Archived entries for comics

As if outselling DC 2:1 wasn’t enough for them, they are going to add insult to injury.

In an effort to provide assistance to comic retailers in 2010, Marvel is offering retailers an opportunity to turn unsold comics into an extremely rare Siege #3 Deadpool Variant!

Retailers – for every 50 stripped covers of the following comics sent to Marvel, you will qualify to receive one FREE Siege #3 Deadpool Variant. The 50 stripped covers can be any combination of the comics listed below and all submissions need to be received at the Marvel office at the address below by Tuesday 2/16/2010. Also included with the stripped covers must be your store contact information including Diamond Account # and email address.

Stripped Covers To Be Sent:
Adventure Comics #4
Booster Gold #26
Doom Patrol #4
Justice League Of America #39
Outsiders #24.
R.E.B.E.L.S #10

Those are books that retailers had to order large amounts of to qualify for the Blackest Night rings promotion. They had to order X number of books to get a pouch of colored plastic lantern rings that the fanboys went apeshit over.

Can’t wait to see how DC will respond.

Via i09.

I posted an open question to Twitter earlier today:

Question: What comic book do you give some one who is a complete comic virgin? Do you go spandex, stand alone, serious? Gimme some thoughts.

I was looking for the notes that make a comic the perfect introductory book for some one who’s never read a single comic, doesn’t know any of the characters, doesn’t understand a single trope. The answers were pretty surprising.

On the whole, people prefer books that are self-contained, ie not part of on-going continuity or dependent upon knowledge that you couldn’t gleen from the book. So, collections from the Big Two are out. No X-Men, no Spider-Man, no Avengers, no Green Lantern, no Superman, no Flash. There are a few Batman examples that break this rule, but mainly because people can get away with rewriting his past so often.

But that’s not to say they don’t want super-hero books. Comics work best as modern day mythology, and a myth isn’t a myth without something extraordinary in it. Alan Moore once pointed out that comics are the perfect medium for big ideas because there isn’t a budget. Anything you can think of, you can draw. You don’t have to worry about paying for the visual effects to show the whole of Los Angeles getting fired by an errant solar flare, you just have to put a pencil to paper and go. The “super” stuff is like a spice, and it should be used to give the dish a kick, but not over power it. You want to still rely on the base elements of a good story, such as interesting characters with a dynamic arch, interesting setting,  and good pacing for most of your flavor. But that spice, that “super” spice, is what can push it from being good to being unforgettable. And if something is unforgettable, then you’re going to want more of it, which means it was the perfect introductory book.

When you think about this, all of it makes sense. And you’d think that when the comic industry is experiencing a massive year over year growth in revenue for the better part of this last decade you’d see tons of sales of books like those I’ve touched on above. (Looking at print only, not movies.)

But, you’d be dead wrong.

I checked the sales numbers for all of 2008/2009. Stand alone series trade paperbacks rarely spike into the monthly top 100. Sandman and Preacher, two of the greatest comic series ever, languish around the 170-190 mark. The highest selling books are compilations of the big events from the Big Two.

Here’s my reading into all of this: More people are reading comics. But, most of those new people are reading comics in trade format. It is far easier than going to the store every week. The Big Two are putting out more books than before, and fans are suckers, so they are buying them. I counted once, and there were like 6 X-Men books you had to read to stay current. Hell, Spider-Man was in 5 different books until they parred him down to one book that comes out three times a month. People are certainly reading the big stand-alones, but it doesn’t look like they are finishing what they are starting. Probably, people are giving them as gifts, and then the person isn’t finishing out the series.

From a creator’s stand point, stand-alone creator owned books are pretty much the only way you are ever going to retire. All of the huge selling books will make tons of money for the publisher, but not for you. You work on page rate, with a pretty minor residual from the sales. Robert Kirkman is the example to look at here. You build a lot of fan loyalty with Big Two books, then step out and only work on creator owned stuff after that.

funnycomic_wonderwoman_eyelash

To the Comic Book Publishers of the World,
An Open Letter

I want to give you money.

I like your products.

But, your medium is inherently flawed. Being a lifetime collector of comic books is a dangerous course of action. You end up with whole tracks of your house taken over by longboxes, stacks of unsorted singles, bookshelves full of trades. And the longer you’re a fan, the more you collect, so the mass swells to mammoth proportions. I know people who rent houses. Whole fucking houses, mind you, to store their metastasizing collections.

In an era when we’re attempting to go green, this is an untenable state of affairs. God only knows how many trees are being felled so Billy can have his next issue of SUPERHERO SPANDEX FETISH ACTION DELUXE. I think it is time that the industry looses their attachment to paper products, and starts to embrace the pixel products.

So here’s the deal, comic publishers, I’m willing to give you money for your products in a digital form. Not to even own, mind you, to borrow. Think of it as a Netflix for comics. Charge me a monthly fee, I’m fine with that. Tier off your archives, so I have to pay more to read archives of older books, I’m fine with that. But, you’ve ignored this business opportunity for too damn long. I want you, either together or separately, to get off your collective asses and join the 21st Century and the digital revolution.

Here are a few general ideas to get your noggins rolling.

-Marvel. I know you’ve got this digital comic thing going already. But, here’s the deal, it fucking sucks. You’re trying to short your digital subscribers by holding back on the hot, on-the-shelf, titles and giving them spotty coverage on back issues. For God’s sake, I don’t even know why, but you were hyping Civil War #3 today on your website as a new comic. That book came out THREE YEARS AGO. When I can, with a few clicks, some loose morals and a bit of patience download EVERY COMIC YOU HAVE EVER PRINTED, having a digital service that is this bad almost criminal on your part.

-DC. Admitting that the Internet exists might be a good idea. Marvel’s got you beat across the board here. And with the level of complexity and crossing-over that your stories have, offering me a digital package of all BLACKEST NIGHT books (something like 80 books over 10 months) would save me and you a hell of a lot of pain in tracking them all down.

