Tagged: Dark Horse

Mindy Newell’s Mind Rumblings

Various and sundry thoughts from the mind of Mindy this week:

The USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the eighth U.S. Navy vessel to bear that name, was decommissioned this week after 50 years of service. The world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier made her maiden voyage on January 12, 1962 and her first mission was tracking and monitoring the first orbital flight of Project Mercury, with Lt. Col. John Glenn aboard the Friendship 7 capsule. In popular culture, the Enterprise was the home base of Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) in Top Gun, with the late director Tony Scott filming and incorporating flight deck operations into the film, and it was the flagship of the U.S. Navy fleet participating in The Hunt For Red October.

Then, of course, there is Star Trek – and did you know that Gene Roddenberry’s original starship name was the USS Yorktown? But the fame and status of the sea-going Enterprise led to starship being rechristened the USS Enterprise NC-1701. (Art Director Matt Jeffries – yes, for whom the Jeffries Tubes are named – used the USS Enterprise CVN-65 for scale when designing the original starship.) Star Trek and her fans – through a massive letter writing campaign and, I’m sure, encouraged by not a few NASA employees – returned the favor when NASA’s first Space Shuttle was named Enterprise. And in Star Trek: First Contact, we see that models of all the ships named Enterprise hanging in a showcase in Jean-Luc’s office. (“You broke your little ships,” says Lily Sloane, played by Alfre Woodward, after Picard goes “Ahab” in his desire vengeance against Borg throwing his phaser rifle through the glass walls of the showcase.)

Staying with Star Trek…I just rewatched J.J. Abram’s remake last night, and the more I see it, the more I love it. I continue to be especially impressed by Karl Urban’s Dr. Leonard McCoy – if I closed my eyes, I’d be hard-pressed not to say it was DeForest Kelley speaking.

Again, speaking of “all things Trek” – although I am generally not a fan of comic adaption of live-action TV shows and movies, I gotta say I’m loving IDW’s Star Trek, written by Mike Johnson with art by Claudia Balboni and Stephen Molnar. Johnson is following the original series story lines, with just the right twists of plot to adhere to the “new” Trek and doing an excellent job of capturing the personalities of Kirk/Pine, Spock/Quinto, Scotty/Pegg, Uhura/Saldana and the rest of the crew with his dialogue. Kudos to the entire team!

On the other hand…Dark Horse’s Spike mini-series sucks. I mean, Spike on the moon? Gimme a fucking break! In fact, generally speaking, their whole Buffy line sucks. Really disappointed. Oh, well, dropping it will save me money.

After almost 30 years, my local comics shop, Vector Books, has closed. Joe and Tina and Frank have been a part of my life for all those 30 years, and I wish them love and health and all the best in the future. But a new comics emporium has opened to take over from Vector (and with Vector’s blessing). It’s Manifest Comics And Cards, and I’ll be interviewing its young owner, Michael, in the future to find out how nuts (and brave) he is to open a shop at a time when so many are closing.

What fucking world do the Republicans live in? Who the fuck cares what Grover Norquist thinks? Attention John Boehmer!!!! Your job is to lead, not to follow the bug-fucked extremists and Tea Party wingnuts or to worry about losing your position as Speaker of the House! Get the deal done, for Christ’s sake! You can’t blame Obama this time! Like we said in the 60s, the whole world is watching!

How many of you had to Google labia majora and labia minora from my column last week? (Thanks to Mike Gold for this.)

Over at The League Of Woman Bloggers on Facebook, there is mucho discussion going on about the attack on girl geeks by boy geeks. Much geekiness is ensuing.

Okay, who here is a Homeland fan? Is Brody now a triple agent, again loyal to Nazir? What didn’t he tell Carrie, Saul, and Quinn in the debriefing? What did he make up? (I’m betting the being tied to a car battery part.) How long did it take before you realized that Virgil and Max were in Quinn’s apartment? (I thought they were in Roya’s.) Who is Dar Adal, the guy that Quinn met on the bus? (Yeah, yeah, I know he’s F. Murray Abraham…) Who is Quinn – FBI? Black-ops CIA? Mole? (I don’t think he is – too obvious.) Was the whole “terrorist attack on returning veterans” a MacGuffin, and the real attack is still coming? Is Estes as incompetent as he seems?  Why did he send Quinn out to kill Brody? Why did Saul go to Philadelphia, knowing that Quinn would find out? And why does Jessica keep calling her husband by his last name?






