Tagged: Blade

Michael Davis: The Black Age Of Comics

Davis Art 140121Last year Marvel made big news with the Black Avengers book they are doing or have done or will be doing.

Truth is I don’t know if it’s been done or not because these days I rarely read comics that get massive press. Unless I know the creator I’d rather pass on hype – especially if that hype has to with new black characters.

I’m sick to death of some making a big deal out of the black character they are bringing to comics.

Why?

Two reasons. The first is because two seconds (if that long) after the story appears in the press or the book goes on sale I’m asked to comment.

“DC is doing a book where two black people are in a street scene. What are your thoughts?”

“Well I think that anytime a major publisher puts two black people in a scene it’s another step towards Dr. King’s dream.”

That’s what I’d say. Sure I would.

If ever some asswipe asked me such an asinine question I’d be doing hard time for putting my foot up their ass. Not the 300 bullshit hours of community service I’m doing now. I don’t think anyone’s stupid enough to be that stupid but trust me some have come close.

Because of my so-called status as an African American creator I’m subject to many a question about Negro progress in the industry, so the easiest way for me to avoid going to jail is to tell the truth which is “I have not seen it so I can’t comment but I hope it’s good and if so it succeeds.”

Or, maybe my status has nothing to do with it maybe they know I’m good for a rant or two because I’m either fearless, careless or always high thus I will tell the bare truth no matter what. I’m not fearless, I’ve been careless won’t comment on being high but stupid I am not

Imagine the co-creator of Static saying, “What the fuck is Static doing fighting a fucking giant fucking fish? Fuck fuck fuckidy-fuck!!!!!

Not good.

I waited to comment on the recent new 52 Static book from the DC well after they killed the book, which, by the way, should have been killed. I’ve heard all the “DC should have given it a chance” bullshit on the net, but let’s get real. The book had issues and was not getting the support from the fans so what is DC to do? Continue to take a loss?

Wake the fuck up world. This is reality this is not some chat room where some pussy deprived little fan boy thinks he knows better than Diane Nelson, Jim Lee or Dan Dildio.

News flash: they don’t.

Truth is I don’t comment on any black book unless I love it. I refuse to say anything negative about black comic book content, not because it’s all-great because let’s face it a lot of is horrible. I won’t comment because I’m not that guy. Never in my life have I publicly stated any bad, adverse or harmful remarks against any black comic, creator or publisher…

Unless said creator or publisher invites a response by putting out straight up imaginary bullshit about Milestone. Then it’s on.

I won’t even comment publicly when a black creator says there are simply no black women characters created by black creators that have reached a mainstream audience.

Really?

Milestone’s teenage girl superhero Rocket reached and was an overwhelming success in the mainstream market – before she got pregnant. Then she was mainstream news. You can’t get more mainstream than the Washington Post and CNN, to name but two.

I did send the guy who was saying that in interviews an email saying “really?”

Dark Horse has a new book coming out called Skyman. Everything I’ve read about Skyman mentions he’s black.

Everything I’ve read except for the official Dark Horse press release.

I like that.

The Black Age Of Comics Convention (yep, I stole the name of this article from them) promotes black creators, publishers, comics and black pop culture in general. The goal of the convention is to reach black people and black kids in particular because there are so few black heroes for young kids of color to relate too.

That’s a wonderful thing and they do great work.

99.9% of everything I’ve ever done in comics, television, radio and mainstream publishing the main characters are black because that’s what I do. I’ve always tried to reach a mainstream audience and I’m well aware that black anything is a difficult sell in the first place.

So the second reason (this is so long you forgot I said two reasons eh?) is that I am sick of media news that spotlights the African American aspect of some projects because never, and I mean never, do any of these news stories even attempt to acknowledge what has gone before and most publishers co-sign that bullshit.

So that young black mother or father who sees that TV news report on Marvel’s Black Avengers will think this is the first time ever for a black character in comics and run out to get it for their kid.

To put it another way, it’s like saying Elvis never listened to or was influenced by black music. Eminem is a great rapper and I’m sure if FOX News had a music channel they would have you believe he started Rap and discovered Dre.

Milestone is the most successful African American line of comics in history. We were not the first to publish black superheroes. Not even close. And we said as much and still say as much in public.

You can bet when black kids attend the Black Age Of Comics Convention they are told repeatedly about the vast history of black characters in comics and all media.

My dear friend (to me more like family) Lana Walker is one of the very few people I won’t question if she wants me to meet someone. If she called and said “Michael, I want you to meet with this axe murderer who will try to kill you” I’d take that meeting. No question.

I hate Hollywood parties. Hate them. Lana asked me to come to a Hollywood party and meet some people. That’s like asking Superman to come to a party at Kryptonite mountain – it kills me. I went to the party, no questions asked.

