Tagged: Spawn

The Point Radio: Men Of Action – Michael Jai White And Christian Kane

Want some action? We’ve got plenty from two guys who know to create it. From SPAWN to FALCON RISING, Michael Jai White has never shied away from the heat and he proves it again with his new film, SKIN TRADE. Plus Christian Kane balances the thrills in THE LIBRARIANS, but proves his musical side in the new project 50 TO ONE. Now, think about it – wouldn’t he make a great Wolverine? WE ask for his reaction to that.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Michael Davis: The Black Age Of Comics

Davis Art 140121Last year Marvel made big news with the Black Avengers book they are doing or have done or will be doing.

Truth is I don’t know if it’s been done or not because these days I rarely read comics that get massive press. Unless I know the creator I’d rather pass on hype – especially if that hype has to with new black characters.

I’m sick to death of some making a big deal out of the black character they are bringing to comics.

Why?

Two reasons. The first is because two seconds (if that long) after the story appears in the press or the book goes on sale I’m asked to comment.

“DC is doing a book where two black people are in a street scene. What are your thoughts?”

“Well I think that anytime a major publisher puts two black people in a scene it’s another step towards Dr. King’s dream.”

That’s what I’d say. Sure I would.

If ever some asswipe asked me such an asinine question I’d be doing hard time for putting my foot up their ass. Not the 300 bullshit hours of community service I’m doing now. I don’t think anyone’s stupid enough to be that stupid but trust me some have come close.

Because of my so-called status as an African American creator I’m subject to many a question about Negro progress in the industry, so the easiest way for me to avoid going to jail is to tell the truth which is “I have not seen it so I can’t comment but I hope it’s good and if so it succeeds.”

Or, maybe my status has nothing to do with it maybe they know I’m good for a rant or two because I’m either fearless, careless or always high thus I will tell the bare truth no matter what. I’m not fearless, I’ve been careless won’t comment on being high but stupid I am not

Imagine the co-creator of Static saying, “What the fuck is Static doing fighting a fucking giant fucking fish? Fuck fuck fuckidy-fuck!!!!!

Not good.

I waited to comment on the recent new 52 Static book from the DC well after they killed the book, which, by the way, should have been killed. I’ve heard all the “DC should have given it a chance” bullshit on the net, but let’s get real. The book had issues and was not getting the support from the fans so what is DC to do? Continue to take a loss?

Wake the fuck up world. This is reality this is not some chat room where some pussy deprived little fan boy thinks he knows better than Diane Nelson, Jim Lee or Dan Dildio.

News flash: they don’t.

Truth is I don’t comment on any black book unless I love it. I refuse to say anything negative about black comic book content, not because it’s all-great because let’s face it a lot of is horrible. I won’t comment because I’m not that guy. Never in my life have I publicly stated any bad, adverse or harmful remarks against any black comic, creator or publisher…

Unless said creator or publisher invites a response by putting out straight up imaginary bullshit about Milestone. Then it’s on.

I won’t even comment publicly when a black creator says there are simply no black women characters created by black creators that have reached a mainstream audience.

Really?

Milestone’s teenage girl superhero Rocket reached and was an overwhelming success in the mainstream market – before she got pregnant. Then she was mainstream news. You can’t get more mainstream than the Washington Post and CNN, to name but two.

I did send the guy who was saying that in interviews an email saying “really?”

Dark Horse has a new book coming out called Skyman. Everything I’ve read about Skyman mentions he’s black.

Everything I’ve read except for the official Dark Horse press release.

I like that.

The Black Age Of Comics Convention (yep, I stole the name of this article from them) promotes black creators, publishers, comics and black pop culture in general. The goal of the convention is to reach black people and black kids in particular because there are so few black heroes for young kids of color to relate too.

That’s a wonderful thing and they do great work.

99.9% of everything I’ve ever done in comics, television, radio and mainstream publishing the main characters are black because that’s what I do. I’ve always tried to reach a mainstream audience and I’m well aware that black anything is a difficult sell in the first place.

So the second reason (this is so long you forgot I said two reasons eh?) is that I am sick of media news that spotlights the African American aspect of some projects because never, and I mean never, do any of these news stories even attempt to acknowledge what has gone before and most publishers co-sign that bullshit.

So that young black mother or father who sees that TV news report on Marvel’s Black Avengers will think this is the first time ever for a black character in comics and run out to get it for their kid.

To put it another way, it’s like saying Elvis never listened to or was influenced by black music. Eminem is a great rapper and I’m sure if FOX News had a music channel they would have you believe he started Rap and discovered Dre.

Milestone is the most successful African American line of comics in history. We were not the first to publish black superheroes. Not even close. And we said as much and still say as much in public.

You can bet when black kids attend the Black Age Of Comics Convention they are told repeatedly about the vast history of black characters in comics and all media.

My dear friend (to me more like family) Lana Walker is one of the very few people I won’t question if she wants me to meet someone. If she called and said “Michael, I want you to meet with this axe murderer who will try to kill you” I’d take that meeting. No question.

