Rick Marshall was Online Managing Editor for ComicMix before joining MTV's SplashPage. Previously, he was Online Content Manager for Wizard Entertainment. He has written for several daily newspapers, alternative weekly newspapers, trade magazines and online media, and was named "Writer of the Year" by the New York Press Association in 2005.
The crew over at FEARnet recently posted some great interviews with two of ComicMix’s best and brightest on the floor of San Diego Comic-Con. In the first video, Mark Wheatley offers up some thoughts on making a better monster with Frankenstein Mobster. You’ll find Wheatley’s credits currently gracing Hammer of the Gods 2 here at ComicMix.
In the second interview, Jerry Carr chats up FEARnet about the relaunch of Cryptozoo Crew, the series we told you about just a little while ago.
It’s a double-shot of ComicMix creators over at FEARnet, so be sure to check out these video interviews and tell the folks at FEARnet you want to see more of the ComicMix comics crew.
During San Diego Comic-Con, ICv2 conducted a fairly comprehensive interview with DC president/publisher Paul Levitz to chat about the state of the comics industry and the recent past, present and potential future. The interview was broken down into three parts, and each of them has some worthwhile questions and answers from DC’s head honcho.
From Part One, some frame of reference for the decision-making process when it comes to which characters/titles to put the spotlight on:
Some people think that Watchmen is a risky movie for presenting comics to a broad audience because it’s so dark. What are your thoughts on that?
The great successes are always the things that you can’t prove in advance will work or will not work. You get a Superman because it’s a departure from what was there before. There were ancestors of him in the creative process, but it represented a leap forward. And the same reason that my predecessors were nervous about putting him on the cover of every issue of Action Comics for the first few until they got the sales figures in, were the things that in part created the potential for him to be the breakaway at this time. I don’t think there’s a lot of mid-ground for Watchmen. I think it will either be very successful or it will be a passionate cult favorite. Everything we’re seeing so far indicates to me that we have a good shot at it being a breakaway.
From Part Two, an interesting observation of the economic status of what DC believes to be the typical comics buyer:
Do you predict any differences in how sales in the different channels will respond to the economic conditions?
The comic shop owners are still more vulnerable to the high intensity-high value customer. Luckily a high proportion of our customers are in industries that have been doing relatively well—high technology kinds of things tends to pop up fairly frequently in the descriptions of jobs in our field, so hopefully that’ll be sustaining. The bookstore side of the world, I think, is just vulnerable to all of the challenges that book publishing is having now. Even if the graphic novels are a very bright spot in their world, and they seem to be, book publishing is not having an easy time right now.
From Part Three, some insight regarding DC’s plans for webcomics and their Zuda program:
The screen is a powerful method of delivery for a younger generation and it’s going to be part of our business one way or another, hopefully in a very complementary fashion. I think we start doing print stuff on Zuda in early ‘09 in the current schedule. And that will be an interesting test to see how that translates over.
Over at CBR, Kiel Phegley has provided the highlights of a nice conversation with writer Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys) about Dynamite Entertainment’s upcoming "Garth Ennis Month," which will feature the debut issue of a nine-part limited series titled Garth Ennis’ Battlefields. The World War II-themed series will unfold in three connected stories this October, the first of which will be titled The Night Witches and feature art by Russ Braun.
Here, Ennis explains the ties that bind the three stories together:
“If there is an element that unites the three stories — this is something I like to leave up to the reader, so I’ll keep it vague — it might be a look at various ways of approaching conflict, depending on who you are, where you come from, what you’re up against,” Ennis said. “How the Russians fought the Germans was not quite like how the British fought them, for instance, and how the British in turn fought the Japanese was different again.”
It would seem that the subject is a near and dear one to Ennis, as the writer offers up quite a few thoughts about his plans for the series, his creative process with regard to the each story’s schedule and the artists with whom he’ll share creative credit. He also gives credit where it’s due with respect to the subjects of the stories.
“If nothing else, the stories in Battlefields highlight the courage of people whose time has almost passed and whose stories are fading. ‘The Night Witches,’ for instance: young women in their teens and early twenties, flying obsolete biplanes at night against the most lethal military machine in the world, facing potentially catastrophic consequences should they be captured alive. Or ‘The Tankies,’ men going into battle against heavy odds, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that the enemy has them outmatched and outgunned on every level, but doing it anyway. That, to me, is heroism, and that deserves to be acknowledged.”
For more on Battlefields, including some art from the series and the cover to issue #1 of Night Witches (a small version of which is posted here), head over to CBR.
