Tagged: Michael Davis World

Marc Alan Fishman: Pros and Cons

And with that, the dust settles on another convention… that being C2E2 2012. Unshaven Comics met its stated goal of 10% growth in number of books sold versus last year. Each of the Unshaven Lads met their specific goals as well. Matt completed all of his commissions by end-of-day Sunday (including a brilliant mash-up of Doctor Who and Breaking Bad). Kyle met his sales goals, and nabbed a swanky tee for a special someone.

I myself had a power lunch with an industry vet, a power diner with the same vet, and have since sent out a dozen follow up e-mails to various vendors and associates we met during the con… all to hopefully promote our site and company out on the interwebs. We ultimately sold 254 books to both returning fans and new ones; We officially sold out every copy of Samurnauts: Genesis we brought. Suffice to say, I’m left looking back at C2E2 2012 as a positive step forward for my little operation. Yet, here I sit, with a small knot on the back of my neck. The same knot that urps me after every con.

What is that feeling exactly? Well, it’s a complex one. In its essence, it’s the feeling that we’re only a single interaction (gained through perseverance, dumb luck, or both…) away from being discovered. It’s no surprise for those who know me that I am a people-person. I know when to interject the perfect joke to get a crowd roaring. I know when to shake hands, and follow up. Yet somehow, faced with people I truly want to talk to… I stammer, I mutter, and I plain come across like the dope I secretly think I am under the swagger and phony facade. Whether it’s true or not, I’ve always felt after a con that I’ve taken one step forward, and two steps back.

Case in point? Not 10 seconds after picking up our Artist Alley badges, Matt and Kyle were happily chatting with Scott Snyder. Here’s an author I’ve written more good words about than the bible does Jesus (so I think… I’ve not read the new testament yet, but I hear good things.), and the best I could get out? “I really like your stuff, man.” I mentioned I reviewed several of his books on this site and www.MichaelDavisWorld. He looked back at me, and shyly admitted “Wow, that’s cool. Didn’t see those…” And off he went into the sunset. In my mind? I hit him with a great joke. He laughs. We talk about plotting, and characterization. We swap e-mail addresses and phone numbers. “What are you doing tonight, Marc? I thought maybe we could continue this at dinner or something?” Flash forward, and I’ve made a new friend. Maybe he’ll take home one of our books, and let those big wigs he knows that “these kids know what they’re doing.” And with that, my Scrubs fantasy ends.

How about another instance? Dan DiDio, Bob Wayne, and several DC editor-types at one point or another walked past our table in Artist Alley. Kyle, ever fearless, jumps right into the pitch. Every time, our book is handed to them. A page flip. Then another. Kyle finishes his pitch. We look on, with pupils glassy and wide like kittens. “Thanks. But, uhh… we’ll have to pass.” A knowing smirk is shared between the titans of industry, and seconds later they are at the next table, shaking hands, laughing boisterously. Kyle shrugs it off, and pitches on. With the next fan that joyously says “Hell yes! I’ll take it!” Kyle has already forgotten the previous encounter.

Meanwhile, I sit and stew in my own juices like a pot roast in the slow cooker. For every fan that came back to us ready to buy their next book, or new fan who couldn’t wait to throw down their cash – even before the pitch was finished – I can’t help but feel like we missed the big fish. The book was in their hands. Before them, the blood, sweat, and tears of all our Unshaven nights, and weekends laboring. And it obviously wasn’t good enough.

Today on Facebook I was messaging a friend who writes for another comic site with aspirations of his own on “getting known” and “making it.” I asked him how his weekend went. “I had dinner with Scott Snyder, and then with some Marvel editors the next day…so, pretty good I guess.” All that, and he’s younger than me. Color me green. It’s been that childish chase since the very first con when I clutched all three ashcan copies of my first (terrible) book, waiting to be discovered… to today, from behind my own table where I hope our ever-growing fan base will one day hurtle us forward. And here it feels like everyone else around me is so much further along.

Now, before you start up your comments on what a negative nelly I’m being, let me be clear: I’m elated at the success I’ve enjoyed thus far. Since truly pursuing this industry as I have now… I’m a columnist at a great site, alongside industry veterans and legends alike. Furthermore? I’ve dined with those same legends. Multiple times. My company has seen increased sales in our books every year we’ve been in business (suck it, DiDio.). We successfully launched a kickstarter that bore us a live-action Samurnaut to walk the show floor, which has created real brand awareness. All that, and I’ve maintained friendships with my two brothers from other mothers for 20 years, with no sign of stopping. And our next issue will be done in a handful of weeks.

I know that the future is bright for Unshaven Comics… even if I’m dragging a storm-cloud of doubt over my head.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


MIKE GOLD: Fellowship and Censorship

This week I’ve been ruminating about the Internet and free speech over at Michael Davis World. Whereas I don’t want to discourage you from checking out my pearls of wisdom in its awesome glory let alone the interesting and edifying comments in response thereto, I do want to clue you in on what the whole thing’s about.

I said “Arizona House Bill 2549 states if you post an offensive annoying comment online, you are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. What is offensive? What is annoying? The bill criminalizes behavior that is used “to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend (using) any electronic or digital device.” Of course, it also outlaws lewd or profane language. You could be fined $250,000, and you could be sentenced to six months in the clinker.