I hate Hollywood parties. Hate them. Lana asked me to come to a Hollywood party and meet some people. That’s like asking Superman to come to a party at Kryptonite mountain – it kills me. I went to the party, no questions asked.

I’m pretty damn sure Lana did not tell those people, “You should meet Michael Davis, he’s black. When I showed up it was pretty damn obvious I’m black. When a new black character shows up and the media covers it, the publisher promotes it as if it’s the first black character ever it is not only, in my opinion, fucked up lazy journalism. it feels to those who know it’s bullshit like yet another total disregard of African American history.

I’d just like publishers to at least give a nod to what has come before when promoting black content.

Or do like Dark Horse and make it about the character.

If you feel the as a journalist the black angle is a good one, do some fucking research and at least write something about what has come before even if it’s something like this:

Black Dick, the story of an African American private eye is a new comic from Poon Tang Publishing. It’s the very first black comic ever… I think.

If people like the character and the idea behind it color will matter not. Blade and Spawn are perfect examples. Yeah, Spawn is black. If you can’t tell because of his mask ask yourself what’s up with that third leg.

BTW, “Black Dick” is trademark & copyright Michael Davis 2014 All Rights Reserved and is not the first black character.

I think.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Tweaks!

 

Michael Davis: The Top 10 Black Superheroes…

…Created By White Guys and Louise Simonson

My sincere thanks to Grace Randolph

10. Black Lightning.Davis Art 131029

Created by Tony Isabella

What can I say about Black Lightning except for the fake Afro wig (decades before Steve Harvey’s BTW… wait… y’all didn’t know that was a wig? Oops, sorry Steve, my bad) but like I was saying-except for the wig I loved this character the moment I saw him. Yeah, there were some stereotypical thing to him like his real first name, Jefferson but his last name was Pierce and Jefferson Pierce sounded so cool I can give Jefferson a pass.

9. Spawn.

Created By Todd McFarlane

Little know story: when I was the CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks I started a comic book imprint called Machineworks. We were all set to do a publishing deal with Marvel Comics which would have given Marvel its very own Milestone like imprint. Think about that for a second: Marvel’s very own Milestone with the clout of Motown Records behind it.

But… the more meetings I had with Marvel and the closer we got to a deal the less secure I felt about being in business with them. So I took a meeting with the Image guys in their hotel suite at 3:30 in the morning during San Diego Comic Con.

Understand this was not an impromptu meeting this was the time the meeting was scheduled for. My Chief Operating Officer was a major Hollywood playa at the time and he hated the Image guys, especially Todd. I mean hated Todd with a passion. I knew all the Image guys for a while by then so it didn’t bug me in the least that the meeting was at 3:30 in the morning in the Image suite… in the master bedroom.

A master bedroom where Todd McFarland, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Eric Larson, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino were all sitting or laying on a king size bed and that’s where the meeting took place.

My COO almost busted a blood vessel, he was so pissed.

I loved it and at that moment the Marvel deal was dead and we were in business with Image comics.

What does this have to do with Spawn being number 9 on my Top Ten Black Superheroes Created By White Guys and Louise Simonson?

Everything.

Todd’s Spawn is not a typical black superhero; he’s not even really a hero. He’s a spawn of Hell who when he was alive just happened to be black. Spawn’s alter ego-Al Simmons was named after Todd’s real life friend of the same name.

Just like that Image meeting all those years ago Todd has an “I don’t give a shit” attitude about what people think and he created a black superhero that transcends what you may think it should be.

8. Cyborg

Created by Marv Wolfman & George Pérez

Another little-known story. I stopped reading comics all together when I entered high school. I went (yes here it comes, again) to the greatest high school in the history of the world, the High School Of Art & Design. Yeah, yeah. I’m a broken record…

When I applied to A & D I wanted more than anything to be a cartoonist and draw comic books. After I was admitted and it was time to choose my major, my cousin who’s an artist (and before you dismiss him as a guy who just likes to draw bear in mind his work sells for upwards of seven figures and I’m not joking, he’s that kind of artist) told me if I majored in comics I would stave and die.

So I majored in illustration and stopped reading comics cold turkey. Just like that I gave up comics and as luck would have it I discovered the Society Of Illustrators and met master painter Ernie Barnes the summer before I entered A & D so by the time I was in A&D I loved the world of illustration. I went all trough undergrad and graduate school with nary a comic.

Of all places I was a an Elton John concert at Madison Square Garden and the guy sitting next to me was reading a copy of Frank Miller’s Daredevil while we waited for the show to start. One thing led to another and the next day I’m at the greatest book store on the planet called, of all things, Forbidden Planet, buying Miller’s complete run of Daredevil. While at checkout I heard these kids talking about the Teen Titans and George Pérez’s artwork. I asked to see what they were reading promptly got out of line and went to pick up all the back issues of the New Teen Titans.

I loved those books and OMG…Cyborg, at that time, was the best freaking Black character…ever.

Cyborg’s alter ego is Victor Stone, the son of Silas and Elinore Stone, a pair of scientists… a pair of scientists?

Oh no, Marv did-ant!!!!

