Tagged: Time Warner

Mindy Newell: Morpheus Laughs

Newell Art 130819I had the weirdest dream last night. Like all – or most dreams – it was a jumbled mix. And some of the details are getting lost as the day goes on. But I do remember that I was in the midst of writing three books for DC, one of which was specifically for Karen Berger, although I couldn’t really classify the stories as strictly Vertigo. They were more along the lines of Elseworlds, or Marvel’s Ultimate titles.

All the books were graphic novels and very adult, but the only one I remember clearly now is the one about Supergirl, the original Supergirl, Kara Zor-El, and it was getting the full DC PR treatment – in fact, I think it was Martha Thomases, my friend and fellow columnist here at ComixMix, who was handling the publicity. Karen was very excited about it, and I knew I was writing at the tope of my game. Alex Ross was doing the art, painting it ala Marvels or Kingdom Come. Or if it wasn’t Alex, it was someone equally talented.

But my Kara wasn’t the sweet, prepubescent young lady who was Superman’s secret weapon. This Kara was one tough broad, and street-smart. In my dream she had escaped Krypton’s destruction by running away from home, hitching a ride on a space-trucker’s semi, who subsequently tried to rape her in his cab. This happened while the semi was passing by Earth’s solar system, so it turns out that, because of the influence of Earth’s yellow sun, Kara is the wrong babe for the space-trucker to mess with.

The (super) struggle causes the semi to crash on Earth. Kara is the “last man standing” after the crash, which is investigated, not by Superman, but by Wonder Woman and two other superwomen. (But even while I’m dreaming I’m feeling pissed off because I can’t identify the two other women clearly, though both could fly and were very powerful and I think one of them was a lot like Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel – or maybe it was Carol Danvers, I don’t remember.)

Anyway, Wonder Woman wants to take Kara to Themiscrya, but Kara refuses to go, telling Wonder Woman “I ain’t no dyke, and I ain’t going to an island full of dykes.” (Don’t ask me how she speaks English and knows nasty, sexist slang – dreams don’t work like that.) The “sorta” Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers pulls a full nelson on Kara, but Kara breaks her grip and the two fight. While they are fighting Wonder Woman uses her “lariat of truth” to rope Kara to try and calm her and make her tell the truth, i.e., who she is, how she got there, but Kara uses heat vision (inadvertently, the girl is still discovering her powers) and burns the rope, breaking free and flying off.

So this is the first chapter of the graphic novel, and like I said, Karen is very excited and happy with my work; me, too, plus I’m making so much money that I can quit nursing and become a full-time writer. Which is good because working full-time as a nurse would certainly interfere with my ability to make deadlines if I’m writing three graphic novels at the same time. And Joseph Campbell said to “follow your bliss” if you truly want to be happy, and nursing isn’t my bliss (though I’m good at it) and writing comics on a full-time basis is and I’m very happy, very satisfied, with my life.

But then I read in the New York Times and The Comic Buyer’s Guide that there has been a huge upheaval at DC, and it has been sold off to some conglomerate that is even bigger than Time-Warner – or maybe it’s that Time-Warner decides to dump DC because the company’s movies, even with Man Of Steel making gazillions, pretty much suck – or it had something to do with the CBS vs. Time-Warner Cable war…

I’m dreaming, remember?

So all my books are on hold, including the Supergirl graphic novel. It’s not going to see print.

I’m suddenly not enjoying this dream, and I want to wake up.

But I can’t.

Then I get a call from “somebody” that there is a big meeting regarding the reorganizing at DC after the sale and I’m invited. Only it’s the same day as a wedding I have to go to – or not. I remember that in the dream I dress up to go this meeting, waaaaay over-dress in an incredibly beautiful art deco-y type of gown – think Jean Harlow in Dinner At Eight – in a satiny deep, deep purple, and this stunning cloche with a peacock feather curling down and around my chin, and in the dream I guess I’m trying to justify why I’m dressed so formally because I’m thinking that I will catch a cab and get to the wedding/affair after the meeting.

But you know dreams. Even though I’m sleeping I know that something isn’t right.

