Of course, what comics are really about these days is… Well, Chris Staros, why don’t you tell everyone about Lost Girls?:
Alan [Moore] has done something with this book that I haven’t seen before, which is to take pornography and make it literary, thoughtful, humane, and exquisite. It is a truly rare thing, especially when you talk about it in terms of it being visual, and not a novelization of something.
Also, the fact that Melinda is the artist on the book adds a femininity to the whole story which is just remarkable, and the story itself as its written and illustrated is so female-friendly, and to me, so non-offensive when you read it, it just seems so natural and beautiful. A lot of the people who’ve been criticizing it haven’t read it yet, and have only heard about it, and yet, when you sit down and actually read the book, it just comes off as a masterful work of art that really challenges one’s notion of what pornography is and makes it quite literary… The book is legal on every level, and it deserves a right to exist. If it gets criticized or challenged in any way, it’s the kind of book that’s going to challenge America to live up to itself. If we live in the land of the free, and free speech is the law of the land so much to the point that we’re putting our soldiers in mortal danger to bring this right and freedom to people who’ve never really had it, we must respect freedom of speech on our own soil. If not, we’re not exactly being American anymore.
This time last year, you see, comics were all about being patriotic and pornographic. Look at the reaction to this week’s Daredevil #98 preview and marvel at what a difference a year makes…
(* – This is not true.)