The Guide to the Guide to Comics - WIZARD #47 (July 1995)

John Byrne sounds off!  Roger Stern…is more subdued.  Wizard casts a Sandman film, and tries to explain what this internet thing is supposed be!  All in today’s Guide to the Guide to Comics!

The hype machine for the 1995 Judge Dredd film has begun.  (You can see Bisley's original painting for this cover here.)  Something about that movie I’ve never understood -- if the villain of the piece was supposed to be Dredd’s clone, why didn’t Sylvester Stallone also play him?  He could’ve kept his helmet on as Dredd, while also playing the film’s unmasked villain, which would’ve served as a fantastic marketing hook for the film.  Honestly, I don’t remember a single thing about this movie, except Diane Lane stating in a junket interview that she was proud of how her butt looked in her Versace-designed costume.  Click here to see some of the Versace designs that didn't make the cut.

In this month’s Wizard, we have…A feature story on the recent trend of comics appearing on the big screen, John Byrne and Roger Stern interviews, a Casting Call for the Sandman movie (with no reference to that kid with long hair on 3rd Rock from the Sun), a piece on seventeen-year-old artist Trent Kaniuga, a story on comic covers appearing in art exhibits, and a timely story about the internet connecting “comic book geeks” around the world.

The regular columns include Cut & Print, Greg Capullo's Krash Course, Toying Around, Palmer’s Picks (focusing on Eddie Campbell), Manga Scene, Wizard of Cards, and Todd McFarlane’s E.G.O.

The Departments include the usual blend of letters, fan art, trivia, Top 10 lists, the Wizard Profile, and market information.


Magic Words

Jim McLauchlin opens the column by reporting on the feedback he’s received on the magazine’s features lately.  He’s stunned that a humor feature like Hot Off the Griddle, which the staff loved, wasn’t well received by fans.  He then asks readers if they would like to see more serious articles, or just a mix of humor and serious pieces.  After that, it’s a fairly standard letter column…the original writer of Turok takes Valiant to task for inaccurate text pieces in The Original Doctor Solar and The Original Turok reprint books (he hates the new colors, too)…a dad writes in to defend the Comics Code…the history of Contest of Champions is revealed (which segues into some predictable French bashing)…a few random comics questions are asked…and finally, McLauchlin reveals the meaning of cogito ergo sum to a reader who probably assumed he didn’t know what it meant.  McLauchlin is all about Descartes, as it turns out.

Wizard News

The announcement of Alan Moore replacing James Robinson on WildC.A.T.s is the lead story, even though he’s only committed to four issues at this point.  In other news…Marvel confirms that “certain elements” of Hal Jordan’s fate will resemble upcoming Iron Man plans (this is an oblique reference to “The Crossing,” for those of you fortunate enough not to know)…Chris Claremont’s Sovereign Seven has been announced, with DC touting it as a creator-owned book set firmly in the DC Universe (have Marvel or DC done this with any other ongoing?)…Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato, Jr. are taking over Thor…George Perez has joined Tekno-Comx (just a few months after Malibu was boasting about having Perez as their latest hire)…more forgotten Marvel/Malibu crossovers are announced (including the mail-order exclusive Prime vs. Hulk, which is $14.95 for the regular edition and $44.90 for the super-premium autographed version)…DC is going exclusive with Diamond…and Mike Deodato, Jr. is penciling one of those nude Hellina variants.

Off the Drawing Board

A hype piece for 1995’s slate of comic book movies -- Batman Forever, Judge Dredd, Casper, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and Tank Girl.  Much of the text you could cut and paste into any story on the subject today.  Comic book films are hot, we’re told, because the fans are loyal, the material offers clear-cut heroes and villains, special effects can now bring these ideas to life, and numerous cross-platform promotional opportunities exist.  What’s odd in retrospect is how few of these films are superhero movies, and why so many of the comic book movies of this era tend to be set in the 1940s.  I have to assume that was a misreading of the “non-time” aesthetic of the 1989 Batman film.

