Tagged: Dwayne McDuffie

Michael Davis: Derek, Kitty, Static & The Dog – A Milestone Story

derek-dingle-mitt-romneyMilestone was the idea of Denys Cowan. Denys, Dwayne McDuffie, Derek Dingle, Christopher Priest and I sat in a room (a few rooms actually, sometimes at someone’s home, sometimes at a dive restaurant a lot of times in a dive diner) and we sat and planed for weeks creating the original universe of Milestone main characters Icon, Rocket, Static, Hardware and Blood Syndicate.

Priest left right before we signed our publishing & distribution deal with DC. For a very long time Priest was the Pete Best of Milestone. Pete Best’s claim to fame is that he was the original Beatles drummer before Ringo. Pete left to get a real job. That’s pretty much it. His music career amounts to little but a trivia question.

Christopher Priest, on the other hand…

That mofo did just fine without Milestone. He’s writing movies, novels and just about anything he else he wants to write. However, for a very long time Priest was our trivia question. Few people knew he had anything to do with the Dakota Universe.

Now, few people think the original Milestone partners were just four, most fans and all the industry know that Priest was there at the start.

Most people are aware that Derek Dingle was there from the start of Milestone, few people know and even fewer believe Derek Dingle was a major co-creator on the original universe of Milestone main characters.

Translation, Derek came up with many ideas that made it into the Milestone Bible his contribution was just as valued as anyone sitting at the creative table.

I remember how much Derek Dingle had to do with creating Static’s powers and costume. I remember that very clearly because I wrote the Static Bible (meaning I created his family, backstory, supporting characters, etc.) I ran many an idea passed Mr. Dingle for as long as I could.

It’s easy to understand how Derek was casted in non-creator role by the fans. As Milestone went from idea to business plan to universe bible to joint venture with DC Comics, Derek’s visibility as a creator became less and less.

We were all equal partners but we all had separate roles in the company. Derek’s role was President of Milestone.  You wouldn’t call the President of Milestone at 4 in the morning to run possible names of Static’s dog sidekick pass him.

Well you wouldn’t… but you know me…

Oh, you didn’t know that Static had a dog sidekick? Well he did for about 35 seconds until the genius that thought it was a good idea was laughed out of the room.

Who’s bad Idea was it?

I’ll never tell, unless at SDCC I’m asked during the Q&A session of the Milestone panel, Friday July 19th Room 5AB (Shameless Plug!) 11:30-12:30!

Ask me then and I’ll spill like a drunken gossip columnist on TMZ.

Look, all of the Milestone partners had horrible ideas at one time or the other. Sometime a bad idea becomes a terrible idea when the person who’s idea it was starts to defend the idea. Trust me, that’s never pretty.

There were plenty of heated exchanges at Milestone but I’d have to say the one person who always kept his cool was Derek. In fact, the only time I ever saw Derek lose his cool was not over anything creative or corporate.

It was over a Kitty.

Kitty was her name and she was (is) one beautiful woman or as we say in the hood, she’s Super Fine. How fine is she? Stevie Wonder could see how fine Kitty is.

One day I was having lunch with Kitty so I had her meet me at Milestone. That was the only time I saw Derek a bit rattled. When I introduced Kitty I swear it took him a full hour before he could say ‘hi’ Kitty is that fine.

OK, it wasn’t an hour his hesitation was maybe 2-4 seconds and wasn’t really noticed by anyone but me, but a 2-4 second delay from Mr. Cool-As-Ice Dingle is rare and you know me, give me an inch…

So, to recap, Derek Dingle was just as involved, I’ll say it again, Derek Dingle was just as involved as anyone in the creation of the core Milestone Universe. Since the day Milestone began there has been reams of wrong information, misinformation and outright bullshit about our company. Believe it or not that continues to this day.

It’s Milestone’s 20th Anniversary and our fans, which I sincerely believe are the greatest and most loyal fans in the history of comics; deserve to celebrate with the truth.

I hope to see many of you in San Diego. As a guest this year I’ll have a space in Artists Alley thanks to the kind people at SDCC!

If you come by and I’m not there someone should be there to tell you when I’d be back. As much as I’d like to hang out there all day, I’ll be a weeeee bit busy expanding my media empire… and scoping out Asian girl cos players.

Come on by! I’ll be more than happy talk to you about my ComicMix columns and upcoming novels. Yeah, I’ll be talking about writing in Artists Alley.

That Michael Davis, what a rebel!

If you miss me at the booth you can catch me here:

The Black Panel Room 5AB 10-11:30 am Friday July 19th

The Milestone 20th Anniversary Panel 11:30-12:30 am Friday July 19th

*The Milestone 20th Anniversary Party Friday 9pm July 19th

*You need an invite for the party I’ll have a few on me during the Milestone Panel and if you mention ComicMix and hit me up before they are gone I’ll hook you up.

Lastly, Derek I’m keeping you to your promise. This is your moment my friend, enjoy it! No work! Have fun!

BTW… I still have Kitty’s cell…







REVIEW: Justice League #22 – When The Tale Wags the Dog

JL22Justice League #22 came out today, touching the fuse for DC’s summer event, Trinity War, which we already know leads into the fall event, Forever Evil.

(Obviously, there’s your mandatory SPOILER ALERT!)

In all fairness, it’s a heck of a setup issue – the battle lines are drawn, it is made abundantly clear the stakes are high, and there are wheels within wheels of which few of the players are aware. It’s a book that absolutely brings you back next week to see what will happen. Geoff Johns is a master of this – he weaves a long-form plot into his books that all ties up into bows whenever he chooses to pull the plot threads. I don’t think he’s ever written a book that didn’t delight me in all his years at DC.

Add to that his wonderful ability to pull obscure characters and plot threads out of the distant past and make them relevant and exciting today. We saw the Shaggy Man make his debut in the New 52 recently, and in this issue we see the on-screen premiere of The Outsider, an old Batman villain (and a long story in and of himself), and a variant version appearing in the Flashpoint minis, written by James Robinson, the mini which I went on record as being my favorite of the bunch, and the one “new” character I said I’d most like to see find his way to the New 52. I’ll be curious of the details of this new iteration of the character.

