Category: Columns

Review: The Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta
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Review: The Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta

The Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta
By J. David Spurlock
Vanguard Press

Trade HC ISBN13: 9781934331811 Retail $39.95 • 120 pgs
DX LE ISBN13: 9781934331828 Retail $69.95 • 138 pgs plus slipcase

When we were kids in the 70s, my pals and I hung around a great comic shop, Kim’s Collectible Comics & Records.  Owner Kim Draheim loved comics, but he helped expand the horizons of our small worlds – letting us discover wonders beyond the standard Marvel and DC comics that defined our comfort zones. In his shop, we stumbled upon older comics, vinyl records and comic-adjacent artists…like Frank Frazetta. It was all pretty mind-blowing.

We quickly realized there was a time and place for each creator’s talents and gifts.  When one of my gang was searching for a Fantastic Four issue illustrated by Frank Frazetta, we all chuckled. Even back then we knew that Frazetta was beyond all that.

When I took a college-level painting class while still in high school, there came that point to choose one artist for the term paper.  I chose Frank Frazetta. My professor kind of frowned and suggested I instead research and write about Salvador Dali.  I told my professor that Dali was a fine artist…but in my mind, Dali was no Frazetta.

If Spurlock was in my class, maybe he would have said the same thing.

Even back then I would have been excited by the new book, The Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta. This is another gem from J. David Spurlock’s Vanguard Publishing. It’s a thoughtful, loving celebration of a genre master that is both a first-class introduction to Frazetta and a long-awaited treat to every reader/fan/collector that has already has an appreciation for Frazetta.

From the first page, Spurlock takes the reader on a journey that includes “greatest hits” and “lost treasures”.

Well-loved paintings fill the pages – but often with a twist. Either there’s additional materials or alternate versions included. Spurlock includes great stories that pull back the curtain for us, illuminating the process behind Frazetta’s artistry.

I really enjoyed the many surprises. There’s Frazetta barbarian art from before Conan. There is a 60s spy movie poster.  I was especially surprised to learn that in one case, when Frazetta got an original painting back, he made some changes.  And although I’d seen the Luana piece many times, but I didn’t realize that there was more to it.It’s no secret that Frazetta inspired so many other creators. But I didn’t realize the extent of the George Lucas connections until reading this book.  When I watch Star Wars movies,  I’ll never look at Chewbacca or the Death Star the same way again.

Many of the paintings reproduced here are larger than they’ve been printed before. This allows us to really see the nuances – brush strokes, paint etc. on these beauties.

Here’s the official description:

Discover, or return to, the world’s greatest heroic fantasy artist, Frank Frazetta, in this landmark art collection entitled, Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta. The New York Times said, “Frazetta helped define fantasy heroes like Conan, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars with signature images of strikingly fierce, hard-bodied heroes and bosomy, callipygian damsels” Frazetta took the sex and violence of the pulp fiction of his youth and added even more action, fantasy and potency, but rendered with a panache seldom seen outside of major works of Fine Art. Despite his fantastic subject matter, the quality of Frazetta’s work has not only drawn comparisons to the most brilliant of illustrators, Maxfield Parrish, Frederic Remington, Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth but, even to the most brilliant of fine artists including Rembrandt and Michelangelo and, major Frazetta works sell for millions of dollars, breaking numerous records.

 

And Spurlock has pulled out all the stops with this one. This book has definitely crossed the line to be a full-fledged celebration. Here’s the bells & whistles:

  • PAPER: Thicker, quality art-book paper than ever used in any prior Frazetta collection. This firmer paper helps achieve the highest quality of reproduction.
  • PROTECTIVE LAMINATION: Lavish combination of both matte & gloss cover laminations to dazzle the senses. While many top publishers scrimp by not providing ANY lamination, the new Frazetta collection doubles down to protect every cover smartly and with panache.
  • SIZE: 10.5 x 14.6 with spreads as wide as 21 inches: Larger pages and images than any previous Frazetta art book.
  • INDIVIDUALLY SIGNED: Even deluxe books rarely come signed but, this has not one, but TWO signatures; author J. David Spurlock and Frank Frazetta Jr, Director of The Frazetta Art Museum in East Stroudsburg PA.
  • VELUM PAGE “TIPPED-IN” BY HAND: When Vanguard does produce signed books, it is regularly on the front endpapers which is mounted to the inside front cover. But for Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta, the signature page was printed separately on a translucent velum parchment and bound, one at a time, into each book, by hand.
  • NEW LIGHTWEIGHT SLIPCASE: Vanguard’s new lighter-weight laminated slipcase keeps the deluxe book protected in style while conserving shelf space and minimizing shipping costs to retailers and Frazetta aficionados.
  • BONUS FOLIO: Sixteen extra pages of art including some very rare images, a newly discovered previously unknown and unpublished 1960s Frazetta movie poster run at a whopping 21 inches wide and, rare mid-1960s Creepy magazine art as never seen before, perfectly reproduced at full, Original Art Size!

Every year at San Diego Comic-Con, I tend to buy at least one book from the Vanguard booth. The at-the-booth conversations with J. David Spurlock are part of the fun.  And if I miss him, I always get my pal Steve Rotterdam to do his Spurlock imitation.  This year, of course, none of us will be stopping by San Diego Comic-Con. But there’s plenty of ways to buy this – and I always suggest going through your local comic shop or local indy book store.  I was surprised to see that a book of this quality doesn’t have a $100+ price tag, and is reasonably priced at $39.95 The deluxe version, with extra pages and a slipcase, is $69.95.

The Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta would make any coffee table proud. And if your coffee table is too full, maybe it’s time to get another coffee table.

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Aftershock Comics sends out an S.O.S.: Support Our Shops!

There’s a lot of change in the air, and in so many cases, it’s nice to see how the COVID crisis is bringing out our better angels – especially when it comes to publishers and retailers.

Inc. Magazine recently called Independent Bookstores “the baby seals of commerce–at once universally beloved and endangered.” The same could be said for comic shops, except for the universally loved part. Here’s an innovative ideas from forward-thinking entrepreneurs designed to create something positive for both these retailer channels.