So I get to the meeting and there are people there whom I know but can’t recognize. But everyone is very glad to see me. We are in this very corporate, and yet very classy, glass-enclosed boardroom. The ceiling lights are recessed and there are candles burning on glass coffee tables and we are lounging in big, slate-blue love seats. Everyone looks absolutely terrific, though I am the only one in a gown, everyone else is wearing very expensive, designer suits by the likes of Hugo Boss and Chanel and Stella McCartney and Dolce and Gabanna.

The new owners of DC (a few men and women) hand out prospectuses and folios that contain the new organization chart for the company. According to the chart I am going to be an executive editor. The “new Karen.”

But I don’t want to be the “new Karen.”

I want to be a writer.

I ask about my Supergirl graphic novel. I say that the first chapter is done and I’m working on the next. I want to know if I can finish it. I want to know if it’s going to be published.

Nobody hears me, or chooses not to answer.

Now the new owners pass out envelopes. We all open them. Inside are contracts, or “letters of agreement.” My letter tells me who will be in my “stable,” including editors, assistant editors, writers, and artists. I want to know if I have to use these people if I don’t want to; again, nobody hears me.

Boy, do I want to wake up now.

I turn to the woman sitting next to me. She kind of looks like Shelly Bond, but I’ve only met Shelly once or twice, so I can’t be sure, and, anyway, it’s not her.

She says, “Wow, Mindy, they’re paying you $70,000 a year. That’s great!”

“No, it’s not,” I say. “Not for the responsibilities they want me to have. And anyway, I make more than that as a nurse.”

“But that’s a lot of money.”

“No, it’s not. They just want you to think it’s a lot of money.”

Then I hear my name mentioned, and the new owners are telling me that they are pulling my Supergirl book. It’s dead in the water.

Everyone else is busy signing his or her contracts.

They are signing their lives away.

They’re all just happy to have jobs in the comics industry.

I get up and walk out.

I look spectacular

I am crying.

And then…

…even though it’s the worst way to end a story…

I woke up.

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

 

Martha Thomases: TV Jones

Martha Thomases: TV Jones

Last Friday, in eight major television markets, CBS stations disappeared from televisions served by Time-Warner Cable. In addition, stations owned by CBS, including Showtime and the Smithsomian Channel, are also off the air.

Except there isn’t any air. And that’s part of the problem.

When television first became a business, the various stations broadcast over airwaves owned by the people and licensed by the government. Having a broadcast license was like a license to print money, and, in exchange, the owners of the license were expected to do things “in the public interest,” like news programs and public service announcements.

Because of, you know, capitalism, people learned how to make money from these forms of public service. News divisions must now be profitable. Public service ads are often underwritten by for-profit corporations, which use them as occasions to build their brands.

In other words, CBS (and the other networks) became corporate powers in no small part because our tax dollars allowed them to reach a mass market.

And then, cable.

Now, cable also depends on an infrastructure that owes its existence to public investment. Phone lines, the Internet – all came about because the government supported them. It is therefore not unreasonable to expect cable (and fiber optic and satellite) companies to do things in the public interest.

One of those things, mandated by local-carry laws, has been to carry local stations, including those affiliated with broadcast networks. In New York, that means the five major networks (ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox and NBC) as well as Channel 9, which is owned by Fox but doesn’t broadcast network programming, but does have a lot of baseball.

Several years ago, Congress, in its wisdom, decided that these poor network affiliates were being discriminated against by the nasty cable (and satellite etc.) companies. Cable stations get a fee for every subscriber, while the broadcast channels do not. Therefore, Congress allowed the broadcast channels to get a fee for every subscriber as well.

Which brings us to our current situation. In New York, CBS wants to raise its fee from $1.00 per subscriber to $2.00. Time Warner doesn’t want to pay that much. The previous contract expired in June, and, until now, Time Warner allowed CBS to continue to use its system to reach customers. However, with football season on the way, and new fall shows about to debut. They wanted to get the matter settled.

Which they are doing, in a manner that pleases no one.

If I lived anywhere else, I might consider switching providers. However, in Manhattan, satellite is not a reliable choice (skyscrapers get in the way), and not every building is wired for other cable providers. I don’t claim Time Warner is the best, but I’m generally happy with it.

