Tagged: Tarzan

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll The Law Is A Ass #408

THE CHAMPIONS LOGO LOW BLOW

Sometimes I’m not here to tell you what went wrong with a story. Not what I usually do, but sometimes a story just gets the law right. Doesn’t stop me from writing about it. I can have as much fun explaining why the law works the way it was portrayed in a story as I can explaining why the law doesn’t work the way it was portrayed in a story. In fact, I can have more fun. When I write about why a story is right, no one gets mad at me.

Champions v2 #7 is one of those stories that got it right. For those who haven’t read it, the new Champions comic tells the adventures of some teenaged Marvel super heroes who teamed up after they became disillusioned with the behavior of the adult Marvel super heroes. Particularly their behavior in Civil War II.

I don’t blame them. I’ve spent long hours writing about how I’m disillusioned with the recent behavior of Marvel’s heroes. Only I didn’t limit it to Civil War II. There’s also Standoff, Death of X, Inhumans v X-Men, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign and just about every crossover this side of Marvel’s first Civil War story. Or the other side of Marvel’s first Civil War  story, for that matter. (I’m looking at you Heroes Reborn.)

Anyway because they were disillusioned, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man (the un-Amazing Miles Morales version), and Nova left the Avengers to form the Champions. Other young super heroes joined them. Their goal was to become heroes who would not use excessive force or unnecessary death to accomplish their goals. (I presume Champions will still use necessary death; like when the book needs a sales boost, but maybe that’s just the cynic in me.)

After their first adventure, Ms. Marvel made a speech laying out the team’s manifesto. “We’re in a war for a better tomorrow. Join us. Help us to not take the easy road, and – I promise we’ll fight every fight they can throw at us. Help us win the hard way – the right way – not with hate, not with retribution, but with wisdom and hope. Help us become champions.” Videos of the speech went viral and made the Champions’ mission public giving them a manifesto destiny.

It also inspired other young people to do good things such as clean up beaches or build low-income housing. These people tagged their activities with the Champions’ C logo to show solidarity with the Champions’ agenda. So the Champions put their copyrighted logo into the public domain. That way anyone could use it when doing a good deed and promote the cause.

Now as this is a comic book story, we know no good deed – especially the good deed of a super hero team – goes … Well, I was going to say goes unpunished, but Frank Castle wasn’t anywhere near this story. Let’s say goes unopposed by a super villain team.

The super villain team du jour was the Freelancers, a team of super powered juvenile delinquents for hire. Usually by big corporations looking for someone to do their dirty work. Like shutting down protesters who were trying to block Roxxon from building an oil pipeline. Or displacing homeless people who were living in tents on land where some other corporation wanted to build luxury condos.

The Champions and Freelancers fought a couple of times until the Champions finally won a decisive victory. Or as decisive as any comic-book victory can be in an era where writers have discovered the phrase “To be continued!”

After their victory over the Freelancers in Champions V2 #7, the Champions learned two things. First, they learned there’s a SPOILER WARNING! coming. (As in I’m about to reveal the cliffhanger of Champions Vol 2 #7, so if you don’t want to know what it is, you might want to read something else; like Marvel’s original Champions series.) The second thing the Champions learned was that while they had put their copyrighted logo in the public domain, the Freelancers had received a trademark on the Champions’ C logo. Now the Freelancers were licensing the Champions logo for “huge amounts” of money to companies making, “Luxury goods. Gated communities. Cigarettes,” to undermine the Champions’ crusade and make themselves a fortune.

How could the Freelancers trademark the Champions’ logo, when the Champions had the copyright on it? Because like a lot of people, the Champions didn’t realize there’s difference between copyright and trademark. While both are part of what the legal profession calls Intellectual Property Law, they cover and protect entirely different things.

Copyright grants the creator of any creative endeavor the right to control who can make or distribute a copy of the work. Copyright is an IP protection for creators.

Trademark, on the other hand, is an IP protection for businesses. It means someone established a mark they use in their trade and have the right to dictate who can use the mark in their business. They can. Anyone they license it to can. But other businesses can’t.

Under current copyright law in America, a person gains a copyright in a work of art as soon as the artwork is completed. However, to obtain a trademark, someone must apply to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the mark. If the Office feels that the requested trademark is valid, it can award the applicant the requested mark.

Some things can be trademarked, even though the original copyright associated with the property has fallen into public domain. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s original novel Tarzan of the Apes fell into public domain in the United States many years ago. But Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. https://www.edgarriceburroughs.com still holds a valid trademark on the name Tarzan. So while anyone is free to reprint a copy of the novel, ERB, Inc. can prevent that reprint from using the trademarked name Tarzan on the cover.

