Tagged: Robert Greenberger

Mindy Newell: Not Superman’s Girlfriend!

Last week I wrote about Lois Lane (here) for the first time since 1986 and my mini-series “When It Rains, God Is Crying,” which was edited by ComicMix’s own Robert Greenberger. It got me to thinking about Lois.

First, a little history on the mini-series, which was published in 1986.

1986 was the year that John Byrne took over Superman. As the final ink was drying on the (secret) contract, I approached Dick Giordano about writing a Lois Lane mini-series. Or maybe it was Dick who called me into his office and asked if I wanted to write a “final” Lois Lane story as part of the “Superman Silver Age Farewell Tour, which included Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ For The Man Who Has Everything and Alan Moore, Curt Swan, and George Perez’s Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? I’m pretty sure it was the former, though I could be wrong, thanks to my menopausal memory.

There are two reasons I believe it was the former: (1) I didn’t know Byrne was being given carte blanche to reboot the entire Superman mythos and family, and that, as part of the deal, no one would be allowed to touch any of the characters without John’s permission; and (2) I distinctly remember saying to Dick that, if the first series was successful, I wanted to continue to write stories about Lois as her own person, as a reporter covering stories – not as Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane. Of course Dick was non-committal, but I thought it was because he – naturally – didn’t want to put the horse before the cart, not because of the Byrne deal that was about to be announced to the press and public.

At any rate, and to my delight, Dick green-lit the project, which would feature Lois as a reporter doing a story on missing and abused children, and in which Superman would not appear – although Clark Kent would. And Lana Lang, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and even Lois’s sister, Lucy. The story would be character-driven, and it would be about Lois. Robert Greenberger, then working as an editor at DC – and with whom I had worked on the V comic – was given the assignment, and he brought in the remarkable Gray Morrow, known for his realistic and individualistic portrayal of women characters. We were all immensely enthusiastic about the project, and the series came together incredibly easy because of that enthusiasm. It remains something Robert and I are immensely proud to have created. (Gray Morrow, who always expressed his love of the series to me, passed away in 2001.)

The best part of the project, for me, was having the chance to write Lois as an individual.

I grew up on the Silver Age Lois in comics, she of the 1950s white veiled cloche and matching gloves, a lady-like suite, nylons, and pumps. I didn’t like that she was always mooning over Superman and that her main raison d’être was to prove that Superman was Clark Kent. I didn’t like that Superman always managed to pull the wool over her eyes. It made her foolish. It was insulting. It was dumb. I liked Lana Lang; she was spunky, she was Insect Queen, she was a member of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, and she just seemed smarter and not so constantly obsessed with Superman’s secret identity.

I couldn’t stand Noel Neill as Lois Lane, either. She was too – I don’t know, what’s the word? – genteel to be a star reporter on a “great metropolitan newspaper.” Too much like the Lois Lane of the comics.

But Phyllis Coates! Now she was a tough broad. You could imagine her Lois working her way up the glass ladder – and even breaking though that glass ceiling – in a time when “ladies” stayed home and emulated Betty Crocker. Coates’ Lois could not only replace Perry White as the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet, but she would keep a bottle of Scotch in her bottom drawer just as Lou Grant did on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Phyllis Coates’s Lois was the chick that Sinatra sang about in The Lady Is A Tramp. Phyllis Coates’s Lois was Katherine Graham of the Washington Post.

I believe that Coates’ portrayal of Lois was based on how she first appeared in Action Comics #1. That Lois was snarky, resourceful, sarcastic, brave, contemptuous of Clark Kent, and didn’t moon over Superman; it is said that Siegel and Shuster based her personality and character on Rosalind Russell in His Gal Friday. She smelled a story and went after it. Yeah, Superman saved her – but she was thankful, not all googly-eyed and mushy because of it. (This was the Lois who also appeared in the Fleisher animated shorts, which can easily be found on the web.)

Bottom line, Lois is the most underappreciated, and in my humble opinion, most badly written character in comics. Currently she is a producer on a television news-entertainment show; sorry, no way, José. Lois is Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, or Christine Amanpour on CNN. Lois is Candy Crowley at the Presidential debate, fact-checking Romney’s statements about Obama. Lois is Helen Thomas in her prime, with her own seat in the front row at Presidential news conferences. Lois is Diane Sawyer, or Andrea Mitchell, or Soledad O’Brian.

Damn, if I could get my hands on her…

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten Talks Arrow, Talks Halloween



Kaui Hart Hemmings Discusses Her Novel, The Descendants, Tuesday

To celebrate the upcoming release of The Descendants to Blu-ray and DVD March 13, author Kaui Hart Hemmings will be participating in a special Featured Author Group Chat on social media network GoodReads next Tuesday.

