If a comics publisher falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound effect?
Marvel Comics has been facing growing dissatisfaction over their sundry practices (both alleged and real) regarding their minority characters, their massive event stunts, some questionable actions by sundry staffers and freelancers… even the less-than-beloved reception to their new Inhumans teevee series, which premiered last month. Long-time Marvel fans – and I’m one of them myself – have never seen Marvel receive the stinky end of the stick before; certainly, not like this.
If you were on Marvel’s staff in some marketing or promotion capacity, you might have looked at last weekend’s New York Comic Con as a great opportunity to shine a light on all the groovy new stuff the House of Idea has in its pipeline. Buff up the shine on the corporate engine, so to speak. After all, New York City is Marvel’s home turf and the Comic Con claims (perhaps correctly) that they attract more visitors than the annual San Diego cluster-kerfuffle. This magic opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time.
Ahhh. Sadly, that didn’t work out so well.
First – and through no fault of their own – Marvel had to cancel the NYCC promotion for their new Netflix Punisher series. They even had star Jon Bernthal ready to entertain what was very, very likely to be a standing-room-only crowd. Unfortunately, Stephen Paddock decided to murder some five-dozen people in Las Vegas with a number of his 47 reimagined semi-automatics, and Marvel, like others in the entertainment business in a similar position, canceled the panel. For those who are unaware, The Punisher has been one of the most violent heroic fantasy characters since The Spider, back in the 1930s. It’s completely proper for Marvel to show its respect in this manner.
Still, it was a blow to their promotion campaign.
Almost immediately after that, Marvel found itself getting an overwhelming amount of criticism from just about every conceivable corner of our own personal Bizarro World for climbing into bed with Northrop Grumman, one of the world’s largest defense contractors. This bothered a lot of people, even though the campaign supposedly focused on Northrop Grumman’s aerospace activities.
Lots of folks – fans, retailers, comics professionals – pointed out that Marvel has spent a lot of time and energy bragging about how war profiteer Tony Stark abandoned his munitions business for moral reasons in their comic books and, now, their movies. If you conflate Northrop Grumman with Stark Industries (in all its names), you’re left with the reality that, unlike Stark, Northrop Grumman is all too real. In other words, they really make a lot of stuff that kills people. Sort of like Stephen Paddock, but without the profit incentive.
So Marvel killed that campaign, removed all presence from its online activities, and cancelled that NYCC panel as well. I feel their pain; nobody enjoys watching Daffy Duck get cheered on by the crickets.
Typically, one would think the only way Marvel can work its way out of their deep promotional hole is to produce better comic books. But, really, comic book sales are so low that the bad press exceeds the positive impact of better stories – even if anybodymreally knew what the general public considers “better comic books.” Besides, it takes a long time to produce comics stories – particularly when one has to consider the four-dimensional domino effect that comes along with being faithful to current continuity.
One would think that, 20 years from now, Spider-Man and the X-Men and the Hulk will still be around and all this would be on the level of a fart in a blizzard. I certainly hope that’s true, but being a Geek Culture historian, I am reminded that damn near everybody in America used to be quite familiar with The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, The Saint and Nick Carter… characters that have been revived frequently (and, often, bizarrely) but achieved little or no traction. It can happen to every commercial product. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to buy Burma Shave.
I hope this does not happen. I’ve been a comics fan since Eisenhower was president; I wouldn’t know what to do with my time.
This past week saw an uncomfortable convergence of political issues and Geek Culture. A man tried to enter the Phoenix Comic-Con in order to shoot someone, using cosplay as a disguise. Instead of artfully crafted fake weapons, this man had real weapons that would have caused real injury to real people.
Needless to say, this completely wrecked the plans of any cosplayers whose outfits included prop weapons. A lot of them were disappointed that they couldn’t share the fruits of their hard work and financial investment with their friends.
I don’t think any of the cosplayers would say that their costumes were more important than the lives and safety of the other convention attendees. Still, I imagine they were disappointed at best, and perhaps felt it was unfair that they were under suspicion just because a crazy person represented himself as one of them.