Oh yes, Marv did.

What’s not to love about Cyborg? His parents were Black and a pair of scientists!!

Wow.

A pair of black scientists who don’t become drug dealers like Tyrone Cash…go figure.

7. Storm

Created by Len Wien and Dave Cockrum

Storm like Cyborg and Spawn were part of a new breed of black characters created by white boys (or Louise Simonson) these characters did not need “black” in their names because they worked with or without race being a major factor. Black Lightning works that way also but let’s face it, Black Lighting is a cool ass name.

Storm’s not just a black character, she’s a major playa in the power department at Marvel comics and she’s a woman. How cool is that? I read somewhere that Storm is not black; she’s made up of a bunch of different races.

OK, how can I put this diplomatically? I know…

Fuck that.

What did someone decide because she was one of the most powerful characters in comics she couldn’t be black?

Nope. Fans old and new think of Storm as a strong black woman and that means if you want to date her you best have a job.

What?

6. Miles Morales

Created By Brian Michael Bendis

A half black and half Latino Spider-Man. Just how on earth could I not love this? I give Marvel shit about some of the black characters in their universe, but man do they get well-deserved props for Miles Morales. Another little known fact: Milestone was named after (equal parts) Miles Cowan, Denys Cowan’s son, and Miles Davis. I can’t help but think (I may be wrong I was once…she sure looked like a man) that Miles Morales gives a nod to Milestone as Static gave a nod to Spider-Man.

5. Blade

Created By Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan

I went to the opening of the first Blade movie at the Magic Johnson Theater in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. I was there with my then-girlfriend and one of my best friends who also happened to be white. Except for those two the only other white people in the theater were in the movie.

The credits rolled and up came “Blade, created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan.” I could NOT contain myself so I started clapping like a madman and yelling “yeah.

But no one else did. Everyone and their mother were staring at me.

Shit.

This huge gang banging looking dude turns in his seat and says to me, “Are they brothers?” I answered truthfully. “Marv’s my brother.” He said, “Cool” and didn’t shoot me.

I must admit when I was a kid I brought every comic book I saw a Black character in. I hated horror books but Blade was in Tomb Of Dracula so I brought it. One of the best comic book decisions I’ve ever made.

4. Mal Ducan

Created By Robert Kaniger

Who the Hell is Mal Ducan?

Mal was the first black official member of the original Teen Titans. He was an average guy with only boxing skills and I loved that character. Later on DC tried giving him a bunch of powers and that was stupid. I like good old unpowered Mal because as a kid he was me.

I saw myself as Mal, I couldn’t fly I had no utility belt no super speed but I knew I could be a hero just like Mal.

3. The Black Racer

Created By Jack Kirby

The Black Racer is was Sgt. Willie Walker, paralyzed during the Vietnam War. Walker was contacted by the Source when Darkseid first brought the war of the gods to Earth, and told it was his responsibility to take on the role and yada, yada, yada…

OK, the Black Racer was Kirby’s answer at DC to the Silver Suffer character he co-created with Stan Lee at Marvel.

There were about a zillion things wrong with the character. The first is that black people don’t ski.

Duh.

I didn’t give a shit what was wrong with that character. Jack ‘“King” Kirby had created another badass black character and all was right with the world! Truth be told, Kirby could have created the “Black Player” as a super powered black hockey player and I would have been all in. The Black Racer is still badass for my money today.

2. The Black Panther

Created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

The Black Panther was created at the height of the civil rights movement in the 60s.

The Black Panther party was a black revolutionary socialist organization active in the United States from the 60’s to the 80’s.

Now-how bad ass do you have to be to name a Black character the same as that party and make that character not only an hero but a king of a African nation that was tectonically eons ahead of the United States Of America?

Bad Ass.

Period.

1.Steel

Created by Louise Simonson & Jon Bogdanove

I could go on and on why this is number one on my list, but that’s another article in and of its self. I’ll just say this: Louise was gangsta enough, talented enough and bold enough to put the ‘S’ on a black man.

Nuff said.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

 

Michael Davis: The Black Plague

Michael Davis: The Black Plague

There is an unwritten law in the black community: support black projects in the arts, especially film and television ventures. The thinking is if we don’t support them then it will be that much harder to get another project made with black stories as the draw.

It’s hard as shit to get a black project green lit in Hollywood unless your last name is Perry. I’ve seen one Tyler Perry film and have no desire to see any others. It’s just not my thing. Nothing but respect for the man and his work but it’s just not for me. His films are the thing for an awful lot of black people and that is the audience he and his partners at Lion’s Gate pursue.

Now, a film like Red Tails was my thing. I’m a sucker for anything WWII and the story of the Tuskegee Airmen is just so badass as soon as it was announced I was on board. Before I could see the film I’d heard it was terrible. I saw it, did not like it and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

George Lucas, who put the project together and who wrote the check for most of the $58 million dollar budget (which I think is the biggest budget ever for a film that features a black cast) said that if the film flopped (and boy did it flop) then it will be that much harder to make another big budget film with a black story line and black cast.

