Welcome to the one hundred and twenty-fifth chapter in the latest volume of the long-running gossip and rumour column for the comic book industry. Over ten years damnit! Written by British comics commentator, me, Rich Johnston, it's read by comic book professionals and readers alike. Loved and hated equally, every Monday (ish) it brings the stories not-quite-ready-for-primetime, a look behind the curtain, a sniff of the toilet seat, the worst and the best that the comics industry can inspire. Go in with your eyes open, your blinkers off and a peg on your nose.
As for the traffic lights, RED means that the story is unlikely to be true, and you should read that with that context. AMBER signifies an identifiable agenda/slant or bias in the source that may affect the work, or that the source isn't clear, or another factor that might bring the piece into doubt. GREEN means that the story feels right to me, my gut instinct says go for it. However, as is often the case, while the gist may be correct, the detail may be wrong - and in fact I may be having an off day and the whole thing may be buggered. It wouldn't be the first time.
Spoilers about "Avengers" maybe. And possibly even about "Identity Crisis" though it's probably just blather.
MUSINGS ABOUT MARVEL
Last week's piece on the neocon US thinktank's Karl Zinsmeister made a few waves around the place. The Guardian picked up on the story but then failed to get anything out of Karl. Shame.
But did everyone see "Iron Man" this week from Warren Ellis and Adi Granov? Anyone notice the journalist was totally based on Jon Pilger? When America talk about a left-wing media, they really have no idea... because they haven't read much Pilger (except when his articles are linked by a raving screed from Matt Drudge).
Heh. John Pilger appearing in one comic. Karl Zinsmeister writing another. Himself. You can't say Marvel doesn't have balance when it comes to journalists in comics! And in "Ultimates," Captain America is invading Iraq!
However, Marketing don't seem to have picked up on any of this for Cobat Zones, and the book is hardly mentioned by Marvel. Ironically, these two weeks worth of columns have given the series more publicity that the two months of solicitations the book has had so far.
And I'm still feeling that if Bill Jemas was still in charge, he'd have been launching press releases along the lines of "New Marvel Comic On Iraq From Someone Who Helped Start The War In The First Place!" Would have got coverage from all sides of the political spectrum. And have got more coverage on publication by sending free copies to the troops. I mean, that's how comics got big back in the forties.
Mark? Have words with Marketing about those first issues of "Ultimates 2"... not many of them read the Sunday Herald. Recurrent "mistakes" and problematic timelines aside...
Other things we learnt about Mark Millar this week.
So, an update on last week's other story, that John Taddeo secured the rights to "American Power" from CrossGen.
Except some people are not exactly sure what he's got. Is this going to be another "Miracleman?"
Does he own the name? The concept? The scripts? The artwork? The cover?
We all remember the cover don't we?
You know, I could write a comic book based round just that.
When asked for comment, Chuck Dixon said...
"'American Power' was created, and two scripts written, by me in those final months at CrossGen when I wasn't receiving a paycheck. So, none of that material went into the hopper that Disney wound up with.
"I can't do anything with the material I wrote, but neither can anyone else unless they pay me for the writing and secure a contract with me.
"I explained all this to John over several meetings last month.
"And the last I saw of the artwork was in the CrossGen offices a month before the sale of the company."
Talking to John, he tells me, "I own the cover and all the art created for the title, including likenesses and conceptual drawings."
I understand John and Chuck are speaking and may work together, but one way or another a book with that now infamous cover will be published.
Let's see it again!
MV Creations are in many ways a model publisher/studio. While they've had their fair share of problems, like any studio (not least of which was allying with Cross Gen which saw CG take all their payments from Diamond Distribution and not pass them on to pay printers, creators or staff, let alone profits), they've remained honest and above board. They haven't lied, prevaricated and have striven to pay back debts that others forced upon them. In a sea of companies that play with the finances of those who can least afford it, MV Creations have emerged as a publisher a creator can at least trust to give them the truth.
And now Val Staples is giving the truth to everyone else.
"The Poor Man's Guide To Self Publishing" is a modern take on publishing comics in the current marketplace. It's indepth, straightforward and a document many should commit to the hearts. I've self-published. I know a lot of this. But I didn't know it all, and there's a lot I should have done!
Editors of Alex Maleev, take note. You may want to vote in the following poll ... should the Daredevil artist spend all his time playing Halo 2 and blow his deadlines, or get to work?
Maybe Alex should do to his XBox what one artists did to his GameBoy. Duct tape it all over and throw it on the top of the wardrobe.
HE IS THE LAW
I understand Jude Law is working in an anonymous superhero movie. All I know is that Jude has to be bald-headed and has "light" powers.
Any guesses? He's not going to be Dazzler is he? I know he's made some bad movie choices of late, but still...
DANCE MACK DANCE
Sometimes it takes a while for the best con photos to come out. From Chicago, the dance off between David Mack and Matty Fumunda.
That's gotta hurt in the morning.
A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned Rob Liefeld's comments that he'd shortshipped "Youngblood Genesis" 2, deciding not to print any more copies than the ones they'd already porinting for convention sales.
Rob recently stated that they'd shipped between 5-6000 to Diamond, which would put the full order figure at around 11000, including all the copies Arcade puiblisher Jimmy Jay had in stock in his sales company JayCompany.
JayCompany specialises in selling rare and hard to get books. And it appears, not all his copies of "Genesis" 2 went to Diamond stores.
The Google cache from a couple of weeks ago of his "Genesis" 2 page lists it at $4 a copy.
The current version has it at $10. The Limited Con version has also jumped from $10 to $15!
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS
I understand Devil's Due has just snapped another major Hasbro licence.
