§ Nadja Spiegelman talks about her new Zig and Wikki book, which, despite being for beginning readers, goes right into the
heart stomach of ecological matters:
I began searching the internet for a solid circle of energy. I wanted an ecosystem that was diverse, clearly interdependent, and self-contained. I looked in the jungle, in the Sahara, under the sea, and on mountaintops. The first Zig and Wikki book had the two aliens discover the concept of a food chain by a swamp, and I wanted this second book to be clearly different. When I hit upon dung beetles, I knew I had found boy-book gold. So I worked my way backward from there (literally), and found myself reading article after article about the cow’s digestive process. And that’s where I got really hooked.
§ Business Snapshot: In The National Post, Kate Wilkinson asks Do superheroes have point-of-sale power for comic book stores? via brief surveys of area retailers.
§ Today’s hot beverage link. It’s been a while since we checked in with Jim Shooter, which is too bad because he’s currently arguing New Media with Cory Doctorow and proposing his own New Business Model Rant:
Here’s a big key: COMPANY OWNED, W4H AND THEREFORE “UNIVERSE” TITLES MUST ALL BE CREATED BY EMPLOYEES ON STAFF. SHARED UNIVERSE WORK INHERENTLY MUST BE CREATED BY AN “ORCHESTRA” OF CREATORS UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF A “CONDUCTOR,” OR EDITOR (WHO IS A WORLD-CLASS VISIONARY). MAKE ANYONE WHO WORKS ON YOUR UNIVERSE TITLES A WELL-PAID, SALARIED EMPLOYEE WITH BENEFITS AND PERKS WHO WORKS ON YOUR PREMISES. And, by the way, these employees MUST BE GIVEN COMPELLING INCENTIVES TO CREATE, AND REAL PARTICIPATIONS IN THE SUCCESS OF THEIR WORKS. Ahem. That solves the Gerber, Kirby, Friedrich-type lawsuit problem. In my fantasy, the law would be changed to make it so for everyone.
CrossGen 2? Not quite. Like we said, you’ll need a hot bevvie to keep you company while you unwind the whole thing.
§ One more con report: Soon-to-be-Beat partner Jimmy Aquino has a nice gossipy Boston Comic Con report:
Post-con, we headed back to the Sheraton where a majority of us were staying for the weekend. As per usual with multiple groups of friends, we all planned a mighty dinner but there were just too many of us. After a lengthy walk, we found a place that we didn’t have to wait too long to sit. The final group that ended up dining together (including myself) was Templesmith, Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger, Francis Manapul, Agnes Garbowska, Stephanie Buscema, and Rob Harrigan. The place (Sibling Rivalry) had a lovely atmosphere (though we all agreed a horrible name for a restaurant) but the food was mediocre and our server was a bit too smarmy for my tastes. After dinner, we headed back to the Sheraton bar to hang out where we were joined by Jill Thompson and Cliff Chiang. Lovely chats with lovely people!
§ History corner: Peter David runs a column about a Marvel retreat from 1997.
I’ve just returned from a Marvel “writers’ retreat” in Long Island. At that august gathering, an assortment of editors including Bob Harras, Bobbie Chase, and Tom Breevort, and creators including such luminaries as Chris Claremont, Kurt Busiek, John Romita, Sr., Tom DeFalco, Klaus Janson, Larry Hama, Scott Lobdell, and others who are going to be hacked off with me because I didn’t mention them by name, gathered to try and sort out the “Lee-feld Universe.” The deal with Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee which has them rebooting the Marvel Universe is slated to end around August of this year. Rumors have been rampant through fandom that an extension of the deal is being discussed. But we were informed at this January meeting that Harras had been given the go-ahead by the Boys in the Back Room to plan the folding of the MIA heroes back into the Marvel Universe. And of course, the thought of the Boys changing their mind is absurd, so we proceeded on the assumption that the return of the heroes was a go.
§ We had bookmarked Mark Evanier’s account of what happens when you refuse to walk the red carpet before yesterday’s Stan kerfuffle, but it’s apropos now:
I have a lengthy list of conflicting feelings about Stan…about things he’s done and perhaps more significantly, things he hasn’t done. We’ve talked about some of this and he understands, and I think it’s to his credit that when folks do documentaries about him, like this one and the one on The Biography Channel, he asks that I be included, mainly to make sure someone talks about Jack Kirby. Needless to say, any film that focuses on Stan is not going to spend enough time on Jack, but after declining a few of these, I decided a while back to start saying yes. I can’t control the final cut but I can see that those who do have footage that mentions Jack and others who created Marvel Comics. I can also sometimes correct simple factual errors. I also have a personal affection for Stan — one that flows both from reading his comics and from working with and for the man. I think it’s hard not to have a personal affection for the guy — or at least, this guy. Perhaps you have someone in your life who’s like that: You can’t help liking them even though they’ve done some things you really, really didn’t like. It is still a joy to me to see Stan, especially at his age, getting all the attention and celebrity and cash he so obviously craved all his life. What I was watching on that red carpet, and it was worth the drive to Pasadena and the six bucks I paid to park, was a person about as happy as any person could be.
