Lady Gaga cast as the Dazzler…beware the First of April!

The rumor’s provenance was impeccable: director Bryan Singer.

But given the date…

Still, casting Gaga as the resident mutant singer/dancer/disco queen, it would kinda be genius.



On the Scene: Unpacking comics history at the Asbury Park Comicon 2013


by Peter Sanderson

While WonderCon, one of the nation’s largest comics/multimedia conventions was going on in Anaheim, last Saturday New York and New Jersey area comics fans were listening to comics greats speak in the more intimate setting of the Wonder Bar at the Asbury Park Comicon, now in its third year.

The convention took place in Asbury Park, New Jersey, along the celebrated Jersey Shore. Founded in the 1870s, the town still has picturesque Victorian architecture. But the town is now most famous for its prominence in popular music history from the 1970s on, most notably the early career of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band.

Only a year ago founders Cliff Galbraith and Robert Bruce held the Asbury Park Comicon in Asbury Lanes, a combination music club and bowling alley. But this year the main venue for the con was the grand old Asbury Park Convention Hall, part of an enormous complex that includes the Paramount Theatre and was constructed in the 1920s on the boardwalk along the beach. Exhibitors filled two floors of the Convention Hall. The theatre and arcade are connected by an arcade, where a 1960s style Batmobile and a Back to the Future DeLorean were displayed; the arcade was also the site of the Comicon’s cosplay competition. If anyone wanted to take a break from con activities, they could gaze out the windows to see the light glittering on the Atlantic Ocean on a beautifully sunlit day.
Panels were held across the street at the Wonder Bar, decorated with images of Tillie, a grinning cartoon figure who is an icon of Asbury Park history. Starting roughly forty-five minutes after the Comicon opened at 10 AM, the remarkable line-up of panels ran until closing time, with the Beat’s own Torsten Adair as master of ceremonies. This was a pleasant venue, with a stage on one end, but food and drinks were being served at the other end of the tavern, and the noise from people talking down there rose in volume during the course of the day, becoming a problem by late afternoon.

First up was “Of Clerks and Comic Book Men.” Asbury Park is not far from Red Hook, New Jersey, the location of Kevin Smith’s comic book store Jay and Bob’s Secret Stash, the setting of AMC’s reality television series Comic Book Men. Present on this first panel of the day were Ming Chen, Bryan Johnson, and Mike Zapcic, all regulars on the show, and Brian O’Halloran, the lead actor in Smith’s films Clerks, Clerks II, and the forthcoming Clerks III. The panelists bantered entertainingly, sometimes aiming funny but affectionate insults at one another, while reminiscing about how they first met Kevin Smith. It came as something of a shock when it was pointed out that the original Clerks is now nearly twenty years old. Asked how he got the role of Dante in Smith’s film, O’Halloran started by claiming he “had some provocative pictures of his [Smith’s] mom,” but then told the story seriously, how he auditioned to be an extra and unexpectedly ended up getting a lead role. As for Clerks III, which Smith is now writing, O’Halloran said that from what he knows about it, “I think it will be one of his best written pieces.” Johnson pronounced it “pretty amazing” and “really funny.”

Asked about Stan Lee’s appearance on Comic Book Men, Johnson noted “how nice” and “cool” Stan is. Then he recalled how when he was riding in a limousine with Lee during the making of the episode, he asked Stan “if he was that excited about always getting comic book questions.” After getting an unexpected response, Johnson said, “I swore to him I would not tell his answer.” Was it “shocking,” he was asked. “A little bit,” Johnson replied.

Then came the Comicon’s keynote address by Michael Uslan, an executive producer on all the Batman live action movies from director Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman onwards and author of the memoir The Boy Who Loved Batman. This keynote was a variation on Uslan’s familiar, well-crafted presentation, recounting his life starting with being a young boy engaged in the then lonely hobby of collecting comics, who saw the debut of the 1960s Batman TV show, was appalled that it was a comedy, and vowed (not unlike the young Bruce Wayne, as he says) to devote his life to showing the world that Batman could be done as a serious hero. And then Uslan recounts how he achieved his dream, teaching the first academic course on superhero comics, becoming a writer at DC Comics, and after ten years of struggle to make a serious live action Batman film, finally triumphing with the Burton blockbuster.

What made this version of his speech different were his many references to the Jersey Shore. As a boy Uslan lived in nearby Ocean Township, but regularly came to Asbury Park. “It is so cool to be back home,” Uslan declared. It was in “a place twelve miles from here,” a flea market called Collingwood Auction, that Uslan said he began amassing his colossal collection of Golden Age comics, paying only a nickel for each. He also recalled driving around “the Circuit” in Asbury Park in the late 1960s, trying to pick up girls; unfortunately, Uslan said he wore a Batman helmet to try to look cool, and “it didn’t work.” Uslan said that the last time he had been in the Wonder Bar, where he was giving his speech, was when he had his very first drink!

At noon comics historian and publisher Craig Yoe, introduced by Torsten Adair as “the Indiana Jones of comics archaeology,” interviewed cartoonist Bob Camp. “I have him up on a pedestal,” Yoe said about Camp. “And I’m afraid of heights,” replied Camp, setting the tone for this witty look back at his lengthy career in comics and animation.

As for just when he started cartooning, Camp said, “I don’t remember not drawing. It’s all I ever did,” joking, “It’s why I have no other skills.” He was fascinated by animated cartoons as a boy, especially Warner Brothers cartoons, but also “any cartoon I could watch,” singling out Famous Studios’ Herman and Katnip series and Terrytoons’ Gandy Goose and Sourpuss. Camp likened Gandy and Sourpuss to two famous characters he later worked on, Ren and Stimpy., “One mean guy, one happy-go-lucky guy, and they’re both gay.”

Camp talked about learning his craft by drawing caricatures in Provincetown on Cape Cod. He said he knew nothing about comic books when he started working at Marvel. “Blame Larry Hama,” he said, since Hama hired him, and Camp began cartooning for Marvel’s humor magazine Crazy. He also did art corrections in Marvel’s Bullpen, where, he said, he learned to imitate the styles of every 1980s Marvel artist, including John Byrne and Bill Sienkiewicz. Camp also confessed that editor in chief “Jim Shooter scared me,” and reminisced about the stories inker Vince Colletta would tell about crime.

Camp then segued into recounting his career in animation, talking about working with animator Bruce Timm on The Real Ghostbusters, working alongside “the greatest guys in animation” on Tiny Toon Adventures, and meeting animator John Kricfalusi, leading to their collaboration on Ren & Stimpy. But, quoting Charles Dickens, Camp referred to his time on that show as “the best of times, the worst of times,” describing what he saw as Kricfalusi’s self-destructive relationship with the Nickelodeon network and his own falling out with Kricfalusi.

Camp ended by talking about his current work, including a Kickstarter project that he and Larry Hama have launched for an animated cartoon called “Hard Heart an Strong Arm.”

Next, at 1 PM, came “Al Jaffee: 57 Years of Going Mad.” Jaffee, now 92 but as sharp as ever, provided his characteristic snappy answers to the far from stupid questions put to him by comics writer and editor Danny Fingeroth. “I have never hosted a panel in a bar before,” Fingeroth began, adding, “Is everyone drunk?”

Fingeroth and Jaffee explored Jaffee’s life going back to his childhood in Savannah, Georgia. “I think I started cartooning a day after I was born,” Jaffee said. His mother took him to live for years in what Jaffee called “the Siberia of Lithuania.” There comics proved to be “critical” to his survival, Jafgfee said, explaining that “It was like the 18th century where I lived in Lithuania,” but his father sent him a collection of Sunday and daily newspaper comic strips from America every six months. “My brother and I spent hours copying all the cartoons.”

Returning to America “in the depths of the Depression,” in 1936 Jaffee entered the High School of Music and Art, newly founded by New York’s legendary (and comics-loving) Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. “I think he saved all our lives,” Jaffee said, whose best friend there was future Mad co-worker Will Elder.

Unable to get work from advertising agencies, Jaffee and other artists turned to comic books instead, and Jaffee started by selling his idea Inferiorman, which he called “a shameless takeoff on Superman,” to Will Eisner, who put him to work in his studio.

Then Jaffee started a long relationship working for Stan Lee at Timely Comics, the company we now know as Marvel. “Stan was 19. I was 20. I immediately saw what a firebrand Stan was. He had just taken over from Simon & Kirby” as editor of Timely Comics. For Timely Jaffee wrote and drew Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal, and later took over Patsy Walker. Under Fingeroth’s questioning, Jaffee also recounted how he took over another Timely funny animal series, Super Rabbit, and gave the character believable problems, even “fits of depression,” and Fingeroth pointed out this prefigured Spider-Man. Jaffee said his “relationship with Stan Lee was not close, but it was warm,” and Lee never edited him, giving him a free hand.

Referring to the Senate hearings condemning comic books as causes of juvenile delinquency, Jaffee declared “In my opinion the U. S. Senate was causing juvenile delinquency,” to applause from the audience.

Jaffee began discussed his work with Harvey Kurtzman, whom he called a “strange genius,” on the short-lived magazines Trump and Humbug, and then his going to work for editor Al Feldstein on Mad. Fingeroth and Jaffee went through the familiar and surefire stories of how Jaffee created his best-known Mad features, “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” and the Mad Fold-Ins. Jaffee had thought his first Fold-In “was a one-shot gag,” and believes that if Kurtzman had still been editing Mad, there never would have been a second one, since Kurtzman was always looking for new ideas. But Feldstein directed Jaffee to come up with a second one. “And that was 49 years ago,” concluded Jaffee, who has been doing Fold-Ins all during those years, and teased the audience by telling them the set-up for the one he is woking on now—but not the punch line.

At 2 PM one of the Comicon’s organizers, Cliff Galbraith, interviewed underground cartoonist John Holmstrom, who in 1975 co-founded the magazine Punk, which chronicled the punk rock movement in its heyday.

Then at 3 PM it was back to the Golden Age of Comics, with Fingeroth back onstage, this time interviewing another of the few survivors of that period, artist Allen Bellman. In 1942, when he was a teenager, Bellman started working for Timely Comics, as Marvel was known in the 1940s, drawing backgrounds for artist Syd Shores’ work on Captain America. Bellman was hired by artist Don Rico and did not meet Stan Lee until two weeks later. His initial image of Stan was as a young man following around his uncle Robert Solomon, the brother-in-law of Timely publisher Martin Goodman. Bellman recalled that the Timely Bullpen was divided into two separate rooms, one for “the animators,” his name for the funny animal artists, and the other for “the illustrators,” the superhero artists such as himself. The first series that Bellman drew on his own was The Patriot, but he also worked on Marvel’s trinity of stars, The Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, and Captain America.

Perhaps surprisingly, Bellman never met Jack Kirby and never met Joe Simon until 2007. At the Comicon earlier that day Bellman was reunited with Al Jaffee. “I was so happy to see him.”

Bellman was one of the hundreds of comic book professionals who were forced to leave the business thanks to the outcry against comics in the 1950s. Referring to Dr. Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, Bellman said, “That book put me out of commission.”

Bellman is well aware that he is one of the few survivors left from the Golden Age of Comics. After reminiscing about the late Gene Colan, Bellman commented, “There’s not many of us left.” And at the end of the panel, asked about his former colleagues, Bellman said simply, “They’re all gone but me.”

Following at 4 PM was “Marvel Days,” a panel surveying the history of Marvel Comics from the 1960s onward. Moderated by Christopher Irving, the author of Leaping Tall Buildings, a book of interviews with comics creators, the panel also included Sean Howe, author of the recent history Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. However, the discussion was dominated by Herb Trimpe, longtime Marvel artist who started collaborating with Stan Lee on The Incredible Hulk back in the Silver Age of the 1960s, and Papercutz editor Jim Salicrup, who rose from messenger to editor at Marvel, where he became best known for editing the Spider-Man titles.

Oddly, both Trimpe and Salicrup had anecdotes about Stan Lee’s hair. Trimpe said that when he first worked at Marvel, Stan, who was in the process of undergoing a hair transplant, “hated” Trimpe’s thick hair. In recalling his early days at Marvel as a messenger, Salicrup recalled going on a mysterious mission to an East Side town house to pick up an equally mysterious package, which turned out to be Stan’s toupee!

Salicrup got his foot in the door at Marvel by sending in a postcard and getting hired by Roy Thomas, just as Marvel was starting a massive expansion in the early 1970s; as Salicrup observed, it is hard to believe that anyone could get hired this way by today’s corporate Marvel. “I loved it when Stan was there, for the first ten years I was there,” before Lee moved out to California to promote Marvel properties as potential TV shows and movies.

Trimpe explained that the “problem he had at Marvel” was that he considered himself a artist more in the cartoon-like style of Jack Davis, who instead had to try for a “classic look” like that of Marvel mainstay John Buscema. Trimpe turned to the work of Jack Kirby. “As far as I know, Stan never ordered anyone to copy Kirby’s stuff,” Trimpe said. “Kirby’s stuff had a language to it” that was “very powerful stuff. He is the central comic book artist.”

Asked about office politics at Marvel, Salicrup said that he was aware of it at the time, but preferred to avoid it. “Marvel was big enough that I could easily get lost in it,” he said. “I was just enamored about being a kid from the Bronx who was in this Oz-like place like Marvel Comics in the 1970s.”

Questioned by Irving, Salicrup gave his take on the now familiar tale of how Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s “The Dark Phoenix Saga” evolved, and how editor in chief Jim Shooter ordered that the ending be changed so Jean Grey would die, thereby, in Salicrup’s view, transforming the saga into a classic.

Salicrup also spoke of Shooter’s emphasis on “clarity of storytelling” and noted that nowadays “some DC and Marvel books can be very hard to read” for newcomers to the medium, such as the kids who read Salicrup’s Papercutz comics. Hence, Salicrup said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m deprogramming” artists from Marvel and DC, by “having to explain the real basics of storytelling” in comics, like leaving enough room for the word balloons!

Finally, from shortly after 5 PM till the convention’s closing time, Jon B. Cooke, editor of the magazine Comic Book Artist, interviewed Jay Lynch, a leading member of the original generation of underground comix creators. In 1968 in Chicago Lynch launched and edited Bijou Funnies, one of the pioneering underground comix. He was also one of the principal artists for Topps’ Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages.

Lynch recounted how he first saw Harvey Kurtzman’s original version of Mad in 1953. “When I saw Mad, I decided to be a cartoonist.” But Lynch said he initially did one-panel gag cartoons. “I didn’t start doing comix until Zap came out,” Robert Crumb’s landmark underground comic. Lynch likened underground comix to other cultural phenomena of the 1960s, including the Free Speech movement and the taboo-breaking comedy of Lenny Bruce. Lynch recalled how he, Crumb, and another underground comix pioneer, Gilbert Shelton, would trade their comic books, with each other. Thus enabling them to keep in touch with each other’s work. Lynch also explained that President Richard Nixon launched a pornography investigation that made publishers nervous about possible prosecution, thereby sending sales of underground comix into decline.
Turning to Lynch’s work for Topps, Cooke asked, “Is that what you’re best known for—Garbage Pail Kids?”

“No,” replied Lynch, “I think my performance of Swan Lake.”

Nowadays, Lynch said, he is doing paintings which he sells on eBay.

Lynch wound up the panel by recounting an anecdote which captured some of a sense of the good and bad sides of the 1960s. It was the day that the Beatles’ White Album came out, Lynch was working for Topps, and “everyone on the subway has a copy of the White Album.” Lynch went to see fellow underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez, who was living in a building in an area ridden with crime and drug addicts. Lynch went out and bought pizza for both of them, but on his way back was accosted by thugs, who asked him what he was carrying. Lynch lied and said it was the Beatles’ White Album, whereupon one of the thugs, impressed, said, “Okay, we’ll let you go.”

Photo © Danny CenturyMany more photos of the con in the link.

Nice Art: End of the Hunt II print by Levon Jihanian

This unsettling image is one of several prints available from Levon Jihanian, a cartoonist/animator perhaps best known for his Ignatz-nominated Danger Country. Check ‘em all out.

On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Ann Nocenti and Jim Lee Enthuse about Comics

On March 30th, WonderCon attendees got treated to a bonus feature in a Spotlight panel with Ann Nocenti, Jim Lee acting as her interviewer. The two had so much shared history that they reminisced about the “good old days” at Marvel as well as plunging into the current artwork that most impresses them on their work for DC. The panel opened with a tone-setting description from Nocenti of her time as a Marvel writer and editor, “back in the day when Marvel Comics was so much fun”, when you could “smoke and drink and have guns in the office”. Lee confirmed that the gun in the office was an observable phenomenon, and Nocenti added by way of explanation that guns were needed for “reference”.

mbrittany_nocenti_panel_1Lee started off by introducing Nocenti as the “self proclaimed female token writer at DC” and asked her how her current state came to be, considering that in her Marvel days there were several women on staff. Nocenti commented that though there were women at Marvel, she recalled that there were never any women at comic cons back then, unlike the demographic at WonderCon. “It must have been rough on you guys”, she teased Lee. Some of her workmates at Marvel, she explained, were Mark Gruenwald, “the soul of Marvel Comics”, Larry Hama, who was known for “pounding, crazy music” in his office, and Peter Sanderson, a “living archive” of all things Marvel.

[Read more…]

Marvel’s Infinity shifts the spotlight to the Inhumans

Marvel is getting all cosmic with the looming threat of Thanos in the second Avengers movie, and in the run up to it, the new Infinity comic will reintroduce the weirder side of the Marvel U, with the Inhumans mixing it up weith Thanos in a saga penned by Jonathan Hickman (Avengers, Avengers VS. X-Men) and illustrated by Jim Cheung (Avengers: Children’s Crusade) Jerome Opena (Avengers, Uncanny X-Force), and Dustin Weaver (Avengers, Uncanny X-Men). Infinity kicks off with a Free Comic Book Day preview and then as a six issue mini-series in August.

“I’m very excited about Infinity for a number of reasons,” said Hickman. “First, I think it’s wonderful that the story is coming organically out of what’s been going on during Marvel NOW!. Things that we’ve seen unfold in Avengers, New Avengers, Thanos Rising, Guardians of the Galaxy, and others are the catalyst for Infinity. And second, for me personally, Infinity is the first big step in a series of big steps that make up the long term plans for the Avengers books I have the privilege of writing. It should be a lot of fun.” 

And what is that long term plan? With an Inhumans movie almost certainly on the horizon, and Guardians of the Galaxy already in the works, those of you who thought they would never see Karnac on the screen may just be surprised.

Hickman, Axel Alonso and Tom Brevoort will participate in a fan chat tomorrow April 2 at 2 pm EDT. More info here.



Center for Cartoon Studies stars in “The ‘Junc?”

And speaking of the Center for cartoon studies, perusing their front page there’s some unbelievably exciting news on a variety of fronts, including news that Jon Chad has been accepted into the US astronaut program, and news of the CCS kickboxing team triumphing over Dartmouth. What caught our eye was the news that after vewing the CCs movie, a producer thinks White River Junction would be a great setting for a reality tv series. The ‘Junc?

Charismatic and talented young people chasing their dream? Check. A picturesque, isolated location? Check. Mounting pressure and plenty of deadline challenges? Check. After the documentaryCartoon College caught a television producer’s eye, NBC exec Miles Bradford knew he had all the elements for a hit show.

Frankly, we’d be more interested in a ghost hunt set in the Coolidge Hotel but, you never know.

2013 Glyph Comics Awards Nominees

The 2013 nominees for the Glyph Awards have been announced. The awards honor the best in black-themed comics, and the winners will be announcedat the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) Friday, May 17, 2013 at The African American Museum located at 701 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

This year’s judges were

• Maurice Waters – Owner and Operator of
• Hannibal Tabu- Review columnist at Comic Book Resources
• Omar Bilal – Owner and Operator of Museum of Black Superheroes
• Eric Deggans- TV and Media Critic, Tampa Bay Times

Story of the Year
THE CALL; Steve Broome, writer and artist
KOBK; C. J. Johnson, writer; SMACK!, artist
MONSTERS 101; Muhammad Rasheed, writer and artist
SHADOWLAW; Brandon Easton, writer; Scott Kester and Ryo Kawakami, artists
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN; Brian Michael Bendis, writer; Chris Samnee, Kaare Andrews, and Mark Bagley, artists

Best Cover

INDIGO: HIT LIST 1.0 ; Richard G. Tyler ll, artist
JAYCEN WISE; Richard G. Tyler ll, artist
NIGHT STALKER; David Miller, artist
SHADOWLAW; Scott Kester and Ryo Kawakami, artists
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #6; Kaare Andrews and Mark Bagley, artists

Best Writer

Steve Broome, THE CALL
Brandon Easton, SHADOLAW
C. J. Johnson, KOBK
Keith Miller, TRI-BORO TALES
Muhammad Rasheed, MONSTERS 101

Best Artist

Jerry Gaylord, FANBOYS VS. ZOMBIES #1-9
Charlie Goubile, CORSAIRS
Richard G. Tyler ll, JAYCEN WISE

Best Male Character

Bomani, H.O.P.E.; Raymond Ayala, writer; Rafael Desquitado, Jacob Elijah Hallinen, and Kim Jacinto, artists
Dashawn, KOBK; C. J. Johnson, writer; SMACK!, artist
Miles Morales, ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN; Brian Michael Bendis, writer; Chris Samnee, Kaare Andrews, and Mark Bagley, artists
Mort, MONSTERS 101; Muhammad Rasheed, writer and artist
Jaycen Wise, JAYCEN WISE; Richard G. Tyler ll, writer and artist

Best Female Character

Christina, KOBK; C. J. Johnson, writer; SMACK!, artist
Larue Dalcour, CORSAIRS; Daniel McNeal, writer; Charlie Goubile, artist
Dyana, NIGHT STALKER; Orlando Harding, writer; David Miller, artist
Indigo, INDIGO: HIT LIST 1.0; Richard G. Tyler ll, writer and artist
Tia & Zari Jenkins, SURPURBIA; Grace Randolph, writer; Russell Dauterman, artist

Rising Star Award

Raymond Ayala, writer, H.O.P.E.
Steve Broome, writer and artist, THE CALL
Brandon Easton, writer, SHADOWLAW
Sharean Morishita, writer and artist, LOVE! LOVE! FIGHTING!
Willie Smith, writer and artist, BLACKGUARD: PSYCHO THERAPY

Best Comic Strip or Webcomic

ANTS; Julian Lytle, writer and artist
BLACKGUARD: PSYCHO THERAPY; Willie Smith, writer and artist
BLACKWAX BOULEVARD; Dmitri Jackson, writer and artist
THE CALL; Steve Broome, writer and artist
MAMA’S BOYZ; Jerry Craft, writer and artist

Fan Award for Best Work

ASCENDED: THE OMEGA NEXUS; Roger Reece and Jerry Reece, writers
ORIGINS UNKNOWN: POINT OF AUTHORITY; Victor Dandridge, writer; Jacob Newell, artist
SHADOWLAW; Brandon Easton, writer; Scott Kester and Ryo Kawakami, artists
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN; Brian Michael Bendis, writer; Chris Samnee, Kaare Andrews, and Mark Bagley, artists

On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Matt Kindt on MIND MGMT and Being Happy

You’d be forgiven if you think of Matt Kindt as a breakaway success, since the “slow and steady” approach that’s defined his career so far looks like a sprint to the finish line with the explosive success of MIND MGMT from Dark Horse. Educator and author Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology) sat down with Kindt in a marathon 90 minute interview panel with the enigmatic creator on March 30th as part of the Comic Arts Conference at WonderCon. This “Focus” series event revealed just how long a road it has been for Kindt to reach his current level of exposure and fandom with MIND MGMT, a comic series about the dark legacy of a government spy agency staffed by agents with psychic abilities.

mbrittany_kindt_panel_1Kindt, who says he’s probably been best know for his graphic novel SUPERSPY prior to MIND MGMT, had an unusual experience with comics at the age of 7 or 8 years old that left a big impression on him and still continues to influence his work. Reading Frank Miller’s DAREDEVIL, he ploughed through an entire issue where Daredevil visits Bullseye in the hospital, now paralyzed (following his murder of Elektra) and repeatedly pulls the trigger on his gun at the murderer. The issue itself consists of Daredevil speaking to the comatose Bullseye with almost no action at all, and as a kid Kindt thought “What kind of crazy superhero stuff is this?”. The heavy, odd dialogue and the “threat” of the unloaded gun, Kindt said, “made me love comics”. After a period in the 90’s when superhero books weren’t “capturing” Kindt’s attention anymore, he had another epiphany after discovering Daniel Clowes’ series EIGHTBALL at a con. He immediately felt, upon reading the issues, “This is the kind of comics I want to do” and an indie sensibility was born. Enter the years of hard work and learning just how to produce comics with his own particular voice.

[Read more…]

Who Owns Marvelman – An April Fool’s Day Speculation

I’m breaking continuity on Poisoned Chalice, my history of Marvelman, to say something about the current disposition of the character, and particularly to speculate on whether Marvel Comics are actually getting any closer to being able to publish it, as is being suggested around the Internet this past while.

As might be apparent from my previous posts, I like facts. I like to organise the facts into order, and see what they tell us. I generally don’t like to speculate, and I particularly don’t like posts that speculate based on information the writer alleges they have, but can’t reveal the sources for. None the less, that’s exactly what I’m about to do…

[Read more…]

April 1 alert: ZEUS COMICS

It started with this press release:

Coast City Comics is proud to announce the display of some rare comic books from the Golden Age, recently unearthed in Portland, Maine and estimated to be worth over $10,000 in value. The showing will be for one day only, this coming Monday, on the first of the month.
 There are a variety of titles from publisher Zeus Comics, dated from the late 1940s to the mid-50s. They were found in a wall during renovation of a house in Portland’s West End by comic creator Mort Todd. The comics, considered very controversial and risqué in the 1950s, include such titles as WEIRD MENACE, RED NIGHTMARES, FORBIDDEN FANTASY, SPIKE JONES and THE BLACK LEATHER KID, among others.
These comics were the target of psychologists, politicians and concerned parents during the 50s, when comic-book burnings were regularly sponsored by towns and churches. Not many of these comics are in existence today, so even beat-up copies are valuable.

These valuable publications will be on display for one day only, this Monday, from 11AM to 6PM at Coast City Comics, 634 Congress Street in Portland, Maine.

Hm one day only…April 1… okay we get it. Factor in the involvement of Mort Todd, and ZEUS COMICS begins to look like an elaborate retro comics line. Mark Martin seems to be another perpetrator, but the stuff looks like good old faux-historical fun!
Is there anyone who doesn’t wish there was a real Spike Jones comic?

More here.


That Oblivion “graphic novel” will probably never be published

oblivion2 lg Why OBLIVION is the most miraculous comic book movie of all timeWe’ve written before about OBLIVION, the SF movie that seemed to be “based’ on a graphic novel by director Joseph Kosinski, adapted by Arvid Nelson and Andree Wallin–although a mock-up of the project was apparently used to lure Tom Cruise into starring in the film (which opens later this month)–Kosinski now says it will most likely never be published:

As for whether we’ll ever see the printed version of the story? “I don’t have any plans to do it right now. To me it’s feels like it’s in the rear-view mirror, you know? It’s like part of the development process. The film is the end result. But never say never. Maybe at some point it will be fun to go back and show the steps and the journey.”

Maybe if the movie is a big, big hit.

Farewell, we never even knew you, OBLIVION the graphic novel.

Alex Ross covers PACIFIC RIM comics

It’s been a while since we heard from Legendary Comics, but they made a reappearance at WonderCon as Guillermo del Toro unveiled the Alex Ross cover for PACIFIC RIM: TALES FROM YEAR ZERO, a graphic novel prequel to the kaiju vs mecha movie. The GN is by screenwriter Travis Beacham with art by Sean Chen, Yvel Guichet, and Pericles Junior with inks by Steve Bird and Mark McKenna. Let it be said that Alex Ross has captured the spirit of the clash quite well.

Speaking of Legendary, as anyone digging around Previews of late may have noticed, they are being distributed by Marvel Comics. Future projects include a mini-series by Grant Morrison and a collection of THE TOWER CHRONICLES which will be distributed by Marvel.

New craze: real life Dragon Ball Z photos of Japanese schoolgirls

It’s called Makankosappo, and it involves real life Japanese youngsters reenacting scenes from Dragon Ball Z and posting the results on Twitter.

Is this the new Harlem Shake?

Dear lord, I hope so.
Makankosappo and the variant Kamehameha are both ferocious energy attacks from Dragon Ball Z, the mega-popular anime (and manga) created by Akira Toriyama. A new movie based on the beloved property is coming out this year in Japan. Did you ever doubt that flinging people across the room with magic energy attacks retains its appeal?

Kickwatcher: Uncle Alice Presents and CROOKS & NANNIES

Here’s your chance to fund Jim Calafiore’s solo project and write or draw a horror story for Alice Cooper. There’s even something for the comic book-golfers in this one. [Read more…]

Tales of con: Meet The Sleepy Klingon

While nerdlebrities are a big draw at comic-cons these days, as we’ve noted in the past, trying to throw a celebrity-only show can be a dismal affair. But with the rise of nerd culture, autograph shows seem to be picking up, even on the local level. For example: while going through our mail, we found a press release for a show called The American Music & Pop Culture Expo. Sounds promising. The event was held this past weekend in a Hershey, PA gymnasium and headlining guests included Bronson Pinchot and Butch Patrick. If that was not enough to excite you:

Other guests, who will be appearing at the expo, include Paris Themmen (best known as Mike Tee Vee in the classic film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), Matt Hardy (professional wrestler), Geri Reischl (best known as Jan Brady from Sid & Marty Krofft’s Brady Bunch Variety Hour), David Orange (best known as the Sleepy Klingon from the motion picture Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country), and Triston Johnson (Zombie Barn Walker from AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead).

Now, we’re sure that those who attended had a swell time—organizers promised a “brisk and fantastic” show—but isn’t it time to really start demanding some kind of credentials for nerdlebrities?
“The Zombie Barn Walker” and “The Sleepy Klingon.”

Is that really what it has come to?

“Hey Dad, what did you do in the 80s?”

“I was a sleepy Klingon, son. They need 40 winks or it’s the Doomsday Machine over and over again.”

As for the Zombie Barn Walker— did you SEE how many zombies were in that barn????? How do you know it was really him?

We have nothing against those who brushed with fame using the scrapings from the fame lint remover to make a buck or two but…give us working cartoonists any day. No matter how dismal the comics industry may seem at times, it’s got to be better than being known as the third Romulan from the left.

So how was the event? Chris Mautner of Robot 6 went and seems to have had a good time.

The event itself was a bit like a schizophrenic flea market. At one table you might find a gentlemen selling vintage toys. A few steps away someone else might be selling vinyl records. Across the way someone else might be selling dolls, or hot sauce, or antiques or a mish-mash of stuff that suggested they had recently cleaned out their basement. One inventive gentleman was selling light switches with decoupaged Marvel comic book characters on them.

The piece includes an interview with the Sleepy Klingon himself. We won’t spoil it. Let him have his moment in the sun.

DC Fires Entire Writing Staff – Editorial Takes Over

dan_didio_576Burbank, CA (AF) – DC Comics has voided the contracts of all it’s writers today.  The not entirely unanticipated move signals a more formal policy towards editorially directed stories.

“Jerry Krause was right,” said DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, quoting the General Manager credited with breaking up the Michael Jordan era Chicago Bulls.  “Players don’t win championships, organizations win championships.  DC Comics is an organization and we’re making some adjustments to better align our product with the organization.”

The new writing structure is as follows:  DiDio will co-plot all 52 of DC’s core universe titles with each title’s respective editor.  Scripting duties will be passed down to assistant editors.

“Editors are the real stars,” explained DiDio.  “Freelance writers dilute the editorial vision.  They’re not in the office so if you need to make a change, you have to track them down.  They don’t always correctly interpret direction. By making this simple organizational adjustment, fans will be able to experience comics that are more accurate to DC’s intent and their lives will be richer for it.”

This organizational change will also enable DC to adapt the popular technology management system, “The Lean Startup” to comics.

“The basic idea is all about sampling and reacting to readership,” DiDio offered.  “Instead of a ‘Minimal Viable Product,’ which has just enough features to see if there’s a customer base, we’re going to be starting out with a ‘Minimum Viable Plot.’  You can test a Minimum Viable Plot a number of ways: publish the first issue, release a preview or leak the plot to a website.  If the reaction is bad, you ‘Pivot’ and change the plot.  Eventually, you’ll find something the fans like.

“You may have noticed we’ve been informally testing this system and making Pivots ever since the New 52 launched.  It’s been working so well, we decided to go ahead and make it our formal organizational procedure.  By integrating writing into editorial, we increase the speed at which we can pivot.  It’s not like we weren’t already doing most of the plotting.”

When asked for reaction to the news, Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso replied “Marvel plans editorial moves out far in advance and we would be unable to implement something like this for at least six months.”