Having said that, the book had several things going on in the book that I found infuriating, more as a reflection of what’s going in comics in general today.

Death, Death and Death

We saw two characters (seemingly) die in the book – one brand new and one very old. Old Firestorm villain Plastique took out Madame Xanadu, and thanks to The Outsider’s manipulations, Superman seems to have killed the brand spanking new Doctor Light. The former is annoying because of the legacy of the character, the latter, not only because the character was seemingly created solely to be killed, it’s another minority character to have been used in the same fashion. Geoff caught some hell for a similar scenario in Aquaman – a new character of middle eastern descent was killed off in her first adventure – a flashback, no less.

I say “seemingly” because a sub-issue is while DC has sworn blind that the new status quo is “dead is dead,” they don’t seem to mind swerving the readers with the heavy suggestion that a character has died only to reveal the next issue that they’re fine, it was just a flesh wound, they switched at the last minute, etc. Now that’s a tried and true device, used endlessly in the Republic serials, but as Annie Wilkes explained, it’s not good storytelling, it’s cheating. Catwoman never got into the cockadoodie chair.

So it’s entirely possible that Madame Xanadu teleported, or was teleported away, and that Doctor Light will return with even more amazing powers and a serious mad on for the heroes. But the point is, the moment was designed to shock us, provide a hotshot to get us back for the next issue, as opposed to creating a solid dramatic moment. In a documentary, Hitchcock talks about the difference between shock and suspense: one provides a moment of excitement that passes quickly, and one provides a long scene of emotional duress that people will talk about for a long time. Both of these deaths were mere moments. And if they turn out to be false alarms, they’ll be empty moments.

Stories Without End

Literally and figuratively. Event crossovers, mini-series, any story, really, but finite, limited stories should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. There’s lots of opportunity to lay plot threads that can be returned to should the need arise, but time was you’d close the last issue and think “That was a good story.” Or at least, “That wasn’t that good, but at least it’s over”.

The Empire Strikes Back may be the first example in modern narrative where that didn’t happen. They already knew they were making a third film, so there was less of an impetus to make the film end definitively. It didn’t really end – it just paused for three years.  Everyone was safe and all, but there were so many questions left unanswered it felt more like a season finale than a film.

So too in comics, the event / maximegacrossovers don’t quite end as much as they seem to just lead straight into the next one. The defeat of the Big Bad only serves to set up the next one, and not even in a few months – sometimes right at the end of the last issue. Marvel’s been doing this for some years now – each big event would set up the next, and the event wouldn’t quite…end, it’d just say “Join us for next event in a few weeks!”

Geoff Johns had been writing one big long story in Green Lantern, one that included several huge crossover events. But they were all discrete, they ended, they had winners and losers, and there was a sense that something had been achieved.  Even if the next big plot point was teased at the end, it was given months, even years to grow and bloom.

DC has done a couple of these in the past. The Oracle: The Cure mini-series had an overcrowded mess of a climax (what pro wrestling fans refer to as a “Schmoz” finish) that literally ended with “The story continues in Batgirl #1!”  James Robinson’s much maligned mini Justice League: Cry for Justice(!) Seemed to have gone through quite an overhaul – originally pitched as a more “pro-active” League, it quickly turned into nothing but a springboard for Green Arrow’s new plot twist. AND it was chock full of death that only happened to make the main characters angry and “Justice!”-yelly.  James was good enough to un-do one of the more egregious demises, and did it well.

This is DC’s first attempt at Marvel’s “direct flow” format in a big way, but at least they’re being fair about it. We’ve already been told, clearly and distinctly, that the events of Trinity War will cause the villains to win, which will be portrayed in September’s Forever Evil event, and the “villains month” of books. We don’t know “The ending” per se, but we do know that it won’t be an ending, per se.  It’ll be a direct segue to the next event, and a very expensive event it’ll be, if you’re the type that likes to get every part of the story.

It effectively changes Trinity War from the main event to a mere prologue to the next event. I do not expect many plot points to resolve here, save for the various teams realizing they need to team up to fight the real threat. I expect the actions of Superman to be explained to the public very quickly and quickly forgotten, far different from the way they dealt with Wonder Woman’s killing of max lord in the last universe, and the stellar way Gail Simone is dealing with the death of her own brother, and Commissioner Gordon’s (a.k.a. her father) witness of the act.

The Roots Are Too Deep

There’s nothing wrong with foreshadowing. It’s the sign of quality literature. Before Crisis on Infinite Earths, they teased The Monitor in DC titles a full year ahead of time.  In this event, at least one title, Justice League America, seems to have been set up for the express purpose of setting up this event.  It exists not because there was enough demand for a third JL series (tho sales suggests the audience was happy to accept it), but only to serve as a place to put all the plot that would be needed to have Trinity War make sense.

This has been happening for some years now. Dwayne McDuffie’s run on Justice League was severely hindered by Editorial asking him to shoehorn in plot points that only served to set up an upcoming event, and in some cases, being asked to step aside entirely for a couple months.

There’ve been more than a few examples of Editorial getting in the way of the creators since the New 52 came to be as well, many of them ending in creators leaving said books, willingly or no. There’s nothing wrong with an Editor wanting to work with the writer on the stories. When the editor starts taking more of a role than the writer, conflict is almost certainly to follow. There hasn’t been an editor good enough to do that in several decades, and I don’t see one coming along anytime soon.

We’re seeing too many stories that exist only to set up an upcoming event, stories that don’t quite fit in the continuing narrative of the titles, ones that don’t quite end, and ones that just plain get in the way. They cause a small jump in sales as collectors grab the “first chapter” of the next big event, but they rarely bring new readers long-term.

