Category: Columns

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

Michael Davis: Mr. Anderson…

Cue Scooby-Doo flashback…

I was attending Comic-Con in San Diego; it was the early 90’s, and I was a much different person than I am today. I was as they say Happy Go Lucky and Gay.  Always upbeat and ready for whatever adventure awaited me.

Now?

The only word that still applies from Happy Go Lucky and Gay is gay. I’m still gay and Black. I’m a lesbian— I like women.

I’d just finished a panel when I was approached by this young white kid. And I do mean white. Without saying a word, this kid screamed baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. When he reached me, I said: “Look without a blood test, you’ll never be able to prove I’m your father.” I didn’t say that, but it’s true.

I actually  said, “What’s up, Opie?” He just looked at me. “You’re a long way from Mayberry, what can I do for you?” A nervous smile crossed his face, but when he spoke, it was the voice of a distinguished confident young man.

Nah, the kid sounded like a nervous Opie Taylor. He hesitated for a moment but finally got it together. “Can I get you to sign this?” He subsequently got out.

Great, just my luck. Another darn Denys Cowan fan.

I was always being mistaken for Denys, and it was starting to really piss me off. Earlier that day, a guy refused to believe I wasn’t Denys. He stalked me for so long I finally had had enough. I’d told this guy at least ten times, “I am not Denys Cowan.”

“Yeah, ya are.” He said every single time accompanied by this creepy smile.  Fed up, I said,” OK, OK, give me the book.” “I knew it.” He damn near yelled. So I took his treasured copy of Deathlok #1 and signed it.

I signed it, ‘I’m NOT Denys Cowan.’

Now, Opie, no doubt, wanted me to sign a copy of The Question or Black Panther or whatever.

As happens every 100 years or so, I was wrong.

He handed me copies of ETC, the book I illustrated for DC.’s Piranha Press.  Oh my goodness, here was my first real FAN!

I quickly looked at his wrist to see if there was a plastic band around it. Nope, he wasn’t fresh out of a psych ward.

This was indeed a treat— I have a fan!

Upon a second look,  the kid looked nothing like Opie from The Andy Griffith Show.  He looked like a young Brad Pitt — Leonardo DiCaprio combined IF those two actors were better looking.

His name was Scott Anderson, and he loved ETC. At the time, I wasn’t at all crazy about my art on the series; that, as they say, is another story.

He said he wanted to be an illustrator. That struck me because most young people at comic conventions that seek advice say they want to draw comics or be a comic book artist or cartoonist. I think Scott was the first to ever use the word ‘illustrator.’

The kid was as well mannered as you can get. Try as I might with silly references to a T.V. show he’d never heard of, the kid stayed on course. He asked if I’d look at his work, and although I had a couple of supermodels waiting for me to bring lunch back to my suite, the wedge of lettuce they were to split between them could wait, so I agreed.

The kid had some skills but needed some advice. Illustration isn’t fine art’s crack addict cousin, it’s an utterly different animal. There are rules that you must learn before you think you can break them. First and foremost, illustrators are telling a story. The best there ever was at doing that was Norman Rockwell.

When I mention Norman Rockwell to young artists, the reactions vary. Often it’s they don’t know who Rockwell is or ‘yuk.’ I attended the High School of Art & Design and hated Rockwell’s stuff. I learned that I was WAY WRONG about his work, but that’s when I was older and working professionally.

“I like his stuff. ” Scott’s answered when I mentioned Rockwell.

That blew my mind. This kid all of 14 or 15 at a comic convention not only knew who Norman Rockwell was he respected the work. That’s a big deal.

This kid was the real deal. I could see from his manner he had an excellent support system, so yeah, I’d be happy to make him a satellite member of my Bad Boy Studio Mentor program.

Scott was a great learner, but I could not sustain the level of commitment needed to be a proper mentor and felt terrible about that. I didn’t want the kid to think I wasn’t serious about him, so I gifted him an ETC cover, so he knew he was loved despite having to pull back from mentoring.

