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Issue #120

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Issue #120
  • Pulse‘s Heidi McDonald sent around a brief questionnaire a couple weeks ago, asking a) what was the biggest news story of 2003?; and b) what will be the biggest news story of 2004? At first, I was too busy to answer it, and later I suddenly thought, “Hey! I have my own column!” (Still, bad form to jump the gun on her, so I let her go first, and if you want to see how varied comics talents answered those questions, hop over to Pulse.)

    Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the biggest story of ’03 (jeez, I sound like I’m telling tales of the Yukon gold rush, don’t I?) was the manga explosion here in the states. Here people are saying what a big deal it is that Loeb and Lee jacked BATMAN to – what? 150,000 copies sales per issue? – when SHONEN JUMP was doing 350,000-500,000+, and selling mostly on newstands and by subscription. This is BATMAN we’re talking about. One of the best known characters in the world.

    I read an article yesterday (forget where, sorry) claiming that new characters don’t sell because readers only want old characters, like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc. That’s nonsense. When SHONEN JUMP can hit half a mil, and BATMAN and NEW X-MEN think 150,000 sales is something approaching Nirvana, it’s hard to say audiences are locked into old characters. Sales on the SUPERMAN books continue to flounder, don’t they? There have been times when sales on SUPERMAN and BATMAN sank so low DC considered canceling them (and did cancel bunches of ancillary titles starring those characters including their longest running title, ADVENTURE COMICS, and almost cancelled the next longest running titles, ACTION COMICS). The main difference between “icons” like Superman and Batman, and “new” ideas like THE AUTHORITY (which, not too long ago, was outselling both those characters) is support. Left to their own devices, a lot of “familiar” titles would’ve been dead years, even decades ago, but their publishing houses took special measures to keep the books alive, even if sales sank to 30,000 or 40,000 copies per issue. Artificial resuscitation cannot be cited as natural law. Sure, against overall average sales of less than 15,000 per issue, 150,000 for BATMAN or NEW X-MEN looks great, but are either anywhere near saturation of the potential market? (Well, maybe, depending on how you define the potential market.)

    This is why manga were the big story. Not only because readers – and a lot of young readers at that, something American comics haven’t had in a long time and something I’m not sure they’d even know how to lure in, since every time anyone in American comics mentions “young readers” they go all PLC and start de-gutsing the stuff to make sure no parents will get offended and bring Big Mother down on the business – are mad for manga (which is why Borders, Barnes and Noble and most other bookstores have learned to separate manga out from American trade paperbacks, because manga’s where the action is), but because the business of manga has held a harsh mirror up to the business of American comics, which are still in most except the most cosmetic ways mired in the 1990s. (Which were mired in the 1980s, which were mired in the 1970s, etc.) The short version is: manga in America have a business model that apparently works. (At least if Viz and Tokyo Pop are to be believed.) Traditional American comics do not.

    Which may turn out to be the big story of 2004. (Or not; I’m just speculating, I’m not psychic.) Every year seems like it could be a make-or-break year for comics – and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a number of smaller companies come crashing down; does anyone really expect the now uncharacteristically silent and low-key Crossgen to still be around by 2005? – but every year the comics industry staggers on, moaning about shortness of breath while it lights up cigarette after cigarette.

    But I’m told there’s much online discussion these days (Dirk Deppey had a summary of it not too long ago, I believe, but now I can’t find his article or the links therein) about the impending manga crash, which, apparently, a number of people are looking forward to. The main argument seems to be that manga are a “fad,” and the main fear that if comics shops leverage heavily into manga, they’ll be hit with the load just as they were when the black&white fad collapsed, and the speculator bubble burst etc. Sure, you could make an argument for that.

    But I don’t expect the “fad” to collapse anytime soon.

    While there is a large new influx of manga titles and several new publishers trying to get in on the act (at least one has already felt the pain), there are several differences between the current situation and previous fads.

    Take the “black and white” craze of the late ’80s, generated mainly by the success of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, which abruptly became a collectors item by basically doing to Frank Miller’s DAREDEVIL what Dave Sim’s CEREBUS had done to CONAN THE BARBARIAN (not to mention WOLVERINE and MOON KNIGHT) and convinced a generation of budding writers and artists that it would be a lot easier to just publish their own black & white books than to try to crack “the majors”. A good idea, in theory, and one rabidly supported by a number of distributors trying to rise up in the wake of Diamond and Capital’s success at distributing comics to the mushrooming comic shop markets. The b&ws gave distributors something to pad out their catalogs with, and, for a moment, readers wanted them, bad.