I’m pretty damn sure Lana did not tell those people, “You should meet Michael Davis, he’s black. When I showed up it was pretty damn obvious I’m black. When a new black character shows up and the media covers it, the publisher promotes it as if it’s the first black character ever it is not only, in my opinion, fucked up lazy journalism. it feels to those who know it’s bullshit like yet another total disregard of African American history.

I’d just like publishers to at least give a nod to what has come before when promoting black content.

Or do like Dark Horse and make it about the character.

If you feel the as a journalist the black angle is a good one, do some fucking research and at least write something about what has come before even if it’s something like this:

Black Dick, the story of an African American private eye is a new comic from Poon Tang Publishing. It’s the very first black comic ever… I think.

If people like the character and the idea behind it color will matter not. Blade and Spawn are perfect examples. Yeah, Spawn is black. If you can’t tell because of his mask ask yourself what’s up with that third leg.

BTW, “Black Dick” is trademark & copyright Michael Davis 2014 All Rights Reserved and is not the first black character.

I think.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Tweaks!

 

Michael Davis: The Top 10 Black Superheroes…

…Created By White Guys and Louise Simonson

My sincere thanks to Grace Randolph

10. Black Lightning.Davis Art 131029

Created by Tony Isabella

What can I say about Black Lightning except for the fake Afro wig (decades before Steve Harvey’s BTW… wait… y’all didn’t know that was a wig? Oops, sorry Steve, my bad) but like I was saying-except for the wig I loved this character the moment I saw him. Yeah, there were some stereotypical thing to him like his real first name, Jefferson but his last name was Pierce and Jefferson Pierce sounded so cool I can give Jefferson a pass.

9. Spawn.

Created By Todd McFarlane

Little know story: when I was the CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks I started a comic book imprint called Machineworks. We were all set to do a publishing deal with Marvel Comics which would have given Marvel its very own Milestone like imprint. Think about that for a second: Marvel’s very own Milestone with the clout of Motown Records behind it.

But… the more meetings I had with Marvel and the closer we got to a deal the less secure I felt about being in business with them. So I took a meeting with the Image guys in their hotel suite at 3:30 in the morning during San Diego Comic Con.

Understand this was not an impromptu meeting this was the time the meeting was scheduled for. My Chief Operating Officer was a major Hollywood playa at the time and he hated the Image guys, especially Todd. I mean hated Todd with a passion. I knew all the Image guys for a while by then so it didn’t bug me in the least that the meeting was at 3:30 in the morning in the Image suite… in the master bedroom.

A master bedroom where Todd McFarland, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Eric Larson, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino were all sitting or laying on a king size bed and that’s where the meeting took place.

My COO almost busted a blood vessel, he was so pissed.

I loved it and at that moment the Marvel deal was dead and we were in business with Image comics.

What does this have to do with Spawn being number 9 on my Top Ten Black Superheroes Created By White Guys and Louise Simonson?

Everything.

Todd’s Spawn is not a typical black superhero; he’s not even really a hero. He’s a spawn of Hell who when he was alive just happened to be black. Spawn’s alter ego-Al Simmons was named after Todd’s real life friend of the same name.

Just like that Image meeting all those years ago Todd has an “I don’t give a shit” attitude about what people think and he created a black superhero that transcends what you may think it should be.

8. Cyborg

Created by Marv Wolfman & George Pérez

Another little-known story. I stopped reading comics all together when I entered high school. I went (yes here it comes, again) to the greatest high school in the history of the world, the High School Of Art & Design. Yeah, yeah. I’m a broken record…

When I applied to A & D I wanted more than anything to be a cartoonist and draw comic books. After I was admitted and it was time to choose my major, my cousin who’s an artist (and before you dismiss him as a guy who just likes to draw bear in mind his work sells for upwards of seven figures and I’m not joking, he’s that kind of artist) told me if I majored in comics I would stave and die.

So I majored in illustration and stopped reading comics cold turkey. Just like that I gave up comics and as luck would have it I discovered the Society Of Illustrators and met master painter Ernie Barnes the summer before I entered A & D so by the time I was in A&D I loved the world of illustration. I went all trough undergrad and graduate school with nary a comic.

Of all places I was a an Elton John concert at Madison Square Garden and the guy sitting next to me was reading a copy of Frank Miller’s Daredevil while we waited for the show to start. One thing led to another and the next day I’m at the greatest book store on the planet called, of all things, Forbidden Planet, buying Miller’s complete run of Daredevil. While at checkout I heard these kids talking about the Teen Titans and George Pérez’s artwork. I asked to see what they were reading promptly got out of line and went to pick up all the back issues of the New Teen Titans.

I loved those books and OMG…Cyborg, at that time, was the best freaking Black character…ever.

Cyborg’s alter ego is Victor Stone, the son of Silas and Elinore Stone, a pair of scientists… a pair of scientists?

Oh no, Marv did-ant!!!!

Oh yes, Marv did.

What’s not to love about Cyborg? His parents were Black and a pair of scientists!!

Wow.

A pair of black scientists who don’t become drug dealers like Tyrone Cash…go figure.

