Wonder Woman to return to TV

Well speak of the devil, whaddaya know, Wonder Woman is back; she’s getting her own David E. Kelley-produced TV show.

This has to be the highest-profile effort to bring Wonder Woman to television: One of TV’s best-known creators, David E. Kelley, has come on board to write and produce a new series project about the female superhero. The project, from Warner Bros. Television where Kelley is based, and Warner Bros.’ DC Entertainment, will be taken out to the networks shortly. Kelley, who has created several female-centered shows, most notably Ally McBeal, had been interested in tackling a contemporary take on the World War II-era Amazon.

He recently met with the DC team who also have been looking for ways to launch a new Wonder Woman TV franchise. Details on the reboot are being kept under wraps, and it is not clear if the new Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince will keep her signature powers and weapons, including her Lasso of Truth, her indestructible bracelets, her tiara and her invisible airplane. In the comic books, the Wonder Woman character has evolved significantly since she first appeared in a 1941 issue of All Star Comics and recently underwent a controversial makeover.

While one of the proverbial “big three” at DC, Wonder Woman had proven problematic to develop for filmed entertainment — movies with female leads don’t work, it is thought, and a Wonder Woman movie has repeatedly foundered at DC, including a controversial version by Joss Whedon. A movie is supposedly still in development (and WW would be part of a theoretical Justice League movie) but GTV is a much safer haven for the character widely seen as a feminist icon in a world where you can’t even use the word feminist. For one thing, female-lead shows are very successful on network TV.

Wonder Woman was, of course, the star of a highly successful TV show in the ’70s starring Lynda Carter. Kelley’s most successful shows have all involved lawyers — Ally McBeal, Boston Legal — so maybe Diana will go to law school?

What do you think — will she have a new costume? Or stick with the classic, branded look?

What's up at: DC Comics

201009211306.jpgNothing really, business as usual.

Seriously, there is a lot of change going on — although DC Comics is staying in New York, a lot of people are either leaving their jobs or being faced with a move to another coast. We’re not going to run all 80 — or however many it is — names, but some departments are newsworthy enough to be reported on.

Most, if not all, of DC’s senior VPs are leaving as part of the ongoing reorganization. Gregory Noveck left in August, and he’s being joined by SVP — Creative Director Richard Bruning, SVP – Marketing and Sales Steve Rotterdam and SVP – Brand Management Cheryl Rubin.

Bruning had worked for DC on and off since 1985, leaving in 1990 to start his own Brainstorm United design firm, but returning in 1996. He was instrumental in the design of the landmarks Watchmen and Dark Knight, and had overseen most of DC’s branding over the years, including the Vertigo and Zuda logos.

Rotterdam joined the company in 2007 after being a partner at the Eastwest Marketing Group. West Coast based John Rood’s title as Executive VP of Marketing, Sales and Business Development seemed to make Rotterdam’s position more of a duplication. We have still not received word on whether DC’s marketing and sales departments will stay on the east coast or move.

In her position, Rubin oversaw DC’s licensing and branding on toys, theme parks, films and the like, since joining the company in 1987. She also worked closely with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, another LA-based division. With these functions moving to Warner Bros itself, Rubin’s position has also become redundant.

In addition, Patrick Caldon, previously one of DC’s five heads as Executive VP Finance and Administration, is retiring and business functions are being moved to the West Coast. Caldon’s name was absent in the reorganization announcements, and this is why.

As all these departures show, moving DC’s business functions to the studio is going to have a huge impact on the way the characters are licensed and branded from here on out. In fact, with the DC-based films becoming an even bigger part of the Warner Bros. business plan, it’s evident that refining these areas is part of the motivation for the entire reorganization.

What's up at: Marvel

ICv2 presents their annual chat with Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley and he just sort of lays it out:

It’s another pretty good year.  The industry’s a little bit softer year over year, but considering the turmoil though that our economy’s gone through over the last three years experiencing softness the third year into it (single digit softness) is pretty good.  I think everyone, the publishers, retailers, and creators, have performed very admirably in tough circumstances.  Most of the softness is associated with the single issue sales.  Book sales continue to be strong in both the hobby market along with the book market. 
Digital comics appeared in force this year as a viable sales channel and promotional channel for our products.

So there you go. Interviewer Milton Griepp brings up one good point we haven’t seen showcased much, that in this recession the truism that comics do well in a bad economy wasn’t quite true, but Buckley counters that holding their own was still better than other segments — the “flat is the new up” theorem. There’s also this on the $3.99 price point:

I think it’s the appropriate price point for the entertainment value and quality that we offer in the books. The $3.99 price point was already the price point for limited series and one-shots before we moved some of our regular series up, and we still have several regular series that are at $2.99. If we want to continue to have the talent and the quality that we offer in those books, it’s a price point that we had to explore. What we offer from an entertainment standpoint is pretty solid and I think we should be proud of that.