It was unfair.
Cosplayers were not the only ones to suffer over the weekend. Dealers who sell to cosplayers lost money, not only because they couldn’t sell at the show, but could not quickly arrange to sell at another show. To their credit, the Phoenix Comic-Con seems to have tried to make things right, as best they could.
Unfortunately, this is the best we can hope for in our current political climate. As long as we refuse to invest the time and money on treating mental illness, we will continue to live with the untreated mentally ill. And as long as we refuse to implement even the slightest limits on access to firearms, the mentally ill will be able to buy all the guns (and bullets, and knives and swords) as they might wish to own. Or use.
But we won’t pass any laws that limit guns to people who can pass simple competency tests, much as we limit cars to people who can drive. We won’t say that, maybe, someone who thinks he has a relationship with the Green Power Ranger shouldn’t walk around armed in public, especially after he makes threats against police officers, too. As a country, we have decided that we’re more comfortable telling women what to do with their bodies than we are with protecting those same bodies from random bullets.
The cosplay community is not going to be able to solve this problem. I’m willing to bet the solution is beyond the greater geek community. People who want to dress up like their favorite fantasy characters, whether they be Ghostbusters or Jon Snow or Lobo are going to have to find ways to do so that don’t look realistic enough to be perceived as threats.
There might be a possible solution, and it might offer an opportunity for profit that is attractive enough for it to happen. If Nerf could up their game enough so that their toys look realistic, but can still be easily squished, they might be able to pass inspection. At least, as long as no 11-year old black kids in Cleveland don’t play with them.
I’ve heard quite few comics fans say (write, text, think out loud, bitch, moan, complain) that because of the large number of good comic book teevee shows they’ve found themselves having to cut back on their comics reading.
Let’s see. I think I sympathize. After all, we’ve got Legion, Arrow, Agents of SHIELD, Gotham, Marvel Netflix (hey, that’s the same as a series, isn’t it?), Flash, Legends, Riverdale, Supergirl, and Powerless. Soon we’ll have The Inhumans and The Punisher (part of the Netflix rotation) and The Defenders (another part of the Netflix rotation) and Cloak and Dagger and Black Lightning and The Runaways and maybe Ghost Rider and maybe still Damage Control and maybe The New Warriors (so long, Stamford!), and maybe Scarlett and maybe a Matt Nix-produced X-Men spin-off show. And I am certain there are other shows that I can’t remember right now.
I get the point. When I was born, there were two and one-half networks beaming to our black and white remote-controlless 16-inch round cathode ray tubes. Two and two-half if you count the DuMont network, a severely under-programed effort whose best-known show, The Honeymooners, didn’t even air on their own network (long, irrelevant story; Google it). Combined, they offered slightly more programming than the list of superhero shows I noted above.
Then again, at that same time there were dozens and dozens of comics publishers and many titles sold over a quarter-million copies. A few sold in the millions. Today, we’re ecstatic when we see a circulation of 40,000.
Of course this can’t last. I suspect we will have new comics-birthed programming as long as there are comics to birth them, but pop culture phenomena tend to roll in fads. Do you remember when there were about two dozen westerns on the tube 39 out of 52 weeks of the year? If so, then keep your eye on upcoming Medicare legislation.
In a couple hours Marvel Netflix will drop Iron Fist, the final introduction before The Defenders event. The advance word isn’t strong, and that may be so. However, it’s come to the point where a lot of people simply want to see a major superhero series fail. Yes, Iron Fist comes with some unfortunate whitewashing baggage, and a guy with a green costume, a tattoo instead of chest hair, and glowy knuckles isn’t as compelling as, say, an all-powerful mutant with severe memory and relationship issues. I’m not sure I care as much about the lead character as I do about Claire Temple (Marvel’s Netflix glue) and Colleen Wing, who has always been one of my favorite characters.
So, between all this television, a plethora of movies (which usually come in plethoras) and an infinite number of comic books, how much rock’em sock’em action can you fit into a single attention span?
Ask me again if and when somebody gets off his ass and gives us a GrimJack series.