-Dark Horse. I know you deal in a lot of movie properties, so this could be weird for you, but there’s no reason you couldn’t let me read all of Hellboy in a digital format for $20.

-MP3 downloads come with vinyl records at Best Buy. Why don’t digital versions of comics come with trades? It’ll give you another reason to shrink-wrap the trades and keep those wankers at Barnes and Noble from reading them all.

-The basic model should be something like this: A base rate that lets me read all of your new books for, say, the month of their release. Maybe delay them two weeks to keep your brick and mortar stores happy. I can live with that. From their you start tiering up. For another few bucks, I get access to all books from the last year. For a few more, I get access to all books from the last five. Give me the option to read a few trades a month, and then charge me once I hit my limit. Finally, the big package should include access to all of your archives. And I know you have them. If the nerds out there have them, you have them. And if you don’t have them, you’d damn well better get on having them otherwise you’ll loose your history forever.

-Next year, we’ll start seeing the rollout of the big tablet devices. Tabloid-ished sized devices from Apple and a few of the PC manufacturers. I imagine at some point there will even be on running Google’s Chrome OS. The point being is that these devices are perfect delivery methods for your digital content. Sure, I love holding a comic book in my hand and turning the page, but these devices are going to get close to that without cutting down tree.

-I don’t want to hear that any part of this is hard. I know that what ever program you are using to print your books can spit out a PDF. All you need to do then is find a DRM partner and build a system that lets me stream those PDFs. Take a look at services like Issuu. Things like that were made for digital comics.

-If you want me to put a dollar amount on what I’d be willing to pay for a top-level subscription to just Marvel, then how about this: I was paying ~$100/month for hard copy books. I’d be willing to pay $60/month for the full blown archive subscription. You could even put the ads in the books, I’d be fine with that. And if that doesn’t make you stop and think, then you’re out of your mind. Cutting out the paper middleman would probably save you at least 70% on production costs and distribution alone.

There is a great line in SportsNight, an early TV show from Aaron Sorkin. It is toward the end of the show when the characters don’t know if their fictional sports show is going to be picked up or not. A character appears who says “Some one who can’t make money with SportsNight shouldn’t be in the business of making money.” It was, of course, a fuck-you to the network that was canceling them, but it holds true as a mantra. You comic publishers are leaving gobs of money on the table here, now get off your ass and grab it before I do something else with it.

Your truly,
//–Zachary Whitten

My friend LT just moved into a new house, taking her two cats with her. And as anyone who’s ever moved with cats can tell you, they don’t enjoy the experience. But, there is always humor to be found in the suffering of another, and LT’s one-upped her normal feline schadenfreude by drawing comics of her cat’s experiences. Not just comics, good comics.

4102830924_e024f53d83_bYou can find the rest of the series here.

I am prone to have really, really terrible ideas. I am also prone to tweet about them so I can get them out of my head and forget about them.

Like this:

lofidelity Science-pirate. Yes. I need to be this. With zappy death rays, rusty cutlasses, dashing facial hair and a crew of clacking robot wenches.

The problem? My friends have grown used to me doing these things, and sometimes instead of being rational, emotionally stable people, they encourage me. For the rest of the afternoon, Twitter devolved into us tossing back insane shit about Science Pirate. I made his flag, L made him a type treatment, and then Pat completely lost his mind and offered to do his 24 Hour Comic Day on the Science Pirate if I could get him a script by the next morning. So, being a complete mental patient, I went home and knocked something out for him.

I expected him to read it over, blink a few times, calmly put it down, and then politely ignore my phone calls for the rest of his life. But, much to my surprise and the death of his sanity, the fucker actually started working on it. He knocked out half the script on Saturday before drawing page after page of a naked Science Pirate got to him and his vision gave out.

The whole script is up at The Great and Secret Thing today, and Pat’ll be posting the pages as he finishes them.

Here’s an excerpt:

PAGE TWO

Panel 6
Futura pops around the corner over the bulkhead to the captain’s quarters, still smoking. She couldn’t care less about his yowling if she tried.

FUTURA: What?

Panel 7
The Science Pirate stands, back to the camera, completely naked staring down at a ruined chemistry set up. The set was one of those glass jobbers with spiraled condensers, fluted beakers and all of the rest of that stuff you’d see in a bad 50s super-science movie.

SCIENCE PIRATE: There’s been a disaster!

SCIENCE PIRATE: My chemistry lab has been smashed!

Panel 8
The Science Pirate turns to face her. She tries to cover her eyes from his nudity, like you would if a naked pirate started waving his junk in your general direction.

SCIENCE PIRATE: Futura! How could you let this happen! You were supposed to be on watch last night!

SCIENCE PIRATE: Instead, I find you’ve let some one sneak aboard and destroy my lab! I shall have you flogged for this!

Panel 9
She leans against the door, massaging the bridge of her nose, trying to keep the rage in check.

FUTURA: Look, no one snuck aboard last night. This mess is all you.

Panel 10
Taken completely aback, the Science Pirate indignantly protests this accusation. Protests it as indignantly as some one who is completely naked can.

SCIENCE PIRATE: That makes no sense, Futura! I love science! Why would I hurt it?

Panel 11
Leaning forward, her patience wearing thin, Futura jabs at the Science Pirate, cigarette in her hand.

FUTURA: You tried making rocket fuel last night, but decided it went better in a cocktail than in an engine. You drank the whole batch.

Panel 12
She gestures out to the broken beakers and test tubes.

FUTURA: That’s all you, you crazy bastard.

PAGE THREE

Panel 13
The Science Pirate tugs at his beard, eye brow arched, considering her story.

SCIENCE PIRATE: An experiment gone awry, hrmmm?

SCIENCE PIRATE: Such are the dangers of science!

Panel 14
He grabs Futura by her shoulders. She is both shocked and disgusted that a naked man is touching her. She is thinking about throwing him overboard. Repeatedly.

