Via a BOOM! press release….
Friday, May 24
This is awesome. Rory Philips redesigns Wonder Woman:
I have always thought Wonder Woman should look more like a warrior, and less like a pinup. The Amazons of Classical Greek lore were from the region of Scythia. I wanted her outfit to reflect that culture and be almost ceremonial.
Wonder Woman strikes me as one of those characters who can not only stand up to constant reinvention like this, but thrive from it; her look is iconic, but not so iconic that deviations from the classic seem “wrong” for whatever reason (See: Superman and those missing red shorts). Every time I see things like this, I find myself wishing that DC would launch some kind of series where new cartoonists and designers get to tell “their” Wonder Woman stories, out of continuity, and just create this amazing anthology of new, based around a character that pretty much has it all: Mythology, adventure, romance, comedy, the whole shebang. A new Sensation Comics that would actually be sensational, you know?
Then I remember that, the way these things are now, such a project would be announced, everyone would get excited, it’d get solicited and then a month before it was released someone would reveal in an interview that it was now being handled by Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth because of schedule or whatever.
Still. This is a great redesign. Click through and read the details.
Death sells, it seems:
Marvel sold over $1.6 million retail worth of Amazing Spider-Man #700 to comic stores in December, the top dollar comic in recent memory. Sell-in of over 200,000 copies was supported by an extensive variant program, including numerous “exceed orders,” 1:200, and 1:700 variants, and at a $7.99 retail price, the dollars piled up fast. Extensive publicity about the storyline helped make this a major event book. The lead-in book, #699, appears to have unfilled demand; #698 sold more than #699 (both #698 and #699 have second printings already released).
Bob Harras and Bobbie Chase launch a new “Ask The Edtors” column at CBR and it’s… Well, it’s something, especially when addressing the fact that Jim Zub and Robert Venditti have been removed from Birds of Prey and Constantine respectively, or Gail Simone being fired and rehired on Batgirl:
What we had was Ray [Fawkes] coming on for two months to help out, schedule-wise. We’re very happy Gail is back; she’s on the book moving forward, so to me, that was a moment in time where we were just looking for Gail’s next plot to come in and we’re moving forward.
“We were just looking for Gail’s next plot to come in”? Really? Because, you know, if that was really the case, then you might have wanted to tell the editor of the book that so that he wouldn’t have fired Gail by email.
(Also, is this column the first place that Jim Starlin has been announced as Stormwatch‘s new writer…?)
Hey, remember when Axel Alonso said that the creative teams on the Marvel NOW! titles were solid and “85-90% of the time, the artist who draws #1 will be the regular artists on the title”? That last part may be being walked back a little. In last Friday’s Axel-In-Charge at CBR, Alonso addressed the changing art teams on books again:
It’s nothing new. We build all our accelerated-shipping series with a core artist and a complementary swing artist. It’s an inexact science, but we work with the writer to make it as seamless as possible. Speaking from experience, when I edited “Deadpool,” Paco Medina and Carlo Barberi — fantastic artists whose styles were complimentary — were my rotation. It was so fluid I could sometimes split up one arc between them without the readers feeling that the “actors” had changed mid-story. While this is standard operating procedure, I do want to stress that the books are firmly in the hands of one writer, whose long-term vision for the title — and whose involvement in the art assignments — anchors the series. We’re not playing musical chairs. We have faith in our writers.
What happened to the “85-90% of the time” that the original series artists will be the regular artist? It’s possible that he might have forgotten it this time, but also that that’s turning out not to be the case; John Cassaday has already been replaced as Uncanny Avengers regular artist after the first four issues, and when asked about Steve Dillon’s future on Thunderbolts, Alonso says that he “maybe” will come back. Should we be expecting more artistic shake-ups in future announcements?
