Pull Quotes: Where for art thou, Norse dialogue?


Stan Lee talks to Marvel.com about writing a new story for THOR #600, and how times have changed:

“When I used to write Thor, I had all the characters talk the way I imagined that Norse gods would talk. “Thou shalt not” and “get thee gone” and “so be it” and stuff like that. But I’ve been reading the Thor books lately and he talks like you or me! So I just had him talking like a regular guy because I didn’t want to throw the readers off balance.

Every balloon that I wrote, every panel, I was tempted to have him talk the way he used to, but I figured, well, that’ll confuse people.”

Would Marvel’s original THOR comics have been successful without that over-cooked, faux-Elizabethan dialogue? Verily, we say nay!

Meanwhile, in the previously-mentioned wide-ranging interview with Bookslut, Jason Lutes (BERLIN) talks about the virtues and vices of Stan Lee’s writing in the ’60s:

“Sure, it’s terribly written in the technical sense, but the kind of energy and creativity there is great…

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Marvel Month-to-Month Sales: November 2008

by Paul O’Brien

November was meant to be the final month of SECRET INVASION, but that slipped into December, taking some high-profile crossover issues with it. In fact, perhaps the most striking feature of this month’s chart is the number of high profile books that are missing: no SECRET INVASION, no NEW AVENGERS, no MIGHTY AVENGERS, no ASTONISHING X-MEN, no THOR.

Since Marvel are saving most of their new titles for the upcoming “Dark Reign” promotion, there’s not much in the way of new books either. The month’s highest profile release was ULTIMATUM #1. There’s a couple of low-profile miniseries, and, uh, that’s about it, really.

With FINAL CRISIS and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA also absent, it’s a weird month all round. As usual, Marvel had the biggest share of the direct market, but it’s closer than usual. They led DC by 43% to 35% in unit share, but in dollar share, it’s a mere 37% to 34%.

Thanks as always to Milton Griepp and ICV2 for permission to use their figures for these calculations.

11/08  Ultimatum #1 of 5 - 114,230

In the absence of SECRET INVASION (which would probably have beaten it by 35,000 or so), ULTIMATUM takes the top spot this month. This series is supposed to reinvigorate the Ultimate imprint, which has been flagging a bit over the last year or so. And at first glance, it’s off to a pretty strong start – 115K is roughly what FINAL CRISIS did last month.

But it’s not quite that simple. For one thing, it’s significantly lower than the first month sales of ULTIMATES 3 #1, which shifted an estimated 131K back in December 2007. With all the hype, you might have thought ULTIMATUM would deliver similar numbers. Then again, the Ultimate imprint generally has taken a hit over the last year, so perhaps not.

More surprising is the performance of the November tie-in issues, ULTIMATE X-MEN #98 and ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #58. Normally, you’d expect them to get big sales boosts from the crossover. But… well, see for yourself.

[Read more…]

NYCC panel lineup announced

New York Comic-Con has announced its programming for the Feb 6-8 show. There’s lots to like, with a lot of diversity and variety among the topics. The major film and TV programming will be unveiled closer to the show date. We’re scheduled for two panels:

The Beat Presents The Art of Storytelling
Sunday 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM 1A06
As comics have become a more influential part of pop culture, their stories and characters are known more widely than ever. Step inside the minds of some of the comic biz’s best storytellers to find out how they approach their craft and shape their visions to create their best known works. Moderated by Heidi MacDonald, with Jim Lee, Marv Wolfman, and more.

Lilly Renee Phillips Spotlight
Sunday 1:45 PM-2:45 PM
Lily Renee Phillips was one of the pioneer women cartoonists in the Golden Age of Comics, working primarily for Fiction House publishers. Fleeing Nazi Germany to America as a child, she went on to draw covers and such features as The Lost World, Senorita Rio, and Werewolf Hunters for Planet Comics, Rangers Comics, and Fight Comics. With her then-husband Eric Peters, she also drew covers and interior stories for a number of Abbott & Costello Comics. Phillips talks about her amazing life and career with Heidi MacDonald (The Beat).

Both of which we’re very, very excited about! In fact we’re super-excited about New York Comic-Con, since it will be here in about five minutes and so will just about everyone we know.