GoodReads members can join the group and be notified when it officially starts and begin submitting questions. If not a GoodReads user, it’s easy to sign up and then join in the fun. DVD/book bundles are also being given away on the site to commemorate the release!

ComicMix recommends GoodReads where several of our contributors and friends including Robert Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, and David Mack are regulars.

MIKE GOLD: Green Lantern Trashed – Three Times!

I’ve been trying to make it through the Green Lantern DVD. I didn’t see it in the theaters – nobody I knew actually liked it, although to be fair few totally hated it. But when a close friend who happens to be in the intellectual property racket told me the best way to see it was to download a bootleg, I got dissuaded. So now ComicMix reports there’s an “extended cut” DVD out there. Hot damn! 360 seconds of more mud.

Bobby Greenberger, who writes under the name “Robert,” reviewed this dachshund a couple days ago and he did so with all the eloquence and joie de vivre one should expect from a comic book editor turned Star Trek writer turned politician. All I can say about his review is that I agree with his observations and, damn, he’s a lot more polite than I am.

Green Lantern deserves better than this. There’s a reason why the guy has been in print for all but about eight of the past 70 years. The character actually deserves a real movie, not ten tons of CGI squeezed into a ten-ounce can. He’s survived countless reboots – and I mean countless; you can play the Monty Python Cheese Shop game with GL reincarnations. There’s something there there, and it’s something the filmmakers missed. Or avoided completely.

Now I see the clips for the new Green Lantern animated series. It’s from Warner Bros. Animation – go figure – and once again, they seem to have missed the boat by driving to the wrong ocean. This is the same company that did brilliant adaptations of the character in two solid, entertaining D2DVD movies as well as on their Justice League and Superman animated shows. Heck, they even did a great job with the guy on their Duck Dodgers show. So why they decided to abandon all of this for a diuretic dump of overly modeled CGI crap is beyond me.

Well, it isn’t quite beyond me. They’re simply following in George Lucas’s footsteps. Personally, I would have picked Bruce Timm. Or even Jay Ward. Tom Terrific looked better than this.

Maybe the writing will be so fantastic it’ll overcome their clunky, awkward and cheesy animation approach. I’m more than enough of a fanboy to give it a shot. It goes up on Cartoon Network on Armistice Day.

And, please, don’t get me started on the New 52 Green Lantern.

ComicMix’s Bob Greenberger Chronicles Career of Howard Chaykin

Legendary for what he has done on the page and infamous for what he has said off it, Howard Chaykin ranks among the superstars of modern comics. In [[[The Art of Howard Chaykin]]], written by Robert Greenberger, go behind the scenes with the creator whose pioneering works include American Flagg!, The Shadow, Batman, New Avengers, Dominic Fortune, Black Kiss and more. Experience the stories of Howard Chaykin’s life as only he can tell them. Filled with no-holds-barred perspective from his longtime friends and colleagues, and featuring an extensive selection of artwork from throughout his career, including many never-before-published pieces from Chaykin’s own archives, The Art of Howard Chaykin takes readers on an in-depth journey from the 1970s to today with one of the medium’s great storytellers.

“Big thanks to everybody at Dynamite for the incredibly flattering job they’ve done, making me look good in this volume,” stated Howard Chaykin.  “Since I’m always willing to mistake attention for affection, I’m basking in the love.”

“At a time when many fresh new art styles while gracing the pages of comics, there was a boldness to Howard Chaykin’s figures that set him apart,” states The Art of Howard Chaykin writer Robert Greenberger. “He carved his own path, first as an artist, then as a writer exploring the limits of what can be done in graphic arts, informed by the great illustrators that came before him. Like his work, the man is larger-than-life filled with provocative observations that are always informed and defensible. Getting to know him has never been less than fascinating and getting to write his story was an opportunity to learn more about what him tick.”

“Howard Chaykin is a good friend and is an unparalleled creator in the comics medium,” says Dynamite President and Publisher Nick Barrucci!  “We made sure to pull out all the stops to make this the definitive guide for Chaykin fanatics everywhere.  Also, having a Brian Michael Bendis forward and afterward by Walter Simonson is just icing on the cake!”

MIKE GOLD: These Comics Really Suck Because…

Wow. I’m sure gonna piss a lot of my friends off. Please don’t take this personally. It has nothing to do with your skill, your judgment, or your personal predilections. It’s just my opinion, one that is somewhat contradicted (only somewhat) by sales figures. Here it comes, folks.

When it comes to comics, licensed property tie-ins suck.

