www.cbr.com

Issue #126

"Why does the Democrat party persist in the notion that a Senator can become president even when recent history has made it abundantly clear that voters distrust senators, perhaps due to the perception that they are politicians without actually having any responsibility and having to make decisions that they understand the implications of?"

That's the primary system for you. In case you haven't noticed, the way it works is this: whoever wants to run for president starts by raising money and mounting a campaign, trying to sway voters to think they'd be a great choice. Democratic voters make their decision and vote for the candidate they'd like to see as the party's nominee. Unlike the Republicans, the Democratic Party hasn't had any core power blocs in a long time capable of designating a candidate well in advance, so it really does fall to the primary voters in their case. And, yeah, it's been at least a 50 year tradition that senators lose when they run for the presidency, except John Kennedy. But that's just a statistical thing. It doesn't mean no senator is electable. While I'm as surprised as anyone that John Kerry has as much juice as he has, he has been putting on a good campaign, and I've even heard people refer to him as "presidential." So who knows? It's worth remember that the Hand Puppet lost the popular vote in 2000. It's worth remembering that the Democrats were ridiculed for nominating both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (though, of course, they were governors... but that also doesn't mean, say, Howard Dean would be any more electable than Kerry just because he's a governor and not a senator). It's worth remembering that in February of 2002, the Hand Puppet's dad was pretty much in the same position his kid's in now, a supposedly popular president coming off a supposedly popular war and chanting about how great the economy really is regardless of who's actually felt the benefits of it. And he lost to someone Republicans (and, let's face it, many Democrats) considered a comedy candidate. So anything's possible.

"Your career has been long and varied enough that you seem to have your choice of subjects to write about -- you've written everything from work-for- hire super-hero to creator-owned crime to work-for-hire porn. Is there any subject or situation that, if offered, you would decline because it would be too uncomfortable for you to write about?"

I wouldn't be too inclined to do propaganda pieces that I knew flat out lied to the audience so that people I didn't like could get what they wanted regardless of the public good. As far as fiction goes, I dunno. Fiction's fiction, y'know? I don't know that I'd be interested in writing, oh, a slasher film for just for the sake of writing a slasher film, but one never know, do one?

"What book/movie do you loathe admitting you love?"

I've been trying to think of some, but I can't. It's been so long since I cared whether anyone shared my tastes that nothing I like or dislike embarrasses me anymore. I don't even mind admitting I like MALLRATS. I had a TV professor in college who declared everything along those lines is buttermilk. Some people like buttermilk, and some people don't. (He did, I don't.) That's what artistic taste often comes down to: buttermilk. Life's too short to get worked up over it.

"Will a graphic novels only store bring in new readers?"

It depends on the marketing. If someone simply put up a shingle that said GRAPHIC NOVELS, odds are they'd be out of business within six months. If they marketed it to interest a general buying public in both the shop and the material, who knows? Marketing, simply put, is the art of identifying or generating a need and steering the audience to where they can fulfill that need (something no American comics company has done in recent years). Until someone actually tries it (and tries it smart rather than stupid) there's no way to know.

"If you had the opportunity to kill one person on Earth, without facing any legal, moral, or any other repercussions, who would it be?"

The next person who mentions Janet Jackson's exposure at the Super Bowl.

"have you read my short story?"

Not yet – time's be awfully tight lately – but I haven't forgotten and it's on my list of things to do.

"You stated you won't read Garth Ennis' PUNISHER or BORN because you have already had a close association with the character of Frank Castle, and you don't revisit characters in such a situation. The upcoming PUNISHER movie seems heavily based on Ennis' first PUNISHER arc. Will you see it? (Why or why not?)"

That isn't exactly what I said. I said I have my own take on the character and I'm not interested in what other people do with him. It's along the lines of when the Muslims took Alexandria and their general ordered the famous library there burned because either the books inside are contrary to the Koran and therefore heretical, or they contain what's already in the Koran and are therefore redundant. There's nothing in it for me. As for the movie, I may see it eventually, when it runs on cable TV or if somehow I ended up with a movie pass. Would I rush to see it on the big screen? Not a snowball's chance in hell, because Marvel exists to pay me, I don't exist to pay them.

"How were you originally going to end the PUNISHER mini CIRCLE OF BLOOD before Marvel screwed it up??"