Which one? Well, it's not my place to say right now. You'll all just have to cast the dice and take a guess.
No matter how many sides there may be to that dice.
Last week, we mentioned Alex De Campi and Igor Kordey's series for IDW, "Smoke".
Turns out a few other people noticed it too. The "homaged" covers from London graffiti artist Banksy (I particularly remember the Mona Lisa With Bazooka stencil round the corner from where I work) in particular, causing a slight online war.
Here are the covers, and the Banksy originals.
The Wooster Collective, art dealers and activists, encouraged people to email Alex and IDW protesting at what they saw as artistic theft. Alex fought back, pointing out to objectors that the pieces were credited homages with links to Banksy's work, shining a spotlight on other artistic works the "Smoke" team are using, and highlighting the fact that Wooster Collective sells artworks that use previous "art" as inspiration for $400.
This went back and forth quite a while.
Eventually Banksy himself emailed Alex to say, "alex- everything will be cool if the comic is good. if the comic is bad we fight friday night in the car park of wetherspoons, crouch end 8pm no weapons -b"
And suddenly everyone was, well...
Strangely no one seemed interested in swiping this cover.
We're all used to our great and good comic book artists flargrantly stealing poses, facial expressions or large amounts of machinery from other people's comics for their own. But what about the TV?
And I don't mean freeze framing a basketball match for that Wolverine pose you've been searching for. No, the other way around. Take a recent episode of "CSI." Featured some artist who drew bondage comics.
Halfway through the episode, there's a montage of panels. Some looked a little familiar. One in particular was swiped from "Batman: Killing Joke." Remember that? The scene showing a close-up face "photo" of Barbara Gordon being tortured? The Joker takes the picture and then torments Chief Gordon with it. That shot of her face, eyes and teeth clenched in agony, was swiped by whichever artist who drew the panels for "CSI."
AVENGER CRIB NOTES
Okay, now, if you haven't read "Avengers" 503, stop now. Step back a few paces. Then run onto the next article. Good people.
Jesse Baker, Comics Nexus Reviewer, flies into my inbox to tell me all about "Avengers" 503, as published, showing that Scarlet Witch not only murdered Hawkeye, Vision, and Ant Man but also her mentor Agatha Harkness.
But that editor Tom Brevoort has been stepping up explaining on ComiX-Fan what could be a major plot slip, spotted after publication, saying that Agatha wasn't killed by Wanda and that instead Bendis meant to include was that Wanda didn't kill Agatha and that Agatha's been dead since her death in the 1980s and that Wanda's been using her powers ever since the Byrne "Avengers" run to basically animate Agatha's corpse as an aspect of her unconscious mind.
Spoiler over. As is my patience. Oh bloody hell, "Identity Crisis"...
BACK TO THE BOSOM OF IDENTITY CRISIS
Column's looking a little short this week, so you know what that means. More mindless speculation about "Identity Crisis."
Jericho Wilson writes "The biological parents of Owen Mercer (the new Capt. Boomerang in IDENTITY CRISIS) are Barry Allen and Atom's wife, Jean Loring. Note that Sue Dibny and Zatanna have black hair and blue eyes. Black Canary is blonde and blue-eyed. But Owen Mercer has black hair and green eyes... just like Jean Loring. Owen dyed his black hair (shown in I.C. #3) to match Digger Harkness' hair color in I.C. #4. In I.C. #6, it is shown in 3 different panels that Owen has green eyes. Before, Owen's eye color was always obscured by opaque windows, halogen lights or the shade of trees.
"Note on page #33 (IIRC) of I.C. #6 that the 4th panel is a close-up of Jean Loring's face... showing black hair and green eyes. (The caption from her reads, "But Captain Boomerang?" ) This relates back to I.C. #3 when The Wizard tells The Flash, "Oh, Barry. Don't look so sad." However, The Wizard is grinning a knowing grin when he says it. That is because it isn't Barry Allen he's speaking to, but Captain Boomerang who has mindswapped into Flash's body. That's why Boomerang is Owen's father (in spirit) but Barry Allen is Owen's father by blood. Which is why Owen has Flash's super-speed. In #6, Brad Meltzer also has Green Arrow thinking about "protecting the innocent" when Wally West arrives.
"Owen's adoptive mother is Marian Mercer AKA Pagan, a women who hunts down men who rape women. Pagan is a vigilante who was known to willingly work with only one man: Batman. You can find this information on the Batman UK website. Coincidentally (or not), Pagan's entry on the site is right next to Zatanna's entry. If you go to Google.com, type in Batman #479 & #480. Owen Mercer's adoptive mother, Pagan, debuts in BATMAN #479 while in #480 you'll find a story about Tim Drake and Jack Drake. The title of that story?
""To The Father I Never Knew.""
My brain hurts. Okay, lets use the rest of the column for personal plugs.
Apparently the USA had an election recently. But which comic creator would make a good President of the USA? Naturally I decided to ask a bunch of comic creators that very question in the Industry Thermometer.
Everybody has to read Colleen Doran's answer.
AGE SHALL NOT WITHER THEM
On Sunday, it's my birthday. I'll be 32. Which is the kind of thing that usually depresses me. Though realising when I'm 42, I'd kill to be 32 again, does help. I've currently got a TV pilot for a game show I co-created about to be filmed. I've just won a major advertising award. "Wannabee" from Vicious Circle comes out next year, and I'm getting artwork in for "The Flying Friar," which I'll start punting around publishers shortly.
Oh, and I'm going to have a kid in March.
I think I'm going to enjoy my 32nd year on the planet. Your mileage may vary.
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