This is the first ever documented Spider-Man fan film, and the first (unofficial) live action appearance of Spider-Man from way back in 1969. This was produced by Donald F. Glut, who at the time was writing for Warren Magazines (Creepy and Eerie) and would later go on to write Captain America, The Invaders, Conan, and Kull for Marvel, and what he may still best be known for, writing the novelization for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
This was Don’s last amateur film (he had produced many other fan films before this) before moving on to write for classic cartoons like Transformers and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.
For those not paying attention, this week Paolo Rivera broke the shackles that bound him to the House of Mouse. That’s right, after a 10+ year career at Marvel, he ended his exclusive contract. Presently, you might know him from his absolutely stunning work on Daredevil. And if you’re not familiar? Go down to your local comic emporium, and partake in a few books bearing his name. You won’t be disappointed.
So why the departure, here in what most critics would dub his “ascension to the A-List?” Ownership. Rights. Long-term gains. As he makes it clear in his blog detailing his decision, it comes down to surveying his body of work and seeing no island on the horizon. Let’s be clear, he’s not mad. Or sad. In fact, he’s very grateful for the decade of work he’s been thrown since the dawn of his career. At the end of the day though, he puts it best:
“…the sum total of that work is not enough to support me in the distant future. My page rate is essentially the same as when I started at 21, so I’ve decided to invest in myself.”
Now, this brings up a debate I know we’ve all had here on ComicMix in the past – that of creators’ rights, and compensation. It seems we as an industry can’t last more than a few months before yet-another-creator is irate over the profits gained on their blood, sweat, and arthritic hands, that never see their own pocketbook. On the business side of things, we know the rub already. To work as an artist or writer in comic books for “the Big Two,” the work you do is theirs. They pay you a fee (and a small percentage of royalties of the sales of the book) for your creativity. Now, when you have a mortgage, insurance, and a rumble in your tummy… do you try to negotiate for the best deal, or do you sign your life away to stay alive? Of course no one is in such dire straights these days, but Marvel and DC certainly have more lawyers and iron-clad contracts than Stan Lee has catchphrases. As Paolo makes clear, he’s done with that side of the business. It’s time to invest in himself.
Certainly there are creators out there who are kicking ass and taking names doing their own creator-owned books. Mike Mignola, Eric Powel, Robert Kirkman, Warren Ellis… All great men who once (and on occasion still do) made a living working for “the man.” But each of those men now can rest on their laurels that their main source of funds comes directly from material they created, they own, and they see to market. Certainly when Hellboy made a second profitable movie, many an indie-creator must have taken note. Yes, Dark Horse had a lot to do with the success of the property on the business end, but Mignola is the crown prince of Anung Un Rama. Without his blessing, nary a product makes its way past a marketing meeting.
The same doesn’t hold true for Mr. Rivera. Should Marvel decide to make a tee-shirt with some of his art? He may see some royalties back from the sale – but he’d get laughed out of the office if he opposed them selling merchandise with his work on it. And when they reboot the movie franchise… he’ll see a blind eye if they use any of his striking work as reference or source material. Blind eye. Heh.
Ultimately, Rivera’s made a move that I hope works out for him. Admittedly I’ve come to the Daredevil party a bit too late, but I plan on picking up the issues as they are collected. Wherever Paolo roams from here on out, may his legion of fans follow. According to his musings, he’s kicking around an idea for an “original story, sci-fi in nature, with primal themes and a compact cast of characters.” He’s also looking into “experiments in both distribution and funding” a la Kickstarter. Thanks largely in-part to the interwebs, this very idea even exists. The last time artists with this much clout left Marvel, they made Image Comics. Certainly that won’t happen ever again, but in its place is something far more rewarding. Not necessarily in up-front hype and profits mind you, but rewarding none-the-less.
With Paolo Rivera setting his sites on the creator-owned market, I see the opportunity for a more level playing field. When the artists and writers have both a creative and monetary investment in a project, there is a passion that simply doesn’t exist on the other side of the aisle. As an Unshaven Comic, I care far more about The Samurnauts than I ever will about Kyle Rayner or GrimJack, even if I’m ever allowed to write or draw either of them. When I put my head to pillow, I know that my creations (made in part with two brilliant co-creators) are my own. And should the day ever come that our creation becomes “something,” it’s only fair that I (we) see the complete fruit of those labors.
Good on you, Paolo. May others follow suit as well.
Hey everyone! Emily here, and all ready for a great Tuesday column! Today I’m going to be talking about cosplay. I read an article a little while ago, about why women cosplay, and whether they –
Why women cosplay? Well ain’t it obvious? So they can look smokin’ like Lady Deadpool an’ stuff.