7. Storm

Created by Len Wien and Dave Cockrum

Storm like Cyborg and Spawn were part of a new breed of black characters created by white boys (or Louise Simonson) these characters did not need “black” in their names because they worked with or without race being a major factor. Black Lightning works that way also but let’s face it, Black Lighting is a cool ass name.

Storm’s not just a black character, she’s a major playa in the power department at Marvel comics and she’s a woman. How cool is that? I read somewhere that Storm is not black; she’s made up of a bunch of different races.

OK, how can I put this diplomatically? I know…

Fuck that.

What did someone decide because she was one of the most powerful characters in comics she couldn’t be black?

Nope. Fans old and new think of Storm as a strong black woman and that means if you want to date her you best have a job.

What?

6. Miles Morales

Created By Brian Michael Bendis

A half black and half Latino Spider-Man. Just how on earth could I not love this? I give Marvel shit about some of the black characters in their universe, but man do they get well-deserved props for Miles Morales. Another little known fact: Milestone was named after (equal parts) Miles Cowan, Denys Cowan’s son, and Miles Davis. I can’t help but think (I may be wrong I was once…she sure looked like a man) that Miles Morales gives a nod to Milestone as Static gave a nod to Spider-Man.

5. Blade

Created By Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan

I went to the opening of the first Blade movie at the Magic Johnson Theater in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. I was there with my then-girlfriend and one of my best friends who also happened to be white. Except for those two the only other white people in the theater were in the movie.

The credits rolled and up came “Blade, created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan.” I could NOT contain myself so I started clapping like a madman and yelling “yeah.

But no one else did. Everyone and their mother were staring at me.

Shit.

This huge gang banging looking dude turns in his seat and says to me, “Are they brothers?” I answered truthfully. “Marv’s my brother.” He said, “Cool” and didn’t shoot me.

I must admit when I was a kid I brought every comic book I saw a Black character in. I hated horror books but Blade was in Tomb Of Dracula so I brought it. One of the best comic book decisions I’ve ever made.

4. Mal Ducan

Created By Robert Kaniger

Who the Hell is Mal Ducan?

Mal was the first black official member of the original Teen Titans. He was an average guy with only boxing skills and I loved that character. Later on DC tried giving him a bunch of powers and that was stupid. I like good old unpowered Mal because as a kid he was me.

I saw myself as Mal, I couldn’t fly I had no utility belt no super speed but I knew I could be a hero just like Mal.

3. The Black Racer

Created By Jack Kirby

The Black Racer is was Sgt. Willie Walker, paralyzed during the Vietnam War. Walker was contacted by the Source when Darkseid first brought the war of the gods to Earth, and told it was his responsibility to take on the role and yada, yada, yada…

OK, the Black Racer was Kirby’s answer at DC to the Silver Suffer character he co-created with Stan Lee at Marvel.

There were about a zillion things wrong with the character. The first is that black people don’t ski.

Duh.

I didn’t give a shit what was wrong with that character. Jack ‘“King” Kirby had created another badass black character and all was right with the world! Truth be told, Kirby could have created the “Black Player” as a super powered black hockey player and I would have been all in. The Black Racer is still badass for my money today.

2. The Black Panther

Created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

The Black Panther was created at the height of the civil rights movement in the 60s.

The Black Panther party was a black revolutionary socialist organization active in the United States from the 60’s to the 80’s.

Now-how bad ass do you have to be to name a Black character the same as that party and make that character not only an hero but a king of a African nation that was tectonically eons ahead of the United States Of America?

Bad Ass.

Period.

1.Steel

Created by Louise Simonson & Jon Bogdanove

I could go on and on why this is number one on my list, but that’s another article in and of its self. I’ll just say this: Louise was gangsta enough, talented enough and bold enough to put the ‘S’ on a black man.

Nuff said.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

 

Martin Pasko: Marvel & DC – The Little Big Two

letterpress2As I was saying last week before I was so rudely cut off by the limitations of your internet-degraded attention span

Mainstream Comics (read: The Big Two) have begun to remind me of that much-mocked TV commercial with the old woman screaming “Help! I’ve fallen but I can’t get up!”

That business seems to me to be in freefall, and only gaming the numbers so as not to scare the horses maintains the status quo, with ongoing monthlies somehow being considered successes with four-digit sell-through estimates that, as few as 10 years ago, would’ve gotten a title canceled long before things got that desperate. And the “top-selling” titles, you’ll note, are all brand extensions – all variations on, or team-ups with, batmen, wolverines, and other tried-and-trues.

Which presents a thorny dilemma.

Neither of the “Big” Two’s corporate parents wants to be in the business of putting ink on dead trees, which – though ComiXology might claim otherwise – is still the major comics delivery-system. And publishing’s a low-margin biz, and low margins are as crucifixes to Count Disnela and Baron Von Warner. But they’ve been persuaded not to drive a stake through the comics divisions’ hearts by being sold on the dubious proposition that comics are low-cost R&D for blockbuster movie and TV development.

