Attention, all you Marvel Zombies. No, not the actual flesh eating Marvel Zombies from that alternative earth where the super heroes all became mutant zombies who ate most of humanity except for Black Panther… I mean all you crazed Marvelites who bought every issue of Secret Invasion (including the Great Lake Avenger Tie In), and memorized the Super Human Registration Act word for word. I bet you’re getting excited for that swank new Avengers picture set to debut in 2012.
It seems year ago, Marvel (still Timely Comics at the time) tried it’s hand at the moving picture show… and gave birth to the first Avengers movie. I could go into detail here kiddos, but frankly… you should just check the trailer out below, and bask in it’s glory. Cause Whedon ain’t gonna top this:
The question then becomes: If marauding zombie hordes descend on major US cities, what will we do? Zombie evacuation planning has become a recent favorite party activity around the world. Friends will get together and decide where to go and how to get there, who to take and who to leave behind. Some companies are cashing in on these preparations by offering missile silos converted into homes, and there are several sites like zombietools.net that have a more hands-on approach to the Zombie Apocalypse.
Still, if zombies are shambling soon to a neighborhood near you, how do you know? Well, if you live in Boston, check the Boston PD’s Twitter feed. Recently, the department made internet history when they tweeted that they would inform the public if there were a zombie attack. This got me thinking: would anyone else?
Fred Van Lente may have one of the strangest resumes in modern comics.
After all, not many writers can give their first claim to fame as writing an award-winning non-fiction comic book series both satirizing and paying tribute to the greatest thinkers in human history; yet that’s his name alongside artist Ryan Dunlavey’s on the cover of Action Philosophers, which won the Xeric Grant in 2004.
Since then, he’s gone on to write what seems like an endless stream of series and miniseries for Marvel: Marvel Adventures Iron Man, Marvel Adventures Spider-man, Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four, Amazing Fantasy, Super-Villain Team-Up: MODOK’s 11, Wolverine: First Class, and more besides.
These days, his most steady gig is co-writing (with Greg Pak) Marvel’s Incredible Hercules, a fan favorite series and critical darling that’s been praised for mixing mythology with good old Marvel superheroics. He’s also writing the X-Men Noir miniseries, a mystery story set in the heyday of prohibition.
And, just to make sure his resume keeps getting stranger, the third issue of Comic Book Comics, his second collaboration with Ryan Dunlavey, just hit the stands recently. As the title suggests, it’s a comic book that chronicles the history of comic books.
Fred took a few minutes out his schedule to talk to us about how he wound up writing for Marvel, how not to kill Jocasta, and how not to get sued when infringing on copyright.
ComicMix: How does the writer of a black-and-white independent series about the great thinkers wind up writing all-ages superhero stories for the Marvel Adventures line?
Fred Van Lente: Well, believe it or not, my working for Marvel and me doing Action Philosophers happened simultaneously. What happened was, for two completely different career paths converged. I was doing Action Philosophers on and off with Ryan [Dunlavey] more or less for fun until we got the Xeric Grant, and I did a color independent comic with a great artist by the name of Steve Ellis, who’s now better known for having co-created the series High Moon over at Zuda. We did a super-crime mob series called The Silencers for Moonstone, and that brought me to the attention of Mark Paniccia over at Marvel. Mark invited me over to pitch for an anthology series called Amazing Fantasy. They ran a poll on Marvel.com for which characters to revamp, and they chose Scorpion. By a bizarre coincidence, Action Philosophers #1 and Amazing Fantasy #7, which premiered the new Scorpion, came out on the same day.
FVL: Yeah! And in most stores, because they were both “A” titles, they were racked next to each other. So after ten years of trying to break into the business and not really getting much traction, I not only had two comics come out on the same day, I had them sit next to each. And to add irony to irony, I had broken my ankle. So I was laid up and on painkillers, so I was unable to go to the store and see this magnificence for myself.
CMix: That’s kind of sad.
FVL: Well, my friend sent me cell phone pictures.
CMix: Gotcha. So, my next question is, how does the writer of all-ages Marvel superhero stories wind up co-writing Incredible Hercules, one of the most critically beloved mainstream titles right now?
As the economy went into free fall, ICv2 notes that October sales have shown some slippage. From their just released list of the top 25 titles, just two showed signs of improvement over September sales. One was Amazing Spider-Man #573 which featured the faux-Stephen Colbert for President cover while the other was Batman #680, the penultimate chapter to Batman RIP.
Despite somewhat stagnant sales, the dollars sold in to comic stores were up a “robust” 9% compared with a year ago, according to the industry watchdog. September and October were the first positive months for comic sales since January. Of course, more titles were retailing last month at $3.99, rapidly becoming a standard, as opposed to last October. ICv2 did note that the unit sales for the title charting in the 300th position was 4200 compared with 3000 just twelve months ago which they interpret as a sign of overall industry strength.
Graphic novel sales showed an increase of just 5% compared with last October. Combined with comic book sales, that creates an 8% total increase.