    And bad was the way they got most of them. The connection between the b&w craze and the speculator bubble was that content was irrelevant. (From the point of view of American comics publishers, content continues to be more or less irrelevant, or, at least, far less relevant than, oh, licensability.) The vast majority of b&w comics were badly written and badly drawn, with many having little more imagination than calling themselves NASCENT NUCLEAR RONIN RACCOONS or something equally evocative of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. In other words, derivative and unimaginative was the name of the game. Sounds kinda like the speculator bubble, don’t it? Perhaps that’s a bad characterization: could anyone really call that horde of crossovers, new superhero universes, characters dying and being replaced by evil or cross-gender or ultraviolent or cross-racial alternative selves before coming back from the dead derivative?

    Crashes in comics generate from a very few things. A) Bad economics. B) Publishers repeating what has succeeded long past the point that everyone and their grandmother is bored sick of it. C) Buyers buying because they’ve been conned into thinking there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, only to realize that the “investments” they’ve made, are, in fact, worthless, not to mention rubbish. Don’t forget the b&w craze was fueled by speculation too: it was largely caused by buyers terrified they’d miss out on the next TMNT, and floundered about the time everyone finally figured out there wasn’t going to be one. If it didn’t severely damage the comics market – though retailers around at the time still rub their battle scars and wince – it was mainly because comics had something to fill the gap. The one good outcome of the b&w craze (combined with the rise of “alternative” publishers like First, Pacific and Eclipse) was to drop kick Marvel and DC into believing a) their talent had other options and b) the way to keep their talent was to give their talent more options, financially and creatively. So in came WATCHMEN, DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, etc., and comics shops had something new to offer potential readers. (The arrival of the first BATMAN movie, which, unusually, did bring newcomers into comics shops for the first time, didn’t hurt either.)

    None of these things apply to manga. To the best of my knowledge, speculation is in no way fueling the manga boom. Sure, there’s a cool factor involved and cool wears off, but it’s the content that’s largely fueling the boom, and content is the one thing that can hold a sizable audience after coolness fades. The boom is also being fed by interaction with TV, videogames, card games, etc., generating an entire self-reinforcing milieu, something rarely accomplished by American comics. And while American comics have traditionally depended on cashing in on a craze, the hallmark of manga has been diversity of content. There are various genres liberally represented in manga, of course, but delusions of a “manga artstyle” are pretty much an American interpretation. Anyone who reads any amount of manga can easily see how much variety is represented. Even in SHONEN JUMP, where there are surface similarities across the material, none of it comes off as duplicating the other material in the magazine. Due to the Japanese system, there’s also a quality baseline to most of the material. You can find bad art in manga just like anywhere else, but most manga show an attention to detail and quality, in both story and art, that simply didn’t exist in most of the black and white books published during that craze and the volumes of crap dumped on the market during the speculator bubble.

    So it’s just not the same situation. Will the day likely come when just too many manga are published? Of course, just like the day came when every other bookstore category was overpublished. But too many mysteries didn’t drive audiences completely away from mysteries, or romances away from romances, it just drove them toward those ills they knew. Manga may reach market saturation, but most RANMA ½ fans will continue to buy RANMA ½, most NARUTO fans will stick with NARUTO, even if they don’t keep up with all the new kids on the block. Why? Because manga has generated fans, lots of them, which is something most American comics haven’t done in a long, long time. They’ve created fans and they’ve created access. The curious subtext to the “manga will die” predictions is the intimation that if manga dies on the market, American comics will rise again, but that’s like saying that when hip-hop dies, Henry Mancini will make a big comeback. There’s no basis to assume cause and effect. Likelier would be hip-hop dying and it having no effect on the sales of Henry Mancini recordings at all. If the manga craze dies slowly, there’s the possibility of niches opening up that smart American publishers could swoop in to fill. If it dies abruptly, it’ll probably just kill the bookstore market for comics material, regardless of country of origin, and it’s unlikely the death of the bookstore market would drive hordes of hungry readers back into the comics shops because there wouldn’t be any hungry readers. That’s what the manga craze ending means. Any American comics fan or comics shop owner eagerly anticipating the death of manga as a market force may as well anticipate shooting themselves in the book, because that’s what it will amount to.

