Tagged: Tom Brevoort

Ed Catto: The Mark Gruenwald Tribute

Gruenwald Party Cake Boss with Cake

Catherine SchullerEven though it’s Independence Day today, I am going to talk about Flag Day. It was a couple of weeks ago, and on that day Geek Culture paused to remember the passing of a favorite son. It was a day to celebrate the legacy of Mark Gruenwald, taken away too early twenty years ago. And for a guy who loved Captain America, it was fitting that his birthday was on Flag Day.

Catherine Schuller organized a wonderful tribute to her late husband celebrating the passion and humor with which he lived his life. By just looking at the crowd in the funky New York City club where it was held, you could tell his passion was infectious and long lasting.

My first exposure to Mark Gruenwald came from his visionary fanzine. Omniverse was published long before the Internet provided an infinite number of virtual spots for fans to gather together to deeply discuss various aspects of their fandoms. The fanzine explored comic continuity (i.e., the internal mythology) in a detailed way that so many fanboys, myself included, had only wished existed. It was exciting and fun and thoughtful and invigorating!

Mark’s work on fanzines would lead to a long career at Marvel. He loved creating, writing, and editing stories. He got the chance to do those very things while at Marvel. After debuting on Spider-Woman, he enjoyed a long, groundbreaking run on Captain America, explored group dynamics with The Squadron Supreme mini-series and shepherded Quasar’s series from start to finish.

Tom BrevoortI attended this tribute event with my local friends Scott Kearny (Hero Cam) and Patrick Riley (The Adventures of Electrolyte), but there really was an impressive assembly of comic creators including Denny O’Neil, Tom Palmer, Fabian Nicieza, Danny Fingeroth and more.

Highlights of the event included a Captain America shield cake courtesy of the Cake Boss, DJ’s, dancers, photographers, an art exhibit and a unique type of autographed mini-posters. Limited quantities of these mini-posters are still available for sale and proceeds go to the scholarship fund. (Fans can contact Catherine here.)

One of the high points was when Mark’s daughter, cosplaying as Dazzler, took the stage with her stepmother Catherine Schuller.

Tom DeFalcoSeveral comic luminaries spoke, each with their own take on this creator.

Tom Brevoort, currently Marvel’s executive editor, spoke with great humility. Even though he is a man of great accomplishments within the industry, he let it be known that he felt honored to be speaking amongst the other professionals at this tribute. Tom went on to provide great insights into the authenticity of Mark Gruenwald’s professional career.
Tom DeFalco talked about Gruenwald’s famous practical jokes, while Bob Budiansky and Elliot Brown talked about the extreme measures that Gruenwald would take to deal with corporate deadlines. Brown painted a picture of Mark as a cross between M*A*S*H’s Hawkeye Pierce and Groucho Marx. With great affection, Carl Potts also shared a few stories about all the practical jokes.

Denny ONeil 2In his tribute, Denny O’ Neil explored what makes a legacy. In a very moving remembrance, the noted writer talked about the enjoyment of blazing new creative paths with Gruenwald and the respect he had for the Gruenwald’s “big shoulders”, i.e. the responsibility he would assume, even when it was unpleasant.

O’Neil revealed that one creative endeavor they were pursuing was actually experiencing strong negative criticism within the company. Interestingly, Gruenwald had protected O’Neil from it in order that “Denny could do his job,” unencumbered by these slings and arrows. Denny O’Neil also revealed that if the roles were reversed, he wasn’t sure he’d have the fortitude to protect Gruenwald in the same way.

Dancer 2Brevoort had an excellent observation. He pointed out that in old Bullpen Bulletins editorial pages Stan Lee was able to paint a picture of a fictional reality where a bunch of zany creators collaborated in a bullpen, making Marvel Comics with madcap fun. In reality, that was not the way it was in most cases.

But during his tenure at Marvel, Mark Gruenwald was an example of that fiction come to life. He was zany and madcap and mischievous. Despite the fact that this is an industry filled with so many introverts, folks loved this fiction and loved being a part of the culture that Gruenwald was bringing to life.

Catherine Schuller is an entertaining woman who clearly still has deep affection and love for her deceased husband. She was able to create an event that was respectful and outrageously loopy at the same time. And it all reminded us how lucky we were to have known Mark Gruenwald, or at least his work.

Mark was a visionary, and his quote from an old issue of Amazing Heroes magazine about a John Walker (a Marvel Character first called The Super-Patriot and later U.S. Agent) could easily apply today’s politics:

“He believes the American Dream is to make a mint and then retire. He says, “Yeah, I’m looking after number one. Why is my country so good? Because it’s given me the opportunity to make a lot of money. That is it’s [the American Dream’s] corrupted essence.”

Molly Jackson: Just an Average Fan

Marvel_NOW

I was having a nice, leisurely Sunday morning when fellow ComicMix columnist Joe Corallo sent me an article about Marvel Now! In it Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort talks about how their constant reboots are really there to serve the readers and to attract new readers. So basically, Joe ruined my leisurely Sunday morning. I think he did that on purpose.

Brevoort’s reasoning for all the regular reboots? The fans.

I’m convinced – utterly convinced – that virtually every comic book reader cannot afford to buy all the comics they’d like to be buying and reading. There are too many good books out there, across all publishers. The average fan just can’t afford everything.

Honestly, I don’t disagree with that. It’s true, fans can’t afford everything. That would be insanity. However, I don’t really see how that is ground-breaking news. It can’t be new information that readers can’t buy every issues of every book. What has really changed is how the books are presented to the reader. As stories became ongoing rather than in a single issue, fans looked for more excitement to keep reading. It used to be that reading the issues when they could afford them wasn’t going to work anymore. So fans, knowing they needed to save all their change to support their bi-monthly [insert random superhero here] habit, maybe didn’t go on a buying spree.

Then Brevoort said this. “You can have your great master plan where you slowly set your dominos and then in year two, you’re gonna wow everybody, but your book is gonna be dead in six issues, well before you get to that. People just don’t have the patience to wait a year and a half to get to the good stuff. You have to get to the good stuff immediately. And you have to all be good stuff. Every issue has to be giving readers what they want, or they start to move onto other stories.

Ok, I’m not quoting Brevoort anymore. I promise. But it is the average fan’s fault they can’t buy everything and the average fan’s fault they can’t tell good stories. What is the publisher actually responsible for then?

This statement really irks me because a slow burn done right won’t necessarily lose readers. Admittedly it’s hard in comics right now. I won’t deny it. But there are books that are consistent best sellers. Instead of constantly rebooting and reminding your fans you aren’t consistent, maybe work on the stories more. Look at what’s working.

