Of Wieringo, Rogue & Extreme Studios


Remember how Rogue discovered her powers as a child when she kissed that boy, Cody? Did you ever wonder what happened to him after that?

Howard Mackie killed him in a four-issue "Rogue" miniseries in 1995.

There, I just spoiled the whole thing. It's also the really creepy part -- the whole series is about Rogue heading South to visit the comatose Cody, as she does every year. This miniseries is the point where she realizes his lifeless body is holding her back, that she has to come to grips with her powers and the way they manifested -- and that Cody needs to die once and for all.

Sounds callous, doesn't it? Don't worry, Rogue visits Cody in some sort of psychic world first, where he gets the chance to tell her that it's OK. Life dealt him a bad hand, he tells her, and "I need to be movin' on."

So she's OK with letting him die in her arms.

It's all good.


Wieringo had mixed feelings about the book. The miniseries barely rated a page of TwoMorrow's "Modern Masters" volume dedicated to his career. Here's what he said (with paragraph breaks added by me for readability's sake):

I'll say that I was initially very, very excited to be asked to draw the "Rogue" miniseries. I had been a long-time X-Men nut, and it was a thrill and an honor to be asked to draw a miniseries that featured one of the most high-profile of those characters. That excitement and enthusiasm helped to carry me through the completion of the project, but as an overall experience, I would have to say no, the project wasn't fun.

My thinking at the time was that if there was going to be a mini of a character -- something set apart and supposedly special -- that the story should be special and have impact. The "Rogue" miniseries was not very... special, let me say.

At the end of the day, I didn't really see the need or the purpose for it. It could have easily have been used as a sub-plot in one of the ongoing X-Men books, but I didn't think it was something that deserved its own mini.

Don't get me wrong, however -- by working on the "Rogue" mini, my profile increased greatly... and the royalties were great. So from a career and financial standpoint, it was a good thing.

As a story, though, it was pretty lacking. The writer even called me to apologize for his work on the book... so that was the atmosphere.

After "Rogue," Wieringo would move onto "Sensational Spider-Man," which would be a better fit for him, overall.


Found this in a random box of stuff recently:

I had two of them. This one came in August 1994, while the other one showed up the next month. They were in response to the frequent letters I was sending in at the time.

I like the envelope design. Love seeing a Rob Liefeld-drawn Badrock next to my name and home address.

The letter inside that envelope trumpeted the creation of a new label, Maximum Press. You knew it was well-named, because it was bold-faced and all-caps in the letter:

Hey Extreme Warrior!

Thanks for taking the time out of your incredibly busy schedule to drop us a letter! Lots of crazy stuff going on here in the land of Extreme. Youngblood Year One and Battlestone are dropping in on you in November -- so check them out! December is really going to heat up with the debut of our new company:


Chap Yaep is going to be drawing the first book -- WARCHILD -- (artwork following) and Eric Stephenson and Rob Liefeld will be writing it! So be sure to check it out and get in on the floor of a brand new company!

Thanks again,R. Matthew Hawkins

Yes, that would be the writer today better known as "Matt Hawkins" and more often seen at Top Cow.

Here's a look at the art, with Liefeld painstakingly delineating every stress line on every pouch. It's a really good ink job, fitting that style of art beautifully.

The other letter, also from Hawkins, went as follows:

Thanks for writing in and giving us the update on how we're going! Lots of crazy stuff going on here in the Extreme camp. This fall will see the debut of a new series called Badrock & Co. that will feature Badrock with the Pitt, Fuji, Grifter and Freak Force! Also, in November look for Youngblood Year One - a collosal [sic] collaboration between Kurt "Marvels" Busiek and Rob Liefeld! Your [sic] the first to know, so be sure to check it out! Keep on writing!

I reprint this here just to say I loved "Badrock & Co." That was a fun miniseries, and one I even own a page of Todd Nauck's original art from. Any series featuring Freak Force as guest stars is obviously one with class and taste.

As I continue to rearrange my comics collection this year, I wouldn't be surprised if I took some time to relive those glory days sometime, too.

This envelope also came with a trading card for Extreme Studios artist, Chuck Jones. (I'm pretty sure he's no relation to the Warner Bros. director legend.)

This was a different time in fandom. Pre-internet, the closest thing you had was "The Comics Buyer's Guide." Sure, "Wizard" was around by then and covered lots of this stuff in detail, but correspondences were still generally one to one. You didn't have central websites to point everyone at, or multimedia multi-industry web site magazines covering everything. It was the marketing guy and the fans. Here's a case where the marketing guy was photocopying and mailing out preview art to individual fans, instead of just uploading everything to an FTP server that all the major websites and blogs have access to.

It's humbling to see where things came from, and then to realize it was even smaller and more mysterious if you move just a few years back from that point. Go to the pre-Direct Market days, and the whole comics marketing biz, such as it was, had to be a bigger shot in the dark. You had house ads and -- that's it.

We get to the point today where we get upset that publishers don't share sales numbers directly to the fans, because they give us everything else. Why not the inside financials? Times have changed...

I am rambling just a bit here, but I do admire the hustle of individuals like Hawkins, who went the extra step and did things like this. These letters aren't guaranteed future sales. Their impact can't even be categorized or measured with some sales metrics. But he did it all the same.

That's just pretty cool, from a fan's point of view.

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