Over at The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon has asked readers to let him know how they would answer the question, "What’s Watchmen about?" It’s a nice feature, as I believe Watchmen to be one of those projects that has been held in high regard by comics fans for so long that it’s difficult to think outside of our comics fishbowl and explain why it’s such an important story to someone with little knowledge of the industry.
Here’s the answer I gave Tom, which I came up with pretty quickly due to having been asked that same question by someone yesterday:
Watchmen examines the relationship between superheroes and society and the ways in which this relationship changes over time given a variety of real-world factors. What would happen when the shine wears off and things like politics, economics, racism and the knowledge of one’s own abilities far and beyond that of everyone else come to the surface? The story examines all of this by way of a noir-style murder mystery in which one of the former "superheroes" investigates the mysterious death of a former member of the superteam "The Watchmen."
That was my three-sentence answer that skips over so much of what makes Watchmen great to comics fans, but is most likely to hook newcomers to the comics scene. In this case, it seemed to work, as the person I told this to called me up an hour later to say he’d watched the trailer again and now definitely wants to see the film.
You can read more responses over at The Comics Reporter, but feel free to add your own to the comment thread here or email Spurgeon (via the link provided in his post) in order to have your answer added to the feature.
Over at the L.A. Times’ geek culture blog Hero Complex, T.J. Kosinski talks to celebrated creator Paul Pope (Batman: Year 100, 100%) about the upcoming re-release of his fan-favorite series THB, as well as what he sees as the "new canvases for comics."
According to Pope, the upcoming reprint of THB (due out in 2009) will feature quite a bit of new material — almost half the project, in fact.
Talking about clothing design, upcoming iPod artwork, and the possibilities of designer wallpaper was all very interesting, but what grabbed my attention most was the future of "THB," Pope’s independent comic begun in 1995. The futuristic series featured the exploits of a teenage girl, HR Watson, and her super-powered bodyguard, THB. That collection due next year will be half reprints and half unseen material.
While I was on the edge of my seat, Pope leaned back in his chair and opened up about "THB," referring to it as “his baby.” “I’ve been working on it this whole time,” Pope explained. In fact, he’s accumulated so much new material that the complete collection of THB will total four volumes.
Pope also spoke to Kosinski about joining the growing pool of creators who have turning their attention to the vinyl toy market. His "Masked Karimbah" figure was one of the major hits of San Diego Comic-Con, and Pope seems to be hitching his future success to both the collectible vinyl scene and his designer line of DKNY Jeans clothes hitting shelves next month.
JK Parkin over at Blog@ reports that Midway Games has released the identities of two more characters in the upcoming Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe videogame: Wonder Woman and Deathstroke the Terminator. A preliminary rendering of Wonder Woman is available on the site, as well as a rendering of Green Lantern (seen here) and a series of screencaps from the game featuring Green Lantern in battle, as well as other DC characters (including Joker, Superman and Catwoman).
The announcement was made at the Leipzig Games Convention, and along with the DC characters, Midway also announced the return of Mortal Kombat characters Raiden and Kano in the new iteration. The game is scheduled for release this fall.
Over at Metabunker, Matthis Wivel has posted an interesting analysis of the "only good skrull is a dead skrull" theme in Marvel Comics’ Secret Invasion event. When presented with the rampant slaughter currently going on in Marvel’s latest big event, Wivel wonders what ever happened to the whole "heroes don’t kill" standard of yesterday’s comics.
I’m not going to be all holier-than-thou about this — I know that the audience for these comics is largely adult geeks such as myself, and that a little killing won’t hurt our sensibilities much. But still, it’s gotta be some kind of landmark that the biggest superhero event this year so callously ignores what was once a central principle of the genre. And kind of auspicious too, that a series that at least superficially carries pretensions of political allegory most likely unintentionally lends to its heroes a borderline fascist groupthink outlook on their enemies.
And beyond all that, what is the big problem with the skrulls, anyways? I mean, Embrace Change sounds like a pretty nice guy… er, skrull.
Just about a week ago, it was announced that the ol’ "Stan’s Soapbox" columns that ran in Marvel Comics from 1967 to 1980 will be collected in an upcoming paperback published by (and benefiting) The Hero Initiative, the very worthwhile organization that is also the "first-ever federally chartered not-for- profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need."
In true form, Stan "The Man" had this to say about the collection:
"Wow! What a kick it is for me to see all my old Soapbox columns printed in one great volume!," said Stan Lee. "Reading them now is like taking a trip back through the history of Marvel in those great ol’ days when the fans and I would rap about how our batty Bullpen was exploding with new heroes, new villains and more far-out, fun-filled, fantastic new ideas than you could shake a radioactive spider at! And, best of all, every Stan’s Soapbox book sold means more money for the great Hero Initiative cause. No wonder I’m so proud of this book and the cause that it serves! Heck, I might even buy two copies!"