 “Do you think this un-American attack on liberty could not possibly pass? Well, you’re wrong. The folks in the Arizona house and the Arizona senate have already passed this bill and it presently awaits their governor’s signature.”

Given this nation’s fear-based cultural drift towards repression of our freedoms, the chilling affect of this law is as overwhelming as it is overwhelmingly depressing.

Then I looked at some of the comments we’ve received on our March Madness campaign here at ComicMix.

As I’ve stated repeatedly, I am a First Amendment absolutist. As long as it’s legal, there is no reason why advertising cigarettes should be illegal (and no, I do not smoke cigarettes). I don’t believe in the concept of “hate crimes.” Hate speech might be evidence of the motivation behind a crime and that’s fair – freedom of speech does not absolve you from the consequences of your actions. But speech is not in an of itself “action” and we have the right to express our opinions. And I certainly do not want to censor or limit in any way anything anybody might comment on here at ComicMix, even if the ox you’re goring happens to be mine.

However, given some of the comments I read recently here on ComicMix, I am making a request for a higher level of civility. There’s no enforcement behind this, and if you want to comment on this column with a “fuck you, you crawling piece of shit,” well, that’s your prerogative… you asshole.

One of the things I like most about ComicMix (and, for that matter, Michael Davis World where ComicMix columnists Martha Thomases, Marc Alan Fishman, Michael and myself also blog) is that, by and large, this is a pretty civil operation. We tend to respect one another’s opinions, or at least we’re usually polite. I realize this places a burden on impulsive wits, but I figure if I can usually rein it in, then anybody can.

ComicMix Sorcerer Supreme Glenn Hauman and I have been discussing all this, and Glenn summed it quite up nicely when he said “Welcome to the Internet.” I’m too much of a Tex Avery / Bob Clampett fan to ever be that cartoon bunny rabbit dancing in the sunshine, but I sometimes recognize being a jerk has its limits.

So, on one hand, I want to compliment us all on being such polite and considerate folks. On the other hand, I’d like to ask those who feel the phrase “flame on!” refers to something other than Johnny Storm to please play nice. We’ve all got enough trauma in our lives, and I hate the idea of chasing anybody out of the sandbox.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil



I don’t own a single Spider-Man comic. Wait, scratch that. I own some painted comic released in the mid-aughts… Secret War. Didn’t care for it.

That being said, I love Spider-Man. I loved his cartoon in the 90s. I loved the Sensational Spider-Man cartoon even more. I owned Maximum Carnage for the Super Nintendo. I played about 8000 hours worth of Spider-Man 2 for the original Xbox. So, with all the love I have for the character, why don’t I subscribe to a single web-headed book? Well, consider it a barrier to entry. Never found the right jumping on point.

Until now. Dan Slott’s upcoming in-book epic “Ends of the Earth” looks to be as good a point as ever to jump on. Given my recent love affair with the Fantastic Four… I figure why not roll the dice on the House of Mouse one more time. You see, deep down my love of the character stems from the fact that he’s generally been written to think his way out of problems – and that’s something I’m finding more and more keeps me reading comics.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” This we know. When I think of other classic (and current) comic book heroes… their books always come down to the best use of a super power. It’s akin to the ‘85 Bears victory in the Super Bowl: it’s all about brute strength. In Blackest Night? It was collection of rainbow raiders and a deus ex machina in the form of “It was Black Hand all along! Now shoot him!” In Fear Itself? Solved by a ton of punching, and Odin getting off his ass. Even in the non-epic books, I see too many stories solving their problems with mindless fighting, and sheer force-of yelling. Hell, Avengers Vs. X-Men is essentially based on that entire 13-year-old wet dream of a concept. And frankly… it’s really old hat.

When I was first getting into comics, no doubt it was all about the fighting, and punching, and super powers. A grand excuse for violence and gratuitous action sequences. And the books at that time gave in to the gluttony. Spawn was belched out of the machine that demanded insane amounts of gore, and detail, and splash pages… And the reason why his stock (and its four-barreled-thigh-pouch kin) sits somewhere a thimble above “wait, that’s still a thing?” is because the book never grasped for more than a climax built on banality.

When a movie, a book, even a song reaches for the middle, our brains turn off. The reason why Karate Kid is better than Sidekicks (aside from the obvious….)? Because Danny Larusso defeats Johnny with his mind more than his body. Yes it was about perseverance, but I contest that it was that moment when he realized the crane kick could win him the match… we as an audience collectively feel like the win is earned. It’s the reason why Batman is always better than Superman. Because nine times out of ten, Batman saves the day because he figures a way out to do so. Superman, nine times out of ten, uses one of his 1,000,000 powers.

I recently reviewed Blue Beetle #6 over on MichaelDavisWorld. In said review I was elated by the book’s choice to have their azure-hued bug boy save the day not by commanding his alien armor to make a bigger-better-bug-zapper… but by out thinking his opponent. The whole reason I’m looking forward to this Sinister Six arc in Spider-Man is because my first thought is “in this modern take on Spidey, how is he going to think his way out of being pummeled by sextet of sinister sleeze-bags?” Don’t get me wrong, I want to see plenty of quips, punches, web-shooty-balls-of-justice, and kicks-to-the-mush – I just want the day to be saved by Peter Parker’s greatest power… his mind.