SCIENCE PIRATE: Futura! Fire up the robot wenches!

Panel 15
He storms past her, out the bulkhead, leaving her confused and annoyed at having to do real work.

FUTURA: What the hell for?

Panel 16
He walks down the hall, leaving her head poking out of the door after him. His hand is up in the air, index finger straight up. He’s going full blast now.

SCIENCE PIRATE: What for? For piracy, of course!

Panel 17
Close up on the Science Pirate, crazy glint in his eye, arm out, finger up, manic grin on his face. Sort of like a Phoenix Wright pose on PCP. (Google that if you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. The Phoenix Wright bit, no the PCP bit.) (Or, you know, go wild. Start Googling drugs. But don’t come crying to me when the FBI knocks down your door.)

SCIENCE PIRATE: PIRACY FOR SCIENCE!

Jack “King” Kirby had four biological offspring. He also gave birth to nearly every character that Marvel Comics relies upon to make their daily bread.  Now his biological children are looking for their share of profits from their fictional siblings.

From the New York Times:

Heirs to the comic-book artist Jack Kirby, who has been credited as the co-creator of characters and stories behind Marvel mainstays like the “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four,” among many others, last week sent 45 notices of copyright termination to Marvel, Disney, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and others who have been making films and other forms of entertainment based on the characters.

The legal notices expressed an intent to regain copyrights to some creations as early as 2014, according to a statement from Toberoff & Associates, a Los Angeles firm that helped win a court ruling last year returning a share of the copyright in Superman to heirs of the character’s co-creator, Jerome Siegel.

You can believe two things from this: 1. If Marvel wasn’t in the process of selling themselves to Disney, then this wouldn’t be happening. 2. If Toberoff hadn’t convinced a judge to give partial ownership rights of Superman back to the heirs of Siegel, then this wouldn’t be happening. The very fact that an intellectual property still in regular use can fall out of legal copyright to the current owner and then be reclaimed by the heirs of some one who created the character under a work for hire contract is mind boggling to me.

Companies that leverage intellectual property for their primary source of income are completely different than companies who make something. I can understand why you want patents on fuel efficient engines and life saving drugs to fall into the public domain, but is anyone going to have less of a life because Marvel is the only company that can make Spider-Man comic books? No. Not at all.

So, I never liked Wonder Woman.

She’s a feminist icon created by an S&M pervert draped in the American flag who flies an invisible jet. There’s not a whole lot to like in that, because none of it has shit to do with who she’s supposed to be. Her back story is that she’s an Amazon queen sent out in the world as an ambassador to solve the problems in a world of men. Which, in and of itself is solid, but it got all mucked up with they started layering on the weird patriotic crap and the overt sexual domination.

Until just recently she’s been written exclusively by men. Which adds another layer of mind-fuck to the character. The corner stone of female comic characters has been written entirely by men who, somewhere in their brain, wanted to diddle her. But, in their defense, they have managed to push her away from the stars-and-stripes corset and panties into a more “believable” armored skirt and bustiere. On the whole, Wonder Woman has had great notes, but has never really had her own, unforgettable song.

A momentary aside here, but, did I mention she can fly? Like, fly without the need of an invisible jet? But, no, she decides to get inside an invisible jet that doesn’t make her invisible. She might as well be flying around on some invisible shitter. We’d never know the difference.

Anyway.

I think about DC’s characters a lot, trying to figure out why exactly I don’t like them. Most of my reasoning revolves around the fact that they are so perfectly iconic, but unable to exist within a shared space. DC’s characters are paragons, and a team full of paragons is just boring. Superman? Pretty much a god. Wonder Woman? Same thing. Green Lantern? Yup. The Flash? Ah, yeah. Martian Manhunter? Even more than Superman. The only one that isn’t a god is Batman, and DC’s done a pretty good job of getting people to believe that Batman could take any and all of them down if he wanted to.

It may seem like a nerd argument of who could beat up who, but compare a team like the Justice League, who’s roster I just listed, to a team like the X-Men. Marvel’s teams, across the board, are much less powerful and much more flawed. Hell, the only thing the X-Men are paragons of is being fucked up and socially isolated. Well, and having the most bizarrely complicated sexual history of any group of characters this side of an Aaron Spelling TV show.

Errrr….

The point is that I try to find ways to work with DC characters that make them human and flawed, less iconic and godlike.

Kneel Before Zod was my attempt at doing this to Superman, and I think this is what I’d do to Wonder Woman.

So, first thing you’d have to do is toss out the visual you have when you think of Wonder Woman. No longer would she be the pretty lady wearing stars and stripes underwear with the gigantic breasts.

My Wonder Woman would be a real Amazon. Muscular, scarred, dirty. Her hair would be caked with mud and matted into dreadlocks. Her right breast would be entirely gone. In its place, a huge, ugly cauterized scar. The left breast would still be there, but it would be strapped down with leather bands and bronze armor. Her remaining breast would be a utility organ, for the feeding of a child, not an object of fantasy or pleasure.

The scar would be a sign of pride for her. For her people, becoming a warrior is something they choose to do after puberty has had its way with their body. They would stand in front of a fire, pull out their sword and lop off their right breast. The breast would go into the fire along with the sword. When hot enough, the sword would be removed and the wound would be cauterized with the red-hot metal. From that point on, the scar would never be covered. It was a sign to the rest of the world that this woman had mutilated her own body in order to be able to kill you easier. This is not something that would be done lightly, and certainly not without intent. If one of her people went through this, then they would become a killer.

She would carry a short gladius sword, a bronze-headed spear and a wooden recurve bow. No silly golden lasso of truth. If she wants the truth out of you, she’ll just torture you. No bullet blocking wrist guards. Her skin is magically as hard as diamond, why would she worry about bullets? No patent leather boots, a huntress always moves silently in her bare feet.

