Tagged: First Comics

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

John Ostrander: Great Horny Toads!

Censorship can, sometimes, be a spur to the creative mind. It’s more often a pain in the ass but there are times when a creative mind finds ingenious ways of getting around the bans, whatever they may be.

For example, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, them crazy guys who created South Park (and, even more oddly, the Tony Award winning musical The Book of Mormon) originally wanted to call the South Park movie South Park: All Hell Breaks Loose. That got rejected by the MPAA for having the word “Hell” in the title. Parker and Stone re-named the film “Bigger, Longer, Uncut,” which is more salacious. Evidently, the MPAA were the only ones who didn’t get the penis reference. Creativity trumps censorship.

George Carlin in 1972 famously listed seven words you could never say on television. Not only can I say them here, but I think editor Mike Gold would insist. They are: “shit,” “piss,” “fuck,” “cunt,” “cocksucker,” “motherfucker,” and “tits.’’ These days I think you can get away with “shit,” “piss,” and “tits” on television sometimes) but the other ones are still right out. You definitely can’t say any of them in mainstream comics.

For example, Marvel’s Luke Cage is a streetwise badass motherfucker who swears like your granny. “Sweet Christmas!” is his most common swear word. When I wrote him in Heroes For Hire, I had a villain taunt him about it. Cage, as he beat the shit/poo (take your pick) out of the guy explained it was because his grandma didn’t approve of swearing and “she was tougher than you.”

On Battlestar Galactica, instead of saying “fuck,” the characters said “frak” but we all knew what they meant. The word has gone on to enter the vocabulary of the fans and some other sci/fi works. One of the things I enjoy about it is that the process of raping the earth and poisoning it to get at natural gas is called “frakking.’’ For me, it means they’re fucking us all to get at the natural gas and its profits.

George Carlin also famously noted that when we say “Fuck you” we’re actually wishing something nice on a person. Working from that, in some sci-fi stuff I tried replacing “fuck” with “nuke,” as in “Nuke you and the nuking horse you came in on.” Or calling someone a “mothernuker.’’ “Nuke” has the harsh “uk” sound as “fuck” and hoping that someone gets nuked is not wishing them a good time. However, the substitution seemed a little forced and drew too much attention to itself. It read like the author was trying to be clever, which I guess he was, so I dropped it. Sometimes you just can’t beat the fucking classics.

Worse than that is anything sexual. You can rip a guy’s arm off and beat another guy to death with it, all the while spurting gouts of blood but you show too much skin or a couple getting it on or (Christian Right Forbid!) any sort of same sex naughtiness going on and there will be a hue and cry far greater than any uproar over profanity. See the current Right Wing brouhaha over Alan Scott’s Green Lantern being gay or Northstar over at Marvel marrying his boyfriend.

For a long time, if a movie had a couple in bed together, at least one of them had to have one foot on the floor. On TV, I remember that on The Dick Van Dyke Show, whenever they went to the bedroom of Rob and Laura Petrie, they had separate beds. Who were they fooling? I was young at that time and even I, sheltered Roman Catholic boyo that I was, knew my folks slept in the same bed. I didn’t want to think whatever else they might be doing in that bed (still don’t – shudder!) but I knew sure as hell they didn’t have separate beds.

Still, there is a certain sexuality, a certain sensuality in suggestion rather than in statement. I remember when First Comics was doing Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! everyone talked about the sex and the nudity and all except … there wasn’t. It was implied. Sexy, yes – and sensual. It was a great, classic series whose rep is dirtier than the book ever was.

Over at DC, on Wasteland, we did all sorts of crap. We tossed a baby out of a window in a story called R.Ab (which stood for retroactive abortion) and we managed to honk off both pro-lifers and pro-choicers (and, if memory serves, our publisher) at the same time. We eviscerated a biology teacher for laughs and tried to get the reader into the mind of a serial killer among other things. Without bad language and without sex. We got accused of bad taste, which we reveled in, but rarely bad language or blatant sex.

I’m not saying that the envelope shouldn’t be pushed or that censorship is a good thing. However, if you try to establish boundaries and tell creative folks not to go there, odds are the creative folks figure out a way around it, if they can. That’s why they’re called creative. They’re never more creative when trying to do something naughty. Or juvenile. Or naughty juvenile.

