Tagged: Dark Horse

Mike Gold: Creators’ Rights… And A Big Wrong

My original First Comics partner Rick Obadiah, who is not prone to outrage (I took care of that part), sent me an email a couple days ago expressing his pissed-offness at a piece in last Sunday’s New York Times.

For those who don’t have time to click-through, the Times essentially gives credit for the whole creators’ rights movement to Image Comics, now enjoying their 20th anniversary. I have no axe to grind with Image and I don’t think Rick does either; this is another case of typically sloppy reporting from the fantastically over-important New York Times.

In his email, Rick correctly points out that the stuff attributed to Image Comics started with First and with the other so-called independent publishers of the time: Eclipse, Comico, Now, Malibu, and others too numerous to name. I won’t quibble with the definition of “independent” – back in those days the term really meant “not Marvel/DC.” The Comics Buyers Guide even listed Disney Comics as “independent,” and that was the day I stopped using the term.

As I pointed out nearly 30 years ago in the pages of sundry First Comics, the creators’ rights movement on a publishing level started with Denis Kitchen and his fellow “underground comix” providers. The actual creators’ rights movement pretty much started on Day Two of the comic book industry when folks like Will Eisner, Bob Kane, William Moulton Marston and Joe Simon and Jack Kirby negotiated their own deals with the existing publishers and retained certain rights and/or received cover billing and/or creator credit and/or royalties.

But we – First, Eclipse, Comico, Now, Malibu, and the rest – took all that several steps further. Creators received certain ownership rights, cover billing, creator credit and royalties. Perhaps that was tame by today’s standards, but in 1983 this was akin to torching the Great Teat. We paid a price for this: all of those companies are now extinct, although some lasted nearly two decades – a good run in publishing. But we had nothing to take to the bank in terms of actual ownership when times got rough, when distributors went out of business and when investment-mania boiled over.

Once we started offering fair deals, DC and Marvel pretty rapidly started offering some of these rights under certain circumstances. That didn’t make them competitive on the creators’ rights front, but they provided acceptable safe haven to creators when times got rough on the independents front. And that includes me, and I am not ungrateful.

Did Image take this one step further when they went into business a decade later? They goddamn well should have and, yes, of course they did: the company was started by a half-dozen of the top writers and artists in the field. But Image isn’t a publisher in the traditional sense – to its credit, it’s more of a vanity press without the negative connotations of that term.

Image – and Dark Horse and more recently IDW and Dynamite – were built on the shoulders of the founders of First, Eclipse, Comico, Now, Malibu and the rest, and on our investors and our creative talent who took big risks breaking from the clutches of DC and Marvel without any guarantee those doors would reopen for them should the desire arise.

Again, I do not blame Image in the least. I blame the lazy, self-important “journalists” at the New York Times for having a historical point of view that fails to go beyond recently emailed press releases.

Here’s a secret. It is well known that the New York Times has never run comic strips. But this was not because comics were too lowbrow and well beneath their dignity. That was just their typical arrogant posturing. The New York Times didn’t run comic strips back when Pulitzer and Hearst started the medium because they couldn’t afford the fancy color presses. The paper of record, indeed.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil and the God Particle

SDCC 2012: Eisner Award Winners 2012

SDCC 2012: Eisner Award Winners 2012

An updated and corrected list — congrats to all the winners.

Best Short Story
“The Seventh,” by Darwyn Cooke, in Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition(IDW)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Daredevil #7, by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)

Best Continuing Series
Daredevil, by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)

Best Limited Series
Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel Icon)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Dragon Puncher Island, by James Kochalka (Top Shelf)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8–12)
Snarked, by Roger Langridge (kaboom!)

Best Publication for Young Adults (Ages 12–17)
Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol (First Second)

Best Anthology
Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)

Best Humor Publication
Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad, by Evan Dorkin (Dark Horse Books)

Best Digital Comic
Battlepug, by Mike Norton, www.battlepug.com

Best Reality-Based Work
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse Books)

Best Graphic Album – New
Jim Hensons Tale of Sand, adapted by Ramón K. Pérez (Archaia)

Best Graphic Album – Reprint
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition, by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Strips
Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse vols. 1-2, by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein and Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Books
Walt Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition (IDW)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
The Manara Library, vol. 1: Indian Summer and Other Stories, by Milo Manara with Hugo Pratt (Dark Horse Books)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Writer
Mark Waid, Irredeemable, Incorruptible (BOOM!); Daredevil (Marvel)