A sidebar offers quick takes on movies in development; almost all of them are aborted projects already covered in the Cut & Print column.  However, I did discover one project in this piece -- a Dr. Octopus solo film, possibly starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, directed by James Cameron.

Taking Aim

A lengthy interview with John Byrne, who’s one of Wizard’s favorite creators in this day.  For all of the grief the magazine receives for hyping artists like Stephen Platt, I guess it’s worth remembering that Wizard was almost as enthusiastic with their support of artists like Byrne and George Perez.  The interview has Byrne mostly saying things you’ll recognize today from his forum, although I did learn that Byrne (at least the Byrne of 1995) regrets eliminating Superboy from continuity.  Reading this interview, it’s clear that Byrne is firmly anti-Jim Shooter at this point; he refuses to even call him by name.

I think Taking Aim is the erroneous source of some fans’ belief that Byrne’s vehemently pro-gun.  He’s pictured with his collection of vintage Civil War-era pistols, but based on comments on his message board, this doesn’t reflect Byrne’s stance on modern weaponry.

Man of Today

Given the character’s popularity at the time, this is an overdue Superman piece.  More specifically, it’s about Roger Stern (another Wizard favorite) returning to Superman after a brief sabbatical, and his novelization of The Death and Life of Superman (Fortress of Baileytude did a look back on the book a while back, in case you're interested).

Casting Call

What everyone wanted to see, Wizard casting the Sandman movie.  Their picks are…

Johnny Depp as Sandman (which, up until maybe two years ago, probably would’ve been Hollywood’s choice.)

Winona Ryder as Death

Sir Alec Guinness as Destiny (because he wore a hooded robe in Star Wars, of course.)

Zelda Rubinstein from Poltergeist as Despair

Singer k.d. lang as Desire

Tori Amos as Delirium

Roddy Piper as Destruction

Woody Allen as Lucien

Christopher Walken as Lucifer

Alan Rickman as Cain

Dom Deluise as Abel (this one turned out to be a bloodbath, huh?)

Matthew the Raven voiced by Christian Slater

Mervyn Pumpkinhead voiced by Gilbert Gottfried

Cut & Print

Rob Liefeld is confident that the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers film, directed by his friend Bryan Spicer, will create demand within Hollywood for team movies, as opposed to solo hero films.  There was a rumor, around the time of the movie’s release, that X-Men was being rushed into production in order to take advantage of the hero team fad.

New Kid on the Block

A profile on a comic artist just made for Wizard  -- seventeen-year-old high school senior Trent Kaniuga, who’s photographed inside his English class.

Byte Me, Fanboy

A piece on “the increasing popularity of computer online services,” accompanied by screenshots of DC’s first webpage and early comics forums.  (And facsimile examples of online comics discussions, which turns into another opportunity for the magazine to tell us how great Joe Quesada is.  As for Marvel, they didn't make it online until the summer of 1996, with onslaught.com)  Wizard’s going with the angle that they’re now gracing the internet with their presence so watch out -- the irony being that Wizard never truly made that online transition, and it’s a major reason why the magazine died.  It’s easy to forget Wizard’s name recognition at this time; if the publisher truly wanted to dominate the online comics world, it could’ve done so.  It’s remarkable how badly Wizard fumbled its web presence, never exploiting its capital to become a legitimate competitor with CBR or Newsarama.  I can remember visiting Wizard’s website in 1998 (after I figured out that neither wizard.com nor wizardmagazine.com was their home) and just viewing it as a mess.  Text everywhere, barely any news, and nothing recognizable from the magazine, with the exception of some sort of “real time” price guide.

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Only $9.95 for 5 hours of service, plus additional fees apply...[/caption]


Manga Scene

Lea Hernandez offers some tips on how to order this wacky thing called “Manga.”  Make sure you’re specific, and don’t ask for the “anime/manga with the girl that carries a big gun.”