Aftershock Comics has a program designed to help comic shops. It’s called S.O.S. which stands for “Support Our Shops”.  This is a cool program that’s elegant in its simplicity. Aftershock created & printed a one-shot anthology comic, S.O.S., and is giving copies of it to comic shops that have been supporting their line, no strings attached!  Comic shops can sell their copies at whatever price they set (it feels like at least a $5.99 comic to me), offer it as buy-one-get-one with other Aftershock comics, or just give it away to reward customers.

The comic itself is gorgeous! Painter David Mack delivers yet another hauntingly beautiful cover, full of hope and brightness, just like the comic itself.  The issue is packed full of short stories from top creators wistfully celebrating fans’ interactions with and appreciation of comic shops.

Editor Joe Pruett has pulled together an impressive list of talents for this funny-book version of a charity concert. Contributors include Cullen Bunn, Steve Orlando, Leila Leiz, Stephanie Phillips, Marshall Dillon and more.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find Jerry Ordway’s story here, as I don’t associate him with Aftershock.  But wow – he delivered in spades.

Look for S.O.S. at your local comic shop, ask them to get it for you if they don’t have it, and if they give it to you for free, give them a generous tip.  It’s a fantastic book and worth every penny you can spare.  And we want to encourage innovative thinking like this, as well as help comic shops and bookstores, don’t we?

If retailers don’t already have a relationship with Aftershock, they can go to the site where all the staff is listed. https://aftershockcomics.com
Review: The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #1 Facsimile Edition

Review: Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #1 Facsimile Edition

Finally, a time machine for me!

Most folks visiting this site know about Dr. Doom’s Time Machine, the Guardian of Forever from Star Trek or that little book written by Herbert George Wells called The Time Machine.  Or at least they know about that fantastic DeLorean that Marty McFly drove.

Well, there’s one more Time Machine to add to the list – Gemstone Publishing’s The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #1 Facsimile Edition, a reproduction of the very first Overstreet’s Price Guide published in the fall of 1970. What a treat it is! This book is, at the core of it all, a snapshot of old comic book prices.  But faster than you can say “Why, oh, why didn’t I buy multiple copies of Fantastic Four #1 for $30.00 back in 70?”, you realize it’s so much more.

This is also a celebration of fan-focused entrepreneurs (Fantropreneurs?) grabbing the reins of their industry. This was the time when fans, and especially one fan named Robert M. Overstreet, rolled up their sleeves, researched meticulously and published an industry bible that would become both a tradition and the foundation upon which a million collections were built.

There’s an important thing to remember. Back in the “old days”, when you finished with something, it was discarded. As a society, we didn’t collect or save magazines or comics.  My Italian relatives would save bottles and paper bags, but comics didn’t quite fit into that category. There were collectors, but they were either breathing rarefied air (e.g. Art Collectors) or they were weirdos… who’s maturity was obviously stunted.

But the Guide, in assigning values to comics in such an authoritative way, publicly established economic value for comics. The outside world could respect that. Society back in the sixties or seventies might not have cared if Captain Marvel debuted in Whiz Comics #1 but they did care if an old funny book, with a newsstand value of 10 cents, was suddenly worth $235.00.

“Oh, if only my mother hadn’t thrown them out!” laments every non-collector.

(Note to my mom -thanks for never throwing out my comics. But I am still bummed you sold my Major Matt Mason Space Station at a garage sale.)

Beyond the prices, this facsimile edition also showcases ads that, once ubiquitous, have now morphed into curiosities. Passaic Book & Comic Center has the first ad in the book. And it’s fun to recall when Big Little Books were an adjacent collectible. (There don’t seem to be too many collectors any more, but I hope I am wrong.) And surely mail order legend Robert Bell deserves his time in the historical spotlight.

I’m so glad Gemstone’s VP of Publishing J.C. Vaughn and his team pushed for this delightful reproduction. Flipping through it sends me back in time, back when the world was shiny and new and full of potential. Or at least comic collecting was.

Dennis O’Neil: 1939-2020

Dennis O’Neil: 1939-2020

Dennis Joseph “Denny” O’Neil, the writer and editor who redefined the Batman, the Joker, Green Arrow, the Shadow, and the Question for the modern era; created or co-created R’as al Ghul, OPtimus Prime, Azrael, Leslie Tompkins, Madame Web, Richard Dragon, and Lady Shiva; and was a beloved contributor to ComicMix, has passed away at the age of 81.

He started his career in comics almost by accident, when Roy Thomas suggested that O’Neil take the Marvel writer’s test, which involved adding dialogue to a wordless four-page excerpt of a Fantastic Four comic. O’Neil’s entry resulted in Lee offering O’Neil a job. O’Neil had never considered writing for comics, and later said he’d done the test “kind of as a joke. I had a couple of hours on a Tuesday afternoon, so instead of doing crossword puzzles, I did the writer’s test.” He started with Millie The Model and Patsy Walker, but soon found himself writing Doctor Strange and Daredevil. He also started freelancing for Charlton Comics under the name Sergius O’Shaughnessy, and when editor Dick Giordano went over to DC Comics he brought Denny along, where he wrote the Creeper, Wonder Woman, Justice League of America, Green Lantern and Green Arrow, Batman, Superman, and the revivals of the Shadow, the Avenger, and Captain Marvel, now retitled to Shazam!

In the 80’s, he returned to Marvel for a spell, where he wrote Iron Man and put Jim Rhodes into the suit of armor, contributed to the creation of the Transformers, and edited Frank Miller on his two runs of Daredevil as well as writing the issues in between them, among many other things.

He returned to DC in 1986 to become the group editor of the Batman titles, as well as write The Question.

He didn’t limit his writing to comics, also writing at various times for Coronet, Show, Gentleman’s Quarterly, Ono, the Village Voice, News Front, Amazing Stories, High Times, Viva, Penthouse, Publisher’s Weekly, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Fantastic, Generation One, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock, and Haunt of Horror; as well as television, both live-action (Superboy, Logan’s Run) and animated (Batman: The Animated Series); and various novels, including the exemplary Helltown.