Best Writer/Artist
Craig Thompson, Habibi (Pantheon)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Ramón K. Pérez, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Archaia)

Best Cover Artist
Francesco Francavilla, Black Panther (Marvel); Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger/Zorro, Dark Shadows, Warlord of Mars (Dynamite); Archie Meets
Kiss (Archie)

Best Coloring
Laura Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Madman All-New Giant-Size Super-Ginchy Special (Image)

Best Lettering
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse)

Best Comics-Related Journalism
The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon, www.comicsreporter.com

Best Educational/Academic Work (tie)
Cartooning: Philosophy & Practice, by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)
Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby, by Charles Hatfield (University Press of Mississippi)

Best Comics-Related Book
MetaMaus, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)

Best Publication Design
Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, designed by Eric Skillman (Archaia)

Hall of Fame

Judges’ Choices: Rudolf Dirks, Harry Lucey
Bill Blackbeard, Richard Corben, Katsuhiro Otomo, Gilbert Shelton

Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award:
Tyler Crook

Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award:
Morrie Turner

Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Book Writing Award:
Frank Doyle, Steve Skeates

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award:
Akira Comics, Madrid, Spain – Jesus Marugan Escobar and
The Dragon, Guelph, ON, Canada – Jennifer Haines

John Ostrander: Bad Things

My thanks to Martha Thomases for her column this week. In it she confessed to having a fondness for the 1980 Flash Gordon film that started the immortal Sam Jones and Max Van Sydow. It’s bad film and she knows it but she has legit reasons for her fondness of it. Martha, just so you know, the 2007 SyFy TV series is much worse, not even having space ships, for crying out loud! Flash Gordon without space ships?! Talk about not getting the concept!

I say thank you because I had no idea what I was going to do for my column this week and now I do. There are bad films and one CD that I know are horrible but I felt a compulsion to go out and buy a copy of them. This isn’t the same as the weird films of which I own a copy and that I like – things such as Incident At Loch Ness, Get Crazy and, soon, Troll Hunter. These are all justifiable. Not the ones I’m about to talk about; uh-uh, these are plain bad and they are not recommended for viewing. Just to be clear about that.

First up – Barb Wire starring Pamela Lee Anderson. I may have talked about this one before but I stumbled on it one late night on TV while scanning the cable for something to occupy my sleepless mind.

The movie is based on a comic put out by Dark Horse at one point, part of their Heroes Greatest World series of superheroes. I wrote one of those comics for a while and I knew all the other titles. As I said, Pamela Lee Anderson starred in the movie and I lingered, waiting to see if she would take off her clothes, which is the main reason for any guy to watch a Pamela Lee Anderson movie.

I came in after the film started and then watched in horror as I became aware that the movie was an update of Casablanca into a future setting and featuring Pammie in the Humphrey Bogart part. ‘Nuff said? Nuff said.

And then there’s The Return Of Captain Invincible from 1983, a superhero spoof from Australia starring Adam Arkin in tights as the titular hero and Christopher Lee as his archenemy, Mister Midnight. Lee sings in this, by the way. Did I mention there are some songs sprinkled throughout? Not enough to make it a musical, just enough to not make sense – which fits right in with the rest of the movie. The lyrics to some of them were done by Richard O’Brien who wrote the original musical play of Rocky Horror Show and as an actor he was also in, among other things, Martha’s guilty pleasure, Flash Gordon.

I could run through the plot of Captain Invincible but – why?

Next on my list of very dubious pleasures – Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter. Yes, you read that right. It’s a kung fu movie that has Jesus returning to Earth and winding up fighting as a king fu warrior against hordes of vampires, including lesbian ones, with the aide of a masked Mexican wrestler, Santo Enmascardo de Plata. Hmm. I may need to re-write that sentence; it makes the film sound too interesting.

Oh, and it also has a song in it. One. Right in the middle of the film. Why? Who knows.

Finally, there’s a CD – Pat Boone’s In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy from 1997 in which Pat covers heavy metal and hard rock songs with big band arrangements. Oh, and on the cover he wears black leather pants and matching vest – no shirt. Get that picture out of your mind if you can.

I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to the whole thing.

My friend, Bill Nutt, used to have a weekly radio show and, on occasion, I would be invited in as a guest and allowed to select some of the music. I told My Mary one such time to listen in because I would be dedicating a song to her.