The film Peeples premiered last Friday. Perry produced it but he did not star or direct the film. The film bombed as Tyler’s faithful stayed away from it. I had no intention of seeing it; again, not my thing. Why did the movie fail so dreadfully among the Tyler faithful? It’s not like there were any other black films out there to watch so why didn’t it preform?

Maybe because the film sucked? Or perhaps unless Perry put’s on a dress, black audiences won’t think it was funny?

I think the movie flopped because Iron Man 3 was the film most moviegoers wanted to see over the weekend. No, Iron Man is not a black character… and that’s my point, I like millions of other black movie goers, don’t decide to just go see black movies.

Duh!

We decide to go see a movie. The audience for Tyler’s movie will also go see Iron Man and to think they won’t because Tony Stark is not black, just stupid.

Iron Man, like Superman, Batman, the Avengers and Spider-Man, were born in our beloved comics media. In many ways the comics industry is much more liberal creatively than film and TV but still we lack the balls to see beyond race on many fronts.

Consider this, Static Shock was a major hit for many years on television and more than a decade after its release it’s still being shown somewhere. Yet despite that massive success on TV has never been any toys, games or fucking underoos. Hollywood and the comics industry have what seems like a written law, which is black superheroes won’t sell.

Bullshit.

Black superheroes done badly or marketed badly won’t sell. But then again that’s true of any superhero. The entertainment industry, of which comics are becoming an even bigger part of, still follows the notion that America falls down on racial lines when it comes to creative content.

That’s even more bullshit.

The most influential person on television? Oprah.

The biggest name in sports? Tiger.

The most powerful man in the world? Barack.

Not one of the above could have gotten to where they are without overwhelming support from non-black people so clearly; comics, film and television are all missing something. Hancock was a movie about a black superhero movie and it made more than half a billion dollars worldwide. Spawn and Blade were also very successful yet still I hear black superheroes won’t sell. What did they have in common other than black leads?

They were not marketed as black movies, and they all were well made.

After Earth, the new Will Smith movie, will be out on May 31st. For the majority of that film only Smith and his son are on screen. It’s a father and son movie science fiction movie, not a black movie – although Smith and his son both happen to be black.

I’m sure some will say if the movie bombs it was because it was a black movie, others will say, if the movie succeeds it’s because it’s a Will Smith movie.

I have no wish to see it regardless, it just seems weak to me but then again, Red Tails seemed to me like a sure bet, so what do I know?

Wednesday: Mike Gold – Great Uncle Shield

Thursday: Dennis O’Neil – Tony Stark Grows Up

 

Mike Gold: Too Much Is More Than Enough

Gold Art 130123Back in the 1960s and 1970s there was this publisher called Harvey Comics. They were in business to sell comic books to children: Casper the Friendly Ghost, Wendy the Good Little Witch, Hot Stuff, Sad Sack, Little Dot, Richie Rich… well, mostly Richie Rich. As in “I counted 47 different Richie Rich titles from Harvey Comics, not including the daily and Sunday newspaper strip.” Most were bi-monthlies and quarterlies, so to be fair I doubt Harvey released more than a four or five Richie Rich titles every week.

The modern-day equivalent to Richie Rich is Wolverine, who appears in dozens of Marvel titles each month. The sundry Avengers titles, the sundry X-Men titles, Wolverine, Savage Wolverine, Wolverine Max, Wolverine’s Bank Vaults, Wolverine Dollars and Cents… When it comes to that mad little bugger, well, no unemployment lines for him.

Batman is almost as heavily exposed: his various titles, his “family” titles including Batgirl, Batwoman, Nightwing, Robin, blah blah blah. He’s got Batmen stashed all over the world; perhaps the universe. Multiverse. Whatever.

Spider-Man, Iron Man, certainly Captain America… there’s no shortage of work for these guys, either. So why am I bitching? What, am I opposed to the free market?

Aside from the fact that the “free market” is a bigger fantasy than the multiverse, I do not begrudge a publisher its opportunity for success. However, there is the element of uniqueness that makes comics fun. That element is lost, rather rapidly, with overexposure. There are something in the neighborhood of 7200 members of the Green Lantern corps, and if I’m not mistaken all but the Moslem dude has his own comic book. Sarah Palin just found a power ring in her Rice Krispies.

When was the last time there was a truly original, a truly unique, successful superhero launch? Spawn and Savage Dragon? That was 20 years ago. DC Comics rebooted its universe 14 times since then. Before that? What, maybe Judge Dredd (depending upon your definition of “superhero”)? That was back in 1977, when Jimmy Carter was sworn in as President.

Have we lost our originality? No, we simply don’t have publishers with either the backbone or the resources to pull it off. So instead we clone ourselves. The major superheroes are little more than a fourth generation photocopy of what made them unique.

If the marketplace supports mega-multiple titles for its half-dozen most popular characters, why shouldn’t publishers meet that demand?

Because, today, Richie Rich is not being published at all.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

 

NEW CTHULHU: RECENT WEIRD NAMED “BEST” BY LIBRARY JOURNAL

Prime BooksNew Cthulhu: Recent Weird anthology selected by Library Journal as one of the best science fiction/fantasy titles of 2012.