    The problem, for manga, is that (I suspect; I don’t know) the vast majority of good manga is more than likely already in print or in the process of being published here. As more publishers swoop in for a piece of the manga pie, shelves will get fuller and fuller with the bad manga, and as the good manga wraps up (most manga being finite) newer, bad manga will inevitably squeeze it out. (Though there’s also the presumption that new good manga will continue to be made in Japan and transport here, which will vitiate the situation somewhat, and with Viz, Tokyo Pop and Dark Horse established as the kingpins of manga, newer companies will be put in a position of being the First or Pacific to their Marvel and DC, that’ll vitiate the situation some more.) That’s an opportunity for American comics. But they have to have the foresight and imagination to capitalize on it by filling in the opening niches, and foresight and imaginations have been very finite qualities in American comics publishing.

    The last question in Heidi’s survey was: “What are you looking forward to most in 2004, be it comic, book, movie or dessert?” Me, I’m just looking forward to staying healthy and working a lot. Anything else is gravy.

  • So what is in store for the American comics industry in 2004? You’d have to be an oracle to say. Luckily, I have an oracle right here. So let’s see what the I-Ching tells us:

    Question: What course should the American comics industry follow in the year 2004, and what can it hope to accomplish in the following year?

    Answer (courtesy of the John Blofeld translation, EP Dutton Books, New York, 1965):

    _____

    _____

    _____

    _____

    __ __

    __ __

    Hexagram 33: Tun (Yielding, withdrawing)

    Yielding. Success! Persistence in small things wins advantage.

    The first, third and fifth lines are all moving lines, indicating a year of great change for the comics industry:

    Line 1 (bottom): Withdrawal to the hindermost point – trouble! It is useless to seek any goal (or destination) at such a time. Commentary: To withdraw to the hindermost point causes trouble, but if you refrain from moving back (so far) what misfortune can overtake you?

    Line 3: Yielding under constraint results in ills and troubles, but there is good fortune for those who are supporting servants and concubines. Commentary: The evils referred to here are those attendant on extreme fatigue. Though supporting servants or concubines brings good fortune, it does not lead to achieving anything of consequence. Footnote: Seemingly, Confucius, always inclined to be austere, does not altogether approve of this type of good fortune.

    Line 5: An admirably carried out withdrawal. Persistence in a righteous course brings good fortune. Commentary: This good fortune results from a withdrawal carried out as a result of rectifying our aims. Footnote: i.e. revising them in the light of unfavorable circumstances.

    The result?

    With those three lines changing, Hexagram 33, Tun, becomes

    _____

    __ __

    _____

    __ __

    __ __

    _____

    Hexagram 21: Shih Hô (Gnawing)

    Gnawing. Success! The time is favorable for legal processes.

    Commentary on the text: When something is gripped between the jaws, we speak of gnawing and with this gnawing we associate success. The firm and the yielding are separate and the two trigrams representing these qualities are movement and brilliance respectively. Thus thunder and lightning are brought together and emit brilliance. The yielding obtains the central position and rises upward (from the center of the lower to the center of the upper trigram). Although this arrangement is an unsuitable one, it favors the process of the law.

    That’s what the I-Ching says about 2004 for the comics industry. Not stellar hexagrams, but not bad ones. Depending on how we handle ourselves.

    For an alternate take, here are three cards drawn at random from the 1978 edition of Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s “oracular” card set, Oblique Strategies. Eno and Schmidt originally developed these as a means of breaking through creative obstructions. As Eno explains them:

    “These cards evolved from our separate observations of the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognized in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were formulated.

    They can be used as a pack (a set of possibilities being continuously reviewed in the mind) or by drawing a single card from the shuffled pack when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is quite unclear.”

    So how should the comics industry proceed in the year 2004?. Card #1:

    Short circuit (example: a man eating peas with the idea they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)

    Card #2:

    Cut a vital connection

    Card #3:

    Use fewer notes

    There you have it. (I’d do a tarot reading but I’m not in the mood. Maybe next week.) You people working in comics have your marching orders. Go forth in wisdom and conquer.

