Tagged: Jim Lee

Marc Alan Fishman: Comics Are Dead. Thank you, DC!

So, spoiler alert. The comic industry as we know it is going to die. Well, according to Dan DiDio and Jim Lee it is. At the San Diego Comic Con – which I clearly didn’t attend because I already knew comics were dying – the DC honchos all but shook their rain sticks at the assembled retailers to eulogize the industry before revealing how they would save it.

Forgive me. You no doubt heard the thundering cacophony of my right eyebrow arching high on my face at a speed worthy of Barry Allen. The speed at which it jutted there clearly broke the sound barrier in a reflex akin only to those meta-humans with the ability to transcend space and time.

There’s literally too much to unpack from all they blabbed on about for me to fit in a single column. And rather than present evidence how the comic industry isn’t dying at all, I’d like to specifically snark back on one particular point DiLeeDoo made.

“Comic books have become the second or third way to meet characters like Batman and Superman, and we want to change that.”

Uhh… Why?!

The statement itself is a bland platitude at best. It’s big-wigs trying fluff up their retailers – as well as comic fans – into believing their medium is purer than the first or second ways fans meet their heroes. That somehow, DC’s publishing arm will find a way to get kids into the comic shop before they see any licensed character on TV, movies, or frankly… the Internet. Of all the laughable things said at this panel – forgetting the whole part where they confirmed Dr. Manhattan made Rebirth happen – trying to pit comics against their motion picture counterparts takes the cake and crams in a pie to boot.

I am 35 years old. The first time I ever saw Batman? It was Adam West on the campy syndicated re-runs, in between episodes of Happy Days. Superman? Learned about him second-hand on any number of references dropped during episodes of Muppet Babies, or an errant episode of Challenge of the Superfriends. And while I would eventually seek the printed page for more mature and significant adventures of those (and all other) characters, the tent-pole flagship Trinity of DC Comics was met in motion long before the pulp.

Furthermore, as a Gen-X/Gen-Y/Millennial/Whatever I’m classified as these days, my generation learned and loved superheroes first via these extraneous ways, because the comics themselves were mired in the muck of massive continuities. As I’ve long detailed in this space previously, when comics peaked my interest it was because of an adaptation of an X-Men cartoon I’d seen the week prior. Investigating at the local Fiction House stressed me out when I saw an actual X-Men comic was on issue 568 (or whatever), and the shop keep made no qualms telling me he wouldn’t even know where to start me out if I was wanting to collect the book.

Times have since changed aplenty, but that doesn’t mean the same issues still exist if we are to take to heart Dan and Jim’s sentiment.

A 9-year old girl goes and sees Wonder Woman with her mom. She falls in love with Diana of Themyscira and begs her mom to learn more. They venture into the local comic shop, and what then? If the cashier is worth her salt? She’ll have a great big display of the now Eisner-Award Winning Wonder Woman: The True Amazon ready and waiting. But peer over to the rack, and where does our 9-year old go? Is the current issue of Wonder Woman ready and waiting? And where is Batgirl, and any other female-driven comics all set and ready for their newly minted fan?

And beyond that, how on Gaea’s green Earth would you ever suppose you’d find a way to get this 9-year old girl into the shop before she’d been enticed by the multi-million dollar blockbuster action film. Simply put, that’s proudly brandishing a knife in a nuclear bomb fight. It’s dumb to even think it, let alone declare it like a campaign promise.

To this point, credit where it’s due: Dan DiDio denoted the need for more evergreen books – titles that live outside any common continuity to tell great one-off stories – to specifically meet the needs of fans who come in (or come back) to comic books. The truth of the matter is no book will ever compete with a big release movie or a weekly television show. Video killed the radio star for a reason. And the Internet murdered the video star and put the snuff film on YouTube. To cling to printed fiction as some form of hipper-than-thou solution that could wage war with more ubiquitous platforms all in the name of changing the way the public meets their heroes is a dish I’ll never order, even if I’m starving.

To declare this was all in part to save the industry … well Dan: is it fair to have cultivated the problem only to turn around and say now you’ll save us from the very issues you created? That is some Luthor-level vertical integration if I ever did hear it.

Save me, Dan DiDio. You’re my only hope. Well, barring Image, Boom!, Lion Forge, Valiant, Aw Yeah, Oni Press, IDW, Dark Horse, Action Lab, and Unshaven Comics.

Martha Thomases: Winners

The Eisner Awards were handed out last Friday, and I have to say, I’m feeling just a little bit smug.

No, I didn’t win anything.  There is no Eisner Award for the Best Procrastinating by a Writer.  However, quite a few of the prizes went to people and projects that I championed as an Eisner judge this year, selecting the nominees.

I’m not going to tell you which ones I’m talking about because to do so implies that I met with resistance.  (You’ll have to get me drunk the next time we’re together.)  As I said before, talking about the selection process the committee used, “I can say that none of us got all of our first choices, but all of us got some of them.” In other words, we had different tastes and different criteria, and that is as it should be.  We talked, calmly and respectfully, about why we liked the things that we liked.  We worked it out.  You should send us all to Congress.

But a lot of my tastes and criteria meshed with those of the people who voted for the final awards.  And that makes me feel like I have my finger on the pulse of Pop Culture Fandom.

Yay, me!

So many different kinds of books won awards.  Some of this is a result of the categories because a superhero story isn’t going to win a best nonfiction award, nor will DC or Marvel win an award for Best U. S. Edition of International Material.  The inclusion of several different categories for younger readers means that there will be prize-winning books for children.

Although I might not know you, Constant Reader, I feel confident in saying that there is at least one book on this list that you’ll enjoy.