He was widely honored by fans and pros alike, including Shazam Awards for Best Continuing Feature for Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Best Individual Story for “No Evil Shall Escape My Sight” in Green Lantern #76 (with Neal Adams), for Best Writer (Dramatic Division) in 1970 for Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, and other titles, and Best Individual Story for “Snowbirds Don’t Fly” in Green Lantern #85 (with Neal Adams) in 1971. He also won the Comics Buyer’s Guide Award for Favorite Editor in 1986, 1988, 1989, and 1996; a Goethe Award in 1971 for “Favorite Pro Writer” and was a nominee for the same award in 1973, received an Inkpot Award in 1981, and won a Haxtur Award in 1998.

He gave of his time to help teach the next generation of comics creators, teaching at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, writing The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics, and writing for ComicMix. He also sat on the board of directors of the charity The Hero Initiative, an organization devoted to helping comic creators in need, and served on its Disbursement Committee.

He was married to the lovely former Marifran McFarland, who passed away in 2017. He is survived by his son, Lawrence, and the industry which he forever changed.

Taking our cue from him, our Recommended Reading List for today is Denny’s columns. We’ll miss him.

Buddy Saunders: DC COMICS HAS LEFT COMIC STORES OUT

Buddy Saunders: DC Comics Has Left Comic Stores Out

Buddy Saunders is a giant among retailers. I’m honored to give him the first-ever guest spot at my column.

Michael Davis

DC’s planned limited release of titles beginning April 28th leaves too many comic stores out in the cold

by Buddy Saunders

I’ll tell you this up front. In mid-to-late May, a time more in line with when most stores can reopen, Diamond Comics, our longtime distributor, will resume shipping comics from all publishers based on fair-to-all release dates. Were Diamond to begin shipping earlier, many of our fellow comic retailers would be left out in the cold. We very much respect Diamond for making the good-for-everyone decision they’ve made. We are all in this together, fans, creators, publishers, retailers and Diamond.

I want two things. I want to stand with and support my longtime distributor. And I don’t want to receive and sell comics that many, maybe most, of my fellow retailers can’t get because their stores are shuttered through no fault of their own.

Diamond Comics has been our distributor for decades. I know Diamond’s owner, Steve Geppi, well. We first met many years ago, ironically at a DC brain-storming retreat at a Montauk resort on the tip of Long Island. Steve and I were there to help DC editors and creators figure out how to deal with the growing market threat posed by Marvel. Steve was then just another comic store owner like me with no thought of becoming a distributor. But some years later, when my then Texas distributor proved unreliable, Steve, along with Carol Kalish of Marvel, made my transition to Diamond silk smooth. There’s a neat story in that, but now’s not the time to tell it. Bigger fish to fry at the moment.

DC’s decision to begin releasing comics through two newly-minted “distributors” beginning April 28th is ill-conceived.

First, there is the matter of timing. Too many comic stores will still be prohibited from being open on April 28th, the first DC release date.

Second, DC’s new distributors, Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors, are in reality two of the nation’s largest new comic discounters, Discount Comics and Midtown Comics. No comic retailer should be involved in comic distribution due to obvious conflicts of interest. The only exception to that rule would be a stopgap measure undertaken if the current distributor were failing. That is NOT the case with Diamond. Diamond is solid and as reliable as ever.

Third, these two new comic online discounters have no experience as distributors. Even a vastly experienced distributor like Diamond isn’t perfect, but they are very good at correcting errors. Will the new guys do as well? The answer will come the first time retailers try to get support services such as damage replacements.

Fourth, why are these two new distributors necessary? Creating new distributors for a short-term fix doesn’t make sense. It makes more sense as part of a larger long-term plan. But were Diamond eventually taken out by this process, mid-to-small publishers would be up a creek, a circumstance that would very much benefit DC. Marvel tried something similar—becoming their own distributor—years ago. It didn’t work out for Marvel. Nor will it work for DC if that indeed is their thought.

Any such move, for whatever motive, is unnecessary given that very soon Diamond Comics will return to full distribution mode when the majority of comic stores can resume sales—most likely mid-to-late May.

Every comic store owner has to decide what is best for their store regarding distribution and release times, but greater consideration should be given to long term health rather than to short term gain.

Lone Star Comics and MyComicShop will wait for Diamond, a distributor that has earned our loyalty many times over. And we will wait until as may stores as possible can join us in resuming weekly comic sales. And when that time comes, we’ll have plenty of stock from every publisher, including all DC releases.

This from Brian Hibbs, owner of Comix Experience in San Francisco:

DC is asking us to ABANDON Diamond. Diamond and Steve Geppi specifically have acted as the “bank” of the Direct Market, saving and protecting the great mass of retailers again and again and again. Do I have some problems with DCD’s operation? Sure: I’d be an idiot not to—but on the balance they’ve done more to preserve DM retailers than ANYONE EVER, so “walking away” from them in this time of challenge is completely entirely a non-starter for me.

Brian Hibbs, Comix Experience

Last word from Buddy. Thus far I’ve spoken to only a few comic retailers, but those retailers are well established and significant. They favor staying the course with Diamond. I know a lot of retailers read my weekly Lone Star Comics email. Guys, gals, email me at buddy@mycomicshop.com and share your thoughts on this issue. Let me know if you are going to go with the DC plan or stay with Diamond. I’ll print some of your feedback, but omit names and addresses to ensure your ability to speak freely.

Oh, and you the comic fan, this affects you as much as any comics retailer, publisher or creator. Your two cents’ worth is equally welcome. Just understand, my plate is mighty full already, so it may be impossible for me to reply to every comment received—our weekly email goes out to many thousands of people!

—Buddy Saunders

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR: Part 2: Dan Didio & My Studio 54 Philosophy

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR: Part 2: Dan Didio & My Studio 54 Philosophy

Writer’s notes: All DC Comics references imply past events. They do not indicate any criticism or suggest answerability from current management.

I’ve built my career around what I call my Studio 54 philosophy. It’s that philosophy that I’ll use to explain how those dancing on Dan Didio’s grave do so at considerable risk.