In our story, the Champions owned the copyright on their logo and allowed it to go into public domain so others could use it to promote the cause. However, they forgot to get a trademark on the logo. So, unlike ERB, Inc., they don’t control their own logo. Instead the Freelancers control the Champions’ logo and are licensing it to any business that wants to spite the Champions.

The lawyer in me is amused by this story. Not only because it was perfectly correct in its portrayal of the legal system, but also because I can’t help but think it was inspired by the real-life legal dispute between Marvel Comics and Hero Comics over the trademark on the title Champions.

What trademark dispute? I may write about that one of these weeks. Just as soon as I figure out a way to make the topic entertaining. Remember, I said the lawyer in me was amused. But only lawyers would find a trademark dispute amusing.

Ed Catto: GAMA – Rolling the Dice, Vegas Style!

When you think of a comic shop or a card store, you might think of the fans who shop there or the folks who run it and how they are so passionate about the things they love. Retail shops like these are always the epicenter for focused geek authenticity.

And when you think of Las Vegas, you might think of gambling, or partying, or glitzy entertainment. Vegas isn’t about deep or thoughtful enthusiasm about your passions, it’s about giving vihttps://www.comicmix.com//?p=109466&preview=truesitors a license to be enjoy the moment, and to be both indulgent and shallow without any guilt.

So it’s incongruous, in many ways, that over 400 of the nation’s card/comic shops attend the GAMA trade show this past week in Las Vegas. For more than 20 years this event has helped connect, educate and motivate hobby stores. The Expo focuses on card games (Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon, Cardfight!! Vanguard, etc.), board games, miniatures and all the related products and services.

Trade publication ICV2 recently reported that the hobby games business is growing at about 10%. Amazingly, this is the 8th year in a row of growth. This growth comes from many different segments. On one hand, Magic: The Gathering grows the business for established fans, and parent company Hasbro seems to be noticing more than ever.

On the younger side, the incredible resurgence of Pokemon proves to be the perfect gateway property for whole industry. The game community does a good job of onboarding and cross promotion.

GAMA estimates there are 3,200 game stores nationwide. And although last week’s GAMA trade shows focused on card games and board games, many of these retailers are hybrid stores and also carry comics.

In fact, there were a lot of the “usual suspects” from the comics world here. It didn’t take long to run across folks like Diamond’s Chris Powell, Skybound’s Shawn Kirkham, or ICV2’s Milton Griepp.

And on the show floor, familiar booths to a comic fan included:

  • Paizo – This publisher was showing off their new Starfinder property and their enthusiasm was contagious. Publisher Eric Mona was on hand, and he also spoke about his writing for Dynamite’s Pathfinder Worldfinder comic, co-starring Red Sonja, John Carter and Tarzan.
  • IDW’s games division was showing off their new board games. I was especially impressed by the gorgeous the cover art to their Planet of the Apes
  • Off World Designs is a geek-culture T-shirt design company and familiar site to many San Diego Comic-Con attendees. Each year they have two booths at that Nerd Prom, who’s formal name is still Comic-Con International, even though nobody ever calls it that.

These retailers are a strategic thoughtful bunch. Since they play strategic gamers and hang around with folks who play strategic games, that makes sense. But card shop owners are, at the heart of it, pretty much like comic shop owners. And as mentioned, they are often one and the same. They are a fun group to spend time with, and you can’t help but be pleased that they could get away for few days and rejuvenate with their peers. They are hard-working entrepreneurs whose DNA is over-stuffed with optimism and persistence.

Ed Catto, Tarzan, Jane, & Tom Yeates – Plus 25

tarzan-the-b-4-covers

yeates-dark-horse-cover-tarzan-the-bIt’s time for me to review this brand new book for the second time.

Before we get into that paradox, the bottom line is that Thomas Yeates’ recently published Tarzan The Beckoning is a gorgeous book. But there’s a little bit more to this column than that simple appraisal.

Back in the early 90s, a new publisher called Malibu Comics was creating innovative and fun comics. Malibu had just published Tarzan The Warrior by Mark Wheatley and Neil Vokes. As you probably know, Tarzan, perhaps more than any other character, has been rendered by some of the industry’s all time greatest artists – Hal Foster, Burne Hogarth, Russ Manning, Neal Adams, Joe Kubert, John Buscema, Joe Jusko…the list goes on and on.

So when Malibu was promoting this new Tarzan The Warrior comic mini-series in the 90s, they signaled that they were going to try something very different. It wouldn’t be a comic where the art tried to compete with the fantastic artists that came before. No, this comic invited the readers to take a little detour with the King of the Jungle to try something new and different.

pencils-yeates-for-comicmixIt worked! It was fun and it was fresh. Tarzan The Warrior had a very loose artwork style, and it wasn’t all about jungles and animals. I told them as much in letter that I dashed off to the publisher.