Whoaaaa! Sounds dirty, that! Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more!

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

Dan Schaffer’s “The Scribbler” Starts Filming This Week

Filming on Dan Schaffer’s graphic novel The Scribbler begins later this week in Los Angeles for a live action theatrical film release.

Schaffer’s graphic novel was originally published in 2006 by Image Comics.  A new “director’s cut” of the graphic novel is being prepared by the recently re-launched First Comics™ for release in conjunction with the film’s opening. Schaffer penned the screenplay adapted from his graphic novel.

The thriller centers on Suki, a young woman confined in a mental institution and being treated with an experimental machine dubbed “The Siamese Burn, designed to eliminate multiple personalities.  As the “treatment” progresses, Suki starts to be haunted by the realization that if “The Siamese Burn” is successful, which one of her personalities will be the survivor?

Katie Cassidy, already with comic connections as Dinah Lance in the CW pilot Arrow, stars as the title character Suki.  The cast also includes Garret Dillahunt (Winter’s Bone), Michelle Trachtenberg (Gossip Girl), Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse), Gina Gershon (Killer Joe), Michael Imperioli (The Lovely Bones, The Sopranos), Billy Campbell (The Killing, The Rocketeer), Sasha Grey (The Girlfriend Experience, Entourage) Ashlynn Yennie (The Human Centipede), Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory), and T.V. Carpio (Limitless). NightSky Production’s Ken F. Levin is producing with New Artist Alliance’s Gabriel Cowan, with Cowan’s NAA co-founder and partner, John Suits, directing. Caliber Media’s Dallas Sonnier and Jack Heller will executive produce the film alongside NAA’s Kerry Johnson.

This is Daniel Schaffer’s seventh screenplay to be optioned, and the second to be filmed so far; the first, comedy/horror film Doghouse from Schaffer’s screenplay, was released in 2009 by Carnaby International and distributed by Sony Pictures (Jake West directing).   Schaffer is also known in the comics world for his comic series Dogwitch and his graphic novel Indigo Vertigo (with Katiejane Garside).   NightSky is a production / management firm which also reps Schaffer as a writer client.

The Scribbler is the first of four films in a co-production between New Artist Alliance and Caliber Media.  The two companies have previously produced two movies together, which are both currently in post-production: Static, a horror-thriller starring Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes), Sarah Shahi (Fairly Legal) and Sara Paxton (Darcy’s Wild Life), and 3 Nights In The Desert, starring Amber Tamblyn (Joan Of Arcadia), Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games, American Beauty) and Vincent Piazza (Boardwalk Empire), which Cowan directed.  NAA, known for making over 2000% profit on their first film Breathing Room, premiered their latest feature Extracted at this year’s SXSW.  Growth, another NAA film directed by Cowan, went to #1 on iTunes and has its worldwide television premiere this weekend on The Syfy Channel.

Schaffer has a 7-page preview of The Scribbler on his website.

MIKE GOLD On Criticism And Critics

Of all the characters Dan Ackroyd played on Saturday Night Live back when the show was actually funny and clever, my favorite was a guy named Leonard Pinth-Garnell, a tuxedoed teevee critic who hosted segments called, alternatively, Bad Playhouse, Bad Cinema, Bad Ballet, and so on. Whereas the premise was obvious, the ambiance was brilliant. Pinth-Garnell was an über-snob, the kind who pontificate with their noses so high up in the air you’d think they’d drown in a light drizzle.

Needless to say, damn near everybody who ever applied letters to opinions has a bit of Leonard Pinth-Garnell in him, her, or it. Some of us try to keep him locked up in a dark corner of our brainpans, but he keeps on popping up on our shoulder like the devil that torments Donald Duck, or, more to my point, Tom Hulce in Animal House.

Then the Internet came along and freed our inner-Pinth-Garnell. Now we had a forum where we could say anything. Of course, with great power comes great dues and we have to subject ourselves to comments from the masses. As I see from elsewhere on the Wild Wild Web – certainly not here at ComicMix, where I have come to regard our commenters as family – some responses can be quite abusive.