Um, Deadpool? What are you doing here?
Dontchya remember? You promised me I c’d take out my backlog’a Twitter questions by answerin’ ‘em on yer column this week!
…I did, didn’t I? Well crap. I had this whole great column about women and cosplay ready to go! Are you sure you don’t want to come back next week??
Em, I love ya, but GTFO.
*siiiiigh* It’s all yours, man.
RIGHT. Well now. Since we ain’t been properly introduced yet, ‘sup, people’a ComicMix. My name’s Deadpool, an’ I come in peace.
[Well we all know that’s a big fat lie.]
Okay, maybe I come in peace an’ a little bit’a mayhem. Guess it kinda depends on my mood what you’ll get, an’ th’ way my brain works, who c’n predict? But right now, I’m feelin’ all mellow an’ $#!% ‘cause I just ate ten chimichangas, five enchiladas, an’ a chalupa. Also a coupla churros. You ever had a churro? Man, I c’d eat those things all d –
All right, alright. So, yeah. All fulla food an’ mellow an’ happy an’ ready ta clear up some’a those burnin’ questions people are always askin’ me ‘cause they know I’m th’ world-wide expert on everythin’ on Earth, ever. Also a pretty good consultant fer death an’ th’ afterlife an’ life in other galaxies. Also I play a mean game’a shuffleboard.
[WILL YOU GET ON WITH IT ALREADY??]
So now that ya know why we’re all here, let’s get on with it, eh?
[I get ta say “Eh?” ‘cause I’m Canadian.]
[So you say.]
Ah-hem. On ta all th’ burnin’ questions, is what I say!
…But no questions about burnin’ as it relates ta you, yer pants, an’ that donkey ya met last week, ‘kay? Last time I got one’a those kinda questions I couldn’ sleep right fer a week fer all th’ nightmares. They got other people fer those questions, capeesh? I’m a merc, not a doc!
So, yeah, let’s see here…last month’s laundry…IOU from Cable after he borrowed my WD-40; man, that’s old, I bet I c’d collect some killer int’rest on that…souvenir slice of Agent X’s pancreas (he never missed it!)…ah! Twitter questions!
Oh, hey. This one just came in, from @foresthouse.
Emily says: Wade!! Don’t forget to post the comic that @MarcVuletich and I did in your Tuesday @ComicMix column!
Crap! I almost forgot, didn’ I? Stupid shimmyin’ brain cells. Emily said I c’d only answer questions here if I remembered ta post the latest comic she an’ Marc Vuletich did. I let ‘em hang around th’ office sometimes ta chronicle my amazin’ life. Here’s what happened last week…
…Not my proudest moment. And now, on ta th’ rest’a th’ internets:
@Gohanguy22 asks: “Who would win in a fight? Justin Bieber or Aquaman”
Ah, geez, another one’a these “who would win” questions where th’ answer is just so obvious I don’ know why there’s even a question. I mean, here we got Justin Bieber, The Dude Formerly Known As A Hairstyle, who’s basic’lly recycled pop songs, a few dance moves, an’ a big cheesy grin; versus Aquaman, th’ freakin’ king of Atlantis, who c’n like, breathe underwater, make sea creatures dance th’ merengue if he wants ‘em to, an’ punch through submarines. Also th’ dude c’n swim up Niagara Falls.
So, obviously, th’ answer is: Justin Bieber. ‘Cause even though Aquaman c’d snap that little feeb’s neck like a tiny piece’a coral or drown him in three feet’a water or have him eaten by piranhas no problem, ev’rybody knows th’ King of Atlantis’d be too dignified ta bother fightin’ or drownin’ somethin’ that silly an’ inconsequential.
Also, what’s th’ point? Ya get rid’a Bieber, an’ ya just know there’ll be another Bieber along ta replace him soon enough. They got, like, a factory somewhere or somethin’.
@Flobberknocker wants ta know: “you versus 100 chimichangas. Who wins?”
Well obviously th’ first round goes ta me. I’d be eliminatin’ th’ competition left, right, an’ center. Hooverin’ up those chimichangas like it ain’t no thang. Knockin’ ‘em down an’ goin’ in fer th’ kill while they cried fer their wussy mommy chimichangas. Then, sure, I might haveta stop fer a few, ‘cause 100 chimichangas is a lot of chimichangas. So yeah, I’d take a breath, get someone ta mop my brow an’ squirt water in th’ general direction’a my mouth, maybe tell some people passin’ by ‘bout how I was eatin’ 100 chimichangas (okay, I’d tell everybody passin’ by, but just ‘cause “chimichanga” is fun ta say, it’s not like I like ta brag or nothin’).