Over at industry site ICv2, retailers are discussing the value of advance solicitations from a business standpoint. For David Luebke of Richmond, VA’s Dave’s Comics, they’re consistently not good enough:
As to the advance solicitations from Marvel and DC, even on the FCBD books, please grow up and stop playing games. We are professionals and when we order products from you, we need maximum info so we can make an intelligent decision to PROPERLY quantify our order.
That’s something that the Pasadena Public Library’s Nick Smith agrees with:
We have no idea who these comics are written for! Are they suitable for kids? Are they complete stories, or are they just pitches for an upcoming comics event? Are the covers problematic in some way?For us, Free Comic Book Day is a family event, and we buy comics for kids and teens, and use the day to help educate parents about comics and graphic novels. We sort them by suggested age range, and help families choose ones that are right for their family members. Our ordering numbers are based on information, which in this case is mostly lacking.Okay, so the DC one is in some way related to Superman, and the Marvel one is a crossover-ish book of some kind. Is Superman undressing Wonder Woman on the cover? Is Wolverine disemboweling a villain? These things matter, and they are well within the range of things that either company might do… or have the rest of you forgotten Catwoman’s bra-tossing on the cover of her issue 1, or Pepper Potts’ thong underwear display in an “all ages” issue of Iron Man? I can assure you, parents who come to our library haven’t forgotten…
Marc Bowker, of Alter Ego Comics in Lima, OH, gets to the crux of the problem:
The reason that publishers (primarily Marvel & DC) list items as “Classified” or “Top Secret” is because retailers are ordering out of an end consumer catalog. A retailer-only Previews has been talked about for years, and would be a tremendous benefit to the industry, allowing retailers to be treated as partners and giving us the tools to do our jobs to the best of our abilities.
I get that publishers are concerned about spoilers and retailers ruining it for fans – and I know that there are those online who’ll get access to retailer-only information and run it as exclusives or whatever – but I have to admit, the fact that retailers have to work from the same solicit info and Previews catalog as readers and fans has always struck me as a little odd. Given that it’s their money and livelihood in play when they’re asked to make orders, shouldn’t they be privy to just a little bit more information than the rest of us…?
Bad news, fans that were waiting for the first collection of Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos’ Impulse, due in stores next month:
All orders for the IMPULSE VOL. 1: RUNS IN THE FAMILY TP are cancelled. This item will not be resolicited.
It’s more than likely that low orders are the culprit, but the idea that a collection of early work by current fan favorites Waid and Ramos, on a one-time fan favorite character, couldn’t earn enough pre-orders to be sustainable for DC seems almost unbelievable and just a little worrying; if something like this doesn’t earn enough orders to be worthwhile for DC, what are the chances that even more obscure titles could be collected? And if this isn’t viable in terms of order numbers, how much of that is down to the New 52 making the character obsolete, and therefore meaning that the stories contained within the collection “don’t matter” to the greater continuity? Did DC accidentally flatten its own backlist sales by rebooting the universe…?
The Powers TV adaptation is blessed by some higher power. Having already shot one pilot based on Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Oeming’s creator-owned series about police in a world filled with super-heroes that was passed on by the network, it seemed that getting budget to rework and reshoot that pilot was the show’s last chance, and one that also didn’t seem to hit the right notes with FX executives. But the show, it seems, isn’t dead yet. Here’s FX president John Landgraf:
After we made the pilot, we actually developed three more [episode] scripts. So then we had a pilot plus three scripts, and we decided between the pilot and the scripts that it wasn’t quite the series that we needed it to be. When I say we, by the way, Brian Bendis is involved in every phase of this conversation and discussion. But one of the scripts was written by this guy named Charlie Huston, and he was a novelist. Both I and Brian and others thought, “Wow, there is actually something in the tone of this.” So Charlie was approached, I think by Brian, and said, “Look, would you be interested in taking on Powers?” And Charlie said, “Well, I’ve never actually adapted anything before in my life. I have only written novels and stuff of my own, but Powers is my favorite graphic novel, and yes!”So what ended up happening was we reconstituted the whole thing around Charlie as the creator, with Brian. Charlie went up to Seattle, and they sat down and they talked, and read through all the books, and they came back with a new vision, basically. Essentially, a new pilot to begin with, which is a new, different story than the pilot that we shot. So that pilot is officially gone and dead, and the actors are all gone, but we’re developing a whole new pilot from scratch.