Starting to see where I’m going here?

The book would open on a dark night near the waterfront. The Flash would be doing his normal patrol and she would slip out of the water. He’d stop to confront her, and in the standard Flash moment, he’d end up saying something sexist. And, well, she’s break him. Not just a little bit either. We’re talking about a woman who’s as strong as Superman beating on a guy who’s just a normal guy if you can catch him standing still.

The costumed heroes get all up in arms over this, and they go looking for her, thinking she’s some new villain come to town.

Superman is the one that finds her, or rather, she’s the one that finds him. In the few days between her attacking the Flash and their meeting, she’s been learning about this strange new world. She sees Superman as this world’s greatest warrior, and therefor worthy of her. Her method of expression in this case just happens to be tackling him out of the air while he’s on patrol, pinning him to the ground, and attempting to rip off his costume. They struggle, and eventually he gets out from under her and explains that he’s flattered, but involved with some one else. Our Wonder Woman, in her normal tactful way, demands to know where this woman is so she can challenge her for possession of him. Eventually, Superman tries to bring her in, and she knocks him out by bringing the butt of her sword down on the back of his head. When he comes to, she’s gone and he gives us a little bit about how he’s vulnerable to magic.

Later that day, back at the Daily Planet, Lois and Clark are talking at their desk about this new crazy woman in town. Which is convenient, because she swings in through the window and challenges Lois to ownership of Clark. The moment hangs in the air as the surprise dances between them. Wonder Woman realizes Lois isn’t a warrior at all. In fact, Wonder Woman goes into explicit detail about how a warrior like Superman could stoop so low to be with such a fragile thing that frets about the shape of her udders, wears perfume and couldn’t even give him a proper fuck without dying. Superman’s surprised because no one’s ever figured out his secret identity. Lois is surprised because a feral one-titted woman just crashed through a window and threatened to kill her. I really plan on playing up her perky girl reporter personality in this bit. Disgusted with Superman and his choice in women, Wonder Woman leaves just as suddenly as she arrived. Superman can’t follow because of the whole Clark Kent thing.

That night, Batman finds Wonder Woman sulking in a rooftop. He actually manages to get the drop on her, but he’s no physical match for the Amazon. She’s learned about him, too. He’s a hunter like her, canny and dangerous. The two start to talk, and he asks her why she’s here. She reveals that people came to Themyscira – Paradise Island as the rest of the world knows it – and took something very important to her people. She’s tracked it here, but the trail’s gone cold and this world is full of distractions.

Batman presses on, and finds out that Paradise Island isn’t paradise at all, the Amazons spread that lie to trick sailors into crashing on the reefs. The Amazons would capture the men and use them as slaves or prey to sharpen their skills. Sometimes, a Great Hunt would happen when one of the men was possessed by a demon boar, a spirit of consumption and gluttony. By slaying the monster, the Amazons would ensure continued favor with the Gods. But the world has changed. Ships are made of steel instead of wood, and it has been decades since there was a Great Hunt. Wonder Woman’s people, while nearly immortal, are slowly dwindling in number. One day, a great metal ship appeared and men came ashore on small boats. They had strange equipment, and took samples of the soil and plants. One of the landing party fell ill, something foreign to the men from the boats, but known to the Amazons. The demon had chosen him, the Great Hunt was on. But, before they could take him, the men retreated to the boats and fled the island. As queen, it is her responsibility to ensure the Great Hunt is successful, so she swam across the ocean, following the ship until it stopped here.

Batman agrees to help her find the demon and finish the Great Hunt. She thanks him, and tells him that she would couple with him, but she would shatter his mortal body in the throws of passion. But, she’ll let him be her chief eunuch.

From here, I don’t know exactly where I want to go with it.

I know that it’ll end up being a throw down between the demon and Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman. The demon will have spread out into the world, and will have infected every man in America. Small bits will hint at this along the way. Things like Congress passing the largest spending bill in history, the Flash getting addicted to pain killers from the beating Wonder Woman gave him, and the Green Lantern getting fat from eating too much junk food. (Yeah, I never really liked Hal Jordan. Sue me.)

Batman and Superman are immune to it because they are beyond physical desire.

Superman has Lois, and is honestly completely and totally happy with her. He doesn’t want for anything else. Which Wonder Woman will continually mock him for.

Batman has his mission. Wonder Woman will point out that while Bruce Wayne goes home every night with a different woman, she doesn’t smell a hint of a woman’s musk on him. That’s all a show to keep up appearances. She wonders openly if he’s ever been with a woman, and then reiterates how good of a eunuch he’ll be.

The final symbolism I want to convey is that of the balance that comes from the hunt. Herds must be thinned to sustain the land. Bones of prey must pass into the soil to make nutrients. If the demon doesn’t die, then it will burn through all the resources in the world in a matter of weeks. Balance must be restored, the hunter must hunt.

Oh, God. 1900 words of me rambling about a crazy, blood-thirsty woman with one breast. Four pages of me doing terrible things to Wonder Woman to try and make her an interesting character to me. You are a saint, a drunkard or both if you’ve held on this long.

But, I’ll leave you with one last bit, I want a scene where some kind of monster or villain is rampaging through the city. The heroes seem unable to stop it because they won’t do anything that might kill the bad guy. Wonder Woman is watching this from a few blocks away, gets bored, strings her bow, notches an arrow, and draws a bead on the target. She lets the arrow fly, it goes through four or five buildings like a cruise missile before cutting through the bad guy’s neck and showering the heroes in blood. They’re aghast and what’s just happened. She shrugs and moves on.

They are never going to let me do this even if I sell ten million books a month.

I’ve worked in television, and there are a hundred people between you and the audience. I’ve worked in film, and there are a thousand people between you and the audience. In comics, there’s me and an artist, presenting our stories to you without filters or significant hurdles, in a cheap, simple, portable form. Comics are a mature technology. Their control of time — provided you’re not intent on reversing universes (or even if you are) — makes them the best educational tool in the world. Hell, intelligence agencies have used comics to teach people how to dissent and perform sabotage.