At this point, I’d prefer if they did limited runs on books. Let me know the start and end date. Let me know how many issues total. If fans are so torn on what comics to buy, give them an incentive by letting them know there will be a payoff for their money. Having a guaranteed end might do that. It doesn’t need to me a short run, despite that being the trend. Let it be fifteen or twenty issues! Get the creative team together, tell them they’ve got x amount of issues, and tell the best damn story they can.

Joe did mention a good point to me in our no-longer leisurely Sunday morning conversation that maybe they should start transitioning into more direct to graphic novel stories. Which I countered with that DC already does to an extent. (I’m a big fan of the Earth 2 line.) He is right. If you want to tell a slow burn story, maybe the graphic novels are the way to go.

Comics is always changing, that fact will not go away. Publishing costs have raised single issue prices through the roof and the digital age is nipping at their heels. But both DC and Marvel seem to have this pathological need to consistently reboot, despite the fact it hasn’t helped them. Rebooting isn’t the answer. Blaming the fans isn’t the answer. Taking a hard, long look inward at your practices might just do it.

But what do I know? I’m just an average fan.

 

Mindy Newell: The Name Of The Monster

“Must a name mean something?” Alice asked doubtfully. 



“Of course it must,” Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh; “my name means the shape I am – and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.”

Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

There was a time in my life when it was my silent, constant partner. I didn’t know then what it was; this thing had no name, and no one had yet advised me to challenge it, to call it out from the shadows into the sunlight. It hid in the cold dark crevices of my psyche, curled around my thoughts and dreams like a boa constrictor, never letting go, an anonymous thing. I knew there was something wrong, but without a name to call it, I could not voice it. Without a name to call it, I could not control it. Without a name to call it, I could not reclaim my self.

Yesterday I went to a comic book store for the first time in a very, very long time.

What the hell does that have to do with my struggles with it? A good question. A legitimate question.

The first time I discovered a store dedicated to comics was way back in the early 80s, during the time when this anonymous thing lived with me day after day, week after week, month after month. I don’t remember purposely sniffing it out – IIRC I just happened to be stopped at a red light on Broadway in downtown Bayonne, New Jersey. The storefront caught my eye; the windows were full of comics and some other stuff, but then the light turned green and I continued along my way.

But for the few moments while I was waiting for the red to turn to green, the thing had let go of me, or, at least, had lessened its grip. It wasn’t an “uh-huh” moment…

But very soon afterwards I was in the store and I wasn’t feeling weird, or odd, or frightened or any of that remote, sad, heaviness of the thing-with-no name which I carried with me – well, not so much, anyhow…

Yeah, not to put it through too fine a sieve – and, yes, it’s 28 years later – I think what I was feeling was comfort.

I looked at all the covers of the comics and the colors and the artwork and all the heroes – Superman, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, The Legion Of Super-Heroes, and all the rest – and I felt better. Okay, not kick-up-your-heels-and-do-a-dance better, but yeah, definitely better. Probably, as my therapist would say, it had to do with being suddenly face-to-face with the little-girl-who-was-me; she who was excited, who was curious, who read comics by flashlight after Taps underneath the covers of my bunk at camp.

I remembered her.

I was her.

I don’t remember what else I bought that day, but I do remember buying Camelot 3000, the groundbreaking maxi-series by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland, which imagines the prophesized return of King Arthur and his Round Table when the Earth is threatened by an alien invasion in the year 3000 A.D. I have always loved the story of the once and future king; it is the classic hero’s journey, told over and over again in many myths and in many cultures, the tale of the individual who is challenged to walk through the gauntlet, to vanquish the enemy, to achieve peace and knowledge even if cost is dear.

I read that first issue of Camelot 3000, and while I was reading it I escaped the hell of my life. And I kept going back to the comic book store and I kept reading C3000, and I bought and read other comics. I even wrote a “Letter to the Editor” that appeared in an issue of Green Lantern.

It was finally, and properly, diagnosed and named in 1990 as clinical depression.

And yes, naming the monster gave me power.

But I still hate it. Because it never really goes away, y’know? Even with medication and therapy, it’s always there, teasing me. “I’m still here. I had you once. I can have you again.” And sometimes it does, for a little while. The past month, for instance. But I have named it, and so its power is not what it was. And then, too, sometimes I think…

If the monster had not taken hold of me, if I had not had to struggle and walk through the gauntlet, I would have never walked into that comic book store in 1982 and started reading comics again. I would have never sat down on a rainy Sunday and written Jenesis, the story that led me to Karen Berger and New Talent Showcase and all the wonderful things that followed it. I would have never written Lois Lane: When It Rains, God Is Crying, and never would have been able to understand the pain of Chalk Drawings (Wonder Woman #46), which I co-wrote with George Pérez. I would have never gone to conventions and met so many wonderful people – this means you, Mike, John, Kim, and Mary. And you, Martha. And you, Bob Greenberger. And Karen and Len and Marv and Mike Grell and Tom Brevoort and Trina Robbins and Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner and Marie Javins. And so many others, some of who are no longer with us – Dick Giordano and Gray Morrow and Don Heck and Mark Gruenwald…

I hate you, depression.

I hate you with a passion that frightens me. You have fucked up my life in too many goddamn ways.

And yet…

I would not be here now without you.

I said once before, in a previous column, that nothing is wasted.

Even, and I hate to say it, clinical depression.

 

Mindy Newell: Monsters Of The Id

Newell Art 131209I may be behind the eight-ball here, but last month much blogging, Facebook and Tumblr posts and Twitter accounts were ablaze with comics artist Tess Fowler’s account of sexual harassment at the 2007 San Diego Comic Convention – a comics pro used the age-old pretense of being interested in her work to try and get her to come up to his room, and when Tess declined, he then went about insulting her work, her cosplay and talking bullshit about her to other male comics professionals and anybody else who would listen on the convention floor, i.e., in public.

Yeah, I know I’ve written about this subject before, and so has Heidi MacDonald over at The Beat, Colleen Doran on her own blog, former Dark Horse editor Rachel Edidin on her Tumblr site Postcards From Space, Jill Pantozzi at The Mary Sue, and Corrina Lawson on her site, Geek Mom.

What I’m wondering now is…

Is sexual harassment towards women in the industry more prevalent now than when I was actively writing and editing in the 80s and 90s?

Was I really that oblivious?

No, I wasn’t. But I had confidence in myself and didn’t think too much about it, and I honestly really never felt harassed or put upon or insulted. In fact, I enjoyed my professional and personal friendships with Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Mike Gold, Joey Cavalieri, Bob Greenberger, Fabien Nicieza, Dick Giordano, Tom Brevoort, Mark Gruenwald, Jerry Ordway, Tom DeFalco, Ernie Colon, Richard Bruning, Keith Giffen, and so many other men in the biz, just to name a few. In fact, I was honored to be able to call these guys my friends and co-workers.

But there was one particularly nasty incident concerning an editor and a letter and my toilet bowl. Yes, I was so disgusted by the contents of that letter that I flushed it down the toilet in a fit of rage – thus “burning the evidence,” which was a ridiculous thing to do, I know, but I also stopped working on my assignment long enough to have the big boss of this company call me and invite me to lunch with him at the Top of the Sixes, a very swanky restaurant. During the phone call I told Mr. Big (with apologies to Candace Bushnell) about the letter, and he asked me to bring it to the lunch. “I can’t,” I said. “I flushed it down the toilet.”

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

“I couldn’t keep that disgusting piece of filth around this house.”

But the lunch went off as planned. Mr. Big was a wonderful man, a true mensch, and he made me realize that, as a comics professional, hell, as an adult woman, I had to finish my commitments. Which I did. Even if my heart was no longer in it.

But this was the only time that I experienced any kind of direct sexual harassment in the comics industry. Perhaps it’s because the men I met were, for the most part, of an age – all high school and college students in the 60s, shutting down universities and marching in the street to protest the Vietnam War, “tuning in, turning on, dropping out” during those summers of love. Women were burning their bras, men were burning their draft cards, and the police were beating up protestors at political conventions while inside the buildings journalists were being manhandled off the floor. The men who were older – Julie Schwartz, Joe Kubert, and others – had lived through their own hells of the Depression and World War II.

They were mature.

They were adults.

They were men.

Now I’m not part of the current scene in comics; well, I am, but only peripherally. So I can’t speak directly of the XY set in comics today. But from what I read, from what I hear, it seems that there are more boys in the field than ever.

Boys who seem to be the very essence of the cliché of the male child who lives on TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and in movies like Knocked Up. Only, unlike Leonard and Sheldon and Howard and Rajesh, unlike Ben and Pete, these guys don’t grow up; they won’t grow up. They are Peter Pan children eternally stuck in a Never-Never Land of narcissistic masturbation of their own (unfulfilled) “who’s the man?” fantasies.

And as children, they have no idea of the repercussions their behavior is causing. Repercussions that could result in the destruction of an industry.

And all because they can’t keep their ids zipped up.

TUESDAY MORNING: The Debut of Jen Krueger!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: The Return of Michael Davis?

 

Marvelman / Miracleman Scheduled; Hell Freezes Over?

After their first announcement at San Diego four years ago that they had obtained the rights, Marvel Comics announced last weekend at New York Comic Con that reprints of the original Alan Moore / Neil Gaiman Miracleman series would begin in January 2014.  Gaiman will then continue the story with issue 25, which he said was completed, but never released, back when Eclipse was publishing the series.

Joe Quesada made the announcement at his “Cup O’ Joe” panel at the convention, to an appropriately appreciative audience. Marvel will be reprinting the entire series, starting with its first issue as seen in the UK magazine Warrior, reprinted in Eclipse’s Miracleman #1.  The early issues were written by Alan Moore, but his name is not being used in any publicity for the series.

Originally named Marvelman, the character became “Miracleman” in America after Marvel Comics contacted its US publisher, Eclipse, and asked it be changed to avoid confusion in the marketplace.  Marvel, who has been referring to the character as “Marvelman” since their first announcement of the acquisition, has decided to reprint the series under the US title of Miracleman after all.  Tom Brevoort explains, “Gaiman and Buckingham worked on Miracleman, and that’s the name under which the series is best known in the States. So Miracleman it is.”

The series will be re-lettered and re-colored, but there no editing or alteration of the art is planned.  Some of the violence was quite intense in the original series, and issue nine featured very graphic depictions of childbirth, so the plan not to censor the art is good news indeed.

Marvelman was created by Mick Anglo when the British comics publisher who was reprinting the popular Fawcett Captain Marvel needed material when the various Captain Marvel titles ended, pursuant to a DC lawsuit.  Marvelman bore more than a slight thematic resemblance to Captain Marvel – young boys given a word of power to change into a powerful hero – a deliberate choice by the publisher.

Marvelman

Marvelman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the early eighties, Alan Moore wrote new adventures for the hero, the first of his “Everything you know is wrong” style of completely revamping a heroes origin while still paying respect and adherence to the stories that were told.  He would do this again with great success on Swamp Thing when he came to the US to work for DC.

The issue of ownership of the character has been a rats’ nest of red tape, even during the original run in Warrior.  To attempt to summarize the tale would not come close to getting across the complexity – The management suggests you seek out the exhaustive work of Irish comics journalist Pádraig Ó Méalóid, whose exhaustive history of the boondoggle puts all obsessive comics writers to shame.

Specific details of the schedule and format of the Miracleman reprints will arrive shortly with the January solicits.  If the book is published monthly, with the same page count of the Eclipse issues, it would Neil’s new material would not be seen for two years.  But considering the nigh-legendary status of the run, new readers will finally have a chance to read this seminal series, both in the careers of the creators involved and the exciting storytelling style.

Mindy Newell: Duck And Cover

Newell Art 130610The bullshit never stops.

What is it about some men? Did Mommy keep obsessive charts about their every urination and bowel movement during toilet training, marking down the time and size and color and form? Or did Mommy skip the toilet training altogether and they went to kindergarten still wearing diapers? Did Daddy take little Tommy into the shower and soap the penis just a little too much? Was Uncle Ernie just a little too friendly? Did Great-aunt Myrtle catch little Hank masturbating in the bathroom while drooling over the Playmate of the Month?

What is it about some men who feel the need to piss and shit on any woman who dares to display talent, smarts, ability, and imagination?

Why do they do this?

Last week, here at ComixMix, Sara Raasch wrote about the latest attack on a woman who works in comics. This woman dares to display talent, smarts, ability, and imagination. Her name is Kelly Sue DeConnick and she is the writer of Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble, Ghost, Sif, Captain America and the Secret Avengers, just to mention a few. She was attacked on Tom Brevooort’s Tumblr site, New Brevoort Formspring in a statement by Anonymous.” His thesis is that Kelly only got to write for Marvel and Dark Horse because she is married to the guy who writes Fantastic Four and Hawkeye. (Kelly’s response is on her own Tumblr site, Digital Baubles. Neil Gaiman also posted it on his Tumblr site, and several others did so, as well.)

The women in this industry respond to this crap in several ways – laughter, anger, ignoring the attack, blogging about it, writing columns about it, and sometimes taking the pusillanimous putz head-on (even notifying the police, in one case), depending on their mood and general disposition.

I got hit with this stuff, too, back in the day when I was writing in the industry. Someone accused me of getting assignments by “strutting the hallways in fish-net stockings and fuck-me pumps.” I was once told by someone at Marvel that, when I started working there as an assistant editor, it was assumed by most that I had been, uh, “especially nice” to Tom DeFalco, who was then Marvel’s editor-in chief.

I started working at DC in 1983 – thirty years ago!!!!

I was hired by Marvel in 1990 – 23 years ago!!!!!

You’d think by now, 50 years since Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published, that the guano would have stopped falling from the sky onto our heads.

You’d think, right?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013. The Fox Business channel. Lou Dobbs Tonight.

Erick Erickson of www.Redstate.com appears along with FOX newsman Juan Williams to discuss a just-released Pew Study that found that mothers are now the primary breadwinners in 40% of American households. Lou Dobbs finds this “troubling.” Juan Williams thinks “something is going terribly wrong in American society.” And Erickson says:

I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology – when you look at the natural world – the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complementary relationships in nuclear families, and it is tearing us apart. Having mom as primary bread winner is bad for kids and bad for marriage.”

And the shit just keeps on coming.

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

 

Marc Alan Fishman: Rob Liefeld Vs. Batman

In case you don’t follow the Twitterverse, allow me to succinctly sum up the “happening” that occurred this past week. Rob Liefeld, stalwart artist and writer, melted down. After months of being jerked around by his nebbishy editor, he waved the white flag and left his position at DC. He took to Twitter to vent a bit. Creators around the industry came to bat for the editor he trashed. He lashed back. First to Marvel’s First Hat Honcho, Tom Brevoort. Then, Scott Snyder, in a private communication, reached out to the champion of anatomy himself. After a bit of back and forth, the private conversation became not-so-private. Seems Liefeld took it upon himself to imply that Scott’s success at DC lies with the character Snyder writes, not his prowess of prose.

I could actually argue on the side of Robbie Jordache about the editorial mandate issue. Seriously. It’d be brilliantly positive. The single time in my life I wouldn’t take every chance I get to dump pot shot after pot shot on the man whose most famous creation is the thigh pouch. This however, is not that sunshiny post. Rob? You done went and got me pissed.

The tweets in question:

“It’s not you (referring to Snyder). It never has been. It’s Batman.”

“I’d like to think that if your going to wave your ego around on Batman you’d remember all that came before you. Holeee crap.”

“One word. Haunt. Two words. Swamp Thing. Not all creations equal”

Where do I even begin? OK, Rob, if you’re paying attention (which shouldn’t be hard since you’ve got an abundance of free time right now…), here’s the skinny: Scott Snyder’s Batman is selling amazingly, well, because he’s writing it brilliantly. Yes, Batman will sell tons of books because he’s in it. Certainly all the other Bat-titles being produced right now are enjoying that fact; they’re not as good (save perhaps for Batman Incorporated). Snyder’s run, first for a year on Detective, and now on Batman’s flagship title, has proven time and again what a talent Scott happens to be. For one year, he thrust Dick Grayson into the cowl, and delivered a series I personally hold up as being one of the most deftly written in the last decade. And when he transitioned to the main book? He created an original epic story and villain (in the entire Court of Owls) that takes all the gravitas Hush falsely earned, and did it without relying on the crutch of every single rogue in the Bat-gallery. To imply that the consistent sales Snyder’s run is bringing in is due to the nameplate alone is not only short-sighted… it’s insulting to me as a fan.

Rob’s next pec-pulsating punch to the gut implies that Snyder takes credit for his success without denoting all those great creators that came before him. Given Liefeld’s inability to draw a straight line, a proper foot, or a plausible gun has perhaps caused him to not be able to read. Because when I read Snyder’s run on Detective Comics, I saw that he brought back James Gordon Jr, a character who‘d long been forgotten since his introduction in Frank Miller’s acclaimed “Batman: Year One.” And in his tenure as Bat-plotter, Snyder has paid homage to nearly every other writer before him, including working with Grant Morrison to tie-in several pieces of “The Return of Bruce Wayne” with his “Gates of Gotham.”

If Rob’s beef was that Snyder took credit for the work he’s done? Well, that steak ain’t for dinner. Snyder is allowed to revel in his limelight. He’s earned it. And while Rob’s runs on several books saw increases in sales… it seems it wasn’t enough for the powers that be. And so, we end up in this one-sided squabble.

Snyder’s ultimate response to the fans: “…I’ll echo what my brother @GregCapullo said before. All of us on team Batman are extremely proud of the success, and that success is due to your support. But as the team on the book, if we didn’t believe that your incredible and humbling support was due at least a little to us doing a somewhat decent job – if we sat back and said – Batman sells Batman – what sort of book would that engender? We have to think the sales are because you guys like what we’re doing on the book. It fuels us to continue to do stories that matter to us, knowing that you’re telling us you like what we’re giving you, on a character that means everything to us both. That’s it. I will not fight or post another negative tweet about Rob or anyone. And, I want to say sorry to you all and no one else– to you, the fans of comics, not just me or Rob – for bothering with this. It’s a waste and we should be pushing the good not attacking each other. And I’m guilty of that too. So I’m sorry to you for going negative. Thx to those of you who reminded me of that.”

See? Snyder certainly isn’t waving his ego around now, is he?

And let’s not leave the table before we discuss Haunt versus Swamp Thing. First off, I tried Googling to see where or how Liefeld is tied to Haunt. Couldn’t find one. But suffice to say, even if he had anything to do with it, I’ve read it. It doesn’t hold a candle to Swamp Thing. And again, I cite the books themselves to combat this idea that “all creations aren’t equal.” Well, Robbie? You’re damned right. All creations are not created equal. Swamp Thing has decades of material from which to draw from. To expect Haunt would be on the same level is asinine. And for the record, I didn’t give two poops about Swamp Thing before Snyder was on it. And I say this knowing full well Alan Moore wrote the character. Snyder’s prose and ability to craft truly creepy tales helped Swamp Thing rise to the top of my pull list every month. I got through two issues of Haunt. And the second one was read during a long night in the loo, where no other reading was available, and my phone was dead. I’ll leave it at that.

At the end of the day, I want to give Liefeld a pass. I really do. He was exasperated, like so many others these days, at DC’s whirlwind editor machine. Since the New 52, it would seem that unless you’re on the top of the heap in sales, the Brothers Warner are pushing down on the middle management to keep shaking the tree until money falls out. By doing this though, it inevitably leads to creator burn out. And through the lens of his exasperated state, Rob lashed out at those defending the editor in question. What good did it do you, Rob? Where you could have once just waved that white flag and retreated back to the land of your creator-owned crud, you instead decided to pick a fight with Batman.

And Robbie, in case you never got the memo: Don’t ever pick a fight with Batman.

Marc Alan Fishman and fellow ComicMixers Emily S. Whitten, Mike Gold, Glenn Hauman and Adriane Nash will be at this weekend’s Baltimore Comic-Con, mostly hanging around the Unshaven Comics booth hawking his wares. Drop by and say hello.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander and Writing Story Stuff

 

Now, Marvel announces Marvel NOW!

Now, Marvel announces Marvel NOW!

Marvel NOW!

Beginning in October 2012, Marvel starts a bold new chapter in its history, with Marvel NOW!, a publishing initiative extending into 2013 that will touch every major Marvel character from the Avengers to the X-Men to Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four and beyond.

Marvel.com spoke with Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and Senior VP – Executive Editor Tom Brevoort to get all the details on what to expect from Marvel NOW!

Marvel.com: In your words, what is Marvel NOW!?

Axel Alonso: Marvel NOW! is the next chapter in the ongoing saga of the Marvel Universe. From October through February, we’ll provide at least one great reason for readers—old, lapsed or new—to go into a comic store each week: a new issue #1, featuring an exciting new creative team and driving concept, that’s an easy entry-point into the Marvel Universe. Each and every one of these launches is built to last.

Tom Brevoort: Marvel NOW! is a coordinated creative refresh across our entire publishing line, a unique moment in which the creative reins on virtually all of our quintessential series are being passed from one person to another. As a result, there’ll be both the excitement and uncertainty of seeing a new creative partnership handle characters and series that have been in other hands consistently for many years. And at the same time, this is the perfect instance for readers both new and lapsed to dip their toes back into the Marvel pool, in that all of these creators are going to be beginning their story-cycles during this time, so it’s about a clean a point of entry as there’s ever likely to be.

Joe Quesada: Marvel NOW! is the next step in Marvel story evolution and character evolution. It’s not a reboot. It is a universe-shifting catch-all, which really just tells fans that if you enjoyed Avengers vs. X-Men, get ready for what the outcome is because there’s some major, major changes coming to the Marvel Universe. A lot of changes to the character status quos, alter egos, costumes, creator shifts, design shifts, the way that we do our covers, digital shifts and the way we start delivering our books. We’re continuing with our evolution push as we start to embrace more and more of the digital world and its technology; the sky’s the limit with Infinite Comics, AR, and all sorts of things. As the technology changes we’re going to change with it and our fans are going to eventually tell us what it is that they really love out of all those things that we’re playing with. But it’s a big shift because it’s not just story and character. There’s also the way we tell our stories and the way we deliver our stories that are starting to change as well.

Marvel.com: What is the scope of this initiative?

Axel Alonso: It’s a sweeping initiative. Most of our core titles will be a part of it.

Joe Quesada: The scope is pretty huge. It’s pretty huge, but we’re also taking a very conservative tactic in the sense that we’re not just going to say “Hey, we’re just going to dump it all on you in one particular shot.” This is going to be a significant release that’s going to take place over several months so that we can do it properly, do it in a way that our readers can appreciate, and tell our stories in the right way. Because we do have a lot of moving parts here and I think it’s the fairest and best way to do this.

Marvel.com: What makes Marvel NOW! a good launch point for new readers or people who haven’t tried certain properties?

Axel Alonso: Marvel NOW! hearkens back to 11 years ago, when Marvel found great success employing a simple formula: great artist plus great writer plus great character plus great story. All of these creators are inspired and motivated to do their best stuff. At last week’s editorial summit, each writer shared his plans for their titles, and there isn’t a weak link in the chain. The only difference is that we are mindful that these stories are linked by the common backdrop.

Joe Quesada: A lot of characters and a lot of their stories are starting story arcs and different status quos right around this time. I know there are a lot of people out there who are lapsed readers, or future readers who don’t necessarily know exactly how to jump into comics because the idea of decades and decades of continuity is daunting to them. Now mind you, they should never have that fear regardless, but for us we’re putting a flag in the sand and saying “Listen, if you’ve had that problem before, just take a flier on us. Try Marvel NOW!, because we are not wiping the slate clean—we’re just trying to tell these stories from a clean point of view and allowing a good jumping-off point for new readers.”

Marvel.com: Is this a reboot of the existing Marvel Universe?

Axel Alonso: It is not a reboot. We don’t travel back in time, into the future, or to an alternate universe. Marvel NOW! respects the investment—emotional and financial—that long-term fans have made in the Marvel Universe, and this story takes place in a Marvel Universe they can recognize, one that grows out of Avengers Vs. X-Men. That said, these stories will be accessible to lapsed readers—the guy who likes, say, Captain America, but doesn’t know where to start—and anyone who saw a Marvel movie or heard the buzz about Marvel NOW!

Marvel.com: What role is digital technology going to play in Marvel NOW!?

Joe Quesada: There [are] really two answers to this, and I think both of them are right. It’s going to play a tremendously huge role, and I don’t know. And the reason I don’t know is because technology is changing every single—oh wait, it just changed again. It changes every second. There’s so much new stuff coming out that I can’t tell you what’s going to be the rage 12 months from now with technology. What I can tell you is that if it’s something that is applicable to things that we do for a living, we’re going to try it. And we’re going to see if it works for us. So it is the great unknown, it is really exciting, but it’s also something that we’re not going to be left behind wondering why we didn’t get involved in the world of digital much earlier. You know, we‘ve been involved in the digital world for a long, long time—longer than most publishers—so we are already ahead of the curve and we’re already getting a sense of what the readership is really thinking, what they’re not thinking, because ultimately it’s about the readers. It’s about making their experience a better one, a more convenient one, and really much more entertaining.

Marvel.com: What can you say anything else about the way the exterior appearance and the packaging of the books are going to change?

Joe Quesada: We [are] taking a hard look at the way we design our covers. I’ll tell you the history behind this. Tom Brevoort runs  these workshops for the junior editorial staff. Several months ago, he asked me to come in and do a talk on covers, cover design, what I feel makes strong covers, yadda yadda. So in preparation for that meeting, what I decided to do was, I wasn’t going to come in with a slide presentation or a keynote presentation of comic book covers that were successful. I wanted to look outside of comics and to the industry that I think is the most successful when it comes to poster work or cover work, which would be the movie industry throughout the ages. So I started going through all my huge library of movie poster reference, everything from the earliest days of filmmaking to today, the modern era, and I started pulling images from different eras of things that I think, images that I think work. Certain designs that I thought worked, whether they were abstract or literal, and presented this to the group. And as I was going through each one of the images, it really sort of dawned on me as I looked at the movie posters that we have a standard rule in the world of comic books which is the comic book logo should appear on the top third of the cover. Now, we’ll deviate from that every once in a while, but the norm you have got to say that 90 percent to 95 percent of comic books have the logo at the top third of the cover. And that is something that has historically been done in comics because historically comics were sold in a newsstand, and the way that books and magazines are racked on the newsstand, the only thing that you really get to see for the most part is the logo of the magazine or the book. And that’s what people look for, and they pull it out, and if the image grabs them they buy it or they don’t. So, looking at the world that we live in today where we really don’t have much of a newsstand presence anymore and looking at how our readership, even when they buy stuff at their local comic shop, very few comic shops actually rack their comics the way that a newsstand did. You can actually see the entire comic cover standing alone next to other comic covers, but the top third isn’t really all that important. Then I think about the readership that orders their books from their local comic shop in advance. What they do is they go through the Marvel catalogue and they see the covers, sometimes they’ll see a thumbnail of a cover, and that’s really what they’re basing it on—and obviously the synopsis of the story or whether this comic is their favorite book or no,  And then, thinking about all the fans that are going to start picking up their books digitally, and the imagery that they will see in say their tablet, for example, it became very, very evident to me that there was absolutely no reason anymore to continue having our logos on the top third of the cover.

That’s not to say that we won’t, but I thought about maybe we should give our cover artists the opportunity to design their covers in a way—because now they can do a whole image like a movie poster—so that your reader’s eye is captivated by and they want to buy that book while at the same time letting us know what that book is so that the logo doesn’t have to appear there. So now we’re going to start looking at our covers as design work as a whole, and placing the images in places that are most attractive and that catch the eye in the best way. So if that means that if it’s an Iron Man cover and Iron Man’s head is on the top left side of that cover and the logo is on the bottom right, if that’s the thing that’s going to grab the readership, then that’s what we’re going to do. So it’s a challenge to our cover artists to think more in terms of design. We’re leaving the canvas open to them to work with as much as we possibly can. Because our covers carry a lot of information. They have ratings, they have UPS, they have all these things. So we’re designing our covers so that all these things aren’t locked in a specific area of the cover so that for the most part the canvas is empty for the artist to do their thing. So we’re just going to look at different methodologies by which to attract readers to our books, because more than anything that top third thing—that’s thinking from the 1930’s. So it’s time for us to move on.

Marvel.com: What does the preview piece you worked on tell us as far as what kind of characters are going to be coming to the forefront of Marvel NOW! and what changes are in store for them?

Joe Quesada: Well I think you can certainly glom several things from that piece. Number one, costume changes. Number two, you’ll see characters there that you wouldn’t necessarily think would be in a piece like that. I think readers can assume that we’re going to make a big push with certain books and create certain books that involve a lot of these new characters. And also just changes to certain status quos based upon costume design and what happened. Even Cyclops. He’s very prominent in that piece, He looks very different, but definitely prominent. And who knows if that’s even Scott in that costume? But the goal was to sort of give a quick, encapsulating view of a piece that says “Well, it’s going to be different.”

Marvel.com: Who are some of the creators prominently involved with Marvel NOW! that you can reveal at this time?

Tom Brevoort: Rick Remender and John Cassaday on UNCANNY AVENGERS, Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen on ALL-NEW X-MEN, and Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena on AVENGERS, with Adam Kubert, Dustin Weaver and Mike Deodato also contributing to that twice-a-month series, plus Jonathan and Steve Epting on NEW AVENGERS. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Joe Quesada: We’ve got a lot of great changes coming up with our creators. I think two creators that have me very excited right now are, first, Jonathan Hickman and what he’s going to be bringing to the Avengers; if you really want a very clear road map of where the Marvel Universe is going to be taking you in the next four to five years, then you cannot not read AVENGERS. You have to.

And then the other creator that has me really excited is old time favorite Brian Bendis. Brian is working on two very significant projects for us. One of them is ALL-NEW X-MEN. I have not seen Brian this excited about writing comics in quite a long time. Between ALL-NEW X-MEN and his other secret project that he’s working on, which I think many people are going to find surprising, he is operating on all cylinders. I mean he is just a shot out of a cannon. This is like Brian Bendis circa 2002, where he’s salivating to get all the stuff that he’s doing.

The first series to fall under the Marvel NOW! banner will be UNCANNY AVENGERS, a new ongoing title launching in October, written by Rick Remender with art by John Cassaday and featuring members of the Avengers and the X-Men on one team for the first time facing a returned Red Skull out to exterminate the mutant race.

Marvel.com: Why was UNCANNY AVENGERS chosen as the first title for the Marvel NOW! initiative?

Axel Alonso: UNCANNY AVENGERS is the first book that delivers a snapshot of the Marvel Universe in the aftermath of AvX. This is a team composed of Avengers and X-Men that’s put together to deal with a specific threat, but that eventually becomes something much more than that.

Marvel.com: How does UNCANNY AVENGERS represent the post-Avengers Vs. X-Men Marvel Universe?

Tom Brevoort: Back in AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #1, Captain America and Cyclops had a pointed conversation before fists started flying about how, whenever a threat to mutants has arisen, the Avengers have seemed pretty remote; Cap articulated his position, but in the fallout from AvX, Cap and the Avengers, having gone through a bunch of stuff and having walked a mile in the X-Men’s shoes, are feeling like there’s some truth in what Cyclops had to say. So the Uncanny Avengers squad is being put together as a direct response to that, as a proactive attempt to provide support of the civil rights of the world’s mutant citizens, and to provide physical and superhuman aid in those circumstances where either mutants are threatened by non-mutants, regular humans are threatened by mutants, and every other iteration in-between. In essence, as we attempt to bridge the divide between the Avengers and the X-Men as entities within our publishing world, UNCANNY X-MEN will be the primary bridging book, a place where the team is as likely to battle Apocalypse as The Red Skull, and where long-established X-characters will stand side-by-side with long-established Avengers characters, in a very public manner.

Axel Alonso: Several years ago, we wondered why the roster of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” didn’t include Spider-Man and Wolverine, and the Avengers became our flagship franchise. A team composed of X-Men and Avengers is an equally seismic event—a must-read title for Avengers fans and X-Men fans, and they aren’t always the same audience.

Marvel.com: How was the creative team of Rick Remender and John Cassaday selected?

Tom Brevoort: Rick pitched the book right before one of our recent Marvel editorial retreats, as something that could naturally grow out of AvX. And we’re always looking for interesting projects to entice John into doing more work for Marvel.

Marvel.com: What characters can you tell us will be part of Uncanny Avengers?

Tom Brevoort: Among the characters that will make up the team are Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, The Scarlet Witch, Rogue and Havok, with a few other surprises waiting in the wings. There’ll also be a funeral in the first issue.

Marvel.com: What type of threat does the returned Red Skull pose to this team and to the Marvel Universe?

Tom Brevoort: The reborn Red Skull will have a strong anti-mutant agenda that will put him in direct opposition to the Uncanny Avengers and their mandate of attempting to inspire greater human-mutant cooperation. The new Skull will also possess a new set of powers obtained in a very creepy way, as well as his own team of foot soldiers, people whose lives were shattered by mutants who’ve been rebuilt at a genetic level to turn them into what we’ve jokingly been calling the Skull’s “S-Men.”

In November, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Stuart Immonen will premiere ALL-NEW X-MEN, with the modern day Children of the Atom facing the original team—Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast and Jean Grey—brought forward in time to a Marvel Universe unfamiliar and shocking to them.

Marvel.com: Almost a decade ago, Brian Michael Bendis reinvented the Avengers franchise; how do his plans for the X-Men compare?

Axel Alonso Brian is bringing the original X-Men—the [Stan] Lee and [Jack] Kirby X-Men—into the present, and they’re here for the long haul. They’re going to see what the world has become, the hard road that got them here and, indeed, who made it this far. That’s going to make for years of fascinating stories.

Marvel.com: What characters can we expect to be featured in ALL-NEW X-MEN?

Axel Alonso: The current X-Men cast—or those who made it out of AvX alive—the Lee and Kirby X-Men, and a few surprises.

Marvel.com: What makes having the original X-Men in the present day Marvel Universe an intriguing proposition?

Axel Alonso: These characters grew up aspiring to live the dream of Charles Xavier. They’re going to come into a world that’s very different from that dream. And they’re going to come face to face with what they’ve become—future versions of their very selves—or, weirder still, come to terms with the fact that they didn’t make it this far.  Imagine you’re young Jean Grey and you just crash landed in 2012. Get my point?

Marvel.com: How was Stuart Immonen selected as the artist for All-New X-Men?

Axel Alonso: The stars were just aligned to make it so. He’s the perfect fit for this title.

Writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Jerome Opena and Steve Epting will reinvent Earth’s Mightiest Heroes this December in the bi-weekly AVENGERS as well as a revamped NEW AVENGERS, featuring an expanded roster, ambitious mission statement, and broad imperative that pushes forward into the 21st century.

Marvel.com: How is Jonathan Hickman changing the mandate of the Avengers franchise?

Tom Brevoort: First off, it’s important for you to know that, while we’re not ready to tell you any more about it, Jonathan will also be writing NEW AVENGERS as well as AVENGERS.

I mention that because the second thing you need to know is that, like AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, AVENGERS is going to be shipping twice a month. So there’ll be three Hickman-written Avengers comics coming out every 30 days—two issues of AVENGERS and one issue of NEW AVENGERS.

I can tell you that NEW AVENGERS will be an absolutely essential sister title to AVENGERS, intrinsically linked to what’s going on in that book. Together, the two will function as Black and White, Day and Night, Life and Death.

The main imperative for the Avengers coming out of AvX is a need to think bigger. Had the Avengers been better prepared, better manned, better equipped, the events of AvX might have been able to have been dealt with in a much shorter order. So we’ll be fielding a very large core team comprised of 18 or so characters—spanning the key players in the “Marvel’s The Avengers” film, mainstays of the current team such as Captain Marvel—Carol Danvers—and Spider-Woman, classic Avengers of the past such as The Falcon, some established Marvel characters of note that have never been Avengers before, and a number of completely new, though familiar, characters as well. And we’ll be keeping things in motion—not every hero will be featured in every issue and there’ll be smaller groups tasked to deal with rising situations as they crop up.

In typical fashion, Jonathan has laid out plans for literally years of stories—at our recent Editorial Retreat, I worked out that he’d broadly plotted through issue #63 at this point. And like his work on FANTASTIC FOUR and SECRET WARRIORS, the scale just gets bigger and bigger and bigger as you go, with payoff leading to payoff leading to payoff.

AVENGERS is the crown jewel of the Marvel publishing line, especially after the juggernaut success of the movie, so we’re going to be treating it as such, with the best characters, drawn by the best artists, coming out on a frequency that will help to propel story velocity and that will reward readers month after month after month in a big way.

For all the latest on Marvel NOW!, stay tuned to Marvel.com!

——

Official Press Release

The most popular characters. The most acclaimed creators. The most ambitious stories. This is Marvel NOW!.

This Fall, the Marvel Universe heads in an exciting all-new direction, as the industry’s top creators join the top super heroes, including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine and more, to deliver all-new ongoing series, each beginning with issue #1! Marvel NOW! is the culmination of Marvel ReEvolution, the groundbreaking new initiative to evolve the comic book experience through innovation.

It kicks off in October’s UNCANNY AVENGERS #1, from the team of Rick Remender and John Cassaday and continues with jaw-dropping new Marvel NOW! series nearly every week through February.

“There’s never been a better time to check out comics than Marvel NOW!” said Axel Alonso, Editor in Chief, Marvel Entertainment. “This isn’t a reboot or a reimagining—Marvel NOW! is all about looking forward, building on our rich history of great stories and delivering new ideas.”

In UNCANNY AVENGERS #1, the Avengers and X-Men must join forces to overcome the greatest challenge either team has ever faced, one so devastating that neither can afford to do it alone! Can Captain America’s newly assembled team find a way to peacefully co-exist while also dealing with the game-changing repercussions of Avengers Vs. X-Men?

Then in November, Marvel NOW! expands to all corners of the universe with launches including ALL-NEW X-MEN #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen, AVENGERS #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena, on-sale in December, and NEW AVENGERS #1, by Hickman and Steve Epting =, on-sale in January 2013.

“We brought fans the biggest comic book event imaginable in Avengers Vs. X-Men and now we’re taking the Marvel Universe to an exciting new place, beginning with Uncanny Avengers #1,” said Tom Brevoort, SVP, Executive Editor, Marvel Entertainment. “If you’re a long-time fan, all the stories you’ve read will give you even more enjoyment of what’s happening now—we’re not abandoning our past. But if you’re a new reader, this is where you’re going to learn just why Marvel comics are unlike anything else you’ve ever read. And no character is left unaffected by Marvel NOW!.”

Every comic book bearing the Marvel NOW! branding includes a code for a free digital copy of that same comic on the Marvel Comics app for iOS and Android devices. Additionally, each issue #1 of Marvel NOW! series features special augmented reality content available exclusive through the Marvel AR app, including cover recaps, behind the scenes features and more that add value to your reading experience at no additional cost.

“This is the natural next step of the Marvel ReEvolution, as we evolve every facet of Marvel publishing,” explained Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer, Marvel Entertainment. “You’ve seen us craft new digital storytelling formats like Marvel Infinite Comics and bring added value to our comics with Marvel AR. Now our print comics leap into the future with a cinematic new look for our covers, exciting new designs for our biggest characters and stories that will send you on the kind of journey you can only get at Marvel.”

This October, Join The ReEvolution as Marvel NOW! kicks off with UNCANNY AVENGERS #1, ushering in a new era for comics and the perfect jumping on point for new readers. The biggest creators bring you the biggest characters in the biggest stories…and it’s happening NOW!

To commemorate the historic release of UNCANNY AVENGERS #1 on Wednesday, October 10, participating retailers can host special advance release parties the night before! That’s right, you can experience the biggest new series launch of the year on Tuesday, October 9 at select retailers, who’ll also have limited edition giveaways exclusive to these events.

 

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: How an Indie Comic Creator Prepares for a Con

Hello, all! With but a few short days before my little company, Unshaven Comics, takes C2E2 by storm, I figure I might as well abuse what little power I have to hype it up. Then I thought that you can get more flies with honey than poo. Maybe my metaphor sucks, but I think the point is clear: Hype is good, but sharing experiences is better. So, consider this the MTV’s True Life: I’m an Indie Comic Creator of articles. Except there will be 10% less talking head interviews.

The first time we crossed the aisle to become “creators” instead of “fans” the whole world was turned on its ear. Whereas I used to mill about the Artist Alley with careful consideration to not make eye-contact with the would-be pitch men, here I was in their spot muttering “How Rude!” under my breath when passersby floated past our table without so much as a nod of the head. It was a sobering experience, all in ten minutes. Luckily for me, Unshaven Comics has been and will always be a communal effort. Sitting next to my two best friends of nearly twenty years makes the cons only a pleasure, never a chore. But I digress. With every con we’ve attended, big or small, we’ve always learned a new lesson to bring to the next.

Lesson one? You can pitch anything you want, but if you don’t believe in it, it shows. Our first con, Wizard World Chicago 2008, we had only The March: Crossing Bridges in America to sell. Don’t get me wrong, we were (and still are) proud of the work. But it was commissioned work. Educational too. 54 pages of upbeat messages, smiling, walking, and immigrant empowering narrative. Pitch that next to the guy selling the Anime Crime Noir story features boobs and guns and see where it gets you.

Simply put, we learned at con #1 that if we were to be successful, we would have to promote material that made us excited to create. For many artists in the alley, their work sits on the table as a testament to their exploration of the craft, or their desire to turn a quick dollar. But for those people pitching their wares because they truly believe what they created is something to note… those are the folks we gravitate to.

Lesson two. Presentation matters. Our first con? We had some sloppy Café Press tee-shirts, a too-long table skirt, and some books. Over time, we added to the menagerie: Business cards, higher quality tee shirts, an 8 ft. banner to sit behind us, and a black tablecloth made our little slice of Artist Alley a bit more homey. We’ve since decided to drop the massive backdrop. Trust me, carrying three paint buckets full of cement, a pile of painted PVCs, and all your materials doesn’t make for an easy trip from car to table. Still to come? A handy rack to display multiple issues. Maybe a small red carpet for those standing at our table. Heh. Artist alley showcases to the masses where you as a company (be it a one manned structure or a small self-publisher such as ourselves), and if you look like you just rolled in from Kinkos, it’ll show on the table.

Lesson three. The pitch. Simply put, we wouldn’t be a success without Kyle Gnepper. Not only a founding member of the company, lifelong friend, and contributing writer and production assistant… at the cons he becomes something far more powerful. He becomes a visceral selling machine; Fearless, hungry, and completely oblivious to whoever stops in front of his cone of selling. Like Hal Jordan facing down Darkseid, Kyle has pitched to Dan DiDio, Tom Brevoort, Mike Richardson, and numerous creators without any knowing smirk just passion to show off our wares.

Did they buy the book? DiDio did, because I guilted him into it. Now you can’t necessarily count Matt or me out of assisting in sales. We both bring our own flair to the pitching process. Matt’s steady hands produce copious commissioned sketches, delighting many passersby. I stay between Matt and Kyle… part salesman, part artist. Sometimes I’ll doodle on the iPad, other times I’ll help us market and coordinate future events, partnerships, and relationships. Don’t knock it… it’s what landed me here at ComicMix.

The final lesson. Growth. Every con we try to bring something new to the table. For C2E2 we are debuting a live action Samurnaut, as funded by our fantastic Kickstarter backers. We have three books (and one repackaged book) on sale at the table, as well as posters, and commissions. Last year we almost sold 1000 books across all the conventions we visited. This year? We plan to break that barrier, and continue making new material. As we gain new fans and followers, we’ve gain amazing friends. And while we may never grow out of the artist alley, get our shot at the big time, or graduate to ‘featured guests’ at any con… the best lesson we’ve learned puts it all in perspective:

It’s not the prize at the end of the quest you do this for… it’s the thrill of the journey.

This weekend, Marc Alan Fishman and the Unshaven Comics crew will be at Booth K19 in Artists Alley. Don’t be offended if fellow ComicMixers Glenn Hauman, Adriane Nash and Mike Gold are hanging around interfering with sales from time to time.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander Leaves Morocco!

Are The CBLDF and Bleeding Cool Promoting Censorship?

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is currently in the middle of a massive fundraising drive, set in the middle of Banned Books Week. They’ve been auctioning off a lot of neat items, including professional development reviews with Tom Brevoort and Chris Burnham (also available for lunch) and a meet-and-greet for Saturday Night Live.

But there’s one item that leaves us scratching our heads:

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is auctioning off a “Get Out Of Bleeding Cool Free” card which will allow the winner the chance to remove a story that Bleeding Cool has published, or prevent one specifically from being published.

Also, in a twist, we will allow the winner to use it as a Get Into Bleeding Cool Free card, guaranteeing positive and promotional coverage for the project of your choice.

Either way, it’s a one time use, but will come with a CBLDF membership. The bidding starts at $500.

The CBLDF, until now a staunch anti-censorship organization, is auctioning off the ability to selectively censor a website?

This can’t be right. I find it very hard to believe the CBLDF would doing something so contrary to their stated goals. Nor can I believe that a journalist of Rich’s caliber is promoting that, under the right circumstances, he can be bought.

I look forward to hearing more about this.