This expansion in the audience for graphic story-telling is a wonderful thing, decades in the making.  It should be an opportunity for all sorts of publishers.  You would think that DC and Marvel are in the best position to take advantage of this since they own characters known to the entire world.  They should be, but, according to this, at least one of them does not.  The link describes a panel at SDCC with DC’s Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, talking about how they plan to navigate the future of comics.

They say a few things with which I agree.  There should be excellent graphic novels about the characters that customers might know from the movie.  These books should contain stories that are accessible to new readers, people unfamiliar with decades of continuity.  I’ve been arguing such a position for decades, so I’m glad to see that there is at least lip service in that direction.

However, when DC actually publishes a book like that, Jill Thompson’s Eisner-winning Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, there is very little promotion when it first comes out, and it isn’t included in the ads that tied into the movie release.

Lee and DiDio also think that resurrecting the Watchmen universe and integrating it into the DCU will draw in newcomers.  Leaving aside the morality of this (given series co-creator Alan Moore’s resistance), and only talking about it in marketing terms, I still think this is a terrible idea.  The movie is nearly a decade old and does not seem to have been successful enough to earn out.  The characters require a lot of explaining, which is only a disadvantage if you’re trying to sell them to people who don’t read a lot of comics.

If I had been a new comics reader today, I’d have problems wading into the Big Two waters.  It would be much more appealing to me to check out Valiant or Lion Forge if I wanted a connected universe because I wouldn’t have so much to catch up.

I still think the way to draw in audiences who want to sample comics after seeing the movies and television shows is to create multiple imprints.  There can be a line for geeks like me, who’ve been reading comics since the Fifties, and a line for younger readers and a line of self-contained short stories.  There can be all sorts of other lines that I haven’t yet imagined.  These can be tested through digital sales, to keep development costs down, and then published in paper if there is demand.

And, yes please, a line of Super-Pets.

•     •     •     •     •

Flo Steinberg died this week.  She was part of the original Marvel Bullpen, Stan Lee’s assistant back in the days when that was the best job a woman can get in comics.

I met her soon after I moved to New York in the late 1970s, and since I wasn’t a big Marvel fan, I didn’t know enough about her to be intimidated.  To me, she was the kind of kooky New York character I’d moved to New York to meet.  She had a funky cadence to the way she spoke (at least, to this Ohio girl), and she was outgoing and enthusiastic in a manner discouraged by the prep school I attended.  Flo was one of the best people you could invite to a party.

My two favorite Flo stories don’t have much to do with comics.

1)  When I worked in the events department of a New York department store, I had to hire extra people to be entertainers during the holiday season.  One job was to dress up like a Teddy bear.  The costume was really hot and smelled after a while, but the job paid $20 an hour, a fortune back then.  I was able to hire Flo for this gig a few times, and from her, I learned how many children like to punch costumed characters in the chest.  Also, we called her “Flo Bear,” the kind of joke Ivory Tower elitist East Coasters love.

2)  A few years later, I had another job, and I was telling her about a place I would go to get lunch.  They had a salad bar, and every day, I would stare at the barbecued spare-ribs, tempted by their dripping sauce, but too worried about the fat and calories.  Really, I would dream about these ribs.  Finally, one day, I ate one.  Later, talking to Flo, I confessed my sin.  It went like this:

Me:  So I finally ate one of the spare-ribs.  It wasn’t very good.  Definitely not worth it.

Flo:  Well, at least you tried it.

Because that is who she was.  She didn’t talk about life in terms of denial and defensiveness.  She talked about life as something worth trying.

Joe Corallo: Welcome To The Hotel Pennsylvania

This past weekend was the Big Apple Convention at New York City’s famed Hotel Pennsylvania. Fellow ComicMix columnist Molly Jackson joined me in attending this show as she has for the past four years now. Boy, time really does fly, huh?

The Big Apple Con is a show I’ve been going to for many years. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is a con run by Mike “Carbo” Carbonaro who has had more close calls with retirement than Cher. I don’t *think* he was retiring this time, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, his shows tend to attach some big names from the old guard in comics like Jim Steranko and Ramona Fradon, as well as young up and comers like Mindy Indy and Stan Chou. In the past I’ve gotten to meet people like Herb Trimpe, who is no longer with us, George Pérez, and Chris Claremont back before he was charging for signatures. That’s not a crack on Claremont, by the way. Nearly all the X-Men comics at this point and many of the movies are in part or entirely based on his work so if you can’t shell out a few bucks for a signature you might be trying to flip on eBay anyway, then you can get by without his signature on your comic. I’m pretty sure a firm handshake is still free with most creators, but don’t get carried away.

This year the big draw was Stan Lee. Well, it was supposed to be Stan Lee. He unfortunately fell ill and had to cancel. We all wish him a speedy recovery. Stan regenerated into Jim Lee, who flew in for a signing on Saturday, and Frank Miller was the big cheese for Sunday. As disappointed as I’m sure some comics fans were that Stan Lee couldn’t make it, if Jim Lee and Frank Miller aren’t enough for you on top of everyone else who was there then I just don’t know what to tell you.

Molly and I only attended Saturday of the show. Previously, the Big Apple Con was a one day show and we figured we could get almost everything done that we wanted in one day. As much as I would have liked to see Frank Miller, I’m sure another opportunity will arise. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pay that much for an autograph this past weekend either.