But hey, then I’d be right back in th’ ring, ‘cause ya know, I’m like th’ Chimichanga Terminator, lookin’ those tasty deep-fried burritos in th’ eye an’ bein’ all: I’ll be back. An’ they’d be quakin’ in their little guacamole-covered boots, cryin’ tiny sour cream tears, ‘cause ya gotta know chimichangas are cowardly little things; ya’d almost feel sorry fer ‘em in this scenario ‘cept they’re just so damn delicious! So yeah, th’ second round would be mine, all mine! An’ before ya know it they’d all be gone an’ I’d be sittin’ all fat an’ happy in my easy chair with a smile on my face an’ th’ Golden Girls marathon on TV. Challenge accepted; mission accomplished.
…But hey. I ain’t gonna lie. This is Mexican food, here. We all know who wins round three.
@Kingvilehelm inquires: “If you had a baby would you train it all Kill Bill style or let it have a normal childhood”
A baby? A cutesy-wootsey itty-bitty widdle baaaaabyyyy?? …Ah, who’re we kiddin’, is there anyone, anywhere in this world or any’a all th’ ridiculously large collections’a alternate Marvel universes out there who would leave me alone with a baby long enough ta raise it?
[Unless it was baby Cable! You looked after him for awhile, don’t forget.]
[Yeah, and then when Cable got to his teen years he took him to Intercourse, PA in hopes it would live up to its name, remember?]
Yeah, pretty sure th’ whole’a th’ Marvel multiverse’d frown on me bein’ allowed ta raise a baby, not that I’d know what ta do with it if I did get one – I mean, I know there’s somethin’ involvin’ diaper-changin’ an’ all that, but I ain’t touchin’ that $#!% with a ten-foot pole (all puns intended)! That’s def’nitely someone else’s problem.
But…maybe…someone in another universe’d be interested in improvin’ th’ shallow end’a th’ gene pool with ol’ Wade, eh? Hmm...I wonder what that’d look like…
@flanaganbennett asks: “Deadpool, what do you think of this bunny?”
…You have found my one weakness, good sir. Yo, verily, I take off my mask ta you.
Well, that’s it fer this week, feebs an’ fans! Come back next week, when Emily tells me she’ll be here with what I’m sure’ll be a super rivetin’ column about costumes an’ stuff. I mean, not nearly as rivetin’ as me answerin’ questions, but hey, we don’ wanna spoil you all, now, do we? Not ta mention Emily just came over ta stand near th’ keyboard an’ she’s kinda tappin’ her foot an’ gesturin’ fer me ta leave an’ I’m not sure if she’s gonna invite me back anytime soon. But…I’m sure she’ll let me near her computer again one’a these days, an’ if she doesn’t, you c’n always come visit me over at Ask Deadpool!
With the President’s recent open approval of same-sex marriage; a federal appeals court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (claiming it unconstitutional); the success of Life with Archie #16, featuring the marriage of a gay character; and Marvel and DC’s inclusion of prominent storylines about gay characters, one may surmise it is easy for everyone to access constitutionally-protected LGBT materials. This is not the case, as students in a school district north of Salt Lake City will have to get parental permission before checking out a book about a lesbian couple raising a family, according to a recent article on the Huffington Post.
The book In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco is at the center of these prohibitive policies due to a complaint by the mother of a student who checked out the book, which features a family led by a lesbian couple and how they use love to give them the strength to overcome intolerance.
From the Huffington Post article by Jennifer Dolner:
Students in a Utah school district will need permission from their parents to read a book about a lesbian couple raising a family following the decision by a special committee to keep it behind library counters instead of on bookshelves.
The book In Our Mothers’ House, by Patricia Polacco, became the subject of controversy in January when the mother of a student who brought the book home complained to the school.
‘The book is still in the library and children can still have access to the book as long as they have written permission from their parents,’ said Chris Williams, a spokesman for the Davis School District, which covers an area north of Salt Lake City.
Dolner goes on to relate that the book has been challenged in libraries around the country:
The Davis district is not the first place parents have raised concerns about the book, which was published in 2009. A 2011 report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas shows the book was banned in several schools in that state.
Williams said a school-level committee made up of teachers, administrators and parents decided that access to In Our Mothers’ House should be restricted to students in grades 3 through 6. When that didn’t satisfy the parent, a district committee was petitioned to address the issue.