  • Not much to talk about in media this week, but the strange spectacle of WORLD IDOL on Fox on Christmas and New Year’s Day deserves a little comment. The concept was to bring the winners of ten different IDOL shows from around the world together on one stage and vote for the, uh, best singer in the world. (The best singer on the stage, more like, but hey.) The first episode was a pretty disgusting affair. At least in America (it may have been edited differently for the rest of the world), it seemed molded to lift the first American idol winner Kelly Clarkson above the rest, with Clarkson doing her best Jessica Simpson impression and giving making “pithy” little comments about the other competitors. Her sterile, meaningless personal view of them, y’know? The contestants were a varied bunch. The ones from Holland and Poland confirmed my worst memories of Europop, while pretty good singers from Canada, South Africa and Belgium seemed to get particularly harsh criticism as they marginally threatened to eclipse Kelly’s talent. (Which, while I thought Kelly deserved to win her original competition, doesn’t strike me as very difficult.) I had to agree with the ever-entertaining Simon Cowell’s comment about the woman from the Middle East, who, in one of the few truly international moments of the night, sang in her native tongue; her voice was great, but fell on ears untrained to judge that kind of singing. Still. Simon unsurprisingly made a complete ass of himself when judging Norway’s rotund winner, Kurt Nilson, saying that if there’s ever a Middle Earth Idol competition he has it won but this is World Idol. As I said, much of the show seemed weighted in Kelly’s favor, especially with ten judges commenting on her (only the Polish judge was harsh, while the others blubbered on about how she was the obvious winner) with only five per contestant for everyone else. Interestingly, just before that I’d watched GYPSY, the mediocre ’62 film purporting to be a bio-pic about famed burlesque stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, and where I came in was a “talent contest” (with Morgan Brittany playing Rose’s singing and dancing younger sister!) where the contestants didn’t understand it was rigged to spotlight the promoter’s pre-picked choice. That was what WORLD IDOL felt like on Christmas.

    So New Year’s Day was a refreshing surprise, as votes were tallied from the ten countries involved, and country after country placed Kelly #2 behind Nilson. It was sort of fascinating, watching (fast forward via tape) Kelly’s facial tics as she kept coming in #2, racing through denial, anger and whatever other stages there are to that pattern. Whether she hit acceptance there’s no way to know, as, following Kurt’s final victory the other contestants simply vanished from the stage, leaving him to a final song as the show petered off the air.

    Interestingly, Nilson was one of the few rockers on the show, blowing through a good version of a U2 song. (Also interestingly, virtually all contestants from foreign countries sang American songs with impeccable American phrasing and accents.) It may have been this energy, in addition to his voice, that put him over the top. AMERICAN IDOL has been traditionally hostile to rock music, and while pushing contestants to “be themselves” paradoxically has forced on them old fart fodder like ’70s disco songs and Burt Bacharach numbers, then complained that the performances sound like karaoke. Well, of course they do. In its desperation to create a “star” who’s vocal style appeals to as wide a CD-buying audience as humanly possible, the show drives out anything but MOR crooning; too often, you might as well just listen to a Whitney Houston greatest hits album or the soundtrack to THE BIG CHILL. Obviously, the rest of the world’s a little more interested in energy than the American music business is. Nilson had personality; Kelly had packaging.

    Another season of AMERICAN IDOL starts next week. Is there anyone undiscovered left in America who can actually sing?

  • Politically, things have been reasonably quiet. Or, at least, repetitious. Tiny flap here over a Strip hotel refusing to turn over to the FBI a list of its guests registered over New Year’s. (The Department Of Homeland Security nicely tried to imply Las Vegas was the target of a New Year’s Eve terrorist attack while openly denying there was any evidence to support that, so don’t mind those helicopters flying overhead. Not sure what they’d have done if an unauthorized plane had entered Las Vegas airspace, since they can’t really shoot down an aircraft over populated areas. They’re not supposed to, anyway. But the closest we got to a terrorist attack was Britney Spears’ hit and run marriage, which I hear she did just because she heard I was about to give 2003’s White Trash Of The Year award to Paris Hilton. Who won it anyway, because the marriage/annulment took place in 2004. Don’t worry, Britney, you’re tops in the running for this year already.)