We had a nice time overall. Yes, we agreed we liked it best the one year it was at The New Yorker Hotel down the block and that it’s hard to walk around some parts with the crowd congestion, but Molly and I together make pretty good nitpickers. Some of the highlights for us were picking up original art from Ramona Fradon and getting to chat with her briefly. I’ve got a couple of sketch covers done from her over the hears, but I splurged on a nice piece she brought from home. Molly picked up a couple of smaller pieces herself. As a side-note, Ramona is an incredible pop artist whose influence can be seen in comics right through to today. If you’re unfamiliar, please consider picking up The Art Of Ramona Fradon digital book or the hardcover and learn all about her career and see so much of her gorgeous art.

The Art Of Ramona Fradon includes a long form interview with her conducted by Howard Chaykin who was also in attendance this past weekend. I’ve gotten to meet Howard a couple of times before and this time was no less interesting. Previously he had recommended the prose novel It’s Superman by Tom DeHaven at a Q&A which I read and absolutely loved. This time the topic of conversation would be deemed controversial to most. I’m not going to tell you what it was about. You’ll just have to go to a con he’s at and maybe if you’re good (not nice – good) he’ll tell you a good (not nice) story.

We got a chance to catch up with Stan Chou at the show and see what he’s been up to. He was previously at Double Take, but since they wrapped up production he’s been doing more freelance work. He gave me a copy of a comic he put out with writer Patrick McEvoy, The Darker Region. Basically, the premise is classic horror movie monsters in space and contains three different stories. What really stands out here in that Stan Chou goes out of his way to make the art style different in all three stories contained here. If you’re not familiar with Stan’s work, the link earlier goes to his Twitter page. Check it out.

Molly and I ran into a lot of other people including Mindy Indy, Todd Matthy, Dennis Knight, Bob Camp, Reilly Brown, many of the people we’ve seen waiting in line with us at signings over the years, and more. It was a good day all around. If you only go to the big shows, it’s worth checking out some of these smaller conventions. And if you’re the type that’s more into the indie comic zine fest scene, there are plenty of indie comics creators at a show like Big Apple Con that need support too.

The 2017 convention season is really just kicking off, so start looking up shows, marking your calendars and putting money aside if you can. There are a lot of shows to come and this is sure to be an interesting year ahead of us.

Michael Davis: The Dream Killer 3 – Know The Game!

motupix-copy-4

Please read the first two installments in the series if you have not done so.

From Dream Killer 2:

Full discloser: For two decades I was not welcome at DC.

“What did you do?” I’ve gotten that question countless times. “What did they do?” Not as many have asked, but more than a few. What’s the difference between those who ask the first question as opposed to the second?

And why and how despite being blackballed by one of the big two was I able to not only survive in the industry but thrive?

What did I do? I refused to accept unjust treatment and called attention to it often. That was my right.

What did they do? They got fed up with dealing with me. That was their right.

I haven’t any idea rather or not I’m welcome at DC Comics these days. The perception is there is a feud between Milestone and me. DC is in a deal with Milestone, so that may mean I’m not a desirable. There isn’t a feud; there is an incident.

Milestone made what no one is disputing a real dick move. Not telling me they were moving ahead with plans without me was as fucked up as can be. Now add they were supposed to be “friends.”

That is as horrible a thing. An absolutely disgusting thing.

Well, to me it is.

Except for a few brave souls, there has been not a peep of anyone giving a fuck.

That’s OK. Pity isn’t my thing. My thing is to do what’s right. I’m doing that by not creating a front page Black vs. Black lawsuit and not detailing events that go back 20 years.

Milestone is the single most important event in the history of black comics. For over two decades I’ve led a campaign to keep Milestone relevant and make sure the phenomenal history of Milestone is correct and accurate. More people are aware Milestone is not owned by DC Comics and was Denys Cowan’s idea because of me.

I’ve devoted more to that effort than the three partners combined. My struggles to create opportunities for people of color in comics also dwarfs their collective work in that area. The talent program they now tout as their own was created by me, as was the universe for their most successful character Static Shock.

All of the above is easy to verify.

All that said, Milestone, the idea is more important to African Americans kids at large than anything I’ve done. A chance for black kids to see themselves represented fairly in the media is much more significant than Michael Davis.

Character counts in this world. Some think my character is lacking because I use words like fuck, shit and nigger in my written narrative. Many believe that somehow dilutes my good character. I think those individuals should get a clue.

Here’s a hard truth about this industry. People talk the talk, but few walk the walk. When it’s time for my annual San Diego Comic-Con party, everybody’s my buddy. When there was a rumor that Milestone stole its business plan a great many of my buddies were quick to co-sign that bullshit.

When my heart lay in a broken heap two years ago over the Milestone slight, there were those who said it was my behavior that caused Milestone to do me like they did.

Really? That’s the same behavior every single partner at Milestone as well as countless others benefitted from over many years.

I write and say what I think. When I think I’ve been used like someone’s bitch, I say so. I also say something when others are prescribed the same medicine.

Milestone’s treatment of me is relevant to the black comic book industry. How we treat each other is essential to future generations When black people are good to each other which is the vast majority of the time rarely does it make the news when those uncustomary moments are demonstrated black kids see integrity and leadership when bad it’s the lead story on Fox News.

Why use my account of the Milestone story when it’s so negative?

A few reasons. As said earlier it is only negative to me but used as the example why relationships are important it’s a grand one, and in the big picture, it’s positive.

I still support those books and the company. Regardless of what they did, I’m going to do the right thing.

That brings me back to DC Comics.

Dwayne McDuffie died in 2011. I was invited to I write a piece for the Static Shock tribute issue. My last published work in a DC comic was over twenty years ago. My exile ended officially two years before in 2009 when Diane Nelson took over as president. I’d met Diane ten years before that at Warner Bros and liked her immediately and vice versa. She assured me I was welcome back at DC and I have had a meeting there since.