If you have not read last week’s article, please do so. If you don’t, this is gonna read strangely.

There’s no way to say this without sounding a bit full of myself, so here goes… I’m the Master Of The Universe. Yep, call me Motu if you like, but I am indeed the Master, etc. etc.

To be the Master of anything requires intelligence, the ability to reason, and self-confidence. Believe it or not, reason and self-esteem are more critical than being smart. If I had to pick one overall, it would be confidence.

Another way to put it is a force of will.

Studio 54 was a fantasy, a wish, a dream to me. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be able to roll in there at will.

Well, rejection is a great motivator.

I was NEVER rejected from 54. My most painful rejection was from the most excellent high school known to mankind the universe (of which I am Master) and all of creation (that’s not me) the High School of Art & Design.

WHAT? But we’ve read dozens of articles where you tell of the love for that high school because you went there. The fans of Michael Davis (both of them) are saying.

I did go there— but was rejected my first try. I tried in the ninth grade for admittance to the tenth grade. DENIED! I’ve wanted to go to that school since I found out it existed in the fourth grade. At that age, waiting six minutes is agony— imagine waiting six years.

I could try again, but there was a catch.

The odds of getting into A&D for admittance to the 9th and 10th grade were four people admitted out of every ten that applied. The 9th and 10th were foundation years where you learn the principals of art. Anyone hoping to get into the 11th grade, the odds were 1 out of 25.

The odds were that low because you’re skipping the foundation years. You major immediately. I was told this by my guidance counselor, no doubt hoping to spare me the pain of rejection for the second time.

“An artist is wishful thinking for one in your position Michael.” Translation: “Nigger*, PLEASE. There’s always work at the Post Office.”

I got in.

That was the moment I realized what my boy Lee calls; THE POWER OF DAVIS.

It wasn’t too long after that I was getting into 54. Because I began to look at things differently.

It wasn’t a Black and White world; there are plenty of shades; this underaged Black kid was now made aware of. My friend Earl and later Lee would hop (not pay) the train from Far Rockaway to Manhattan just to stare at what we thought we would never take part in, life like white people lived.

We would stand outside of Broadway plays, hoping to see whatever TV stars we heard were appearing in the play come out. Stand outside movie theaters showing blockbuster movies. One night we noticed the usher tearing ticket stubs dropping his half. One of us would pretend to trip while walking by, grab the discarded stubs go to the back of the line, and MOVIE NIGHT was born. The highlight of our Manhattan nights was always Studio 54. The street was packed with people all trying to get in; we stood there for hours just happy to be near a place we saw on television.

No such ‘stub’ opportunity at Studio 54, but watching the news one night gave me an idea. There was a story about this woman who gifted Steve Rubell a Studio 54 sculpture. I did a drawing and went down to 54 during the day.

I knocked on the door, a lady answered, said with a smile, “No.” When I asked for Mr. Rubell. That ‘no’ caused me to refine my plan. I knew I’d get in eventually Why? One out of twenty-five is why.

There were photos of all the top doorman from the top clubs in a magazine story that for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of. I did caricatures of all of them. Then I talked to an editor of a pennysaver circular. I’d met her at my cousin’s house, she gave me her number. I was studying illustration at the world’s most fabulous high school, and she told me to come to see her when I graduated.

She ran the art.

The “magazine” came out, my intention; give the originals to the doormen.

I set about dropping the artwork off at the clubs. The first club I got into was Xenon, the only real competition 54 ever had. Funny thing the doorman, Charles, had not seen the drawing just undid the velvet rope for me and my girlfriend Renee. An hour or so later, I caught him by the bar and told him about the drawings.

Valerie Perrine dances with Disco stars The Village People at Xenon.

He sent someone to the office to look for them. Turns out Roger, the other head door guy at Xenon, was recruited by 54 and took all the art with him. Charles was so moved by the gesture he told me to come down anytime then introduced me to Brian, Roger’s replacement. From that moment on, I was VIP at the 2nd biggest nightclub in NYC.

This was the night that started to shape my Studio 54 philosophy.

My Studio 54 philosophy:

Get to the decision-maker.

One night I showed up at Xenon, and neither Brian or Charles were at the door. The guy there was someone I’d seen before from his swagger I knew he was the boss. I rolled up to the rope and dropped a “Charles always lets me in” all I got was a look and a view of his back when he turned around on me. I was heartbroken, so I started to leave when I hear—

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” The voice belonged to a stunning Black woman who was always at the club.

She was standing next to the guy who turned his back on me. Now I was being waved in by the same guy. Turns out, I was right; the guy was the owner Howard Stein and the woman was his girlfriend Tawn Christian. I’d happen upon some guys crowding her once and told them to step off (white folk, that means “leave her alone” ). I’d forgotten all about that. She hadn’t.

Now not only was I getting into Xenon, but I was also getting in free.

It’s not easy getting to the guy on top, but once you do that makes it much more manageable. Put another way, if you know Jay-Z you now have access to his infrastructure. Work your relationship with Jay first. If you’re interested in just milking connections for whatever you can get, you will quickly be found out.

Once that happens, you’re DEAD. Jay makes a call telling people you’re a dick, you are done done done.

Safeguard your relationships.

I learned the hard way to guard your relationships like its water, and you’re in the desert. At one point, I’m riding high thinking my shit don’t stink (white folk y’all got that I assume), so I bring my boy Lee who invites his boy Lenny who invites his girl Ghetto to Studio 54. I don’t remember her name, but Ghetto fits. While working through the crowded dance floor, Ghetto steps on the foot of a Princess. A real honest to Jesus Allah Jehovah Buddha Kirby Princess.

That was bad enough, but Ghetto acted her name. I’m still surprised the Princess’ bodyguards didn’t shoot Ms. G. That’s kinda what saved me. I quickly owned up to bringing the group that almost caused an international incident. What else could I do? It’s a fair bet we were the only Black people from the hood there. Ghetto’s “YEAH, WHAT? That’s what you get for BE IN IN MY WAY!” Made it more visible.

When wrong, apologize.

If possible, bring up the wrong and take responsibility before you’re summoned to explain yourself. Trust me, seldom will that not get you points.