DAREDEVIL SHOULD KNOW THE LAWS OF TEXAS AREN’T UPON YOU
Either the Punisher’s even crazier than I thought he was – and he once gunned down some litterbugs because “littering is a crime against society,” so I don’t just think he’s as crazy as a bedbug; I think he’s what bedbugs point to when they talk about crazy – or Matt Murdock http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Matthew_Murdock_(Earth-616) is the worst lawyer of all time. Or both; they’re not mutually exclusive.
I wrote last time about the first issue of Daredevil/Punisher: Seventh Circle #1. In that story Matt Murdock, assistant Manhattan district attorney and secret identity of super hero Daredevil, was trying to get the trial for a hated gangster, Sergey Antonov, changed to a new venue, because Antonov couldn’t get a fair trial in New York City. Fair enough, that happens. The venue Matt wanted was Texas. Not fair. Not even constitutional and it couldn’t happen. Like I said before, the Constitution commands that a criminal trial must take place in the state where the crime occurred.
What I didn’t tell you was that crazed ex-marine Frank Castle, who was so traumatized when he saw his family gunned down by mobsters that he adopted the name The Punisher and started a one-man war against crime, didn’t want Antonov moved to Texas. It wasn’t that Punisher wanted to keep Antonov in New York, because he didn’t want Antonov to have a fair trial; he didn’t want Antonov to have any trial. He wanted to kill Antonov before there was a trial.
Look, Frank, I realize your name implies that you’re not exactly a spare the rod – or gat or roscoe, or heater – kind of guy. But don’t you think killing a gangster who’s been arrested and is facing trial is a little excessive? If you wait for the trial to be over, he’ll get punished just fine. Meantime you can get on with your important work; like shooting jaywalkers.
So for the next four issues of this mini-series – or eight issues of it’s on-line presentation in Marvel’s Infinite Comics – Daredevil tried to keep Punisher from killing Antonov. Then, in issue #4 somewhere toward the end of their battle, Punisher told Daredevil that the only reason Matt wanted Antonov’s trial moved to Texas is because Texas is a death penalty state. Murdock wanted Antonov tried in Texas, because he wanted Antonov to be executed; something which couldn’t happen in New York because it hasn’t had the death penalty since 2004. And Daredevil, who is Matt Murdock under that horned masked and supposed to know the law, doesn’t deny Punisher’s claim.
So I guess it’s up to me.
Unless Matt knows less about the law than a drama major who scored a big fat 0 on the LSAT, he wouldn’t have been sending Antonov down to Texas to be executed. Because he’d know Antonov couldn’t be executed in Texas anymore than he could in New York.
Yes, I know Texas has the death penalty. Yes I know they use it in Texas. I even know they use it a lot. Doesn’t matter. They couldn’t use it against Antonov.
Let’s ignore what I wrote last time about how Matt couldn’t get the venue of Antonov’s trial changed from New York to Texas and pretend that Matt did get the trial transferred to Texas (try saying that ten times fast), what then? Well, you’d have the trial and, assuming Antonov was found guilty, the sentence. But you’re trying a man in Texas for a crime committed in New York, so whose laws would apply Texas’s or New York’s?
During that trial, the laws and procedures of the state where the crime was committed would apply, not the laws and procedures of the state where the trial was being held. So in Antonov’s trial, the laws of New York would apply, not the laws of Texas. Any defense that was available in the original venue – here New York – would be available in the new venue state – Texas – even if that defense didn’t exist in the new venue.
And what do the laws of New York say about the death penalty? You can probably guess, but seeing as how I’m a stickler for details in this column, I’ll stick to the details. In the 2004 case People v. LaValle, the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, ruled that the state’s death penalty violated the New York Constitution. That case abolished the death penalty in New York. Since then New York’s death penalty statute hasn’t been amended so the death penalty has never been reinstated. In fact in 2008, then Governor David Patterson issued an executive order that the state’s prisons should remove all their capital punishment equipment.