The plot to #5 was mine, so what you see is what you'd have gotten. They didn't alter the plot at all. The only real difference was they strained to soften the character and he talked to much. My version would've had different dialogue, nastier and terser.

"I'm interested in self-publishing a project. I could draw it, but frankly I don't really have the patience for that and it would look a lot better if I had someone with a stronger interest in illustrating to do it. My problem is I'm not sure what a reasonable page rate is. I'd like to find someone who is looking to break into the industry as an artist who could use to cut their teeth on a project. Obviously I can't afford to pay what a Marvel or DC is going to pay ... but then again I'm not looking to get a Lee Weeks or Mike Wieringo, etc. But I really have no clue what a reasonable page rate is (especially in regards to a small run independent project). And I just haven't been able to find out information in regards to that. If you could maybe point me in a direction where I can get some numbers to compare, that would be immensely helpful. At least it would give me a ballpark where I can start to determine exactly what it is going to take to finance the project."

There's really no good answer for that question. If you're really going to self-publish, many aspiring artists would be willing to draw your book for free if it meant exposure. (As I've said before, a published comic book is a better calling card than sample pages.) You might consider giving them equity in the property – a piece of the pie – on the long shot that the book makes a profit or gets picked up by a major publisher or optioned to films or such. I'm not sure what the going rate for a page of artwork by a newcomer is at Marvel or DC these days. I'd guess $75-$100, but that would just be for pencils, and don't forget you'd be asking for pencils and inks. So: whatever fraction of that you and the artist are comfortable with, if you're talking about the artist doing the book work-for-hire. (And if that's the case, put it in writing or it isn't work-for-hire.) It's really a matter for negotiation between the two of you, since there's nothing resembling an industry standard for it. Frankly, it's a lot easier to find an artist who'll work for cheap or free than it is to find a good artist at any price. Maybe you're not talking about Lee Weeks or Mike Wieringo, but you should at least be thinking in terms of art at their level, commensurate with experience. Way too many people in your position (not to mention professional editors and publishers) tend to equate availability with good art, forgetting it's the nature of comics that no matter how great your concept is, it's not likely to survive bad art, which can pretty much kill buyer interest in anything. Personally, I'd worry about that more than I'd concern myself with how much money to pay. The latter can always be worked out (I mean, come on, you know how much you can afford to pay for art; offer as much as you can afford) but the former's much more difficult to finesse.

"Why doesn't John Kerry say he is a Liberal & explain liberal comes from the same word as liberty, and could people who use it as an insult think of a new name for that big statue in New York Harbor?"

I always wondered, back in 1988 when Bush pere was inferring Dukakis was a dangerous radical for being a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union, why Dukakis, instead of trying to equivocate on his membership and his support of that organization's goals, didn't just reply, "George, are you telling me that you don't support civil liberties? But it's part of the president's job to ensure civil liberties. They're guaranteed by the Constitution. You have to swear an oath that you'll uphold the Constitution. Are you saying that if you're elected president you won't uphold the Constitution?" Anyway, by the mid-'70s, Republican kingmakers had seized on widescale redefinitions of language as campaign tools, and they've been resoundingly successful at it. I mean it: it's been impressive. The Democrats – except for Clinton, who was pretty good at redefinition himself (it was anti-definition that tripped him up) – have always believed themselves to be above such parlor tricks (such tricks are "unpresidential," y'know, though after all the yahoos the Republicans have pushed into the White House, you'd think the Democrats would get over such snooty ideas) so they've spent the last 30 years getting snared by them. But I don't think it's so important that Kerry set out to explain what "liberal" really means as it is for him to actively fight back against implicit slurs. The high road's great and all, but sometimes even a president has to get down in the mud, and voters generally don't mind getting the impression that a candidate at least can if forced to.

"What keeps you interested in comic books?"

What do you mean? Why wouldn't I stay interested in comics? I love comics. I even love bad comics. I love the form and always have, and I love occasionally being surprised by a really good comic. I don't mind the paychecks either.

"What's your best Jim Shooter story?"

Are there any good Jim Shooter stories?

I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I don't know if it's my best Jim Shooter story – I didn't exactly collect them – but it's my favorite, though I do not vouch in any way for what was actually going through Jim's head at the time, since I don't know and I never asked him. I only know what happened on my end of it.

