Tagged: The Walking Dead

Marc Alan Fishman: WWE and A Future For Comics

Fishman Art 140118Last Wednesday, Vince McMahon announced the launching of the WWE Network. Suffice to say it was well received by his hardcore fans just as he’d hoped. To use a bit of hyperbole – which all things considered, seems apropos – the self-made millionaire stands to become a billionaire with the launch.

It’s many things, but above all else, it’s a stroke of genius in the modern era of content delivery. Comic companies might want to take note… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The WWE Network would appear to just be Netflix for hillbillies, but truly those who aren’t in-the-know, and quick-to-judge are missing out the insane deal the WWE is offering. For $9.95 a month (purchased in six month blocks, with a potential discount for year long subscriptions forthcoming), users get access to every pay-per-view since 1985 from the WWE, as well as rival companies WCW and ECW. They also get access to newly created content like countdown shows, reality shows, and plenty of documentaries and retrospectives.

Oh, there’s more. Users get every pay-per-view coming out. At present, purchasing a pay-per-view from VinnyMac sets you back 45-60 dollars, depending on the event, and the quality – SD or HD.

Do the math, kiddos. If the WWE just offered you the pay-per-views at ten bucks a pop, you’re saving anywhere between $440 – $620 a year. But if someone were to offer you an 83% discount, and you were even just a normal fan, certainly you’d find that to be worth considering. Add that insane discount to an increase in content, somewhere around 1900%, and now you’re starting perhaps to see why this is a big deal.

Obviously there are plenty of folks scoffing at the financials of all of this. With an 83% discount on a product, WWE’s PPV buy-rate profits will appear to tank. Vince and family are of course looking for volume profits to achieve the balance. In addition, newly minted subscribers will now be marketed to (in essence) exponentially more than they ever have in the past. This of course creates new advertising revenue streams. Imagine having an audience with decades of trend data sitting in wait, where your product can be hocked to them every single time they decide they want to indulge in their vice. This is internet ads the way companies dreamed they’d exist. Paint me impressed, at very least.

In covering the announcement, Gizmodo said “…[T]hink about what you’d rather pay for: Netflix and its vast but unpredictable movie library and unproven original series? Or the entirety of [thing you love]?” Truly, as I’d said: this may very well be the way to save our always-in-a-state-of-dying medium of comics.

Marvel and DC have set to revolutionize content delivery in the digital realm many times over. They’ve offered subscription services in the past (and may still do) and never once have I heard from fellow comic fans “this is how it’s done!” Instead, too many apps produce access to the same material, forcing fans to choose a vehicle, and then commit to it. Same as iTunes vs. Amazon MP3 vs. Rhapsody, etc. Vince McMahon chose instead to Spotify his industry-leading content library. Could any of you imagine a service that for the price of your books perhaps for a single week… granting you access to decades worth of content, as well as keeping you current on your favorite titles for the month? Could you fathom a service that could be easily accessed on your tablet, desktop, laptop, and/or phone? And dare I dream… what if that service gave you Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, Boom!, Avatar, the works…?

A boy can dream, but a man faces reality. Warner Bros. and Disney have no need or desire to combine their libraries of printed materials. Nor could they ever negotiate a way to create a subscriber base, and split profits. And they certainly wouldn’t give a rat’s patootie about any smaller publisher, even if say they made The Walking Dead. Instead, our comic books (both in print and digital) will continue to be a publisher-to-publisher game. ComicXology, Graphic.ly and other providers will continue to create proprietary filetypes that prevent the average user from controlling their ala carte purchases in a single easy-to-manage collection. The key of course falls back on the broad shoulders of you-know-who.

When Vince McMahon created Wrestlemania in 1985, he officially buried the original independent scene of professional wrestling. Over the next 20 years he slowly but surely eliminated his only competition. Over the next 10 years after that, he spent his profits slowly building and secretly digitizing the libraries of not only his content, but that of his antagonists. Nearly a decade after that, he’s set to launch a single product to unite every fan he’s gained and lost throughout those 30 years.