Well, what goes around comes around.

The problem with criticism is that, categorically, it’s like shooting ducks in a barrel. It’s simply too easy to criticize someone for doing something you didn’t like. Of course, when you do you’re pissing off all those people who did like your target. Doubtlessly, you are aware of the famous aphorism known as Sturgeon’s Law: “ninety percent of everything is crap.” This led to my own definition of a cynic: “he who believes Sturgeon was being conservative.”

Here’s something that confirms your suspicion: occasionally, some critics (never me, of course) often are exploiting their target so they can get their audience all riled up and generate a lot more page-site hits, which inure to the benefit of the advertising revenue. My dear friend, author Max Allan Collins, once referred to this technique as “tossing a hand grenade into the audience and then throwing your body on top of it,” and nobody does that with a bigger smile on his face than Mr. Collins, my generation’s version of Richard L. Breen.

Such criticism is among ComicMix’s raisons d’être. Whereas I do not impose these (or hardly any other) standards upon our sundry columnists and commenters, I strive to be informative in this acre of bandwidth. I like turning people on to cool stuff they might not have come across, or, better still, they were considering but hadn’t decided upon. Like all writers I admire a well-turned phrase, particularly my own. The reason why I never got a vanity plate is because back in my First Comics days Rick Oliver and I saw a car license that read “BLIND.” I can’t beat that one.

Occasionally, we all come across an unavoidable target: one so well promoted that commentary is necessary to preserve the greater societal sanity. This is often known as “the Emperor’s New Clothes,” or “What is Frank Miller doing next?”

Yeah, a little Leonard Pinth-Garnell every once in a while sure is good for the soul.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil and Batwoman



I’ve seen the light.

I’ve seen the future of comics.

I had a meeting yesterday with a company that is going to change the game on the net and can change for comics and creators. I’ve haven’t been this excited since I was 17 and my very first real girlfriend Yvonne Stallworth said, “My parents won’t be home until the morning.”

At 17you know what that means, right fellas?

Poon tang…yeah.

Or in my case spending the night saying; “Please…please…please.”  Before you think I was begging for poon tang; “Please, Please, Please” is the title of a James Brown song I was singing… as I was begging for poon tang.

I can’t talk about the company or what they are doing…no that’s not true, I can talk about it but I’m hedging my bets just in case I’m wrong…which, by the way, I’m not.

That way if they crash and burn I’m protected and if they succeed I’m golden!

All the above said, I’m at a lost as to what was the last game changing moment in comics.

I guess it was the New 52 from DC.

I guess.

I’m not sure because to say something is a game changer is a big deal. Because it’s such a big deal I started thinking, what does it take to be a real game changer?

This is what I came up with. Areal game changer is a person or event that creates a new way of looking at things and years later that way has become the way.

So, with my personal criteria noted what follows are what I consider the most important game change decisions or people who have done so since I’ve been reading comics. You may disagree and if so feel free to amend, add or challenge some or all of my choices.

This list is in NO particular order.

  • Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man
  • Image Comics
  • Jack Kirby
  • Stan Lee
  • Dwayne McDuffie
  • First Comics
  • Mike Gold
  • Milestone Media
  • Death of Captain Marvel
  • Death of Superman
  • The New 52
  • The iPad
  • The Killing Joke
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths
  • Secret Wars
  • Death of Barry Allen
  • Neil Gaiman’s Sandman
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Kirby’s fourth world
  • Death of Gwen Stacy
  • Dave McKean
  • Bill Sienkiewicz
  • San Diego Comic Con International
  • Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles
  • Alan Speiegal
  • Arkham Asylum
  • Paul Levitz
  • Jenette Kahn
  • Axel Alonzo
  • Howard Chaykin
  • Dark Horse
  • Mike Richardson
  • Len Wein
  • Marv Wolfman
  • The A.P.E convention
  • John Jennings

Like I said the above list is in no particular order. Don’t send me comments about McFarlane being before Stan Lee, the list is in no particular order.


Now. Have at it!