It's a few months after Jim has become editor-in-chief, my friend Roger Stern is now on staff as an editor, and he has asked me to write an issue of MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE since I'm in NYC to visit him. We're in his office at Marvel, Roger's working at his desk, Jim Shooter and (I believe) Ralph Macchio were discussing something in the doorway, and Roger's assistant editor Jim Salicrup is showing me an arc they've been working on for M2N1 called "Project Pegasus," written by Ralph and Mark Gruenwald and drawn by George Perez. Salicrup (I'll use his last name to distinguish him from Jim Shooter) has pages from two or three issues in, and I see a character I don't recognize. Who is it? I ask. "Giant-Man," Salicrup says proudly. "We're bringing back Giant-Man." (In this case, mid-'70s hero Black Goliath with an old name and a new costume.) I start trying to work this through in my head. Giant-Man?!! Wasn't his power (when Henry Pym was Giant-Man, anyway?) to get real big so his enemies could knock him over? So I say: "Who'd want to bring back a stupid character like Giant-Man?!!"

And, abruptly, there's a deathly silence in the office. No one but me's even letting out a breath. It was like I just suggested we go assassinate Stan Lee or something.

Then I notice Jim (who, for people who don't know anything about him, is pushing 7' tall) in the doorway, glaring daggers at me. Suddenly he turns on his heel and storms off. Baffled, I look at Roger and ask, "What was that about?"

Roger lets out an exasperated sigh and says, "Think about it."

Special bonus hot tip for new comics freelancers: the first time you visit the offices of a company you've just started working for, don't volunteer opinions, and be careful of who you're talking around when you do. Take it from me. A little circumspection in these things goes a long way.

"What non-comic book writers do you enjoy reading?"

I read mostly non-fiction these days, so that's more a matter of favorite topics, not writers. I like a lot of fiction writers, but very few of them publish much anymore. My favorite novelist remains William Gaddis, who's unlikely to publish more because he's dead (as is Malcolm Lowry, also one of my favorites). Among living writers: JG Ballard, James Ellroy, Thomas Pynchon, Ronald Sukenick. I don't go for a lot of crime/thriller novels, but two writers whose work I never miss are Stephen Hunter and George Pelecanos. Kent Harrington's interesting as well, though his last book was a not terribly successful Hitchcock pastiche. Other than that, my fiction reading is a whim thing lately, and I don't really follow specific authors.

"As a fellow comic book writer and wrestling fan, I've wondered who your all time favorite professional wrestler is? For me its a toss up between Ric Flair and Harley Race. Growing up in the midwest, Harley was THE MAN, and NWA world champ for much of my youth (the time I really got into wrestling), but Ric is entertaining on so many levels, and is still better than 90% of the guys on the WWE roster. So who is Steven Grant's favorite?"

The best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be: Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Ric was always more stylish, but Bret always had much more varied matches – I suspect Ric could have varied his work more, but he usually didn't – and I always liked Bret's non-gimmick of a more or less normal guy (remember that the WWF then was a world of steroid monsters) who would overcome opposition through great skill, the occasional cheapshot, and a simple dogged refusal to lose. It was usually very satisfying to watch Bret's matches, and he could carry virtually anyone to a good, often great, match. When Ric brayed about being "The Man!" it was shrill with ego, and that was his gimmick. When Bret talked about being "the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be," he said it like it was a simple, unassailable statement of fact. I'd like to see him in Chris Benoit's corner for Benoit's championship match against Triple-H at Wrestlemania XX. And if they don't put the belt on Benoit at Wrestlemania, they're idiots. (For those who are wondering, my favorite current wrestler is "Latino Heat" Eddie Guerrero, who looks like he was drawn by Steve Ditko c. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #10. Terrifically entertaining.)

" I'm about to head out to Las Vegas on Wednesday. Where's the best place in town for me to pick up some comics?"

I'm glad you asked. Las Vegas/Henderson has an alarming number of comics shops for a city this size – well over a dozen of them. Among my favorites are Cosmic Comics (3330 E. Tropicana, Suite W); Tim Boal's Comic Oasis (4250 N. Rainbow at Flamingo and Rainbow) and, in my neck of the woods, Cheese Boy Comics (8826 S. Eastern in Colonade Plaza). But the best comics shop in town is still Ralph Mathieu's Alternate Reality Comics (4800 S. Maryland Pkwy, Suite D), which pleasantly packs a great selection of mainstream, alternative and manga into a surprisingly compact space, and Ralph's a great guy on top of it. Of course, I don't know your particular tastes. For instance, Cheese Boy caters to gamers (though not oppressively) while Alternate Reality doesn't.

