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Issue #14

Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles! Here I was ready to run a clip column (for those who came in late, a "clip show" on TV is one that strings segments from old episodes along some flimsy plot thread) and out of the blue I get interesting letters to run instead..

The first comes from my old pal, Irish expatriate, former MONDO 2000 and GETTING IT editor, current SALON and BIZARRE (yes, that's a magazine, and in Paul's case also a description)contributor and, in an apparent spurt of intense irony, budding psychoanalyst, Paul McEnery. Paul has spent much of what has passed for his adult life as a pithy observer of the comics scene, and has these observations on the TIME ten best list mentioned here last week:

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"Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this just Time doing the usual NY thing of gravitating to the money (comics are hot because Hollywood has discovered them) but in the usual NY arse-backwards way of talking to the fashionable man. I mean, if this isn't Art Spiegelman's top 10, I'm a Dutchman. And, er, I'm not, and all that. I'm so not convinced this Arnold even slightly exists except as a figment of Art's imagination. Or at least as a result of his political machinations. And, for God's sakes, they even include his book in there, which isn't even close to a top 10 book, or a comic. Why not PLASTIC MAN ARCHIVES? Ted Rall is right, maaan.

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No fair blaming the man for his disciple, I guess, but Art, of all people, ought to know better than to create ghettos. And Paul Pope is the only ghetto blaster in the bunch. Of course, Art was kind enough to actually purchase issues of MONDO 2000, so I shouldn't badmouth him, but I still remember his asinine comments about Sandman not being art but merely being artistic. Something about the good being the enemy of the great, and all that. Well, stand up MAUS next to W.G. Sebald and see which one looks like a cheap and cunning marketing manoeuvre. Never could stand Raw. Bunch of fucking posers, and as much use as Interview. Meanwhile, Rudy f*cking Guiliani is TIME's Man of the Year. Shut down the artists, kill the blacks, and come out smelling better than Bin Laden. I should f*cking cocoa.

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I learnt that bit about keeping my more controversial statements out of print from Joe Mantegna in ALBINO ALLIGATOR, heh heh heh.

Just off the top of my head, what about:

PLANETARY

TOP 10 (!)

TRANSMETROPOLITAN

MARVEL BOY

PROMETHEA

BACCHUS

CEREBUS

Everything by Enki Bilal

Everything by Jodorowsky

SOULWIND (hey, how'd an American sneak into my list?)

No sign of Joe Sacco, either. Funny, that. Or BERLIN.

See this line from the review of Trina's book? "It sure is tough. I feel genuinely bad for women who want buy comix and have to go into those horrifying comicbook stores hawking all that garish adolescent male art-swill. (I shop online to avoid them all.)"

See this line from the Paul Pope review: "His influences seem more Japanese than American, particularly in his use of "speed lines" that turn backgrounds into a blur." No duh. Maybe the couple years he spent in Japan drawing Manga had something to do with it. And what the hell is this?: "Pope's previous work: THB and THE ONE-TRICK RIPOFF may be harder to find, but are also much harder to read."

Or this from the Galambos piece: ""All the Wrong Places," has the gravity of serious fiction. There are no fistfights or wisecracks or oddball events or wacky characters." Sorry to disappoint you there, Arnie.

Or the NON book which ain't even going to be on the stands in 2001: "this exceptional collection that could have made this list even without the remarkable packaging." Yup, put that copy on the front cover. Jordan must be so proud.

Or this genius remark about Trina's book: "Copiously illustrated, many of these artists haven't been heard of since they last put their pen down." Yup. Kinda like everyone else who stops working, haven't done anything lately."

I still talk to lots of comics talent who have this idea that all they have to do is option a BLADE or MYSTERY MEN to Hollywood and they'll become rich celebrities and all those days of toiling in the comics salt mine will end. While this does occasionally happen, as Chesterton put it "belike, but there are likelier things." What follows is a cautionary fable from artist Andrew Paquette, co-creator of the ill-fated HARSH REALM, which went from being a little-known Harris Comics title to a brief, embattled TV series first on Fox and later on the Sci-Fi Channel:

"I just read an article you wrote in 1999 about the prospects for comic book properties in Hollywood. After my own experience with HARSH REALM, I now know it is almost never worth selling the property to Hollywood and I would love to say as much at some panel discussion at the next SDCC.

The money involved is so paltry at the high end that I'm amazed anyone is willing to make these deals. If I had known the details when the deal was made, I would have prevented it from happening. My current daily rate is only slightly lower than what James and I were paid for each installment of HARSH REALM. If you factor the lawsuit and other costs into it, I lost money not only on the comic to TV deal, but I lost money drawing the comic! I would have been better off financially if I had taken a job flipping burgers instead of drawing that project.

On the extreme high end of rights and option money, if everything goes incredibly well, you can do very well, but only if you own the property outright and don't have a publisher. I say this against the possibility that there are no honest publishers and know in advance that there probably is an exception there, I just haven't seen such an animal.

Tundra perhaps?