There’s every ability for a writer to turn out a great story, even if any or all of these issues appear.  I fully expect to enjoy the rollercoaster ride that Geoff and his cronies have set up. But it’ll be in spite of what I describe above, not because of them.

Michael Davis: Marvel’s Black Avengers

Davis Art 130611From the moment the Black Avengers was announced I’ve been asked over and over again what I think.

I think a few things…

I think anytime there is a serious attempt to bring not just African American but any minority characters to the forefront is a good thing. I pitched a project a year ago and was told a black super team would never sell in Hollywood, so what’s the point in even doing the comic book?

I think I’d better not tell you what I wrote and then discarded about the person who said that. Give that a thought – me thinking I’d better not say something.

I think (well, I know) I really like Axel Alonzo and what he’s doing with Marvel. Let’s face it, a young black child who see a Marvel logo on a black superhero book is going to lose his or her little mind.

After the Black Avengers, can the Malcolm X-Men be far behind?

I think it almost makes up for Mark Millar’s black character, Tyrone Cash. A black scientist who, when he gains superpowers decides to give up the whole scientist thing and become a drug-dealing thug.

Yeah, I was pretty rough on Mark last week and again this week but that’s nothing compared to what I have in store at my annual standing room only Black Panel at the San Diego Comic Con.

I think what’s sure to be a hot topic on the web especially among black creators is rather or not just black creators should be the teams on the project.

No. I don’t think just black creators should do the Black Avengers.

However, if Mark Millar writes a story arc and Tyrone Cash shows up that would be the quickest way to destroy what looks like a noble undertaking on Marvel’s part. The smart play would be to have Mark write a story arc and deal with that horrible black scientist who gains superpowers and becomes a thug drug dealer.

No, I’m not kidding.

Yes, there are black thug drug dealers in the world (there is one due at my house in an hour… heh) but a scientist who gain superpowers and becomes a fucking drug dealing thug?

That kind of characterization would kill all the good Marvel’s doing with this project.

Lastly, Marvel said they wanted to do something like Dwayne McDuffie would do. Would do? Dwayne, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle and myself did do it. In fact, the San Diego Comic Con is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of us doing it.

Yo, Marvel, you better recognize.

Wednesday: Mike Gold

Thursday: Dennis O’Neil


Michael Davis: You Better Recognize

Davis Art 130528 copyI’m pissed.

So pissed that this article was first written for my website. My website is usually where I rant about goings on in the world of politics and such, I almost never talk about comics there. Well, I was so pissed over a Publisher’s Weekly article I couldn’t wait for Tuesday to vent my anger so I went ahead and wrote this piece for MDW.

Those of you familiar with my writings know I tend to use language not suited for everyone.

Translation: I swear a lot.

Chantal d’Aulnis is a dear friend who I’ve known for a long time. She is also the unofficial 6th founding member of Milestone, as it was Chantal who gave us invaluable advice when setting up the company. She pointed out to me that my swearing may take away from the importance of what I was trying to say in this article when I posted it on MDW.

It’s with that in mind that I’m going to edit the original piece for ComicMix. I will be substituting less offensive words in the place where I swore in the original piece. The words changed are in bold just in case you are wondering. This version will also have additional new content or not…

This one’s for you, Chantal…

The following from a recent Publisher’s Weekly article:

This year’s programming includes a spotlight panel discussion that recognized the 20th anniversary of Milestone Media, a pioneering comic book company founded by a group of black writers and artists that included the late Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan and others.

The article was about The East Coast Black Age Of Comics Convention the Milestone panel was just one of many great things that went on at the convention over the weekend and it was nice the PW gave us a shout out.

Publisher’s Weekly is a big deal a mention there even a small one is never a bad thing, well unless that mention is a review and the reviewer thinks the book you wrote sucks booty. I’ve been mentioned and/or reviewed in PW a few times. The last time was a review they did on the book David Quinn and I wrote, The Littlest Bitch.

That review got us a call from a network looking to talk to us about an animated series of the book. It’s safe to say in entertainment all the major playa’s read PW.

So, when I see that PW has regulated Derek Dingle and I to “other” status regarding Milestone that’s a cause for concern and frankly PW should have done a better job with their background checking. Milestone Media changed the game so much that we are being celebrated at the San Diego Comic Con this year. Comic Con is the biggest pop culture event in the world. You don’t use “others” to describe founders of anything that important. It’s retarded reporting at best and pecker journalism at worst.

This year’s programming includes a spotlight panel discussion that recognized the 50th anniversary of The Beatles, the pioneering rock and roll band that included John Lennon, Ringo Starr and others.

I mean, come on.

Don’t get me wrong, the article was a wonderful piece, extremely well written but, “…and others?”

Come the booger on!

I could be wrong but here’s what I think happened, the reporter got his or her background information from those she or he interviewed at the convention. The reporter’s name is Bobbi Booker, I have no idea if that’s a girl or guy and yes I do know a guy that that spells his name that way so it could be a guy, smartbotty.

Like I said, I could be mistaken but I think whoever Bobbi spoke to gave the impression that Derek and I didn’t matter as much or we were junior partners.

There’s a myth a lot of people have taken as truth that persists about Milestone. The myth is that my dear departed friend and partner Dwayne McDuffie started Milestone and everyone came after.

That myth is so strong that a few years ago some clown went on Facebook and called me a liar when I stated at my annual Black Panel at Comic Con the following;

“Denys Cowan created Milestone, I co-signed but the creation of Milestone is ALL Denys. Anything else you hear is just scrotum basket!”

By “co-sign” I mean, I was with Denys the moment he came up with the idea and said it was a good one. That (white people) is called a co-sign.

Imagine my surprise and anger when this mouth stain went on Facebook and called me a liar during a major forum. He stuck to his “sources” until I bet him $10,000.00 that his information was simply sissy.

This guy was convinced that Dwayne put everything together then called Denys, Derek and me. On another black comic forum someone swore Robert Washington both created Static and wrote the Static bible.