"With your recent collected editions of work you've written,

what is the process that makes it come out in mini-series comic book form, then

collected into trade paperback? Especially concerned with the economics,

pricepoint, decision making, etc. Why not try to go "one story in one book" trade release first?"

Unfortunately, that's not my decision. It's all up to the publisher, but it's a fairly easy formula. Start with the basic costs: get a printer's quote on how much it will cost to print the book in the format you want. Factor in shipping costs. That's the baseline. Then you guess at the potential market for the book, and make assumptions about them. (This is the risk part of publishing.) Will the book sell enough to an audience to make it worth publishing? How many copies will be sold at what price to reach a profit (the holy grail of all publishing, and never think it's not) and at what point is the price high enough that it will drive off more customers than it's worth? A lot of these judgments are extrapolated from experience; if a publisher has made money with a previous, similar 266 page trade priced at $14.95 but lost money on an identical package priced at $15.95, he'll be more likely to price at $14.95. If it were an exact science, it would be easy for publishers to make money, but it's mostly guesswork. As for why publishers don't jump straight to graphic novel instead of doing the comics publication first, that's also a matter of economics. Well over ten years ago, I predicted much of comics publishing in "the future" (and the future is now, baby!) would be special event publishing ultimately designed for trade paperback, with the pamphlet form largely a loss leader to a) underwrite the creative costs and b) generate word of mouth for the collection. That's roughly the current scenario. (See what a magnificently prescient bastard I am?) Original graphic novels cost a lot of money, and are pure risk for start to finish. Trade paperbacks are, in theory, semi-paid for by comics publication, which is also a (imperfect) barometer of market potential for the trade paperback version. It's still swinging in the wind, but, from a publisher's perspective, it's a better view of the ground. I still suspect the economy will eventually favor original graphic novels, but it isn't there yet.

"Are mainstream American comics more American today than ever before? Perhaps that needs a little clarification. With superheroes being the US mainstream, who used to live in a highly stylized (from buildings to morals) world, they were very accessible to anyone in the world. Metropolis was an idea, not a real city; Gotham too. Even Spider-man's New York was less of a real city and more that image of New York that belongs to anyone in the world. The cops and crooks and journalists and passersby in such a city never behaved like absolutely real people, more like an idea of those professions - again, making them universally acceptable. Today ... I dunno, but it seems that the infusion of everyday problems (presented very factually, not as a metaphor) into superhero comics doesn't make for better superhero comics but instead makes those comics into a potentially interesting read marred by the inclusion of the spandex. It's like all the writers really want to write about genres or life-issues that matter to them but since only superheroes sell, they cram superheroes into whatever they want to write, to unfortunate (for me) and stillborn results.

I went astray: the previous paragraph is a completely different question altogether, one you tackled before. What I wanted to say is that this infusion of "reality" makes those comics (and not only comics; TV shows show the similar swing from reality-based allegories to strict headlines-retelling) probably more interesting to US citizens, but perhaps less interesting abroad. I'm not sure: should I connect with 9/11 this feeling that America is turning towards itself, examining itself and trying to find some strength of its own, but I am sensing a continental drift - self-reliant America is farther away and not quite as interesting as before (and it doesn't care about it). I'm probably wrong and my biases show: I was born, raised and am living in Europe; I'm way past the age when superheroes seemed relevant to my life (I lost my superpowers a couple of years ago, faced with the invincibility of death); and I am a writer who finds what he wants to write increasingly at odds with what the (US) audience wants to read. I'm not complaining about the loss of a playground, nor I am advocating a return to the days of old. I'm quite okay with where I am, I just wanted to hear another perspective on the subject, from somebody who thinks."