That’s all cool on the surface but so is thin ice. Once you fall through, it’s colder than most can stand.

Let’s recap. I have an excellent relationship with the most influential person at DC Comics. Still, I don’t know my status. That’s because of Milestone. Why? DC has a relationship with Milestone in the bullshit world of Hollywood once you reach the boss and recount your tale of wrongful woe all is right in the world.

Why don’t I just call Diane and use her to pave the way for any project I may want to do at DC?

Respect.

  1. Respect for Dan Didio and Jim Lee, comics are their lane and going to Diane is as disrespectful as I could be.
  2. Respect for Diane Nelson. Sidestepping Dan and Jim is calling them incompetent which they are far from being. Also doing so calls into question her judgment which I’d never do.
  3. Respect for myself. I couldn’t sit in a room with Jim and Dan without addressing the Milestone elephant. Why resign them or me to that drama? If I weren’t already suffering from depression, that would do the trick.

That, boys and girl, is called knowing the game. Those who don’t shouldn’t play. So despite being blackballed by one of the big two how was I able to thrive?

Alternative means of finding distribution, budget and happiness.

The vast majority of top tier creators in the industry use one option.

There are numerous more, and I’ll touch on those next time. As well I will break down what option was preferred and why for the project I’m using for this series.

I’ve been in the game for a long time. What I use as examples are not intended as a ‘how to’ to get into the comics biz. If so the series would be named ‘how to ruin your career.’

The underlying point is to look at the big picture when entering this field. I believe with every fiber of my being one should always look to do the right thing. Comics are a very very small industry and to have a real shot, it’s counterproductive working on how well you write or draw without working on your relationships skills.

Put another way, when people tell who they are and what they are about, trust but verify.

Michael Davis: Dan Didio, Dorothy & The Case For Kool-Aid (Uncut)

DiDio

Mr. Khosla,

I read your piece “The Case Against Dan Didio.”

I’m rarely impressed, but you wrote an impressive article. The attention to detail, footnotes, research and overall thoughtfulness you put into making your case was indeed extraordinary.

Kool-AidI’m a bit taken aback by your use of my article as the motivation to write yours. My article why are we still complaining about Dan Didio had little written about Mr. Didio. It certainly wasn’t a defense of his work nor a damning of it. He and others mentioned were only used to illustrate my outlook.

Much of what you wrote regarding my views and work can do with a bit of clarity. I fear what you’ve constructed in your narrative is somewhat unbalanced and frankly unfair.

For example, placing quotes around a word when no one is speaking gives the distinct impression you don’t believe, care or respect my resume. You choose to describe mentor as “mentor.” For the life of me sir I have no idea why you would cast such an adverse slight at me.

My Bad Boy Studio Mentor program has achieved a fair amount of success. By all means feel free to ask Bernard Chang, John Paul Leon, Shawn Martinborough, Aaron McGruder and Brett Lewis, who mentored them.

There are more whom you are welcome to request confirmation from; I’ve been very fortunate to have had a small hand helping numerous young men and women join our beloved profession.

You could also speak to Chris Claremont or director Bill Duke. Both called me looking for a talented young person to work with them.

That girl I referred to Chris was Ali Morales. Ali went on to become DC Comics and perhaps the industry’s first Latino woman editor. Tatiana El-Khouri started as Bill’s assistant and finished running his company; now she’s running her own.

Thinking of my Bad Boys (and girls) swells my heart and moistens my eyes. I dare say those who came from my Bad Boy program are some of the best of the best. It matters little what else I’ve achieved in life nothing compares with the love and pride I feel for them.

I’m sure you can now appreciate why “mentor” cut me to the quick.

Hopefully, speaking to any of the above will result in a bit of lucidity into my background If you ever see fit to write about my mentorship program again.

You sir, forgive me for saying so, were a bit heavy handed in your use of conjecture. Nonetheless, it’s not surprising you would write about me in such a manner.

Sadly, that’s the industry model these days. I wrote about such in the very article you referenced so often. The venom and hate displayed in comics today and my hope for a reversal of that trend was the point of my column.

Sir, when you have a moment I’d like for you to clear something up for me. I just can’t fathom why you would use my article to go and do the very thing I wrote may damn us and please spell your name phonetically so if we meet I pronounce it correctly.

And it’s all anyone is talking about.

I mentioned I consider you a wee bit unfair in your analysis of my words.

Please consider the following from my article: The movies making the most money are from our house. But we’d rather bitch about Dan Didio still running DC than applaud Eric Stephenson, publisher at Image Comics. Eric gave the greatest comic book speech since Uncle Ben told Peter Parker; with great power, comes great responsibility.

“I’d like to talk about the future, but first, we’re going to do some time travel, back to a time when there was no Internet, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram. A time when there were no comic book stores.”

That was Eric’s spectacular opening and it got better from there.

We should still be talking about it. The industry coverage of that speech?

Almost none. Perhaps if Eric had started his speech with the following, we would still be talking about it.

“I’d like to talk about the future, but first, we’re going to do some time travel, back to a time Dan Didio wasn’t screwing up DC, Marvel didn’t suck, and there was no Dark Horse because there shouldn’t be any damn Dark Horse.”

Yep, we’d still be talking about that.

I dare say with your musings put in the manner you put them, we are.

Mr. Khosla, I don’t know you but from your writings, it does appear you are an educated man. You certainly have a passion concerning comic books and I do believe you have comics’ best interest at heart.

I’m very much at my wits end pondering why you transformed what I wrote into something I did not write with your explanations.

I wrote: I once loved the comics industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.

You wrote: This is how we’re starting a defense of Dan DiDio – by having to acknowledge that comic industry under his supervision has become an “out of shape ghost of its former self.”