If this seems like an excruciatingly long process full of false starts to you, imagine what it feels like to Bendis and Oeming. At this point, I almost feel as if FX should just agree to put Powers on the air in the Huston-led incarnation just to make it up to all of the fans. This has been going on for almost four years already…!
Without a doubt, the must-read piece of the day belongs once again to Tom Spurgeon, whose interview with Mark Waid is just downright amazing – and features revelations like this:
I was actually offered this job about four or five years ago at DC. Dan for a while wanted to move on to a different part of the company. He invited me to take the job, and I went up there and had serious negotiations. We talked about it. Unfortunately, it fell through on some counts that had nothing to do with me. For that week I thought that was the next step of my career? Tom, I felt ten feet tall every day. I really felt like, “Man, this is it. I’ve been watching the Yankees since I was six and I’m finally on the mound, pitching.” Not because I felt, “Everything is broke and I have to fix it.” Or “Oh boy, I get to play with all of these fabulous toys.” It wasn’t quite that simple. It was more of a sense of having gotten to a point where I’m almost as good a teacher as I am a writer. I yearn to be able to work with younger creators and pass along what I know. That doesn’t mean I have all the right answers, and doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to teach the right things. I’m going to be wrong in a lot of my philosophy, too. That’s just the way it is. I enjoy that part of the job. I would have enjoyed the idea of sitting down with that stable of characters and that stable of writers and having a meaningful dialogue about here’s what I think you’re trying to do, and here’s how I might be able to help you accomplish that. I think I have enough experience under my belt that you can take my suggestions seriously.
Dick Giordano was a hero to me. When I was an editor at DC, I worked directly under Dick. Man, he just defined the whole job for me. You hire the right people, advise and consent from the sidelines but basically try to stay out of their way as much as you can.
Elsewhere, Waid says “My career at DC, about two or three years ago, ended when I was blackballed and forcibly ejected from the place. I’m not saying that out of any sort of bitterness or anger. It’s just a fact.” As a Mark Waid fan and a DC fan, the combination of those two quotes is almost impossibly heartbreaking for me; not only do I consider Waid to be a great writer – and, perhaps equally importantly, a smart writer – but his DC work has always been in tune with my idea of what DC “is,” if that makes sense. As fans, we all have our irrational biases and beliefs about characters and companies and the like; mine is that, despite how genuinely, surprisingly, wonderful Daredevil is, Waid “belongs” at DC. Reading that his career is over there is just sad. Knowing that we missed out on a DCU more infused with Waid’s sensibilities and love of the characters is going to be one of the great “If Only”s of comics for me. I thought Boom! under his tenure of Editor-in-Chief put out some really good, interesting projects, and my mind reels at the idea of what a Waid-led DC with the talent-base of DC five years ago – Morrison, Johns, Simone, Rucka, etc. – could’ve come up with.
All of which is me spinning off of two brief moments in a long interview about many other topics. You should definitely go check it out.
Over at the Beat, Jeff Trexler answers the big remaining question you have about yesterday’s Superman legal ruling:
Is the Supreme Court likely to reverse either of these rulings?
Although members of the Supreme Court have criticized the use of memo dispos, in practice the Court is far less likely to take a case that has been decided in this manner.
The reason? In most cases the law really is pretty straightforward. Without, for example, a circuit split on an important issue, the Court has little reason to stir up the dust by flipping well-established law.
In other words, this one is most likely going to stick. Trexler has a great write-up explaining more details about the decision; you should read.
SPURGEON: You didn’t have the reluctance problem, did you? Did you think anyone chose not to talk to you, or changed the way they talked to you, out of careerist or similar concerns?