Comic Watch/Good & Cheap

Wizard suggests Man of Steel #0 is a potential collector’s item, due to the first appearance of Conduit.  Meanwhile, Good & Cheap suggests you purchase the first two issues of Miracleman, which is going for only $4.75 in these days.

Picks from the Wizard’s Hat

This month’s top picks are Spawn: Blood Feud #1, Spider-Man: Maximum Clonage Alpha (really?!), X-O Manowar #50-X & #50-O, Godzilla #1, & Solar, Man of the Atom #50.  The Godzilla series, by the way, is set to feature rotating creative teams in future issues, including Arthur Adams and Sid and Nancy director Alex Cox.

Top 100 - May 1995

Spawn is once again the Number One book on the Diamond chart, followed almost exclusively by X-books for the rest of the Top Ten.  The only non-Spawn, non-X books in the Top Ten are Gen 13 #2 at Six and Sovereign Seven #1 at Eight.  Superman titles continue to do well, even though Lady Death #3 is outselling them all at Number Twelve.  Spider-Man and Batman books continue to sell competitively throughout the #25-50 positions on the chart.

Wizard Market Watch

In the category of “well, we thought it was an interesting fact,” Lady Death #1 is now listed at a higher value than Sandman #1.  Meanwhile, Wizard suggests giving your Stephen Platt Moon Knights and early X-O Manowar issues the “heave-ho.”  We also learn that DC ran a test market for variant covers all the way back in 1987; issues of Firestorm #61 and Justice League #3 had new covers for retailers in the Seattle area.  The test was to see if a new Superman-centric DC logo would help move the books; why the books featured entirely different covers instead of just logos isn’t explained.

Wizard’s Ten Hottest Artists are…

  1. Todd McFarlane
  2. J. Scott Campbell
  3. Greg Capullo
  4. Adam Kubert
  5. Andy Kubert
  6. Joe Quesada
  7. Chris Bachalo
  8. Steven Hughes
  9. Kelly Jones
  10. John Byrne

Wizard’s Top Ten Hottest Writers are…

  1. Neil Gaiman
  2. Peter David
  3. Brandon Choi
  4. Scott Lobdell
  5. Fabian Nicieza
  6. John Byrne
  7. Ron Marz
  8. Dan Jurgens
  9. James Robinson
  10. Alan Moore

(Perhaps the first time Frank Miller’s not on the Writers list.  Also, given how well the Superman titles continue to sell, it’s a bit surprising that Wizard barely acknowledges any of the creators on these lists.)

Wizard Price Guide

In the prelude to the price guide, Wizard’s “Did you know?” blurb highlights the Green Lantern Diner south of Fayetteville, NC.  It borrowed the comic’s logo, except “the diner illuminated its logo in yellow lights” instead of green.  (A few photos of it exist online today.)

E G O (Everyone’s Got Opinions)

Todd offers Spawn merchandise to the reader who submits the best letter, extolling the virtues of his favorite comic shop.

Wizard Bullpen

Wizard copy editor Andrew Karson has fulfilled his dream to meet Dee Snider by sneaking references to him throughout the magazine.  Snider’s son (and future comics writer) Jesse spotted the references and alerted his father.

The Wizard Profile

Does Amanda Conner know who the Beyonder is?


Yes, she does.  She’d use his powers to play “large-scale practical jokes” on the Earth.  Conner also states that she unsuccessfully lobbied Archie to revive Josie and The Pussycats while working there.

So, what did we learn today?