I, for one, can’t wait to sign to up. While my recent return to the comic shop has proven that industry still trips over itself with the sins of the past I can at least enjoy one publicly mocked genre in peace, and personal profitability.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell



Marc Alan Fishman: The Shoot Promo on Comics

Fishman Art 131123The professional wrestler C.M. Punk truly made his mark and broke free of the shackles of mid-card obscurity by way of his infamous pipe bomb shoot promo. For those not in-the-know, a shoot in wrestling is an interview (or soliloquy some of the time) wherein said grappler breaks the fourth wall. As relived in this week’s WTF podcast, Punk was vivid in saying that this promo was done because he was at the end of his rope.

With the WWE wanting him to resign for three more years and Punk decidedly against continuing to not be the guy on the roster, Vince McMahon allowed him to air his grievances live on their Monday night broadcast. If Punk captured the zeitgeist, he’d be a made-man forever in wrestling (which, by my count, is a little over two years). If he failed, he’d be gone, buried back in VA halls wrestling for gas money, and be nothing more than a footnote in WWE’s now 50-year history.

The shoot worked. Punk resigned, and ruled the company with an iron fist until he literally could give no more. The glass ceiling was shattered on the “norm” of the product, and wrestling now is forever changed. Well, maybe not, but I’ll circle back round that idea in a bit.

Why do I bring this up? Well, for one, because it’s topical to me. I was just listening to the podcast on my way home from work tonight. Beyond that, it dawned on me that with all the coverage and snark that exists in the world of comics… there is no C.M. Punk. There is no shoot promo to cut, on any live broadcast. There’s only guys like me; indie creators and op-ed columnists chasing windmills and yelling into the wind. But this here is my stage. This here is my time. So, allow me to speak ill of the industry I wish every damned day I was a part of, but know full well I’ll never actually see.

The WWE’s CEO lives a double life as an on-screen performer. He enjoys his product not only for the money it makes but for the crafted product it actually is. Warner Bros and Disney are just faceless boardrooms ruled not by the glee in little kids’ faces, but cold hard cash. Their publishing branches exist for one reason, and one reason only: to keep the movie and TV machines churning. Don’t think for a second that your issues of Batman mean any more to the execs in Burbank than a roll of teepee. It doesn’t. That rag in your hands? The one that has the blood, sweat, and tears of a dozen hard working men and women broiled into its pulp? It’s an incubator of ideas for a movie or cartoon show. It’s a crockpot keeping the license warm. It’s a mosquito light that keeps the most vocal fans distracted. Go ahead, post your death threats if we make Afflec Batman… but hey! Look over there! It’s Zero Year!

We all desire the notion that those behind the rich mahogany desks (being packed up in Midtown Manhattan in 18 months) lie overgrown fanboys and girls that just want to knock the socks off us, the ever-enduring fans of a dying medium. But it too is just a pipedream. The suits that run your comic book publishing companies are shackled to boulders far too big to drag up the mountain. Beyond the goodwill garnered by our little niche market, and the fervent fans that exist at comic cons lie those aforementioned suits in bigger boardrooms that still demand that at the end of the day everything be profitable. Profits occur when sales increase. Sales increase when gimmicks, #1s, and creators that draw a crowd are given the top spots. When a book stops earning what meager profits it can when it’s hot, it’s tossed out with the bathwater and things start again. The era of continuity is long dead. All hail the retcon.

The closest thing we had to C.M. Punk in comics was Robert Kirkman. He took his indie prowess and love of the craft and turned out The Walking Dead. Now, Kirkman is a suit. Behind a desk. Of a multi-media empire. He won the championship belt, and didn’t even have to work for the man to do it. Now, he is the man, and no longer a voice of the voiceless. Like so many though, atop his mountain of money many years ago he gave birth to his manifesto wherein he challenged the industry to veer towards creator-owned projects. Hey Robbie! Trickle-down economics don’t work in real life or in comics. If every known talent jumped off their pedestals at Marvel and DC to come make indie books at Dark Horse, Image, and Boom! the line to replace them would still be wrapped around the vacant Midtown offices and land somewhere in the opposite ocean. Everyone is replaceable when the end goal is product. Not good product. Just product.