Uhm. Okay. Great argument.

And the victim of comic fans, according to Mr. Davis?

Mr. Davis, eh? If you insist of addressing me so formally, please afford me the courtesy of doing it correctly. I feel it’s only fair after your “mentor” slights you address me as Dr. Davis as I have a Ph.D., please forgive me for my rudeness if this offends you, it is not my intention.

The following is another example of the slanting of my words.

You wrote Mr. Davis continues by trying to identify the culprit – not Mr. DiDio, but of course, comic fans.

I wrote What slays me and I fear will destroy us all is how we see, speak and represent ourselves. Character assassination over a creative decision. Damning a company, creator or content because someone wrote or drew something someone took issue with, rumors perceived as news, news handled like press releases were all once virtually repudiated as just being silly.

The problem with comics is the fans are not nice enough to the people who make them.

That is patently unjust my friend and even more so given life for me these days have been incredibly unfair. I won’t burden you with my many tales of woe. However, I do think the following incident is somewhat appropriate to share with you.

Within the last year, I’ve lost three dogs. I cannot express to you the pain that caused me. No, you have not caused me any pain sir. That’s not the reason I’m sharing that with you.

After some time, I intend to get another dog. To that end it just so happens your article appeared on the day I was wondering when the next time I’d have to teach another little bitch not to shit in my house.

It seems that day is today and the time is now.

We interrupt this professional rebuttal for a word from the wrong nigga to fuck with:

Motherfucker, where the fuck did you see Dan’s name anywhere near the quote you used? Where did you read I blamed the fans?

Nowhere. It’s not there. You made that up.

I’m simply amazed how you pulled that “response” to my article off. No one points out the level of bullshit that you shovel down their throats. Sure, I’ve seen people disagree with you, but I have yet to see anyone take you to task for the little fact that nothing you contribute to me exists anywhere in the article.

Nowhere. Like the emperor, the little bitch has no clothes.

The industry is eating up what is the comic book equivalent of weapons of mass destruction. Just like Bush, you picked a target to attack because it was convenient and you made a convincing case by writing smoke and mirrored attack on me.

Just like Bush, there was nothing there. It didn’t exist it was all bullshit.

I didn’t defend Dan’s leadership at DC anywhere in my article.

I also didn’t dismiss Dan’s leadership at DC anywhere in my article.

I don’t write in riddles my friend; don’t write leaving room for interpretation and I don’t write in some vague style, so later I can wiggle out of what I said.

Within my writings there is no need for deliberation, you don’t have to ponder shit nor is there any reason to think there is a hidden meaning. I write what I mean; say what I mean. You used me and my work to advance your agenda.

That was a bad idea.

I could give you a list of people and companies who tried that and but for one they all wrote me a check. The one that hasn’t got a pass up to now.

Relax dude; I’m not going to sue you. You’re a hell of a writer. That’s not a backward dig I mean that. Where you need help is in reading comprehension

Help is here, Bitch. Get out a pencil and paper because you’re about to get schooled.

Math

How many words were there between “I once loved the comic industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.”

And Dan Didio may be the most hated man in comics and for what?

  1. 325
  2. 6
  3. 9

The answer A. 325.

How the hell did you tie the two together? Oh wait, you used the weapons of mass destruction technique. Attack somebody who had nothing to do with the attack you wanted to make. Like Bush, you thought you could get away with it.

Surprise.

If I may paraphrase the immortal words of Bill Duke, bitch, you know you done fucked up, don’t you?

How many words are there in the entire article?

  1. 2564
  2. 10,000
  3. 1278

The answer is A. 2564

You gave every impression I’d devoted all my article to Dan. Apparently the people who backed you did not read what I wrote, or they are drinking the stupid flavored Kool-Aid.

Of the 2564 words how many words were written about Dan?

  1. 2563
  2. 2567
  3. 190

The answer is C. 190

I’ve heard about it but never tried it. How is the stupid Kool-Aid?

Geography

Using the following paragraph below show where Dan first appears.

“I once loved the comic industry with a passion almost incomprehensible even to myself but the industry I loved so is gone. What remains is a fat out of shape ghost of its former self. A snake oil salesman selling a yearly new everything hoping fans will consider it a glorious new tune.”

Where is Dan first located?

  1. 325 words before
  2. 325 words after
  3. In the same paragraph

The answer is B – 325 words after the quote.

Can you get addicted to Kool-Aid?

History

When did Michael Davis stop working with DC?

  1. He never stopped working with DC
  2. 1993
  3. 2016
  4. The day DC realized he was black
  5. The day he told a DC executive to suck his dick
  6. The day he refused to shut up about how fucked up DC was treating him while at Milestone.
  7. The day a VP at DC tried to prevent him from becoming President & CEO of Motown Animation and Filmworks
  8. The day the Earth stood still
  9. The day Abhay Khosla realized Doctor Davis has no goddamn reason to kiss DC’s ass, never has, never will.

The answer is late 1993. That’s 23 years.

Fun fact: E, F, G, and H are all true. You think perhaps there was no love lost between DC and me?

Rich Johnson changed my original title, which was “What’s Love Got To Do With it?” Why are we still complaining about Dan Didio is all Rich and being the Johnson that he is he knew full well someone would take his bait.

I like Richard. He’s an important part of our industry. He’s got his critics, but a man without critics is a man with no success. I let what he does slide because he knows his audience.

But, like anyone else if I have an issue with him I voice it, and I have two. Editing my work, so you get F**K instead of what I wrote and that so-called comics power list.

But I digress. Peter David! Hey! As always I look forward to seeing you at my annual Comic-Con party!