Okay, this isn’t an across-the-board opinion. There are exceptions. Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson’s adaptation of Alien comes to mind. That was, let’s see, back in 1979. Remember Sturgeon’s Law? Ninety percent of everything Ted Sturgeon wrote is crap? Or something like that. My rule of thumb regarding entire genres is this: if you’re doing about five points worse than Ted Sturgeon’s Law, you suck.

There are solid reasons behind this blather. First, any group of talented creators – say, roughly, enough to fill Yankee Stadium – would not create what you see in a tie-in comic book if left on their own. Characters, concepts, designs, interrelationships, plots – they all would likely be… original.

Second, the characters, concepts, designs, interrelationships, and plots created for movies or teevee or toys were created for that particular medium. Transferring them to another medium requires sacrificing a degree of nuance that makes the source material unique. The timing of an actor’s performance that is used to establish character does not come across in comics; the artist is likely to get that bit across visually, but in the process he or she is changing the character.

Third, you can’t change the direction of anything. In a medium that for 25 years has been nothing other than constant change, the concepts of the licensed comic book are set in stone. The reader quickly realizes that any original character that might be introduced is likely to be killed off, and killed off in realistic terms – as opposed to the “death is completely meaningless” approach used in comics. Worse still, if the character works the licensor is likely to take it and use it in their own movies, shows, merchandising and whathaveyou – and the comics creators who thunk it all up ain’t gonna see a penny.

Finally, creators work with editors, some of whom are great (hiya, folks!), some less than great, and others couldn’t sort out a pack of Necco wafers if the candy was numbered. Editors work with editorial directors and editors-in-chief and publishers and if they’re any good they fight with the marketing department or at least try to wake them up. But when it comes to licensed properties, you’ve got the owners licensed products people to deal with. Not only do they not know comics, they usually do not know the properties they administrator. Case in point:

The idiot who passed judgment on DC’s Star Trek titles was so bad, if writer Peter David and editor Bob Greenberger flew out to Los Angeles and murdered the son of a bitch, I would have gone to great lengths to establish a solid alibi for them. Probably one involving a Mets game… but I digress. Here’s another.

Writer Joey Cavalieri plotted a Bugs Bunny mini-series that was, in my opinion as editor, as brilliant as it was hilarious. Stunningly brilliant. We sent it to the West Coast for the Warner Bros. studio approval. They hated it so much their Grand Imperial Klingon in charge of toothbrush licenses flew out to New York to cut me a new asshole. Unfortunately for editorial coordinator Terri Cunningham, this nuclear holocaust happened in her office.

The Mistress of All Things Looney started pointing out the good stuff we couldn’t do. Daffy Duck couldn’t issue spittle. Porky Pig couldn’t stutter. Tweety Bird couldn’t be a host on BTV, the all-bird watching network. Foghorn Leghorn couldn’t own a fast-food franchise. Bugs couldn’t be so manipulative. Hello? Anybody home? This is Looney Tunes we’re talking here!

I politely pointed out these were either long established character bits that started in the theaters in 1940 and continued on television to that very day. I said the Tweety and Foghorn bits were satire.

Looney Tunes are not about satire!,” she screamed.

I saw poor Terri Cunningham in my peripheral vision. She looked like she was desperately trying to gnaw her way out of her own office. I said “Answer me this one question. Have you ever actually seen any of the Looney Tunes cartoons? Ever?” I turned on my heel and walked back to my office.

Here’s the worst part. My story is not in the least bit atypical. Not at all. It’s not even the worst I can tell you.

So when it comes to comic books, there’s a creative challenge to doing licensed properties and I’d take on some of those challengers as long as the licensor knows the property, but personally, I’d rather read something original.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

Star Trek Comics Go ‘Round and ‘Round

Star Trek Comics Go ‘Round and ‘Round

According to CBS Consumer Products, the entire Star Trek comic book oeuvre from 1967 through 2002 will be released on a single DVD-ROM disc this September 1st.

The disc, produced by Graphic Imaging Technology, will contain everything published by Gold Key, Marvel, DC, and Malibu. This includes work by Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Dave Cockrum, Tom Sutton, Mike W. Barr, George Pérez, Tony Isabella, Peter David, Robert Greenberger… pretty close to a Who’s Who of comics creators of the past couple decades.

IDW and ToykoPop are the current Trek comics publishers, but their works are not included on this disc. It will be available at big-box electronics stores and wherever better DVD-ROMs are sold.


Robbie Greenberger, R.I.P.

Robbie Greenberger, R.I.P.

We are incredibly sad to have to report that Robbie Greenberger, son of DC and Marvel alumni and ComicMix contributor Robert Greenberger, passed away on Thursday evening after a months-long struggle with leukemia. He was 20.