I think that's a slight misreading of the situation. (First, it's not so much superheroes are all that sell, because in large part they don't, but they're often the only thing the publishers with money to pay upfront will buy.) It's not so much that the USA is turning inward as pop culture here is now mostly an extension of media rather than the other way around, as it used to be. Media is all about money, and money gravitates to comfort zones. People putting money into media don't want to hear about experiment or risk, they want to hear about what has made money before, and if it made money before, that's what they want to see their money go into again. So everything gears toward familiar elements, on the premise that what audiences find familiar they'll find comforting and what they find comforting they'll spend money on. Which is why, for instance, Keanu Reeves is playing John Constantine in the HELLBLAZER movie, because audiences will find an American actor so much more appealing than an English one. (Which explains why all the James Bond movies tank at the box office.) So you're right; things often aren't quite as interesting as before, because they're redundant. But it's not just you, or your perspective. Most American writers I know feel much the same way. It's a new cultural insularity promoted by money, motivated by profit. I don't know that 9-11 figures into it that much, though 9-11 has certainly increased the taste and tolerance for jingoism and yahooism, but those have never been far from the forefront of the American psyche in any case.

"You are the programmer for all WWE television/PPV product. The Bush administration has been tossed out of office (either in the election or because the sheep of America finally woke up; fat chance on the latter) and they've decided to try their hand at wrestling. How do you program them into the current picture without repeating the failed RTC of a couple years back?"

Actually, Stevie Richards' RTC gimmick was pretty successful, the WWE just didn't know where to go with it. The rule of thumb in wrestling promotion is to skew characters toward the personalities of the performers and let them work from that. So I'd bring them in as a heel group called "The Administration," probably with Dick Cheney as heel manager, but in the Honky Tonk Man mold, unwavering in their belief that the audience believes they're the faces and their opponents are automatically the heels. (For those unfamiliar with wrestling terminology, a "face," or "babyface," though virtually everyone uses the shorter form now, is the good guy in a wrestling battle, the one you're supposed to root for. The "heel" is the bad guy. In Mexico, they're technicos and rudos, respectively. There are also ethically ambiguous wrestlers who are known as "tweeners" for their ability to go either way. But there aren't many of them.) Meanwhile, they'd be dedicated to doing whatever underhanded, dirty thing it took to make the rich richer – in this case, Vincent K. McMahon Jr, billionaire owner of World Wrestling Entertainment, and Vince's on-screen persona would, of course, love them for it and connive with them behind closed doors at every possible opportunity – Cheney would get kickbacks from McMahon, of course – but they'd insist whatever they were doing was really for the good of the audience and even their opponent wrestlers, who, they'd claim, didn't grasp the larger picture. And they'd win their matches in an unusual way. On their arrival in the WWE, they'd convince McMahon to institute a "supreme court" that would decide on contested matches, then they'd cause all their matches to end in double draws, double countouts, double disqualifications, etc. The court would then award them every match, regardless of circumstances, until they held all the belts. It's a winning gimmick; they'd be the greatest heels of the 21st century. Of course, I wouldn't know how to turn them face short of bringing in the Battling Osamas (with a French manager, of course) to battle them.

  • Wow. I guess there really is a war on terror. How else would you explain the "Memo To Osama" that suddenly popped up?

    Okay, call me suspicious. What a convenient thing to find right at this instant, when the Hand Puppet's going stutteringly onto TV in an actual interview to basically admit all his stated premises for invading Iraq were, to be kind, misleading, while defending his decision to invade. Right when questions have arisen about the quality of our intelligence (um... you know what I mean...) to the point where a "bipartisan commission" (headed by the extremely partisan former judge Laurence Silberman, just one of the former Iran-Contra players ingratiated into the current administration, who Republican Lawrence Walsh considered bringing up on charges of obstructing and impeding the Iran-Contra investigation, and who took it upon himself, when a judge, to liberate those actually convicted in Iran-Contra, like Oliver North) is created to investigate them. Right when pressure is building inside Iraq for free elections sooner than later, and a speedup of an end to the US presence there.

    So suddenly there's an "intercepted document" – 17 pages of it – that, according to headlines and soundbites, ties Iraqi insurgency to outside agitators and to al-Qaeda. Sort of. If real, the document is very interesting since, aside from being carried by a captured al-Qaeda courier, it actually suggests al-Qaeda has no substantive tactical presence in the country. In fact, the writer, a Jordanian terrorist operating in Iraq, sounds a bit desperate. He calls for help to foment strife between Iraqi Sunnis and Shi'ites, suggesting friction between the two factions might not be anywhere near as great as it's hyped to be. Stupid comments about the American army hide a grudging compliment: he's (rightly) scared to death of us.