My apology featured:

  • A promise never to bring thugs with me again.
  • A plea to continue coming to Studio 54, the highlight of my life.
  • A plan: “If you want to bust a cap in the back of her head, I’m ok with it.”

That I said to the bodyguards a laugh from those guys and a hug from the Princess saved my Studio 54 privileges. Roger slapped me on the back, then whispered, “Michael, well done, but if it happens again, you’re gone.”

Consider who brought you in.

No one can control how someone you don’ t know will act. If the Princess wasn’t even-tempered if Roger was in a bad mood, if any of those were in play—I’m dead at 54. Roger then makes a call, I’m gone at Xenon, I’m gone everywhere.

Never again would I make the mistake of hooking someone up with people I don’t know. Roger may have been fired if the incident had turned into a critical issue why? Because of his relationship with me. He was the reason I was there, and in business, if you bring someone in, they are your responsibility at the start of their involvement.

Remember, most likely, YOUR contact has a boss.

Don’t sever a relationship when someone is fired.

This may be the most crucial part of my Studio 54 philosophy.

Roger going to 54 worked out great for me. He was truly touched when he was gifted with the original artwork.

Xenon was my favorite club; however, this was Studio 54.

I was getting into the most famous nightclub in the world and for free.

Talented People always end up somewhere else.

ALWAYS.

Charles went to a new club ‘X’ Roger went back to Xenon, and Mark from 54 ended up in LA, where he was on the door at a few clubs.

Wherever those guys went, I had carte blanche.


A lot of people are dancing a gig on Dan Didio’s grave. Dan isn’t dead. Far from it.

He’s got almost two decades of insider information from one of the two top comic book publishers on Earth. Dan possesses relationships with world-class talent, and there is no-one except idiots who won’t take his call.

Dan did great things at DC that non-competes he no doubt signed don’t mean shit in reality. All it does is buy DC time to change some internal workings. It also stops Dan from writing DC COMICS: THE UNBELIEVABLE STORY OF SUPERMAN’S METH HABIT.

That’s a joke title, everyone knows Superman does not do meth. The hardest thing he does is drink coke he tried snorting it but sneezed and blew his dealer’s head off.

Yeah, that was uncalled for. I’m going to remove it. But if I do that, you won’t see I did such a noble thing. That means its YOUR fault that silliness is here.

Wow. GROW UP, will ya?

If Dan’s non-compete is one or even two years, during that time, he’ll be working on what his next act is anyway. When my year-long non-compete with Motown expired, my next project with Simon and Schuster was announced a day after it ended. By the end of the month, the project was in the market place.

Dan will not have any problem maintaining his boss’s status because he’s a smart, talented, capable executive.

The dumbest— I mean DUMBEST— thing a creator without the influence of a significant playa could do is go online and bath in a glowing victory they had nothing to do with.

Figure out what real power is.

Roger, Charles, Brian, and Mark, actual power wasn’t because they were the doormen at elite clubs. Their power is WHY they were the doormen.

The doormen at clubs like 54 and Xenon were not just some lucky guy who filled out an application. Anyone could recognize Mick Jagger or Andy Warhol.

Doormen at 5-star clubs were put in that position to spot CEO’s, Senators, royalty, and the like.

Could you spot those people?

Many doormen from the Studio 54 era came from an Ivy League school, an influential, wealthy family, or both.

Don’t take it personally.

Dan was once a friend. I did a giant solid for him, and he never returned the gesture. How could he? His boss tried to destroy me, and Dan would have been an idiot to cross that line.

I’m gonna do exactly what I did when Disney canned him. I’m going to call and offer him a hand. If he needs anything and I can be of some help, I will.

It’s never a good thing to rejoice when someone is suffering a setback.

Once Frank Sinatra was the biggest star in the world. He fell hard from that and was back playing very small singing gigs. Also, an actor his acting career was all but dead. He had to beg to audition for a part in the movie; From Here To Eternity.

He won the Academy Award for his role.

Just like that, he was a headliner again. Within a year, he was the biggest star on the planet again.

Remember if a person screwed you once they may do it again. They may not, but why chance it?

Sinatra never forgot those who were there when he was on top but deserted him when he hit bottom.

Keep the true nature of all your relationships on the down-low.

What many young people don’t understand about influence is this; let’s say you said nothing about Dan’s dismissal. If buddies with someone who did that puts you at risk.

It works another way also.

DC Comics has relationships with many of my Bad Boy Studio Mentor program alumni. Although DC wants nothing to do with me.

Almost to a person I’ve heard this from my former students; “Michael, would you mind if I did x for DC? “Or “Say the word Mike and I’m done with them.”

The ability to remove a revenue source from a company is real power. Why haven’t I done that?

I did.

Twice I killed a project that directly affected my house. It wasn’t revenge; it was business.

When I was a kid, I read The Fountainhead. I loved that book. Then I grew up. Now the book and its writer, in my opinion, are jokes.

I will admit the characters in the book are excellent as examples. Everyone wants to be Howard Roark, the novel’s hero, a brilliant architect of absolute integrity.

Not me.

I’m Ellsworth Toohey. Like Toohey, I’ve built an influential brand command a large part of (Black) content talent and distribution.

UPS Hilton Hotels and DC learned I’m a dangerous opponent AKA the wrong nigga* too fuck with.

As is Dan Didio.


*Writer’s notes yet again: The use of ‘nigga’ in this narrative means imposing dangerous and formidable. It’s a hip-hop term used in this manner, not a racial one.

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR:  Dan DiDio, Andrew Rev, & Studio 54 Philosophy

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR: Dan DiDio, Andrew Rev, & Studio 54 Philosophy

“NO Bridge or Tunnel people.”

Steve Rubell, owner, Studio 54

That meant if you were not from Manhattan, you had little chance of ever getting into what is now known as the world’s most famous nightclub.

Studio 54.

Back then and even now, only the very rich or very poor live on the isle of Manhattan. I’m neither, although I’ve been poor and have had a bit of wealth.