Yet not one of the tentpole franchises from the Big Two’s studio daddies has been based on anything created more recently than 50 years ago (the 40-year old Blade being neither tentpole nor generated by Marvel Entertainment). If you’re going to be a stickler and say, for example, that X-Men’s success owes more to the ‘80s reboot than the Lee-Kirby original, okay – 30 years ago. So far the closest Hollywood has come to building a discrete film around a newer character is the alleged Deadpool movie. Since the New Mutants and X-Force titles that whelped the character are both X-Men spinoffs, however, Deadpool doesn’t really count as something that isn’t a brand extension. If Jeff Robinov’s successors don’t share his aversion to making a Lobo film, maybe then I’ll sit up and take notice.

To make matters worse, the comics themselves are not being used as a development lab, since most, if not all, of the new titles in recent years have themselves been brand extensions. (And, when films like Red and The Losers tank, the incentive to look to newer “original” Big Two titles as source material dies with them.)

If the Big Two can’t be profit centers from publishing alone, the only way Pub Ops can truthfully be a development lab is if the publishers increasingly take back control of the creative development of their comics, which they’ve completely outsourced. This, to control new product development focused less on selling comics and more on creating potential movies and TV shows. But they probably can’t do this – at least, not easily.

For one thing, The Big Two seem to be under pressure to roll back the kinds of deals that used to give Creatives limited profit participation in new characters. And in this Brave New World of self-publishing, it’s hard to find strong, seasoned talent willing to let their new ideas be Wholly Owned by the Big Two.

So how much longer can the Big Floppymeisters justify their existence? Especially when they’re completely reliant on the freelance talent … because they no longer have editors who can control the process credibly, even if their bosses were willing to redefine the role of the editor. Few, if any, of them have the chops to pick up a pencil, graphics tablet or keyboard and make the product themselves (and show the newbies how it’s done) – the way the Infantinos, Orlandos, Lees, Romitas, O’Neils, Weins, and Shooters did when they were running things.

More in the third and final installment of this rant, written from the San Diego Comic-Con, where I’ll be looking for signs of a forced-change in Talent Relations – if any – and reporting back from my maybe not-so-uniquely skewed perspective.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

 

Michael Davis: The Black Plague

Michael Davis: The Black Plague

There is an unwritten law in the black community: support black projects in the arts, especially film and television ventures. The thinking is if we don’t support them then it will be that much harder to get another project made with black stories as the draw.

It’s hard as shit to get a black project green lit in Hollywood unless your last name is Perry. I’ve seen one Tyler Perry film and have no desire to see any others. It’s just not my thing. Nothing but respect for the man and his work but it’s just not for me. His films are the thing for an awful lot of black people and that is the audience he and his partners at Lion’s Gate pursue.

Now, a film like Red Tails was my thing. I’m a sucker for anything WWII and the story of the Tuskegee Airmen is just so badass as soon as it was announced I was on board. Before I could see the film I’d heard it was terrible. I saw it, did not like it and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

George Lucas, who put the project together and who wrote the check for most of the $58 million dollar budget (which I think is the biggest budget ever for a film that features a black cast) said that if the film flopped (and boy did it flop) then it will be that much harder to make another big budget film with a black story line and black cast.

The film Peeples premiered last Friday. Perry produced it but he did not star or direct the film. The film bombed as Tyler’s faithful stayed away from it. I had no intention of seeing it; again, not my thing. Why did the movie fail so dreadfully among the Tyler faithful? It’s not like there were any other black films out there to watch so why didn’t it preform?

Maybe because the film sucked? Or perhaps unless Perry put’s on a dress, black audiences won’t think it was funny?

I think the movie flopped because Iron Man 3 was the film most moviegoers wanted to see over the weekend. No, Iron Man is not a black character… and that’s my point, I like millions of other black movie goers, don’t decide to just go see black movies.

Duh!

We decide to go see a movie. The audience for Tyler’s movie will also go see Iron Man and to think they won’t because Tony Stark is not black, just stupid.

Iron Man, like Superman, Batman, the Avengers and Spider-Man, were born in our beloved comics media. In many ways the comics industry is much more liberal creatively than film and TV but still we lack the balls to see beyond race on many fronts.

Consider this, Static Shock was a major hit for many years on television and more than a decade after its release it’s still being shown somewhere. Yet despite that massive success on TV has never been any toys, games or fucking underoos. Hollywood and the comics industry have what seems like a written law, which is black superheroes won’t sell.

Bullshit.

Black superheroes done badly or marketed badly won’t sell. But then again that’s true of any superhero. The entertainment industry, of which comics are becoming an even bigger part of, still follows the notion that America falls down on racial lines when it comes to creative content.

That’s even more bullshit.

The most influential person on television? Oprah.

The biggest name in sports? Tiger.

The most powerful man in the world? Barack.