Your article paints me as defending Dan with a passion; I didn’t. In fact, I gave an example of how I stood by him when he was at ABC and he, for whatever reason, has not shown me the same courtesy since being at DC.

That to me is a dick move but if that’s how he wants to be let him be that. I got other shit to do, and I certainly don’t need DC Comics to pay my mortgage. Yeah, I’d like to work with them again and on paper, I should be.

I have a long albeit novel relationship with Dan. I met Diane Nelson when she was still at Warner Consumer products, and we still exchange the occasional email. Lastly, Jim Lee and I have been in business together it was Image who published my Machineworks imprint.

I think fondly of the 3 am meeting I had with Image at the Hyatt during Comic Con way back when. I bare no one at DC any malice, and I’m glad to see each of those people whenever our paths cross.

Fun Fact: DC Comics is still my universe of choice, and I’ve said that regardless of the state my relationship is with them.

But, like I said I got other shit to do.

Why’d you do it? Nothing in my article was interpreted correctly so again, why’d you do it?

The first step is to admit you have a problem. It’s the Kool-Aid isn’t it?

My clearly made point was this; all this negative energy spent on Dan would be best spent trying to create a forward movement for the industry. People have been trying to get Dan fired for well over a decade.

How the fuck is that working out for you?

I’m always amazed when someone’s goal in life is to fuck up someone else’s.

You’re like a guy who desperately wants to date a girl. When she repeatedly says no you set out to impress her even more. Flowers and candy don’t work so you post something sweet on her Facebook page a poem. Danielle is her name and your name for your little limerick.

She blocks you.

You then embark on a campaign to make her pay. Your poem becomes a book-length attack designed to shame, sadden and hurt her.

You post, The case against Dan Didio, I mean Danielle secure in the knowledge this will destroy her.

She laughs it off. She laughs you off.

Soon you realize a cruel irony. Like Baum’s Dorothy who wanted nothing but to find a way home, she realized the way was her.

She became her way home.

The thing most wanted from “Danielle” is what you’ve become.

A little pussy.

The truth that you damn well knew unless you’re a fucking idiot was Dan made a minor part of an extensive article.

Nothing you attribute to me concerning Dan, fans and my point of view is accurate. The article’s use of my work is not just inaccurate Zero is written remotely slightly, somewhat or vaguely like you describe.

I’m a simple guy I don’t write in riddles I don’t write with conjecture as my primary source. I never blamed the fans for anything.

Bottom line. If you want to pick apart something I’ve done, criticize something I wrote, have at it just don’t rewrite it to suit your personal bullshit.

I wrote While many in the industry continue to turn on each other, some even creating another tempest of hatred once the last storm has lost the wind that propelled it Len Wein just writes another story creates another character all done without a hateful word towards his fellow creators.

Did you skip over that?

Or

kitten-1You’ve just being a dick?

Pick a side, pussy? Dick? Which one are you? You can’t be both, unless you pronounce your last name Kardashian.

Oh, and one more thing about being a “mentor” you might want to check with Walt Simonson as well. Walt came to my studio to see how I ran my mentorship program after accepting a teaching position at the School Of Visual Arts.

Fun fact: Rosamond Bernier did the same when she decided to add a young adult series to her career. I never assume anything, but I have a feeling you’ve never heard of her.

Google her; that may give you a small window into who you’re dealing with and at what level I operate.

You’re passionate about the industry I get that. I’ll be the first to tell you I’ve made many mistakes, and I own up to them.

Many years ago I labeled Bob Chapman a racist. I was young and hotheaded and saw things through a lens of bigoted pain. Bob isn’t a racist he and his family are the salt of the Earth.

I wrote and published Bob an apology the very next week when I was proved wrong. When next I saw him I did so in person then I found his wife and then so again. I was young and hotheaded, but I was not stupid. I was wrong, and I owned up to it.

You are wrong. Do the right thing.

You may think I’m writing this in anger. I’m not, this is far from reaching my level of rage.

I’m saddened by the amount of work you put into this was used to fuel yet another fruitless attack on for better or worse one of the leaders of our industry. You’ve added another reason comics get no respect. Hollywood should be our partners, but instead, we are their bitch.

Lastly, if you want to get black boys into your van, it’s easy. Simply tell them you’re a little pussy.

Mike Gold: Dark Scooby & Freedom Fightin’ Fred

flintstones_1-Pugh-231x350Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

Just when I decided that maybe DC’s “Rebirth” might possibly be worthy – yes, I know, I had the same hopes for Batman v Superman – the other shoe dropped. Back in the 1990s I perceived DC as a centipede, with (obviously) 100 shoes to drop. Now, I’m thinking millipede.

In case you haven’t heard, DC decided to “reimagine” (lord how I hate that word) the classic Hanna-Barbera characters. Sort of like what Archie Comics just did with Archie but, in this case, totally needless.

I have little if any strong attachment to the H-B characters. Even as a kid I knew cheap, shitty animation and sub-standard writing. I loved Rocky and Bullwinkle, which employed even cheaper animation, but after mildly enjoying the first season of The Flintstones I decided life was too short – I was 10 years old – and there were so many Looney Tunes to watch and re-watch. I stuck around long enough to realize Betty was hotter than Wilma and how the hell that little wiener Barney landed her was beyond me. But I digress.

Scooby ApoclypseFlash forward to about 1994. I just got my DirecTV wired up and I was ready to rumble. Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, Comedy Central – my local cable company had none of that stuff at the time. Sitting next to me was my daughter, who was about 19 at the time. We surfed around and landed on Cartoon Network. Adriane went nuts. “Scooby Doo! Scooby Doo!! Don’t change the channel!!!”