On the Prime Books site, they posted about the honor. “We are pleased and rather gobsmacked—if delightedly so—that New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird has been selected by Library Journal as one of the best sf/f titles of the year. Congrats to all the authors whose outstanding work made it such.” Plus, they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share some news. “We suppose this gives us a fine opportunity to announce we will be publishing Spawn of Cthulhu: New Stories Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft—an all-original anthology—edited by Paula Guran in 2014. (And no, I have not started soliciting yet.)”

About New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird-
For more than eighty years H.P. Lovecraft has inspired writers of supernatural fiction, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and gaming. His themes of cosmic indifference, the utter insignificance of humankind, minds invaded by the alien, and the horrors of history — written with a pervasive atmosphere of unexplainable dread — today remain not only viable motifs, but are more relevant than ever as we explore the mysteries of a universe in which our planet is infinitesimal and climatic change is overwhelming it.

In the first decade of the twenty-first century the best supernatural writers no longer imitate Lovecraft, but they are profoundly influenced by the genre and the mythos he created. New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird presents some of the best of this new Lovecraftian fiction — bizarre, subtle, atmospheric, metaphysical, psychological, filled with strange creatures and stranger characters — eldritch, unsettling, evocative, and darkly appealing . . .

Contributors in Alphabetical Order:
The Crevasse, Dale Bailey & Nathan Ballingrud
Old Virginia, Laird Barron
Shoggoths in Bloom, Elizabeth Bear
Mongoose, Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette
The Oram County Whoosit, Steve Duffy
Study in Emerald, Neil Gaiman
Grinding Rock, Cody Goodfellow
Pickman’s Other Model (1929), Caitlin Kiernan
The Disciple, David Barr Kirtley
The Vicar of R’lyeh, Marc Laidlaw
Mr Gaunt, John Langan
Take Me to the River, Paul McAuley
The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft, Nick Mamatas & Tim Pratt
Details, China Mieville
Bringing Helena Back, Sarah Monette
Another Fish Story, Kim Newman
Lesser Demons, Norm Partridge
Cold Water Survival, Holly Phillips
Head Music, Lon Prater
Bad Sushi, Cherie Priest
The Fungal Stain, W.H. Pugmire
Tsathoggua, Michael Shea
Buried in the Sky, John Shirley
Fair Exchange, Michael Marshall Smith
The Essayist in the Wilderness, William Browning Spencer
A Colder War, Charles Stross
The Great White Bed, Don Webb

New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird
Edited by Paula Guran
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 528
Size: 6″ X 9″
ISBN: 9781607012894
Publication Date: November 23, 2011
Price: $15.95

Learn more about Prime Books at www.prime-books.com.

Marc Alan Fishman: Comic Books – Where A Kid Can Be a Kid

So the other day, in my second life, I was discussing Unshaven Comics with a coworker. He’d just read our first two issues of Disposable Razors. Suffice to say, these early issues of ours were geared towards our peers – violent, misogynistic, foul-mouthed, and raunchy fun. He then asked me about the next issue, featuring the Samurnauts.

“Dude. Why did you go kiddie?”

“Simple,” I retorted. “I’m still a kid.”

Deep down, beard be damned, I’m still 12. I can’t walk into a Target / Wal-Mart / Meijer without taking a detour through the toy aisle. My DVR is as full of worthless NBC comedies as it is high quality cartoons. And to a degree, my continuing love for comics in general fulfills that childish need for escapism that obviously will never leave me.

Beyond myself though, I am lucky to be surrounded by two others who share the exact same mentality. We Unshaven Lads make no bones about it… at our core we’re far more interested in giant robots, Kirby krackle, and figuring out the relative power levels of various Power Rangers than the latest polling data, Iranian diplomacy, and the relative cost of bathroom tissue. Suffice to say it was a no-brainer that we’d eventually strike gold by tapping into those roots and pulling out The Samurnauts. Iran be damned.

And what’s truly refreshing? Being able to share our book with everyone. From kids to teens to adults, no one is safe; kung fu monkeys and zombie-cyborg space pirates makes everyone giggle. And when they read the issue and see we do it without having to wink and nudge our audience? Well, that’s when we show that this isn’t just for a gag. Frankly, it’s what’s missing throughout much of mainstream comic books these days. Yup. I’m going there.

You see, when I was growing up (frankly, not all that long ago) we were already knee-deep into the Angst-Era of comics. There was a hard line: either you spurted blood and boobs all over the page or you dubbed your book for kiddies, and neutered everything about it, quality included. And despite the relative universal success of titles like Tiny Titans, Super Dinosaur, and dare I suggest Fables, most books on the shelf still seem to be stuck in a rage. But at the same time Spawn was murdering the comic book world, there was an epiphany in kid-level fiction; animation.

I was truly blessed to grow up on what I consider is the truest golden age of cartoons – Batman: The Animated Series, Superman, the X-Men, and my personal favorite Exo-Squad. All employed the most basic tactic that elevated the term all-ages to an unforeseen level of quality. Simply put, these series all decided it was easier to tell a great story, than worry about talking down to kids. And as a kid, I recognized it.