Wealth, in this case, being able to afford a Manhattan residence. That by no means is a declaration of endless Benjamin’s. The thing about being from no money when you get some, you either blow it (done that) lose it (done that) or finally learn to make it work for you.

If you’re wondering what the difference between losing it and blowing it is, you’re blowing it.

(more…)

DC’s REAL Doomsday Clock: Dan DiDio, 5G, and the End of the Trinity

DC’s REAL Doomsday Clock: Dan DiDio, 5G, and the End Of The Trinity

By now, you’ve probably heard that Dan DiDio is out as the co-publisher of DC Comics. Heidi covers a lot of it:

The departure of Dan DiDio as DC Co-Publisher on Friday was both long expected and shocking. His exit was rumored many many times over the years, and every contract renewal was a will he or won’t he suspense movie.

Originally at ComicsBeat.com

Rob Salkowitz over at ICV2 notes that this could be the first clear sign of some major changes in direction since DC’s parent company, Time Warner (now WarnerMedia), was acquired by AT&T last summer.

DiDio was something of a polarizing figure because of the direction of DC’s publishing strategy over the past few years. That has led to a lot of speculation about what was behind the sudden move, and whether it’s related to specific issues like DC’s impending “5G” initiative or some pent-up dissatisfaction within the company over his leadership.

Originally at ICV2

But what is/was 5G? Rather than that new wireless spectrum that’s being talked about for phones and wifi, DiDio had something else in mind:

The basic idea has been floating around since the middle of last year, and is seemingly yet another response to flagging sales. The idea was sort of to Ultimatize DC: all of the main heroes would be replaced by new younger versions, a tried and true comic book procedure which ends up giving you a great wave of cheers when the originals return AND new refreshing characters with youthful appeal.

Originally at ComicsBeat.com

Rob goes into detail about some of the financial issues behind this, focusing on AT&T’s purchase of WarnerMedia for $85 billion, doubling their debt to $170-odd billion, making them the most indebted publicly-traded company in the world by a factor of at least two, and about $70 billion in BBB-rated debt is coming due in the next 4-5 years, which must be repaid on schedule to maintain investment-grade status for its bonds.

But Rob missed the giant concrete block suspended over the wizard’s head…and the thread breaks in 13 years.

Because in 2033, unless there’s a big change in legislation… Superman enters the public domain.

Followed by Batman, Sandman, and the original Captain Marvel in 2034; Robin, the Flash, Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, Hourman, the Spectre, and Johnny Thunder in 2035; and Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, and Aquaman in 2036.

What percentage of the overall value of DC Comics is made up of those characters? 50%? 75%? 90%??? Whatever it is, it’s a lot. And it’s going to start going away very soon.

Now, DC won’t lose all of that value immediately. But there’s not going to be a lot preventing anyone from reprinting those stories, or making new stories from them. Or new movies and TV shows. Heck, there won’t be anything preventing Marvel from publishing Superman stories.

My take on 5G is that Dan was trying to get out from under by creating new characters that could still be held under copyright, holding on to value for the company going forward. And now that Dan’s gone… what are they going to do?

Tick-tock… tick-tock…

Michael Davis: What Happened, Part 2

In part one of this article, I asked what happened to that fun-loving silly bastard who lost his mind when he met Mickey Mouse at Disneyland?

This happened…

Sadness happened.

Sadness killed that pain in the ass lovable (YEAH LOVABLE) bastard. The grief felt over the loss of my mother, the end of my marriage, and friendship with Denys Cowan. Sadness over my inability to shield people I care about from my (then) undiagnosed bipolar behavior. Sadness helped along by my (then) undiagnosed severe depression.

Anger happened.

Anger over the constant ridicule from the friends of my ex-wife who’s elitist posture pissed me off to no end. Yet, for the most part, I let it go, which made me angrier. The insult from Milestone.

The criminal (YES criminal) treatment from DC Comics. The two false racist arrests by LAPD. The seemingly purposeful attempts to distance me from my contributions as the lead creator of Static Shock.

“If you think Michael is the creator of Static just because his mom’s name is Jean. You should meet Dwayne’s cousin.”

Matt Wayne.

“Matt, if you think Dwayne is the sole creator of Static, you should meet my mother, Jean, my sister, Sharon, my father Robert, my childhood friends Wade and Richie, my cousin (yep cousin) Dee Dee…I could go on and on and on….”

Me

OR you could just peek at the creative bible Dwayne edited, BUT I WROTE.

Wait, I misspoke.

You can’t meet any of those people I named as characters I created.

They are all dead.

In the case of Sharon and Dee Dee murdered.

So I’m a wee bit ticked when people talk shit about the family who was the real-life models for those characters. I did that so my family would live on in some way.

NO ONE gets to rewrite that history.

Anger at a boldface horrible lie put on social media. A woman claiming I threatened her and felt she had to be escorted out of Comic-Con by her friends. She was preparing to write an in-depth ‘tell-all’ expose of my crimes against Gays and Black women, aka Me Too. She then recruited others to tell their ‘truth to power’ story.

There might be more, but all you need are two for a criminal conspiracy.

The unfortunate thing for those involved is you don’t have to commit the crime to be convicted of it. All you have to do is plan it and be stupid enough to put it on Twitter.

Here’s a tip for those who try to set me up. It can’t be done. I ALWAYS HAVE PROOF of where I am and what I’m doing and, most importantly, who I happen to be with.

Usually, I’d spend a few paragraphs examining the juicy piece of bullshit like this. Not this time. The rest of the article has a declaration that will NOT include those damning claims.

I’ll just say this: the claims made by that woman is laughable although not funny. I have proof she’s lying so strong that the VIDEO proof is the weakest of the evidence.


Sadness and anger, I brought on myself.

 

Yeah-I did. Even the failed attempts by DC’s former boss to discredit me sabotage my business. The stupid plot to cast me in the role of sexual predator hater of Gays and Black women, even those lies I’m responsible for.

I could have sought help earlier. I make no excuses, but I’m from a generation of Black men unless bleeding from a severe injury (sometimes not even then) don’t go to the doctor. I wrote article after article describing some of my I now know as systems and never gave it thought there was an issue.