In late April, the district committee voted 6-1 that the book could stay in the collection, but should be kept behind the counter, instead of on shelves. A letter informing parents of the decision was sent out in May.
Williams said in the article that what’s objectionable to one person is not to another. Thusly, a person’s objection to legal material (that is not defined as offensive or profane by law) has led to a subjective decision to restrict access to said material. These policies, therefore, are based on personal ideologies, not law, and are in violation of a national canon of free expression.
Similar outcries and boycotts have been made by special interest groups, such as One Million Moms, against the comic industry for its depiction of gay characters. In February, One Million Moms lobbied to have an Archie comic removed from shelves and encouraged people to boycott the comic.
From a CBLDF article by Betsy Gomez:
One Million Moms — a division of the American Family Association, a conservative non-profit organization that ‘promotes traditional family values’ — recently made news over their boycott of retailer JC Penney over hiring lesbian TV host Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson. They are in the news again with recent reports that they will be boycotting Toys ‘R’ Us over the display and sale of Life with Archie #16, which features the marriage of openly gay character Kevin Keller.
Despite the group’s efforts, the comic stayed on the shelves and even sold out.
More recently, the group has taken similar actions against Marvel’s Astonishing X-men #51, featuring the marriage of the mutant Northstar to his same-sex partner, and DC’s “outing” of the Green Lantern, according to an ICv2.com article.
From the ICv2 article:
American Family Association ‘project’ One Million Moms has added Marvel and DC to the list of comic publishers that it opposes because of their inclusion of gay characters. The group argues that the companies ‘want to indoctrate [sic] impressionable young minds by placing these gay characters on pedestals in a positive light.’ The group was reacting to the announcement by Marvel that its character Northstar would marry his same sex partner in Astonishing X-Men #51 (see A Gay Wedding for Marvel). DC announced this week that a major, iconic DC character would be revealed as gay next month (see DC Character to Come Out). ‘These companies are heavily influencing our youth by using children’s superheroes to desensitize and brainwash them in thinking that a gay lifestyle choice is normal and desirable,’ the group said.”
Though One Million Moms public objections are constitutionally protected speech, banning comics and books (as in the case of Texas schools banning In Our Mothers’ House) due to moral, political or religious ideologies violate these First Amendment rights.
From the First Amendment Center’s website FAQs concerning speech, schools and books:
School officials cannot pull books off library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas in those books. In Board of Education v. Pico, the Supreme Court ruled that school officials in New York violated the First Amendment by removing several books from junior high school library shelves for being too controversial.
The Court said the First Amendment protects students’ right to receive information and ideas and that the principal place for such information is the library.
However, in Pico, the Supreme Court also said school officials could remove books from library shelves if they were ‘pervasively vulgar.’ The Court noted that its decision did not involve school officials’ control over the curriculum or even the acquisition of books for school libraries.
School districts should develop policies on how to handle challenges to books, and how to ensure that decisions regarding removal of books from the library or the curriculum respect the Constitution and reflect sound educational policy. School officials must also ensure that a book is not removed simply because a concerned parent or special-interest group dislikes its content.”
Visit the non-profit organization First Amendment Center’s website for more information.
LGBT publications, from books to comics, are often challenged, banned or subject to restrictive access policies in libraries. These materials are legal, non-obscene, and protected speech, but they often suffer the consequences of personal, religious, and moral dogmas that infringe on free speech and free access.
Please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work and reporting on issues such as this by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!
Justin Brown is a journalism graduate of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
One more time to the well I go! As with my articles over the last two weeks … I’m taking to task one Tim Marchman of the Wall Street Journal. He quipped that the comic industry is in a tailspin in part because of “clumsy art, poor writing, and (and I’m paraphrasing…) the clinging-to-continuity.” I’ve defended the art. I’ve defended the writing. I might as well finish off the trifecta of telling this putz where to shove his opinions, right? Even if it gets Mike Gold in a tizzy.
It’s the argument I hear (and honestly have made myself… whoops) time and again; Modern comic books are too hard to get into because they have a nearly-impossible-to-grasp forever-changing mythology. In fact, this very argument was brought to life (and a live audience) to WBEZ (Chicago’s NPR affiliate) at a well-attended debate. At that debate? Tim Seeley, Mike Norton, and a handful of other local comic artists and writers. Suffice to say, the argument has legs. Long, tall, sultry legs. Legs that start at the floor, and go up to the heavens. The kind of legs that keep lesser men at bay. OK, I’ll stop with the leg analogy. I get it. Really, I do. “If I want to read Spider-Man, I need to read decades worth of stories to understand what’s going on!”
