Tagged: Jenette Kahn

Dennis O’Neil: Wolverine and The Real Life

O'Neil Art 130801I wasn’t wearing a tie last Friday when Mari and I hied ourselves up the road to the monsterplex to watch the movie du jour, The Wolverine. Nothing unusual there; to the best of my recollection, I’ve worn ties exactly twice in the last quarter century. The first such occasion was at my wedding, a bow to the mores of the tribe that spawned me. The second was when I accompanied Jenette Kahn, at the time my boss, to meet some guy from the United Nations at one of those hoity-toity Manhattan restaurants that don’t permit entry to gentlemen un-tied, and while they’re at it, the gents had best be wearing suits too – or at least jackets. These are classy joints. They don’t let just anyone in. To chow down at one of them, you have to be of the elite, or at least prosperous enough to buy a strip of cloth to hang down the front of your shirt.

They’re signifiers of distinction, of class, neckties are, and as such they’re akin to a clergyman’s vestments, a soldier’s uniform, a detective’s badge, the rented tuxedo I once wore to a prom…feel free to add your own examples. I’ll add one more of my own: superhero costumes.

Odd clothing has been a defining feature of superhero stories ever since that warm Cleveland morning when a teenaged artist named Joe Shuster made the first Superman sketch. This was almost certainly done at the behest of Superman’s co-creator, another Cleveland teen, Jerry Siegel. Why the funny suit? Well, Jerry and Joe were big science fiction fans and were probably influenced by the futuristic garments worn by the characters in the illustrations that were prominent in the pulp magazines – at the time, sci fi’s main venue. Circus costumes may have been another influence.

Whatever Jerry and Joe’s reasons for costuming their brainchild, it was a good idea. It was attention-getting, it marked Supes as something special, it was ideally suited to the iconic quality of the medium that eventually gave him a home, comic books. Consider it an unwritten rule: you want a superhero, bring on the costume.

But Wolverine is most surely a superhero and there he was on the big screen, embodied by Hugh Jackman who was wearing, not a costume, but duds you might buy at a sporting goods store. In so doing, he was nudging superherodom a tiny bit closer to what we will jocularly refer to as real life, and not the fantasyland versions of Mother Earth that have been superheroes’ usual domains. This is an aspect of the genre’s evolution and we’ll have to see if it becomes permanent. If it does stay, writing jobs may be get a bit simpler; storytellers won’t have to give their superdoers a pause to change clothes before dealing with the latest humungous crisis. (Lois, could you fall a little slower?…can’t get the cape to hang right…) But some quirky charm may be lost.

Time will tell. It always does.


THURSDAY LATER AFTERNOON: The Surprising Return of Emily S. Whitten!

NOTE: All allusions to “morning” and “afternoon” are EDT USA.


Mike Gold: Violence and Comic Books

Are comic books too violent?

Sure, this is a question some will ask in the wake of a tragedy like last Friday’s massacre in Newtown Connecticut – and a question soon-to-be-ex Senator Joe Lieberman asks every day. But let me put aside my deep-seated prejudice against book-burners for the moment and tell you who else is asking this question right now.

DC Comics is asking this question. Actually, it’s asking the question “Are DC Comics too violent?” And that’s a valid question, as long as those asking it are aware that they’ve been continuing a trend of some decades and that there is no real evidence that there’s a causal link. But that DC name, now synonymous with Warner Bros, is right there on the cover… as well as on all those movies, profitable and otherwise. But movies are a horse of another color: for one thing, children actually go to movies.

Way back in the fall of 1976, DC Comics published Action Comics #466, pictured above. I ran it slightly larger than our usual graphics so you can see what I’m talking about. This was a somewhat controversial cover: several big-name creators found it abhorrent. They felt we shouldn’t beat up babies on the covers of DC Comics. (No, causing harm was what those old Johnson-Smith ads inside were for.) The story was reprinted in a trade paperback back in 2000.

But at that time I was DC’s entire marketing and publicity department, so publisher Jenette Kahn brought me in, showed me the cover, and asked what I thought. “Well, to be honest,” I said paraphrasing like hell, “I hadn’t noticed it as untoward when I first saw the cover several months prior to publishing. Now that you mention it, I see the point. It doesn’t offend me, but little does. Professionally, unless one of the nut-groups is having a slow day I doubt it’ll be a problem.” It wasn’t.