I don’t get Showtime, and I don’t watch a lot of CBS. I like the first half-hour of their morning show (because they sometimes have actual news on it). I like Scott Pelley for my news anchor, but not so much that I can’t watch Brian Williams. I like Elementary, but it’s in reruns. Under the Dome is great, but I can see it on Amazon (although not until Friday and the folks at CBS are being such dicks that I can’t see it online because cable is how I get my Internet). None of this is so disturbing that I need to take extraordinary measures to survive this inconvenience. In other words, I’m not getting an antenna.

Would I pay an extra dollar a month? Maybe. However, if I’m going to have to pony up for CBS, I want to be able to decide what other stations I get – or, more important, don’t get. Of the Viacom stations (corporate cousins of CBS), I don’t need MTV or VH1, but must must must have Comedy Central, and sometimes Logo. I bet my choices would cost them more than they’d get for me to see The Late Show with David Letterman the few times I’m awake that late.

And I would really love the opportunity to get Fox News off my signal in any way, shape and form.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

Mike Gold: Squeeze Batman Until He Bleeds!

Gold Art 130139

Pop quiz: Who’s that guy over to your left with the bowler hat and the two guns blazin’ away?

To nobody’s surprise, Cartoon Network (an arm of Time Warner) cancelled Young Justice and Green Lantern and will be replacing them next summer with an original cast return of Teen Titans and the long-lurking Beware The Batman. So here’s a clue: yes, that piece of art is from Beware The Batman.

OK, I’m a relic but I’m a relic who has a hell of a lot more than a passing familiarity with The Batman mythos, and a crucial part of that mythos, one of the only truly enduring parts of The Batman mythos, is his antipathy towards guns.

So it’s kind of surprising to see Batman’s butler Alfred being recast as – literally – an ex-secret agent who likes to run around doing the one thing that Batman – the “real” Batman – would never, ever do: run head-first into a situation with his two guns blazin’ away, presumably at the bad guys.

Hey, you know what they say. Guns don’t kill. Butlers kill.

Bats and Alfred aren’t alone in this new endeavor: Katana will bravely and boldly go where no ‘Toon has gone before. And if you think there will be a bed scene with Kat and Alfred, you’re thinking harder than they are.

Beware The Batman is produced by Warner Bros. Animation, which is part of Time Warner’s Warner Bros. division. DC Comics is also part of Time Warner’s Warner Bros. division. Some readers – including a ComicMix columnist or two – have suggested that perhaps Warner Bros. doesn’t have a clue about the DC properties, that they are only there to mold and reshape at will according to what some otherwise unemployable 23 year old thinks is cool at that moment in time.

This latest attempt to resurrect the success of the brilliant Batman Animated series from 20 years ago, evidently by people who either didn’t see it or didn’t understand it. The show will be featuring villains new to Batanimation although, again from the look of the promo art, they seem to be clones of the villains from Bob Clampett’s classic Warner Bros. cartoon The Great Piggy Bank Robbery. But I’ll bet the latest crop of Warner animators don’t know that. From watching their output, I doubt they even know of Bob Clampett.

Oh, yes. One exciting thing more. The press release claims Beware The Batman features “cutting-edge CGI visuals.” You mean, like Green Lantern did? Oh, wow.

DC Nation. Another banana republic, without the class or style.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

 

 

Mike Gold: EC Comics Fight – T’aint The Teat, It’s The Humanity

Over at The Comics Journal website Michael Dean posted an article about how the Harvey Kurtzman Estate (represented by Denis Kitchen) and Al Feldstein filed to “regain” the copyrights to their EC Comics work.

Feldstein and the Bill Gaines estate reached an agreement – undisclosed, of course – but the Kurtzman situation is more complex. Kurtzman created Mad, he wrote it, he did the layouts for his artists and he drew a modicum of the material as well. But it’s Mad and Mad is owned by Time Warner. It’s a teevee show on one of Time Warner’s cablenets. The magazine might not be very profitable any longer, but the brand name most certainly is.