In comics, we build up an antagonist – an alien race, a long lost angry god, a crazy man with a gun and a diaper – and pit our titular heroes in combat with them. Whether the Avengers are fighting the Kree, the Skrulls, Ultron, Enron, or the X-Men… only those with a short attention span and a “most-posted” badge on a message board are truly salivating on just the outcome of a fight. As a reader, I genuinely feel like the best stories give us an arc that introduces us to something we didn’t think of in the first place. When the only thing that stands in the way of a happy ending is a well placed punch we end up with Michael Bay’s Transformers… pretty to look at, and not much else.

That being said, I’m going to go look at my script for the Samurnauts. My original page of notes for the climax literally says “use some mega-super move… lots of photoshoppery.” Looks like I better get thinking…

SUNDAY: John Ostrander 



Officially, I’ve worked in comics since 1983. In all that time I think I’ve only met one black woman who was involved in comics in a decision-making capacity. I’ve known black woman receptionists and assistants but I can only think of one who had a job in which she was part of the comic book hierarchy.

Before I set the wrong tone, this is not a piece on how comics have discriminated against women of color. It just may be that African-American women don’t want to work in comic books, for whatever reason. I have no idea why there are not a lot of black women in comics and I’m not about to speculate. There may be dozens of black woman in the industry that I just haven’t met.

I doubt that, because as you know, all black people know each other. At least that’s what more than a few white people have said to me over my lifetime.

The following conversation from a woman I met at a club last week. A real pretty, but short white girl at the bar was having trouble getting the bartenders attention. I caught his eye and asked her what she wanted to drink.

“That’s so nice of you, thank you very much.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Do you know Leroy Washington?”

Really? I swear I almost asked her if she knew Bilbo Baggins. She was that short.

The one black woman I know who has worked in comics on the corporate level is Tammy Brown. I met Tammy sometime in the 80s (yes I was working in comics when I was in grade school, Jean) I don’t remember how we met or where we met. Most likely at DC where she worked.

I do remember that Tammy hated me. Tammy did not like me at all. I mean if looks could kill I’d be dead and random members of my family and my pets would be dead also.

It was not just her looks that clued me in to Tammy’s loathing of me. It was also how she spoke to me. Tammy would talk to me in short and to the point sentences like “I hate you Michael Davis.”

I never heard her say those exact words, but no matter what she said that’s what I heard.

She may not have really hated me but it sure felt that way.

I’m sure Tammy thought of me as a loud mouth, in your face, guy and she had no time for loud mouth in your face people. Tammy was all business and ultra professional.


I was a loud mouth, in your face, guy.

I know that…now.

I’ve mellowed out considerably since my loud mouth, in your face, days. You may not think so from some of the rants I write on my www.MichaelDavisWorld.com or some of my old ComicMix stuff but I’m so much calmer now.

I’ve always been up front with my readers when it comes to my considerable shortcomings, I admit freely I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career.

A lot.

That said, when it comes to business I’ve learned not to take anything personally. I categorically live by two set of rules the first is: “It’s not personal, it’s business;” the second is “Nothing too good to do for my friends, nothing to bad to do to my enemies.”

It was with that first rule in mine that Tammy’s name came up when I was looking for someone to run the day to day operations at Motown Film & Television where I was President and Chief Executive Officer.

She was on a very short list, and I had my Chief Operating Officer contact her. I thought she would be perfect for the gig and even if she still hated me Tammy was a no-joke professional so she would put any issues with me aside if she were interested in the position. After talking to Tammy my COO, told me she would not be a good fit. I never followed up or even called Tammy.

I realized just the other day that was a mistake.

Motown Records is the most famous record company in the world. Most music superstars are bigger brands than their record company. Motown had (has) some of the biggest superstar artists the world has ever known and they are still identified as Motown artists.

Don’t think so? Without Google tell me what record label Sting is on. Now, without Goggle tell me what record label Stevie Wonder is on.

Hell, name a record label besides Motown.

I’ll wait…

Motown was one of the greatest African-American business success stories. The company has a wonderful history of hiring African-Americans and has (yes, white people have always worked at Motown and still do) become the model for many companies of color even today.

I should have called Tammy.

There may have been something I could have said or found out what my COO’s issue with her was. Maybe there was a way around it. Maybe my COO was threatened by her. That may sound to you like paranoia but I assure you dear reader, paranoia runs wild in Hollywood and I’m not joking.

I’m convinced now; if we could have gotten Tammy to Motown I’m sure she would have been great.

A few days ago Tammy, who is always positive, posted on Facebook that she was having a bad day.

The moment I read that, it hit me like a brick what a terrible mistake I’d made more than a decade ago that I did not call Tammy. Over the last few years Tammy and I have become close. I have not seen her in, I don’t know how many years, but we reconnected on Facebook and I really value her friendship.

I have not thought about Tammy coming to Motown since it happened. Tammy and I have never even spoken about it but for some reason when I read she was having a bad day my mind went right there.

