Even if you’re the sort of comics fan who only dips a toe in the murky waters of industry news, it’s hard not to get soaked by the Merry Marvel Marketing Machine these days — especially when it comes to the InterWebs.
What’s surprising, however, is that the crew over at Marvel.com is providing some genuinely interesting and/or fun content every now and then, and not just treating their website as a place to post press releases. (Although the constant barrage of "Who Do You Trust" promos is starting to make my teeth hurt.) If you can wade through all of the Skrull hype, there are some decent interviews and fun features to be found at the "House of Ideas" online HQ — and this one, a list of 10 series that Marvel’s "Secret Cabal" would like to revive, is one of them.
Previous Runs: DAZZLER (1981-1985)
Learn More … here
Why It Should Be Brought Back: "Does this really need any explanation? Enchantress! Doom! Galactus! Roller Skates! A movie!!! Who else in the Marvel U has had a biopic? No one! Canceled right when it was getting good—and after being trained by the X-Men…and defeating them—the exploits of Alison Blaire were carried on in the pages of UNCANNY X-MEN until she ran off to settle down. But this songbird is a free spirit and she must fly. Her powers have never properly been used to their greatest extent, nor has Marvel’s only diva been given her real chance to—pun alert—shine. I know why this caged bird sings…she needs her ongoing series!!!" –Secret Cabal member RunawayJ
Spotlight Comic: UNCANNY X-MEN #130 Dazzler makes her star-studded debut, aiding the X-Men against the Hellfire Club.
Even though I’m not eagerly anticipating a Dazzler revival, I admire the tenacity, RunawayJ. Here’s hoping you get your wish.
Along with thanking supporters for their, well… support, the message also hints at some looming unrest in Gotham, citing "been sporadic reports of rallies being broken up by police" and questioning whether this could indicate "bias on the part of the men in blue" or a "backlash against Harvey Dent because of his campaign to stop corruption?"
All is not well in Gotham, it seems. The message continues:
It’s been great to see the response from all of you! We knew that citizens of Gotham would rally behind Harvey Dent and you have! (It was inspiring to see some of you on TV!) Gotham citizens have come out to meet the Dentmobiles, many of them using the Dentmobiles as an opportunity to meet up with other Harvey Dent supporters in their neighborhoods and build this grassroots campaign.
Jeffrey Rowland, the creator behind popular webcomics Wigu and OverCompensating, has a new, full-time job these days — and it just might make him one of the most important people to watch in the world of webcomics.
Late last year, Rowland officially expanded TopatoCo, the online store where he sold shirts, stickers and other merchandise related to his webcomics, bringing several other popular webcomics’ stores under the TopatoCo banner and consolidating their merchandise operations. By doing so, fans of many of the most popular webcomics are now able to mix and match their orders among different creators’ designs, and TopatoCo has evolved from a basement business to a staffed, international operation Rowland runs out of an office building in Easthampton, MA.
According to Wikipedia, Rowland "can be considered one of the small number of professional webcartoonists, as running Overcompensating and Wigu, in addition to his merchandise company TopatoCo, is his full time job and source of income."
I spoke with Rowland about the growth of TopatoCo and the first few months of becoming a webcomic merchandising hub, as well as the status of his own webcomics, OverCompensating and Wigu. From the lure of running off to Mexico on a motorcycle to the Snakes on A Plane experience, Rowland shares his thoughts on making a living in the world of webcomics.
COMICMIX: You sound busy, Jeff. What’s going on at TopatoCo HQ today?
JEFFREY ROWLAND: Well, I’m just trying to get a handle on this whole business arrangement here.
CMix: Yeah, it sounds like you’re pretty deep into it these days…
JR: Well, the way we were doing it before was, everyone had their own individual sites up. Dinosaur Comics would have its little store, and then [Dinosaur creator Ryan North] would collect the orders throughout the week and send them to us in a file once a week or so. It wasn’t that bad, because everyone was doing a pretty good amount of business, but when I put them all together… Well, all of a sudden, it just exploded. It was bigger than I thought it was going to be. I think we’ve been up for about a month now, and we’re over 2000 products sold. Over 1000 transactions. Basically, it’s just two of us here working – sometimes three. I have one full-time employee — she’s "Tallahassee" in OverCompensating.
Over at Newsarama, frequent ComicMix comment-thread presence Vinnie Bartilucci interviews David Hajdu, author of The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America.
Previously known for his books on various musical subject matter, Hajdu’s Ten-Cent Plague examines the anti-comics movement in the ’50s that threatened to destroy the industry. In the interview, Hajdu discusses the interviews that provided much of the book’s source material, and why he chose many of his interview subjects.
… I never see the need to take up my time, and the reader’s time, to tell a story that’s already been told before. Yes the story of the controversy over comics has been told before, but on a certain scale. But there’s a great deal more to that story that has hasn’t been told. Especially the story of those people who suffered most from that purge…because they disappeared. And because they disappeared, because they haven’t done the comic-book conventions, they haven’t stayed in the scene; their stories were largely lost to time. The story of the purge is a tragedy, but what brings the tragedy to life is an understanding of how some people suffered by having their livelihoods taken from them, and being denied the ability to do something they were proud of and they treasured and they thought was important. Some of these people felt so wounded, they felt such a miscarriage of justice had happened, they felt so wronged, that they left comics and never looked back. They were bitter about their comics experience and they never looked back. Somebody like Mort Leav, he was living in New Jersey in a retirement home. Still vital, but had devoted his career to advertising, and just didn’t want to think about comic books any more, because he had felt so wronged. So it was important for me to find those people who hadn’t talked before.