Here were cartoons that dealt with war, murder, politics, government, ethics, and god knows what else. And sure, there were batarangs, guest stars like Lobo, the Dark Phoenix saga, and Neo-Sapien uprisings, but they were presented and treated without a hip wink at the camera. And because of it, when I turned to the world of comics, I gravitated towards Alan Moore, early Frank Miller, John Ostrander, and Denny O’Neil. Here were guys giving me the same credit as Bruce Timm, and Paul Dini, all without having to plunge their books into infinite sadness and meaningless quarrels.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a touch of the ultra-violence. But when its used every other issue, it deadens the impact. DC especially seems to be marred in grit and angst again, and because of it I’m down to less than half the subscriptions I enjoyed a little over a year ago. The best ongoing title in recent memory was Fantastic Four, which in and of itself was too kind to not spend all its time with gnashed teeth. Meanwhile, Harley Quinn is being plunged into a vat of acid and donning a corset as a costume. Maybe the kid in me is just sick and tired of rape, death, cursing, and thigh pouches in my cape’n’cowls every week, in an effort to boost sales. Maybe it’s why I spend my time amidst future space stations and pirate ships when it’s time for me to give back to the world of comic books.

Now if you’ll excuse me… I need to go load up my Nerf guns. Thundercats is on.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander on Comics

 

iVerse Adds Contraband Comics for Digital Distribtion

(August 15, 2012—Waco, TX) – iVerse Media, creators of some of the world’s most popular and widely used technologies for reading and distributing digital comics, announced today that the company’s Comics Plus platform has been selected as the exclusive digital distribution platform for Contraband Comics, a new independent, creator-owned comics publishing initiative.

“We’re extremely happy and excited that Contraband Comics has decided to launch with us exclusively,” said Michael Murphey, iVerse CEO. “Their creative team is outstanding and, from the work we’ve seen so far, we know that our readers are really going to enjoy their lineup.”

“iVerse’s dedication to creator-owned projects is what we were looking for in a distribution partner,” said writer/artist and Contraband founder, Jon Goff. “Their ability to deliver content on a level that meets the high standards everyone at Contraband strives for made this a very easy choice for us. We plan to utilize the Comics Plus app’s many features to their fullest, as Contraband continues to roll out titles that push the envelope of storytelling and innovation.”

The first wave of Contraband titles that will be available exclusively on Comics Plus include:

  • BLINDSIDE by Marat Mychaels (creator/illustrator) and Jon Goff (writer) – The worlds of superheroics and espionage merge head-on in an all-out, bullet-riddled, adrenaline rush blockbuster! Debuts August 22nd exclusively on Comics Plus.
  • BIG HITTERS by Travis Sengaus (co-creator/illustrator) and Jon Goff (co-creator/writer) – This science-fiction action/adventure follows the exploits of a pair of sanctioned hitmen – called “Hitters” – as they navigate the seedy underbelly of an advanced post-war universe. Debuts September 5th exclusively on Comics Plus.
  • JACK RABBIT by Jim Hanna (co-creator/illustrator) and Jon Goff (co-creator/writer) – A supernatural crime-noir thriller that follows an ex-boxer-turned-private detective as he investigates the darker corners of 1930’s Los Angeles, where truth and myth merge in a surreal mixture of violence and hope. Debuts September 19th exclusively on Comics Plus.

“A big goal for us at iVerse is to help talented creators like Jon get their creations out to millions and millions of people,” said Steve May, iVerse Director of Business Development.  “There are many amazing creator-owned books out there just needing the right distribution partner to take them to the next level.  With talent like Jon, Marat, Travis and Jim on board, I have no doubt that Contraband Comics will quickly reach that level and grow beyond it.”

About iVerse Media. LLC

iVerse Media (http://www.iversemedia.com) is a digital content distributor focused on the world of comics and popular culture. Founded in 2008, the company was one of the first to launch digital comics on Apple’s iOS platform. As of April 2012, over 12 million products in the iOS App Store have been downloaded that are powered by iVerse, making the “iVerse Engine” one of the most popular and widely used platforms for reading digital comics in the world. The company is principally located in Waco, TX. For more information, visit www.comicsplusapp.com.