All of which means, as you probably guessed, New York doesn’t have the death penalty. In his trial, Antonov would argue that as New York, whose laws and defenses apply in the trial, doesn’t permit the death penalty, Texas would not be able to use it against him. Not only could he argue it, he would win the argument. Texas wouldn’t be able to fry him, hang him, inject him, or even chainsaw massacrehim.
Unless Matt Murdock was the Dr. Nick Riviera of lawyers, he’d know that Texas couldn’t execute Antonov. Which means he wasn’t sending Antonov to Texas so that Texas could execute him. He was sending Antonov there for some other reason. Maybe Matt wanted to take a side trip to LBJ’s spittoon or the Yogi Bear statue or the Dr. Seuss parkor visit the house where they filmed the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which has been turned into a restaurant – and that certainly isn’t in bad taste.
I don’t know what the reason is, but I do know one thing: It wasn’t so that Antonov could be executed. Or Texecuted. Or even wrapped up in a tortilla and – Hey, someone’s got to say it – Tex-Mexecuted.
The New York Comic Con is upon us once again, and I can’t wait. This year, as usual, I have a massive list of things I want to see, people I want to talk to, and, of course, merchandise I want to take a gander at (not to buy it, of course. Oh no no no! Certainly not, considering I have way too many collectibles already. I’m just going to look. Really. Just…you know, a little bit. No buying here, nosiree…um). There are also a few cool parties floating around…and you know how I love a good party.
Everyone who goes to NYCC has their own unique wish list of what they want to experience while there. But in case you aren’t sure what you want to see first, here are some of the things I’m most looking forward to. Maybe they’ll appeal to you, too!
I’ve finally managed to catch myself up on a lot of the great shows out there. The first of these is The Walking Dead. I had to take a break on that show after the first season, despite the awesome character arcs, because there was just a leetle too much zombie head-squishing for me to handle non-stop (from which information we all know how I’d fare in the zombie apocalypse. I’d be the one hiding behind Daryl). But once I started in again I just couldn’t stop – the show is such a great adrenaline-plus-compelling-character mix, with just the right balance of cliff-hangers.
So this NYCC, I am super-psyched to finally experience a Walking Dead panel without my usual concern about spoilers. So many cast members are going to be there (Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Steven Yeun, Michael Cudlitz, Lauren Cohan, Sonequa Martin-Green, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, and Alanna Masterson) and I can’t wait to see what they have to say about the new season.
Now that I’m back into Gotham (and also have had the pleasure of meeting several of the fantastic cast members and even interviewing one) I can’t miss a Gotham panel. NYCC is offering “Inside Gotham,” with David Mazouz, Erin Richards, and Robin Lord Taylor, and it’s definitely on my list. I’ve already seen a couple of Gotham panels thanks to Dragon Con, and from that I know these folks are definitely worth the price of standing in line. Gotham panel? I’m so there.
Netflix and Marvel are killing it with their partnership on shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Now that Luke Cage has dropped, next up is Iron Fist. I’m particularly curious to see how the mystical martial artist will fit into the street-smart collection of characters that Marvel has developed to date – so there’s no way I’m going to miss the Iron Fist panel, which will give us a sneak peek into what’s coming to Marvel’s Netflix line-up March 17, 2017.
Speaking of The Walking Dead and Daredevil… I am kind of notorious among some friends for loudly declaring that I can’t stand The Punisher (which stems in part from his actual character, and perhaps in part from the fact that every Marvel blind box toy I’ve ever opened magically morphs into The Punisher right before I open it. Seriously. At one point I had six little Punishers, and none of them by choice. Argh.)
But I will admit that The Punisher as portrayed by Jon Bernthal in the Netflix Daredevil series was really well done; and also I will say that while Shane on The Walking Dead was an infuriating character, he was also really psychologically interesting, given the intersection of his love for his best friend, his obsession with his best friend’s wife, and the misogynistic tilt of that obsession that clearly took it out of the category of real love and into a dark, scary place, despite his firm belief that he really loved her.
NYCC is doing two spotlights on Jon Bernthal, with most of the focus being on his role as The Punisher; and given my interest in the way he portrayed both of those characters, I’m going to do my best to get to at least one.