Jenette said it didn’t bother her either, but we had a nice conversation about limits. That’s a good thing to do from time to time, particularly if you’re in the media racket and you are dependent upon the pleasure of mom’n’pop store-owners.

But you can’t please everybody.

Given some of DC’s recent comics – and by “recent” I mean “at least since the time they broke Batman’s back” – one wonders how they will evaluate the standards. Note that the Comics Code Authority, the guardian of comic book morality and the exorciser of four-color excess, approved the above cover. Today such decisions are made where they should be, in-house.

If, by way of example, it is deemed the current Batman mega-arc “Death Of The Family” crosses that revalued line, would DC alter it for the trade paperbacks and omnibus editions? Or forgo these editions entirely? If not, well, so much for the new standards.

Which is OK by me, but it’s not my call. It’s been a while since I’ve been on their payroll and, knowing me as well as I do, were I still in editorial I’d be pushing those new limits right up to that “you’re meeting with Human Resources tomorrow morning” point. Hey, I’m a brat.

I’m not expressing concern or outrage, nor am I screaming censorship. It’s good for such concerns to evaluate and reevaluate their standards from time to time and, besides, as the great A. J. Liebling said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil


Michael Davis: Viva La France

I’m in Paris.

I’ve been here for a week and I must say it’s quite the experience. I’m on record as having said I hate the French so this is quite interesting. Allow me a moment to explain where that ‘hate’ sentiment came from…

About, maybe, 20 years ago I was at DC comics delivering some work. I was in the lobby having a running conversation with Clark Kent and using the free phone that sat next to Clark to call just about anyone and everyone I wanted to talk to at the time.

Mostly I would just call girls trying to impress them with the fact I was calling them from DC Comics where I hanging with Clark while I waited to have my important meeting with an editor who was just crazy about my work. It never really dawned on me until much later that unless you want to be in the comic book business or you are a fan of comics, no one and I mean no one is impressed with anyone who works in the comic book industry.

In my youth, let’s see 20 years ago I was five, I just assumed that everybody thought the comic book business was the place to be and the world was impressed with my being involved in it.

That is about as true as my Jewish heritage.

For the most part the industry was looked upon as a place where grown ups waste their hard earned degrees in art or literature drawing or writing ‘funny books.’

If you wanted respect in regards to your comic career that respect could only be found at a few places such as comic conventions, comic book stores, art schools or on movie lines waiting to see films like Star Wars or Raiders Of the Lost Ark.

I’d heard back then that in France and Japan comics were truly looked upon as a respected form of art. The only real and true American art forms are Rock and Roll (thank black people for that) jazz (ditto), the musical and comics. I admit not knowing who is responsible for the musical but I suspect that came from an enlightened white person, but for comics you can thank Jewish Americans.

But, (Peter, next SDCC dinner is on me) I digress. So, as to the reason I started to hate the French…

As I was hanging with Clark and and running up DC’S phone bill I began to hear a fairly loud yet strange sounding voice, not strange as in I did not recognize the person (I didn’t) strange as in foreign.

Trust me, I know a bit about being loud but the loudness in this voice had a pleasing tone to it so I was intrigued as to the origin. The speaker was a French artist and he was talking to another French guy…in French.

They were having a grand time, talking in French and laughing really hard. When they paused a bit one of them turned to me and asked (in English) where the subway was. I told them then I asked what was so funny.

When I asked that, they looked at each other and started to crack up again.

Finally the guy who asked for directions said “Your American comics are light years behind where we are in France with our books.”

Oh, no, he didn’t.

“What,” I began in a slow and measured voice, giving him the benefit of the doubt that what he said was not what I heard, I mean he was speaking in a foreign tongue, “do you mean?”

Well, what he meant was what he said, which was in effect that American comic books sucked. Then he proceeded to tell me that America sucked also on a few fronts.

This motherfucker…

I let him finish then I reminded him ever so softly with respect in my tone that America created the comic book and America had the best writers and artists in the world…

You know, I remember exactly what I said (because I keep a journal) so I’ll just recount that…

“You are out of your pussy French mind! We created the comic book, we have the best goddamn artists and writers on the planet! You know how I know that? Nobody is making movies and TV shows out of your bullshit content motherfucker! As far as America’s standing in the world I remind you it was us that saved your butt when the Germans were peeing all over your punk ass, bitch!”