    It’s hard not to be generally unnerved these days. Not by terror threats – there haven’t been any serious ones since 9-11, and while the administration and its supporters eagerly take credit for that with the nonsense that passes for “homeland security,” go back and read my column immediately following 9-11 (it’s in the archives) where I talk about how every terror attack makes another in the USA less likely, and why – but by odd comments in the weirdest places. Like CIGAR AFFICIANADO magazine, of all places (I thought the Hand Puppet banned cigars from the White House to thwart the possibility of any Lewinskygates in his administration) where General Tommy Franks talks about how terrorism may “convince our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass-casualty-producing event.” In other words (and with a tasteful touch of regret), he ponders the possibility that we’ll abandon what pundits seem to like to call “the democratic experiment,” as if it’s just something we’ve been puttering around with to see how well it’ll work, in order to thwart terrorism. Franks isn’t the first person I’ve heard talking about this, but he’s the highest ranked, and certainly there have been suggestions of it in high places ever since the by comparison mild Patriot Act was rammed through in a panic. (The Patriot Act, you may recall, was not actually designed to fight terrorism but was a shopping list of Constitution-bypassing measures that law enforcement, particularly the FBI, had been trying without success to muscle through Congress since the Nixon administration.) It’s an unnerving meme to have entering popular discourse, even if it’s mentioned only casually now. While Franks hardly embraced the notion, neither did it sound much like a cautionary warning to stand fast. It sounded more like a regret.

    It’s been hard holding onto freedoms in America. They’re often subverted, and have to be fought for again and again. Our democracy is far from perfect, but it’s really all we’ve got. The only logical alternative to democracy here is a police state, or a military state/imperial government, or chaos. When people talk about terrorism convincing Americans to give up democracy for protection, there’s no time soon enough to start asking how exactly that protects us from terrorism, and no time soon enough to assault the meme. The Constitution is our birthright, and the foundation of our society. Consider anyone who suggests it might be necessary to abandon it a traitor.

  • A quick one: one of the funniest phenomena of recent months has been the anti-blog stance popping up all over the web, where “bloggers” are touted as anything from complete idiots to the devil incarnate. Frankly, blogs, whether good or bad, take a lot more determination than I’ve got, and while there’s as large a percentage of horse’s asses doing them as you’ll find anywhere else, I’m not sure what everyone’s up in arms again. (My pal and publisher Larry Young, recently gave me a good belly laugh by proclaiming – tongue in cheek – that his new blog isn’t really a blog at all!) I can’t believe anyone hasn’t stumbled across blogs yet, but in case you haven’t, I forget that what word means, something-log, but they’re basically the daily rantings of whoever’s writing them on whatever subject they choose. The main criticism against them – usually from people who simply don’t like the sentiments expressed therein – is that bloggers are ignoramuses (ignorami?) who don’t know what they’re talking about. But here I remember when the Internet started, everyone was talking about how it’s a great way to exchange ideas. Seems to me that blogs all over. Specifically in comics, it wasn’t that long ago that reps from The Comics Buyer’s Guide were talking about how online newssites weren’t “journalism,” when it really came down to turf encroachment. Matt Drudge in his heyday was excoriated by “legitimate journalists” for using the Internet to spread stories, only to come up redfaced when many of those stories turned out to be true. Drudge briefly became, next to pornography, the single biggest allure of the Internet, and signaled the death knell to “the official version.” The Internet has remained an antidote for “the official version” ever since, which probably lies behind the continuing efforts of some politicians to reign it in. Anyway, like it or not, bloggers, good and bad, are just the latest communications evolution – everyone gets their own editorial page (and if you think people who write editorial pages in newspapers always know what they’re talking about, you haven’t been reading editorial pages) – so stop bitching about it. If it’s your “official version” bloggers challenge, them’s the breaks.
  • To my surprise,I get liberally mentioned (and misspelled) in Rich Johnston’s latest column, in a section discussing the failures of little-remembered comics publisher TSR-West. So much that it made it seem I must have been Rich’s source, which I wasn’t. (I’d actually disagree with some of it, if I were inclined to discuss it; I will say I didn’t think Flint Dille was the main problem with the company at all, and he really didn’t have much to do with my departure from it, despite what the article paints.) But read it; it’s entertaining.

    This weekend I’m spending at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, where hopefully I’ll see an array of really cool junk I can talk about next week. As it turns out, I’ll also be spending a lot of time at the adjacent Adult Entertainment Expo, where Vivid Video is doing a big push for the Vivid Comics I’m doing for Avatar Press (great art on that work, I have to say that). If I can figure out a way to keep it clean, I’ll talk about that some as well. But probably no pictures.