Why am I responsible for those who hate my swagger so much they feel they have the right to try and destroy me? Lacking that, they hack my Facebook and tell the world I committed suicide. Why is that my responsibility?

My mother is why.

My mother was a remarkable woman. I’m sure most sons would say that about their mom, so I’ll tell you a bit about mine so you know I’m not whistling Dixie.

She took a horrible beating as punishment for me drawing (with a permanent black magic marker) all over the only TV set at the boarding house we were staying in.

I was 6 or 7, my sister, and I witnessed the entire thing. I knew it was my fault. We moved out of the boarding house, packing nothing going back to my grandmother’s house. We lived there when my mom broke up with my step-father. My step-father came over under the guise of reconciling. That subject was tabled when my mother was choked.

My step-father had beaten my mother there and promised to do it again. Putting herself back in harm’s way so her kids would be safe is standard procedure for any mother.

What makes my mom remarkable is what she did the day after the beating. I was a wreck, crying uncontrollably each time I thought about my mother trying to shield herself from her attacker. My mother came home after work, smiling through a swollen jaw, and presented me with an art set.

She knew. She knew the pain and anguish from the guilt I suffered. She knew how high the cost would be to my life if she didn’t act. But most of all, this remarkable soul knew her big mouth silly child found something he loved.

She knew I loved to draw. She gave me back my love with that art set because I’m sure I never would have drawn again.

That and about a zillion other reasons is why my mom is remarkable.


“Don’t back down when right do not let people dim your glow, Mike. Be yourself above all.”

My mother told me that in fourth grade, when bullied again in ninth grade when rejected by the High School of Art and Design and on what turned out to be her death bed.

Each time she said that to me, she was wiping tears from my eyes.

I am who I am. I don’t back down when I am right, and I’m always right.

That’s not bravado its truth. Every wrong done to me is retaliation against me, justly standing firm speaking truth to power. I can and have proved it.

No one cares.

Thus the anger bitterness and constant bitching.

Now, I see Micky Mouse as a guy in a suit when once I saw Mickey as another opportunity for a bit of fun.

I have to stop.

I gotta let it all go, or it will destroy me. It already consumes me at times my anger driving my blood pressure to deadly numbers

So I am letting it go after I state for the record a few things.

DC Comics TWICE under the leadership of Paul…nope.

That would defeat the entire purpose. Everything I would write here I’ve written before. My fans (both of them) have seen that narrative from me many times.

I wish DC well, yes that includes Paul. No, there is no joke coming. I respect what he’s done in comics. How could I not? I defended him when he was called a racist. Paul’s not a racist. No Paul, no Milestone, PERIOD. I did something that soured him against me personally, and he reacted. That’s not racism that’s good old unethical  American resentment.

He has little or no respect for me.

That’s ok. I am no longer losing any sleep over him.

He’s welcome to think anything he wants.

Everyone can conceive whatever hated view of me they want.  However, if it comes to my attention, I’m being slandered, and my business is affected to paraphrase Bruno Mars; “I’m a dangerous man with some lawyers in my pocket.”

I’ve already let the Milestone slight go. A few months ago, I had an hour-long conversation with Reggie Hudlin, who offered me the lead in his next movie. It’s called ‘Missing.’

JOKE! I did have an hour plus call with Reggie and still consider him a friend. Hung out with Mr. Denys Tesla Cowan over Thanksgiving. The only person I haven’t reconnected with is Derek Dingle. That’s on him.

Like the old south, I am officially letting all the pain, and righteous anger go.

Also, like the old south, I will occasionally react badly. Unlike the old south, I’m only human.

JOKE!I’m told there are many humans in the south!

Everyone gets a pass, EXCEPT those who with malice and forethought tried to harm me in some way. That’s out of my hands. They will hear from me through legal channels. They get no more of my time on-line.

For better or worse, as long as my new meds and outlook are working for me, I’m back to being a lovable bastard.

It’s hard letting pain and anger go. I can now because I realize that it will kill me. I’ll be dead soon enough; I don’t need any more help. I miss the person I once was. I owe it to my beloved Jean and all those who love me to bring that guy back.

Besides, comics need the true Master Of The Universe.  He-Man? Close but no. I’m talking about me, man. Damn! I’m so witty!


NEXT WEEK: I dismantle an Entertainment Weekly opinion piece claim of what the greatest Romantic Comedy is and school them on their comics ‘coverage.’

Michael Davis: What Happened…?

I own a rare Japanese GI Joe figure which I was lucky enough to have signed by Don Levine GI Joes’s main creator. No idea what it’s worth but I know it’s pretty pricey— but I’d never sell it. Nor would I sell my prized Captain Action or any of the toys action figures or dolls I once collected.

I say once because the thrill of tracking down something I once had as a kid has left me.

That sucks.

There’s a huge TV in almost every room of my home and my studio. Each room has a gaming system hooked up in it. I have not played a video game in perhaps four years.

That really sucks.

It’s been twenty years or so since I went into the dealers area at Comic-Con. There was a time when I’d drop a ton of cash at SDCC and not think about it twice. Suffering from insomnia, I’d often make late evening runs to Target. I’d come back with all sort of stuff, mostly superhero related, and spend the wee hours of the night setting them up.

I mentioned dolls earlier and I meant dolls. I have a sizable collection of Barbie’s. Yeah, I’m a six foot two inch Black man from the hood and I once collected Barbie. I no longer do that either.

That may be the biggest suck of all. Laugh if you will but, “Hey, would you like to come to my home and see my Barbie collection” beats wanna play Call of Duty with the ladies each and every time fanboy.

What happened? Why have I stopped playing with toys?

  1. One day I looked at my Barbie’s and realized I’m not Gay so I stopped.
  2. My girlfriend and my wife sat me down for an intervention. They convinced this was not a good look for a middle aged Black man.
  3. I grew up.
  4. All of the above.
  5. None of the above

The answer is E none of those things are the reason.

The answer is that fun-loving silly bastard who lost his mind when he met Mickey Mouse at Disneyland is gone. “IT’S MICKEY MOUSE! F*******K!!!” I screamed like a little girl when I saw Mickey walking towards me during my first visit to Disneyland. I was there with Denys Cowan who had invited me along. This was a trip for Denys’ young son Miles he told me to come along because I’d love Disneyland.