Sorry, my son is watching me type.
Huh. Now there’s something to latch on to – my son. Soon, Bennett will gain the power of language and communication. And I plan to read him a comic book every night before bed. Why? Because I want to teach him, from as early an age as possible, that comic books (and their never-ending back-stories) are entirely accessible. From the simplest base of knowledge – sometimes rooted only in the musings, opinions, and un-fact-checked thoughts of another comic book fan – enjoyment is not hindered by a lengthy back story. In fact, when handled well, a story with a rich history only yields further desire to immerse ones’ self in the adventure further.
Case in point? GrimJack
When “The Manx Cat” hit shelves, I nabbed it, tepidly. Knowing nothing of the adventures of the beret-wearing, bar-owning, sword-gun-and-sorcery-using mercenary, I still made the purchase. The issue was clearly meant to attract a new reader (as DC did with relaunching their entire line, and Marvel does when they append a “.1” to a book’s numbering). As I recall, the inside front cover didn’t have a lengthy history report. Over the course of six issues, I learned what I could from what John Ostrander presented. Some of it was easy enough to latch on to. “This guy’s been around the block a few times. Seems to have an elaborate network of operatives, friends, and history around this universe.” Other things made me scratch my noodle. “He’s obviously referencing a previous adventure the older fans know. Hmm. Sounds interesting. Maybe I’ll go back and check it out…”
And therein lies my point. All it took was a spark of interest, and I dove in. Comic books are akin to other serialized mediums – Professional Wrestling and Soap Operas come to mind. Before your eyes roll, and you snort loud enough to make the cat wake up, hold tight. When I uttered (err, typed) those phrases, did the hair on the back of your neck raise up just a little? Well, suck it up, nerdlinger. For the “big two” in the industry… their wares aren’t really all that different from Vince McMahon’s steroid showcase, or the major networks’ never-ending dramas of soapy nature. The fact is the very root of comic books is tied to the idea of serialization. To proclaim it being part of the reason the comic book business is failing is like saying wrestling is failing because it’s fake.
Now, to be fair, Marchman may very well be commenting on modern books being “written for the trade”, which I covered last week. When you walk into the store today, and want to check out The Avengers (cause you just saw that kooky flick, don’t-cha-know…), the first issue you pull off the shelf may be right smack dab in the middle of some zany plot you’ve no clue about. Reading 20 pages of content piling on top of two, three or four previous episodes makes for an nearly impossible-to-enjoy experience. I guess you’d throw up your arms, and leave the shop. Maybe go into the back alley. Buy some drugs. I mean drugs don’t care about history, do they? And they’re just as addictive… Damnit comics! You made another near-fan a drug addict.
Here’s the rub: It’s a lame excuse. If you came out of the movie theater jazzed about the Avengers, a quick jaunt to your local fiction house would help satiate your new-found-taste for muscles and fights. A well-picked trade, or handful of issues later (let’s say about $20 worth, or less if you go digital), you can then start pulling off the rack, right afterwards. Will you know everything going on? No. But if the books are written and drawn well enough? I bet you go back and fill in the gaps. I did with the Fantastic Four, not that long ago. Without any knowledge of the years Hickman spent building his nuanced epic arc, I jumped in head first (right after Johnny “died”). And over the course of the following year? The book rose to the top of my pull list. And now, I’m going back through his entire run. Because I want to know more. All it took was the first step – and admitting my previous excuse for not buying the book was just that… an excuse.
Suffice to say, Marchman’s point about barrier to entry is just a sly dodge away from the real issue (which is more about the Direct Market, availability, and proper marketing by Marvel and DC to potential fans). For those people who say “I’d get into comics, but there’s too much backstory to get through,” what are they really telling you? Jim Gaffigan had it right all along:
“You know my favorite part about that movie? Not reading.”
Earth Station One Episode 114: More Assembly Required
ESO REASSEMBLE!!! This week, the ESO crew follows up on The Avengers movie review to focus on the long-running comic series that inspired one of the biggest blockbusters of all-time. ESO hosts Mike Faber, Mike Gordon, and Bobby Nash are joined by Van Allen Plexico (www.AvengersAssemble.net) to discuss what makes this band of Marvel misfits the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. We also interview writer/editor Win Scott Eckert as he takes a turn in The Geek Seat. And we are proud to introduce the newest podcast to the ESO Network family, Transmissions from Atlantis with hosts Jason and Rita de la Torre! All this, plus the usual Rants, Raves, Khan Report, and Shout Outs!