It’s an excellent interview that provides quite a bit of insight into both the development of the book and its author’s relationship with comics.
Donna Noble is determined to find the Doctor again – even if it means braving the villainous Miss Foster and her hordes of sinister Adipose, as Russell T Davies’s Bafta Award-winning time-travelling drama returns for a fourth series. But when the alien threat escalates out of control, can Donna find her Time Lord before the march of the Adipose begins?
Although the actual date/time of the premiere has not been announced, it’s widely speculated that the premiere will air on BBC One around 7 PM on Saturday, April 5.
Too Much Coffee Man, the comic that became an opera, is returning for a "Refill."
Shannon Wheeler’s crazed series about the caffeine-fueled adventures of an eclectic group of coffee house regulars (and the barista who serves them) has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, so I was equally thrilled and perplexed by the creator’s decision to adapt the comic into an opera in 2006. The end result was a really enjoyable show and soundtrack (with hilarious supplemental video).
And now, Wheeler and the TMCM crew are returning to the stage for an operatic sequel titled "The Refill" — which, according to the PR, picks up where the first opera left off:
The Too Much Coffee Man Opera is the story of an idealistic hero, named Too Much Coffee Man, as he competes with rival Espresso Guy for the attention of a Barista. Unfornately, she has her own agenda, to be a super hero.
The second opera, titled the Refill, picks up two years later. The Barista has fulfilled her superhero dream… and she’s married a Martian. Unfortunately she’s bored. She hopes caffeine will cure her ennui and calls Too Much Coffee Man for help. Antics ensue as Espresso Guy tries to win her back by pretending to be Too Much Coffee Man.
Too Much Coffee Man: The Refill begins April 4 in Portland, OR. Details from the PR are provided after the jump.
Panel guests included Dean Haspiel, Raina Telgemeier, Rich Stevens, and Ted Rall, as well as Collen Venable, who moderated the event. According to Tyrrell’s report, the discussion hit all of the expected talking points regarding webcomics (what makes a webcomic, definition of webcomickers vs. cartoonists, etc.), but when the conversation turned to the conomics of online comics, well… let’s just say that it sounds like things got really interesting.
Rall jumped in with both feet:
"If I were in charge of the world … I would force everything offline. All cartoonists, all newspapers, no more archives, nothing. And every cartoonist would make fifteen times as much money. Giving it away, I think it’s insane and stupid."
For those who remember the qualifications that Rall made at SPX last fall, where a similar statement was couched in terms of specifically editorial cartoonists, there was no such qualification this time. It was a blanket statement, and it was made while sitting next to one of the strongest proponents of a business model where you (quoting now) "Give away a ton of stuff, and edit down to things of value [that you can sell]."
And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Tyrrell’s excerpts from the discussion. While I can only assume that the discussion remained civil, it certainly reads as if participants were getting a bit heated in their debate regarding webcomic economics. Even better, the discussion seems to have moved to the comment section of Tyrrell’s post, where Rall, Stevens and a host of webcomic creators chime in with their thoughts on the webcomic business model.
For anyone interested in the webcomics scene, Tyrrell’s post — and the subsequent comment thread — are must-read material.
With this week’s release of Flash #238, writer Tom Peyer begins scripting the adventures of DC’s fastest man alive — and, appropriately enough, he plans to hit the ground running.
With his first six-part story, "Fast Money," Peyer begins his term as regular writer on the series, picking up where popular DCU author Mark Waid left off: with Bart Allen dead, Wally West back in the bright red suit along with his wife and rapidly aging children, and a brand new villain primed to join the hero’s rogues gallery.
Taking the reins from fan-favorite writers is nothing new for Peyer, however, who has taken critically praised turns on a variety of team titles, but could be best known for his popular run on the entirety of the 25-issue Hourman series published from 1999 to 2001 — a character spun-off from Grant Morrison’s run on JLA.
And, much like with Hourman, Peyer has also been tapped to script the first solo adventures of Tek Jansen, a character created by The Colbert Report‘s Stephen Colbert, for an upcoming series published by Oni Press.
In this interview, Peyer discusses his role as the new, ongoing writer on The Flash, as well as the status of Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen.
COMICMIX: Thanks for talking with me today, Tom. Flash #238 is out this week, so what’s the pitch for the new storyline, "Fast Money?"
TOM PEYER: Money is definitely a theme in this story. I think early on I put out an oversimplified description and gave people the idea that it’s really just about Flash having money troubles. Which it really isn’t. Although he is… Money’s the theme that holds together a whole bunch of events. We have a villain who, in the sort of great — or, if you prefer, corny — tradition of early Flash stories, commits a robbery. I don’t think we’ve seen that in a while — a villain who’s purely at it because he wants to steal a Faberge Egg. It’s a little old-fashioned, and I’m kind of nervous about it, but money is a theme that runs throughout the whole story.
Television news is also a big part of the story. TV news gets involved in the story in a big way, and we all know how they feel about money. They are totally willing to just wind us up and tie us into emotional knots so we’ll keep coming back and they can charge their advertisers more money. To me, that’s empirically how they see their job. I call them "freedom’s crazy girlfriend" because they keep winding things up emotionally. Of course, it could be "freedom’s crazy boyfriend," too – I don’t want to stereotype.
Over at CBR, Jeffrey Renaud chats with Dark Horse founder and president Mike Richardson about the deal, and touches on a few of the Dark Horse properties that could end up on the big screen.
When offered Gerard Way’ s popular "Umbrella Academy" series as an option, Richardson answered, "’Umbrella Academy’ will obviously be high on the radar of the early projects but again, we’ve just completed the deal and now we are preparing the first projects.