CEREBUS: A Diablog

200901081326As briefly noted, yesterday marked the debut of Cerebus: A Diablog which features journalist Laura Hudson and Top Shelf’s Leigh Walton blogging each issue of CEREBUS, one issue a week. (That’s nearly 6 years of labor. Will there even BE blogs by then?) It’s a strong debut, as the millennial duo parses the grammar of a comics industry long gone while mining the kernels of eternal content. Walton:

What’s interesting about the “Cerebus is an aardvark” juxtaposition — seemingly the point of the comic — is that the comic largely doesn’t notice. The opening few pages of this issue, when the human characters are shocked to see a warrior aardvark riding a horse and entering a bar, comprise pretty much the only time in the series (I think) when the comic draws attention to the conceit. “Thought later he would be called the finest warrior to enter our gates, at the time, he was but a curiosity…” “I can’t serve YOU here… YOU’RE A…” etc. But then he’s hired by two thieves to join their heist, with a minimum of hesitation, and that establishes the treatment for the rest of the book: Cerebus is funny-looking, and he’s recognized as an unnaturally skilled warrior, but he’s not a dog walking on its hind legs or anything.


Sim’s narrative is most compelling during the more elaborate battle scenes, which adhere to fantasy tropes but have an animated, almost poetic cadence: “The heavy blade sliced the gloomy air and crashed against the aardvark’s blade as Cerebus backed up the shadowed stairs… like a blinding flame, the steel flickered and slashed in front of him…”

Check back factor: high.

Wossy Wampage at Marvel?

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As you know, we’re a bit skeptical of celebrities who suddenly yearn to write comics, having discovered this long-buried dream now that comic book movies are all the rage in Hollywood. There are a few slebs we’ll give a pass to, however, based on the fact that they were out and about being comics lovers long before it become fashionable. Such a figure is English chat show host Jonathan Ross, known as “Wossy” in Blighty because of a famed lisp. Ross — who gained comics fame for smooching Neil Gaiman at the Eisners in 2007 — has been on enforced hiatus due to a suspension over a phone prank, but hasreportedly put the spare time to good use by writing some comics for Marvel :

Wossy, 48, a keen collector of old comics, said: “I’m writing some comic books but it’s a lot harder than I thought.”

Comic expert Rich Johnston said: “Jonathan has a good relationship with Marvel. It would be a dream come true.”

In fact, Ross may be eager for a return engagement at the Eisners — according to a Twitter just yesterday “I’d it weird to be getting excited about comicon on January ?” No Wossy, not at all…we’ve been having anxiety dreams about it for about two weeks.

WATCHMEN’s clock is ticking down

As previously reported, Fox and Warners, both embroiled in the legal struggle over the WATCHMEN movie, had agreed to wait until January 20th to have Judge Gary Feess rule on whether Warners would be able to release the movie as planned. However, with the clock ticking, Warners is trying to get the date moved up, as they are already pouring marketing money into a picture that might not open.

Warner Bros. disclosed in court filings that “Watchmen,” which the studio hopes will be a global blockbuster, cost $130 million to produce, with marketing and promotion expenditures pushing the studio’s total investment to “more than $150 million.” On Monday, Fox and Warner agreed to skip a jury trial and let Feess convene a hearing Jan. 20 on whether Warner should be blocked from releasing the movie. But on Tuesday, with the release date less than eight weeks away, Warner asked the judge to begin the hearing eight days earlier, on Monday. The studio is already running trailers in theaters promoting “Watchmen.” “Because the release date for ‘Watchmen’ is less than two months away and Warner Bros. must imminently commit to spending tens of millions of dollars on its marketing and promotional campaign for the picture, time is of the essence,” Warner Bros. said in its request.

As always, Film Esq. has more on the legal underpinnings of the latest moves.

Isadora Duncan, Sabrina Jones, and the Brooklyn Museum

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200901080300The other night we attended a very cool event at the Brooklyn Museum of Art: an evening of dance and comics strips. The occasion was a celebration of dance pioneer Isadora Duncan. The evening featured a full slate of dance from Lori Belilove and the Isadora Duncan Dance Company, while cartoonist Sabrina Jones presented biographical notes on Duncan via her recently published graphic novel biography of the dancer. We got there late and had to sit in the bleachers and you weren’t allowed to take pictures, so we can only snap the for-position-only snap above of Belilove and Jones doing a Q&A after the performance. As you can see, it was a classy setting, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art is an august institution, so to see graphic novels integrated into this level of cultural discourse was yet another level of acceptance for the medium.

Isa Con

And speaking of Jones, Van Jensen has a good interview with her up at CBR:

You clearly admire Duncan quite a lot. Was it difficult to try to “do justice” to the story of someone you respect so much?
I can’t imagine working so long and hard on someone I didn’t admire. Her impact on the field of dance alone is pivotal, the equivalent of Picasso in painting, James Joyce or Whitman in writing. She also looked beyond the stage, advocating for justice and liberation, especially for women and poor children. Throw in an outsized personality and a major appetite for love…

At the same time, I realize she might have driven me up a wall if I knew her personally. To paraphrase her student Irma: She had no common sense, but if she did, then she wouldn’t have been a genius.

Shuster Award blog updated

Canadians! They look just like us. They act very much like us. But they are not us. They are Canadians. You may find this exhaustive list of Canadian cartoonists disturbing — it is truly shocking how much work by Canadians has been allowed to slip into the US marketplace. The document is cleverly disguised as a list of eligible work for the Joe Shuster Awards, which recognize — ha! — the work of our northern cartooning neighbors. The awards now have a spiffy, regularly updated blog to further inform us of the Canadian menace.

As long as we’re talking Canada, The Walrus reviews Two New Canadian Graphic Novels, UNE PIQUANTE PETITE BRUNETTE, by Albert Chartier, and DROP-IN, by Dave Lapp. They are all around us, I am telling you.

Studio Coffee Run: Rourke, Rockwell, WB

200901080318§ Mickey Rourke is completing his “comeback” by playing a villain in IRON MAN 2, it was widely reported yesterday. Sam Rockwell is also playing a villain. Or at least they are both “in negotiations,” which means someone sent them a script. However, just who each will be playing is a matter of some confusion. One might play the Crimson Dynamo, but someone might play Whiplash, or maybe it’s Justin Hammer…and what’s this about the Black Widow? Oh heavens to Murgatroyd! What is this all about???? Devin Faraci at C.H.U.D. spends a lot of time puzzling out the truth:

Of course it’s possible that Justin Theroux and John Favreau have simply decided to take the character and concept and run with it in a new direction, possibly merging Whiplash and the Dynamo. Or maybe they’re wrong about Rockwell as Hammer – he’s way too young, for one thing – and he’s actually Whiplash. That almost makes more sense when you look at Whiplash’s history as Stark engineer gone bad.

A simpler explanation might just be that deadline-pressed and/or poorly-briefed trade writers just got it all jumbled. Anyway, Mickey Rourke AND Robert Downey Jr. in the same movie? All that’s needed is a cameo by Dr. Drew.

§ Writer/producer, Hollywood insider David Goyer confirms what many have been saying: All DC films at Warner Bros. are on hold until they figure out how to do it just right:

When asked about several projects he’s been involved with – i.e. Supermax, The Flash – Goyer said in a recent interview with IESB, “A lot of the DC movies at Warner Brothers are all on hold while they figure out, they’re going to come up with some new plan, methodology, things like that so everything has just been pressed pause on at the moment. It was the double header of both Iron Man and The Dark Knight coming out, so more than ever I think they’ve realized, I think DC was responsible for 15% of Warner Brother’s revenue this year, something crazy like that, so they realized that comic books, it’s become a new genre, one of the most successful genres.”

§ P.S. We saw THE WRESTLER the other night and it gets 100 percent from The Beat. A truly excellent film in every way. Maybe we’ll write a little review somewhere, some time.

Colombian coffee growers angered by Mother Goose & Grimm

You just do not mess with Juan Valdez. Cartoonist Mike Peters has learned that the hard way. The January 2nd edition of the comic strip Mother Goose & Grimm by Peters has greatly upset Colombian coffee growers by referring to Valdez, the fictional mascot for the organization, in conjunction with rumored Columbian crime lords. The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation plans to sue Peters for “damage and harm, detriment to intellectual property and defamation” to the tune of $20 million. Peters, for his part, professes to love Colombian coffee, and meant no harm.

“I had no more thought to insult Colombia and Juan Valdez than I did Pringles, Betty Crocker, Col. Sanders, Dr. Pepper and Bartles & Jaymes,” he said in a statement. “The cartoon is meant to be read along with the rest of the week as a series of which the theme is based on the fact that the inventor of the Pringles can had his ashes buried in one.

“I thought this was a humorous subject and all of my Mother Goose & Grimm cartoons are meant to make people laugh. I truly intended no insult.”

Peter Bagge in Discover

Discover Peter Bagge .
You read about it in the Beat survey, now you can actually read it in the February 2009 of Discover Magazine: a new series of comics by Peter Bagge. According to the press release “Bagge’s “History of Science” comic will present the characters and events of science history in a fresh and irreverent light, sure to capture the eye of DISCOVER’s 6.7 million readers.”

Land o’ links

200901080157§ Paul Morton presents an interview with Jason Lutes at Bookslut that, sadly, does not mention Battle for Wesnoth, but mentions everything else.

One of the things that’s unexplored in comics is the subtlety. When you’re drawing pictures, and in my case it’s black ink on white paper, the tendency is to work in broad strokes. That’s why in mainstream comics there’s a lot of fights and explosions because it’s easier to get people’s attention and budget-wise it’s easier to draw that stuff. I became more interested in the smaller, more closely-observed details and the ways you could do that in comics. A big influence on me was Chester Brown. He’s a Canadian cartoonist who really slowed things down in a way I’ve never seen before. He would have something happen over several panels or have a whole page of a character staring out a window. And that changed the way a comic could be read. It became really interesting to me and I wanted to explore it more. And because I really wanted to get outside myself and explore the lives of the mostly fictional lives I’ve created, to pay attention to them and how they behave and the subtleties of their actions just became a big focus. I self-consciously try to create a novel effect using comics, which is perhaps a weakness on my part. But I wanted to create these characters and pay attention to how they behave in these situations and then observe them closely so the reader hopefully will in some way think of them as real people.

§ Spidey meets Obama!

§ Deb Aoki is running several polls on the best new manga of ’08:

You’ve already had a chance to vote for the Best New Shojo Manga and Best New Shonen Manga of 2008 — so now it’s time for the What’s your choice for the Best New Shonen Manga of 2008? Check out the 2008 Best New Seinen (Mens’) Manga Readers Poll page for plot summaries, cover artwork and links for more info about each nominated manga and choose your favorite, or scroll down to vote now.

§ Shocker! Actress who plays superhero actually reads comics. And not just superhero comics…

§ JK Parkin covers marketing and more at BOOM! in an interview with Chip Mosher.

§ Michael May tussles with what is the “other” category in comics.

§ Chip Kidd talks Bat-manga at Wired.
§ Spider-Man Musical Watch:Finally! Word from an actual U2 member as the Edge babbles on and on and on about his work writing the score (with Bono) for the Spidey musical:

Speaking for the first time about the project, the guitar icon revealed to the Sun that, “It is happening. We’ve written a lot of the songs at this point. It’s in a pretty good state, and I hope it’ll open this year. We’re not sure where in the world, but most likely it will be in New York”, he explained to The Sun.

§ This story reveals two things. 1) Krypton is rracially diverse and 2) Newsarama is now being syndicated at MSNBC.

§ Marvel had a pretty hefty printing malfunction:

Some Marvel fans who unscrupulously read their comic books in stores before buying them – a habit popularly known as Byrne-Stealing, in honor of former comics legend John Byrne– were amusingly vindicated on Wednesday, when it was discovered that behind the Humberto Ramos-illustrated cover of “X-Men: Manifest Destiny” #5 were the contents of an entirely different comic book, “X-Men/Spider-Man” #3 – which was not set to ship until January 14. The transposition is the result of a printing error.

§ After Ellen thinks it’s time for a superheroine.

§ And so does Jezebel: Wonder Women: It’s Time For A Female Superhero Flick

§ Finally, condolences to LEAGUE OF MELBOTIS on the death of its titular mascot.

Watch The Prisoner online

As you know, AMC is presenting a remake of The Prisoner, the greatest TV show of all time, starring Jim Cavaziel as Number Six and Ian McKellen as Number Two. To drum up interest, they have quite an extensive The Prisoner site up, with all of the original 17 episodes from 1967 available for viewing. if you’ve never seen it, now is your chance!

The site is actually very, very cool, with a production blog for the new show, including Sir Ian’s observations and an extensive photo gallery of both episode and production stills. I don’t want to spoil them, but let’s just say that if you’re a Prisoner fan, you will enjoy the production stills perhaps the most, especially the ones where star/mastermind Patrick McGoohan is going about his business with a ciggie dangling from his mouth. Here are a couple to whet your appetite:


BTW, as we’ve probably mentioned before, while we’re dubious about the entire remake enterprise, seeing McKellen as Number Two makes it worth our while if nothing else will.

Link via Whitney Matheson..