And finally, it wouldn’t be a New York Comic Con for me without going to see the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel. I’ve been covering the show for four years, since NYCC 2013, and I haven’t lost my love for it (or the excellent cast and crew) at all. It’s such a great show, full of humor, and heart, and fun characters, and cool animation; and I’m stoked to see what else the cast and crew have to share with us since the last time I chatted with them at San Diego Comic Con. Whatever they bring us, it’s a guaranteed good time.
There are tons of other panels out there, and my FOMO will undoubtedly be in full swing, but I can’t do it all! So after attempting to see all of the panels above, I’ll probably move on to my other goals, such as visiting the:
There are a lot of really cool entertainment celebrities at NYCC, and I might get the opportunity to chat with a few; but when it comes to catching up with guests, my favorite people to talk to are always sitting in Artist Alley. I can’t even begin to list all the cool and talented people I want to see on this year’s comics guest-list; but I do know for sure that I’m already looking forward to walking the vast aisles of NYCC’s Artist Alley and seeing what everyone has brought to the tables this year.
One thing I really love about NYCC is that, despite the focus on entertainment guests, their Artist Alley is full of top-quality folks (and while I won’t list them all, I will say I’d be sad to miss Amanda Connor, Amy Chu, Art Baltazar, Clayton Henry, Cully Hamner, Dan Govar, David Gallaher, Dennis Calero, Dustin Nguyen, Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak, Janet Lee, Jeremy Haun, Jim Calafiore, Jimmy Palmiotti, Joe Harris, Katie Cook, Louise Simonson, Mark Brooks, Mark Morales, Matteo Scalera, Reilly Brown, Sanford Greene, Sara Richard, Thom Zahler, Tony Moy, and Walter Simonson, among others). And maybe along with seeing some old friends and new I will finally, finally meet Fabian Nicieza, after several conventions wherein we are both there and I don’t get to his table in time. Here’s hoping!
Of course after a hard day’s work seeing panels, wandering Artist Alley, and also, of course, exploring the con floor and merchandise and admiring some awesome cosplay, everyone needs to unwind. And although NYCC doesn’t compete with SDCC when it comes to the after-hours hangouts, I have managed to locate a few cool-sounding…
Sonicboombox is organizing a couple of parties this year, and I fully intend to hit at least the Friday one. This party will be at the Bowlmor Times Square, and is combined with the Image Comics After-Party. I attended that one last year, and had a really fun time; so that’s at the top of my list for this year. Sonicboombox is also doing a Cosplay dance party at Slake NYC on Saturday – and both the Friday and Saturday events feature giveaways, cosplay guests and photo booths, and fun stuff to do there (dancing, bowling, arcade games, or whatever takes your fancy). All the details for those events and ticketing can be found here.
If bowling alleys aren’t your thing, another Friday option is the Super Smashed Bros. V party, hosted by NYCRavers. This party is definitely for gamers, with a video game-themed EDM line-up of music, and a Super Smash Bros. tournament with cash prizes (for those who would rather play than dance!). It’s easy to get to via train, and goes late into the night.
Friday offers plenty of gamer-friendly options, with the GBX 2016 Electric Underground Party at Space Ibiza going on as well. With “the best anime/gaming/nerdcore music remixed into EDM” to dance to, this sounds like another one that gamers who also like to hit the dance floor would love. And, of course, as with most NYCC parties, cosplay is welcome.
The only reason I might not make it to Sonicboombox’s Saturday party is that it’s the same night as the Adult Swim Tyrannic’s Third Maiden Voyage. This is “a three-hour cruise along the Hudson, featuring a night of NY views & city sights, an up-close look at Lady Liberty, a live performance from a secret musical guest, and the company of your Adult Swim Friends & Family.” The last couple of years they’ve done this, I thought it looked really fun (being a huge fan of boats and being on the water, as is clear from my mega-excitement over my upcoming voyage on January’s comic-con cruise, Fan2Sea); but schedules never quite aligned before. This year, they have, and I RSVP’d early to make sure I didn’t miss out.
