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The Guide to the Guide to Comics - WIZARD #48 (August 1995)

Wizard, and Jim Balent, continue to celebrate women in comics!  Tips for aspiring writers!  (None of them includes “befriend an editor…”)  Alan Moore and Rob Liefeld announce a new project!  And people are still excited about that FOX Spider-Man cartoon!  All in today’s Guide to the Guide to Comics!

 

It’s another Wizard issue that foreshadows what the internet will bring us, with a piece on the portrayal of female characters in comics, a “How to Write Comics” column, and an interview with respected industry vet John Romita, Jr.  Admittedly, Jim Balent wouldn’t be the obvious choice to accompany a “Women in Comics” feature today, but he seems to have toned things down this issue.  And this cover image does have a story to go along with it, as opposed to Catwoman merely breaking her back to get into just the right pose for you.  Wizard’s almost six months into this more mature, more inclusive era…surely it can’t last, right?

In this month’s Wizard, we have…

Features on...the portrayals of females in comics, the Chaos! Comics summer convention tour, writing tips from comics pros, and a John Romita, Jr. interview.

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

The Departments are comprised of letters, fan art, opinion pieces, trivia, Top 10 lists, the Wizard Profile, and market information.

Magic Words

Letters this month from fans who don’t understand how pen pals work (they were sending their letters to Wizard instead of the readers asking for letters), a fan who’s successfully called out Fabio Laguna for his swiping in Wolverine #88, someone looking to learn about the history of Spider-Man’s goblin-themed villains (which might be the first time Wizard reveals that Roger Stern never intended for Ned Leeds to be Hobgoblin), and because an election year is approaching, a fan who wants Superman to run for President.  This is in addition to the standard non-sequitur letters, such as “how does fire work?” and the classic callback to Tootsie Roll Pops and how many licks it takes to get to the center of said Pop.  In a discussion of which musical artists suit which comic, Jim McLauchlin suggests you close your eyes and think of Christmas instead of ever opening a Spawn comic.  On the very next page, the winner of the Wizard Envelope Art contest is granted a Greg Capullo Spawn sketch.

Wizard News

The lead story is Dan Jurgens signing on to work on the Spider-titles, making him the first creator to simultaneously write both Superman and Spider-Man.  When I reviewed his first issue years ago, I was a little confused as to why Marvel made such a big deal about this…that was my mistake, because I didn’t realize just how well the Superman books continued to sell after the Death/Return of Superman year.  Most of the Superman books were outselling the Spider-titles even in 1995 (at least in comic stores; I’m not sure about newsstand), so getting Dan Jurgens on Spider-Man was certainly a coup.

In other news…Bone is moving to Image in response to changes in comics’ distribution system (Jeff Smith believes that being grouped in with Image’s books in Previews will benefit his title)…Adam Hughes is drastically reducing his workload on Ghost…paper prices continue to rise, impacting the price of comics…Glenn Danzig recently hosted an episode of MTV’s Superock from a comic book store…NOW Comics has suspended operations…and every variant cover in the industry seems to be penciled by either Joe Quesada or Jae Lee.

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby?

A vast improvement over the Bad Girls article from a few months ago, this is a piece by Beth Hannan Rimmels that examines “the evolution of the female comic book character.”  It’s similar to a piece you’d read online today, although thankfully the term “agency” is never used, and the tone is measured throughout.  If you’re curious about the portrayal of Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Sue Storm, and other characters throughout the years, it’s a solid history piece.  (Wizard’s focus on the retrospective pieces in the recent issues has been a nice surprise.)  As a testament to the esteem in which the magazine still holds John Byrne, he’s quoted throughout the piece.

Whoever wrote the captions for the artwork clearly wasn’t paying attention to the article, because on the same page Lady Death is taken to task by Rimmels, a caption underneath an image of the character reads “Sure, they’re good-lookin’, but a new generation of independent and personality-driven females, such as Lady Death…will provide a balance for the silicon/no-brains babes.”

Learn from the Prose

An article for aspiring comics pros, featuring advice from John Byrne, Stan Lee, James Robinson, Jo Duffy, Chuck Dixon, Fabian Nicieza, Peter David, and Mark Waid.  The article is divided into ten segments: Mark Every Word Count; Have Something to Say; Dream Big, Think Small; Excite Your Artist; Start Big (in the opening scene); Explain Your Characters; Vary Dialogue Patterns; Find Your Own Style; and Be Ready to Compromise.  There’s also a sidebar listing every publisher’s submission editor, who surely received a new stack of never-to-be read proposals after this piece was published.

A New Spin

“A behind-the-scenes glimpse at the makings of the animated Spider-Man TV series, and what it takes to keep it going.”  Wizard championed the ‘90s FOX cartoon quite heavily during its first year, which might seem embarrassing in retrospect, but in fairness to the magazine, they had no idea just how low the series would sink.  The behind-the-scenes look at the series hints at some of the problems that will only increase as the years go on…recycled footage, bad CGI, and digital colors that don’t translate well to television screens.  (Google some screenshots from this show; the colors are often ghastly.)  The first season of Spider-Man did have quite a few episodes that stayed true to the character while successfully translating him to Saturday Morning, but each season had the show growing into a cheaper, sadder shell of itself.  The overall production of the series at a certain point just seemed amateur, which makes the executive producer’s cocky interviews in more recent years just bewildering.  He really thinks this show was a match for Batman: The Animated Series?