Malibu’s assistant editor was a wonderful woman named Kara Lamb. She liked what I had to say and invited me to write more. And then she sent me a preview of the next Tarzan miniseries Malibu was publishing and asked me to write a letter about that as well.

This was a pretty common practice back then. Letter writing fans would be asked for their thoughts based on early previews so the editors could then populate the letters page of the first issue with a few real letters.

I certainly wasn’t one of the “big name” letter hacks, so I felt pretty special to be asked. The comic they gave me, on stapled black and white pages, was Tarzan: The Beckoning. It had spectacular art by one of my favorite artists – Thomas Yeates. Yeates and Henning Kure wrote the story.

yeates-dark-horse-jane-three-quarter-pageThe Tarzan: The Beckoning mini-series was a thriller with a fair amount of globe hopping. It presented Tarzan and his wife as mature adults. And it dealt with what was then, and what is still, a real issue – the poaching of elephants and the despicable ivory trade.

The art was jaw dropping gorgeous. Yeates’ brilliant page layouts and strong rendering created a fantastic yarn that could stand shoulder to shoulder with Tarzan classics by Hogarth or Manning.

kubert-tarzanI essentially said that all in the letter that was printed back then, and I’ll say it again.

Dark Horse has now collected the series in a new volume, also called Tarzan: The Beckoning. It’s fascinating to see the early color cover sketches, which are included. A handful of pencil sketches and brush and ink illustrations help remind readers of Yeates classic art skills.
The new collection of Tarzan: the Beckoning also includes a letter from Allan Thornton, the President of the Environmental Investigation Agency. The letter speaks about elephants and the scourge of poaching for ivory. It helps provides us all with a little perspective.

And if you’re interested in learning more, might I also suggest you check out www.99Elephants.org?

There’s also a nice synergy to this graphic novel. Thomas Yeates was one of the early graduates of the Kubert School. So it’s only fitting to see this gorgeous adventure re-released at about the same time Dark Horse released Tarzan: The Complete Joe Kubert Years volume. (Legendary artist Joe Kubert was also the founder of The Kubert School.) Far be it from me to say the student has surpassed the master… but it’s close.

Dark Horse’s Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan: The Beckoning and Tarzan: The Complete Joe Kubert Years are both on sale now. Yeates current work appears on Prince Valiant each week in many Sunday newspapers, and is available online at http://comicskingdom.com.

 

Ed Catto: A Guy and His Lion – Tarzan’s New Logo

ERB logo lo rezMosaic LogoHollywood embraces certain heroic brands time and time again. I think Dumas’ Three Musketeers (spoiler alert: there’s really four of them!) holds the record for movies most frequently adapted from a story. But another property has been capturing fans’ imaginations for over 100 years, and he’ll be swinging into theatres again this summer.

The Legend of Tarzan debuts July 1st. This movie stars Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie and Alexander Skarsgard. Fans are hopeful. Of note, this movie opens with a “civilized” Tarzan in the city London. But the hardcore Tarzan and Edgar Rice Burroughs fans know there’s always something rumbling in the jungle.

In fact, I recently wrote about Tarzan: The Beckoning. Dark Horse is re-issuing the 80s miniseries by master artist Thomas Yeates. You can read my column here. But right now, I’d like to put on my metaphorical jungle pith helmet and explore a fascinating little story about iconography and corporate branding.

Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB) created many memorable characters, but Tarzan is the most well-known. In fact, when ERB purchased land in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles from a former LA Times publisher, he named it Tarzana. I’m sure you will agree it’s a much cooler name than Sherman Oaks.

Margot-Robbie-as Jane Legend-Tarzan-Movie-2016Way back when, the famous illustrator J. Allen St. John created an iconic image of Tarzan and the Golden Lion (ERB fans know the feline better as Jad-bal-ja) that became an icon, essentially offering up a visual shorthand to the sprawling adventure stories.

Years later, in the 60s, ERB commissioned Roy Krenkel to re-create the image as a corporate logo. It was used as a logo for years and years.

But there was one problem. In many instances, especially when used on letterhead and the like, it looked like Tarzan was riding the lion!

This just wouldn’t do for Jim Sullos, the President of ERB, Inc. During Tarzan’s centennial celebration in 2013, he enlisted longtime Tarzan artist Thomas Yeates to create another version of this classic pose. But this time, Tarzan would be standing in front of the Golden Lion – as he did in the original St. John version – so there would be no confusion.

And beyond letterhead, email signatures and corporate reports, it’s only fitting that this logo will live on in Tarzana. ERB, Inc., working very closely with the Tarzana Community and Cultural Center, has announced the creation of a mosaic logo based on Thomas Yeates’ illustration.

The new logo is from a California based company called Vita Luxury Mosaics, and the mosaic artist is Gail Rotstein.
It’s nice to see comics artist like Thomas Yeates have his work honored with such an enduring corporate image. And the updated logo is a beauty.