I didn’t.

I was NOT impressed. The Happiest Place on Earth my ass. I was bored out of my mind until Mickey rolled up.

Mickey looked with disbelief. This was something new to Mr. Mouse: a grown man so freaking out over him. I was acting like a kid and could care less who saw me. THIS was Cloud 9.

YEAH I know it’s a man in a freakin suit I didn’t care.

It was nighttime and Mickey was on his way to clock out. A few kids had come over once gone he turned to me and I felt so special.

Suit man I know.

“Hey can I tell you a joke?” Mickey said. WTF?? Mickey doesn’t talk at Disneyland or anywhere he only speaks on film not in person. This freaking RAT just RUINED my good time.

NAH! Just kidding! I felt even more special!!!

Suit I KNOW

“YES! Tell me a joke, Mickey!”

I swear this is true and you can ask Denys Cowan. First Mickey pleaded PLEASE don’t tell anyone because he could get fired. When he heard my F bomb he figured I’d appreciate this joke:

Mickey Mouse is in divorce court and the judge is shaking his head.

“Mr. Mouse, you cannot use insanity as a plea in a divorce case.”

Mickey looked at the judge and said; “I didn’t say she was insane, I SAID SHE WAS F**K**G GOOFY!”

Mickey Mouse told me that joke at Disneyland, I cried I was laughing so hard.

I’m still crying but not because of any joke.

This article started as a rant. Gucci is selling Mickey Mouse tee shirts for $650. You can find a much better designed one for $14.99 at Macys. To be fair, Gucci’s logo is on their shirt so that easily justifies the $635.01 extra. To be even fairer, Gucci has Mickey Mouse tees WITH the Gucci logo that goes for $20 bucks.

What the difference? The only difference I see is the $20 dollar shirts feature a dumb as dirt looking Mickey. I’m not kidding. But fear not; for $650.00 you can have a cool looking Mickey.

That lighthearted description is far from my original fire and brimstone class warfare damn those elitist bastards who make poor kids think they need $200 sneakers to be cool article I wrote.

That article has been done for a while. I hope I never run it. It’s bitter cold and utterly depressing.

Like its author.

Once my writing was upbeat comical and downright silly. “How To Meet Girls” was a tongue in cheek fanboy guide to getting a girlfriend. I listed ways fanboys could improve their zero chances to 1 or perhaps 2 out of 100. It was a standard article running a few hundred words. The next week my follow up article for fangirls, “How To Meet Guys,” was exactly one sentence. “Be a girl.”

That may not be the sentence that printed in Comics Buyers Guide where it printed. I reread a bunch of different drafts and I’m unsure which one ran.

Boy, did I like myself back then. I cracked myself up daily, not caring if anyone else got the joke. I thought it was funny so I was satisfied. One column was “Is You Stupid?” The first sentence stated it was slang used in the Black Community but I was confident some knucklehead would comment on my grammar regardless if they read that I’d written “Is You Stupid?” on purpose.

Much to my surprise no one commented.

LIKE HELL THEY DID-ANT. Yep, there was someone that stupid. Yes, DID-ANT is how I meant to write that and you’re supposed to channel a Black girl from the hood when you read it.

“OH NO YOU DID-ANT!”

Yep. It’s like that…and that’s the way it is.

I once wrote an entire article using Dragon Dictate. The damn near $200 version that I paid for. So, I guess I is stupid two. I didn’t correct one misspelling I’d spent hours “teaching” that piece of crap program how to interpret my voice and was done correcting it. I’d say; “My name is Michael Davis, I’m the Master Of The Universe.” Dragon Dictate would write; “My nanny is Michael Avis I masturbate first.” That may or may not be true but it’s not what I dictated.

I’d write silly “what ifs?” Like what if Marvel Superheroes existed in the real world and did real world dumb stuff that’s so popular today? Like Speed Dating? The following is from Brokeback Marvel:

Johnny Storm is seated across from a pretty blond with short hair.

“Hi, I’m Johnny Storm.”

“Hello, I’m Paris Hilton. So Johnny, what do you do?’

“I’m a member of the Fantastic Four.”

“That a rock group? Oh wow! Do you have a CD out?? Do you know Justin Timberlake?”

”It’s not a rock group. We fight crime.”

“You a cop?”

“No.”

“Oh God, you’re a security guard??”

“No. I’m a super hero.”

“That a kind of sandwich?”

“No, we defend the earth from super villains.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes. Really.”

“That pays a lot?”

“No, I do it for free. Hey where you going?”

“I don’t date men without a job. You have a trust fund or something?”

“No.”

“Your daddy rich?”

“No.”

“Then why on earth should I go out with you?”

“Flame on!”

“Wow…that’s hot.”

I said it was silly, didn’t I? That article got me a very nice letter from a very big star.

Fun Fact: There are some who think I drop names for one or two reasons.

  1. I’m Bragging, or,
  2. I’m full of shit.

I’m neither but remember those points.

The following is an excerpt from: “What about me? What about my needs?”

There is a TV show called Me or the Dog. I think it’s on Animal Planet. This show is about how dogs run the lives of people. There was a woman on one of these shows who actually said she preferred her dogs to her husband and son. She said if given a choice between her family and the dogs she would put the family out of the home before the dogs. I think she thinks she’s a dog. Well if she thinks she’s a dog then I will address this in a way she would understand.

That bitch is crazy.

 

See? Silly but fun! I once wrote funny stuff almost every week. That didn’t stop me from writing about serious subjects many of which touched a nerve in some. Two articles got me death threats. Yep, Death threats.

But enough about my fans! I was going to list one more excerpt from my absolute favorite silly article but I couldn’t decide what to pull from it so here:

https://www.comicmix.com/2008/01/24/the-worst-tv-show-ever-part-1-by-michael-davis/

All that merriment begs the question; what happened to that fun-loving silly bastard who lost his mind when he met Micky Mouse at Disneyland?

This happened…

End Part 1