June 5th, 2012 – Mount Laurel, NJ – Join Tom Sniegoski and Dennis Calero for a very special Shadow story in The Shadow Annual #1 featuring a cover by Alex Ross. In The Shadow Annual #1, The Shadow is tormented by visions of New York City plagued by living fire-fire in the shape of a Chinese dragon-fire with the potential to spread hungrily to the world. But what do these visions mean? The Shadow will peel back the layers of mystery, leading to a confrontation that could very well shake the pillars of Heaven. Who are the waifs of Li-Lung, and what are their connections to Brother Pritchard’s Orphanage for Wayward Children, and to crime boss on the rise, Vincent Ruzzo? Soon, the Shadow will know.
“When I found out that Dynamite had The Shadow license I was ecstatic . . . and when they asked me if I was interested in writing the first annual I just about had a seizure,” says writer Tom Sniegoski. “First of all, anybody who knows me knows how much I love the pulp characters, and the Shadow is number one on my list of favorites. I cut my teeth on the whole pulp hero thing in 2009 with my novel, Lobster Johnson: The Satan Factory, which won the Best Pulp Novel of 2009 from The Pulp Factory Awards. Looking back, I feel like that book was a warm up to the main attraction, now I was going to get the chance to write the character that almost all other pulp characters were trying to emulate, now I was going to get the chance to write The Shadow. To say that I was a little nervous was an understatement. First I had to come up with an idea for a story with the same kind of punch that the original pulps had, and was as powerful and exciting as Garth Ennis, and Aarron Campbell’s current run. After some serious thought (and a few tumblers of scotch) I came up with a story idea that everybody seemed to love. It’s got everything that I’d be looking for in a Shadow story: mysterious locales, organized crime, dreams of an apocalyptic future, blazing Colt 45’s and Thompson Machine Guns, and creepy kids with psychic powers . . . what’s not to love?”
“Tom and I have known each other since he was the main writer on Vampirella back in the ‘90’s,” adds Dynamite Entertainment President and Publisher Nick Barrucci. “With his success in prose, it was hard for him to make time for comics work. We’re very happy that he was able to work on our first The Shadow Annual. It’s an awesome tale, and Dennis’ art compliments the story incredibly well.”
Tom Sniegoski has worked for all the big guys in the comic book industry, Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, Cartoon Books, and now Dynamite! Some of the characters Tom has written include Batman, The Punisher, Hellboy, Wolverine, Devil Dinosaur, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and he even wrote the prequel to Jeff Smith’s award winning series Bone, which was called Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails: The Adventures of Big Johnson Bone. His most recent comic book work (written with frequent partner, Christopher Golden) is The Sisterhood, published by Archaia Studios Press. This dynamic duo also worked on the mini-series Talent from Boom Studios which was optioned by Universal Pictures.
Dennis Calero’s work includes Acclaim Comics’ licensed-product titles Sliders and Magic: The Gathering; Moonstone Books’ TV tie-in titles Cisco Kid and Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Platinum Comics’ Cowboys & Aliens; IDW Publishing’s Masters of Horror: Dreams in the Witch House; and Marvel Comics’ X-Factor, during his tenure on which the title was nominated for the Harvey Award for Best New Series (2006). In 2006, IDW announced that Calero will be one of the cover artists on its six-issue Star Trek: The Next Generation TV tie-in miniseries The Space Between, scheduled for 2007. Calero drew an arc of Legion of Super-Heroes for DC Comics and his new Marvel series, X-Men: Noir, was released by Marvel in December 2008. X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain was released in 2010. That same year, he drew the Dark Horse Comics relaunch of the former Gold Key and Valiant character, Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom, which was written by Jim Shooter.
Just in time for the movie, when all Marvel wants is good things to come up when they Google “Spider-Man”…
NEW YORK (AP) — A New York judge is set to hear arguments over what a jury can decide in a civil trial stemming from the Broadway production of “Spider-Man.”
Judge Katherine Forrest must decide whether to dismiss fired director Julie Taymor’s claims that her copyright on a three-page script treatment for the musical was violated. She also will decide the fate of counterclaims brought against Taymor by the show’s producers. A hearing is set for Friday.
Taymor was fired in 2011 as the $75 million production sputtered to get off the ground despite three months of preview performances. The musical was rewritten and it successfully reopened. Taymor sued the producers in November and they countersued. In court papers, the producers say Taymor’s treatment was based on pre-existing “Spider-Man” comics and films.