Like the other H-B stuff, Scooby-Doo held no attraction for me. In fact, I thought it was an insult to both dogs and to hippies. But Adriane was so enthusiastic and I was so enthralled by the digital broadcast that I stuck with it. It was one of those sort-of feature length crossover movies; I think the one with the Three Stooges. Or Batman and Robin. Same difference.

Fine. There’s nothing that says I have to like it, and those cartoons were more boring than they were rotten. Every generation gets to have its own without the so-called adults pissing on their pleasures and I enjoyed sharing Adriane’s youthful enthusiasm.

(However, Adriane’s all growed-up now and is an editor here at ComicMix. She has the privilege of editing my copy, among others. With great power comes great vengeance. Nonetheless, upon reviewing this column she said “Feel free to point out Adriane was disgusted by the art when it was released in January, worse than she was by Freddie Prinze Jr’s dyejob for the live action movie. Apparently being a grown up means Warner Bros. shits on your childhood in new ways every 15 years or so.”). Mike often wonders where Adriane got that third-person bit.)

But now, just as DC claims to have learned the folly of incessant reboots such as The New 52, comes this.

They’re redoing the H-B characters. Rebooting them. Modernizing them. Making them relevant to a young audience that, quite frankly, does not see the comic book medium as relevant.

Fred and Barney and Scooby and Shaggy aren’t your father’s Fred and Barney and Scooby and Shaggy. Or your grandfathers’. Or… anybody’s. You can see for yourself from the appropriated artwork above.

The idea that Keith Giffen, Marc DeMatteis, Howard Porter and Jim Lee are doing Scooby Apocalypse gives me hope for an entertaining comic book, and on its face it seems like a great idea for a parody. But as the newest incarnation of “the real thing?” It’s like dumping Superman’s red exo-trunks: they’re messing with the American flag.

I assume Jonny Quest will soon be revealed as a weed runner. Hey, Shaggy had to score from someone, and Top Cat really couldn’t be trusted.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and Scrappy-Doo will get hit by a runaway garbage truck.

Molly Jackson: NYCC is Bursting at the Seams

NYCC Bursting

Unless you are living completely off the geek grid (in which case, welcome back to civilization), you know that this past weekend was New York Comic Con. It was NYCC’s 10th year and over the past decade it has grown to one of the largest comic cons in the world.

I spent all four days at the convention, from open to close and occasionally even later. My one word summation is “OWWWWW.” Lots of walking and standing on concrete while carrying heavy books is equal to “OWWWWW” – and then some.

The biggest takeaway from NYCC for me is how big it has really become. It was wall to wall people. All ages, all groups just filling this too small venue for four days. In fact, it was the thing most people talked about. It replaced weather as the small talk of choice. Crowd management became a huge safety issue as the large mass of people made it almost impossible to move quickly.

With the growth comes a lot of perks though. More companies need to do something exciting to get your attention. DC Comics had Jim Lee signing three days in a row, Dark Horse had Frank Miller signing, and comiXology had paper copies of some digital only titles. Booths like DC and Image were telling people were to get their books signed by creators in Artist Alley. Some select panels were shown at the Hammerstein Ballroom a few blocks away. I predict as the area around the Javits convention center develops, we will see more and more convention events happens off-site.

Growth also meant most panels were packed. Some were insanely popular and some were just a good spot to sit down. (Chairs were at a premium all weekend.) I like to believe that this means a tired person got to test the waters on something new and maybe found a new book/tv show/website to try.

I remember when NYCC just used a portion of the Javits, and there might be a different show going on at the same time! Now the place is bursting at the seams with all the booths, creators, and cosplayers. Every year it morphs into something a little different but always bigger. Hopefully we can all keep up with the growth.

Review: Lego Batman 3 – Beyond Gotham

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 7.17.56 PMMake no mistake – the box says Batman 3, but this is clearly the DC response to the Marvel Lego Super Heroes game from last year.  With over 150 heroes and villains, an oncoming storm of DLC, and a sweeping plotline, this is the biggest look at the Lego DC Universe yet.

The title says “Beyond Gotham” and they follow up straight away – the opening video features the six Lantern Corps that aren’t green. Sinestro, Star Sapphire, Saint Walker and Larfleeze start off bickering but are quickly defeated and put under the thrall of the game’s Big Bad, Brainiac.  In only the opening levels of the game the narrative moves from an underground battle against Killer Croc to a outer space where Batman and Robin team up with fellow Justice Leaguers Flash, Cyborg and the Martian Manhunter.

Batman3_2All the Lego games bear some common concepts – the characters fight and puzzle their way through various levels based on the narrative of the story the game is based on, a list so far including Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean.   Everything is awesome destructible, the debris revealing “studs”, the common coin of the Lego realm, which can be used in between levels to purchase new playable characters.  Various characters have different powers – some can fly, some can shoot fire – and each power will allow the player access to different parts of the levels.  Since many characters and powers are not available at the start of the game, the replay value of the series is impressive, nearly exhausting for those insist on chasing the virtual dragon that is the elusive 100% completion rating.

One of the joys of each successive Lego game is to see what new gameplay is created, and what features are pulled from previous entries in the various series.  The interchangeable specialty suits make a welcome return from previous Bat-games, not only for Batman and Robin, but other heroes like Cyborg.  The score multiplier from the Marvel game has been added, and quite useful; too – the number of studs needed to fill the “True Hero” bar on most levels are painstakingly high.  Where Marvel had Stan Lee hidden amongst the levels for you to save, Batman 3 fills that role with the finest Bat-Actor to ever draw breath, Adam West.  Flying characters hake an appearance, including the first large-size mini-figs like the giant true form of the Martian Manhunter and Arkillo of the Yellow Lantern Corps.