Dark Horse Comics brings Tarzan to the future in a new one-shot comic book by Alan Gordon and Thomas Yeates.


Just in time for the 100th anniversary of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan of the Apes, artist Thomas Yeates (Prince Valiant, Conan) spins a surprising new tale that drops the lord of the jungle in an unfamiliar setting—the future! Can Tarzan’s vine-swinging skills serve him in the half-flooded ruins of a future London?
* Artist Thomas Yeates returns to one of his favorite subjects!
* From the pages of Dark Horse Presents!

On sale now where your favorite comic books are sold.

Writers: Alan Gordon, Thomas Yeates
Artist: Thomas Yeates
Colorist: Lori Almeida
Cover Artist: Thomas Yeates
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publication Date: November 14, 2012
Format: FC, 32 pages
Price: $3.50

Learn more about Dark Horse Comics at www.darkhorse.com.

Marc Alan Fishman: Licensed to Bore

As a rule of thumb (the very same thumb I referenced not seven days ago), I stay away from licensed books. How did I come to that rule? It’s one engrained in my loathing of fan-fiction. Gasp! I’ve never, ever, (ever-ever) appreciated the world of fan-fiction. The whole notion that one’s love of a property goes so far they must appropriate the universe another writer created for their own nefarious purposes seems weak to me. Why limit oneself to the rules of another’s whims when the post-modern world allows for infinite homage, pastiche, and appropriation? Given the pre-sales of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (go Katie Cook!), I’m obviously in the wrong.

But Marc, you fickle bastard, you’ve just argued yourself into a corner! You, who have lamented on countless occasions how you’d love to write for Marvel and DC… don’t you realize if you were given a run on Green Lantern, Batman, or the Slingers, you would in essence be “limiting oneself to the rules of someone else’s whims?” Too true.

And when DC and Marvel hire me, you’re welcome to call me a hypocrite.

There’s nuance to this argument, and my greater point stands true. Writing for mainstream comics is its own beast, one I’m sure to tackle soon. For the time being, stay with me.

The fact is that amongst the small presses (still large enough to get rack space) are almost entirely engrained with this unyielding genre, save perhaps for Image or Valiant. Certainly we know why: licensed properties bring with them a given fan-base. For much of Dark Horse, IDW, Boom, and Dynamite’s catalogs are siphoning life-force from the lost and misspent youth of their target demographic. And since I’m no Bob Wayne, I simply don’t know how well it’s boding for any of them. The ideology that the comic buying audience at large is desperate to read more tales set inside the Hellraiser, Battlestar: Galatica, and the Ghostbusters seems legitimate, if only on paper (heh). But when I see the book on the shelf, it is truly taxing to find reason to open the gates again on properties built elsewhere.

Perhaps it’s my fear that licensed comics seem far from canon (that is to say that their contributions will hold true forever). Perhaps it’s my fear that adding to existing canon makes it harder to enjoy. I can’t tell you how many times my unshaven cohort Matt has given me the verbal Wikipedia entry on all that has gone down in Transformers extended properties (novels, comics, soft-core porn). And every time? My eyes glaze over, and I’m immediately reminded that I’m happy to have the G1 box set and Beast Wars and call it a day. It’s this fear of the overwrought rules and backstory one needs to know that stifles any anticipated joy in reading a licensed book.

But what if the teams involved are at the top of their game? Creative teams be damned. Truly, if you told me Alex Ross would paint over a Mark Waid script of G.I. Joe… and that it was the best work ever put out by either one of them… I’d still sooner spend my paycheck on a Grant Morrison Doom Patrol graphic novel or maybe some new socks.

Lest you think I’ve never even given a book like this a chance, allow me a simple anecdote. An amazing columnist for the Chicago Daily Red Eye (think hipster news for the daily commuter) Elliot Serrano had been given the opportunity to write a new Army of Darkness comic. Given that it was a slow week, I decided I should support my fellow indie creator (and he was nice enough to interview me for his blog twice) and give it a chance. I’d never purchased an Army of Darkness comic in the past. My knowledge of the source material was limited to the handful of viewings I’d had of Raimi’s film. And to his credit, Serrano’s pen wasn’t weighed down too heavily by the yoke of backstory that came with the property.