I had a bit more to say but it just so happened that Jenette Kahn walked in and invited me to her office… in other words she stopped me from bitch slapping that asshole and/or embarrassing myself further with my all too loud tirade.

So, that is the reason that I’ve hated the French all these years. That one incident tainted my judgment for decades. Over the last few years I’ve come to realize that a lot of my thought process was wrong, I’ve admitted that I’ve been an asshole on many subjects. The one thing I’ve never let go no matter how silly it was for me to hold on to was my hated of the French.

That moment in time with that pussy at DC really made me madder than most things had before or since. If you really know me or read my rants on Michael Davis World (plug!) you know that, that’s some kind of mad!

I was wrong.

I was dead wrong.

The French are decent people and as far as comics go they respect the medium like the art form it is. To this day in America the mainstream does not give the kind of respect to the comic industry that we deserve. Yes, it has gotten much better but still “I work in comics” will most likely get you little respect, if any, and may get you ridiculed or worse.

Not here in Paris.

Every bookstore not only has a huge comic book section, but every bookstore also displays comics in their windows. I’ve never seen the latter in the states. I’m talking real bookstores, not comic book stores.

Now. About their comic book stores…W O W!!The comic book stores here in France are off the freakin’ chain!

That means “incredible” to those of you that don’t know any black people.

I was asked for an autograph in a Paris comic book store. I thought the person asking thought I was someone else but no…

“ I think you are mistaking me for someone else.”

“‘Michael Davis? Milestone, oui? Etc., oui?”

Hell yeah, you French hottie you!!!!

No, I didn’t answer her like that but she was hot.

So, I was wrong and I was stupid not to see it before I came here. I’ll be here another week working on a project and before I leave I’m going to make it a point to talk to as many French people I can about comics. I also have another reason to now love the French they all seem to adore Obama.

I’m not kidding. They love that guy and hate Mitt.

Lastly, if by chance the French artist I met at DC all those years ago is reading this I’d like to say that you were right about one thing. The French are light years ahead of America when it comes to respecting the medium.

That said, you can still kiss my ass.

You don’t come in our backyard and talk shit about us no matter how cool your people may be.

U.S.A, motherfucker, U.S.A.!!

BTW, I was not kidding about sitting next to Clark Kent at DC. There was a life sized stature of old Clark sitting in the reception area and I’d sit there and make free phone calls. Those were the good old days…

WEDNESDAY: Gold… Mike Gold. A.K.A. Doctor Know


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


Dennis O’Neil: Batman’s Lethal Force

It is one of the universe’s pointless ironies that the horror in Colorado happened at the showing of a Batman movie. Despite the grimness in the Batman mythos, the character has neither been an advocate of violence, nor an apologist for it.

Not that I think it’s necessary, but let’s put out a few reminders anyway:

The only time Batman used a gun was in a very early story when the character was still in the process of forming.

Similarly: the mature Batman has eschewed lethal force of any kind.

A couple of decades ago, John Reisenbach, the son of a colleague, was shot to death on Jane Street in Greenwich Village – one of those senseless urban crimes that will probably never be solved. At the urging of Jenette Kahn, and under my editorship, John Ostrander wrote a fine Batman story about city streets and guns in reaction to our coworker’s tragedy. The story, titled “Seduction of the Gun,” was later credited with helping to pass anti-gun legislation in Virginia.

A final example: In the movie that was showing in Colorado, Batman has a line forbidding another character to use firearms.

So it wasn’t our fault, and, happily, the only press I’ve seen tying the massacre to comics was in New York’s Daily News, which cited a Frank Miller story in which similar gun violence was committed.  But even that piece quoted Brad Meltzer’s observation that Batman has been vocally anti-gun for these many years.

So it wasn’t our fault and it wasn’t the fault of anything the gunman read or saw or played. All extant evidence indicates that normal, psychologically healthy individuals and not prompted to atrocity by anything in the media. And the unhealthy? That’s scary and I’ve experienced occasional momentary uneasiness when I’ve had a hero in something I’m writing use lots of physical force to solve some problem. Was I setting a bad example? I don’t think so. Like it or not, we humans have aggression in our nature – that ol’ devil Evolution again – and if that weren’t true, we probably wouldn’t be entertained by depictions of warriors doing their thing. The earliest stories we have – and a good bit of what’s known as Scripture – are full of bloodletting.