“It’s wonderful to see my art turned into a mosaic,” said Yeates. “Hats off to Roy Krenkel and J.P. Monahan for their earlier versions of this image. Now I wonder how else Burroughs Inc. will use the new logo?”

And you thought the Nike or Apple logos were iconic.

Oh, one more thing – Roy Thomas and Tom Grindberg are doing great work on the online Tarzan strip at the official Edgar Rice Burroughs site. Stop by and check ‘em out!

Ed Catto: Strip Tease – Thomas Yeates, Prince Valiant & Co.

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Yeates Prince ValiantA few years ago when I had the honor to moderate the Joe Kubert panel at New York Comic Con, I was pleasantly surprised by how many great stories one of the panelists shared.

These tales were spun by Thomas Yeates, one of the first graduates of the Kubert School. Yeates has enjoyed an extraordinary career, drawing iconic characters iconic from Tarzan to Swamp Thing, Conan to Captain Action and even Dracula. And there are so many more.

I still enjoy his brilliant work each weekend when I pick up the Sunday paper and read Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant.

Recently, I caught up with Thomas Yeates and chatted about his recent efforts.

Ed Catto: You’ve been illustrating the Prince Valiant weekly comic strip for some time now. How’s it all going?

Thomas Yeates: Basically it’s great; I’m very fortunate to have landed this job. Particularly working with writer Mark Schultz, who likes hearing my story ideas, which makes it a lot more fun.

EC: What are some the challenges you find as opposed to traditional comics or illustrations?

TY: The main problem is the reproduction. I’ve had to limit the line work to accommodate a weird registration problem that we see today. Comic books have much better printing. The format differs from paper to paper, but I’ve been able to deal with that.

Tarzan BeckoningEC: The longevity of Prince Valiant is astounding. Why do you think it endures?

TY: Well the main credit for that goes to Hal Foster who created, wrote and illustrated this Sunday only strip. And, of course, the hard work of those who followed Foster. He set the bar so incredibly high that all of us who’ve continued the strip have tried our best to maintain that level of quality. At least that’s what I think.

EC: Who’s your favorite character in the Prince Valiant cast?

TY: Val himself. His wife Aleta is wonderful too. It’s much better when there are women in action adventure stories. And of course Gawain is always a kick.

EC: I’ve heard rumors that your mini-series, Tarzan: The Beckoning, first published by Malibu in the 90s, is going to be reprinted. Can you tell me more about that?

TY: Yes. We just finished working on that for about nine months, Dark Horse, two assistants and myself. We fixed the coloring, I added a little new art and tweaked the story. There were production problems in the original version so the new collection will be much better, including pages put back in order that were out of order in the Malibu version. I think it will be out in the fall.

EC: One of the issues Tarzan: The Beckoning dealt with was the slaughter of elephants and the ivory trade. We see that countries and organizations are still struggling with this issue, as evidenced by the crushing and burning of ivory. Do you keep up with the issue and what insights might you have?

TY: That’s a terrible situation. “When will we ever learn?” as the song says. Yes, it’s ironic that just when The Beckoning is being reprinted with its fight against the ivory trade theme we find elephants being slaughtered for their tusks again, just like when I originally created the story some 24 years ago. Yes, I follow the issue and had input from various experts back when I wrote it. One of them, from the Environment Investigation Agency, came back and contributed an update on the situation for the new Dark Horse edition.

Prince ValiantEC: In The Beckoning, your version of Tarzan’s wife Jane was exceedingly lovely. Can you tell me a little bit about how you envision these characters?

TY: Well I was quite taken by Maureen O’Sullivan who played Jane in the Weissmuller films of the 1930s so she was my inspiration there. Plus Burroughs descriptions of Jane, and Russ Manning always gave her such beauty and dignity and I wanted to maintain that.

EC: I also seem to recall that you snuck a few of your other characters into that mini-series. Is that correct?

TY: Yes, I do that sometimes to keep myself amused. In the crowd scenes there are environmental activist friends I knew then and The Timespirits as well.

EC: Will you be at San Diego Comic-Con again this year?

TY: Yes.

EC: What keeps you coming back every year?

TY: Good question. Why the hell do I keep going? Recently because my daughter Olivia likes to go with me.

By the way I should mention there’s a new reprint of all the Zorro newspaper strips I did with Don McGregor and Tod Smith coming out from a German publisher <at that same time>, including an English language version.

EC: Yes, Uwe Weber filled me in. The German independent publisher “Classic Heroes” Is launching two exclusive Zorro-Dailies Editions in July 2016. The books will be available only thru direct orders at zorrodailies.com or classicheroes.de . He also explained that fans can find the complete information on these two beautiful books, and all the various projects on the ThomasYeates.com site.
EC: What keeps you going as an artist every day?