HOWE: Oh, sure. Tons of people. Tons of people. It’s no secret that this book really accelerates in the last ten years, and it has a very sudden ending. There are multiple reasons for that, but one of them is that no-one in the comics industry now is really interested in talking about the comics industry.
SPURGEON: Right. Not like that, anyway. Or at least not on the record.
HOWE: Not to someone who is writing a book.
There is a lot to be interested in in Tom Spurgeon’s conversation with Marvel Comics: The Untold Story author Sean Howe, but this was the exchange that jumped out at me. There are, of course, many reasons why today’s comics professionals aren’t interested in “talking about the comics industry,” with the chief one likely being “They don’t want to say anything that could prevent them getting work in the future,” but still: One day, there will be people who are willing to talk, and I can’t wait to see what they have to say…
Is Robert Kirkman scaring showrunners away from AMC’s The Walking Dead? That’s one of the theories the Hollywood Reporter shares, concerning Glen Mazzara’s December exit from the show:
Several insiders confirm that Kirkman, whose detailed graphic novels form the basis of the series, is “very proprietary,” as one puts it. One adds, “I believe Robert wants to maintain a certain amount of his control, and AMC needs Robert for the fan base.” But despite the vitriol, some sources involved with Walking Dead say Kirkman was one of several producers on the show who had issues with Mazzara and his vision.
Whether the problem is with Kirkman or other AMC producers, the fact that the show has lost two showrunners in the space of just three seasons is a sign that someone, somewhere, has a problem relinquishing control to the people who are theoretically supposed to be in charge of the series…
Color me even more interested in Titan Comics’ Summer launch, thanks to the news that the publisher is reviving A1 as part of its line. Bleeding Cool reports:
The new A1 will lauch in June as a monthly anthology and will include comics that Elliott has been developing with Heavy Metal.
Creators will include Dave Elliott, Barnaby Bagenda, Garrie Gastonny, W. H. Rauf, Rhoald Marcellius, Sakti Yuwono and Stellar Labs, and the first three strips will be the fairytale mashup Weirding Willows, the superhero fighting in the Hevane/Hell apocalypse Odyssey and the wolrd’s greatest seven assassins, Carpe Diem.
Hopefully, the deal also includes some form of collection or reprinting of some of the earlier A1 material; the first run of the series had material from Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, Jamie Hewlett, Barry Windsor-Smith, Glenn Fabry and pretty much everyone and anyone who was active in the late 1980s/early 1990s British comic scene.
Over at The Beat, Todd Allen looks at how Marvel performs in Diamond’s end-of-year graphic novel chart and pulls out some interesting observations:
What are we not seeing? The collections supporting the Events. Where are Iron Man: Fear Itself and all those titles? Where are all the Avengers and X-Men titles that are so integral to the “universe” part of all the cross-overs? They’re not there.
It seems clear that readers will show up for the big events, but could care less about the supporting crossovers in book form. Can you really blame them? The supporting issues of Avengers, Spider-Man and so forth take place between the issues of the actual Event, so either you need to integrate them into the collected edition or the reading experience is going to be drastically different. (Here’s how convoluted the Secret Invasion experience is when you try and read the expanded universe in book form, for an example.)
Marvel might be taking a break from the approach with Marvel Now. We’ll have to see how that plays out the rest of the year. If they keep the new book editions as independent story units, things may improve.
It’s worth pointing out that Age of Ultron will have reasonably few crossover issues at first glance. Perhaps we’re headed towards an era of smaller events after all…?
Today sees the release of Superior Spider-Man #1, but thanks to the wonders of teasers, we already have an idea of what lies in the future of the title… And the combination of the two has me somewhat convinced that what is going on with the new series isn’t the creation of an all-new Spider-Man status quo, but the slow reintroduction of an old one. Spoilers and speculation under the jump. (more…)
Nate Piekos, comic book letterer supreme, explains how he created the typeface for Francesco Francavilla’s wonderful Black Beetle series at Dark Horse:
I got to work right away on the font that would eventually become Blambot’s Tough as Nails BB. Since I try to come up with two new fonts every month, I was killing two birds with one stone—the perfect font for The Black Beetle’s dialogue and a new font for public release.