The breadth and depth of characters in the game is truly staggering.  From the A-list JLA members to the mid-carders like Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, even villains for the other heroes to fight, like The Cheetah and the Rainbow Raider.  Guest stars from past the fourth wall are a new addition – DC creators Geoff Johns and Jim Lee get the mini-fig treatment, as do Conan O’Brien and Kevin Smith.  In addition to his cameos as a hapless actor in distress, Adam West also voices the Batman from the classic 1966 TV series (now out on DVD) in a special level, complete with retro Batcave and minifig design, and the comic-booky sound effects that have so inextricably affixed themselves to any news media coverage of comics.

Batman3_1But they don’t stop there. This game ties into Batman’s 75th anniversary, and as such pulls in characters and suits from many media.  In addition to the Batman suits from the movies, Batman Beyond is featured in the game, along with his villains like Inque.  Batman The Animated Series gets a tp of the hat with The Gray Ghost, and of all people, Condiment King, and Brave and the Bold brings us the Music Meister.

In a first, the cast of the WB’s hit series Arrow appear in the game, with voice provided by Stephen Amell.  Felicity Smoak, Malcolm Merlyn and the Huntress will be making an appearance in a DLC pack.  But if I had to choose the single most WTF-y included character, it’d have to be The Green Loontern, AKA Daffy Duck, AKA Duck Dodgers from the episode of the TV series where Dodgers accidentally got Hal Jordan’s laundry by mistake.  THAT’S what I call obscure.

In addition to the common design and base gameplay, surely the most beloved common feature of the Lego games is their wacky sense of humor, and this game does not disappoint.  In addition to the wonderful and fun plot and dialogue, be on the lookout for endless throwaway gags in the background.  As Hawkman (or is he?) enters the Hall of Justice, he passes various souvenir stands dedicated to the heroes, including an Aquaman booth choked
with unsold merchandise.  Or as Princess Diana takes to the air, the classic Wonder Woman TV show theme starts to play.

It is not unreasonable to say that there are those who are playing each and every Lego game because of their love of the series, over and above the licensed property that the latest game based itself on.  This game will satisfy both Bat-Fans and Legomaniacs alike.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is available for all current Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo platforms and handhelds.

Martha Thomases: The Comic Book Fan as Retailer

The New York Comic-Con is this week, which is hardly about comics at all anymore. It attracts more than a hundred thousand people to the unbearable Javits Center, all of them drawn to a celebration of pop culture, fantasy, and science fiction.

With all these people clearly interested in the genre, why do so few of them buy comics?

There isn’t one single answer, of course, but today I’m going to discuss the way the comic book publishers market their wares. Specifically, I’m going to talk about how they sell their books to retailers.

Comic books used to be distributed to the marketplace like other periodicals. The publishers would print and ship many more copies than they thought they could sell, ship them to newsstands and other outlets, and accept returns on the unsold copies. Because most comics and graphic novels are now distributed through the direct market, retailers order (and pay for) only the quantity they think they can sell.

Therefore, the primary customer for the publishers is the retailer and not the reader. The publisher does not care, in the short terms, if the retailer sells all the copies ordered. The publisher still gets paid. Of course, a thoughtful publisher will realize that selling the retailer too many copies will eventually cause the retailer to go bankrupt.

Too many publishers are not thoughtful. And too many retailers get into the business only because they love comics, not because they understand marketing. Or business.

If you read the (brilliant, I think) post in the link, you’ll see what information retailers are given to make their ordering decisions. He cites the example of Superman Unchained as a tragic lost opportunity. The book began at the same time the Man of Steel movie was released. It had Scott Snyder on script and Jim Lee on art. It should have been a huge hit.

Instead, it’s dribbling to a close.

The writer of the original post gives a lot of good reasons why he thinks this happened (bad title, unreliable scheduling). I think, if we step back, there are even more reasons.

The biggest problem is that the publisher thinks every possible customer is just like the retailer.

I love Scott Snyder as a writer, and I think Jim Lee’s art is dynamic and appealing. That said, I don’t think very many of the people who went to the movie know who either man is. Therefore, any new series designed to take advantage of the buzz about the movie needs to stress the character and the story more than the creative team.

The same is true for this summer’s bit Superman event, the Geoff Johns/John Romita, Jr. team. To comics fans this is great, but to the average person, a complete enigma. This is especially sad because I think Johns does a great job when he focuses on the most human and engaging aspects of the characters. His Superman is open and appealing to everyone, not just people who have been reading comics for decades.

And those people won’t ever know it, if the only way the title is promoted is to hype the creative team.

One of the biggest changes to happen to comics in my lifetime is that we now celebrate the talent. Fans know their favorite writers and artists, and will sample many different kinds of books because their favorites are involved. This is a terrific development. It shows the marketplace has matured, and allows creators to leverage their popularity into actual money.

The downside is when publishers think hiring great talent is all they need to do. Writers and artists can do fantastic work, but if the publishers don’t market these creations so that customers know what they are buying, it won’t matter.

Retailers have a responsibility as well. A well-promoted and designed store will invite in new customers and display merchandise in a way that is both fun and informative.

Consider other entertainment options that you purchase. When you decide to go to a movie, for example, you might consider the cast and, if you’re more involved, the director and the screenwriter. But first you want to know if it will make you laugh or cry, shiver with terror or clap your hands with delight. You want to know what kind of experience is being offered.

Comic book stores and comic book publishers who rely only on customers who are already customers will fail. We, as an industry, need to create new customers every day.

Or at least every Wednesday.