MIKE GOLD: True-Life Nexus Comics

I first saw Nexus at one of those ancient Chicago Minicons we used to run at the beautiful and even ancienter Congress Hotel. The Minicon was an intense show held roughly every month, no matter the weather or the proximity of the latest Chicago Bears game. We had about 75 dealers tables, admission cost 75¢, our dealers and attendees drove in from a 350 mile radius, and the whole thing was over within five hours; less, if the Bears were playing that Sunday.

Our guests came from a similar radius, and frequently you’d see Jill Thompson, John Byrne, John Ostrander, Joe Staton, Paul Kupperberg, and a dozen or more at the tables near the entrance… as well as more than a few who were breaking into the business. Mike Baron, who lived about 80 miles north in Madison Wisconsin, was one such newbee, and when they launched their magazine-sized Nexus #1, he and artist Steve Rude gave me a copy. I consumed it that evening, and became a fan. Big-time.

Maybe a year later, Mike showed up at the Minicon dressed as The Badger. He looked and acted perfect in every way, as though Mike Baron was The Badger. This set my spider-sense tingling.

When their publisher went blooie, I aggressively pursued the opportunity to pick up both titles for our fledgling First Comics company. Both fit our line perfectly: superheroish but not traditional superhero, with a cutting edge provided by a writer and by artists who each had an evolved worldview. Like most of the best creative talent in all endeavors, Mike and Steve had their own individual connections to reality. Badger artist Jeff Butler was, as I recall, pretty straight-forward.

So when I came to actually negotiating terms with the defunct rights-holder Capital Comics, First Publisher Rick Obadiah and I drove up to Madison – Rick went to the University of Wisconsin and knew all the words to “On Wisconsin,” which helped us get a great table for lunch – and had our meeting in the offices of their now former-art director, Richard Bruning. Yeah, Rich is an old fart, too.

We were able to resolve all issues except one, and that one was so minor I can’t remember it today. I recall it wouldn’t have affected Capital Comics at all, but it would give First some needed flexibility. I held firm. So did Capital publisher Milton Griepp. Milton turned to Rich as a mediator, and Rich said he understood my concern. Bless you, Rich. Milton still held firm.

Mike decided he had enough. He walked over to the window behind Milton and opened it, proclaiming he had had enough of this shit and was going to lower himself out the window and hang there until we reached a deal. Then he started to lower himself out that window.

Did I mention the window overlooked the Wisconsin state capitol building?

At that very moment, I wanted to publish Nexus and The Badger more than I wanted oxygen. I sat poker-faced, Rick looked at me in shock, and both Rich and Milton were sort of… dismissive. As if this sort of thing happened with Mike every day.

“Well,” Milton said to Mike who was hanging out the window behind him, “if you feel that strongly about it, I’m okay with this.” Mike came back into the meeting room and we had a deal.

No matter how good those comics were – and Nexus and Badger were very good – that meeting was better. These guys possessed unique minds, and they put their heart and soul into their work.

I’ve had a lot of interesting situations with both Mike and Steve since: the real story of Sonic Disruptors is one that I will tell one day, now that everybody involved is no longer with DC Comics. And I’ll share just one story about these guys.

One day, I’m at First Comics and I get a call from Steve. “Hey, man. It’s the Dude.” Yep, it sure was. Imagine Maynard G. Krebs as one of the most talented artists in the world, circa mid-1980s. “Hey, I, like, just got a call from Rich Bruning! You know he’s out in Hollywood now!”

“Yes, I know…” I responded, waiting with bated breath for the Dude’s next words.

“Well, Rich told me he was working on the Nexus movie, doing all kinds of great design work.”

At that moment, I knew two things: 1) There was no Nexus movie, and 2) If I just shut the hell up, I’d find out what’s going on and probably have a wonderful ride. The Dude continued.

“I guess you forgot to tell me, huh? I know you’ve been busy.” Steve wasn’t pissed at all; he assumed I had a busy schedule and would have gotten around to it. This realization, even though it was based on a very faulty assumption, showed more thought and consideration than I’ve seen from a great many creators. I was genuinely moved.

“So, I gotta ask you, what’s up with the movie? Can I work on it?”

Passing up a great straight line, I sucked in all the air in my Evanston Illinois office and slowly let it out. “Steve. Listen up. Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘pulling your leg’?”

“Yeah, sure. That’s like somebody’s playing a joke on you, right?”