Denys Cowan, Dwayne McDuffie, Derek Dingle, Christopher Priest and I created Static. Oh, and the Static bible? I wrote that. What Robert Washington did was take our good idea and make it darn great. Those books were some of the best comics to ever see the light of day and that was all Robert and John Paul Leon.

Speaking of John Paul, I read somewhere that Matt Wayne discovered him.

Nope. That was me.

On many on line forums people who have no darn clue about Milestone except what they have “heard” are holding court as if they wrote the business plan and pitched it to DC and Marvel.

Oh, you didn’t know Milestone almost ended up at Marvel? I guess Ray Ray didn’t get that from Huggy Bear who knows all. “Word on the street is that Milestone was started by John Lennon and Ringo Starr…”

This is not sour grapes on my part. I’m not bitching because I’m not getting the proper credit for my contribution to Milestone, but rumors and misinformation have a tendency to become fact that can affect everything that you do. I’ve seen news stories that mention no one but Dwayne when discussing Milestone.

Why is that important to correct?

It’s important because brand is important. How you manage or don’t manage your brand can be the reason the business world gives you respect and takes you seriously.

Don’t think so?

My Space is a butt joke, Paris Hilton is an afterthought, Blackberry is just another smartphone and Tim Tebow is feces unemployed.

Brand management or lack there of is why those above are no longer on any A-list.

Tiger Woods, Robert Downey Junior, Vanessa Williams and Bill Clinton are at the top of their game after each faced career ending scandals. That’s brand management.

For my money the single best example of great brand management is Tylenol. Years ago tainted Tylenol tablets were killing people. Tylenol managed to not only come back but are bigger than they have ever been.

The Milestone story is too important to let just anyone who heard some Doo Doo though the grapevine tell it. If the accepted narrative becomes just Dwayne created Milestone what happened to me at a meeting some time back will become commonplace. I was in talks with a mainstream publisher about an imprint deal I would have with them. During a meeting with eight people in the room including the publisher someone mentioned Milestone. I promptly interjected that I was a founder of Milestone and someone actually said; “No it was McDuffie who started Milestone with backing from Quincy Jones.”

Oh, no! Now, I’m put in the position where I have to address that. Having to deflect, correct, restate or clarify anything in a corporate setting is almost always bad.

Anytime you take the position that information you provided or spoke to is flawed, inaccurate or wrong puts your credibility in question. The perception that Dwayne is solely responsible for Milestone is problematic because Dwayne was such a massive talent future Milestone business could be at serious risk if a company decides they don’t want to be in business with Milestone because the guy who started it is gone. He’s not gone, his name is Denys and he’s even more talented than he was when he started Milestone 20 years ago.

Derek, Denys and I are truly blessed to have been partners and friends with Dwayne. Milestone was a great idea and Dwayne made it a greater idea of that there is no doubt. I’ll leave you with a bit of advice Dwayne gave me and no doubt countless others…

Get it right.




Mindy Newell: For Kim And John, From The Heart

Newell Art 130527So Saturday, I’m sitting in the kitchen, my feet up on the table, sipping my morning tea, and flipping through the latest edition of Entertainment Weekly. It’s the one with Hugh Jackman on the cover as Wolverine, dated May 31/June 7 2013.

I’m on page 32, the “Monitor” section, and there’s nothing there really of interest for me, a headline splashing a “Bieber Backlash” – about time – and an announcement under “Splits” that Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame have broken up again – duh, I saw that one coming once the last fanfare of Breaking Dawn was done – and then I see a little inset on the bottom left that boldly reads “turn the page and open the flaps for EW’s pick of the 25 greatest superheroes ever” (with “plus the 5 worst” in a shaded grey, and a little arrow pointing to a big advertising spread for a TNT show called Hero.

Hmm. Didn’t see this listed on the “Contents” page. Must be like one of those Easter eggs that some videos have.

So nat’ch I open the flaps and there it is. Very cool, and a nice surprise.

The copy explains that when picking this list EW decided to “specify which version of the hero stands out above the rest,” so that “some icons appear here more than once.

I like that, it’s a bit different, and with 75 years of superhero history muddying the waters (Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1, June 1938) along with who-can-count-the-number-of-reboots in that time, I think it shows respect for our beloved genre.

So here’s their list, in ascending order, of the greatest superheroes of all time, with a bit of EW’s reasons why:

1. Spider-Man: Lee and Ditko, Amazing Fantasy #15, August 1962. “…reinvented the muscle-bound superhero as young, funny, geeky, flawed, and struggling. ”

2. Batman Year One: Frank Miller, Batman #404 – 407, 1987. “…has cast its dark, sinister shadow over every Batman iteration since. ”

3. Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Joss Wheedon, 1977 – 2003. “…super and human, as quick with a quip as she was with a stake…Buffy was a teen first, her secret identity her heroism. ”

4. Iron Man: Robert Downey, Jr., 2008. “…tack on the aching wisdom that Downey’s age (and eyes) – oh, and may I add here his pure, unadulterated sexiness – brings to the role and you have the fully charged heart of the Marvel movie universe. ”

5. Superman: Christopher Reeve, 1978. “…most memorable was his playful take on alter ego Clark Kent, depicting him as the meek, benign bumbler” – well, they almost got this one right. Reeve simply was Superman.

Okay, this is getting into dangerous, possible plagiarism territory here (plus it could very possible piss off editor Mike), so let me quickly go down the list without the, uh, word-for-word copying.

6. Wonder Woman: Lynda Carter, 1976 – 1979. Spin, Lynda, spin!

7. Batman: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Trilogy, 2005 – 2012. Made everyone forget everything that came after Michael Keaton. Hey, I thought Keaton was great, so stick in it your ear! Although, imho, Pfeiffer still beats out Hathaway as Catwoman.