So in my first column discussing differences in the way guys and gals are treated by the comics industry, I’m totally going to start with a gender stereotype, ‘cause that’s just how I roll. Here it is:
Women love to shop.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s read anything by me before that I will now say, “Okay, stereotypes are silly and that’s actually not true of all women. My sister, for instance, hates malls and isn’t a huge fan of shopping in general.” But it is true that I, a grown female comics fan with a desire to occasionally spend money on comic-y things, do love to shop; and since this is my column, we’re going to talk about me! (That’s also how I roll.) And about the fact that I am often disappointed, as both a shopper and a comics fan, by what’s offered to female fans in the way of comics merchandise, and generally by the way the industry seems to view the female demographic.
I do feel like there’s been some (read: glacial) improvement in this area in the past few years. But I don’t understand why it’s taking so long, or why there’s such difficulty in marketing to women (and in, simultaneously, notinsulting them in the process).
The way I see it, the goals of comics merchandisers are to take all my monieessssss and maybe have me advertising comics for them along the way, right? And to do that in such a way that I’m overjoyed to give them all my monieessssss and, say, wear the Bat-symbol across my chest? Okay, I don’t actually know what their goals are – although I do know that in 2009 Marvel’s president of consumer products seemed to think that in some way, marketing stuff to women might“alienate” their core of male consumers. Which is hilarious, since literally any geek guy I’ve ever talked to either wouldn’t even notice women’s products at all or thinks it’s cool to see women expressing their geek side.
But if I were a Comics Marketing Overlady, those would be my goals. Which could also be stated, in a slightly less evil way, as “Making successful products that promote the brand and appeal specifically to the target demographic.” Or even, “Making spectacular shit women would punch other people in the face to obtain.” You know, something like that. There could also be something in the mission statement about making people happy, I don’t know. Maybe the marketeers are also genuine geeks and they actually get super-hyped about their products and want us to be too. If so, that’s extra-awesome. That’s where the best products come from.
But if these are their goals, then why isn’t there more truly amazing comics merch out there for women? Don’t get me wrong – I love a good collectible figure just as much as the next geek (and I would, for instance, consider robbing a small child if it meant I could afford to buy this statue). But along with the stuff that anybody might like, there’s also a lot of stuff out there that’s pretty much designed for guys, with gals being a marketing afterthought if they’re thought of at all; and not only is that a saaaaad imbalance, but I also think marketers are missing out on some shockingly easy money-making opportunities.
Here are just a few examples of areas where the comics industry could really do better in marketing to women.
T-shirts: As stated, I’m a woman. Ergo, I ain’t built like a man, and any time I try to wear a shirt cut for a dude I look stupid. No matter how great the image, I never buy a tee unless it’s cut for women. Even if I get a man-cut shirt with a cool design for free the best it can hope for is to go in my “possibly pajamas someday” pile, because I refuse to leave the house looking like I’m wearing someone’s big brother’s clothes. Now, happily, this is an area where there seems to be more choice lately. In fact, I own that Batgirl shirt (photo above) and have worn it to at least two cons. I love it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t think of a bunch of times when I’ve seen a cool shirt design and it isn’t available for women. Despite there being more choice now, a majority of shirts still seem to be available only in guy-cut. And even when there are gal-cut shirts, sometimes the design that looks great on a guy shirt doesn’t work so well on a gal shirt, and I have to wonder if the designers are paying much attention to what women look like (hint: if you put a big rectangular design on the front of a woman’s shirt, it is going to be weirdly distorted and possibly some of it will disappear entirely). Maybe do some women’s shirts with smaller designs on the front, and the big panels on the back of the shirt? Just a thought, y’all.
Also, there have been some weird missteps when the companies do try to aim for that female demographic. Take the “Girls Rule!” shirt with full-grown lady superheroines on it that came out a couple of years ago. Maybe it’s just me, but I think calling women “girls” all the time trivializes them and yet is so culturally accepted that most of us do it without even thinking. But do think about it for a minute – would most grown men gravitate towards a shirt with grown male superheroes that proudly declared “Boys Rule!”
And then there were those oh-so-charming “I heart men in uniform” and “I only date superheroes” shirts. I mean, okay, it’s cute I guess. Some women might buy that. But still – flip the demographic again and think about how many men would go for a “I only date superheroines” shirt over other designs? Although I think this particular issue goes to a much larger issue regarding women in comics, I really feel that we could get some better t-shirt designs for women if more people out there gave a toss about trying.