“Right, Steve,” I replied.

“So… you’re saying Rich was playing a joke on me!”


“Oh.” Without pausing he added “Hey, that’s great! Really funny! Thanks for telling me!”

Damn. I didn’t know Emily Litella had a son.

And I really miss working with those guys.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil


Jack Adler: Tribute To A Comics Original

Back in 1937 a King Features Syndicate staffer was given the job of taking over the coloring and engraving their fairly new full-page weekly comic, Prince Valiant. It was a remarkable assignment; one that only a truly talented artist could perform. The job was given to a 19-year old named Jack Adler.

That assignment was his full work load: he had a week to do it, and given the complexity and beauty of Hal Foster’s work, Jack needed every minute of the work day to make his deadline. Given this workload and his youth, we can forgive him for making a politically incorrect faux pas. His boss was taking an executive on a tour; clearly, this executive was a comics fan who really new his stuff. He asked Jack all kinds of questions that were answered perfunctorily without the teenager taking his eyes off of his work. Finally, his boss cleared his throat and Jack swiveled around just in time to meet the executive’s glower.

The executive was the incredibly powerful William Randolph Hearst, the owner of the joint and a man used to deference.

Jack Adler kept his job. That’s quite a tribute to his talent.

Adler went on to a career in comics that lasted for nearly a half-century. Teaming up with his friend Sol Harrison – the engraver on, among other projects, Superman #1 (the first one), the two revolutionized the world of comics color. They recreated the engraving system at the New York Daily News, they helped organize for the engraver’s union and they wound up at DC Comics. Continuing to color – particularly covers – Jack became assistant production manager in 1960 and was promoted to production manager when his boss, friend Harrison, became DC’s president.

Of all his work, Jack is perhaps best known for his wonderful wash covers in the late 1950s and early 1960s: Sea Devils, Green Lantern, Adam Strange, Challengers of the Unknown and others.

A passionate photographer, an audiophile and a watercolor artist, Jack was quite the Renaissance man. I used to joke that he invented papyrus; he thought it over and said no, he would have invented a paper that would absorb color more efficiently.

Jack was saddled with all kinds of allergies and medical conditions and, during his final days at DC, needed help to get through the workday. But he still hung on and was a frequent advisor to a number of so-called independent comics publishers; Adler gave me all sorts of suggestions when we were doing the original First Comics.

Oddly, he might have been better known outside of the comic book donut shop because his cousin, Howard Stern, mentioned him frequently on the air.

Jack Adler passed away Sunday night at the age of 94.

Stern dedicated the opening of Tuesday show to his “super cool Cousin Jack,” calling him a “genius” photographer who supported his passion by becoming a comic book artist.

I called Jack Adler my friend.

 (Caricature by Neal Adams)

A Brief Look at Foreign Comics Adapted into Film

Italy’s Dylan Dog is interesting in that it is one of the first foreign comics adapted by Americans for the big screen. With the video release of the little seen feature film coming July 26, we were given to consider the foreign comics we know as readers and may have never seen the film versions. The first adaptation of Dylan Dog was a homegrown effort, 1994’s Dellamorte Dellamore (known in English as Cemetery Man or Of Death and Love) from director Michele Soavi.

Other countries have tried their hand at adapting their homegrown comics as films, with about the same level of fidelity and success as most American attempts. For example, there the dreadful 1966 movie based on Peter O’Donnell’s brilliant Modesty Blaise. Not to be outdone in awfulness, America tried their hand at a prime time series, starring Ann Turkel. The 1982 ABC pilot aired and got some reasonable reviews but Americanizing it robbed the show of its charm. The direct-to-video My Name is Modesty, released in 2004, was far worse.

America didn’t do any better with Britain’s beloved Judge Dredd. Danny Cannon and Sylvester Stallone share credit for ruining a wonderful concept with their ham-fisted 1995 feature film.