8. X-Men: Chris Claremont and John Byrne, 1977 – 1981. The team that got me hooked on mutants.

9. Black Panther: Don McGregor, Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, Billy Graham, Klaus Janson and Bob McLeod, “Panther’s Rage,” Jungle Action #6 – #24, September 1973 – November 1976. Marvel’s first graphic novel, even if it did appear in serialized form. Dwayne McDuffie said of it on his website: This overlooked and underrated classic is arguably the most tightly written multi-part superhero epic ever. If you can get your hands on it . . . sit down and read the whole thing. It’s damn near flawless, every issue, every scene, a functional, necessary part of the whole. Okay, now go back and read any individual issue. You’ll find seamlessly integrated words and pictures; clearly introduced characters and situations; a concise (sometimes even transparent) recap; beautifully developed character relationships; at least one cool new villain; a stunning action set piece to test our hero’s skills and resolve; and a story that is always moving forward towards a definite and satisfying conclusion…and [they] did it in only 17 pages per issue.” Okay, I’m copying again.

I’m going to tighten this up even further, because there’s a big surprise coming, and it’s something that mean a lot to me…and to someone else here at ComicMix.

10. Captain America: Ed Brubaker, 2004 – 2012.

11. Superman (Animated): Max and Dave Fleisher, 1941.

12. The Flash: Carmine Infantino, 1956 – seemingly forever

13. Phoenix: Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, Uncanny X-Men, #101 – #108, 1976 – 1977

14. The Incredible Hulk: Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, 1977 – 1982

15. Dream: Neil Gaiman, Sandman #1 – #79, 1989 – 1996.

16. Wolverine: Hugh Jackman, 2000 – 2013

17. Swamp Thing: Alan Moore, The Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, February 1984 – Swamp Thing #64, September 1987

18. Hellboy: Mike Mignola, 1993 – onwards in comics and other media

And here is the one that made me sit up, rush to my computer and send off an e-mail to John Ostrander, my dear friend and fellow columnist here at ComicMix.

19. Oracle: John Ostrander and Kim Yale, Suicide Squad #23, 1989

In 1988, Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, was shot and paralyzed by the Joker in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke as he rampaged against everyone connected to the Dark Knight. Although the graphic novel was a brilliant take on the Joker (which, imho, vastly influenced the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the villain) and was critically acclaimed, the controversy of the victimization of Barbara Gordon really upset the fans – particularly the women.

Including Kim Yale, John’s late wife, a wonderful writer and editor, and the best friend this writer ever had.

Well, let me have John tell it, from an interview with Vaneta Rogers on Newsarama dated September 7, 2011:

My late wife, Kimberly Yale, and I were not crazy about how Barbara was treated in The Killing Joke,” comic writer John Ostrander told Newsarama. “Since the Batman office had no further plans for her at the time, we got permission to use Barbara in Suicide Squa, [another DC title at the time]. We felt that the gunshot as seen in Killing Joke would leave her paralyzed. We felt such an act should have repercussions. So…we took some of her other talents, as with computers, and created what was essentially an Internet superhero – Oracle. “

It so perfectly made sense. Barbara had been established as a PhD. in library science, so Kim and John used that basis to make Barbara the ultimate computer hacker. As Oracle, she was the “go-to” person for any hero in the DC universe needing information; it was a natural progression for Denny O’Neil (yep, our Denny), who was the editor of Batman family editor at this time, to incorporate Oracle as the woman to whom the Dark Knight turned when he sought aid on the computer.

This is a nation that talks the talk about recognizing the value of everyone’s capabilities but rarely walks the walk. This is a country in which Senator Max Cleland, who lost both arms and a leg while serving in Vietnam, lost his seat to a man who got out of serving in Vietnam (“bad knee,” he said in one interview) by claiming Cleland did not support his country against Osama Bin Laden. This is a country in which the comic book industry is filled with muscle-bound men in spandex able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and sexualized women whose bubble boobs enable them to fly.

But this is also an industry that gave us Oracle, who was Batgirl, who was the target of madhouse clown, who was paralyzed, who forged on ahead and demanded our respect.

She got it.

Thanks to two writers named Kim Yale and John Ostrander.

*The rest of the list is: 20. Astonishing X-Men by Joss Wheedon; 21. The Incredibles, by Brad Bird; 22. The Incredible Hulk, by Lee and Kirby; 23. Spider-Man, by Sam Raimi; 24. Daredevil, by Frank Miller; and 25. Fantastic Four, by Lee and Kirby.

**The 5 Worst Superheroes are: 1. Matter-Eater Lad; 2. The Punisher; 3. Halle Berry’s Catwoman; 4. Wonder Twins; and 5. David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman.

(Mindy will be back in this space Wednesday afternoon.)




Michael Davis: It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Davis Art 130212Actually it was twenty years ago, but it wasn’t today. Look, any time I get to use a Beatles lyric in anything I write I’m using it. Nothing says witty and clever like a Beatles lyric or a Tupac and Biggie reference.

Case in point. One time too freakin’ many an ex-girlfriend asked me in an email if I thought she was getting fat. I was so sick of answering the same freakin’ question over and over again. She would ask when she and I would be on a date, in a car, on the phone, texting and one time I could have sworn she screamed it out during sex. I can’t be sure of that I couldn’t hear her clearly as I was, at the same time, screaming out my name. Yes, I scream my own name out during sex. Someone has to.

I was just sick to death of this shit so in my response I found a way to use a slightly altered Beatles lyric, which was, yes, you are the Walrus.

Twenty years ago, Denys Cowan, Dwayne McDuffie, Derek Dingle, Christopher Priest and I founded Milestone Media.

Hard to believe I was just five when I helped start the company, eh Jean?

Twenty years later, Milestone is still considered the greatest publishing achievement in African American comic book history. The Milestone deal was ground breaking and the universe is still alive and relevant. Milestone has achieved in comics the same kind of reverence the Tucker achieved in the automobile industry or Guns ‘n’ Roses achieved in Rock and Roll, all three burst on the scene, changed the game and for whatever reason lived a short life but has never been forgotten.

What many people don’t realize is Milestone still exists and is still alive in media if not in a monthly series of comic books. Static Shock is still seen on television, Milestone characters are often featured on other DC comics animated shows and Milestone comic book projects still are being created.