Beauty items: I love it when the comics industry tries to market beauty items (like make-up and such) to women, because almost always it fails spectacularly and I get to either laugh or rant about it. But, okay, I’d love it more if they actually started getting it right (I feel like the only time I’ve seen that so far was with the JADS International’s Black Widow perfume, and even there, they really should have done at least one more perfume, in a cool scent). Here’s a great example from 2009 of how the industry is kind of clueless about this stuff. The Lotta Luv Cosmetics partnership discussed there had me shaking my head and scoffing. Okay, yes, if they are only aiming at fairly young girls, the bubble-gum colors and flavors might appeal; but if they want to market to the people who are most likely to spend money on make-up (adult women) they should try another tack; and either way, what is with the ‘50s femme vibe they’ve got going on, which is far removed from anything I or most modern gals would identify with? Not what I want to see in my modern female comics products, something I also noted after the recent SpyGal Marvel/Benefit Cosmetics partnership announcement.
Also, I’m going to let Marvel (and everyone else) in on a little secret here: if female fans are going to spend money on comics make-up, it’s going to be because the make-up is good, or unique, or both. Sure, we’ll buy it over other stuff if everything else is equal, or if it’s a super-awesome product, but the product itself is key. Here’s an example: Last weekend I went to the Nebula Awards Weekend, which honors science fiction writers each year. And while a bunch of us ladies were geeking out over our friends’ geek accoutrements (like io9’s Annalee Newitz’s awesome iCufflinks) one showed me her nails – which were painted with tiny planets. Perfect for the Nebulas, and I was totally in awe and immediately jealous of her unique and geeky nails. I would have gone to a salon and plunked down money to get those, too! They were super-awesome, and you know what else would be? Superhero nail decals! Get on that, comics marketers. I’d wear ‘em.
Another example: I think Twilight is awful, at the very least because Stephanie Meyer slowly serial-kills the dignity and grace of the English language page by page, to say nothing of the bizarre lessons it seems to be teaching regarding relationships and self-worth. Nevertheless, when my friend told my there was a blood red Twilight lip plumper product on the market, I bought it. Even though I had never once considered trying a lip plumper before that. Why? Because I actually needed some red lipstick for a costume I was doing, and because I was fascinated and curious regarding the apparent effect of the gloss (my friend’s description was something like, “it stings a lot and then it makes your lips look bigger!”).
Hey, I’m a geek, which is usually accompanied by an appreciation for quirky things; so I had to try this stuff that apparently changed the very fabric (so to speak) of one’s lips. This is also why I bought magnetic nail polish. Because what geek can resist a product that gives your nails awesome designs through science? But I digress. My point here is: if you want to market beauty items to geek gals: 1) remember that we are gals who likely know a lot about make-up, and make sure the product is awesome or geeky, not just the packaging; and 2) make the packaging cooler. And no stuff from the ‘50s, please.
Quality accessories:I won’t go on too much about these, since there’s really not that much to criticize at this point… but that’s kind of the problem. Why aren’t there more, say, necklaces with a nice sterling silver (maybe with enamel for color?) comics symbol charm? I mean, I would wear the hell out of a Deadpool charm, especially if it was classy enough that I could wear it to work without anyone thinking it was out of place in a professional office (stealth geek attire!). Heck, I’ve actually worn my hand-made Deadpool earrings to work any number of times, and have gotten compliments on them from people who have no idea they’re from a comic. They just thought it was a cool design. Also, why aren’t there more cool comics-themed purses or whatnot? I’ve seen people making their own, so clearly there’s a desire for it. What’s stopping the actual companies from jumping on that? Oh, comics companies. I have so many accessory ideas. Why haven’t you had them already?
Costumes: …Okay, we’re going to save that one for another time. Because that’s a whole column in itself.
In summary – I love shopping. I love comics. I love shopping for stuff related to comics. But I’m a woman, which is apparently still the minority in the comics fandom, and there isn’t as much cool stuff out there for me to buy as there should be. Comics companies, it’s hard out there for a fangirl. Make it easier for me to geek out by making more cool stuff I’ll love. I promise I’ll buy it.
Do you agree with me, readers? Then tell me what products you’d like to see (or what marketing missteps you’ve noticed) in the comments. And until next Tuesday, everyone: Servo Lectio!
WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Assaults The Secret Identity
A long time ago… 35 years, to be precise… what were you doing?
On May 25th, 1977, theaters across the country premiered a little film that you might have heard of… and thereby saved the comic book industry. After the Star Wars comic came out, Marvel sold millions of copies, going back to press for numerous reprintings and outselling Marvel’s best-selling title Amazing Spider-Man by a factor of five.