When done right, comics are a cognitive whetstone, providing two or three or more different but entangled streams of information in a single panel. Processing what you’re being shown, along with what’s being said, along with what you’re being told, in conjunction with the shifting multiple velocities of imaginary time, and the action of the space between panels that Scott McCloud defines as closure… Comics require a little more of your brain than other visual media. They should just hand them out to being to stave off Alzheimer’s.

-Warren Ellis from his talk at Dundee University

Simon Spurrier, the UK comic writer behind the amazing comic GUTSVILLE did a live interview with Rich Johnson of Bleeding Cool over Twitter. They talked about the cancellation of the final three issues of Spurrier’s comic, GUTSVILLE, after a year-long delay between the last issue and the one that’s…uh…never come out. GUTSVILLE was one of my favorite books too come out in a long time, and it was really depressing to see it get canceled. Here’s the final bit of the Twinterview (I want to open my throat with a rusty spoon for using that word), in which Spurrier sums up the previous bit of rambling. The || marks are tweet-separators.

Si Spurrier: Um… Yeah: couple of things. I’ve just been sitting here going back through some of this interview (Twinterviewing || is, for the record, much weirder and harder than I expected) and it occurs to me this all looks a lot like I’m airing || dirty laundry in public. I just want to clarify: Frazer remains a fucking fantastic artist, and I would happilly || gnaw off my own nipples if it compels him to finish Gustville any quicker. I’ve just gotten a bit fed-up with the || assumption that the delays are my fault, and more than a little fucked-off at the effect they’ve had on my || bank account and my career. If this helps as a Rumour Control Here Are The Facts device: brilliant. If it also || .gives Fraze the kick up the arse he needs to get it done: doublebrilliant. || And lastly, with a sickly-sweet smile that nobody fucking believes for a minute, I want to thank people for being so || overwhelming positive about Gutsville, and for being so patient, and to assure them that one day their copies of || the first three issues will be worth slightly more than a platinum pachyderm. Chiz!

Spurrier also does a bit for Bleeding Cool called Short ‘n Curlies, which makes him seem like a man I would very much like to get staggeringly drunk one day. Here’s hoping I get the chance to see the end of GUTSVILLE, and some more work from him on this side of the pond.

You could encode a wall of graphic novels and a stack of hard drives full of interviews into a form readable by Google Maps and spit out a KML file of every city street in the world where at one time Garth Ennis has been in a booth at the back with a beer, Grant’s been at the window with a vodka and a notebook, and I’ve been outside with a handheld computer and a cigarette.

-Warren Ellis from the newest Do Anything.

The Grant in this context is Grant Morrison.

These three men, plus Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, define the Anglophile Invasion of American comics. They have bettered it in immeasuarable ways and I am horribly jealous of them all.

Wait, no. Not jealous. Jealous has as streak of something in it that isn’t right. A bitterness when there should be sweet and savory.

I want to be one of the people that talk about these creators like they talk about Jack Kirby, and I want to be where they are now.

hello_obama_dollars

I have friends. (No, fuck you, shut up.)

Quite a few of them are impressively talanted deviants. And sometimes those deviants get together and do something completely inapropriate with their time and talents.

Chris Haley and Curt Franklin are two such deviants.

They’ve partnered together to create a web comic called Let’s Be Friends Again. Heavily steeped in mainstream comic satire, the pair don’t hesitate to journey from their chosen medium and cock-slap the zeitgeist when the mood strikes them.

They post twice a week, and get better with every iteration. Go give them your eyes balls and brain cells. They’ll only slightly damage them.

(Please no on tell Chris that I originally typed his name out as “Christ Haley” I don’t think I could deal with that.)

Don’t you go looking at me like that. I don’t make this shit. I just find it, embed it, snark a little bit at it and pass it on to you lot.

I mean, it isn’t like I’m encouraging this sort of thing. Especially not if they were to do something like this with…say…Transmetropolitan? I mean, who would ever want to see something like that.

Certainly not me.

(Oh god, I can see the filthy assistants dancing in my head!)

Ellis is back to writing about comics on a regular basis. This time over at the new comic site BleedingCool.com, which is a spin off of the column series Lying in the Gutters from CBR.

I have the head of Jack Kirby in my office.

I built it myself.  Which means, this being the late-postmodern 21st Century, I stole it from someone else and then tinkered with it until it became a transformative work.  What I actually did was steal the Hanson Robotics-designed android head of Philip K Dick off an airplane, resculpted the front and filled its brain with the work of, interviews with and anecdotes about Jack Kirby.  Like the original Philip K Dick head, it now does the work of an oracle of that mysterious time, the 20th Century, and of the seminal years of a 20th Century art form.  In the case of Phil Dick, this was the science fiction story.  In this case, it is of course the comic book.

It occurs to me that I never put the end product of this on the web. We’ve got plans to do more, and about 4 finished scripts, but Derek’s moved to Chicago and is working on his own stuff right now. Maybe some day.

nightshift_web

Click the above for the huge version.

yb09p18

I love how Obama is looking off-panel at something shiny while his two security guards, both in lovely violet vintange 80s sunglasses, get capped in the head. Oh, and Rob? Last time I checked Obama’s eyes weren’t fucking yellow. He’s not some kind of feral cat, you know.

Newsarama via Chris Haley’s twitter.

You should go read it.

Now, this is a task I’m approached with much consternation. I told the R/S kiddies that I wouldn’t go off on one of my obscenity laced tirades about the death of whatever-the-hell. This was a problem since I, at best, am an over-educated one-trick pony that does little else but yell things and drink all the booze in the place. I haven’t posted anything yet because I didn’t know what to post. My reliance on dropping the F-bomb or talking about people’s predilections to mangle their genitalia had paralyzed me.