Truth is, its young people like Scott that make mentoring the joy it is. This young man wasn’t just about himself. I could tell he had a purpose that included something bigger.

I used to mentor quite a few young people long distance at some point; all would tell me they would come and see me in L.A. or N.Y. depending on where I was at the time.

Scott actually did that.

Scott came to my studio in L.A. At one point, I took him over to my garage and showed him my sports car SUV and motorcycle. My intent was to give him my ‘its just ‘stuff’  speech. That’s the speech that I give kids that want to be artists, but parents think they will starve pursuing that goal.

“How is my kid going to make a living?”

That’s a fear that still resonates with parents today. Midway into the speech, I caught a glimpse at Scott’s face this young man had a look on his face that said, “Stuff is the last thing I’m concerned about” that may not seem like a big deal, but I’d never before or since known anyone who’s demeanor conveyed a purpose so clearly.

I’ve kept detailed journals since the ninth grade rereading the tale of Scott’s visit does not make it less amazing to me, although I wrote it the day Scott came to see me.

Whatever Scott’s purpose was, it wasn’t narrow or frivolous.

Fast forward to now. I’m proud to say Scott Anderson is one of the hottest illustrators working today. His work is original and diverse. The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles and New York have acknowledged his work.

Scott was awarded the 2019 Society of Illustrators Bronze Medal in Editorial. A tremendous honor.

I’m sure his career is essential, but that look on his face all those years ago said something other than occupation.

I think Scott’s purpose was more significant than work.  One look at his family, and I know I’m right. Although his choice of friends leaves room for improvement, he’s hanging around with this guy Bill Sienkiewicz who’s been trying to break into comics but has NO shot.

Scott has come a long way since his Opie days.

Well done, Mr. Anderson, well done indeed.

Love: A Comic Book Story

Love: A Comic Book Story

Ask 20 people to define “Love”, you’ll get 20 definitions.

Here’s mine.

I feel love is measured in how you’re treated when things go wrong, not when everything is okay. It’s one thing to say something in a joyous ceremony yet another when faced with real life. People tend to balk the moment it gets real. “It’s you and me forever” converts to, “It’s not you; it’s me.”

People leave.

Some can stick it out for years. Some go the first time things get stormy. Whatever vows spoken to whatever God is forgotten when one person has reached their limit.

Movies books and music make love seem like ‘happily ever after’ is assured. Pop Culture emphasizes the easily overcome struggle to stay with someone who has fallen on hard times or is stricken with a debilitating or fatal illness.

People do it, but it is far from easy. Trust me, I know.

I wrote about such a love affair in IF & HOPE.

The love affair of Roz Alexander-Kasparik and David Rector was the stuff of movies and books, but as we all know, ‘happily ever after’ isn’t as easy as Hollywood makes it look like.

David suffered an aortic dissection a tear in a major blood vessel and various complications left him unable to speak or walk.

Roz stayed.

Long years of struggle is an common complaint.

The years couldn’t have been long enough for Roz. She was in love in the truest sense of the word. She vowed to stay until the end. What end?

The end of days, the end of the world, the end of time. Whatever end would take her away from David. She just knew it would not be her that would end the relationship.

The end came for David earlier this month. His death leaving a hole in Roz’s world she thinks may be impossible to fill.

Roz called David her “heart.” You cannot live without your heart. So it’s good that David’s presence will endure his legacy one of strength and persistence, giving Roz hope.

Hope isn’t something one wants to hear about when faced with the kind of pain Roz is feeling now. I know that and the following isn’t about hope its about truth.

Roz, there are no words I can write that can convey the impact both David and yourself had on me. I will miss David’s unique “melody” at the Black Panel and the intense look he gave me communicating with his eyes what he couldn’t with voice. I will miss talking with you by phone and feeling like David was part of the discussion when you translated his sounds.