Not one of the above could have gotten to where they are without overwhelming support from non-black people so clearly; comics, film and television are all missing something. Hancock was a movie about a black superhero movie and it made more than half a billion dollars worldwide. Spawn and Blade were also very successful yet still I hear black superheroes won’t sell. What did they have in common other than black leads?

They were not marketed as black movies, and they all were well made.

After Earth, the new Will Smith movie, will be out on May 31st. For the majority of that film only Smith and his son are on screen. It’s a father and son movie science fiction movie, not a black movie – although Smith and his son both happen to be black.

I’m sure some will say if the movie bombs it was because it was a black movie, others will say, if the movie succeeds it’s because it’s a Will Smith movie.

I have no wish to see it regardless, it just seems weak to me but then again, Red Tails seemed to me like a sure bet, so what do I know?

Wednesday: Mike Gold – Great Uncle Shield

Thursday: Dennis O’Neil – Tony Stark Grows Up

 

REVIEW: Wolverine & Blade Anime

Marvel’s attempt to bring their characters into the world of anime didn’t fare terribly well as four series from Madhouse arrived and sank without much of a ripple. Conceived and vaguely interconnected from Warren Ellis, the projects had noble goals but failed to excite or even tell great stories.

You may have seen them on G4 since they weren’t important enough for the major animation channels or you might have caught Iron Man and X-Men when Sony Home Entertainment released them a few months back. Coming Tuesday are the final two, Blade and Wolverine, and these are no stronger than their predecessors. On the one hand, the color palette is nicely chosen to lend atmosphere to Blade, but then the animation is so stiff and limited vampires and people alike seem to be moving through sludge.

Wolverine, actually the second of the quartet to air from January 7 through March 25, 2011, concerns itself with a search of Mariko Yashida, gone an entire year, and winds up having him slice his way through the Yakuza and AIM. We learn that his paramour had been taken by her father so she could wed Hideki Kurohagi and we’re never given a good reason why it took so long for the canucklehead to figure out she was gone.

Structurally, each episode has fighting, chasing, talking and cliffhangers as the quest takes Wolverine from place to place in search of Mariko. As a result, each stop along the way features different threats and weapons but by episode seven it all starts feeling the same and you just want the story to get on to something fresh. Obvious foes, such as Omega Red turns up so in addition to bullets and knives we get Adamantium versus carbonadium but again, the animation limits just how much you can enjoy it.

Of course he and Yukio will endure all the obstacles and Ellis is wise to keep the tragic ending consistent with the comics although it’s far less effective after having been dragged out

The English voice cast is headed up by Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes) and does a credible job as the Canadian war machine. He’s backed by a lot of veteran vocal actors but no real names other than Scott Porter as Cyclops, who guest stars in one episode as a nod to the four series being interconnected (Wolverine returned the favor in both Iron Man and Blade).

The Blade storyline is less a quest and more a battle between the Daywalker and his eternal foe Deacon Frost. The final entry in the Marvel Anime Universe, it aired July 1 through September 16, 2011. In this case, Blade happens to be in Japan when he comes across a group of vampires that is known only as Existence. Episode one is a recap of who Blade is, which was wise for its audience, and then takes us to discos and vampire hangouts and lot so of murky stuff going on. There are young women being taken, blood farms, people who want the secret of Blade’s ability to walk in the sunlight, etc. Lots of chasing, fighting, biting and staking. My problem is that none of the characters were interesting enough to make me care and my mind kept wandering while vampires did their thing.

Here, the English vocal cast is headed up by Harold Perrineau (Lost) who does a surprisingly effective job.

I continue to find it laughable the vast differences in translation between the English dubbed soundtrack and the closed captioning since the word choices for the latter alter some of the meaning and characterization.

Both discs come with brief and not terribly informative pieces on the anime project and each character’s place in that world. They’re nice to have but totally superfluous. These are affordably priced two-disc DVDs that are good if you love the characters are anime or, preferably, both.

Enter Stan Lee’s World of Heroes

As if Stan Lee wasn’t busy enough, he’s apparently been involved in digital content development, the full scope of which will be revealed tomorrow during a panel discussion at Comic-Con International. The breakdown of properties, though, was released in advance of the formal announcement and since one of our pals is involved, we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss this news.