Well! That’s probably enough to keep me busy; but as with every NYCC, I’m also looking forward to having unexpected adventures. And in-between all of that, I’ll be keeping tabs on my plans via the NYCC app, which you really should have if you’re going adventuring at NYCC.
So snag that, make your plans, and if you see me at the con, don’t forget to say hey!
Willam Shatner doesn’t slow down. His career is still moving at warp speed with his one man show, a new book (on his friendship with Leonard Nimoy) and a nationwide concert tour that showcases the music of all of STAR TREK. We talk about all that as well as his passion for film making. Plus former PUNISHER Ray Stevenson is back at being bad, this time as Blackbeard in the new season of BLACK SAILS on Starz (premiering tomorrow). How accurate is the portrayal and which other famous pirate is he constantly compared to?
Sorry, kiddos. I ain’t got no snark to hone into laser focus this week. With a day job literally sapping my inner strength as we prepare a massive brand overhaul alongside our massive summer conference, all I have the energy to do when I make my way home is the bare minimum. Which of course amounts to drawing pages for the upcoming new Samurnauts book, planning a major crowdfunding campaign around said book, organizing video shoots and marketing lists for said campaign, completing sundry freelance gigs for way less money than I ought to be collecting, and of course… writing for you, my adoring public. So, as is the custom when my well seems to be tapped of a singular topic, I present to you a smattering of my simmering speculations from my cerebellum.
Hey, I may be running close to empty, but I’ll be damned if I don’t have spectacular alliterative powers. Natch.
Jon Bernthal is Frank Castle.
As per my choked Facebook feed this afternoon, I learned that Shane from the Walking Dead is now the mafia murdering mook of the Marvel U. As with all of my brethren online, I was happy to see such inspired casting. Now I’m not a big Walking Dead fan by any means, but I’ve certainly caught enough of Bernthal’s work to know he’s got the chops. Combine this with his partially busted (but still Hollywood pretty) nose and you get a Punisher who will have no problem crossing the invisible line from page to screen. Sorry, Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson.
What I like the most from the announcement is that the part is hardly bit. From what most are saying, it seems like Marvel read everyone’s online yammering about how the Netflix ‘Devil series presented grit that was pitch perfect. And what better follow up to said grit then the House of Ideas most gritty character, save perhaps for Squirrel Girl, whose grit know no bounds. Suffice to say given the universe they built around Matt Murdoch, Frank Castle will fit right in. Even better: the obvious morality play that might present itself between the costumed compatriots. Whilst Daredevil has shown his willingness to kill, The Punisher is… The Punisher. The fact that it might lead to a showdown with earned angst versus the forthcoming Superman and Batman love-in? Yeah, eat two bullets, and call me in the morning, DC!
Stone Cold Steve Austin Still Has ‘It’.
The other evening with nothing sitting in my DVR, I turned on the WWE Network (which I pay for mostly to allow my father to have something to do when he’s home in the mornings). They featured an hour-long sit-down podcast via Steve Austin and his guest Paul Heyman. While I could have easily spent my entire column lecturing you on how amazing Mr. Heyman is, I’ll leave it short, so the comics fans don’t click away too soon.
After 55 minutes of fluffy storytelling and jovial revelry between host and guest, Paul Heyman asked if he could ask a hard-hitting question – knowing that the last hour was essentially enjoyable nothingness. Mr. Austin obliged. “Why don’t you come back for just one night? Settle the unfinished business you have with my client?” Heyman asked. For the Internet Wrestling Community, this was more than a bon mot. This was poking a bear that has been long hibernating. I found myself on the edge of my chair as Steve Austin morphed into Stone Cold to respond to the potential challenge of Brock Lesnar.
His response was metered. His gaze became like steel. And the string of near-obscenities that dropped from his maw made me remember why he’s one of the three heads on the Mount Rushmore of Pro-Wrestling. In a two-minute response, which would best be described as a shoot promo, Steve Austin played me and a million or so others for the kayfabing fool I am. It was an amazing piece of work.
Evil Batman is Evil.