Maybe the tactic for us modern storytellers is not to glorify the violence. Sometimes it’s necessary to use force in defense of self or other, sometimes the skills of the warrior are valuable. And, arguably, warriors are legitimate heroes. But, in our stories, let’s not glory in our characters’ infliction of pain and death. That glorification might be the line between heroism and sadism.

None of this is of any use to the people in Colorado and I’m too cynical to say that some good will come of it all. I don’t believe that much good came from the Columbine massacre or the Gabrielle Giffords shooting or the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan or the murder of John F. Kennedy or the million gun death that have happened in our nation since the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

Maybe the best we can hope for is that we will stop blaming movies and television for these indescribably sad events and have the courage to begin investigating the real causes. It is a forlorn hope, but it may be the best we have.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases


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


MICHAEL DAVIS: The Greatest Story Never Told, Part 3

Portrait of former DC Comics publisher and pre...

Please read the last two 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 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.

All was right in the world. Except for one teensy little problem. The editor assigned to the project wanted to change one thing…


A few days after Jenette Kahn assigned the editor, Dwayne went to meet with him to map out the production schedule.  I was living in Los Angeles and the meeting was in the New York offices of DC. There really was no reason for me to be there. After the meeting Dwayne would call and fill me in.

I couldn’t wait for that call. In hindsight, yes, yes I could have.


MICHAEL DAVIS: The Greatest Story Never Told, Part 2

Please read last week’s installment before reading this. Thanks!

What has gone before – the quick and dirty recap. 1999: I pitched and sold what I consider the greatest idea I’ve ever come up with to DC Comics. Before I pitched the idea I checked with three of the best writers in the industry, Keith Giffen, Lovern Kindzieski and David Quinn. They all thought it was a great idea. Keith Giffen called it one of the greatest ideas he’s ever heard.

After hearing praise from those guys I ran the idea pass Dwayne McDuffie. Dwayne liked the idea so much he said he wanted to write it. It was with that in mind I pitched the idea to Jenette Kahn who was running DC Comics at the time.

Jenette loved idea and said “Let’s do it.”

Jenette Kahn is no longer head of DC. She makes movies now. Big movies. Jenette produced the Clint Eastwood film Gran Torino.

Like I said, big movies.

From the moment I met Jenette, I liked her. I’m glad to say she liked me also. We hit it off right away. We talked about anything and everything. One day, Jenette and I were talking about fine artists and she asked me if I knew the work of William T. Williams. I did. In fact, I knew his work so well Jenette was impressed. I knew more about his work than Jenette and at one point she remarked that I must be a huge fan. “I’d better be.” I told Jenette. He’s my cousin.”

Jenette said she would like to meet him so right then and there I made a call and in a few days Jenette was being given a studio tour by my cousin. In my entire life I’ve only asked my cousin to give two people personal studio tours. Jenette was one of them.

That’s a big deal because my cousin is a huge artist.

How huge?

He’s in the Janson History Of Art, the definitive book on art history.

That’s how huge.

My cousin is my mentor and my surrogate father. He and my mother quite literally saved my life while I was growing up. I’m fiercely protective of my cousin. Every mofo with a serious bank account asks me to hook them up once they find out William T. Williams is my cousin.


He’s too important as an artist and as my family for me to make a call on anyone’s behalf just because they can drop a million bucks or more (yes, you read that right) on some art. So I’ve only made that call twice and Jenette was one of them.

I made that call because Jenette is simply a wonderful person and I knew my cousin would enjoy meeting her as much as she would enjoy meeting him.

Some years before that, Jenette and I had talked about me coming to DC as the first black editor. As cool as I thought that was I couldn’t do it. Frankly, I couldn’t afford the pay cut. What I did do was make a list of some people whom I thought would be great choices. Jenette thanked me for thinking of that and actually someone from that list was hired. No, I didn’t get them the job nor do I know if anything I said had anything to do with him getting the job. What mattered to be was DC comics had a black editor.

I tell you the history with Jenette and I because of the importance of what happened to the project I sold to DC. The project I considered the greatest idea I’ve ever had.

Project X was green lit by Jenette and assigned to an editor at DC.