Vuguru and POW! Entertainment unveil the premium YouTube channel Stan Lee’s World of Heroes at a panel in Room 6BCF at 11:45 a.m. with a panel including Mark Hamill, Adrianne Curry, Peter David, Jace Hall, Bonnie Burton and America Young. The programming schedule includes:

  • Stan Lee’s Super Model (scripted action comedy) – From Stan Lee, two aspiring models Bree and Sera and blogger friend Lizzie, are accidentally exposed to a mysterious serum that grants them super powers. Their newfound powers wreak havoc on their quest to become top models and pull them into a world of danger and intrigue. From Executive Producer Heath Corson (Aim High) and writer Taryn O’Neill (BlackBoxTV)
  • Head Cases (scripted comedy) – You know those classic superhero battles where good and evil clash in epic fashion? This isn’t one of those. Set at the local bar frequented by super powered heroes and villains, the comedy Head Cases is what happens before, after, and in between those battles. From Peter David (Babylon 5, Ben 10, The Incredible Hulk) and Producer David M. Uslan.
  • Bad Days (animated parody) – From Junaid Chundrigar (creator of the animated viral sensation Disassembled, Bad Days) shows us heroes and villains on their worst days. Whether Green Lantern is wasting time with an emerald Yo-Yo or Batman has locked himself out of the Batmobile, Bad Days lets viewers laugh at epic super failure.
  • FanWars (courtroom reality) – Who is the most intelligent Super Villain of all time? FanWars gives opinionated fans (is there another kind?) a chance to discuss the most pressing issues in the World of Heroes. Producer and host Jace Hall (The Jace Hall Show, V, The Morning After) and a panel of celebrity experts pit fan against fan as they debate topics from comic books, superheroes, and science fiction.
  • Stan Lee’s Academy of Heroes (makeover reality) – From producer Jon Kroll (Amazing Race, Blade), the series takes real life aspiring heroes from across the country and gives them the mentoring and training they need to take their fight for good to the next level.
  • Stan’s Rants (opinion) – this weekly series features the spirit of the classic Stan’s Soap Box comic column, which explores the inner workings of the unique mind of Stan Lee. From behind his desk, Stan, tongue firmly in cheek, explains his thoughts on pop culture, upcoming films, the general state of the world and more, in this weekly series.

 

Michael Davis: Once You Go Black, Part 3

If you have not done, so please read last week’s article. Thanks.

I’ve encountered quite a few things in my Hollywood journey. Some great some not so great and some that really sucked.

Really sucked.

I once sold a show on a Monday morning and by Monday night the show was gone and so was my deal.

I once had a great idea for a reality show. I took the idea to a huge Hollywood player with the intention of making him the host of the show. He loved my idea. He loved my idea so much he tried to sue me and take the show. The show I created and asked him to be a part of.

One of the fun things about Hollywood is finding project financing. That’s always the highlight of any deal…not.

My partner in one particular deal was the fantastic writer, TV producer and now huge young adult novelist E. Van Lowe. E (yes, I call him E) and I spent a weekend in San Francisco securing funding for this great project.

We were a well-oiled money getting machine that weekend. We pitched the project like major league all stars and the money people were so impressed we had a yes before we left to go back to L.A. In fact, the meetings went so well that after we sold the idea and spent the rest of the weekend in the city by the bay just hanging out and celebrating our new fully financed deal!

Monday morning bright and early we boarded our flight secure in the knowledge that we were about to make television history!

When we touched down in LAX all was right in the world. E dropped me off at my house and before he left he took a phone call.

The deal was dead.

Dead like Lincoln. What happened? Or in hood speak, What had happened? Why hood speak? Because this is an article about blacks in the entertainment field and unless I throw in some hood speak many in Hollywood won’t take this seriously.

I know, I know. It’s pandering but you have to understand there are some in Hollywood that thinks my Ph.D. stands for pretty hard dick.

Well, continuing hood speak, what had happened was a third partner had decided she had not contributed enough to the closing of the deal so while E and I were happily flying to L.A. that bright Monday morning, she who must not be named was having a talk with the investors at breakfast.

Neither E nor I had any idea she was having this talk, and what a talk it was. She talked us right out of the deal.

Ah yes, there’s no business like show business!

I’ve got more horrible yet uplifting to my enemies stories but I’d best get to the point. In the blah blah years I’ve been doing the Hollywood thing I’ve had some great experiences and some (obviously) not so great experiences. Rather great or sucky I’ve never had a deal go south because I was black.

You would think that the way some in Hollywood react to black properties that would be the standard issue rejection.

Dear Michael Davis,

Thanks for coming in to pitch Negro Stories: Stories about black People.

Unfortunately, although we loved the concept, we could not help but notice there were many segments about black people in your pitch.

We completely understand the need for more diversity on TV but we are a business and everyone knows that black does not sell.

Sorry, homie.

Sincerely,

Ian White

Executive, Fox Studios

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that black doesn’t sell or black is death and many more asinine statements regarding black properties in the entertainment business.

Think about this for a moment. There are people running studios, networks and comic book companies in 2012 that think that black doesn’t sell. These people think that America will not pay to watch black people entertain them.

That’s as stupid as thinking that just because I’m a black man I have a huge peni…nope, wrong example. That’s as stupid as thinking global warming is a myth. Global warming has been proven without a shadow of a doubt. Those people who refuse to believe in it despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary do so, in my opinion, because they simply don’t want to believe it.

Who denies facts? Well the GOP for one, and many in the entertainment business for sure.

Black doesn’t sell?

Really?

Here’s a news flash, Hollywood. Young people drive Hollywood revenue. Young people decide what’s hot and what’s not. Pop culture is a young person’s playground.