Brush Off

A decent piece that spells out what exactly an inker does (years before Kevin Smith turned the idea into a joke in Chasing Amy), even though the introductory claim that “Inkers get no respect, and frankly, they’re sick of it” doesn’t match the tone of any of the inkers interviewed.  The best part of the article is seeing the way six different inkers (Klaus Janson, Gary Martin, Ray McCarthy, Danny Miki, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Scott Williams) ink the same Greg Capullo piece.  From the days of Wizard having money to spare, this was a nice way to burn a few dollars. Gary Martin has posted his sample on his DeviantArt page (he couldn't believe the awful xerox Wizard sent him). Danny Miki will go on to say that this piece was his favorite comics project.

Cut & Print

We discover that French actor Vincent Perez has edged out Jon Bon Jovi as the lead in the Crow sequel, and that Shannon Wheeler’s Too Much Coffee Man is starring in a new Converse commercial, in addition to “news” on numerous comic-to-film projects that all fall apart later on.

Favorite Son

An in-depth interview with John Romita, Jr.; the opening reminds us that Romita entered comics (as a young man) in 1976…forty years ago!  The interview is interesting, with Romita explaining what it’s like to live under his father’s shadow, how he was treated by Marvel staffers during his initial days with the company, and his meager salary penciling Amazing Spider-Man in the early ‘80s ($38 a page.)  He also makes the shocking revelation that Ann Nocenti is “the kind of liberal that Rush Limbaugh hates,” while Romita describes himself as more of a “meat-and-potatoes/construction worker/redneck type.”

We’re also offered some glimpse into what was going on in the X-office in this era; Romita says that Uncanny X-Men was surreptitiously taken from him while he penciled the Punisher/Batman crossover, and he was left with no title to pencil.  He was given the new X-Men: Year One project as something to do, but found working with editor Kelly Corvese too frustrating (I’m assuming X-Men: Year One became the 99-cent title Professor Xavier & The X-Men).  Danny Fingeroth found room for him on the Spider-Man books, and that’s pretty much where Romita stayed until leaving the company.

Casting Call

Wizard casts the Justice League movie…

Eric Stoltz as the Wally West Flash

Bruce Campbell as the Hal Jordan Green Lantern

Bodybuilder Rachel McLish as Wonder Woman

Cary Elwes as Green Arrow (based on Robin Hood: Men in Tights of all things)

Kenneth Branagh as Aquaman

WWF superstar Lex Luger as Martian Manhunter (at one point, these Casting Calls seem to have at least one wrestler per column)

Sam Neil as Maxwell Lord

Christina Applegate as Fire

Elle MacPherson as Cheetah

William Sadler (Die Hard 2) as Reverse-Flash

Ron Pearlman as Despero (as there such as a thing as “orthodontic casting”?)

Arsenio Hall as Sinestro (the ultimate case of haircut casting!)

Deborah Unger (Highlander 3) as Circe

Wesley Snipes as Black Manta

And Darkseid will be voiced by James Earl Jones

Toying Around

Age of Apocalypse figures are announced, which is kind of impressive, given that the storyline had only recently concluded.  The action figure designs did make their way into a Fall 1995 episode of the X-Men cartoon, though, which probably helped to speed up the production.  I think every character to ever cameo on that cartoon received his or her own action figure.

Manga Scene

Lea Hernandez tackles five of the biggest misconceptions about anime and manga:  All anime and manga look the same, anime is all sick sex, anime and manga are all originally brain-blastingly brilliant -- but are always translated into crap, and anime and manga aren’t protected by American copyright laws.

Comic Watch/Good & Cheap

Wizard predicts Tales of the Teen Titans #44 (Nightwing’s debut) will increase in value, while Marvel Fanfare #18 (the Roger Stern/Frank Miller Captain America story) is the Good & Cheap pick for $2.50.

Picks from the Wizard’s Hat

Wizard highlights John Byrne’s debut issue of Wonder Woman, Nightwing (miniseries) #1, Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron #1, Team One: WildC.A.T.s #1, and Lady Rawhide #1 as their top picks.

Top Ten Comics

The hottest back issues for July 1995, based on whatever-it-was Wizard tabulated to create this list:

  1. The X-Files #1
  2. X-Men Alpha
  3. Shi #1
  4. Lady Death #1
  5. Gen 13 (mini) #1
  6. Gen 13 (ongoing, variants) #1
  7. Gen 13 (mini) #2
  8. Weapon X #1
  9. X-Man #1
  10. Shi #2

Top 100 - June 1995

Spawn: Blood Feud #1 and Spawn #33 top the list, followed by Gen 13, several X-titles, and Lady Death.  The Spider-Man titles are actually outperforming both Batman and Superman this month, with Maximum Clonage: Alpha landing at #14 and Amazing Spider-Man #404 at #15.  Spidey hasn’t accomplished this feat in ages.