The fact is this: After he changed the world and held the WWE title for longer than any wrestler in the last two decades or so, Punk took a much-needed break. When he returned, he was just as our resurrected Jean Greys, Steve Rogers, or Hal Jordans… a hero to be celebrated for what he was, not who he is now. A long and listless program against his on-screen mentor, and Punk is now booked right back in the mid-card where he started. The comic book industry has no panacea to cure itself of the ills we rally against. Just as the WWE fans buy their John Cena Fruity Pebbles Lunchboxes… so too do we comic fans flock to every worthless gimmick they shove on the racks. We make our excuses, we plunk down our money, and we bitch about it on the Internet later.

The only way to make change, is to make it. There is no utopia. There’s only revolution.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell


Marc Alan Fishman: And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth

The Joy of Tech comic

A few weeks back, an esteemed colleague of mine (oddly enough this time, not Mike Gold…) pitched a debate for my podcast: “Have nerds won? And if they have… is it a good thing?” Well, it was a great idea, and the debate on my show was fairly one sided. Now, after plenty of time to steep on the topic, I can plainly state my opinion; we have, and it is.


Martha Thomases: Respect!

Martha Thomases: Respect!

Thomases Art 130308Instead of having a calendar, I have a newspaper (kids: ask your parents). If it’s Tuesday, it’s Science Times. Wednesday it’s Dining. Thursday, my favorite, has Style and Home. Friday is two Arts sections. Saturday is Charles Blow.

And Monday shines a spotlight on the commerce in media in the business section.

This is great for me, because I write this column on Tuesday. This week, there was a discussion of the new Disney film, Oz the Great and Powerful, opening this weekend.  It’s a big gamble for Disney, investing in characters they don’t own, at a time when many expensive fantasy films have not performed to expectations (I’m looking at you, Jack the Giant Slayer).

Hollywood is always looking for the next big thing. At the same time, the people making the financial decisions can be very conservative, especially when we’re talking big-budget special effects. So I guess what I mean is, Hollywood is always looking for the next big sure thing.

The problem is that money people are not always good judges about what the public will like. If it was only a question of appealing to the lowest common denominator, that would be simple, and the multiplex would play all Twilight all the time. That might bring in a steady rate of return, but eventually, the public would get bored and want to see something else. And that something else might cost a lot less than Twilight, and, while that movie not make Twilight money, would make a much more for each dollar invested.

This is why the movie companies look for ideas in other media. This is why they adapt stories from novels, or television shows, or even comic books.

Which brings me to the other story in Monday’s paper. David Carr wrote about The Walking Dead, and how it is more successful on cable’s AMC than many shows on the broadcast networks.

I haven’t been reading the comic, although Robert Kirkman is one of my son’s favorite writers. Still, I’m not surprised the show is so successful. Through dozens of issues, Kirkman wrote characters that appealed to people, that engaged them in a story. Other comics have spawned successful series on television, including Superman (with and without Lois in the title), Superboy, Flash, the Incredible Hulk and Green Arrow.

Comics have been less consistently successful as movies, and I think that’s because the producers do not have to rely as much on character. They seem to think a few good fight scenes will make up for ridiculous plots and people. Look at the difference in the way the Hulk was portrayed on television and on screen right up until The Avengers.

I think the difference is that Joss Whedon understands comics and why they are appealing. He’s actually written them. He has respect for the idea that the action flows from the character, not the other way around. He knows how to tell a character that has proven herself.