Incredibly, neither the “D” word nor “Brand New Day” is mentioned once.

Speaking of which, over at CBR, Joe Quesada continues his panel-by-panel explanation of ONE MOMENT IN TIME:

Yeeeeeeah, NO. There is no “Spider-Kid.” He or she’s not out there. It’s not happening. [Laughter] But, the final word on that was said long before I became EIC. There’s a whole crazy history behind that “Spider-Baby” story from long before I was ever here at Marvel. What it basically boiled down to then is the same thing it boils down to now, sorry, ain’t gonna happen.

Part four has only 204 comments thus far. People must be running out of steam a bit.

31 Days of Halloween: Andrea Tsurumi

Yep, it’s that time of year again! And we already have so many awesome contributions we may have to to do more than one picture a day just to keep up. But please keep the links and art coming.

We kick off this year’s festivities with Andrea Tsurumi‘s 13 Witches project. According to her website, Tsurumi is an illustrator/cartoonist who is part of the Tapir Tooth comics collective, and creator of the webcomic TERKA.

What's up at: Universal

You know Disney and WB have comic book companies, and Fox and Paramount have dabbled with their own comics in the past, but what about Universal? They’re putting out at least one comics-y type thing, even if it’s coming out from their Universal Studios branch as part of Halloween hoopla. Vampyre: Castle of the Undead (Blood Secrets of the Iron Guard), is not only the longest title ever but also the first graphic novella to be based on a Halloween theme park maze, we’re told. Patrick Ian Moore is listed as artist.

“Vampyre: Castle of the Undead (Blood Secrets of the Iron Guard)” tells a modern tale of the vampires of Wallachia, Romania, the medieval realm of Vlad the Impaler, who inspired the 19th century Dracula legend. With drawings and design by Moore, the book was based on a maze developed by “Halloween Horror Nights” Creative Director John Murdy with a story by Max Nichts.

The comic is being serialized on the Halloween Horror Nights website, although we couldn’t find it there. Printed editions will be given away as prizes to park guests who go to get their chills at the Halloween attraction.

Halloween Horror Nights runs until Halloween and includes attractions based on NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and other chilling stuff.

What's up at: Sea Lion Books

How many Dabel brothers are there? While Les and Ernst are familiar from their various imprints at publishers around town, there’s also Pascal and David Dabel, and they have launched their own publishing house, called Sea Lion Press, which is set to publish YA books by well-known authors, including Paulo Coelho, Richelle Mead, and Richard A. Knaak. They’ll be at New York Comic-Con to promote a new series of comics based on Mead’s bestselling Dark Swan series, starting with STORM BORN, the story of freelance shaman Eugenie Markham who fights strange creatures from a place called the Otherworld. Mead is also the author of the best-seling Vampire Academy books, for those without access to a teen-age reader.

“Seeing your books come to life like this is one of the most amazing things that an author can experience.  I’m a huge fan of graphic novels, and Sea Lion has done an incredible job in creating the characters and scenes of the Dark Swan world,” added Richelle Mead. “The art is stunning and beautifully captures my vision.  Eugenie fans are going to love this, and new readers will too.”

STORM BORN is coming out in periodical form first in winter 2011, as an eight-issue miniseries.

Sea Lion has also announced a comics adaptation of PC Cast’s GODDESS OF THE ROSE, a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast myth, also for release in 2011. No creative teams have been announced, but Derik Ruiz is on board as EVP and Publisher.

To do 10/1: Highwater Books Art Show


Right Thing The Wrong Way:

Included will be various works by the core artists involved in the development of Highwater Books (Brian Ralph, Megan Kelso, Ron Rege, Jordan Crane, Greg Cook, Jef Czekaj, Marc Bell, Kurt Wolfgang), some of the work will be new some will be originals pages from their published work. Though not all of these artists were published by Highwater, they all worked with/for the company in one way or another and since a large of part of Highwater was its status as a kind of comics “gang” it is important that the people that appear in the show were integral in that. Along with the original work there will be an installation that exhibits the ephemera/history of the company to give the art and artists context as well as a catalog that will give an oral history of the company.

San Diego triumphs in the battle of the convention bureaus

As announced last evening, CCI: San Diego’s board, despite intense wooing from other cities, has decided to keep Comic-Con in San Diego. The announcement has been met with generally universal relief thus far. Yes, we moan, we complain, but exchanging the city of San Diego’s mild temperatures and convenient layout for the bland boulevards of Anaheim or tent cities filled with lovable hobos of Los Angeles wouldn’t have really been much of an improvement. It isn’t much of a surprise, really — things had been going this way for a while and it was very clear that the board wanted to stay in San Diego.

Steadfast Lori Weisberg at the San Diego Union-Tribune has the wrap-up story and it’s clear that after all the misunderstandings and local tensions, the people running the city realized that keeping Comic-Con was vitally important for their economy and image. But it was a long battle, and some hearts were broken along the way.

Despite being disappointed by the decision, Anaheim tourism officials remain optimistic that Comic-Con could eventually come their way in the future. “We certainly recognize how difficult a decision this was by virtue of how long it took,” said Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau. “We understand it was not a unanimous decision by Comic-Con so clearly there is interest in alternative locations so that gives us hope for the future.”

“I truly think the catalyst was the mayor getting involved personally, having meetings in his office to let the hotel community know we were all committed,” said Carol Wallace, Convention Center Corp. president. “People really stood up and took notice. I also had a staff person assigned full time working with Comic-Con for the last year.”

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders is a figure not without controversy, and in times past he was thought to be a bit dismissive of the con. But if this story is to be seen as the denouement, Mayer Sanders has now been won over and stands tall and proud beside the nerds, stormtroopers and Glee cast members:

“I think everyone met face to face on this and decided this was really important for the San Diego region.” said Mayor Sanders. “This is a great employment generator in terms of people working on the convention and all the things it spins off. It’s also good for the psyche of the city. And we literally couldn’t buy the kind of P.R. we get. We get more journalists and magazines and TV here during Comic-Con than we get for anything else in San Diego.”

If it took a little longer than expected for city fathers to notice what those of us who go to the show found obvious, we shouldn’t begrudge their standing atop the podium this time. But there are still a few factors that remain.

What about the hotels??? is it still going to be horrible???
The Comics Reporter immediately got David Glanzer on the blower to answer just this question:

GLANZER: Well, we’ve received assurances that we will have access to more rooms for our room bloc. This gives us the possibility of doubling the amount of rooms available to our attendees. Rates are always an issue, and the hotels fully understand this. This agreement will hopefully keep hotel rates competitive.

Which is about as vague as you can get. We know people who have already paid for their rooms for 2011 at full price of $500 a night. Getting the hotels to agree to terms the Con was comfortable with is seen as the last holdout for getting the show to stay. However, according to the Union-Tribune story, the Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego Marriott and Hilton San Diego Bayfront have pledged “an additional 300,000 square feet of meeting space free of charge in 2013 through 2015.” And the room block has been expanded to 14,000. That’s right, even the nutty Hyatt came on board. 14,000 rooms is a lot more than have previously been available through Travel Planners, so all the hotel rooms should be gone in about two minutes this time, instead of one.

While the bigger room block sounds great, we can only hope that room rates will stay at least only crazy instead of crazy-ass insane. And please note:

The Agreement was only for three years.
Did you see what the Anaheim guy was doing there? “We understand it was not a unanimous decision by Comic-Con.” See, he’s trying to sow dissension! And Comic-Con has signed on to stay in San Diego until 2015. Since it was staying until 2012 originally, this is only a three-year extension. While that’s in line with previous contracts for the show, it leaves the situation open enough so that if things don’t go well in the next two years, we can start the whole competition all over again. And there’s also the matter of

What about the convention center expansion?
That is still a go, with an architect being selected but the city needs to come up with $750 million to pay for it — not an easy task. Realistically, the city needs to expand the exhibit hall not just for Comic-Con but for other large shows — several of which outgrew the venue several years ago. With all the features we already mentioned, San Diego is really the ideal site for major trade shows — but the need for a larger convention center is holding it back from being more competitive with Las Vegas, Chicago, and Orlando. Expansion is a major goal for the city overall. But if the venue doesn’t get bigger, and the Con stays the way it is…come 2013, things may need to be reexamined yet again. And finally —

What about that pedestrian bridge?
A lot of people have been mentioning this in the comments. A pedestrian bridge over Harbor Ave. is already under way (opposite the Bayfront Hilton) and should be nearing completion.

Finally, although this all seems to have a happy ending for now, in true thriller fashion, a cryptic comment in the UT story is a perfect set up for a sequel:

On Tuesday October 4, 2010, Las Vegas based The Clarence Group (theclarencegroup.com} will announce a new well-funded, visionary and comprehensive consortum with unrelenting intentions to purchase, expand and relocate Comic-Con to Las Vegas.

A visit to the Clarence Group website shows a bunch of statements so creepy and boilerplate that we’re half convinced it’s some kind of alternate reality game. Nonetheless, they do have this graphic:


The Clarence Group comments have been removed since we copied the above, so it’s certainly some kind of hooey, but the idea of a secret cabal planning to annex Comic-Con sounds like something out of…well, a comic book.

So in the end, order is restored. The mild breezes of San Diego Bay, the tasty tropical cocktails at the Marriott, the torch-lit roof at Petco Park, the shimmering mirage of Ralphs…it’s on!