The uncompromisingly talented Bruce Timm has a new animated direct-to-whatever-media-is-ubiquitous-these-days feature. It’s Justice League: Gods and Monsters and boy, did it get dark in here all of a sudden. Based on no previous work per se, this Elseworlds tale showcases a world where Batman is a vampire, Superman is an unhappy Latino Demi-God, and Wonder Woman is… combative, I guess? While most if not all of DC’s recent animated releases have done little to spur my attention, seeing Timm’s name on the project – along with his patented visual style – certainly caught my eye. With that being said, both the trailer and teaser clips released thus far have not engaged my engrossment to the point of desiring purchase.
Simply put, Timm is a master craftsman making something that looks good but hardly great. With beats (again, based solely on the released trailer and teasers) that come awfully close to similar ones tackled during his decade of animated supremacy prior, I’m left cold by the possibility that without the confines of network notes a darker and grittier Justice League is anything to be excited about. Justice Lords anyone? But, let’s not split hairs; Bruce Timm making a good feature is great for the industry. More ideas – especially original ones – will help spark continued creativity elsewhere. Let us just hope that Gods and Monsters delivers more than what meets the eye.
Bonus recipe time!
Combine 1 thoroughly mashed banana with 2 large eggs and a dash of cinnamon. Fry up in pan. Enjoy your very own banana-fanna-faux-cake. You’re welcome.
I’ve been reading Gerry Conway’s new Amazing Spider-Man mini-series (or whatever; contemporary comic book numbering would even baffle the ancient Romans who had no concept of “zero.”) and I’m enjoying it… but not in the way I expected. I expected Classic Conway, which is fine. What we got was a solid Spidey story written in a very contemporary style.
But that’s not this old dog’s only new trick.
Gerry’s been very busy standing up for creators’ rights; obviously, including his own. His efforts have earned praise from Neal Adams, the medium’s worthy and long-time leader in the ongoing battle for creators’ rights. Most recently, he’s been commenting on DC’s latest talent-relations habit where they would bonus comics talent for extra-media use of characters they created. If the creation was at all derivative, DC no longer feels the need (non-contractual obligation based upon decades of precedent) to write a check. For example, Gerry Conway created Power Girl – with artists Ric Estrada and Wally Wood – but, because Power Girl is “derivative” of Superman, no bonus. One would think the character is derivative of a certain soon-to-be-televised Marvel superhero, but that’s a story for a different legal team. DC can define derivative any way it wants, but the end result is that money that once went into creators’ pockets now stays in DC’s.
The fact is, any character created for the DC Universe is derivative at least in part simply because it must exist in the DC Universe and honor the DCU’s laws of physics. The old bonus thing is now meaningless because the creator has no recourse except to complain. There is no incentive to trust DC with your new creation because they feel you’re lucky to walk away with your page rate intact. Maybe.
From this point forward, only an idiot or a newbie would create a character for the company. The DC Universe, perpetually fighting eight decades of staleness, is going to continue to press the Reboot Button like some crack monkey in a lab.
This is hardly Gerry’s first rodeo at the Freedom Fighters’ Ranch. Way back in 2014, Gerry wrote a very impressive piece that was reprinted in Forbes Magazine about how Amazon’s acquisition of Comixology hurts comics creators.
This is so important that I’m actually putting it in a separate paragraph and italicizing it:
What hurts comics creators hurts comics readers, and hurts the entire comics medium.
I must make two disclaimers. First, I’ve known Gerry for, oh damn, almost 40 years. That’s frightening… for Gerry. Second, Gerry Conway has created or co-created the Punisher, Firestorm, Steel, The Deserter (my favorite; sadly, it fell victim to the DC Implosion), Killer Croc, Tombstone, Man-Thing, Killer Frost (if you watch The Flash teevee show, that would be Caitlin Snow) and just under a zillion others. So, yeah, it’s his ox that’s being gored, but when you’re right, you’re right.
And Gerry Conway is right.
By the way, you’ll note I called Gerry an “old dog” up in the second paragraph. For the record, he’s two years younger than I am. So I mean “old dog” in the nicest, Scoobie-Doo sort of way.