Which brings me to this week’s other hot topic. My old pal, Jerry Ordway, wrote a blog post about how difficult it is for comic creators of a certain age to get work. Jerry worked on the death and return of Superman story lines, the bestselling comics of all time. He continues to do work of excellent quality, but because he’s not the flavor of the month, he can’t get any assignments.

Other mass-market entertainment doesn’t play by these rules. Yes, it’s smart to always be scouting hot young talent, because it’s hot and it’s young. Even so, booksellers always want the next Stephen King book, or John Grisham, or J. K. Rowlings, and iTunes pushes Elvis Costello and Judy Collins. Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg still make movies.

The market appreciates proven talent because, well, it’s been proven. It would be great if comic book companies appreciated it too.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Earth Station One Episode 152 – Taking Off: A Look at TV Show Spinoffs

The ESO crew takes a look at one of tv’s tried and true tropes, the spinoff. Mike Faber, Mike Gordon, and Bobby Nash are joined by Joe Crowe, Dan Carroll, and Greg Plunket to review the best and worst of the bunch, even including spinoffs of spinoffs! We are also joined by writer Jim Beard, who may be familiar with monsters, but can he survive The Geek Seat? All this, along with the usual Rants, Raves Khan Report and Shout Outs!

Join us for yet another episode of The Earth Station One Podcast we like to call: Taking Off: A Look at TV Show Spinoffs at www.esopodcast.com
Direct link: http://erthstationone.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/earth-station-one-episode-152-taking-off-a-look-at-tv-show-spinoffs/

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Check out ESO’s new Amazon estore here.

The Point Radio: Nothing Stops THE WALKING DEAD


You what they say – 12 million people can’t be too far off. This new run of episodes of AMC’s WALKING DEAD is breaking even the records they set a few months back. we talk to showrunner Glen Mazzara and cast member Steven Yeun on what it’s like at the center of this success storm. Plus bad news for the DEXTER comic and the LOBO movie.

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Monday Mix-Up: “The Walking Dead Christmas Special!”

Yes, it’s time for Rick, Lori, Carl, Merle, Daryl, Glenn, Maggie, Hershel, Michonne, and even that mean ol’ Governor to learn the true meaning of the holiday season in a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland! So come along and join us now in what is sure to become an annual tradition that ranks with shooting your eye out with a Red Ryder BB Gun… it’s The Walking Dead Christmas Special!


Perhaps this was the real reason Glen Mazzara left as showrunner for next season?

And don’t forget to check back here in seven weeks for the Dexter/Homeland Valentine’s Day Spectacular!

The Point Radio: ARROW’s Aim Is Still True

As ARROW  hits the halfway mark of the TV season, fans and critics alike say it keeps getting better. We go backstage with the creators and cast to find out how they got this far, and what lies ahead for new characters including one played by fan favorite John Barrowman. Plus How about Captain Kirk, Ron Burgundy or Spock doing your voice mail message? It can happen if you hurry.

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.


So many sequels, so few of them have been good! Every once in a while comes one that lives up to the original. Mike Faber, Mike Gordon, Bobby Nash, and special guest Grundy chat reveal their favorites. And speaking of continuing missions, Star Trek/ Doctor Who comic book writer Scott Tipton takes a turn in The Geek Seat. As if that wasn’t enough, we take a look at AMC’s The Walking Dead as it heads into the fall finale. Plus the usual Rants, Raves, Shout Outs, and the ever-popular Khan Report!

Join us for yet another episode of The Earth Station One Podcast we like to call: Surprising Sequels at www.esopodcast.com.
Direct link: http://erthstationone.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/earth-station-one-episode-140-surprising-sequels/

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The Point Radio: Howie Mandel’s Got Holiday Game

It’s a Christmas tradition at a lot of holiday parties. You might call it “Secret Santa” or “White Elephant” but now it’s getting super-sized and coming to NBC for five consecutive nights. Howie Mandel joins us to talk about what TAKE IT ALL will mean to the landscape of primetime television, plus Neil Gaiman hits radio and WALKING DEAD fans can keep the fear going with a new iOS game.

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.