Wizard Market Watch

Wizard’s Ten Hottest Artists are…

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

The list is virtually unchanged, although Kelly Jones has been bumped in place of Dale Keown, who Wizard’s been lax in hyping lately.

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. Alan Moore
  10. Jeff Smith

Another list that’s largely unchanged, with James Robinson disappearing to make room for the returning Jeff Smith.

E G O (Everyone’s Got Opinions)

Speaking of Jeff Smith, Todd McFarlane invites all independent creators unsure of how their distribution will be affected (by Marvel/Heroes World and DC/Diamond’s announcements) to join Smith at Image.

The Wizard Profile

Does Karl Kesel know who the Beyonder is?

 

Of course he does.  At this point, Kesel owns every Marvel comic published from the Silver Age to 1990.

 

So, what did we learn today?

 

Money Quotes:

  • “I can get talked into anything.” - Erik Larsen on the upcoming Savage Dragon/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover (he’s kidding).
  • “Unfortunately, there are a few legal problems…” - Stan Lee on why the Spider-Man film hasn’t happened yet.
  • “That was a lot of fun, but it sold nothing.  That’s lying at the bottom of somebody’s bird cage.” - John Romita, Jr. on the Punisher/Batman crossover one-shot.  He speculates that the $5 cover price, combined with the industry crash, hurt the book.
  • “(P)ick up Spider-Man: Maximum Clonage Omega for the clonetastic conclusion to the whole clone shebang.  It’s the honest-to-God, last, final, ultimate battle with Spidey and the Scarlet Spider…That’s it.  No more clones.  Really.” - Wizard’s description of Spider-Man: Maximum Clonage Omega in the More Picks segment.
  • “A few years ago, any publisher that released thirteen variant editions of one issue would have only burned bridges between itself and its readers.” - Wizard Market Watch on the surprise success of Gen 13 #1’s variant covers.

 

Nope:  Alan Moore is not the monthly writer of Maximum Press’ Warchild series…Tia Carrere never finds that comic book film to star in (she was considering either Shi or Vampirella)…Wesley Snipes never stars as the Black Panther…Speed Racer isn’t produced by Richard Donner, nor does it star Johnny Depp and Nicholas Cage…and I don’t think Quinten Tarantino ever writes that Tekno-Comix book.  As for Alan Moore's Warchild, the Unpublished Moore site collects what little we know about it.  "Written shortly after Moore saw Pulp Fiction for the first time, it's a knights-of-the-round-table concept set in a Tarantino-esque inner city gangland setting."  Liefeld states that every artist he assigned the book handed it back to him.

Before They Were Stars:  Frank Cho is a finalist, but not the winner, of the monthly envelope art contest.

 

Stuff Wizard Likes:  Wizard remains a fan of John Byrne, in addition to a few new titles, like Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot.  Wizard also admits, reluctantly, that the “Age of Apocalypse” books were actually good.  (This highlights the difference between the titles Wizard often publicizes and what its editorial staff actually wants to read.  Admitting you like an X-book seems to be almost unthinkable to the writers.)

Stuff Wizard Doesn’t Like:  Recent Spidey issues (in addition to the clones, Spidey is now too dark), MODOK (how times change…), and the comedy stylings of Dudley Moore.

This Ain't HuffPo:  You can win “tons o’ babes” with your original painted Spider-Man wall art… Jim McLauchlin is looking for single women in his closing blurb…a few joking references to cross-dressing pop up…the “girlie in your fourth period algebra class who really blossomed over the summer” is listed as a potential hero in the Ash “Real Life Hero” Contest…and a Bishop trading card with questionable foreshortening is described as starring Tattoo as a “tough black midget with really big freakin’ guns”.  If this wasn’t enough to get your outrage goin’, the More Picks segment jokes that Judge Dredd is going to be spending his movie cash on hookers, Robin’s new girlfriend is secretly a guy, and Turok is going to be traveling through time to “bag Wilma Flintstone.”

Talkin’ ‘Bout Gen 13 (Relentlessly):  We’re reminded frequently throughout the issue just how collectible their book is; plus there’s the Gen 13 “Draw it Yerself” Contest, taking advantage of an early example of a sketch cover.

I Love the ‘90s:  We have the predictable references to OJ (and his sidekick Kato!), and Tia Carrere as a scha-wiing-tastic babe.

Vive la France:  Two references to the French as cowardly surrendering, “snail-eatin’, beret-wearin’ frogs.”

Pathological Scatological:  I counted around a dozen references to pee, poo, and self-love.  I won't list them all.  Oh, and the topic of Daredevil wiping himself is still making its way into the letter column.

 

 

 

Cheap and Stupid and Trashy?:  The crude jokes certainly aren’t going away, but the main features in the magazine are respectable.  I didn’t find the 4,000 jokes scattered throughout the magazine as funny this time, though.  A little too much reliance on the “oh, it’s ironic now” feminist-baiting, and of course, the locker room gags that have to pop up in every editorial feature.  It’s one of the most unbalanced issues of the magazine yet, now that I’m looking back on it.

That’s all for this week.  Until next time, find me here:

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