Be that as it may, I put the word “regain” in quotation marks because, well, Al and Harvey never had those copyrights in the first place. EC Publications and its sundry successors in interest always held them. And, as Dean and others point out, the exploitation value of the material has been well-plundered. But we’re saddled with a remarkably antiquated, unfair and pro-theft copyright law and I think Al and Denis deserve to get in the game.

But who really should own what? This is the sort of thing that gives compassionate thinkers migraines and earns lawyers their reputations. Lots of people contributed massively to the creation of this body of material, including a great many of the most accomplished writers and artists of the time. And, in my opinion, of any time.

Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Bernie Krigstein, Willie Elder, Al Williamson, John Severin – to name simply the first half-dozen creators to come to mind. They and their co-workers played as important a function in the creation of the EC legacy as Al and Harvey. Their work was not interchangeable. The then-current artist list of, say, Charlton or even St. John Comics could not have been dropped into their place – well, they could, but you wouldn’t have had EC Comics and I wouldn’t be writing this piece.

Then again, Bill Gaines took the financial risk. He selected and hired these people. He contributed to a great many of the stories, particularly those edited by Al Feldstein. Does he (or his estate) deserve to be chilled from the long-term rewards?

Maybe. Bill didn’t return any of the original art – but, then again, in those days nobody did. However, Bill kept and archived the original art, and decades later he had it auctioned off. When he did this, artists were getting their work back and those that had it returned whatever inventories of old art they had on hand. Bill did not do this. He gave the artist a taste of the revenue, at a price determined by him and him alone. The artists were unable to get their art back, to do with what they wish.

“Ethics” are tricky. The idea is to rectify wrongs without wronging others in the process. This is only somewhat easier than building a perpetual motion machine.

The conversation over at The Comics Journal is spirited, engaging and, in a few instances, amusingly over-the-top. These are three important elements in protracted online conversations. You might want to check it out.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

 

Mindy Newell: Sometimes A Great Notion Gets Beat

Gosh darn that Entertainment Weekly!

Curse you, Martha Thomases!

Damn those Republicans!

Off with your head, John Ostrander!

I’m the New York Giants’s Lawrence Tynes. I’m the place kicker here. I’m the one who gets the game going. Yeah, that’s right. Monday is the start of the week here at ComicMix. The calendar week may start with Sunday, but Monday is the real start of the week, isn’t it? As in first day of the work week and first day of the school week.

(BTW, what y’all thinking about the Giants first-round draft choice, running back Dave Wilson? I’m liking him. Yeah, that’s right. Football season is just about here. Deal with it. Go Giants!)

And here it is Monday, and I’m sitting here on Sunday afternoon without a thing to write about.

I was going to write about Superman and Wonder Woman sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g in a tree. Except that my pal Martha beat me to it. And superbly, I might add.

Then I was going to write about how life imitates fiction, even when events are too strange, too scary, too twisted, too cartoony to be believed. Except that my buddy John got there first. With an A+, of course.

This happens sometimes when you’re a writer.

Great minds thinking alike.

Okay, you can stop snorting in derision now.

But Ken Kesey’s Sometimes A Great Notion (great book, btw, highly recommended) gets beaten to the punch. So then what do you do?

Panic is the best – and first – reaction.

Going to the gym to clear out your mind (and burn off the fight-or-flight adrenaline) is the second thing you do.

Read all the comics that have been piling up in the kitchen in one sitting, praying that one of them will spark an idea.

Look at the clock and realize the deadline is looming and curse yourself for not writing the column earlier in the week when all the hub-pub hit the media, thus beating out Martha and John.

Panic again.

Cut open a vein and watch yourself bleed.

Or sit down in front of the computer and start writing from fear of Mike whooping your ass.

I love you, Mike.

Oh, and by the way:

Regarding Diana and Kal-El. I still maintain that Diana, considering her upbringing, would most likely look to her own sex for an adult relationship before venturing into anything heterosexual – meaning she needs to discover just where her sexuality lies. Hey, is that where Geoff Johns is going with this? Not that I believe for a second that DC and its corporate papa, Time Warner, would ever let Wonder Woman be gay.

Regarding Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri), Judge Tom Head of Texas, and State Senator Stacey Campfield (R). They only prove that the Repugnanticans have become truly asinine, ignorant, bigoted enemies of truth, justice, and the American way.