That being said, the book suffered terribly from Serrano having to forcefully hit the beats the license (and, no doubt, the legion of deadite fans) demanded. What we were left with? I quote myself from my MichaelDavisWorld review:

 “The book has moments of clarity, but they are dragged down by the wishy-washy plot and cardboard cutout of a protagonist. I think I’ll go put on my copy of the movie, and bury this necronomicon deep in a long box… in hopes that the evil spirits lurking within don’t wreck havoc on my soul.”

Given that I thought Elliot’s writing was better than what he’d showed on page only proved to me that the book was not intended for me. While fans of the AoD universe were heralding it as a success, I was left back in the starting blocks wondering why the book shifted tone more than Mitt Romney (ooooh, semi-late reference burn!).

Suffice to say, licensed books have their place. There’s been great examples of those who made great leaps of fiction balancing the properties’ beats while adding to the canon. John Ostrander’s run on Star Wars is still sold out at my local shop. And Joss Whedon’s continuation of the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer into a “9th season” via comics helped fans continue their love affair with the series. There is a place for these books, indeed. The fact is unless you yourself are a die-hard lover of the property in question, the book is wasted space on the rack. And for someone who is now actively seeking originality at the shop… no amount of lightsaber fun will turn me toward the dark side. Simply put? A licensed book is a license to limit your sales to those who are familiar. Everyone else? Find some place else to read.

I would like to note that if the powers that be would like to license Exo-Squad to Unshaven Comics, I will voluntarily lop off my left leg, and then proceed to write and draw the best damned Exo-Squad comic is history. And I can guarantee that it’ll be a top seller… to the 40 or so people who still love the property.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Marc Alan Fishman: A Painful Admission of Indie Guilt

I admit it readers! I done ran outta things to complain about. So, like any amazing editor would, Mike Gold set forth a challenge. A simple one at that. “How about something(s) you really look forward to that aren’t DC or Marvel?” See? Simple! What a great excuse to highlight all those little known indie projects I dive into… like all the time. What better place to pimp the wares and projects that aren’t draped in NOWs or New52s. Where else could I wax poetic about those “next big things” all of you are fretting over!

And here comes the shocking truth. When it came to comics? Nothing came to mind.

Sure, there’s a litany of TV shows, movies, and music all coming out that I’d love to waste time discussing. Hell, I have a few seconds, so why not. I’m loving the last season of The Office. Parks and Recreation continues to be the funniest / sweetest show on TV.  Since House ended though, I’m just out of the drama verve.

It doesn’t help that I don’t watch TV until midnight, and barely last until half-past. Having a day job, making comic books at night, and being a freelancer adds up. In movieville… I know I have to catch Wreck-It-Ralph. Flight looked good too. Add in Lincoln and The Hobbit? And my dance card is plenty full. And in music? Robbie Williams just served up a huge slice of BritPop that I can’t get enough of. Seriously, watch the video for “Candy” and try not to get a little wiggle in your tuchas. But I digress.

When it comes to the world of comics, my “have to have it meter” is so very mainstream. This week, I came very close to buying some Image books that had cool covers… but I was lured away by my staples, Green Lantern, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and the newly NOW’ed Iron Man. I’m not ashamed to admit what a mainstream whore I’ve been lately. But consider this article my wake up call. There’s too much good stuff out there for me to miss. And as an indie creator in the trenches too? It should absolutely be my duty to explore the lesser-knowns.

But where to start? With con season over, my “indie channel” is pretty much cut off until March 2013. This will mean, to me at least, my exploration of the unknown will be largely relegated to the independent rack space of my local comic shop (which is one third a s’mores in Chicagoland, if you get-the-drift). This means my attention will turn towards Dark Horse, Image, Boom!, Dynamite, IDW, and their brethren. And let’s just make it a hard and fast rule – no licensed comics. Sorry to be mean, but frankly every time I’ve tried one, it comes across more as fan-service than an original leap of interest. I know that’s bull-headed, so I welcome your flaming comments below.