Milestone’s 20th anniversary will be celebrated and in the coming months happenings will be reveled. I just can’t tell you now; if I did Denys Cowan would see to it that I join Tupac and Biggie. Yes, I’ve used that line before and I will continue to use it until LAPD does it job and finds their killers…or someone comments how clever and witty that line is. I’m good with whatever comes first.

What I can say is ComicMix readers who are Milestone fans have a guy on the inside. As we all know with great power comes first hand knowledge premiering here at ComicMix before anywhere else.

That is, if I remember to write it after it’s finalized but before the press release goes industry wide.

I’ll try and remember but once I was told over the phone I just had a huge project green lit and could now talk about it. The very next call I was on not three minutes later was with an entertainment magazine doing a profile on me and like a dick I forgot to mention the venture when asked about what projects I was working on.

That omission was like forgetting to mention I own a dog when being interviewed for a cover story in Dog Magazine.

Last thing, for all you fan boys who are still a bit “girl challenged” if your girlfriend…wait, what am I saying? Girlfriend? Fan boys? Ok, if the girl you are smitten with or any girl asks you if she looks like she was getting fat or the classic, do I look fat in this dress?

The answer is always no.

If the heifer weights 300 pounds and is always sucking on a saltlick, the answer is always no.

Trust me, don’t say anything remotely like what I said, I’m lucky to be alive and ten years after the break up I’m still looking over my shoulder.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold and The Nerddom Intelligentsia

THURDSDAY: Dennis O’Neil


Michael Davis: Dark Saturday Knight

Davis Art 130108I finally watched The Dark Knight Rises last Saturday.

Just a short recap: personal demons of mine kept me from seeing the film when it opened because of the shootings that happened during an opening night screening.

The first day the film came to Blu-Ray I brought a copy and planed a Dark Knight Rises night, complete with all the man cave fixings. That week another mass shooting happened and again I put the film on hold. Then Sandy Hook happened and again I put the film on hold.

I freely admit that I’m a pussy when it comes to confronting my own demons. I also freely admit that because of those demons I’ve made stupid decisions and reacted quickly instead of smartly.

Comics, animation, video games and the like take up a great deal of my time and my life, but they are not all my time or all my life.

I was not ready to see The Dark Knight Rises and waited until I was.

The film was, in a word, great.

I don’t regret waiting I don’t regret not seeing it on the big screen because the film was so badass I could have watched it on an iPhone and loved it.

On another note…

Dwayne McDuffie was a dear friend and creative partner of mine. I have yet to watch All-Star Superman, written by Dwayne, which debuted around the time of his death. I’m just not ready. But it sure is something to look forward to.



Martha Thomases Goes Gangnam Style

Martha Thomases Goes Gangnam Style

My Twitter feed informed me today that my current obsession, the music video to “Gangnam Style” by Korean pop singer Psy, has passed 100 million hits on YouTube. The cool kids love it. The masses love it.

Even Batman loves it.

So I was taken aback when a friend of mine went on a Facebook rant complaining about it. He’s Korean-American, and he not only hated the video, but everyone who liked it. If I’m understanding him correctly, he thought it was over-produced, hook-heavy, and reflected badly on the Korean music scene.

I felt as if I was being inadvertently racist. The things he slammed were the things I loved. Too many cuts? Impossible. Ridiculous imagery? That’s my favorite part. I have no idea what they’re saying, but I love the way they’re saying it.

Also, I love the guy in the yellow suit.

Is my affection for this video a sign of racism? In my experience, the easiest way to spot a racist is to listen for the phrase “I am not a racist.” I’m not going to fall into that trap. And I’ve had an interest in Asian culture at least since college, when a class in Chinese Literature in translation introduced me to a new way of thinking and a new way to see the world.

I’ve loved Japanese comics since before they were cool (or at least, the beginning of when they were cool). They displayed a depth and breadth of subject matter and passion that was missing from American comics at the time, whether focusing on politics, adventure or cats.

Still, I’m not very knowledgeable about Korea. And it’s certainly racist to lump together all Asian societies as if they are the same.

I’ve struggled with this conundrum before. In the 1990s, the film Bamboozled made me question whether my love of tap dancing was racist. I remember talking to Dwayne McDuffie about it, and he said, “I think Spike Lee likes tap dancing, too.”

Does that let me off the hook?

If you think I’m being too politically correct, consider how it must feel to be on the receiving end. I had that experience when I saw the fantastic French animated film, The Triplets of Belleville. There is a part of the film when the main characters get to the United States, and everyone here is incredibly obese. I wanted to raise my hand and say “We’re not all like that.”

I imagine that my friend feels the same way when he watches Psy. I wouldn’t enjoy it if all of American pop music was judged by Taylor Swift. And I don’t even hate Taylor Swift.

It would help if there was, generally, more diversity in our popular culture. If straight white male was not the default assumption, the exceptions to straight white male wouldn’t be startling. And the people who make these assumptions know they have a problem.

Those of us in comics are among the worst offenders. It’s still front-page news when a flagship character is African-American.

Let’s work together to fix this. But first, I have to work on my pony moves.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman Returns!


Michael Davis: Milestones – African Americans In Comics, Pop Culture And Beyond, Part 3

Please read parts one and two before this installment.

The Comics Code Authority (CCA) tried its best to stop EC from publishing a particularly offensive (to them) comic book. The book they were trying to stop was Weird Fantasy #18 (April 1953); the story was called “Judgment Day.”

What was objected to was not a gory scene of a space monster under orders from a criminal ripping to pieces an earth girl who, clad in scant bra and panties, was an obvious sexual tease for 50s era yikoung boys.

What was objected to was the main character, an astronaut, was revealed on the last page in the last panel to be a black man. Wow, who knew that the Tea Party was alive and well in 1953 under the name Comics Code Authority?