TY: What keeps me going as an artist every day is another good question, Ed. I have to make a living and this is what I know how to do. A great script is always inspiring too. I’m still trying to figure out how the great artists I love, like Foster, did it. Sometimes that challenge keeps me going.

EC: Ha! I think there’s a lot of us who to try figure out how you do it, Thomas! Thanks so much for your time and insights.

(Editor’s Note: Prince Valiant by Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates, is available online along with over 100 other current and vintage King Features comic strips – The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Popeye, Flash Gordon, Buz Sawyer, Johnny Hazard, Zippy The Pinhead and a slew of others at www.comicskingdom.com. Tell ‘em ComicMix sent you, and then ask yourself why you’re talking to your computer.)

Ed Catto: The Golden Age Batman v. Superman – The Sinister Shadow

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00019]It’s still amazing to me that we live in a world where rumors about the trailers for the Batman v. Superman movie are reported in Forbes magazine. On the other hand, as Forbes signed on my pal Rob Salkowitz, an expert on comic-cons and pop culture, as a columnist, it’s apparent they understand the power of Geek Culture and I shouldn’t be so surprised.

Combining two franchises into a movie like Batman v. Superman isn’t a fresh idea, but it sure is a fun one. So as Hollywood and Warner Bros look to combine the quintessential dark hero with his counterpart, I thought it would be interesting to see how it was done with their prototypes.

Worlds Finest Batman v Superman WF 21The Shadow and Doc Savage were created for the pulps and clearly inspired Batman and Superman. In fact, many argue that it’s less inspiring and more outright copycatting. For example, the very first Batman story was a rip-off of a Shadow adventure. Krypton’s favorite son borrowed many elements of the Doc Savage mythology, from his civilian name to his Fortress of Solitude.

“Let’s not bicker and argue…” is a Monty Python line that’s probably appropriate here. I enjoy them all and perhaps you do too. This summer I thoroughly enjoyed the new book, The Sinister Shadow by Will Murray, published by Altus Press. So I reached out to Will to learn more, and especially to compare and contrast his book to the upcoming Batman v. Superman movie.

WillRR2Ed Catto: In your recent novel, The Sinister Shadow, you’ve created a Doc Savage vs. Shadow adventure. How did this all come about?

Will Murray: I’ve wanted to write a Doc Savage meets The Shadow novel since my Bantam Books days. The rights were never available. When Conde Nast okayed the project, I decided to pit The Shadow against Doc Savage in a way that acknowledged that while they both were dedicated toward the ends of justice, they also worked very different sides of the street. Like Superman and Batman, they are not natural allies, since their methods run counter to one another’s philosophies. But I felt they could become uneasy allies if joined in common cause.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00008]This is a crime-suspense story set in 1933, when both heroes are at the start of their careers. I’ve had this plot in mind for several years, but imagine my surprise and delight when looking through the manuscript for (Doc Savage creator/writer) Lester Dent’s only Shadow novel, The Golden Vulture, I discovered approximately 20 chapters of unused material. How wonderful it would be if I could make my first Shadow novel a collaboration with Lester! So I acquired those rights, and the rest is history. I’m really proud of this book, because between me and Lester Dent’s 1932 prose, we really evoke The Shadow of the early Depression, as well as Doc in his early career.

Skull IslandEC: You’re very respectful to the source material. In fact, this novel seems like a “masters class” for pulp readers. The reader really has to be on his or her toes.  Can you discuss your authentic and respectful approach to these characters? And how do you feel it’s received by fans?

WM: When I write Doc Savage, or for that matter The Shadow or Tarzan, any other such character, I try to write in the tone, style and mindset of the original author. That I often succeed is one of my gifts. The mind trick I use is not to write a story set in the past, to pen a contemporary pulp novel as if I were living in the timeframe in which the story is set. That way I don’t place too much emphasis on period details – just enough to evoke the era.

Doc_Savage_and_Shadow_by BarretoComments received so far on The Sinister Shadow say it is not only one of the best novels I’ve ever written, but it’s an uncannily authentic replication of those characters in their rightful time. Readers just love this book! And I loved writing it.

EC: While this is officially another entry in your Wild Adventures of Doc Savage series, isn’t this really a Shadow novel? Or is that my own bias?

WM: I have been fascinated by the reviews, some of which say this is a great Doc Savage novel guest-starring The Shadow, while others insist it’s really a Shadow novel in disguise. The truth is that The Sinister Shadow is a Doc Savage novel set in the gritty Great Depression world of The Shadow, with the characters adjusted accordingly. Late in the book, it shifts to being a full-blown Shadow novel, but that was driven by the Lester Dent material, not by my choice. I will say that the book nicely balances out, so that both heroes and their subordinate characters get their full measure of respect and participation in the action.