    Don’t forget I currently have available:

    DAMNED: trade paperback from Cyberosia, art by Mike Zeck and Denis Rodier, coloring by Kurt Goldzung

    Crime. A parolee jumps parole to fulfill a promise to a dead cellmate, and finds himself hunted by mobsters looking for missing money he knows nothing about, in a city where he has no friends.

    MORTAL SOULS: trade paperback from Avatar Press, art by Philip Xavier

    Crime/horror. A police detective tracks and kills a female serial killer, only to gain her gift of seeing her targets for what they really are: the dead, who run the world, and who hate the living.

    BADLANDS: trade paperback from AiT/PlanetLar Books, art by Vince Giarrano

    Crime story, set in 1963 and starring the man who really killed John Kennedy.

    BADLANDS: THE UNPRODUCED SCREENPLAY: text from AiT/PlanetLar

    Screenplay version of BADLANDS, designed to ward off anyone who wants to make a movie of it.

    PUNISHER:CIRCLE OF BLOOD: trade paperback from Marvel Comics, art by Mike Zeck and John Beatty

    Crime. The original mini-series that transformed The Punisher from a minor character into a movie-franchise spawning star. Imprisoned for his killings, the Punisher fights to survive and escape, but the war he declares on organized crime once he’s out takes an unexpected turn.

    GREEN LANTERN: TRAITOR: trade paperback from DC Comics, art by Mike Zeck, Gil Kane, Scott Kolins and Klaus Janson

    Superhero action. Three generations of Green Lanterns – the alien Abin Sur in the old west, Hal Jordan joined by the Atom in the Silver Age, and the modern Green Lantern Kyle Raynor – battle an unstoppable cyborg powered by the stars and driven by a religious calling to snuff out all life in the universe.

    MY FLESH IS COOL: monthly comic from Avatar Press, art by Sebastian Fiumara

    Crime/science fiction. A charming assassin has the ability to work through other people’s bodies to fulfill his commissions, but then his power becomes available to the general public, for a price.

    FRANK MILLER’S ROBOCOP, monthly comic from Avatar Press, art by Juan Jose Ryp

    Science fiction action. The most faithful adaptation of a screenplay in history. From the version of ROBOCOP 2 that was never filmed, Frank Miller’s vision of the decaying future city of Detroit is realized for the first time, as Robocop crosses swords with a demented squadron of military police and a program-altering self-proclaimed moral watchdog, while the real police go on strike and OCP readies an even more powerful Robocop to replace him.

    Hopefully, by next week I’ll have a full list of projects coming up in the near future.

    Finally, I want to again thank everyone who has donated to my fund drive. (For details, click here.) It’s been one of those moments every freelancer hits every so often, where cash flow just grinds to a halt as the bills continue to pour in and there’s nothing to be done except to stagger through it, and it’s you people who’ve kept me on my feet. While I’m not out of the woods yet – the fund drive is still going on and will be for at least another week, if anyone would care to help out a poor beleaguered columnist – every week you help bring me a little closer to the other side of it, and I really appreciate it.

    Those wishing to comment should leave messages on the Permanent Damage Message Board. You can also e-mail me but the chances of a reply are next to nil these days, given my workload, though I do read all my e-mail as long as it’s not trying to sell me something. IMPORTANT: Because a lot of people apparently list it in their e-address books, this account has gotten a slew of virus-laden messages lately. They’re no real threat but dealing with them eats up time I don’t really have, to the extent I can no longer accept unsolicited e-mail with attachments. If you want to send something via attachment (say, art samples) ask me first. If I say okay, then send. Unsolicited e-mail with attachments will be wiped from the server without being read. You can also leave messages for me and have discussions on other topics at my Delphi forum, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE. Please don’t ask me how to break into the business, or who to submit work to. The answers to those questions are too mercurial for even me to keep up with.

    Those wanting to subscribe to the WHISPER e-mail newsletter should click here.

    I’m reviewing comics sent to me – I may not like them but certainly I’ll mention them – at Steven Grant c/o Permanent Damage, 2657 Windmill Pkwy #194, Henderson NV 89074, so send ’em if you want ’em mentioned, since I can’t review them unless I see them. Some people have been sending press releases and cover proofs and things like that, which I enjoy getting, but I really can’t do anything with them, sorry. Full comics only, though they can be photocopies rather than the published version. Make sure you include contact information for readers who want to order your book.

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