Money Quotes:

  • “Every month, we receive anywhere from 50 to 100 letters dealing with breakfast cereal characters.  I have no idea why.” - Magic Words
  • “I’ve heard people complain that Batman was getting too dark.” - Joel Schumacher on his plans for the Batman franchise.
  • “I feel really feel sorry for Chris.  He’s a classic example of someone trapped by his own success.  So many times, I’ve looked back and thought that the smartest thing I ever did was bail out on X-Men when I did.  I think he should have left, too…He also wouldn’t, 16 years later, have been thoroughly (screwed) over by Marvel.” - John Byrne’s thoughts on Chris Claremont.
  • “‘Maximum Clonage’ implies a lot of clones, and we intend to deliver on that promise…But by the end, we’ll have narrowed the field considerably.” - Spider-Man group editor Bob Budiansky.
  • “I had Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada make guest appearances in Barbie #43.  Look for them!” - Amanda Conner

Nope:  Michelle Pfeiffer never returns for a Tim Burton-directed Catwoman film…Jim Carrey doesn’t star in that sequel to The Mask …David Goyer’s Venom film isn’t produced…From Hell isn’t directed by Oliver Stone…the Shazam! TV series that’s pitched as “Superman meets The Wonder Years” doesn’t happen…and The Maxx #17 doesn’t feature Maxx and Sarah “returning to the shelter where it all started.”

Before They Were Stars:  Ryan Ottley is a runner-up in the Drawing Board contest with his mock Maxx cover.

Stuff Wizard Likes:  The following books receive the “Recommended Reading” label…Aquaman, Green Lantern, Grendel Tales, Magnus, Robot Fighter, Superman vs. Aliens, Tarzan vs. Predator, Tyrant, and Ultraforce.

Stuff Wizard Doesn’t Like:  People smoking near children or in bed, the theme songs to the Spider-Man, WildC.A.T.s, and Fantastic Four cartoons (c’mon; that WildC.A.T.s theme is mad fresh, yo), T.I.M.M.I.E. from Cyberforce, Wolverine constantly being near-death, POGs, Sersi from The Avengers, and new heroes always proving themselves by fighting established heroes.  Also, more astute political commentary, with a Top Ten list on how “Them Power-Hungry Republicans Intend to Screw with the Comics Industry.”

Commercial Break:  I’m kind of curious as to why the Genesis 32X bombed.  It would seem to be a clever solution to something everyone was complaining about at the time -- being “forced” to buy a new game system every few years.  Releasing an affordable add-on to your Genesis that made it twice as powerful at least sounds like a good idea in theory.



This Ain't HuffPo:  A listing of the “so many babes” Sylvester Stallone has starred with (hidden in the legal text of a Judge Dredd contest)…a list of potential TV-to-movie adaptations that pleads for Dukes of Hazzard, just to see someone wear the Daisy Dukes…and a gag implying that Mary Jane Watson-Parker is only a few more hormone shots away from releasing the woman inside her.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Gen 13 (Relentlessly):  Wizard takes a break from the Top Ten Comics back issue report to reprint the thirteen covers for Gen 13 #1.  Surely this outrageous stunt will kill the variant cover fad.

I Love the ‘90s:  Diablo invented Crystal Pepsi, according to a joke in the Wizard of Cards segment, and Ash #4 will reveal a stunning secret (possibly about OJ.)

Vive la France:  The CBIQ has France as a joke answer to a Star Trek question, stating that they surrendered before Captain Kirk “could kick their asses.”

Pathological Scatological:  Wizard questions if Emplate uses his long nose to smell his own butt, and Deal a Meal has given Kingpin “the trots” in (where else?) the Wizard of Cards segment.

Cheap and Stupid and Trashy?:  Another issue without The Mort of the Month and Stupid But True.  Is my memory playing tricks on me -- did these segments only run for a few months and then disappear?  Without them, the issue is noticeably less fun, but Wizard does manage to reintroduce a bit of commentary to the magazine.  There’s obviously a lot of hype, but there’s also some personality to balance it out.  The interviews are entertaining (especially if you were like me at this date and didn’t realize John Byrne had, um, opinions), and many of the jokes work.  And that article about the internet is certainly notable, just as an artifact of the times.

Until next time, find me here...

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