§ More history: Lauren Davis recalls 15 Comic Book TV Shows That Didn’t Make it to the Small Screen, a great write-up of the many Great Flatscreen Hopes from the abysmal JLA pilot of the ’90s to Snake and Bacon and…The Graysons. With videos where available!
§ Today’s profile: Retailer Mimi Cruz of Night Flight in Salt Lake City with emphasis on her literacy efforts:
She also does school presentations directly to the students where she tries to ignite sparks of reading in kids who may otherwise not pick up any other kind of reading material. She tells kids that anyone can write and draw their own story. And she gives them an opportunity to do that. She said, “Teachers tell me that kids who haven’t turned in a paper all year will finish and turn in this assignment. It gives them a voice.” She remembers Frank Miller saying once that every individual with a pencil and a piece of paper can create a comic book.
§ Deets on this fall’s Robot Chicken special focusing on DC Comics:
“Robot Chicken” creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich are getting a one-time DC Comics special on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. The special is set to air in the fall. According to TV Guide, Green will voice Batman, Robin and Aquaman, Paul “Pee-Wee Herman” Reubens will voice the Riddler, Neil Patrick Harris will play Two-Face, Alfred Molina will be heard as Lex Luthor, Nathan Fillion is voicing Green Lantern, Megan Fox will play Lois Lane and Breckin Meyer is voicing Superman. Additional voices will be provided by “Robot Chicken” co-creator Sebreich, Abe Benrubi, Alex Borstein, Clare Grant, Tara Strong, Tom Root and Zeb Wells.
§ This kibble outing is more movie-centric than we’d like but it’s worth noting that the annual meeting of the National Association of Theater Owners is now known as CinemaCon and it previews more and more movies—here’s Beat pal Edward Douglas’s write up:
So much news has emerged from this week’s CinemaCon gathering in Las Vegas, it might as well be Comic-Con! The latest development from the convention formerly known as ShoWest involves The Dark Knight Rises.
Con-watchers have been wondering for a long time when there would be a MovieCon that just spins off all the movie stuff from San Diego….this is an industry show, however, aimed at theater owners, but the presence of every movie site on earth suggest that maybe the migration is taking place a wee bit, especially when you consider how studios are increasingly seeing the big Comic-Con reveal as too dicey.
Douglas goes on to make us Mirkwood-green with envy as he recounts ten minutes of THE HOBBIT, as presented by Peter Jackson in 48 frames-per-second:
Jackson was at CinemaCon last year pushing higher frame rates. Back when sound was introduced, the standard film frame rate was increased to 24 frames per second, although it was never made higher essentially to save money on film. With digital, there’s no reason to stick to 24 frames, because you have unlimited time when recording footage to a hard drive and Jackson claims that the 3D is much easier on the eyes without the strobing or flicker from the lower frame rate. His decision to screen ten minutes was because that’s how long it takes for the eyes to adjust, and the 48 FPS was noticeable right away, especially if you’d previously seen the trailer on a big screen or even a laptop, but we’ll talk more about that after discussing the actual footage. It opened with lots of sweeping shots of the mountains and landscapes of Middle Earth set to Howard Shore’s distinctive score leading into an introduction by the older Bilbo, played by Ian Holm, telling the story of his journey to Frodo, and we see a brief glimpse of Elijah Wood as his “Lord of the Rings” character. This then leads into the opening from the trailer of Gandalf approaching Bilbo to go on a journey with the dwarves. We watched a good section of when Bilbo encounters trolls around the campfire early in his journey and they’re trying to decide how to eat him, and as one of the trolls lift Bilbo up, Thorin leaps forward and the rest of the dwarves come forward to save him.
§ Okay, one more show on the Nerdist channel we’ll be watching: Geoff Boucher’s talk show, which kicked off with Ridley Scott, then moves on to Daniel Clowes and Leonard Nimoy. Tlak about covering all the bases.
§ Finally, a mesmerizing slow-mo video of Neil Gaiman pouring bees. It was not filmed by Peter Jackson.
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.