Then, a ray of light came down from the heaven to help show me the way. Well, not literally. I don’t do those kind of drugs anymore. The ray of light was a phone call from a foul mouthed Southern belle, and the way was a Fresh Air story she was listening to about Joe Shuster’s work on a series of fetish comic books in the 1950s. But this was good, since I was eying a bottle of whiskey at the moment she called and considering getting completely blotto and writing a screed about my man-crush on Kai Ryssdal. (Don’t you judge me.)

Part Two of the Superhero Twitter lecture.

  1. For now, though, back to work.

  2. I may have more later, possibly on a metafictional Sherlock Holmes lift performed on stage in Croatia circa 1913.

  3. So…that’s it. Not as much fun as yesterday, I know, but the statistics tell a story in themselves, I think.

  4. I’ll be putting this lecture up as part of a POD collection of essays in a month or two.

  5. (I’ve got lots more like this in the book)

  6. “she was more than half cat herself, that she even reeked with that acrid, pungent odor of the cats”

  7. And, finally, Pussy Fane, from an American pulp. Yes, Pussy Fane. An escort who grew up in the circus and gained the strength of 20 men.

  8. Naturally, Wolf-Devil’s mission is to Kill Whitey. (The Mounties stop him in the end).

  9. Wolf-Devil, from a Canadian film serial. A Native Canadian, wearing a head-to-toe costume of wolf skin, who magically controls wolves.

  10. Sometimes the visions are of Umlosi’s friends. Other times of imminent danger, at which time Umlosi sees “red mists.”

  11. Umlosi, from British story papers: Zulu warrior & lift of Haggard’s Umslopagaas who is visited by a mystic snake which gives him visions.

  12. battles, including one in a plane in flight which results in the passengers, controlled by Magic Boy, attacking his opponent.

  13. The Magic Boy serial would make excellent J-Horror. Magic Boy himself is really creepy. He’s opposed by a non-powered boy & have memorable

  14. Magic Boy, from a Japanese magazine serial: creepy Japanese boy, in short pants, with magic powers. He uses them to terrorize people.

  15. Miramar, from French novels: Mad scientist who gives himself superpowers through organ transplants & grafts.

  16. Jacko is a crime-solver who eventually became more popular than Victor Brand and got his own series of stories.

  17. Victor Brand, from English story papers: Sherlock Holmes lift who can talk to his menagerie of pets. Chauffeur & Watson is gorilla Jacko.

  18. Jumelia, from Indian novels–Femme Fatale with yoga-granted shapeshifting abilities.

  19. And now, seven favorites from this list:

  20. (The kamishibai was a series of stories told for children by wandering performers in Japan. Esp. big in 1930s and during WW2).

  21. Magazines: 40. Novels: 26. Films: 18. Dime novels/pulps: 12. Comic strips: 2. Radio serials: 2. Kamishibai: 1.

  22. The primary medium in which the character appeared (i.e., Dr. Mabuse began in novels, but he’s primarily a film character):

  23. Yellow Peril: 4. Femme Fatale: 3. Tarzan-like Jungle Hero: 2. Gentleman Thief: 1. Planetary Romance Hero: 1.

  24. General adventurer: 30. General villain: 20. General detective/crime-solver: 15. Occult Detective: 13. Vigilante: 8. Mad Scientist: 4.

  25. The genre of character (and, naturally, there’s some bleed-over, and the genre definitions are hazy & ambiguous, but this is a rough guide):

  26. Greece: 1. Mexico: 1. Spain: 1.

  27. US/UK: 75. France: 10. Germany: 9. India: 4. Denmark: 2. Japan: 2. Netherlands: 2. Russia/Soviet Union: 2. Australia: 1. Canada: 1.

  28. The countries in which the characters were created (i.e., the author’s nationality, not the character’s nationality):

  29. Character’s ethnicity: White: 84. Asian: 13. Native American: 2. African: 1. Middle Eastern: 1.

  30. Men: 87. Women: 14

  31. Heroes: 70. Villains: 31

  32. By decade: 1902-1910: 16. 1911-1920: 41. 1921-1930: 26. 1931-1936: 18.

  33. Bizarre, which ranges from those who can talk to animals to those who control wolves to those who can see through walls: 6

  34. Facial Control, those characters who can change their faces so that they resemble other people: 4 (and this is before the Avenger).

  35. Mesmerists: 10

  36. Externally Granted, those characters who gain superhuman abilities thanks to drugs or experiments: 15

  37. Psychic: 32

  38. Magic–those characters with abilities which are described as springing from magic: 18.

  39. the Innately Physical, those characters who are born with superstrength or enhanced senses: 16.

  40. Seven general categories.

  41. 101 total superhumans.

  42. (1902 as the beginning of Edwardian era, 1936 as beginning of comic book era, when superhuman concept changed).

  43. These come from magazines, novels, comic strips, radio shows & movies, American and international, and include only recurring characters.

  44. The following are some statistics from the years 1902-1936 for the superhuman.

  45. In other words: the following is as near to comprehensive as years of continuous research were able to make it.

  46. As research for book, I read roughly 100,000 pulp stories, 250,000 magazine stories, 15,000 novels, and 10K other texts.

  47. (The book has been pushed back four years now. If pushed back another year, my contract with publisher is up and I seek a different one).

  48. As preface: following is data from my Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes, which may or may not be published in 2010/2011, depending on my publisher

  49. Okay, we’re back. Part 2 of the lecture to follow. Those of you who want to avoid my tweet stream should prob’ly unfollow me for an hour.

Again, I’m not cleaning this up. Start at the bottom and read up. Slotting his away for later processing. Jess runs the Slouching Toward Bethlehem blog.

  1. (end lecture. Numerous questions follow, several of the Not A Question But A Comment variety, the bane of all academic conference panels)

  2. (Let’s just say that India does very well for itself in creating superhumans. Jai Hind, y’all!)