About Contraband Comics

Launched in 2012, Contraband Comics is a creator-owned, independent comic book publisher with a focus on providing quality titles across multiple genres. Founded by writer/artist, Jon Goff, and featuring a talented line-up of comic book creators, including Travis Sengaus, Marat Mychaels, Jim Hanna, Fco Plascencia, Comicraft and more, Contraband’s only goal is to entertain. Contrabrand Comics are available exclusively on iVerse Media’s ComicsPlus digital platform. Learn more about Contraband Comics on their Website: http://www.contracomics.com

About Jon Goff

Jon Goff has developed content for comic books, action figures and video games while working with many of the top companies across the entertainment industry, including The McFarlane Companies, 343 Industries, Microsoft Game Studios, Marvel Comics, MEGA Brands, Gentle Giant Studios, WETA Workshop, ABC Studios, Tor Books, DK Publishing, Prima Games and more. Jon’s credits include Tor Books’ Halo-themed anthology, Halo Evolutions, the monthly Spawn comic book title and The Adventures of SPAWN online comic. Follow Jon on Twitter: @Jonathan_Goff

About Marat Mychaels

Marat Mychaels (Grifter, Deadpool Corps) is a veteran of the comic book industry, having provided artwork for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics and more. Marat’s current focus is the launch of his creator-owned title, Blindside, as part of Contraband Comics, along with steady work on DC Comics New 52 titles, including Hawk and Dove and Grifter.  Follow Marat on Twitter: @MaratMychaels

About Travis Sengaus

Travis Sengaus is an illustrator and animator from Calgary, Alberta, who has provided artwork for various comic, video game and animation projects. His credits include The Adventures of SPAWN online comic book and production work for Table Taffy Studios. Follow Travis on Twitter: @TravisSengaus

About Jim Hanna

Jim Hanna is an artist/writer based in Mesa, Arizona. He has provided art for Arcana Studio, Upper Deck, Red 5 Comics, Cryptozoic Entertainment and Marvel/The Hero Initiative. Jim’s newest project is the creator-owned title, Jack Rabbit, part of Contraband Comics’ initial wave of titles. Follow Jim on Twitter: @jimhanna

Dennis O’Neil: Are Comic Books… Invulnerable?

Call comics “the little issues that could?” Or maybe the “phoenix of mediatown?”

At least twice in my long – ye gods! – long association with the form, I thought they were going down. Not all the way down: I thought, sure, comics will survive, the way poetry and harpsichord music has survived, as entertainment for aficionados, the loyal few who are willing to make a sacrifice or two to keep something they love alive. But as something vaguely resembling a mass medium? Huh uh.

Comics’ first decline began in the late40s-early 50s, after a lot of self-righteous souls and maybe a few who were just plain ambitious condemned the funnybooks as either amusement for the mentally challenged or the devil’s pulp, luring the nation’s youth into wicked thoughts and, Lordy, Lordy, who knew what kind of naughty behavior? Dozens of publishers bit the big one and those that survived barely survived.

Then… something happened. I’m not sure exactly what. Part of it was that the country became aware and accepting of popular culture and, in the Kennedy era, maybe a little less anal, and part of it was that our two giants, Julius Schwartz and Stan Lee, reinvented superheroes and those characters were pretty much identified with the medium that begot them.

In the mid-seventies, when general interest magazines were virtually extinct – wha’d I do with my latest issue of Collier’s, anyway? – and it was becoming harder and harder for a kid to get his monthly Batman (Spider-Man, Herbie the Fat Fury, et. al.) because the small stores and newsstands where a kid could find his favorites were also becoming extinct, that crazy New Jerseyite Phil Seuling and a few like-minded visionaries created the direct market and suddenly comics had what Colliers and the other slicks and the pulp fiction magazines didn’t have: a place to sell the stuff. The direct market was a direct descendant of fan activities – the clubs, the conventions – and so, takes a bow, fans. You did your bit.

About a decade later, comics’ suffered an artificial boom when innocents with disposable income were led to believe that comics were investment: buy a hundred copies of Spawn #1 and put yourself through college! Well, no. It took the world about four years to realize that while Action Comics #1 could fetch over a hundred K at auction, it was mostly because there weren’t many copies left on the planet. It wasn’t hard to find a copy or two of the first Spawn. The boom was bust and some publishers vanished and the survivors suffered, having swollen to a size that accommodated the boom’s demand and was too big and too costly for the bust.

When I walked out of an editor’s office for the last time, a dozen years ago, I wondered if I wasn’t feeling the deck list beneath my feet. But, no. The news is that comics are again on an upswing, moving into the digital age, learning from past mistakes, benefitting from enormously popular film adaptations.

Okay, sooner or later comics publishing will end. But so will you and so will I.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases, Bookie

 

Michael Davis: Once You Go Black, Part 3

If you have not done, so please read last week’s article. Thanks.

I’ve encountered quite a few things in my Hollywood journey. Some great some not so great and some that really sucked.

Really sucked.

I once sold a show on a Monday morning and by Monday night the show was gone and so was my deal.

I once had a great idea for a reality show. I took the idea to a huge Hollywood player with the intention of making him the host of the show. He loved my idea. He loved my idea so much he tried to sue me and take the show. The show I created and asked him to be a part of.

One of the fun things about Hollywood is finding project financing. That’s always the highlight of any deal…not.

My partner in one particular deal was the fantastic writer, TV producer and now huge young adult novelist E. Van Lowe. E (yes, I call him E) and I spent a weekend in San Francisco securing funding for this great project.

We were a well-oiled money getting machine that weekend. We pitched the project like major league all stars and the money people were so impressed we had a yes before we left to go back to L.A. In fact, the meetings went so well that after we sold the idea and spent the rest of the weekend in the city by the bay just hanging out and celebrating our new fully financed deal!