Italy’s Danger: Diabolik was turned into a 1968 feature film from horromeister Mario Bava based on the Italian comic character Diabolik, a 1962 creation by Angela and Luciana Giussani. The film is noteworthy simply because it was bad enough to be used as the final episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

More iconic was the 1968 film from director Roger Vadim, based on Jean-Claude Forest’s Barbarella. Starring Jane Fonda, it was psychedelic and campy and tremendous fun. Maybe that’s why attempts at a remake have stalled; hitting those notes is a trick most filmmakers today struggle with. John Philip Law deserves credit for appearing in both Diabolik and Barbarella in this year, showing his agent had no taste.

Maybe they should just faithfully adapt the source material much as the successful series about everyone’s favorite Gaul, Asterix, who has starred in 11 films since 1967.

They all could have taken lessons from Japan which pays a lot more fealty to the source material when adapting manga to anime or film to manga. A prime example is the seven films based on Lone Wolf and Cub. The first screened in America in the 1980s under the title Sword of Vengeance, just as comics fans were being introduced to First Comics’ editions of the classic tale. Shogun Assassin, also shown in the US, took the first film and a chunk of the second and for people unfamiliar with the concept, as I was when I screened it for Fangoria, it was eye-opening.  Known as the Baby Cart series, they launched in 1972 and remained revered.

Of course, Belgium’s Tin Tin will take his turn this winter but that’s a story for another day.

First Comics, First Second Books, First Comics News, and firstcomics.com — Confused Yet?

Before the panel starts at San Diego Comic-Con, we hope somebody addresses the issues of potential for confusion in the marketplace and possible violation of trademark.

To start, we have First Comics. First Comics was a publisher co-founded by ComicMix’s own Mike Gold in 1983, notable for series like GrimJack, Jon Sable Freelance, Nexus, Badger, Whisper, Dreadstar, Shatter, Munden’s Bar, Classics Illustrated, and American Flagg! It published early work from John Ostrander, Timothy Truman, Norm Breyfogle, Mike Saenz, Mike Baron, as well as the first color appearance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It went out of business in 1991, and has published nothing in the twenty years since. Some of the series previously published by First have found their way to being published elsewhere, including ComicMix publishing GrimJack, Jon Sable Freelance, and Munden’s Bar.

It has been announced that will be a panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con heralding the second appearance of First Comics, which will be starting in a few minutes.

And speaking of second, we have First Second Books, a publisher of graphic novels, and an imprint of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, one of the largest publishers in the world. Since it started publishing in 2006, First Second has published a number of acclaimed titles including the Eisner and Harvey Award winning [[[American Born Chinese]]] by Gene Luen Yang, The Black Diamond Detective Agency by Eddie Campbell, [[[Tiny Tyrant]]] by Lewis Trondheim and Fabrice Parme, [[[Life Sucks]]] by Jessica Abel, Gabe Soria, and Warren Pleece, [[[Little Vampire]]] by Joann Sfar, and Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Making Comics: Manga, Graphic Novels, and Beyond by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden. They’re up for four Eisners this year.

Then just to add to the confusion, we have First Comics News, which has been running for a little over a year, and which is using a logo that’s very similar to the original First Comics one.

Incidentally, I’d link to First Comics as well as the other two publishers, but they don’t seem to have a web site– for that matter, they don’t even seem to own the domain: firstcomics.com is for sale for just under $2000. The current owner has had it since 2007, but since First Comics hasn’t published anything in that time, they will have a very hard time getting it back under domain squatting rules since they haven’t done anything to hold onto the trademark. It’s a bit surprising, considering the way the industry has been stampeding to digital, that this hasn’t been locked down yet.

And now we’re hearing whispers that because of the potential for trademark confusion, Diamond will not be carrying their titles– which is not unlike what happened a few years ago when there were two companies laying claim to being the heir and name rightsholder for Valiant Comics.

So with this many potential trademark pitfalls, one has to ask: can the name First Comics be resurrected? Can there be a second First if there’s already a First Second? And where should we go for First Comics news?

We look forward to any answers the panel might provide.

The first-ever appearance of Prince William in comics!

From the pages of American Flagg! #3, published in December 1983 by First Comics, written and drawn by Howard Chaykin and edited by ComicMix‘s own Mike Gold, and set in the year 2031. When the comic was written, Prince William wasn’t even two years old.

American Flagg! © 1983 Howard Chaykin Inc. and First Comics Inc. All rights reserved.