Here’s the kicker. Black culture is youth culture. Let me be clear, African American culture is youth culture all over the world.

It’s our swagger that drives pop culture. That’s our music your kids are listening too. That’s our style of dress you kids are wearing, that slang you don’t understand comes from us. That’s us who dominates sports, that’s our dance your daughter is trying to do…badly.

The film Heaven’s Gate was made for what was in 1980 an unheard of budget of 50 million dollars. That’s like 75 billion dollars in 2012 money. OK, maybe I’m a tad off but it’s not a stretch to think that in 2012 dollars that 50 million would be upwards of 300 million or more even.

Heaven’s Gate made three million dollars.

Damn! That, as they say in the hood, is ghetto!

Now that would be bad enough if the lost was just 47 million but the lost was much more. The budget was 50 million to make the movie. The adverting and marketing costs added millions more to that sum.

Result?

Heaven’s Gate just may be the worst box office disaster in the history of the world…that and The Spirit. Sorry, Frank.

Using the Hollywood formula applied to black movies that box office performance should have prevented another western from being made for years and years. When a black movie fails Hollywood loses its mind and then it’s years before another black movie is made because black means death and black doesn’t sell.

Here’s what I think, when any movie fails, black or white it’s because the movie could not find its audience for whatever reason… or perhaps it’s because the movie sucked.

George Lucas wrote a $58 million dollar check to produce Red Tails, an all black film about the Tuskegee Airmen. He said in an interview that Hollywood did not want to fund the movie because they did not know how to market it.

Translation: black equals death.

The movie did not do well. Here’s my guess why that was. It wasn’t a great movie.

Duh.

I wanted to like it but there were too many plot issues for me and the film seemed a bit contrived. The movie was the problem, not the racial element.

According to some in Hollywood, when a black movie fails its because it was a black movie – when any other movie fails it’s because of a zillion other reasons.

If that’s not the world is flat thinking then I really don’t know what is.

I’m amazed at the sheer idiotic thinking of some in Hollywood.

Black doesn’t sell?

Will Smith.

Black doesn’t sell?

Oprah Winfrey.

Black doesn’t sell?

Tyler Perry.

Black doesn’t sell?

Blade.

Black doesn’t sell?

Hancock.

Black doesn’t sell?

Jamie Foxx.

Black doesn’t sell?

Spawn.

Black doesn’t sell?

Denzel Washington

Black doesn’t sell? Bullshit, Mr. Hollywood, simply bullshit. The above list is a very short one to be sure but I think it makes the point rather well.

I think the problem is not that black doesn’t sell Mr. Hollywood but rather you don’t know how to sell black.

End, part 3.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Emily S. Whitten wants stuff!

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold takes on Secret Identities!

 

Michael Davis: Once You Go Black… Part Two

If you have not done so, please read last week’s article. Thanks.

The opening night of the movie Blade, I was sitting in a packed Magic Johnson Theater in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. Crenshaw is a predominantly black community, so needless to say the crowd for a black superhero movie in a black neighborhood in theaters owned by a black sports superstar was overwhelmingly Jewish. The Jews, they so love to hang in the hood. Black hats, long black coats – they roll big pimpin’ style.

I kid, I joke. The audience was crushingly African American. There was a lot of excitement in the crowd. When the lights went down the audience started to clap and that’s rare in a black movie house. To have a black crowd clap for a movie before they have seen it is extraordinary.

Black people rarely do that. We take our leisure time seriously. We are also very vocal about entertainment and we expect our monies worth. If a black crowd does not like a film – no that’s wrong – if black people don’t like a movie we will not be shy about voicing our opinions immediately.

Yep. I freely admit we can be a bit loud in the movies but for us it’s part of the show. To be fair we only tend to get loud during action and horror movies. You will seldom hear, “Yo! Henry Fonda! Don’t get in that motherfucking row boat!” during a screening of On Golden Pond.

Black people by in large don’t go see a film. We go to the movies. What’s the difference?

My Left Foot, film.

Die Hard, movie.

Still confused? OK, try this. A film is a motion picture that many may consider art. A film will have these elements in it: a story, a point of view, and a message.  It will make little or no money but will win lots of awards and always features white people.

A movie will have these elements; some kind of story that won’t be important, shit that blows up, sex, violence, vampires, it will only win special effects awards, it will make tons of money and always features white people.

The one thing you will find in both a movie and film is white people. From time to time you will find black people in movies but you will always find white people in every movie ever made. Most times those white people will include Nicolas Cage.

But, (man, I wonder why Peter David hasn’t pimp slapped me yet) I digress… As I was saying, black people take our movie going outings very seriously. We don’t clap just to clap (that’s why we have sex), we clap to show appreciation for the work. So the reaction by the sold out crowd at the Blade opening was quite the pleasant surprise to me. Clearly some of the applause was because this was something rarely seen in movies, a black superhero.