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Also, this is Lester Dent’s take on The Shadow. He’s mysteriously creepy and uses a lot of tools and gadgets (Shadow creator/writer) Walter Gibson never dreamed of.

EC: I was impressed by how you deal with some of the historical, yet cringe-worthy elements of each characters’ mythology. You certainly didn’t ignore or gloss over these dated ideas. I could almost feel both Doc and The Shadow squirming at different times during the story. Can you explain your thoughts on these elements? How do you think today’s audiences respond to them?

WM: I’m just as attracted to Doc Savage’s humane approach to fighting crime as I am The Shadow’s avenging angel punishment mindset. Both work for me. Of course, The Shadow was the forerunner of characters ranging from the Executioner to Dirty Harry. The formula is with us today. The enlightened Doc Savage approach is less common, hence its appeal as an alternative to the avenger-style hero.

Believe it or not, Doc Savage’s surgical approach to curing crime was considered very progressive for the 1930s. For me, the appeal of pitting these characters against one another was to explore their radically diverse crimefighting approaches. Therein lies the essential tension and drama of The Sinister Shadow. After one of Doc’s men and the real Lamont Cranston are kidnapped, that draws both heroes in. And when Doc unwittingly captures one of The Shadow’s agents and ships him off to his Crime College for corrective surgery, things really start to pop.

Having them team up comic-book style to fight a great menace wasn’t my approach because it isn’t the best way to introduce these characters to one another. I wanted the villain to be a catalyst, not the central antagonist. Having set up their difficult working relationship, I can now throw them against a super-villain down the road if future circumstances permit it.

EC: You’ve developed a great antagonist for this story. Without spoiling any surprises, can you explain your creation of the Funeral Director?

WM:  The Sinister Shadow is an extended chess game between Doc and The Shadow, who are after the same bad guy. I chose a villain who brought them into open conflict, without overshadowing the storyline.

The Funeral Director is a mysterious enemy who tangled with The Shadow before under another name. He’s been hiding from The Shadow’s vengeance ever since; hence he’s adopted an alias for one last big score.

I‘ve always wanted to tie up the unresolved loose threads of the early Walter Gibson Shadow novels, and in this story I tied up a ton of them. Shadow readers have been ecstatic.

EC: The cover art has become an integral part of any pulp adventure. Who’s your cover artist for this story and were you happy with the result?

WM: Joe DeVito is my cover artist, and has been since the days when I wrote Doc Savage for Bantam Books back in the 1990s. Thanks to the kindness of acclaimed artist James Bama, we’re working with original photos he took of model Steve Holland posing as Doc Savage back in the 1960s. We found a great one depicting Doc standing in a challenging position, looking like a literal Man of Bronze. This gave us a start. To this Joe added a nebulous looking Shadow opening fire on Doc. The scene is set in The Shadow’s secret sanctum. For the hardcover edition, we have a bonus back cover – a great graveyard scene of Doc and Monk wearing infrared goggles, while The Shadow crouches atop the Cranston family mausoleum. It’s hard to say which is the better image.

EC: What’s next for Doc Savage?

WM: Next, we jump ahead in time to the middle of World War II. Monk and Ham become embroiled in wartime intrigue that takes them to the Caribbean Sea, and a gang of pirates intent upon controlling The Secret of Satan’s Spine. That’s the title of the book. More than that I don’t want to give away. But expect some surprise cameos featuring characters who previously appeared in earlier Doc novels. Beyond that, I have ideas for an adventure set in Chicago at the height of the great gang wars, another that takes us to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, and then a return to the Valley of the Vanished where Doc Savage’s career began back in 1933.

EC: And I understand you’ll also be creating new adventures for The Shadow?

WM: While there has been some discussion about The Shadow, and I would love to take a swing at a new Shadow novel, I would prefer to do another Doc Savage-Shadow encounter next, preferably going after The Shadow’s great enemy, Shiwan Khan. Many readers had asked me to pit Doc against Fu Manchu, but I think the Street & Smith version would be more compelling.

EC: Are there other pulp team-ups and/or crossovers are you working on?

WM: I just released my first Tarzan novel, the well-received Return to Pal-ul-don. It’s a sequel to Tarzan the Terrible, and takes place when John Clayton is an RAF fighter pilot during WWII. I’m in discussions to write another Tarzan, but this one will be a crossover. I can’t yet say who the other character is, but I can hint at it. It’s a big hairy deal. This will be a major crossover that has been long dreamed of going back to 1935, but never executed due to rights issues. I’m also thinking of writing a Spider novel in which he teams up with Jimmy Christopher, the star of Operator #5 magazine, as well as G-8 of World War I fame.