My mind went there and to the realization that there exist very few women of color in the comics industry.

Why I thought about Tammy and Motown now I have no idea. Why that led me to the lack of black women in the industry, again, no idea.

This I do know, having Tammy Brown run anything is a good idea. Having more black women in the industry is a good idea. If I ever get the chance to work with Tammy again I won’t make the same mistake twice.

As far as black women in the industry, I’m working on that. Why I haven’t been working on it before?

No idea.

Like I said, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career but seldom do I make the same mistake twice.

Tammy, I’m sorry you were having a bad day. I’m sorry someone caused that for you. I leave you with these words of wisdom:

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

– Noel Coward

You are the best Tammy. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold Goes Nuts Again


MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Trades vs. Monthlies – An Unpopular Stance

It seems when I write pieces here on ComicMix that are good-natured and optimistic, no one cares. When I get hot and bothered (and make sweeping declarations that demand debate), you get excited. So, you want riled up? You got it!

I think the comic book industry as a whole would be better off if it went digital for all monthly titles, and only printed graphic novels.

Settle down, settle down. You’ll have a chance to put me in my place in the comment section. Or you can skip my argument completely, and just go down to the bottom of the page, and start the flame war. Either way, my ego gets fed.

Let’s face it. Making a comic book every month isn’t easy. If it was, Justice League wouldn’t be two weeks late. But wasn’t there a big hard-and-fast rule in place stating no book would be delivered late, lest the creative team be removed for one that could keep up? Well I guess that only applies to talent who don’t exclusively work for the parent company, and have “Chief” on their business cards. But I digress.

Most comic books these days are “written for the trade.” Almost every cape on the racks today get four to six issues of a singular plot-line that crescendos into a final epic conclusion. Then, if we’re lucky, a one-shot to settle things down to the status quo. And the cycle repeats. In the case of other books (Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man comes to mind) these arcs could last up to a year or even longer. This means that every month you get a bite of the candy bar. Wouldn’t it be nice to just eat the whole damned thing all at once? In an medium where the end product is sum of many parts, having all those parts only stands to make the whole piece better.

Brian Michael Bendis may physically have a disease preventing him from writing a book that isn’t deconstructed. And frankly, who disagrees that he works best in the bigger picture? I won’t ever buy singular issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s too good in trade. The same goes for many other books I happen to get (or borrow with frequency); Invincible, The Sandman, Astro City, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Fables… need I go on? In all of those cases, and so many more, collecting a book into a longer format makes for a more enjoyable experience. And when a trade it released, there is no waiting for that next chapter. I know there’s a massive caveat to that one folks, but I think the point is clear enough.

But Marc, you plea… If the industry went straight-to-trade, comic book shops would simply close up and die. Because right now, most comic book stores I know are so swamped with business they don’t even carry trades. Or action figures. Or magic cards. Or D+D. Or host local bands. Or have organized book clubs. The fact is, store owners lose more money stocking their shelves with every monthly book that comes out, and subsequently not sell them, then do they on carrying trades. One store in particular, Challengers Comics + Conversations in Chicago, told Unshaven Comics that they would only carry our book when it became a trade.

When I was told this by the very cool owner, my eyebrow raised. “We do far more business in trades than we do in monthlies man, sorry.” They even have a “Library” subscription where so many dollars a month guarantees you access to shelves of trades to “check out.” If I were a commuter and lived anywhere near the store, I’d be on that like Michael Davis on an Asian GoGo Dancer. My point being that brick and mortar stores could augment their current offerings and not lose their leases.

Monthly books allow fans to “sample” a title before committing to it. And those who follow along with my reviews (over on Michael Davis World, plug plug plug) know that recently I’ve committed to a “two bad issues in a row means I drop the title” policy. Thus far, that means I’ve dropped JLI, Red Lanterns, Green Lanterns: New Guardians, The Fury of Firestorm, and Irredeemable. If my dream came true, wouldn’t that mean I would stand to lose more money buying a multi-issue trade for a series I’d be unhappy with? I’m willing to eat crow on that one. To a point. You see, in the cases of all those books I listed, they all suffered from the same problems.

Predictable plots hampered by a repetitious narrative structure, or incoherent direction on the whole. As an example, Fury of Firestorm(s?) issue to issue took the same plot point (Danger! Transformation! Hitting!) and regurgitated it three times in a row. Through the fatigue, it becomes clear; the entire first arc takes place over one or two nights. Read as a whole though, the pacing wouldn’t be as troublesome to me. And in the case of JLI, where the plot was as by-the-books as you could get… I would contest that taken in 1 large chunk, it’s far easier to enjoy the staple “assemble the team and fight the giant evil” plotline when it’s not broken up into six parts. Especially when it fights for my attention with better-written monthlies like Batman, Action Comics, or Fantastic Four.

It’s a big argument, one that I hypocritically don’t even support on the other side of the aisle. Unshaven Comics made the decision to release issues in lieu of trades. But that, as Alton Brown would say, is for another show. I’d like to think I’ve given you enough to mull over. So, go ahead my bubbalas. Talk amongst yourselves. I’m getting a little verklempt. Trades vs. Monthlies… Discuss!