Few things impress me, fewer I envy. Your relationship with David did both.

You’re one of the strongest people I know. I hope your pain is tempered, knowing the impression David made on many. With David by your side you  fought for the rights of those burdened with disadvantages. Without David it will be hard but I know that will continue.

I don’t need to hope there is no if-this I know.

Just like I know the comic you created with David, Recall & Given will become a reality.

It’s also a given.

Ed Catto’s Black Friday Gift Guide!

Ed Catto’s Black Friday Gift Guide!

Beyond the toys, eggnog and family time, a nostalgic part the Yuletide season for me are books about comics.  When I was growing up, there were just a few : Batman from the 30s to the 70s, Les Daniels’ Comix, Stan Lee’s Origins of Marvel Comics.  But boy, did they make an impression on me.  Today there’s a plethora of spectacular books available. Here’s a few of the best ones for your gift list consideration:

KIRBY & LEE: STUF’ SAID! : THE COMPLEX GENESIS of the MARVEL UNIVERSE 

by John Morrow and Jon B. Cooke, Twomorrows

I really enjoyed A MARVELOUS LIFE: THE AMAZING STORY OF STAN LEE by Danny Fingeroth. Somehow, Fingeroth seemed to thread the needle to deliver a fascinating book and thoroughly explores the myth versus the man.

But there’s two sides to every story, and that’s the approach that John Morrow took in this brilliant book, STUF’ SAID.  This book serves up a detailed step-by-step, quote-by-quote walk through the early days (and beyond) of the Marvel Universe. Morrow analyzes the roles of not only Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but so many of the creators involved with the birth of Marvel.

For longtime fans, there’s a lot of nostalgia and new information. For new fans, it’s a balanced look at the real-life characters behind the fictional characters they love.

STAR TREK SHIPYARDS STARFLEET STARSHIPS: The Encyclopedia of Starfleet Ships Plus NCC1701 Enterprise

by Ben Robinson and Marcus Reilly, Eaglemoss

Books are great, but when you throw in a toy or two they are even better. Eaglemoss’ thorough book, STAR TREK SHIPYARDS  is a chronological history (even though it’s all about the future) of the Starfleet starshipsThis edition includes a specially packaged with a die-cast collectible, the iconic U.S.S. Enterprise.

This book has it all – from the most obscure ships to the recent additions to the mythology from the STAR TREK: DISCOVERY series.

HASHTAG: DANGER: PANIC ON DINOSAUR MOUNTAIN!

Written by Tom Peyer, Art by Chris Giarrusso and Richard Case.  Cover by Richard Williams, AHOY! Comics

As Tom Peyer says, this collected edition is “Twice the colons! Half the Thrills”. HASHTAG: DANGER is a wickedly funny take on adventurer comics, like Fantastic Four or Challengers of the Unknown. Peyer, always acerbic and witty, starts at “11” and turns up the dial from there.  At the same time, he is somehow able to let his authentic love of the source material shine though. The humor never seems mean-spirited.

Richard Williams, the celebrated MAD artist, brings an element of pseudo realism liberally mixed with kooky absurdity to the covers.

This trade paperback collects all the irreverent HASHTAG: DANGER stories from issues #1-5 of the AHOY! Comics series, plus the back-features from other AHOY! titles like HIGH HEAVEN and CAPTAIN GINGER.

ROD SERLING: HIS LIFE, WORK AND IMAGINATION

by Nick Parisi, University of Mississippi Press

Nick Parisi’s Rod Serling biography isn’t only for fans of The Twilight Zone. It’s also for fans of early television,  scriptwriting and Planet of the Apes. And somehow, Parisi finds a way to celebrate Serling as a persistent entrepreneur – both winning and losing creative and economic battles.  A great read!