I have mixed feelings about crossovers. We’re seeing a lot of them now, but for my money, they have to be extremely well realized to live up to reader expectations.

EC: What advice would you give to the folks making the Batman v. Superman movie?

WM: Far be it from me as a pulp novelist to give Hollywood filmmakers any advice, except the obvious: If you’re going to have two major properties meet, both must be equally respected and interact in ways that are true to their essential natures. A crossover for its own sake is a mere novelty. A crossover that explores both characters in new ways is an event. I think everybody’s more interested in big events than in entertaining novelties. Too many crossovers are just circulation stunts.

I do find it interesting that the core approach of Batman v. Superman – that is, antagonistic heroes who presumably work out their differences – is so similar to The Sinister Shadow, which I first plotted almost 10 years ago….

EC: Thanks for your time and insights, Will!

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Ed Catto: Man from Marz, Still Kicking at 103

JCWoMVol1-CovTemp4SOlicitThis month’s Fast Company has a great article on Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, detailing the hard work and innovative rule breaking he and his team put into managing that brand. Their backstory is as impressive as their success. And that property is just a little over ten years old. It made me wonder … just what are the struggles of substantially older properties?

So this week we shine the spotlight on long-time comics writer (and all around good guy) Ron Marz. One of the projects he’s working on now is writing the adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars in the ongoing Dynamite comic series. Here’s what Ron had to say:

Ed Catto: The characters and mythology of John Carter of Mars have been around for over 100 years. What kind of challenges and opportunities does that present to you?

Ron Marz: I think it’s seen by some people as an “old” property, but that’s almost entirely because of when it was written. That’s like saying “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” and “The Three Musketeers” are old properties. They’re all classic, archetypal properties that are evergreen, and I honestly believe John Carter is no different. It’s the basis of so much of our science fiction and fantasy tradition, even if people don’t realize it. I’ve said before that writing these characters was a lifelong dream, so I couldn’t be happier than to be mining this material.

EC: The whole world knows about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “other” creation, Tarzan.  But John Carter has never enjoyed that level of recognition. Why is that?

JCWoM12-Cov-C-LupacchinoRM: Tarzan crossed over into the movies not long after his creation, and has stayed a movie staple ever since. There’s a new big-budget Tarzan film coming next year. Everybody has seen Tarzan movies, because that concept was a lot easier to translate to film than John Carter was. Any character becomes much more a part of the popular consciousness when it crosses over into mass media. I think Tarzan, along with Sherlock Holmes and Batman and Superman, are the most recognizable fictional characters in the world.

EC: I always thought the secret of John Carter was that these stories allow the reader to imagine himself as the new kid at a new school, but as the best athlete and with the prettiest girl. What do you think makes John Carter and Barsoom so enduring?

RM: Sure, there’s a big aspect of wish fulfillment to these stories, which is why so many people discover them at that magic age of 12 or 13 years old. But I do think there’s also an amazingly rich imagination to the stories. They’re a century old, but they’re not quaint or time capsules of a bygone era. They’re still vital because there’s so fantastical, in the true sense of the word, which is why you can see John Carter’s fingerprints on everything from Superman to Star Wars to Avatar.

EC: In your first story arc, you cleverly created a bad guy who was sort of the anti-John Carter. Can you tell us about that, and does this property suffer from not having stronger antagonists?

RM: That’s why I created John’s opposite number for the first arc. Even when reading the original novels, I felt like John didn’t often get a credible challenge. He didn’t have his Doctor Doom or his Joker. So in addition to introducing the characters and concepts, that was a main goal for the initial arc. I felt like we needed someone who was John’s equal on Mars, so the obvious answer for that was another Earthman. I’m really happy with the Captain Joshua Clark character. Who knows, maybe we haven’t seen the last of him.

EC: Dejah Thoris is a wonderful character but always seemed like the adolescent idea of a beauty – to be placed upon a pedestal. The way you present the relationship between Dejah and John Carter, especially in issues 7 – 9, comes across as a much more mature relationship. Is that your intent and does that come from being a middle-aged guy?

JCWoM01-Cov-E-LupacchinoRM: I think it comes from knowing strong women all my life, and wanting to portray that realistically, despite the fantastic setting. Dejah is still an ideal, she’s still the one everyone wants to marry, but hopefully she comes off as a little bit more of a real woman. She’s every bit the hero and warrior that John is.

EC: I really like the variant covers that are evocative of the old Marvel Comics. Can you tell us how that came about?

RM: Honestly, I have no idea. It was something that Dynamite put into place from the first issue. I’m a fan of the Marvel run, I have all of the original issues, and I actually have two copies of the omnibus hardcover collecting everything. Maybe those aren’t the best comics ever published, but they hold a place in my heart. I can remember picking one of the annuals off a spinner rack as a kid. So I’m glad the covers pay homage to that era.