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


It’s not a black or white world. The world is made up of many shades of gray.

Yet somehow when something happens to a black character “racism” always clings to the debate.

There has been a flurry of activity since DC cancelled Static Shock. The DC official line is the book was cancelled because of sales. Some fans think DC should have kept the book alive by whatever means necessary and only canceled the book because they did not think enough of the character to change direction.

Some think that DC cancelled the book because Static was black.

What do I, co-creator of Static, think?

I don’t care why they cancelled the book. I care that they cancelled the book.

A guy once put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger. The gun jammed. I didn’t care why the gun jammed, I cared that the gun jammed.

Sometimes the reason for something is not nearly as important as the thing.

In the almost 20 years that Milestone, I company I co-founded, has been around I’ve never publicly commented on the direction of the Milestone universe. Never a word on the management rather I was with the company or not. I’ll do it here, but just to make a point.

I did not like the book.

Moving on…

I mentioned in a post on ComicMix last week that there are some who think that DC cancelled the book because Static was black but somehow fail to acknowledge that DC published the book in the first place.  I love people who don’t let little things like the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.

Over on my website, Danny Donovan wrote an amazing piece about the cancellation called “Not shocked.” A reader wrote a wonderful comment making the case that DC’s actions regarding the Static cancellation had strong overtones or racism.

I do not believe DC cancelled the book because of some racist agenda.

So why do I say the writer’s comments were “wonderful?” Because he presented his case, backed up his thoughts and wrote them in a clear concise way. I don’t have to agree with someone to acknowledge they make a good case.

A few years ago during The Black Panel at Comic Con International I addressed one of the many rumors about Milestone Media by telling the audience how Denys Cowan started Milestone and I co-signed, period. Milestone was Deny’s baby and without Denys Milestone never would have happened.




Soon after Comic Con, a blogger went on line and wrote that “his sources” told him that my “version” of Milestone’s origin was not the way Milestone started and because Denys (who was on the panel with me) didn’t say anything after I made my comments, somehow that meant I was lying.

Like I said, I love people who don’t let little things like the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.

So, me being me, I went online and told this guy that his “sources” were wrong. He came back with “these are very good sources” and he was standing behind them.

He was standing behind “very good sources” instead of giving me (who was there) the benefit of the doubt. What I did next was tell him I’d give him ten thousand dollars if he could prove what he was telling thousands of people on the net.  If he didn’t prove it then he should give me ten grand or shut the fuck up.

He shut the fuck up.

The comment on MDW made by the guy who suggests racism had a hand in the cancellation of Static gave a few examples of DC purposive prejudice towards black characters and creators.

And… he made some good points. I know of one instance when he was on the right track. He did not give particulars so I cannot say for a fact that he was talking about the following incident but it fits the general description.

When Milestone started negotiations with DC there was one meeting in which an important high-ranking DC executive said that when it came to black characters in the market place, black meant death. He went on to suggest we don’t show the characters in any ads so as not to turn off the public. He finished once again with, “black means death.”

At that moment one more racist word out of his mouth may have meant death if the looks on the faces of Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle and myself meant anything.

Here’s my two cents. That guy was an asshole and people in the industry generally accept that he was out of touch and yes I felt at the time he was racist.  I was in his office once admiring a photo of a sports car he had on the wall. “Maybe one day with a lot of hard work you can have a car like that,” he said with a smile.

I reached into my pocket and showed him my car keys. “I already have one.”

The look on his face was well worth the distain he showed me from that moment on. He never spoke to me again unless he had to.

I believe he was racist and because he was a high-ranking member of the DC staff I believe he could be a problem. Was he a problem? I can’t say for sure.

Jenette Kahn and Paul Levitz were his bosses and they believed in Milestone from day one, so fuck him. I saw him once after he left DC, he was very pleasant and so was I. Why be decent?

As Denys says, “too small, throw it back.”

That was then, this is now…

Hey Bruce! How you living? Guess how many sports cars I have now!

Here’d something that’s never addressed in these “DC is racist claims” concerning Milestone.

The founders.

No founder of Milestone would stand for any Jim Crow shit. Not now, not then.

It will never happen and if some people would just look at the backgrounds and resumes of the founders they would know that Milestone is made up of people that Ice Cube famously said are ‘the wrong niggas to fuck with.’

Has race been an issue at DC?  Yes!  Race is an issue everywhere. The question is when race becomes racism. DC did not cancel Static because they were racist; they cancelled Static because the fans did not want to see one of the greatest characters ever created fighting a giant fish.

A giant fish??


Lastly, DC took a risk with Milestone but almost twenty years later Milestone is still here, still a topic of conversation still a great universe with great characters and I’m sure that Static is a risk they will take again.

As Captain Kirk said, “Risk? Risk, is our business!”

Good job Danny… for a white boy. ;-)


MICHAEL DAVIS: Why I Like The New 52

Because I’m trying to kiss the ass of DC Comics.

The end.

Well that’s not really true. If you know anything about my history you will know the last thing I’d ever do is kiss ass.

It’s simply not in my DNA not now, not ever. I’ve been in many a situation where a well place smack on someone’s ass would have been very beneficial to me but I just couldn’t do it.