STRONGHOLD Vol. 1

Written by Phil Hester Art by Ryan Kelly, Aftershock

Phil Hester’s written a lot of great comics over the years, and Stronghold is another great one. It’s a quirky, creepy take on the Superman legend. This thriller reveals a clandestine organization that monitors the world’s most powerful man. This series blends a conspiracy feel mixed with an us-against-the-world vibe to create a compelling series.

FRESH HELL IN FITS

by Steve Cerio, Psychofon Records

Steve Cerio, a creative innovator and gallery artist who blossomed as part of the old NYC Comix scene, is back with another trippy book.  His newest  is subtitled “A False History of The Residents”, but the imaginative illustrations appeal to art lovers beyond that band’s fan base.  Fresh Hell in Fits is also  available as a special signed collector’s edition (only 33 copies) complete with extra goodies.

This book is best found at the Psychofon Records site: https://www.psychofonrecords.com

BATMAN: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF THE DARK KNIGHT IN COMICS, FILM AND BEYOND

by Andrew Farago and Gina McIntyre, Insight Editions

This is the type of the book that you start in the morning, and when you look up again it’s getting close to bedtime.  This lovingly thorough history of Batman touches all the bases, provides new information and is loaded with goodies.  I must admit it’s a thrill to be reading about the Batman mobile from 1950s comics, and then to fold-out a set of blueprints.

$75.00 various levels 400 pp. • hardcover  • ISBN-10: 1683834372


Have a fantastic Yuletide season, everyone!

Wayne D. Chang: Judging “Joker” on Its Merits

Wayne D. Chang: Judging “Joker” on Its Merits

There are several ways to look at Todd Phillips’ 2019 movie Joker. It is obviously grounded in DC Comics’ vast history, however it is not what most comic book aficionados would consider a “comic book” movie. Yes, it is set in Gotham City. Yes, there are references to Arkham Asylum as well as characters like Thomas Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and even a young Bruce Wayne. However it would be grossly unfair to judge this movie as a Batman movie or even consider it in the same frame of mind as the introduction of the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman or Christopher Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight (and hinted at the end of Christopher Nolan’s 2005 Batman Begins). Both movies featured The Joker as the villain, and there was a clear relationship between him and Batman, but as I suggested, this does not appear to be a typical comic book movie.

For the record, I have not actually seen “Joker” yet. I am basing this op-ed piece on what news is currently available, video clips, trailers, etc. This piece may be flawed, but it is my opinion, and you are welcome to take exception with it if you choose to do so.

We see Arthur Fleck as someone akin to Arthur Miller’s “Willy Loman” in Death of a Salesman – a man of little perceived significance and yet to come to terms with who he is. Arthur Fleck is the kind of guy who gets the crap beat out of him in viral videos. He is a stand-up comedian who has had more bombs than Dresden. From what we see of him, there is a slow progression into madness or at the very least, we see him come to terms with his madness and rebirth as the Joker, something more than a stage persona. Arthur Fleck has accepted this as who he is as he becomes visible to a wider audience thanks to an appearance on “Live with Murray Franklin.” The fact that “Murray Franklin” is played by no less than Robert De Niro lends a gravity to what could have been a simple comic book movie, but even saying that is doing a gross disservice to Joker. The movie is a love note to Martin Scorsese’s 1982 masterpiece The King of Comedy.

Joker is as Warner Bros Publicity has stated, “a cautionary tale.”

So far Joker has enjoyed unprecedented critical acclaim and response from international film festivals, however it has also endured pre-judgment from comic book fans who are quick to dismiss it as NOT a comic book movie. A friend of mine was excited to see this when the teaser first hit social media, however recently he said he wouldn’t bother seeing it as it was not in his estimation a legitimate telling of the origins of the Joker as generations of comic books, TV shows, cartoons, and movies have portrayed it. There was Alan Moore & Brian Bolland’s timeless Batman: The Killing Joke (from which Joker seems to draw inspiration). There is also the older story element of Batman chasing a man in a red hood who falls in a vat of chemicals. Being immersed in chemicals apparently rendered this man’s hair green, his face white, and his lips red giving Gotham City the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker. While the red hood was not integral to the Joker’s origin in some cases, Batman was, and in the case of  The Dark Knight, the Joker existed as a response to Batman establishing a symbiotic relationship.