That week I also played one of the cuts from In A Metal Mood and it played before Mary’s song came on. When I got back home, Mary demanded why I made her listen to the Pat Boone cut. In an unwise moment, I admitted neither Bill nor I had actually listened to it; we turned down the studio monitor once it came on.

That did not go down well. She has since forgiven me but I doubt she will ever forget my doing that to her.

What unites all these choices is the fact that I own a copy of each and every one of them. I can’t explain to you why these and not the other very bad CDs and DVDs that are out there. The selection probably says something about me and its probably not good.

And, Martha? Flash Gordon is superior to any of them.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell



Artwork © Jamie Chase
Art: Jamie Chase

The secret history of the inner world of Pellucidar is discovered by our heroes in this sneak peek page from the new upcoming graphic novel of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic sci-fi adventure, AT THE EARTH’S CORE, written by Martin Powell with art by Jamie Chase.

At Earth’s Core is fully authorized by ERB, Inc. and is coming soon from Sequential Pulp/Dark Horse Comics.

You can learn more about Sequential Pulp Comics at www.SequentialPulpComics.com

Marc Alan Fishman: Exclusivity Is For the Devils

For those not paying attention, this week Paolo Rivera broke the shackles that bound him to the House of Mouse. That’s right, after a 10+ year career at Marvel, he ended his exclusive contract. Presently, you might know him from his absolutely stunning work on Daredevil. And if you’re not familiar? Go down to your local comic emporium, and partake in a few books bearing his name. You won’t be disappointed.

So why the departure, here in what most critics would dub his “ascension to the A-List?” Ownership. Rights. Long-term gains. As he makes it clear in his blog detailing his decision, it comes down to surveying his body of work and seeing no island on the horizon. Let’s be clear, he’s not mad. Or sad. In fact, he’s very grateful for the decade of work he’s been thrown since the dawn of his career. At the end of the day though, he puts it best:

“…the sum total of that work is not enough to support me in the distant future. My page rate is essentially the same as when I started at 21, so I’ve decided to invest in myself.”

Now, this brings up a debate I know we’ve all had here on ComicMix in the past – that of creators’ rights, and compensation. It seems we as an industry can’t last more than a few months before yet-another-creator is irate over the profits gained on their blood, sweat, and arthritic hands, that never see their own pocketbook. On the business side of things, we know the rub already. To work as an artist or writer in comic books for “the Big Two,” the work you do is theirs. They pay you a fee (and a small percentage of royalties of the sales of the book) for your creativity. Now, when you have a mortgage, insurance, and a rumble in your tummy… do you try to negotiate for the best deal, or do you sign your life away to stay alive? Of course no one is in such dire straights these days, but Marvel and DC certainly have more lawyers and iron-clad contracts than Stan Lee has catchphrases. As Paolo makes clear, he’s done with that side of the business. It’s time to invest in himself.

Certainly there are creators out there who are kicking ass and taking names doing their own creator-owned books. Mike Mignola, Eric Powel, Robert Kirkman, Warren Ellis… All great men who once (and on occasion still do) made a living working for “the man.” But each of those men now can rest on their laurels that their main source of funds comes directly from material they created, they own, and they see to market. Certainly when Hellboy made a second profitable movie, many an indie-creator must have taken note. Yes, Dark Horse had a lot to do with the success of the property on the business end, but Mignola is the crown prince of Anung Un Rama. Without his blessing, nary a product makes its way past a marketing meeting.

The same doesn’t hold true for Mr. Rivera. Should Marvel decide to make a tee-shirt with some of his art? He may see some royalties back from the sale – but he’d get laughed out of the office if he opposed them selling merchandise with his work on it. And when they reboot the movie franchise… he’ll see a blind eye if they use any of his striking work as reference or source material. Blind eye. Heh.

Ultimately, Rivera’s made a move that I hope works out for him. Admittedly I’ve come to the Daredevil party a bit too late, but I plan on picking up the issues as they are collected. Wherever Paolo roams from here on out, may his legion of fans follow. According to his musings, he’s kicking around an idea for an “original story, sci-fi in nature, with primal themes and a compact cast of characters.” He’s also looking into “experiments in both distribution and funding” a la Kickstarter. Thanks largely in-part to the interwebs, this very idea even exists. The last time artists with this much clout left Marvel, they made Image Comics. Certainly that won’t happen ever again, but in its place is something far more rewarding. Not necessarily in up-front hype and profits mind you, but rewarding none-the-less.