While the 144-page collection is scheduled for a November 2008 release and sporting a $14.99 price tag, as well as commentary from Marvel luminaries like Joe Quesada, Kevin Feige and Roy Thomas, there’s one thing the collection won’t include: the original typed copy straight from the desk of Marvel’s Main Man himself. Lucky for us, former Marvel Comics Assistant Editor Scott Edelman recently posted a scan of one of those aforementioned drafts — as well as some thoughts on how he ended up with them.
One of my duties as an Assistant Editor at Marvel Comics in the mid-’70s was to write all of the text for each Bullpen Bulletins page except for Stan’s Soapbox. (Thanks for the opportunity to channel my childhood idol, Len!)
Which meant that Stan would hand me a yellow sheet of paper each month on which he had typed out his musings, complete with edits in the form of crossed-out clauses and handwritten additions. I’d hand both his text and mine (for the rest of the page) to a different Stan, Stanley Aaron, the typesetter who would make it all look pretty so it could then be pasted up for print.
Even without the drafts, the Stan’s Soapbox collection looks like a great opportunity to get all sorts of nostalgic about comics days gone by. I’ve posted the full press release after the jump, with more information about the project. (Oh, and we’re told that’s not the final cover art.)
Celebrated comics couple Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim) and Hope Larson (Chiggers) returned the focus of their considerable talents to the webcomics pool this week with Bear Creek Apartments, a new, original collaboration between the two creators. They announced the project this week on their website, radiomaru.com, and the comic was subsequently flooded with traffic — forcing O’Malley to break it down from a single page to a series of linked pages.
For the art geeks, the pair also provided the following details about their tools of the trade for Bear Creek:
The art is done with pen, watercolor, crayon, and some CG elements (mostly lighting effects). The lettering was done with ComiCraft’s "Monologous" font.
You can see the full comic now at the link I’ve provided above, but be sure to read it through to the end. There’s a twist there that caught me by surprise… so you’ll want to beat the spoilers, too.
While I tend to leave comics-related event promotion in far more capable hands, I couldn’t help but hype this happening that’s kicking off tonight in New York City. Online culture journalist, Internet freedom advocate and BoingBoing.net editor Cory Doctorow (who also happens to have authored IDW’s Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now comic) will be discussing life, the grid and everything with none other than writer/artist/musician Paul Miller (a.k.a. DJ Spooky) with proceeds from the event benefitting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
For online culture geeks like myself, it’s pretty much a must-see discussion that blends comics, ‘Net culture and entertainment, and it all goes toward a pretty respectable cause.
Cory Doctorow will read and discuss the issues behind his bestselling young adult novel, Little Brother. Addressing internet and government security, censorship, and civil liberties in a post-9/11 near-future atmosphere, Little Brother tackles timely issues while telling a story that’s smart, funny, and jam-packed-with-pop culture nuggets. Doctorow "hopes it’ll inspire you to use technology to make yourself more free." Doctorow is the former European Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group that works to keep cyberspace free. IDW recently published Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now a collection of comics based on his cyberpunkiest Sci-fi short stories.
DJ Spooky joins Doctorow to present concepts from Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture, his new book / literary mixtape collecting writing by artists and thinkers including Brian Eno, Jonathan Lethem, Saul Williams, Steve Reich, Moby, Chuck D, and more. "Young artists regard sound as a language they may freely sample to construct new compositions," says DJ Spooky, who, in addition to his own recordings, has collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yoko Ono, Kronos Quartet, Kool Keith, Killa Priest from Wu-Tang Clan, and Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth. He also composed and recorded the score for film Slam, starring poet Saul Williams. In 2006, Miller was given access to the vaults of the classic reggae label Trojan Records, producing the compilations In Fine Style, DJ Spooky Presents 50,0000 Volts of Trojan Records!!! and Creation Rebel. Prior to the Trojan works, Miller released Drums of Death, featuring Dave Lombardo of Slayer, Chuck D., & Vernon Reid. He traveled to Antarctica in December 2007 to gather sonic and visual materials for his next large scale work Terra Nova: The Antarctic Suite.
The event begins at 7:30 PM tonight (August 21) at the Helen Mills Theater on 137-139 West 26th Street, NYC. Tickets for this benefit are available now at www.cbldf.org for $20.
If you’re down for the after-party thing, DJ Spooky will also be spinning "a rare small-venue set" at Sutra Lounge on 16 1st Ave at 1st Street. This event benefits the CBLDF, too, and is free if you attend the mashup but will cost you $10 otherwise.