If only they were characters in a comic book.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis and More Milestones

 

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Batman Versus Spider-Man

In honor of Marvel’s next big event, I’ve decided to take a week off of thinking hard. Instead I’ll do what they’re doing: Wasting your time by forcing two characters to fight for your entertainment.

Of course I don’t have the resources to produce artwork. Nor do I have the time to create an actual script. Instead, I’ll just take this idea to a few different levels, and ultimately create enough sweeping declarations to get some beautifully angry comments. I love beautifully angry comments.

In this corner: Bruce “The Rich Kid” Wayne and his amazing belt of knickknacks! That’s right, it’s everyone’s favorite powerless pugilist… the billionaire with bats in his belfry, The Batman!

And in this corner wearing skin-tight underwear and a mask without a mouth hole… Marvel’s favorite orphan, Peter “I was a jerk once, and I’m paying for it every day…” Parker! That’s right, it’s the web-slinging, science-spitting, devil-befriending behemoth… The Sensational Spider-Man!

Now there are a few ways to tally the fight. Since I’ve got inches of column to waste, let’s start with the obvious: In a street fight with absolutely no planning, Spider-Man would stomp Batman into a bloody pulp. Bats may have one of the greatest minds in comics, but at the end of the day, no amount of gadgets and Kevlar will out-match a fighter like Spider-Man. Not only is Spidey more agile, he’s also got superior strength and maneuverability. Batman can use all the kung fu in his repertoire, but Spider-Man has the actual super-powers.

I will concede this though: if these two were pitted against one another and had any chance to plan the bout, Batman would knock Parker out like the Orkin Man. Batman’s tactics, gadgets, and ability to use his terrain to his advantage trumps Spider-Man’s physical prowess. And while Spidey is a super-genius… a brilliant fighter he is not. Simply put, with any amount of time to prepare, Brucey’s coming out bruised but boastful.

Fan-service aside, how about we put these two against one another by way of the TeeVee. On the silver screen, Bats takes the trophy. Spider-Man had a few live action cameos on the Electric Company, and a simply too-terrible-to-believe live action show. Batman had Adam West. And you can say what you want about those kooky cavalcades with Burt Ward… but the zeitgeist here nods towards the cape and cowl when it comes to overall quality. Somedays, you just don’t have a place to throw a bomb.

When the battle gets animated, that’s really where Spidey gets killed. Not for lack of trying. The late 60s gave us a decent Spider-Man cartoon. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was… a larf. In the 90s Fox Kids gave us a series that started strong, but became hampered by way-too-long season arcs, and an entirely forgettable last season – that saw the trope of guest stars used piss-poorly. In the mid-late-aughts the Sensational Spider-Man was fantastically done, but cut way too short. In contrast, Batman started slow (in the Super Friends, and then helping out Scooby Doo), but finished amazingly. Yeah The Batman in the early aughts was an atrocity, but Bruce Timm’s animated Batman Adventures wrote the bible on quality cartoons. And The Brave and the Bold was a campy trip that started off too-kiddie, but quickly found its footing in the hyper-kitsch fan-service delivery. By my count Bats wins by four Emmys.

OK, so Bat’s wins the battle of the silver screen. How about we take a trip to the movies? Consider my math: Spider-Man 1? A minus. Spider-Man 2? A solid A. Spider-Man 3? … D. Now over at the Batcamp, let’s take stock. The Adam West Bat-Movie? Don’t count. The Burton Bat-Films: B. The Schumaker Schlock? D… if I’m being nice. The Nolan-verse? Well, if there’s a grade above A, I’d give it. At the end of the day, there’s been more guano out there than there’s been Spider-poop. So I tip the hat to the wacky web-shooter in the battle of the big screen. And he can take that win to the sock-hop.

But how about where it really counts? On the page. I guess I’m sad to say I don’t have the proper license to weigh in on that particular bout. As I stated last week, my exposure to Spider-Man in comics-proper is poor at best. Admittedly I have a very extensive Bat-Collection, so I’m more than likely biased. Given my knowledge though of Spider-Man’s bullet-list of plot threads, I might still be inclined to tip the hat back to the Bat. He does have a few decades more history to draw on though, so it may very well be an unfair fight.