He is survived by his father, mother Deb, sister Kate, and everyone who knew him, all of whom are staggered by the news. Bob has been blogging about the entire course of treatment, and has written up the final week.

Friends may greet the family Sunday from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. in the Spear-Miller Funeral Home, 39 South Benson Road., Fairfield. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, August 18, 2008 at 1 p.m. meeting directly at Saint Pius X Church 834 Brookside Drive, Fairfield. Interment will be private at Oak Lawn Cemetery, Fairfield. In lieu of flowers contributions in Robbie’s memory may be made to The Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, 20 York Street, New Haven, CT 06511-3202 (www.tommyfund.org). For information or to offer an online condolence, please visit www.spearmillerfuneralhome.com.

Is Manga a Passing Fad?, by Robert Greenberger

Is Manga a Passing Fad?, by Robert Greenberger

Well, duh.

That was my first reaction when I read USA Today’s story regarding Manga’s loosening grip on readers in Japan.

After all, we lived through it in America starting some 30 years ago, where three things happened around mid-decade:

  1. Cable television was introduced and began snaking through the country, suddenly captivating television watchers and keeping them watching with extra channels, premium movies and so on.
  2. At much the same time, the first home video games were also capturing peoples’ attention.  I still remember being fascinated playing Pong on the playroom television and then flipping to watch an uncut movie on HBO.
  3. The rise of the direct sales distribution system for comic books, which began an evolution away from readers finding comics at the local stationary shop and towards hole-in-the-wall outlets that sold comics and related stuff.


Battlestar Galactica Goes Unrated For Christmas

Battlestar Galactica Goes Unrated For Christmas

There’s this great scene at the very beginning of The Simpsons Movie where Homer is at the movie theater watching Itchy and Scratchy – The Movie and then asks why anybody would want to pay for something they’re used to seeing for free. Then they cut to the opening titles.

The Sci Fi Channel is doing the same thing, only backwards. The two-hour Battlestar Galactica: Razor movie will be broadcast on November 24, 2007. On December 4, NBC Universal will release the Battlestar Galactica: Razor Unrated Extended Edition. Hmmm… were I a BG fan – and, well, I am – I’d just wait the ten days and watch the real thing, if for no other reason than in hope that there’s some seriously X-rated material in the unrated extended edition. When it comes to "extended," perhaps I misunderstand their meaning. But if I were buying ad time on the Sci Fi broadcast, I’d want a discount.

By the way, I’d love to see Itchy and Scratchy – The Movie.

Sarcasm aside, our correspondent Robert Greenberger adds significant detail to this story:

The DVD, retailing for $26.98, is said to contain an additional fifteen minutes of footage in addition to the usual assortment of extras. Among the extras will be the eight mini-episodes the channel will begin airing in October. The lead-in material, which will also be available at their website, will set up events seen in the movie and edited into the home video version. The miniseries features young William Adama, to be played by Nico Cortez and is likely to be about the early Cylon War with glimpses of the original Cylon designs from the ABC series.

The telefilm’s story is told in present day and will feature the entire Galactica cast but will have extensive flashbacks to a mission of the other Battlestar, the Pegasus, which was helmed by Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes).  As a result, familiar faces from that ship will appear as guest stars, including Steve Bacic as Colonel Jurgen Belzen.

What’s a razor, you ask? In “Resurrection ship, Part 1” Cain told Fisk she needed people who were,"…completely reliable. Completely loyal. Razors."

Producer Ronald D. Moore has indicated the story is an important piece of the bigger picture and elements introduced here will pay off in the fourth and final season, which Sci-Fi is expected to schedule to debut in January. Much of Cain’s background will be explored including a hint of romance with Gina. Additionally, part of the story shows Lee Adama in charge of the Pegasus and his search for an XO which introduces Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen as Kendra Shaw.

Two trailers for the event have already run on Sci-Fi and can be found on their website.

Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike

Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike

Well, maybe not the NJ Turnpike, but it seemed like every car in the world was in the Garden State Parkway heading southward both yesterday and today.  Kinda fun if one’s travelling northward, but not at all amusing when one is among the plastic and metal hordes.  It’s nice to come home to one’s own bed, one’s own computer desk, and one’s own ComicMix colleagues; here’s what we all cooked up for you this past week:

Had I only the foresight, Mellifluous Mike Raub could have entertained me in that horrid traffic with his latest Big ComicMix Broadcasts:

Of course our newest addition, Andrew Wheeler, has been cranking ’em out day in and day out, hope you’ve been keeping up! In addition, Robert Greenberger‘s had some crack analyses, Matt Raub‘s been reviewing everything in sight, and even Glenn Hauman made another columnar appearance this past week with Above and Beyond #3: Who made comics piracy big?.  Plenty of cool reads during these hot times!