EC: Are there any plans to continue this with covers that pay homage to the old DC, Dell/Four Color etc. covers?

RM: Not that I know of, but I like the idea. There’s such a rich history of Edgar Rice Burroughs in comics, reflecting that seems like a natural direction to pursue.

EC: I know you are working on some other Edgar Rice Burroughs properties. Can you tell us about them, how fans can get them and what your plans are?

RM: I’m doing weekly strips for the official Edgar Rice Burroughs site. I’m adapting The Mucker novels with Lee Moder on art, and writing new stories of Tarzan’s son, Korak, with Rick Leonardi on art. Both strips are being colored by Neeraj Menon. They’re Sunday-style strips, updated weekly on the site, along with almost 20 other strips based on Burroughs material, everything from Tarzan to John Carter. The first four episodes of each strip can be viewed for free, and then a monthly subscription is only $1.99, so it’s a pretty amazing bargain. People can get the strips by going to http://www.edgarriceburroughs.com/comics/

EC: Great stuff, Ron. Thanks for your time!

jcs01ah9

Mike Gold, Stripper – An Occasional Series

Wow, that sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? But as you might surmise from the accompanying artwork, those of us who are into newspaper comics strips are often called “strippers.” This is either self-deprecating or sophomoric. But there must be a lot of us, because there seems to be about a half-dozen high-quality reprint books being issued every month. Which means I am: a) happy, and b) broke.

In order to protect my ever-shrinking finances, I was going to pass over Titan Books’ Tarzan In The City of Gold, reprinting Burne Hogarth’s work from 1937 to 1940. This is because NBM reprinted all of Hogarth’s Sunday Tarzans (and the Hal Foster stuff that preceded it) back in 1994. I have those books, although I don’t fault Titan for putting the material back in print twenty years later. Besides, the NBM books were limited to 300 copies. But Titan fooled me and sent me a review copy, bless them. They truly understand the fanboy’s middle initials are “O.C.D.”

I’m glad they did. The book starts with Hogarth’s first effort, sort of mid-story although a thorough recap is provided. The reproduction is sharper, the volume is bigger, the cost is much lower, and the design is more attractive. The indicia says this is part of “The Complete Burne Hogarth Library,” which implies eventually they’ll be reprinting his short-lived, hard-to-find but even more amazing adventure series, Drago, as well as his even harder-to-find humor series Miracle Jones.

Tarzan has attracted the efforts of a great many of comics’ finest artists, including (in politically convenient alphabetical order) Neal Adams, John Buscema, Frank Frazetta, José Louis Garcia-Lopez, Mike Grell, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Joe Jusko, Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, Roy G. Krenkel, Russ Manning, Grey Morrow, Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell, and Tom Yeates. That is breathtaking. That is amazing. That is adjective-defying. And, in many circles, Hogarth’s work is regarded as the best of the lot. Personally, I couldn’t make a choice if my life depended upon it.

Hogarth is properly regarded as a true master of the medium, and even though it reprints his earlier work, Tarzan In The City of Gold shows us how he earned that reputation. He revisited the property in 1972 with an original hardcover graphic novel (thereby stirring up the “who did the first graphic novel” debate decades later) adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ seminal Tarzan of the Apes. Four years later, Hogarth did a sequel adapting four of Burroughs’ prequel short stories published as Jungle Tales of Tarzan. Perhaps these titles will be part of this series as well.

Be warned. I’d kill for Drago.

Tarzan In The City of Gold by Burne Hogarth with Don Garden, Titan Books, 208 pages, $39.95 hardcover.

 

Frozen Trailer Finally Tells us What it’s About

Frozen Trailer Finally Tells us What it’s About

Disney’s FROZEN has a new trailer for us to check out. Additionally, the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will feature original songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and original score composed by Christophe Beck, available from Walt Disney Records on November 25, two days before it opens in theaters.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/TbQm5doF_Uc[/youtube]
FROZEN (In 3D)

Voice Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciarán Hinds
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Producer: Peter Del Vecho
Screenplay by: Jennifer Lee

Walt Disney Animation Studios, the studio behind Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, presents Frozen, a stunning big-screen comedy adventure. Fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey—teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven—to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (voice of Josh Gad), Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

The film is directed by Chris Buck (Tarzan, Surf’s Up) and Jennifer Lee (screenwriter, Wreck-It Ralph), who also wrote the screenplay. It is produced by Peter Del Vecho (Winnie the Pooh, The Princess and the Frog). Featuring original songs from Tony® winner Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit, Winnie the Pooh), and an original score by Christophe Beck (The Muppets, Oscar®-winning short Paperman), Frozen hits theaters in 3D on Nov. 27, 2013.

In Frozen, fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) teams up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (voice of Josh Gad)in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter.

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Free Burroughs Strips

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