The site notes that the company crossovers, Secret Invasion #7 (154,675 copies) and Final Crisis #4 (115,666 copies) took the first two spots on the list. Marvel had seven of the top 10 and 17 of the first 25 with DC taking the balance. IDW’s G.I. Joe relaunch and Angel: After the Fall were the first non-Top Two titles to crack the top 100 list coming in at 65th and 66th place. This further cements IDW’s fourth place standing among comic book publishers, after Dark Horse and now ahead of Image.
In graphic novels, DC’s Joker by Brian Azzarello, took first place with an estimated 17,000 copies sold, also nabbing the top spot for dollars earned. Marvel’s best seller for the month was the Marvel Zombies trade paperback, which likely hit the top Marvel spot given its three variant covers. Wile Watchmen slipped from first place to sixth, its 6000 copies remains impressive given its age.
Over a month ago, Robert Kirkman (Invincible, Walking Dead) posted a video mission statement on the idea that many who work at DC and Marvel are there because they do not realize that creator-owned books can provide a stable living with healthy profit and that such titles are the way to enhance the industy.
Brian Michael Bendis immediately responded by saying that things weren’t that easy and that it was irresponsible to tell people that, speaking as a man who works on many Marvel titles and has had success with his creator-owned Powers series.
The two sides of the argument have been tackled, discussed and disected across the board on message boards, in comic stores, in bars, possibly even in secret lairs hidden beneath wealthy manors.
And so, at Baltimore Comic-Con, Bendis and Kirkman met to continue their debate and elaborate on their points before an interested audience.
I have to admit, I’m a bit torn about the upcoming, four-issue Marvel Apes miniseries. On one hand, it’s nice to envision a post-Marvel Zombies world. Even though I enjoyed the original Zombies stories (and a few of the dozen-or-so subsequent spin-offs, tie-ins and one-shots), it’s long past time to put the living dead back in their graves and move the heck on.
So I’m glad to see the Merry Marvel Marketing crew find a new shtick.
On the other hand… it’s monkeys. Marvel Apes, in fact.
Well, regardless of how you feel about the notion, EW.com recently posted several cover images from the series and the variant covers that will be popping up on other Marvel titles throughout the Apes run, depicting a variety of simian-styled Marvel characters. Pictured here is one of my favorites, the variant cover to Punisher: War Journal #3, due out September 3 (I’ve posted a larger version of the image after the jump). Be sure to check out the Rob Liefeld ape-ified variant cover to Cable #6, too. Words fail me.
It begins when Marty ”The Gibbon” Blank, a mutant chump with chimp-like powers, is ensnared in a science experiment gone wrong. He’s jettisoned into a sinister alternate reality devoid of humans; here, all of our crime-fighters are now hirsute anthropoids. Joined by the fetching human scientist Dr. Fiona Fitzhugh, this wannabe villain (the Gibbon founded the Spider-Man hating/baiting Legion of Losers) is, in fact, recruited by the seemingly upright Ape-Vengers as he searches for a way back home.
The first issue of Marvel Apes is scheduled for a September 3 release. You’ve been warned.
Audiences love superhero movies. They also love zombie movies. What if… What if Marvel Studios decided to greenlight Marvel Zombies: The Movie?
Sadly, this is not reality. But Ojala Productions created a fan made, not-for-profit trailer for the popular comic book that gives us a peak and what could be. Similar to Batman: Dead End, the famous internet short where the Dark Knight squared off against Joker, an Alien and a Predator, Marvel Zombies was filmed as a calling card to show studios Ojala Productions’ capabilities.
This week, ComicMix Radio had the chance to share the good bad and weird – and as usually here’s the links to prove it:
Robert Kirkman, writer of Invincible, Marvel Zombies, The Astounding Wolf-Man, Ultimate X-Men, The Walking Dead and more finally has a home on the web. Go here to check out his Kirkmania.Com, and tell him ComicMix sent you!
EyeShield 21, the popular Shonen Jump manga that actually combines anime and American football, debuts on Cartoon Network today but you can get a sneak peek here.
Those Top 25 Best Rock Posters of All Time can be viewed here and while you are looking at them, see if you can figure out the ones that influenced Jim Steranko back in the day!
‘Twas the day before Halloween and ComicMix Radio dug deep into the spookiest place we could find – your wallet. We had to make sure there was enough there to cover this week’s Big List of cool comics and even cooler DVDs that invade the stores. Plus we also cover :
• DC Comics on the big screen, including a newest Flash movie director
• Image puts Darkness on the schedule at last
• More Marvel Zombie variants … including one hard to find version of Anita Blake Vampire Hunter.
Press The Button or we’ll come over and egg your hard drive!
Ever think that there are at least parts of your life that would make an interesting comic? Artist Kurt Dinse did and from there he added a little drama and created One Year In Indiana, an intriguing indy comic spotlighted today on THE BIG BROADCAST!
Plus: What is the deal on all those Marvel Zombie variants? How about Princess Bride coming to the game market? The new Tintin trilogy? And today, we fondly remember Mrs. Hart.
Let us entertain you while you read the all-new, all-free Black Ice… PRESS THE BUTTON!