Monday morning bright and early we boarded our flight secure in the knowledge that we were about to make television history!

When we touched down in LAX all was right in the world. E dropped me off at my house and before he left he took a phone call.

The deal was dead.

Dead like Lincoln. What happened? Or in hood speak, What had happened? Why hood speak? Because this is an article about blacks in the entertainment field and unless I throw in some hood speak many in Hollywood won’t take this seriously.

I know, I know. It’s pandering but you have to understand there are some in Hollywood that thinks my Ph.D. stands for pretty hard dick.

Well, continuing hood speak, what had happened was a third partner had decided she had not contributed enough to the closing of the deal so while E and I were happily flying to L.A. that bright Monday morning, she who must not be named was having a talk with the investors at breakfast.

Neither E nor I had any idea she was having this talk, and what a talk it was. She talked us right out of the deal.

Ah yes, there’s no business like show business!

I’ve got more horrible yet uplifting to my enemies stories but I’d best get to the point. In the blah blah years I’ve been doing the Hollywood thing I’ve had some great experiences and some (obviously) not so great experiences. Rather great or sucky I’ve never had a deal go south because I was black.

You would think that the way some in Hollywood react to black properties that would be the standard issue rejection.

Dear Michael Davis,

Thanks for coming in to pitch Negro Stories: Stories about black People.

Unfortunately, although we loved the concept, we could not help but notice there were many segments about black people in your pitch.

We completely understand the need for more diversity on TV but we are a business and everyone knows that black does not sell.

Sorry, homie.

Sincerely,

Ian White

Executive, Fox Studios

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that black doesn’t sell or black is death and many more asinine statements regarding black properties in the entertainment business.

Think about this for a moment. There are people running studios, networks and comic book companies in 2012 that think that black doesn’t sell. These people think that America will not pay to watch black people entertain them.

That’s as stupid as thinking that just because I’m a black man I have a huge peni…nope, wrong example. That’s as stupid as thinking global warming is a myth. Global warming has been proven without a shadow of a doubt. Those people who refuse to believe in it despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary do so, in my opinion, because they simply don’t want to believe it.

Who denies facts? Well the GOP for one, and many in the entertainment business for sure.

Black doesn’t sell?

Really?

Here’s a news flash, Hollywood. Young people drive Hollywood revenue. Young people decide what’s hot and what’s not. Pop culture is a young person’s playground.

Here’s the kicker. Black culture is youth culture. Let me be clear, African American culture is youth culture all over the world.

It’s our swagger that drives pop culture. That’s our music your kids are listening too. That’s our style of dress you kids are wearing, that slang you don’t understand comes from us. That’s us who dominates sports, that’s our dance your daughter is trying to do…badly.

The film Heaven’s Gate was made for what was in 1980 an unheard of budget of 50 million dollars. That’s like 75 billion dollars in 2012 money. OK, maybe I’m a tad off but it’s not a stretch to think that in 2012 dollars that 50 million would be upwards of 300 million or more even.

Heaven’s Gate made three million dollars.

Damn! That, as they say in the hood, is ghetto!

Now that would be bad enough if the lost was just 47 million but the lost was much more. The budget was 50 million to make the movie. The adverting and marketing costs added millions more to that sum.

Result?

Heaven’s Gate just may be the worst box office disaster in the history of the world…that and The Spirit. Sorry, Frank.

Using the Hollywood formula applied to black movies that box office performance should have prevented another western from being made for years and years. When a black movie fails Hollywood loses its mind and then it’s years before another black movie is made because black means death and black doesn’t sell.

Here’s what I think, when any movie fails, black or white it’s because the movie could not find its audience for whatever reason… or perhaps it’s because the movie sucked.

George Lucas wrote a $58 million dollar check to produce Red Tails, an all black film about the Tuskegee Airmen. He said in an interview that Hollywood did not want to fund the movie because they did not know how to market it.

Translation: black equals death.

The movie did not do well. Here’s my guess why that was. It wasn’t a great movie.

Duh.

I wanted to like it but there were too many plot issues for me and the film seemed a bit contrived. The movie was the problem, not the racial element.

According to some in Hollywood, when a black movie fails its because it was a black movie – when any other movie fails it’s because of a zillion other reasons.

If that’s not the world is flat thinking then I really don’t know what is.

I’m amazed at the sheer idiotic thinking of some in Hollywood.

Black doesn’t sell?

Will Smith.

Black doesn’t sell?

Oprah Winfrey.

Black doesn’t sell?

Tyler Perry.

Black doesn’t sell?

Blade.

Black doesn’t sell?

Hancock.

Black doesn’t sell?

Jamie Foxx.

Black doesn’t sell?

Spawn.

Black doesn’t sell?

Denzel Washington

Black doesn’t sell? Bullshit, Mr. Hollywood, simply bullshit. The above list is a very short one to be sure but I think it makes the point rather well.

I think the problem is not that black doesn’t sell Mr. Hollywood but rather you don’t know how to sell black.

End, part 3.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Emily S. Whitten wants stuff!

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold takes on Secret Identities!