With Paolo Rivera setting his sites on the creator-owned market, I see the opportunity for a more level playing field. When the artists and writers have both a creative and monetary investment in a project, there is a passion that simply doesn’t exist on the other side of the aisle. As an Unshaven Comic, I care far more about The Samurnauts than I ever will about Kyle Rayner or GrimJack, even if I’m ever allowed to write or draw either of them. When I put my head to pillow, I know that my creations (made in part with two brilliant co-creators) are my own. And should the day ever come that our creation becomes “something,” it’s only fair that I (we) see the complete fruit of those labors.

Good on you, Paolo. May others follow suit as well.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander





June 5th, 2012 – Mount Laurel, NJ – Join Tom Sniegoski and Dennis Calero for a very special Shadow story in The Shadow Annual #1 featuring a cover by Alex Ross.  In The Shadow Annual #1, The Shadow is tormented by visions of New York City plagued by living fire-fire in the shape of a Chinese dragon-fire with the potential to spread hungrily to the world.  But what do these visions mean?  The Shadow will peel back the layers of mystery, leading to a confrontation that could very well shake the pillars of Heaven. Who are the waifs of Li-Lung, and what are their connections to Brother Pritchard’s Orphanage for Wayward Children, and to crime boss on the rise, Vincent Ruzzo? Soon, the Shadow will know.

“When I found out that Dynamite had The Shadow license I was ecstatic . . . and when they asked me if I was interested in writing the first annual I just about had a seizure,” says writer Tom Sniegoski.  “First of all, anybody who knows me knows how much I love the pulp characters, and the Shadow is number one on my list of favorites.  I cut my teeth on the whole pulp hero thing in 2009 with my novel, Lobster Johnson: The Satan Factory, which won the Best Pulp Novel of 2009 from The Pulp Factory Awards.  Looking back, I feel like that book was a warm up to the main attraction, now I was going to get the chance to write the character that almost all other pulp characters were trying to emulate, now I was going to get the chance to write The Shadow.  To say that I was a little nervous was an understatement.  First I had to come up with an idea for a story with the same kind of punch that the original pulps had, and was as powerful and exciting as Garth Ennis, and Aarron Campbell’s current run.  After some serious thought (and a few tumblers of scotch) I came up with a story idea that everybody seemed to love.  It’s got everything that I’d be looking for in a Shadow story: mysterious locales, organized crime, dreams of an apocalyptic future, blazing Colt 45’s and Thompson Machine Guns, and creepy kids with psychic powers . . . what’s not to love?”

“Tom and I have known each other since he was the main writer on Vampirella back in the ‘90’s,” adds Dynamite Entertainment President and Publisher Nick Barrucci.  “With his success in prose, it was hard for him to make time for comics work.  We’re very happy that he was able to work on our first The Shadow Annual.  It’s an awesome tale, and Dennis’ art compliments the story incredibly well.”

Tom Sniegoski has worked for all the big guys in the comic book industry, Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, Cartoon Books, and now Dynamite! Some of the characters Tom has written include Batman, The Punisher, Hellboy, Wolverine, Devil Dinosaur, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and he even wrote the prequel to Jeff Smith’s award winning series Bone, which was called Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails: The Adventures of Big Johnson Bone. His most recent comic book work (written with frequent partner, Christopher Golden) is The Sisterhood, published by Archaia Studios Press. This dynamic duo also worked on the mini-series Talent from Boom Studios which was optioned by Universal Pictures.

Dennis Calero’s work includes Acclaim Comics’ licensed-product titles Sliders and Magic: The Gathering; Moonstone Books’ TV tie-in titles Cisco Kid and Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Platinum Comics’ Cowboys & Aliens; IDW Publishing’s Masters of Horror: Dreams in the Witch House; and Marvel Comics’ X-Factor, during his tenure on which the title was nominated for the Harvey Award for Best New Series (2006). In 2006, IDW announced that Calero will be one of the cover artists on its six-issue Star Trek: The Next Generation TV tie-in miniseries The Space Between, scheduled for 2007.  Calero drew an arc of Legion of Super-Heroes for DC Comics and his new Marvel series, X-Men: Noir, was released by Marvel in December 2008. X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain was released in 2010. That same year, he drew the Dark Horse Comics relaunch of the former Gold Key and Valiant character, Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom, which was written by Jim Shooter.