As for me, the trouble of negotiating these deals in itself is enough to turn me off to selling an option on anything unless the price is equal to what I would expect to be paid for a total buyout. I don't care if that means I never option anything to Hollywood, why should I? Their deals are designed to rip creators off anyway."

Following last week's pending list of songs for the perfect pop holiday season album, a flood of suggestions came in. Some suggested entire albums, missing the point entirely. (Curiously, no one suggested the best Christmas music album ever, John Fahey's transcendental THE NEW POSSIBILITY.)

Here are the top choices so far:

Ben Folds – "Lonely Christmas Eve"

Barenaked Ladies – "Green Christmas"

Dave Matthews Band – "Christmas Song"

The Kinks – "Father Christmas"

The Vandals – "A Gun for Christmas"

The Pogues – "Fairytale for New York"

Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders – "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"

Bruce Springsteen – "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"

Lou Reed – "Xmas In February"

The Who – "Christmas"

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – "It Just Doesn't Feel Like Christmas Time"

U2 – "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)"

Charles Brown – "Merry Christmas, Baby"

Pilgrim Travelers – "I'll Be Home For Christmas"

Eartha Kitt – "Santa Baby"

Chuck Berry – "Run Rudolph Run"

Joe Flaherty as Count Floyd – "Reggae Christmas Eve In Transylvania"

Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas as Bob and Doug Mackenzie – "The Twelve Days Of Christmas"

California Guitar Trio – "Jingle Bells"

Happy Rhodes – "O Holy Night"

Kate Bush – "December Will Be Magic Again"

James Brown – "Santa Claus Comes Straight To The Ghetto"

The Pretenders – "2000 Miles"

Darlene Love And The Blossoms – "Winter Wonderland"

Cheap Trick – "Come On Christmas"

Captain Sensible – "One Christmas Catalogue"

Robert Earl Keene – "Merry Christmas From The Family"

Weird Al Yankovic – "Christmas At Ground Zero"

Paul McCartney – "Wonderful Christmastime"

The Sonics – "Don't Believe In Christmas"

Wall Of Voodoo – "Shouldn't Have Given Him A Gun For Christmas"

The Everly Brothers – "Christmas Eve Can Kill You"

Torch Song – "Hark The Herald Angels Sing"

The Drifters – "White Christmas"

The Ramones – "Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)"

Joan Jett – "The Little Drummer Boy"

Stiff Little Fingers – "White Christmas"

Mojo Nixon And The Toadlickers – "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus"

Alex Chilton And Big Star – "Jesus Christ"

King Diamond – "No Presents For Christmas"

In other words, just about every damn Christmas song ever recorded.

But the #1 choice was...

drum roll please...

The Waitresses – "Christmas Wrapping"

And rightly so. Thanks to everyone who sent in their favorite holiday songs.

I tried this once before with pretty much no success, but here's the drill: I'm looking for someone who wants to draw a western graphic novel. Bear in mind that I've already turned out established artists because their work wasn't quite appropriate. Bear in mind the project offers no money upfront, meaning you'd have to wait until after publication to see any money for your very hard work (and, trust me, it'll be hard work) and there's always the risk you won't see any money at all. (In which case I wouldn't either, which would piss me off something fierce, which is why I need an artist who knows what they're doing, esp. when drawing a very nasty western.) Bear in mind that if you get the gig, it means following a complete script to the letter. Particularly bear in mind this calls for accomplished art and isn't really an entry level position. It's not a "I really want to draw superheroes but I'll break in wherever I can" position. It's more of a "I'm a brilliant artist but I've been overlooked because everyone wants me to draw superheroes" level position.

So.

If your art is really damn good, and you've been dying to draw a western, and you can draw a full graphic novel in three or four months and not four or five years, and you're not completely dissuaded yet, this may be an opportunity for you. Send me two – no more, no fewer – pages of samples of <>western art (meaning: not superheroes, not fantasy, not crime, not horror, etc., nothing but western art) VIA E-MAIL, and if they pass muster with me, I'll run them past the publisher and see what he thinks, then we'll get back to you. I'm warning everyone right now that a) I do not warrant that anyone will get the slot, and, in fact, nobody might get the slot; b) I'm incredibly busy so unless you're a real possibility, the odds are extremely good that you won't hear anything from me at all; c) this doesn't have any bearing on the quality of your art or your worth as a human being, it only means your work doesn't fit the project.

So take a shot if you still feel up to it. I look forward to seeing any really great material. And, though the above comes off as atrociously snotty, thanks. I really do appreciate the interest.

Let's face it, 2001 wasn't a banner year and I'm glad to be shed of it, as are most people I know. I wish everyone an amazing 2002. Reviews will return next week, along with the New Year's Resolutions of a slew of comics professionals. Happy New Year.

Those wishing to comment should leave messages on the Permanent Damage Message Board. You can also e-mail 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. 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.

If you enjoy PERMANENT DAMAGE, check out our brother column, Larry Young's LOOSE CANNON.

If you want to know something about me, you can probably find the answer at Steven Grant's Alleged Fictions.

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