I remember making one solid pass at a finished design, showing it to Jim, and taking a day or so away from it. When I came back with fresh eyes, I realized the “pen style” was wrong.
The letterforms worked, but instead of a uniform Rapidograph style, the font would be even better if I made it look as if it was lettered with a calligraphy tip. To go one step further, I reversed the angle that most comic hand letterers hold their pens at so that the vertical strokes were thicker than the horizontal. This is not a matter of pushing a few buttons in AI; it meant reworking each letter individually. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking and I had to start lettering the pages coming in!
If you’re a process wonk like I am, this kind of thing is fascinating.
Image Comics’ The Walking Dead #100 was the bestselling comic book published in 2012 based on total unit sales to comic book specialty shops, according to Diamond Comic Distributors, the world’s largest distributor of comics, graphic novels, and pop-culture merchandise.
Diamond’s 2012 year-end rundown also reveals that Marvel was the top publisher of the year in both dollar and unit share, a fact that’s underlined by looking at the top 10 most-ordered books of 2012: Walking Dead #100 aside, it’s all Marvel titles (Including, in an unexpected moment, Avengers #1 making it in at the tenth spot. I didn’t expect that book to have done that well, but I find myself surprisingly glad that it did).
From the annals of Comics History, a column Steve Gerber wrote for Rolling Stone in 1975 – that never ran – about the plight of Superman’s creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and the way comic book creators are treated by publishers:
Comic book artists and writers are still paid on a per-page basis, not by the hour or by the job, unlike freelance writers and illustrators in other fields. There’s a reason. When printing and engraving costs go up, the publishers can make ends come slightly closer to meeting by chopping a page off the editorial matter of a book. In the past five years, comics have declined from an average of 20 pages of story matter per issue to 17. So although page rates have risen dramatically since the 40′s (rates for writers now average about $18 per page; pencil artists around $40; inkers in the $25 range), it’s all the creator can do to keep pace with inflation.“It must be understood that the comic book industry is 20 years behind the times,” states Neal Adams. “Therefore, the guys who run the companies still approach the question of the rights of artists and writers the way they did 20 years ago: it’s the job of the creative person to produce for the businessman and the businessman’s job to make money. Anything the writer or artist does is like piecework in a factory.”
The latest “Marvel NOW! Next Big Thing” conference call with the comic book press is scheduled to discuss the February-debuting Fearless Defenders, a team headlined by Valkyrie, Misty Knight and Dani Moonstar; from the creative team of writer Cullen Bunn and artist Will Sliney. Things are scheduled to get started around 4 p.m. eastern — keep refreshing, as this page will be updated continuously with the latest news. New colored pages from #1, and covers from April’s #3, are available for your perusal here.
“This is a book that is unapologetically a superhero actionfest,” Bunn says to open the call. The writer is joined on the line by Sliney, series editors Tom Brevoort and Ellie Pyle and Marvel marketing’s James Viscardi.
“The team will come together slowly over time,” Bunn says, with Valkyrie and Misty Knight as the “co-leads.” “I can not imagine more odd of a couple than Brunnhilde and Misty. They’re fun to write individually, but they’re so much fun to write when they’re interacting with each other. They bring a very interesting dynamic to this team.”
Everything about this is depressing: Beverly James, the Library Executive Director at Greenville County, has overruled the library’s challenge committee, and made the decision to pull the Alan Moore/Jacen Burrows comic Neonomicon from the shelves because she finds it “disgusting.” But the reason this particular book is disgusting, apparently, is because it’s a comic book:
She acknowledged the library has many books that deal in such detail with the very same subject matter — racism, rape, murder, sex — but for her, the pictures gave her pause.
Like I said, depressing.