    Equally interesting is how it ties in with administration doctrine, tenuously linking the war in Iraq with the war on terror (despite the invitation, it's questionable that bin Laden, traditionally a remote tactician with an eye for The Big Effect rather than little skirmishes, would have any interest in going mano-à-mano with the US Army in actual battlefield conditions) and pitching a case for a strong American presence in Iraq even after the supposed turnover date of June 30. (Conversely, it could be used to make a case for postponing the turnover date to prevent upheaval.)

    Maybe it's real, and maybe all these things need to be considered. But I'd feel a lot more comfortable if the memo's origins were independently confirmed, given that this is an administration that has shown no qualms about manipulating and manufacturing evidence that serves its purposes, that has routinely obstructed and bypassed independent investigations from the U.N.'s search for Iraqi weapons to our own government's investigation of the circumstances behind 9-11, and has at least once flat out lied, to the physical detriment of a great number of American citizens (when it claimed New York's air quality was fine after 9-11 when it was and still is dangerous, something that will ultimately cost the country money and a number of New Yorkers their lives). "Letters" without independent verification are historically problematic; don't forget the U.S. was dragged into World War I on the strength of a German letter to Mexico asking the latter to ally with it and attack the U.S. to keep us out of Europe. The British intercepted that one and passed it along to us, which was easy for them to do since they wrote it.

    At the very least, the timing of the letter's release is suspect. It was supposedly captured a month ago. Why release it right now?

  • Remember the fuss about Marvel's THE TRUTH, by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker? A quasi-historical story about testing Captain America's super-soldier formula on black soldiers, I recall it kicking up quite a ruckus about comparisons to Nazi medical experiments etc. and how Morales and Baker were trying to give America a... er... black eye. But I never had a chance to read the series.

    Now the first seven issues (how many were there?) are collected in trade paperback ($17.99) and... it's pretty good.

    I've read enough history to know the book's fairly accurate in its outline of eugenics programs and American race relations before 1950 (and considerably later), especially in the military. Given what happened in places like Tuskegee, and known government experimentation on both soldiers and unwitting civilians, it's not an unreasonable premise that Negro soldiers would be (expendable) guinea pigs for the Captain America project. I like the details about black Germans and interwar race riots and things like that. I thought it gave Captain America a nice texture the character didn't have before, and, when he enters the story, allowed him expressions of his character usually ignored. A very satisfying ending to an otherwise grim story, too.

    There was one flaw in the premise, though: given racial attitudes of the day, I found it a bit hard to swallow that they risk turning blacks into supermen. Didn't quite gibe. I also don't buy, as in one early scene, that a colonel would fatally shoot a major in the head in front of 2000 witnesses regardless of color. Dramatic, but unrealistically extreme. And as much as I like Kyle Baker's art, here it sometimes worked against the story, way too cartoony in some places. But, overall, THE TRUTH is a worthwhile story and a good read.

    I'm told FRUITS BASKET (Tokyo Pop; $9.99), Natsuki Takaya's tale of a young girl who finds a home with a family whose members are cursed to turn into animals from the Chinese zodiac when hugged by a member of the opposite sex, is one of the most popular manga and anime in Japan. I can see why. It's better drawn than many shojo, and the story has a lighter touch than most, with entertaining, pleasantly complex characters, a light touch, and a generally upbeat philosophy. A lot of manga really overpump the action and emotions, and FRUITS BASKET does have those moments, but most of the time it's nicely toned down. And it's funny without being a comedy. Set modern day, the fantastic aspects aside, ultimately it's about lonely kids getting beyond themselves and forming a community. Good stuff.

  • Remember that MY FLESH IS COOL #1, with art by Sebastian Fiumara, is out now and earning big raves all over. VIVID COMIX #1, should be available soon as well (if you're 18+), and both are from Avatar Press. (I'm also busily at work on a new ROBOCOP mini-series and revamping another new/old series for them.) You can also hit up your local comics retailer for:

    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.

    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.

    I encourage the patronage of local comics shops where applicable, but don't forget that if you can't find what you want there, you can always shop the fine online retailers Khepri and Mars Import. I'm still working on a complete listing of upcoming projects, but I'm also working on the projects themselves as well as a screenplay, so time is pretty tight. But keep looking; the online shop will be up at the Paper Movies website soon as well, I promise.

    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.

    Boruto: Naruto Finally Does the One Thing He's Always Avoided
  • More in CBR Exclusives