I’ve tried to kiss some ass. I really have. I wanted to kiss some ass. I was even looking forward (she was fine) to kissing some ass at one point but I just… could… not…do it.

What always stops me is my inability to show respect to those who do not deserve it.

Respect is a very big thing with me. I’d rather have someone’s respect than just about anything else. To get my respect is not hard on a personal level all I really need on that level is for you to treat me with respect and you have mine.

On a professional level getting my respect is not easy. I’m not the guy to tip toe around people’s absence of professionalism. If you have ever read any of my articles on Michael Davis World (plug!) then you may have noticed a recurring theme in my rants: customer service or the lack there of.

I don’t care if you are an artist, IBM or Larry the Hot Dog Vender, if I’m going to write you a check for your services your professionalism had better be your A game.  Anything less than an A game I’ll never work with you or use your services again. You can forget any respect I may have had for you because that my friend, like the old south, is gone with the wind.

Chief among all the reasons I have for liking The New 52 from DC is the massive amount of respect I have because DC went there.

DC comics went where no other comic book company in the world went before: they started over. If the books sucked which they still would have had my respect. There are some in The New 52 that have left me wondering why they went into the direction they went but for the most part I like or love what they have done.

Liking or even loving what DC Comics did with the re-boot creatively is not the main reason I like The New 52. It’s really about respect and balls.

I respect the balls the editors at DC showed in going there.

Every die-hard comic book fan has thought how cool it would be to completely overhaul a comic book universe. The fan forums are filled with what’s wrong with DC, what the problem is with Marvel, or what was Dark Horse thinking? I don’t think there is any comic book universe that is so darn cool that everyone agrees they are doing everything right. I’ll let you in on a little secret; I’m a closet Archie fan. Actually, I’m a huge fan of Little Archie. I’m not sure they even do Little Archie stories anymore but when I was a kid I loved me some Little Archie.

That’s the only comic book universe I had no problem with. The Little Archie universe was perfect to me. Because I was such a fan of Little Archie I tried the regular Archie books.

After reading the regular Archie books for a while I decided if I ran the Archie universe the first thing I would do was have Archie tap Veronica and Betty’s ass.

Hell, I’d have Archie tap them both at the same time. You think that’s bad? Then you don’t want to know the plans I had for Mr. Fantastic.

That’s why it’s good not to have fan’s revamp comic book universes.

Like any young fan, I often wondered why comic book companies don’t do the obvious. Why can’t Uncle Ben come back? Why did Gwen Stacy have to stay dead? Why doesn’t Superman tap the ass of all those people whose initials are LL?

Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lucy Lane, Lori Lemaris? If I were in charge of the Superman Universe Clark would have had some serious LL booty. I mean the LL list is endless!

Lara Lor, Linda Lang, Lighting Lad, Lex Luthor…eh…wait a sec…maybe tapping all the LL’s is not a great idea after all.  Another reason it seems that fans should not be in charge of universes.

So, as fans we don’t have the power to make massive changes in our comic book universes but why don’t the comic companies make massive cool ass changes a lot more?

Yes. Every so often some new event happens that sorta, kinda, changes stuff but not really. Not like you are I would have changed it.

Massive, cool, earth shattering new shit that will be the envy of all of comicdom!

DC went there.

However, as easy as it may seem to fans to simply hit the reset button it’s not easy at all. You may think as I did when I was just a fan that imagination is all you really need to run a comic book universe and you would be as wrong as I was.

If you are Larry Comics and you started your comic book company a couple of years ago you can reboot all you want and the only people you have to please is your new fan base.

DC Comics has been around since 1935. That’s a lot of history to muck with.

The people at DC Comics just couldn’t sit in a room and decide to do this. That’s not how it works in the real world. The people who came up with the reboot idea had to sell that idea to the parent company and that parent company is Time Warner. Time Warner is one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world.

I’m not sure what kind of relationship DC has with Time Warner. Time Warner could be completely hands off. I doubt it, but that could be the case. DC may have complete control over the comics and Time Warner may not give a sheet.

I’d think something this big would have had to be run up the flagpole at corporate on some level. Again, I’m not aware of DC’s relationship with Time Warner so I can only speculate from my own corporate experience.

I’ve been President or President and CEO at a few entertainment companies and any major decision over a certain dollar amount I made had to be at presented to the powers that be on some level.

When I ran Motown Animation & Filmworks I was hired to create, develop and sell film and television properties. When I decided to do a comic book line, Motown Machineworks, I had to create a business plan, present it to my boss and hope to God it did not crash and burn.

That’s what a lot of fans don’t understand about comics. It’s a fantastic medium and great entertainment, but it’s a business.

Whoever came up with the reboot and then sold the idea to corporate had good creative intentions to be sure but something that big has a lot more to worry about than creative ideas.

Regardless if the ideas were great or if Time Warner is hands off or not, if the reboot would have been a dismal failure heads may have rolled.

This is the real world folks, with great power comes great responsibility is truer in the real world than in comics. Peter Parker fails to stop a guy who then busts a cap in his Uncle is tragic but at any point Marvel could change that.

Real people put their careers in play on some level. I don’t know to what extent those people were at risk if at all but something as big as a reboot it stands to reason that someone’s ass would be on the line if it went south.