  3. Tomorrow, if I remember to bring in the notebook I wrote all this down in, I’ll give a statistical rundown of superhumans 1902-1936.

  4. That brings us up to the 20th century.

  5. Good example is Madame Felician, in Wirt Gerrare’s novel. Psychic femme fatale spy–abilities justified on Theosophical grounds.

  6. Rise in spiritualism movement leads to Theosophy, which leads to Theosophical novels with superhuman & psychic characters.

  7. Meanwhile…

  8. (Almost done, folks)

  9. He can can “place four packs of playing cards together, and tear them in halves between his thumbs and fingers.”

  10. He can can “lift a horse with ease…while a heavy man is seated in the saddle….”

  11. Nick Carter, Doc Savage forty years early, has superhuman strength:

  12. Old King Brady has mystic gift of intuiton because he’s Irish. (Superhuman effort on my part results in no joke being made here).

  13. Old Sleuth, first recurring, serialized detective, had superhuman strength and endurance. So did Old Cap. Collier.

  14. And the major serial heroes of the dime novels (which were precursors to the pulps) had superhuman powers.

  15. American reaction to romans feuilleton was the dime novel, which led to serial heroes.

  16. (check audience. No reaction. Sigh. Decide to give up on the jokes and just finish the damn thing).

  17. Wells’ Invisible Man gets his power through scientific experimentation, as did Queen Victoria.

  18. their powers to being the end result of human evolution–possibly the first use of that trope in sf.

  19. Louis Boussenard’s 10000 Years in a Block of Ice (1889) has Big Headed Psychic Dwarf Geniuses. But Boussenard specifically credits

  20. magnetic fluid theory of animal magnetism.

  21. And the psychotic lead in J. Maclaren Cobban’s “Master of His Fate” drains the “spirit of life” from others, a reference to the

  22. Paul du Peyral, in Edward Heron-Allen’s Princess Daphne (1888), has psychic abilities, but carries out experiments to test & broaden them.

  23. Which as origin stories go could be much worse, and certainly trumps a bat flying through a window.

  24. she was “poisoned by the venom of a crotalus before she was born.”

  25. Oliver Wendell Holmes’ Elsie Venner is femme fatale with literally mesmerizing gaze & power over snakes. Per Holmes, she got her powers thus

  26. Second American response: materialist reaction to occult fantasy–the creation of the Origin Story.

  27. (audience has no reaction. Sigh. Check audience. Still alive? Not sure. Replaced with store dummies? Possibly. Carry on)

  28. (check audience for reaction to idea that author of Little Women wrote a story about a Hindu mesmerist w/hereditary curse).

  29. Secondary example is Louisa May Alcott’s “The Fate of the Forrests,” in which the love triangle is more important than the hereditary curse

  30. Primary example is Fitz-James O’Brien’s “The Diamond Lens,” in which existence of superpowered medium is accepted as part of city life.

  31. First is “the occult without the occult,” stories w/occult-powered characters, but stories lack all occult trappings or background.

  32. Several reactions to the Gothic & the Occult Fantasy genre take place.

  33. Meanwhile, Back In America.

  34. (I cover by claiming that I was telepathically sending them the next portion of my lecture).

  35. (This is so at odds with my experience teaching freshmen that I am momentarily struck dumb).

  36. (check audience. Only two people have left, most people are at least looking at me rather than texting).

  37. Sorcerer & mystic in Emeric Hulme-Beaman’s Ozmar the Mystic (1896).

  38. Shape-shifting Egyptian priestess of Isis in Richard Marsh’s The Beetle (1897).

  39. Egyptian psychic & mesmerist in Mrs. Campbell Praed’s The Brother of the Shadow (1886).

  40. Occult Fantasy genre gives us: sorcerer/psychic/mesmerist in Bulwer-Lytton’s A Strange Story (1861-1862).

  41. (I see I’ve already lost one Follower. Perhaps I’m just not tweeting enough about what I ate for lunch).

  42. Zanoni is influenced by the Rosicrucians (them again) and is primarily responsible for the Occult Fantasy genre.

  43. As Mysteries of Paris is being published, so is Bulwer-Lytton’s Zanoni, about an immortal superpowered Chaldean sorcerer.

  44. Meanwhile…

  45. Nick of the Woods. But Feval, a Frenchy, created the superhuman superhero. I fully expect our conservative friends to now boycott comics.

  46. Not the first dual-identity costume-wearing vigilante–that was Robert Montgomery Byrd’s reprehensible Indian Killer character in his

  47. And wolf’s head hood made of wolf’s head. Protagonist is first superpowered costume-wearing vigilante.

  48. Jumping back twenty years: Paul Feval’s White Wolf, 1837, about a Breton vigilante fighting French while wearing costume of wolfskin.

  49. Ahem: also the dime novel & penny dreadful format.

  50. Mysteries of Paris has 500 imitations in 20 languages, is responsible for 1850s renovation of Paris. Also the dime novel & penny dreadfu

  51. (No one gets joke or smiles. Shrug, labor forward).

  52. (Describe flow chart of influences as mess of arrows and dotted lines, a kind of Lovecraftian Flying Spaghetti Monster)

  53. (Aside to audience about how I’m all over the place chronologically, and how coming up with coherent linear narrative here is impossible).

  54. (Two minute discursion on Cagliostro as proto-Occult Detective, as early example of Celebrity Culture, and his part in Egyptian craze).

  55. Rinaldo Rinaldini has Cagliostro-like superhuman, the Old Man of Fronteja.

  56. German rauberroman (robber novel) influenced Mysteries of Paris, esp. Christian Vulpius’ Rinaldo Rinaldini.

  57. Von Gerolstein had Plot Power to patrol city,be wherever author needed him to be,do whatever author needed him to do.As I said, proto-Batman

  58. Most important roman feuilleton, Eugene Sue’s The Mysteries of Paris (1842-1843), had proto-Batman, Rodolphe von Gerolstein.