Why am I surprised at this? The GOP thinks that a woman can’t get pregnant and everyone knows that’s science fiction but (sorry Peter) I digress…

The CCA demanded the story removed or the last panel changed to a white boy. ECs editor William Gaines, the publisher of Weird Fantasy, responded to that demand with “Fuck you.”

Three years later, Gaines reprinted the story in the final issue (#33) of Incredible Science Fiction.

William Gaines was gangsta.

Like Branch Rickey, the man who brought Jackie Robinson to professional baseball, William Gaines was a civil rights pioneer. Both were white men and although Gaines rarely gets any kudos for his civil rights stance, certainly not the way Rickey is remembered.

That shot fired in 1956 started a war in the comic book industry over black story lines, black characters and black creators and that war continues today. A war not nearly as difficult as it was in 1956 but a war nevertheless.

1956 meet 1993 meet 2012…

In 1993 Denys Cowan, Dwayne McDuffie, Derek T. Dingle, Christopher Priest and myself founded Milestone Media.

Milestone was a worldwide phenomenon making history with its ground breaking deal with DC Comics. At the time the deal with DC was the biggest joint venture deal ever done in comics.

The deal was not the reason Milestone was heralded. Milestone was rocketed in front of the public because the founders were four African American men. We were four because Christopher Priest left the company before Milestone published.

In the almost 20 years since Milestone came on the scene the company is still thought of as the penultimate African American comic book company.

That’s good.

That’s bad.

It’s good because Milestone accomplished something that was a long time coming. Milestone put black content on the map. Black creators, black characters and black story lines were propelled to the forefront of the American comic industry. Never before in comics long history has African American content captured the imagination of fans, retailers and the press.

It’s bad because Milestone is almost 20 years old and still the penultimate African American moment in comics. As a founder of Milestone that gladdens me as an African American creator it also saddens me.

Where is the next wave?

Within the African American comics’ community there exists splits’ that mainstream comic book readers for the most part are not aware of. Among most black creators Milestone is respected, but there are some young black creators who see Milestone as sellouts, Uncle Toms or worse. Some in the black comic book community have gone so far as to brand Milestone, House Niggers when discussing our groundbreaking deal with DC Comics.

This is the state of the very real divide within the black comics community.

There is a thriving independent group of young black creators who are doing bold and wonderful work. They publish with small indie houses or they self-publish. The stories they are creating are mostly Afro-centric, mostly positive but there are some which are anti-establishment, a.k.a. anti-white.

On the flip side of that there is a contingent of black creators who reject all other forms of publishing unless a major publisher publishes them and by major publisher I mean the two big boys, Marvel and DC. Lastly there are those black creators who would not publish with Marvel or DC if their lives depended on it, seeing both companies as comic’s answer to plantations.

With all the seemingly inexhaustible black talent out there I ask again…

Where’s the next wave?

Why is a new black anything (comic, creator, character) at Marvel or DC still seen as a breakthrough 20 years after Milestone and 58 years after Judgment Day?

Case in point, Marvel’s new half black, half Latino Spider-Man. That was a huge story, which captivated numerous news cycles. The recent cancellation of DC Comics’ New 52 Static Shock after only six issues sent shock waves (pun intended) throughout the industry.

The outcry from fans on the net went from, oh no Static was cancelled to Static was cancelled because he was black.

Here’s what Denys Cowan and I, co-creators of Static Shock and both black creators think, Static was cancelled because this hit, cool, teenage hero was fighting a giant fish.

Up until now there has been no serious attempt to showcase African Americans and the creative excellence, which has been a mainstay of the industry for as long as comics have been an American art form. Unfortunately at the beginning of the American comic book business, African Americans were depicted most often as horrible stereotypes.

I’ve seen that movie; Milestones: African Americans In Comics, Pop Culture And Beyond will not be that kind of show. 

Yes, there will me a nod or two to the depiction of those sad and hurtful images. However, this show will be about the vast talent and wonderful innovation that came from or were influenced by African Americans.

From the faceless contributions of those like William Gaines almost 60 years ago to the constant search for African American talent by Mike Richardson to the acknowledgement of contributions by people like Jenette Kahn, Marv Wolfman, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby this show will embrace the totality which is black comics.

Make no mistake; the overwhelming focus will be on black creators and their art. But let’s face it there would have been no Static Shock without the Black Panther.

It’s my hope that the show will feature not just the work of mainstream black creators but also work from those who consider themselves outside the mainstream as well as those who want nothing to do with the mainstream. I’d like the major comic book companies like Marvel, DC and Dark Horse to have sections devoted to them and their efforts to level the racial playing field but also let’s learn from the mistakes they made.

Independent and new companies will be invited to participate as long as the work from that company is quality. Let’s face it; some independent publishers simply suck.

I don’t care if you are the son of Malcolm X. If your work sucks you will not be represented in the show and I’ll keep you out by any means necessary.

Damn, I’m witty!

Writers from within and outside the comics industry will be called upon to write essays and reflections on the fight for acceptance and the triumph of arriving and exceeding expectations.

In America it’s no secret that African American culture is pop culture so it’s my objective to showcase that. I may fail, I may not be the guy that should have been chosen for this wonderful event but from the bottom of my heart I swear I will do the best I can.

If I fail, it’s my fault…and the Tea Parties…what?

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold, Passion and Wonder


Michael Davis: The Greatest Story Never Told, Conclusion

Please read the past three week’s installments before reading this. Thanks!

What has gone before, quick and dirty recap… I’d sold (in my opinion) the second greatest idea in the history of comics to one of the greatest publishers (DC Comics) in the business. It was to be written by one of the greatest writers  (Dwayne McDuffie) with art by a guy (me) who was going to make sure this time he got it right. The editor assigned to it wanted me off the project I created. Dwayne told the editor he would not do the project without me.

I told the editor to kiss my ass (at a bar during the San Diego Comic Con some years after all this went down and after Jenette Kahn had left DC). See previous installments as to why I didn’t tell him to kiss my ass while Jenette was there.

What did the editor say?