I will say this: In the time since my birth, Batman has had his back broken, his mantle stolen, his sidekick murdered, his life unraveled by several secret societies, his bastard son joining his menagerie, and has survived two or ten universal resets.

In that same amount of time, all I’ve really heard about Spider-Man that really stuck was that he nixed his marriage to Mary Jane to save Aunt May. And there was a clone saga people didn’t like. And he had an Iron-Spider suit. And a black suit. And a cosmic suit. And at some point was tied to an ancient race of animal totem warriors or something. In terms of only recognizable milestones (that haven’t been universally hated) … Batman would take the crown. Prove me wrong.

So there you have it. A few hundred words on an amazing battle. So it’s time for you weigh in. Was I too favorable to Time-Warner’s titan? Does Spider-Man have more going for him than a six-pack and a quip dictionary? Who has the better rogues gallery? Who has the better friends? Man, this could be a whole new column next week. I guess it depends on you, the gentle reader of my column.

At the end of the day, in the battle between Batman and Spider-Man? The winner is you.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

MARTHA THOMASES: The Death and Marriage of Superman

The Internets (by which I mean, mostly, Facebook) buzzed this week with a YouTube video, The Death and Return of Superman. It’s really funny, written, directed, and starring Max Landis, son of one of my favorites, John Landis, and also the writer of this week’s box-office champ, Chronicle.

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:

I like everything about this but the premise: that the powers-that-be at DC Comics decided to kill Superman because it was an easy way to draw attention to their flagship character and thereby increase his popularity.

Not true. If anything, in 1992, Superman was more popular than he had been since the John Byrne relaunch.

If DC was going to pull a stunt to make Superman more popular, they would have done it when I was first hired to be publicity manager at DC, in the summer of 1990. I remember going to a meeting about upcoming story lines, and being told that the big event for that fall was that the new Robin (Tim Drake) was going to get a new costume. Not just any costume, but one with a design actually approved by Tim Burton.

Oh, and Clark Kent was going to ask Lois Lane to marry him. And then she was going to say, “Yes.”

“That’s a much bigger story,” I said.

“No one cares about Superman,” I was told. “But the fans will want the first issue with the new costume. Push that story.”

I pushed them both, but, as instructed, I devoted more resources to Robin. I spent thousands of dollars having a costume made and finding an actor to wear the costume for a press conference. I got approvals up and down the Time Warner hierarchy.

For Superman, I sent out a simple press release. And that story exploded.

Over the next two years, Superman became more and more popular. The public followed the stories about Clark and Lois like they were Kardashians (only really in love). The wedding became such a hot story that Warner Bros. television wanted in, and created a series, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

There’s more money in television than in comics. The wedding would have to wait.

Here’s the part I didn’t know about until years later. The powers-that-be at DC needed a reason to stop the wedding. To their credit, they turned the problem over to the editors, writers and artists who worked on the series. Why would the wedding be postponed? Could Clark and Lois fall out of love?

No, that wasn’t in character. Even though they hadn’t taken vows, they were going to be together until death did them part (or, as fate would have it, The New 52). The only way to stall a wedding would be for one of them to die. Whose death would be more dramatically interesting?

The Death of Superman was never about killing Superman. It was about setting up the next storyline, World Without a Superman. These stories showed how the world went on without the Man of Tomorrow, and how he continued to have an impact on our lives.

We know Superman came back, and Landis does a great job of pushing the more ridiculous aspects to their (il)logical extremes. It’s funny stuff, and it’s funny because he actually knows something about comics.

Still, twenty years later, we’re still talking about it. The stories remain in print. Whether or not you liked it, the fact remains that the stories resonated with readers.

We all remember where we were when we first heard that Superman died.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

MIKE GOLD: Stupid Logo Tricks

Sometime around 1987, DC Comics’ then-publisher Jenette Kahn told DC’s next publisher Paul Levitz that it was time to change the DC logo. Paul protested and pulled me in – I gather I was handy, or perhaps I was least likely to look like a plant. I chirped in “No, too soon. Branding takes time. Some people have just started to spend money on that logo with Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen.