It’s easy to talk a big game when it’s not your ass on the line. It’s not so easy when that great power comes with a great responsibility that could result in you having a real bad ending to your story.

That takes balls and that gets my respect.


MIKE GOLD: Occupy The Comics Racks!

For those of you who experience my weekly hysterical polemics over at Michael Davis World (yep, that Michael Davis), it will come as no surprise that I was looking forward to Dark Horse’s new series Orchid. Sure, new comics come about as often as simians poop, but this one was written by Tom Morello.

Who, you may ask, is Tom Morello? I’ll try not to indulge in musical and political elitism here; there’s always enough of that to go around. Suffice it to say that Morello is one of those activist musicians, and his work shines brighter than most. Best known as the guitarist for Rage Against The Machine, Tom was also in the bands Lock Up and Audioslave. For much of the past decade he’s been a solo act, a.k.a. The Nightwatchman. This latter work is acoustic; the former more punk/new wave/hip-hop. Or, as we in the Whole World Is Watching racket like to say, loud. I play his stuff on Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind, I listen to his work lovingly, I watch him on Bill Maher, and evidently we are or have been members of the same union. Indeed, if he was at last week’s New York Comic Con, he and I were probably the only two people among 100,000 to be wearing IWW garb.

What I find really cool about this guy, outside of his work and his politics, is that his mom co-founded the anti-censorship organization Parents for Rock and Rap (say “anti-censorship” and I’m there) and, oh yeah, he’s the nephew of Jomo Kenyatta, the anti-colonialist anti-Communist activist who became Kenya’s first president.

Ahem. So, to get down to the nitty-gritty, is Orchid worth reading?

The simple review is, yes it is. I wish I had worked on it. There’s some rough edges in both the story and in Scott Hepburn’s art, but compared to most of what haunts the racks these days it’s Alex Raymond. Hepburn seems to have been influenced by British guys like Mik McMahon and Ian Gibson; that’s high praise. He’s done a lot of Star Wars stuff for Dark Horse and some Marvel gigs, and his storytelling is as strong as the story he’s telling. In fact, I might track down some of Hepburn’s Star Wars work – as John Ostrander can tell you, it takes a lot to get me to read Star Wars.

The story is post-apocalyptic, an overworked genre that generally lacks the strong emotional point of view needed to make it work. Not so with Orchid. The lead character is a teenage prostitute who protects her family in their struggle to survive in swampland shanties while the rich live above the morass in their fortresses, harvesting the poor (I’d say the 99%, but this number has not yet been established) as slaves, organ providers and sex toys. Morello and Hepburn make it work by sheer dint of their craft and their applied appreciation of allegory.

Morello supplements each issue with a new downloadable song. I’d give you the link, but I’d rather you check out Orchid #1, available at more-intelligently run comic shops and online.

I can’t help wonder if the current Occupier demonstrations all across the nation – now, all across the world – weren’t orchestrated by Morello as a promotion stunt. Given my own background, I’d say that was really cool. Highly doubtful, but really cool. If only that same intensity were to morph into greater exposure for Orchid.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

MIKE GOLD: Baltimore Tales

As predicted, I had a swell time at the Baltimore Comic-Con. Lots of friends, lots of fans, and lots of attention from the best convention crew I’ve ever seen. The editorial we had a few fun experiences we’d like to share.

•     •     •     •     •

I bopped around the show carrying a cane. I don’t really need it, but since I was on my feet in a crowd for a couple days I thought bringing it would be a good idea. Besides, at any comics convention I can never tell when I might need to bash some head-slapping backpack donkey. Several people asked about my unconcealed weapon, including cosmic comics superstar Jim Starlin.

I told Jim I blew out my back in his hometown of Detroit. He sympathized and then one-upped me. He screwed up his back in South Africa, at a funeral, at which he was a pallbearer. When a breeze wafted by, the pallbearer in front of him lost his yarmulke and left his responsibility to go fetch. The weight of the coffin shifted over to Jim, and that screwed up his back. O.K. Jim wins.

•     •     •     •     •

At 88, living legend Stan Lee gets more attention from women than a 1960s movie spy. At least three-quarters of the men at the show were jealous, including those who were happily married. And including me. I was particularly amused at his lustful glowering at my daughter.

•     •     •     •     •

Most of the folks who dress up in costume at these shows are, at the very least, entertaining to watch. Some are sexy, others are cute, many are adorable. But for the life of me I just don’t know who the buff middle-aged guy dressed in nothing but a loin cloth was supposed to be, other than a buff middle-aged guy dressed in nothing but a loin cloth.

•     •     •     •     •

Mark Wheatley took me to a place purposed (by comics fanboy and teevee star Guy Fieri) to have some of the best pit beef in the nation. It’s a wonderful shack called Chap’s and it’s next to a strip club on Pulaski Highway. Both Mark and Guy are right. The place kills. This wasn’t the highlight of the convention for me, but it made my Top 10 list.

•     •     •     •     •

Mike Grell introduced me to his former assistant on [[[The Warlord]]], a woman who used to be married to the brother of Brother Grell’s ex-wife. Beverly Derouin was extraordinarily pleasant, particularly after Mike explained the etymology of their relationship. That’s really cool. Particularly in an environment that can be a bit overwhelming.