Be sure to get The Shadow Annual #1 in September!

Become our fan on Facebook at facebook.com/DynamiteComicsJoin the conversation on Dynamite Entertainment’s twitter page at http://twitter.com/DynamiteComics

To find a comic shop near you, call 1-888-comicbook or visit www.comicshoplocator.com

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REVIEW: Fallen Skies Season One

fallingskies_s1_blu-300x442-1474255Everywhere you look, dystopia stories abound. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games became the movie event of the spring while the most talking about new NBC series is J.J. Abrams’ Revolution. Little surprise then that basic cable’s ratings darling in 2011 was TNT’s Falling Skies. With the show’s second season debuting June 17, the first season has been released on DVD from Warner Home Entertainment. The premise is not necessarily an original one: aliens have arrived and have largely conquered Earth while small bands of resistance fighters struggle to free humanity. What the aliens want remains a mystery.

The series, which has been in development since 2009, was conceived by Bob Rodat, writer of Saving Private Ryan, and has been produced by Steven Spielberg, who enhanced many of Rodat’s notions. The showrunner for season one is my old pal Mark Verheiden (who handled a different dystopia on Battlestar Galactica), who brought his own point of view to the project. Verheiden’s sure hand made the ten episode first season quite entertaining and he’ll be missed when he moves to consulting producer (at least he wrote the two hour season opener for a smooth transition).

A history professor turned soldier, Tom Mason, is the series’ protagonist and is well played by Noah Wylie, mixing his knowledge with some grit while putting his two sons ahead of all else.  He is part of a regiment, the Second Massachusetts (near Concord, get it?), periodically receiving intelligence from nearby groups and sporadically getting news from armed forces elsewhere in America. The enemy, known as “Skitters”, are insectoid and reside in mammoth craft looming over key cities around the world. Using mechanical soldiers dubbed “mechs”, they maintain martial law and kill adults who oppose them, taking the children. (more…)

The Final Eagle Awards have Landed

The Final Eagle Awards have Landed

By ‘UK Correspondent’ Steve Morris

The last-ever Eagle Awards have just concluded here in good ol’ Blighty (that means Britain), with the ceremony due to switch names over to “The MCM Awards” in 2013. End of an era, awards-fans! In lieu of us not liveblogging the awards ceremony Oscars-style (complete with a drinking game in which you have to down a pint every time Scott Snyder wins something), here is the complete list of winners:


All-ages Hero, Michael Midas Champion, Due in July

Not a lot has been heard from Jordan B. Gorfinkel, former DC editor and the mastermind behind Batman: No Man’s Land. His Avalanche Comics Entertainment operation has been doing some custom and corporate comics work while he continues to produce a weekly strip for Jewish newspapers. But, behind the scenes, he’s been slowly assembling this project which is finally coming out after way too many years. I’ve worked on it, I’ve read it, and I recommend it.

Here’s the official press release with the details:

May 23rd, 2012 – Los Angeles, CA – This June, BOOM! Studios is proud to announce MICHAEL MIDAS CHAMPION by Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Scott Benefiel. Wrapping a classic fairy tale in superhero comic book clothing, MICHAEL MIDAS CHAMPION blends the heart of It’s A Wonderful Life, the majesty of The Princess Bride and the thrills of Spider-Man.

MICHAEL MIDAS CHAMPION is the inspirational life story of Michael Midas, who, as told by a grandmother to her grandson, grows from being a boy—dealing with a playground crush stolen from him by a tormenting bully—into a crimson hero who dons a mask and battles evil, particularly the bully of his youth, who has, naturally, become his supervillain arch-nemesis. Through his triumphs and trials, Michael becomes a superhero so dedicated that he loses touch of what’s important in life—his loved ones—puttting them and the whole Earth on a path to complete destruction. But given a rare second chance, can Michael Midas Championset things right? Will he? (more…)


Cover Art: Lowell Isaac

New Pulp Publisher, Sequential Pulp Comics has unveiled the cover to Martians Go Home graphic novel adaptation based on the crazy, sexy, apocalyptic dark comedy by Fredric Brown. Written by Martin Powell with art by Lowell Isaac, the Martians Go Home graphic novel is coming soon from Sequential Pulp Comics and Dark Horse Comics.

You can learn more about Sequential Pulp Comics at www.SequentialPulpComics.com
You can learn more about Dark Horse Comics at www.darkhorse.com