Me not being an idiot, asked Dwayne McDuffie to write it based on my overview and I was to handle the art. Dwayne said yes and I was doubly excited. The editor chosen, loved the idea, and couldn’t wait to do it.

I’d done it.

I’d sold the greatest idea I ever had. This would be an important project, written by an important writer, published by an important publisher with art by an artist with something to prove. I’d had two big projects before this from DC. ETC, the first series ever published by DC’s imprint Piranha Press and Shado, a four issue mini-series written by Mike Grell.

Neither of those projects were my finest hour.

Although, believe it or not I still get fan mail from France on ETC. Two months ago I received an email from a comic club in France asking if I was coming to France in the future. I just so happen to be going to France this September on some business and the club asked if they could take me to dinner and talk to me about ETC.

Damn. The French must do a lot of meth… and coke… together.

Back to Project X.

I was on cloud 9! I was about to begin work on what I still consider the greatest idea in the history of comics! Yes, I’m well aware it’s not the greatest idea in the history of comics but to me it certainly felt that way.

So don’t send me comments about how there is no way I could have come up with the greatest idea in the history of comics. As I said, I know I didn’t.

It’s a close second…

So, let’s recap.

I’d sold the second greatest idea in the history of comics to one of the greatest publishers in the business. It was to be written by one of the greatest writers with art by a guy who was going to make sure this time he got it right.

All was right in the world.

Except for one teensy little problem.

The editor wanted to change one thing…


End, Part 2.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold On Good Fellowship



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: Stupid Logo Tricks

Sometime around 1987, DC Comics’ then-publisher Jenette Kahn told DC’s next publisher Paul Levitz that it was time to change the DC logo. Paul protested and pulled me in – I gather I was handy, or perhaps I was least likely to look like a plant. I chirped in “No, too soon. Branding takes time. Some people have just started to spend money on that logo with Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen.

It was painful for me to say this because I hated the DC Bullet. It was designed by Milton Glazer, and those in-lines of his were everywhere. But on cheap paper with those silly putty printing plates, his in-lines either dropped out or boogied up like a crack fiend drawing an arrow with his feet. Still, I supported Paul’s decision. If it worked for Coca-Cola for some 110 years, it should work for DC Comics for 30.

That’s about how long Glazer’s Bullet was in, and on, action. It was replaced by the one you see at the upper left-hand of the graphic above. Even after 30 years, many fans initially hated it. But I think even the most cynical liked it on the big screen… and even on the teevee screen. After a short while, it dawned on me that this was probably the best DC logo ever – except that, even though it is worthy, that particular distinction wasn’t much of a compliment.

Some five years later, DC is being rebranded. No, I’m not talking about The New 52: that’s rebranding in the sense that M&M added blue candies to their package while removing the light brown ones. The DC Spin has been sent to the glue factory, to be replaced by that which you see on the upper right of the graphic above.

I’ve started at it for a couple weeks now, taking time out for meals and New Jersey Devils games. And three words come to mind:

Boring. Stupid. And Needless.

Not to be eclipsed, the folks at Bongo Comics – represented by the logo in the lower left of the above graphic – decided to do DC one better. Their new logo is boringer. Stupider. And needlesser.

Both logos replace something that incorporates a bit of the energy and feel of the product itself. Both logos are bland at best; Bongo’s looks like an old Whitman title from the 1970s, and DC’s… well, I don’t know what the hell that thing is. It reminds me of the old toy I had back when milkmen still walked the Earth: it was sort of a pad with one plastic sheet on top of a black something or other. Kids scribbled on it with a wooden stylus, and when we got tired we’d pull the plastic sheet up off the black background and the scrawlings would disappear.

If only.

The most meaningful line in any movie was uttered by the character Governor William J. Lepetomane in Blazing Saddles: “Gentlemen, we’ve got to protect our phony-baloney jobs!” That sentiment is what makes the world go ‘round. If designers and art directors left well enough alone, we would have less work for designers and art directors.

Comics should stir some sense of wonder within the breast of the reader. These logos do not. They probably look real good on the thick glass doors that front their reception rooms, they certainly look real good in the corporate annual report (should Time Warner actually acknowledge they publish comic books), but as a device that inspires attention and attraction, they suffer from the worst sort of sanction: death by dullness.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil