I have a whole week of links for you in case, like me, you have been too brain dead to keep up with the goings on:
§ Some old news I had kicking around: AMC has renewed both Talking Dead and Comic Book Men. In addition, they’re developing All-Star Celebrity Bowling, a spin off from the Nerdist YouTube channel of the same name. You can probably guess what the show is about. The Nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick, has signed to host his own talk show on Comedy Central following the Colbert Report. This show will be produced by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant who are pretty knowledgeable comics fans (they show up at the Eisner Awards quite frequently) so a nerd battle with Colbert may well emerge. Just don’t test him on The Silmarillion, because Stephen Colbert will whip your ass on The Silmarillion.
§ Corey Blake sums up what’s known of the Valiant Matter: basically a few owners ago Quantum and Woody creators Christopher Priest and Mark Bright and Trinity Angels creator Kevin Maguire signed contracts with Acclaim which they believed would allow them to buy back the characters. When Priest and Bright tried to do so, the new owners of Acclaim—the company having gone bankrupt in the meantime—said that because of a clerical error, the contracts weren’t valid. Flash forward, and Valiant has new owners AGAIN, who are putting out a Quantum and Woody comic without Priest etc. Maguire has been talking on Facebook and elsewhere about the situation. Whew. This brief paragraph can’t really do justice to all the ins and outs of this, but anyway, Valiant’s CEO Dinesh Shamdasani has been talking about it in interviews:
During a recent video interview with Comic Book Resources, Valiant CEO Dinesh Shamdasani said the company was in touch with Priest and Bright about finishing never-released Quantum and Woody issues, which would suggest the creators are, at least to some degree, OK with the relaunch. Shamdasani was also quick to point out that Valiant owns all of the properties free and clear. However, his mention of building a family with the current Valiant (a sentiment echoed by Joshua Dysart in a recent interview announcing his exclusive contract with the company), prompts an appropriate response by CBR’s Jonah Weiland that they’ve inherited an extended family with the original Valiant. And one member of that family is not yet satisfied.
Maguire responded to the interview over the weekend on his Facebook page, saying he’s declining to draw variant covers until he hears that Priest and Bright have “signed off on the revamp.” He also brought up the question of digital royalties for the re-release of Trinity Angels on comiXology, a question for which he has yet to receive an answer after six months of dialogue. Valiant has also digitally re-released The Grackle by Mike Baron and Paul Gulacy, and other Acclaim-era titles.
We’d call this yet another rights mess from the dawn of time. Blake points out that “talking to” doesn’t mean the talks have been productive or friendly, but there ya go.
§ Speaking of Christopher Priest, he talks about not writing comics any more here, which is a shame because he’s one of the more unique comics writing voices of the last few decades. All of these ’90s creators seem to have gotten the short end of the stick in so many ways.
§ On a similar note, here’s another post from Robot 6 on how someone should reprint Gilbert Hernandez’s Grip miniseries from Vertigo. The book was published in 2002 and hasn’t been seen since…BUT unless Hernandez signed the world’s worst Vertigo contract he can probably buy it back now, hint hint, although he probably has more important things on his mind these days.
§ MUST READ: A great essay by Howard Chaykin in the Los Angeles Review of Books analyzing the work of the late Carmine Infantino and laying down the history:
Kane, Kubert, Infantino, and other DC artists ruled our world, until a desperate Stan Lee came along and reintroduced Jack Kirby to fandom. At Marvel in the 1960s, Kirby produced crude, aggressive, vital, and hostile work that made DC’s books look silly and pointless by comparison. Needless to say, since Marvel showed up, the comic book business has never been the same. Kubert seemed to ignore this sea change and went on about his business, drawing war comics and creating a school to teach comics in New Jersey that apparently filled a gap of some sort. Kane embraced the Kirby ethos, a stylistic sensibility he’d always shared (despite the fact that Stan Lee apparently regarded his work as effeminate).
Infantino, meanwhile, dug in his heels and continued his forays into abstraction, demonstrating more and more the influence of the seminal talent Bernard Krigstein, one of the more divisive members of the EC Comics talent pool. His loyalty to DC Comics, which went through several owners back in the 1970s, was repaid with the position of publisher from 1971 to 1976, which is when I first encountered Infantino personally.
With lots of art examples!
§ Greg Rucka saw that SUPERMAN was rated Pg-13, and became alarmed.
But that PG-13 on Man of Steel is making me nervous. I don’t know what it means. I don’t know if it’s a warning that there’s another k-shiv coming for the kidneys, or if it’s just the cost-of-doing-business, or even if it’s an MPAA-bias against all superhero violence. I don’t know if this is a genuine caution to parents, or a marketing decision aimed at a demographic too-cool for Superman’s brand of hope and idealism, yet embracing of Batman’s self-loathing rough justice, to assure them their ticket will be money well-spent. I don’t know if that PG-13 is there out of sincerity or cynicism or politics.
§ Robot 6 was really on a roll this week. Brigid Alverson spanked Mark Millar for his declaration 18 months ago that his comics would never be available digitally day and date in a show of solidarity with comics shops. The world has moved on, digital has increased sales, but JUPITER’S LEGACY, his new comics with Frank Quitely, won’t be available digitally for months. Alverson writes:
Whatever the reason, it’s clear the comics marketplace is growing and evolving, and it really doesn’t need Millar to save it. New comics shops open every week, and smart retailers are developing new ways to create community and keep their existing customers coming in. Day-and-date digital is here to stay; denying it doesn’t help matters any. What’s helpful is to adjust to the new market realities, and retailers seem to be doing just that. When Steve Bennett — himself a retailer — went to buy Jupiter’s Legacy and found it wasn’t available digitally, he wondered, “will this actually lead to added sales for the direct sales market or lost sales for digital downloads?”
§ Speaking of Mark Millar, he said this Superman poster looked like a selfie and he was right.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.