I guess somewhere in between these random thoughts lay the issue so many of the smaller publishers and true indie creators are suffering through these days. With CBR, Bleeding Cool, and Newsarama covering the Big Two (and A Half if we count “everything else”), there’s few hubs that I know of online that really explores the other side of the forest. And let us not fool ourselves. Marvel and DC dominate the ‘cape’ market. Boom! had a hit with Irredeemable/Incorruptible, but that ship has sailed. And try as hard as they might, Dynamite’s ‘Let Alex Ross Do Whatever He Wants’ business model burned me one time too many. Hand to Buddha? Image is my last bastion of street cred these days. Doesn’t hurt that Revival is one of the best books being produced today. The key then is to find more like it.

Suffice to say, I’m truly not picky. Prior to picking up Revival because I actually know the creators… I wasn’t one for horror or zombie books. Now? Paint me grey and call me Charlie. The clear ideology of numbers would tell me that the indie scene is rife with genres I’m not presently enjoying. Is there an amazing western, sci-fi, comedy, romance, or mutt of a comic series I can jump into? There’s one place I know instantly to turn to – you.

I throw myself on the mercy of you, the nerd court. I beg of you to pelt me with suggestions of books I’m missing. And then you can follow my thoughts, good or bad, over at Michael Davis World. Shameless cross-promotion? You bet your sweet bippy.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


John Ostrander: Quo Vadis, Star Wars?

Let’s see – what were the big stories of this past week? Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy slamming the East Coast and turning off power as far away as Lapeer, Michigan. Yup. That’s the big one. President Obama wins re-election. Wait. That’s next week. George Lucas sells his holdings to Disney and Episode VII is announced.

That sounds like the one I’m going to write about.

Caveats: Although I write two Star Wars comics for Dark Horse, I know nothing more than any of you about this. I was as surprised as anyone when the story broke. I hesitated before writing this column for fear that someone might take this as an insider’s view. It’s not. It’s all just rumination and speculation on my part. We good?

There has been, of course, a cacophony of reaction all over the ‘net. Them underground tubes have been humming. Some praise, some wails of distress, some outraged howls of betrayal. Among Star Wars fans there has been a lot of speculation of what Episode VII would be like. Which part of the Extended Universe (EU) would be adapted? The Thrawn Trilogy? The New Jedi Order? Legacy?

The answer: none of the above. Official response has been that it would be “an original story.” Massive disappointment among the EU faithful and fears that the new Episode VII will make hash of the post Episode VI EU. I fully expect the new film to respect EU continuity as much as George Lucas did which was – not at all.

The reason why? If you’re not a EU fan, how many of those possibilities that I named up above made any sense to you? I’m guessing “none of the above.” The fans are important but there’s not enough of them. The first new Star Wars movie in decades? A sequel, not a prequel? Disney and Lucasfilm are going to be looking for Avengers type numbers and that means it has to be accessible to the general public. Heck, they’ll want it to be accessible to those who haven’t watched a Star Wars film ever. That’s not unreasonable. That’s why Disney made the purchase in the first place.

There are also concerns that Disney will “Disneyize” the franchise. That doesn’t make sense to me. Star Wars is very compatible with Disney as is. Also, Disney also owns Pixar and hasn’t messed with that so far as I can see. They own Marvel Comics and Marvel seems to be doing what Marvel does without much change, again so far as I can see.

Not every change is bad. I was one of the doubters when Paramount announced a re-boot of Star Trek. I ended up loving it. I also doubted when Daniel Craig was announced as James Bond. A blonde James Bond? That was just wrong. Now – I think Craig is one of the absolute best Bonds and I can’t wait for Skyfall.

There also has been speculation that the Star Wars comics would move from Dark Horse to Marvel Comics. Here you might think I have some reliable info, but I don’t. Dark Horse has the license at the moment; it was just renewed a few years back. Dark Horse is taking a wait-an-see approach and so am I.

There is history; the Disney Comics were at Boom! before Disney bought Marvel and then they got moved to Marvel Comics. And it would make sense, I suppose, to move the comics to the comic company Disney owns. On the other hand, several of the movie franchises are at studios other than Disney.