•     •     •     •     •

Timothy Truman and his son Ben were hawking their upcoming series Hawken. If it is half as fantastic as the t-shirt they were selling (and I should have purchased, damnit), this series will be absolutely fantastic. As well it should be, given its high pedigree.

•     •     •     •     •

I got a chance to tell Dean Haspiel how much I enjoyed [[[Cuba ­– My Revolution]]], one of my favorite projects of the year. It was written by Inverna Lockpez, and if you haven’t read it yet, you’re making a very, very serious mistake. It’s the best graphic novel I’ve read since Stagger Lee. Outside of those I’ve edited, of course.

•     •     •     •     •

The drive from Connecticut to Baltimore takes about four hours, which is how long it took for us to drive down last Friday. The drive back took eight and one-half hours, virtually all of which were spent on the New Jersey Turnpike. That road hasn’t been the same since Simon and Garfunkel broke up.

•     •     •     •     •

As always, I want to thank Marc Nathan and his unbelievably professional crew for putting on another great show, to Mark and Carol Wheatley for putting my daughter Adriane Nash and me up – as well as putting up with me – and to the aforementioned Ms. Nash for her assistance and companionship during the show and for sharing with me my proudest moment in my comics career.

I’ll be at the Baltimore Comic-Con next year. You should be, too.

(ComicMix editor-in-chief Mike Gold annoys the masses with his Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind rock’n’blues radio show, which streams four times a week on www.getthepointradio.com and is also available on demand at that very same venue. He also pens a very political column at Michael Davis World – http://mdwp.malibulist.com/ — where he joins ComicMix columnists Martha Thomases and Michael Davis.)

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

MIKE GOLD: On Conventions and Baltimore

I attended my first big comic book show back during the Paleolithic Age. It was either Phil Seuling’s first or second New York Convention, and it was a blast. There were about 500 of us in a Broadway hotel, and at least 475 of us didn’t realize there were so many people who were, in this respect, just like us. We realized we were not alone.

Cut to the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. Add everybody up – paid attendance, freebees, professionals, dealers, Hollywood types, publishing people, foreign distributors, Communist spies – and there were about 150,000 folks stuffed into that convention boxcar. That’s like a 300x increase. OK, it took over 40 years to get to that point, but still, back in the late 1960s the Seuling show was the only big game in the nation. Today, you’ve got huge shows in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and/or Dallas and/or Austin, San Francisco… you get the point.

Sadly, as San Diego grew the comics presence diminished – and not just proportionately. Today, the comics part of the San Diego Comic Con is an afterthought. It’s so blatant that it was mocked on Futurama, by no less than Sergio Aragones.

I miss the shows that are truly about comic books. I don’t need the Hollywood whores, and if I want to see celebrities I can just walk around Rockefeller Plaza for about ten minutes. I want that feeling I had so long ago, at the ancient hotels Phil rented for the comparative handful of us to meet and greet each other, back in the days before the horrid eBay forced artists to charge for their sketches and before the evil eBay pulled the rug out from underneath the dealers’ feet.

I can’t say I miss those shows completely, as there are still a few around. The HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina comes to mind. There are others.

This coming weekend, I’m going to my favorite of these few shows. Once again, I’ll be at the Baltimore Comic-Con – I rarely miss it – and I always have a great time. It’s run by good people who love comics and know how to run a convention. It’s got a lengthy guest list and it’s got the Harvey Awards dinner.

There are three other factors that are probably more personal to me. A lot of my friends and collaborators go to it – Baltimore is one of the few shows that Timothy Truman frequents, Mike Grell comes out from the northwest, and Mark Wheatley (who puts me up while he puts up with me) lives in the vicinity. Robert Tinnell, John K. Snyder, Bo Hampton, Ted Adams, Marc Hempel, Denis Kitchen, John Workman, Walter Simonson, ComicMix’s own Glenn Hauman and Robert Greenberger … the list of my friends there just goes on and on. Most important, unlike San Diego or the New York Comic-Con or Chicago’s R2D2, I can actually hang out with my buddies and meet my fellow fans.

Of course, the show is a mere four-hour drive from Connecticut. That’s about as long as it takes me to get from my front door to wheel’s up at New York’s JFK International. The six-hour flight to the left coast is extra. And the Baltimore show is only two days long: Saturday and Sunday. Yep, no padding, no unending lines to wait in, just two solid days of comics’ fanboy fun.

If you can make it, please do. I’ll be mostly at the Insight Studios Booth, and I promise I won’t hit you with my cane. At least, not intentionally. Yep, this is my first show since I destroyed my back. My back’s back, so I’m back.

Drop by and say hello. We’ll probably get into a conversation or something. It’s that kind of show.

(ComicMix editor-in-chief Mike Gold resumed his Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind rock’n’blues show, which streams four times a week on www.getthepointradio.com and is also available on demand at that very same venue. He also pens a very political column at Michael Davis World – http://mdwp.malibulist.com/ — where he joins ComicMix columnists Martha Thomases and Michael Davis.)

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil