Comic-Con International is proud to announce the nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards of 2013. The nominees, chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges, reflect the wide range of material being published in comics and graphic novel form today, from crime noir to autobiographical works to cartoon adventures. Three titles lead the 2013 list with 5 nominations each. (more…)
Last week I wrote about Lois Lane (here) for the first time since 1986 and my mini-series “When It Rains, God Is Crying,” which was edited by ComicMix’s own Robert Greenberger. It got me to thinking about Lois.
First, a little history on the mini-series, which was published in 1986.
1986 was the year that John Byrne took over Superman. As the final ink was drying on the (secret) contract, I approached Dick Giordano about writing a Lois Lane mini-series. Or maybe it was Dick who called me into his office and asked if I wanted to write a “final” Lois Lane story as part of the “Superman Silver Age Farewell Tour, which included Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ For The Man Who Has Everything and Alan Moore, Curt Swan, and George Perez’s Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? I’m pretty sure it was the former, though I could be wrong, thanks to my menopausal memory.
There are two reasons I believe it was the former: (1) I didn’t know Byrne was being given carte blanche to reboot the entire Superman mythos and family, and that, as part of the deal, no one would be allowed to touch any of the characters without John’s permission; and (2) I distinctly remember saying to Dick that, if the first series was successful, I wanted to continue to write stories about Lois as her own person, as a reporter covering stories – not as Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane. Of course Dick was non-committal, but I thought it was because he – naturally – didn’t want to put the horse before the cart, not because of the Byrne deal that was about to be announced to the press and public.
At any rate, and to my delight, Dick green-lit the project, which would feature Lois as a reporter doing a story on missing and abused children, and in which Superman would not appear – although Clark Kent would. And Lana Lang, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and even Lois’s sister, Lucy. The story would be character-driven, and it would be about Lois. Robert Greenberger, then working as an editor at DC – and with whom I had worked on the V comic – was given the assignment, and he brought in the remarkable Gray Morrow, known for his realistic and individualistic portrayal of women characters. We were all immensely enthusiastic about the project, and the series came together incredibly easy because of that enthusiasm. It remains something Robert and I are immensely proud to have created. (Gray Morrow, who always expressed his love of the series to me, passed away in 2001.)
The best part of the project, for me, was having the chance to write Lois as an individual.
I grew up on the Silver Age Lois in comics, she of the 1950s white veiled cloche and matching gloves, a lady-like suite, nylons, and pumps. I didn’t like that she was always mooning over Superman and that her main raison d’être was to prove that Superman was Clark Kent. I didn’t like that Superman always managed to pull the wool over her eyes. It made her foolish. It was insulting. It was dumb. I liked Lana Lang; she was spunky, she was Insect Queen, she was a member of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, and she just seemed smarter and not so constantly obsessed with Superman’s secret identity.
I couldn’t stand Noel Neill as Lois Lane, either. She was too – I don’t know, what’s the word? – genteel to be a star reporter on a “great metropolitan newspaper.” Too much like the Lois Lane of the comics.
But Phyllis Coates! Now she was a tough broad. You could imagine her Lois working her way up the glass ladder – and even breaking though that glass ceiling – in a time when “ladies” stayed home and emulated Betty Crocker. Coates’ Lois could not only replace Perry White as the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet, but she would keep a bottle of Scotch in her bottom drawer just as Lou Grant did on The Mary Tyler MooreShow. Phyllis Coates’s Lois was the chick that Sinatra sang about in The Lady Is A Tramp. Phyllis Coates’s Lois was Katherine Graham of the Washington Post.
I believe that Coates’ portrayal of Lois was based on how she first appeared in Action Comics #1. That Lois was snarky, resourceful, sarcastic, brave, contemptuous of Clark Kent, and didn’t moon over Superman; it is said that Siegel and Shuster based her personality and character on Rosalind Russell in His Gal Friday. She smelled a story and went after it. Yeah, Superman saved her – but she was thankful, not all googly-eyed and mushy because of it. (This was the Lois who also appeared in the Fleisher animated shorts, which can easily be found on the web.)
Bottom line, Lois is the most underappreciated, and in my humble opinion, most badly written character in comics. Currently she is a producer on a television news-entertainment show; sorry, no way, José. Lois is Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, or Christine Amanpour on CNN. Lois is Candy Crowley at the Presidential debate, fact-checking Romney’s statements about Obama. Lois is Helen Thomas in her prime, with her own seat in the front row at Presidential news conferences. Lois is Diane Sawyer, or Andrea Mitchell, or Soledad O’Brian.
Damn, if I could get my hands on her…
TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten Talks Arrow, Talks Halloween
This week’s tempest in a book-pot was sparked yesterday by the fine writer Michael Chabon, but it could easily have been any one of a thousand other authors. In an interview with the Washington Post, occasioned by the upcoming flood of his back catalog into electronic formats, Chabon complained about his royalty rates:
When it’s comes to royalties on a paper book, that rate (25 percent) is completely fair when you think of the expenses a publisher takes on — the delivery trucks and the factory workers and the distribution chains. But it’s not fair for them to take a roughly identical royalty for an e-book that costs them nothing to produce.
There have, of course, already been a dozen or more impassioned blog posts and hurt tweets, from various publishing folks, taking offense at that “nothing to produce.” It is wrong, and horribly wrong, and all of us who work in the business know how much time and effort and agida goes into turning a manuscript into a readable ePub file, or its multifarious brethren. And that’s only the beginning of the process — merely making something exist is the simplest part. One might hope that we all could take that as read by this point — that Publishing, as a verb, is much larger, and encompasses many more complicated, useful, necessary processes than the simple printing and warehousing of books.
Pulp 2.0 Press is pleased to announce the upcoming December release of the 25th anniversary edition of SCARLET IN GASLIGHT, the classic graphic novel starring two of literature’s immortal characters, SHERLOCK HOLMES and DRACULA. Written by Martin Powell and illustrated by Seppo Makinen this thrilling supernatural mystery-adventure has been reviewed by no less than the Washington Post who said that SCARLET IN GASLIGHT is “…more satisfyingly cinematic than many of the movies.”
This special collector’s edition features:
– remastered artwork from the artist
– a special introduction from noted pulp writer and scholar Win Scott Eckert (CROSSOVERS 1&2, THE EVIL IN PEMBERLEY HOUSE)
– a comprehensive interview with Martin Powell on the origins of SCARLET IN GASLIGHT conducted by Michael Leal.
In a move guaranteed to accelerate the adoption of the PDF review copy, the Federal Trade Commission revised their “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials” (click here to download),
urging bloggers who review products, from a book or DVD to a video game
system, to disclose if they received the product for free when giving
an endorsement. According to the Washington Post, breaking these new guidelines could generate up to $11,000 in fines. (There are no penalties directly associated with violating the rules. But the FTC could seek a cease-and-desist order. If you ignore that, the fines start coming in.) These new guidelines will be put into
effect on December 1, 2009.
Bureau of Consumer Protection representative Richard Cleland was interviewed about the guidelines to clarify for blogging reviewers. In a statement that shows that he doesn’t understand how the book reviewing process works, Cleland said
that newspaper book reviewers are exempt because “the newspaper
receives the book and it allows the reviewer to review it, it’s still
the property of the newspaper.” Cleland saw no problem with a blogger receiving
a book, provided there wasn’t a linked advertisement to buy the book
and that the blogger did not keep the book after he had finished
reviewing it. Keeping the book would, from Cleland’s standpoint, count
as “compensation” and require a disclosure– but there would be no such disclosure required if the blogger took the item and sold it for cash or store credit? Huh? (Are they trying to put the Strand out of business?)
This may accelerate another trend I came across recently: I understand that at least one major website has cut their book reviews back from twice a week to twice a month– and this was before the announcement of these guidelines, so maybe it will just be easier to cut reviews altogether. But apparently, it’ll be fine for them to keep promoting their own product relentlessly, and will presumably do so.
After breaking the news via the Washington Post, Marvel has finally begun to reveal some of the details behind the Black Panther revamp coming in February. T’Challa, the reining Panther, seems to be replaced by a mysterious female. Now, Marvel says T’Challa’s fate is tied to events in the aftermath of Secret Invasion and connected to Dark Reign, 2009’s new crossover event.
The first issue will be extra-sized and will carry variant covers including one in their 70th anniversary series.
A sneak peek and interview with artist Ken Lashley has been posted at Marvel’s website.
Hudlin told the Post, "Over the course of 40 issues [over three years], we … really defined the character in a way that hadn’t been done before. … Having done that, you go: "How do we up the stakes?" Marvel is great about doing really shocking changes to their character — they don’t believe in just keeping everything as status quo."
Under Hudlin, the Panther married Storm from the X-Men and has defended his country of Wakanda from foreign and intergalactic invaders.
BET Networks and Marvel Animation announced that Djimon Hounsou will be the voice of the Black Panther on the animated series coming in February.
The Oscar-nominated actor Hounsou.joins a production that largely adapts the first six issues of the Reginald Hudlin-written Black Panther series, “Who is the Black Panther?”
"BET is thrilled to have Djimon Hounsou join us as the voice of The Black Panther," said Denys Cowan, Senior Vice President, Animation for BET Networks. "He is a talented, compelling actor who will be the perfect voice for such an important super-hero in the Marvel universe and such a moment in this historic environment."
"Having Djimon Hounsou voice the lead character in this new series speaks to the power of the character and the partnership between BET and Marvel Animation," adds Eric Rollman, President of Marvel Animation. "The Black Panther animated series is Marvel’s entree into prime-time animation and Djimon raises the bar for all involved as we bring the best in the animation business together to execute on that vision."
"It’s a blessing for African Americans and minorities to have a super-hero they can identify with," said Hounsou. "While the Black Panther is a powerful force for good, he is also a respected world leader who takes pride in his African heritage. He embodies the past and future of his culture, demonstrating the endless possibilities of an Africa that is truly free."
The series comes at a time when Marvel is changing Panthers, seemingly killing off T’Challa and replacing him with an unidentified woman according to a story in the Washington Post.
Over at the Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon has done quite a service by compiling the thoughts of a huge (HUGE) number of comics creators on the controversial cartoon gracing the latest issue of the New Yorker.
You can see the image at right. It shows a Muslim, militant Obama and his wife in the Oval Office, giving a fist bump as the flag burns in the fire and a picture of Osama bin Laden hangs on the wall.
Paul Pope is one of the respondents:
I wonder if you are somehow sensing a connection to the Dutch cartoonist case. If anything, this again reconfirms the power of the pen, and how this ancient tool of protest and satire can be used to such controversial and potent ends. I applaud The New Yorker for this.
There’s tons more, and it’s all worth a read. Personally, I’m an Obama supporter, and I really like the cover. I’ve read so much about the stupid mistaken "facts" being perpetrated about Obama (like this story in the Washington Post by my pal Eli Saslow) that it’s a relief to see them so effectively caricatured.
I had all but given up on newspaper comic strips in recent years. My favorites (Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side,Peanuts, etc.) had disappeared and every new innovative comic appeared online, not in the funny pages.
Then a friend pointed me to Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson of the Washington Post. Like many of the great strips, Cul de Sac features a young central character (Alice, in this case) who simultaneously looks at the world with the dreamy innocence of youth and the cynical sensibilities of an adult.
That balancing act is consistently funny on a daily basis, as Thompson finds the most creative ways to point out the lunacy of the world from both children’s and adult’s perspective. My favorite strip might be the one below, in which Alice’s brother opines on the world of comic books:
So, I have a new newspaper comics strip. Maybe the "funnies" page isn’t dead yet. Or maybe it is: I read Cul de Sac online.