It was painful for me to say this because I hated the DC Bullet. It was designed by Milton Glazer, and those in-lines of his were everywhere. But on cheap paper with those silly putty printing plates, his in-lines either dropped out or boogied up like a crack fiend drawing an arrow with his feet. Still, I supported Paul’s decision. If it worked for Coca-Cola for some 110 years, it should work for DC Comics for 30.

That’s about how long Glazer’s Bullet was in, and on, action. It was replaced by the one you see at the upper left-hand of the graphic above. Even after 30 years, many fans initially hated it. But I think even the most cynical liked it on the big screen… and even on the teevee screen. After a short while, it dawned on me that this was probably the best DC logo ever – except that, even though it is worthy, that particular distinction wasn’t much of a compliment.

Some five years later, DC is being rebranded. No, I’m not talking about The New 52: that’s rebranding in the sense that M&M added blue candies to their package while removing the light brown ones. The DC Spin has been sent to the glue factory, to be replaced by that which you see on the upper right of the graphic above.

I’ve started at it for a couple weeks now, taking time out for meals and New Jersey Devils games. And three words come to mind:

Boring. Stupid. And Needless.

Not to be eclipsed, the folks at Bongo Comics – represented by the logo in the lower left of the above graphic – decided to do DC one better. Their new logo is boringer. Stupider. And needlesser.

Both logos replace something that incorporates a bit of the energy and feel of the product itself. Both logos are bland at best; Bongo’s looks like an old Whitman title from the 1970s, and DC’s… well, I don’t know what the hell that thing is. It reminds me of the old toy I had back when milkmen still walked the Earth: it was sort of a pad with one plastic sheet on top of a black something or other. Kids scribbled on it with a wooden stylus, and when we got tired we’d pull the plastic sheet up off the black background and the scrawlings would disappear.

If only.

The most meaningful line in any movie was uttered by the character Governor William J. Lepetomane in Blazing Saddles: “Gentlemen, we’ve got to protect our phony-baloney jobs!” That sentiment is what makes the world go ‘round. If designers and art directors left well enough alone, we would have less work for designers and art directors.

Comics should stir some sense of wonder within the breast of the reader. These logos do not. They probably look real good on the thick glass doors that front their reception rooms, they certainly look real good in the corporate annual report (should Time Warner actually acknowledge they publish comic books), but as a device that inspires attention and attraction, they suffer from the worst sort of sanction: death by dullness.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

DC Entertainment’s We can be Heroes Campaign to fight Hunger in Africa

(January 23, 2012 – New York, NY)  DC Entertainment, home of the world’s greatest super heroes, today unveiled an unprecedented giving campaign to fight the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.  This multi-million-dollar commitment over the next two years will be supported across all Warner Bros. Entertainment’s and Time Warner’s businesses and feature DC Entertainment’s iconic Justice League characters, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, issuing the call to action, “We Can Be Heroes.”  The announcements were made at a press conference today in New York by Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros.; Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group; and Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment.

We Can Be Heroes will support the efforts of three humanitarian aid organizations working in Africa—Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps—as part of the global effort to fight the current hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.  The region is suffering its worst drought and famine in over 60 years, with 13 million in need of critical assistance and 250,000 facing starvation in Somalia alone.  Each partner organization was chosen for its track record of effective and expeditious humanitarian aid efforts in Africa.
We Can Be Heroes will be supported via promotional exposure across all of Time Warner’s divisional advertising platforms (Warner Bros., Turner Broadcasting, Time Inc., HBO), generating millions of consumer impressions and creating crucially needed awareness of this crisis worldwide.  Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps will equally share a corporate donation of at least $2 million over the next two years comprised of cash donations, employee matching funds and consumer matching funds.
“Warner Bros. has a long history of corporate philanthropy and outreach, and this campaign proudly continues that tradition,” said Meyer.  “We are a global company, and this is a global issue.  By marshalling our expertise in consumer and fan engagement and creating global awareness, we hope we’re able to inspire others to join us in becoming ‘heroes’ and make a difference in the Horn of Africa.”

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