Nothing. When’s the last time you’re heard a pussy talk? Me? Last Friday but that was …well … you know…

I took the project to Dark Horse.

Mike Richardson loved it…

Mike Richardson runs what is without a doubt the coolest entertainment company in the world in my opinion. Dark Horse does movies, comics, television, animation, toys, collectables and just about any other cool pop culture stuff you can think of.

Mike is not just the founder, owner and CEO, he is also the driving creative force behind Dark Horse. Having a project at Dark Horse is not just cool, its prestigious as well.

Sin City, Hellboy, The Mask, 300 are among the Dark Horse comic projects that have gone on to be come huge movies and merchandising juggernauts. If any project has a chance of becoming something beyond comics, having Dark Horse as your publisher helps tremendously.

Mike gave me my marching orders, which were to come back with a detailed outline of the story, and I did. I came back over and over for five years.

Yep. Five years.

Or 35 years in the DC editor’s life. Why 35 years? Because he was and still is a little bitch.

But (sorry again, Peter) I digress…

Allow me to make another aside to the young creators out there. I have two mottos that I live by…

There is nothing too good to do for my friends, nothing too bad to do to my enemies.


A deal takes the time that a deal takes.

Just to be clear, Mike Richardson and I did not meet every week or so for five years. We met numerous times to go over the story but there were times when we would meet in April and the next time it would be in May.

May of the next year.

When you are dealing with the head of an A-list entertainment company you have to realize that they have a lot of other stuff to do.  Often Mike would be out of town, way out of town like in Prague filming Hellboy or in Japan working on a toy deal or in San Diego at Comic Con where he stabbed me through my heart…long story.

Before your mind goes to dark places, he stole a toy out from under me at a vendor during Comic Con. That’s how he stabbed me in the heart…and he never called.

So young creator: remember a deal takes the time that it takes. If you think countless phone calls and emails are going to make a difference, you are right.

Countless phone calls and emails will make a difference. The difference it will most likely make is you will phone call and email yourself out of a deal. Nobody likes a pest.

I know that first hand. Ask Halle Berry.

We went back and forth on the story until Mike called me one afternoon and said; “Let’s get rid of the superhero element.”

That’s what Mike had been struggling with during my many revisions to the story.

The story was a superhero story that dealt with a certain time in American history. Mike realized all at once that the history was more important than the superheroes.

This under any other circumstances would have been a deal killer for me. That was not the idea that Keith Giffen said was one of the greatest ideas he had ever seen. This was no longer my dream project.


It was a great project and more importantly it was a story that needed to be told.

Mike was right.

Soon after we had that talk I turned in my new story overview and Mike said “Go do the book.”

That was three years ago.

I’ve been working on that graphic novel for three years. The comic book work I’ve done in the past has been me trying to do comics the way others do comics. I’m not that type of artist and I’m not making that mistake again.  Graphic novels are done in as many styles as there are artists and I’m not taking any chances that I’m not true to how I work and how I work is a bit involved and tedious.

My pen and ink style is a wee bit time consuming.

I’m including examples of the Dark Horse project with this article. Mike Richardson has not even seen this work yet. I’m not showing any story pages, as I’d like to keep the story under wraps for a bit more time.

As I hope you can see from the art, the work is a bit time intensive.  All of the originals are 20 x 30 inches, double or single page spreads.

But just as a deal takes the time that it takes a good artist takes the time that he or she needs to do the work to the best of their abilities.

That being said-my project at Dark Horse has an opened ended deadline, meaning I have the luxury of turning the project in when I want.

I have that luxury.

If any young creator is on a deadline but thinks they can turn in a project whenever they want just so they can get it right that creator at risk of becoming an asshole of the highest order and at a higher risk to be unemployed.

The Dark Horse project should be done this year, and I’m as happy as Mitt Romney’s dog was when he came down off that car roof. It’s a major graphic novel from a major publisher and Mike Richardson is one of the greats to work with not just in comics but the entertainment business.

But, you ask, what about the original earth shattering idea?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Last year at Comic Con I met with the head of another major comic book company who expressed great interest. We met again last November and he was still very interested I was told he would get back to me in two weeks to see rather or not it was a fit within his publishing plan.

Two weeks turned into four months. We met again briefly two months ago and he said he would get back to me shorty.

So far it’s been six months and I’ve heard neither yay nor nay.

That’s really not a big deal. Really it’s not. I’ve been waiting to do this project for over ten years, so six months is nothing. I’m also dealing with the head of the company so he’s got a lot on his plate. I don’t take any of this stuff personally.

Similarly, I’m a busy guy. I’ve writing three books (novels, not comics) and I have another graphic novel project as well as a TV show in development. Moreover I have a couple of other little things I’m doing, so like I said, I’m a busy guy so I was fine with waiting.

I was fine with waiting.

Last week another major player entered the game. They want to do Project X and they want to do it now.

So what do I do? Do I…

A. Pull the project from the publisher who has had it for six months and take it to the new publisher?

B. Do I give the publisher who has it as much time as they want to make a decision?

C. Do I tell the publisher who has the project to shit or get off the pot?

D. Do I not say a word to the publisher who has the project and let them know when the new publisher announces it at the San Diego Comic Con?

Pay attention here, young creators…

A is an asshole move.

B is simply a stupid move with another power player in the game.

If I were the old Michael Davis, it would be D. I’m not that guy anymore.

So that leaves C.

That’s the ticket, boys and girls. I’ve patiently waited six months, Hell, if you think about it I’ve patiently waited more than ten years.

On Monday April 23rd (tomorrow to me, yesterday to you) I’m sending a very nice email to the company that has my project and I’m saying very nicely to them please make a decision.

I know what they are going to do. I’m real good and according to many, I’m scary when it comes to predicting what others will do.

My birthday is a week from the date of this writing. That’s next Sunday, April 29th.

I’m sure I’ll be celebrating Project X and a new deal.

That’s a great gift. In fact it will be a first.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold Thinks Up Something Just In The Nick Of Time