As I said, Dark Horse has a license. I have a vested interest to be sure – I have two SW titles out at Dark Horse, Agent of the Empire (the new arc, Hard Targets, has just started and the first arc, Iron Eclipse, has just been released in TPB form) and Dawn of the Jedi (the first arc, Force Storm, will be released on Christmas day, and the new arc, The Prisoner of Bogan, will be released November 28 and, yes, I’m hyping my own product, thank you very much). I’ve worked on Star Wars comics for about ten years. Would that continue if the license moved to Marvel? Beats me.

So is all this a good thing or a bad thing? It’s a thing. George Lucas has been talking about retiring for some time so it makes sense that he found a good home for his creations. He’s still around and I suspect he’ll have as much say as he wants in what happens. Things will change and that includes EU continuity. Does that bother me?

Not really. I don’t own any of the characters that I’ve worked on in the comics any more than I own any characters that I created at Marvel or DC. (I have a financial stake in Amanda Waller and that’s sweet but not ownership.) Fans often evince a feeling of ownership of Star Wars (or Harry Potter or Twilight or any other fan intensive franchise) but that’s not reality.

What we have (and I’m a fan as well) is hope, in this case maybe a new hope, that Episode VII will be everything we want in a Star Wars movie and the stories that come out of it and surround it will also be cool. Why do I hope? Because it’s in Disney’s best interest to do it right.

The galaxy will be watching.

Monday: Did Sandy Get Mindy?



Art: Francesco Francavilla

Art: Francesco Francavilla

Dark Horse Comics teases a new pulp comic sensation. Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle – coming in January.

Francesco Francavilla (W/A/Cover)
Black Beetle’s investigation of two local mob bosses is interrupted when a mysterious explosion murders them and a pub full of gangsters–taking out most of Colt City’s organized crime in one fell swoop. Who could pull off such a coup, and what danger might that murderous bomber do to Colt City and Black Beetle?
32 pages, $3.99, in stores on Jan. 16.

George Lucas is betting Barack Obama will win re-election

Time 100 2006 gala, George Lucas.

By now, you’ve heard that Lucasfilm has been sold to The Walt Disney Corporation for $4.05 billion dollars. You also see that we’ve discussed what this could mean for Star Wars, Disney, Dark Horse Comics, and many other players. However, what you may not realize is that this also means that George Lucas thinks that the Force is with Barack Obama and in six days, he will win re-election as President of the United States.

Why? Because of what will happen on January 1st.

That’s the day when the Bush Tax Cuts are scheduled to expire. Right now, the current rate on income from corporate dividends and long-term capital gains is 15 percent. With the Bush cuts gone, those numbers would jump to 39.6 percent on dividends and 20 percent on gains.

George Lucas founded Lucasfilm in 1971 and is the sole shareholder. So all the long-term capital gains go straight to him. He would stand to pay an extra 5% on the purchase price, an additional $202.5 million dollars in taxes if he delayed the transaction to 2013.

Now, it should be noted that one of the few things Mitt Romney’s told us about his tax plan is that he plans to keep the 15 percent maximum rate on long-term capital gains and most dividends for taxpayers with income of more than $200,000 per year. So if Romney wins the election, Lucas doesn’t get a bigger tax bill.

But Lucas isn’t doing that– he’s acting now. Ergo, he thinks there’s a significant chance that Romney will lose and that the risk is too big to take.

What does the Disney / Lucasfilm purchase really mean?

OK, you’ve already heard the news.  The final selling price…well, more wealth than YOU can imagine!

Slowly but surely, intellectual property is flowing into larger lumps, eerily mimicking the actions of the country’s banks.  The WWE owns the assets of its former major (only) competitor, WCW. Dreamworks owns Classic Media, which means it controls a massive library of classic animation and TV, including Jay Ward and Harveytoons.   Disney now controls its own properties, the Muppets, Marvel Comics and now Lucasfilm.  They also finally got back the rights of one of Walt’s earliest creations, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which he had done for Walter Lantz.  He’s now starring in their [[[Epic Mickey]]] video games, and now that they own him outright, I’m sure there are plans for using him as well.

If there’s one thing Disney is good at, it’s finding innovative ways to use and market its properties.  In addition to the promised new Star Wars film in 2015 (get in line now!) I expect they already have a full list of plans to execute. Here are our predictions… (more…)