When the credits began Wesley Snipes got quite an ovation and the crowd continued giving props to some other recognizable names. Then up on the screen came this gem: “Blade created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan.

Oh, yes!” I screamed like 40-year old woman who just had her first orgasm after being married for 20 years. “Oh hell yes!” Much, like I imagine that 40-year old woman would react, I did not notice that everyone else had stopped hollering and were looking at me. A large, as in large like the Hulk, man noticed my outburst had occurred during the “created by” credit.

“What you yelling for?” He asked. “I know Marv Wolfman, one of the guys who created Blade.” I said, hoping this guy wasn’t a Crip because I had on a red sweater.

He asked, “Is he a brother?”

What? Is he a brother? Marv Wolfman? I mean come on! Before I could answer I noticed that there were others listening and realized that I could dampen the mood of the crowd. But I’m not a lair so I told him the truth.

“He’s my brother.”

“Right on!” Someone shouted!

That was a great moment in what would turn out to be a great night.

The move was wonderful. The crowd loved every minute of it and me? I was in cloud nine.

Blade was a great movie. It featured a black superhero but it was not a “black” film. Nope. It was a superhero movie, period. Not long afterwards I ran into Marv Wolfman at Comic Con in San Diego. I recounted to him my interaction with the Bulk (black Hulk, get it?) and he was pleased as can be. Up until I told him he did not know that he had gotten an entire card in the credits. A “card” is what the credits are called in the industry it’s a big deal when your name is the only name on a card or is shared with just one other name. Big Deal. Marv created Blade at a time when black superheroes were few and I mean very few. Here’s the kicker: Blade does not have to be black.

Nope.

Blade could be just another white guy who kills v. The character works just as well as a black character as it does a white character. Marv created a good character and that’s why it works.

I’m of the opinion the color of the character really does not matter as long as the character is a good character. That said I’m a comic book fan first and I get a little pissed when a character I’m familiar with in the comics has a race change in the movies. You would think that as a black man and a black comic book creator I’d be happy that Nick Fury was turned into a black man.

Nope.

I liked Nick Fury as a badass white super spy.

That’s because of the Steranko comics. Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. was one of the greatest comics ever! When Fury was changed in The Ultimates it pissed me off. When I saw Samuel L. Jackson as Fury in Iron Man it pissed me off even more.

I know Sam Jackson, Sam Jackson attends my annual Comic Con parties, Sam Jackson is a huge comic book fan, Sam Jackson is a great actor, alas Sam Jackson is not Nick Fury.

I want my comic book heroes to be like the comic book. I can hear some black people now “Man we need more black superheroes… and you’re stupid, Davis!”

I know we need more black superheroes, but Nick Fury will always be the cool ass super spy white guy in the Steranko comics to me.

The fact is I care that Nick Fury is not white in the movie because he’s white in the comic book. Did it stop me from seeing The Avengers?

Here comes that 40-year old first time orgasm woman again, Oh Hell No!

Did I like Sam Jackson as Fury? Damnit, yes, yes I did. Did anyone seem to care in the two sold out showings of the movies I sat through that Nick Fury was black?

Nope.

Did Blade not make a zillion dollars and spawn two sequels?

Yep.

And speaking of Spawn (damn I’m clever) did Spawn, another black superhero, not make a grip in movies, television and toys?

Yep.

Was Static Shock (still seen in reruns to this day) not one of the highest rated animated shows on television?

Yep.

I’m told often, black doesn’t sell. Clearly that’s bullshit. Just ask Will Smith, the biggest star in the world. He has played a few superheroes and all made serious bank.

With these examples and many more why does Hollywood still think that “black means death” when it comes to black superheroes?

End, part 2.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Emily S. Whitten On The Job

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Covers Covers

 

A Look at the Anime Adventures of Iron Man and the X-Men

A Look at the Anime Adventures of Iron Man and the X-Men

In case you missed it on G4 over the last year, Marvel Comics licensed a quartet of properties to be  adapted into anime for the Japanese market. Acclaimed studio Madhouse handled the visuals while Warren Ellis was brought aboard to craft twelve -part stories for Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Men, and Blade. In short, he helped design a Marvel Anime Universe and the fruits of those labors recently completed their cable run.

On Tuesday, Sony Home Entertainment is releasing Iron Man and X-Men as two-disc DVD collections. For those unfamiliar with the properties, here’s a slideshow for each. Our review will run in a day or two.

IRON MAN Anime

X-MEN Anime 

Announcing Mix March Madness 2012 Nominations! (UPDATED 5x)

UPDATE: Click here to vote in the third round now!

Yes, it’s that time of year again, the time where bracketology reigns supreme and the cry around the nation is “Win or Go Home!” Last year’s Webcomics Mix March Madness was incredibly popular, and so we’re doing it all over again. The problem? There are so many good webcomics out there, and we’ve found more this time around (and we skipped a bunch last time).

So we’re opening it up to you. (more…)