  59. Financial model of Gothics & colporteur novels led to romans feuilleton, French serialized novels.

  60. (Best selling German novel of 19th century: colporteur Grand Guignol novel, The Hangman of Berlin, 1890-1892. Even better than its title).

  61. Gothic: often published in serial form. German version of serial form was colporteur novel, sold by colporteurs, wandering peddlers.

  62. (Pause for a moment to catch breath & let audience get the yawns and scratches out of their system).

  63. (Plus, of course, superpowered sorcerers & witches).

  64. Victor Hugo’s Hans of the Island (1823): titular protagonist is a superstrong dwarf.

  65. Honore de Balzac’s The Centenarian (1822): the protagonist gets vampiric superhuman abilities through the secrets of the Rosicrucians.

  66. Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820): John Melmoth gets various Plot Powers as a result of the deal with the devil.

  67. (Obvious influence there is Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland)

  68. George Lipscomb’s The Grey Friar and the Black Spirit of the Wye (1810): costumed outlaw with super-ventriloquism.

  69. All of which fed into the superhumans of the Gothics.

  70. And, of course, the Rosicrucians, those frauds, gave the Gothic the Superpowered Emo Wandering Slap Me Immortal.

  71. Later in the 19th century, the ritterroman would produce The White Knight, a knights-in-armor story of a superpowered knight.(It ends badly)

  72. Also contributing to the Gothic was German popular literature–ritterroman, the räuberroman, and the schauerroman.

  73. Arabian Fantasies led to Beckford’s Vathek, which gave a lot to the Gothics.

  74. The second beginning was the Gothic. But–Arabian Fantasies fed into the Gothic, especially the one about the superpowered Yellow Peril.

  75. Skip forward 2000 years.

  76. In the beginning was Gilgamesh & Enkidu.

  77. “The Evolution of the Concept of the Superhuman”

  78. I have some time to burn before my next class, so–my Pop Culture Assoc. of America presentation, in Twitter form:

Joe Quesada, Marvel Comic’s Editor-In-Chief did another one of his impromptu Twitter speeches last Thursday. This one was about comic writing and how to format a comic submission.

I’m not even going to bother cleaning this up. It is really just here so I have it for reference when Twitter blows up. Start reading at the bottom.

  1. Hope that little bit helped. See ya!

  2. Okay, gang, I have a dinner date and have to run. More next week. I’ll also look over your questions and post tweets with some answers.

  3. What form does that submission take and how long or short should it be? Therein lies your answer.

  4. Put yourself in the position of the editor who is overworked and getting hundreds or subs.

  5. If we like what we see, we’ll ask you to show us the rest.

  6. But even with that, keep it simple, 11-22 pages or so. We don’t need six issues, we just need to see your best.

  7. Artist and writers are coming together to show off their talents and printing their own mini comics. These make it much easier for Editors.

  8. Brian Bendis is the master of this, produced his own stuff and worked it well. Got read and got in. Now he is king ;-)

  9. Having something in comic form, an ashcan, what have you, is the easiest. Today with the global community, this is easier to do than before

  10. Now, all this said, sending in a writing submission like this is a very difficult way to get discovered. Having something in print is easier

  11. These don’t have to be fleshed out but go a very long was as they show us just how creative and prolific you can be.

  12. If you consider yourself someone who has great high concepts, you can also include several high concepts along with you initial pitches.

  13. This will show us your range.

  14. I’d recommend perhaps two or three samples like this. Pick a different character or team of characters. Add variety to the mix.

  15. Then, give us a scene with panels, action and dialog so that we can get an idea of how you would handle scripting. About 3-5 pages of comic

  16. Follow this with a three-paragraph breakdown of the three acts in your story. If you can’t do this rethink your story.

  17. If you can’t distill it down to one two sentences, then it’s not going to work. Trust me, this is very tough to do, you’ll be surprised.

  18. Give us a one or two sentence pitch of your story. In other words, “The High Concept.”

  19. Start by thinking of a 22 page, told in one story. This is much harder than you may think.

  20. This is what our monthly writers have to do. Yes, they reinvent from time to time, but most often they’re playing with the toys as they are

  21. This is what separates the men from the boys, women from girls. Work within the parameters, what can you do, can you make it interesting?

  22. Pick a character, lets say Spidey, and show us a pitch for a Spidey story as he exists in current continuity and current cast.

  23. If you get a gig at Marvel and steady work, then later we’ll be interested in your higher concepts. But when breaking in, keep it simple.

  24. What we want to see is how you handle our characters as they exist right now. Example: don’t redefine Wolverine, just write Wolverine.

  25. This is a waist of time. We don’t want to see that from you at this stage in the game.

  26. Too often writers want to send us an idea on how to reinvent or interpret an old character, or a concept for a big event.

  27. In many cases it may never get read at all. My advice is the same as for artist, keep it short and sweet.

  28. No matter how you look at it, a Brubaker script will always be at the top of the pile of stuff to read.

  29. Editors are busy and have scripts that have to be published that take precedence over everything else, so your sub is going to have to wait.

  30. Okay, now that that’s out of the way – -

  31. This is simply because a writer can produce more work in a given month than an artist can.

  32. However, while it’s harder to break in as a writer, if and when you do, you have a better opportunity to make more money than an artist.

  33. So, first and foremost, it’s much harder for writers to get looked out. That”s the hard truth.

  34. We’re trying to get our house in order and come back with a better submissions system and hopefully be able to avoid backlog in the future

  35. First let me make clear that because of a huge still unread stack of submissions, Marvel is currently not looking at new writer submissions.

  36. I’m going to keep this as short as possible and pick it up on another day. Consider this installment #1

  37. Okay kids it’s time to give some tips for writers who want to break in. Get your pens and pads ready and call your pals, we’re starting in 5


Copyrighted. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez. Sitemap is here