A lot of dissatisfaction from comic book aficionados seems to come from the basic question of “Where’s Batman?” It is bad enough that adaptations of stories sometimes play fast and loose with established mythology, and some fans seem quick to voice that they’re not going to see Joker. I confess that I was one of these fans, however after deeper consideration, dismissing Joker as not a Batman movie would be just the same as what happens to Arthur Fleck in the movie – dismissing him as insignificant. Joker appears to be a frighteningly intimate portrayal of a man’s descent into madness and embracing it as others have not accepted him or his true nature. As such, I could easily see how this could and should receive massive amounts of critical success, however it is not what I would consider or accept as a comic book movie or a Batman story. Perhaps this version of the Joker would appear in an adaptation of DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths, and that certainly would be interesting, but I have reservations about that. It would be better to judge this as a character study.

Review: Graham Nolan’s “Monster Island” 20th Anniversary Edition

Review: Graham Nolan’s “Monster Island” 20th Anniversary Edition

I’ve recently spent some time in the Syracuse University Archives researching old comic strips. It turns out they have an incredible collection of original artwork by top tier comic artists – everyone from Hal Foster to Frank Robbins.  It’s quite a thrill and every time I view these originals I feel like a kid who’s successfully raided the cookie jar – and got away with it.

That’s how the new Monster Island book made me feel.  You might remember Graham Nolan’s independent comic from about 20 years ago.  It was a kick to follow along as two military folks fight their way across an island full of monsters.  And it’s not Frankenstein or the Wolfman – these are monsters in the classic Kirby-Atlas Comics or Godzilla-TOHO studios mold. Big and scary and nutty and goofy and fun. My kinda monsters.

You’ve seen this format before. Scott Dunbier and IDW have essentially created the category we all call Artist’s Editions. These books are shot from the original pages complete with production notes, blemishes, corrections and handwritten scrawls. Reading one of these is the closest most of us will ever come to holding the original art in our hands for one sitting.

Graham Nolan is a strong artist, and he’s also a strong storyteller. He’s got a vibrant visual sense (I’ve been a fan since the old Hawkword series) and here, as the writer, he’s able to introduce big concepts and keep the story moving, all the while helping readers get to know the cute couple at the center of the story.

This volume is even more fun as it includes extras. Some as you’d expect, like the character sketches, are wonderful and whimsical. Of note are the comic strip versions of Monster Island. Years ago, Graham Nolan had repackaged the strip to sell to a newspaper syndication. His efforts never went anywhere (it’s a shame, as this thriller lends itself to this format), but it did lead to him getting the gig penciling the Phantom for several years.

The story is fun, but beyond that, I find Nolan’s efforts inspirational. He comes across as the kind of guy who has a vision and puts in the hours to see if he can make it a reality.

Kudos to him -and I am sure he has inspired up and coming creatives over the years.

Glenn Hauman: On Kickstarter, their current situation, and what we’re doing

Glenn Hauman: On Kickstarter, their current situation, and what we’re doing

You may have heard that Kickstarter has had some internal strife recently, which has included some recent firings of various people who have been involved in efforts to unionize the workforce there. Those workers, and the union they have been working with, filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the crowdfunding company of wrongfully terminating them.

As a company, Kickstarter has been helpful to the comics and publishing ecosystem, helping thousands of projects find both funding and an audience, raising over $15 million for comics last year alone. We here at ComicMix have raised over $150,000 on Kickstarter for various projects, contributed to other campaigns both personally and corporately, and helped others raise more for their projects. And right now, I’m writing a short story for a campaign that ends in less than three days, Pangaea:

Clearly, they’re an important platform for comics. But, as Slate reported, there have been in-house problems— and it started with a comic.

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