Strange #1 full preview [Mile High Comics]
Posted 27 August 02004 - Permalink
Posted 27 August 02004 - Permalink
That's where any efforts at change should be directed: not at the cartoonists, but at the readers. And I'd argue that those efforts probably shouldn't focus on creator-ownership (or anti-WFH) as the primary issue (it's a pretty boring one for those who don't make their livelihood in comics), but the stagnation of the field into a rigid set of acceptable modes of expression, driven, in turn, by reader expectations for their favorite characters, their favorite "universes," and rehashing after rehashing of their favorite stories. Get rid of those expectations, give audiences a hunger for new, original work, and you'll go a long way toward solving the Work For Hire "problem," because those expectations are the main thing that keeps WFH comics at the top of the sales charts.
Posted 26 August 02004 - Permalink
Female creators see positives; they also ponder the future of the Big Two and their aging fanbase, antiquated concepts, and rampant misogyny and homophobia [Ninth Art]
Interview with Marvel publisher Dan Buckley [ICv2 Part 1; Part 2]
Can we get someone in this role who doesn't use/think the word "product" so much? Granted Marvel is a business that rarely creates capital-A Art, but at least Jemas gave a shit.
Update: Speaking of Jemas, Peter David reports that billjemas.com is now under new management...
Tracking interesting discussion between Peter David and Brian Hibbs:
Start at Tilting At Windmills comment: Fallen Angel needs comics activism (because of publisher crap glut) [Hibbs]
Blame direct market retailers: they thwart activism, potential readers; fan interest is irrelevant when there's lack of retailer interest [David]
Creators need to be more activist and know who "their stores" are [Hibbs]
Feels tacky to self-promote [David]
In Neilalien's opinion, David just lost this round by approaching the non-acceptance of reality with, "But I shouldn't have to do that kind of self-promotion!" Of course not. But the current sad reality of the comics biz is that creators must self-promote. Tacky mailing lists, message board posts, Bad Signals, voter registration drives and arm-wrestling contests, etc., whether they work or not. We *all* have to be pimps and dirty whores and bloggers or this boat's gonna sink.
Update: Popp'd has more; some lack of reader interest is at play re: Fallen Angel
Month-to-month sales numbers for July at Pulse [Marvel] [DC, others]
Even though the numbers can be depressing, Neilalien just loves this stuff. Final Witches sales numbers for the curious non-discerning Doc fan:
Jun Witches #1 (of 4) - 29,024
Jun Witches #2 (of 4) - 25,934 (-10.6%)
Jul Witches #3 (of 4) - 22,130 (-14.7%)
Jul Witches #4 (of 4) - 20,873 ( -5.7%)
New Indy Magazine: 'The secret history of the graphic novel' [Summer 02004 issue]
There's too much there for Neilalien to have read already, but he'll be checking out the Gustave Dore piece (his pictoral history of Russia is from 01854) and the Eightball #23 review. Big usability kudos to the site for the 'Return' links in the footnotes that take you back to the text in the right spot.
File these next two items under Neilalien really needs to get cable in the orbiting HQ:
Recent episode of Justice League Unlimited featured Ditko characters Hawk and Dove [Polite Dissent] [Progressive Ruin]
Recent episode of Six Feet Under featured the death of a comic book fanboy [obituary on HBO official website] [via comment at Pop Culture Gadabout (Post 1, Post 2)]
Gutterninja crystallizing some of Neilalien's long-time thinking today
1. Posting about snobs and Savant never gets old [Gutterninja posts this comment to Ringwood surfing through ancient Savant bullpatties]
It's pretty typical of SAVANT in those days, really. I loved the magazine for its mission of promoting good comics and trying to make it 'cool' to be a comic reader, but all the "Ha ha! Look at those silly mainstream fans, sitting in their parents' basements and masturbating over Wonder Woman comics!" got old quick.
Fanboys are basically just whoever you see as further up the geekometer relative to yourself.
Posted 25 August 02004 - Permalink
"Well, a Supreme Sorcerer comes with fries and a shake" [Dr. Strange in Sunday's PVP]
Posted 23 August 02004 - Permalink
Full Page Editorial Splash: Steve Ditko's 32 Page Package #5 reviewed [Jog- The Blog]
Posted 21 August 02004 - Permalink
The good news: Attentiondeficitdisorderly got a great new job
The bad news: The blog has been shuttered. Drat, now Neilalien will have to go back to sleepless nights agonizingly writing his own essays again instead of just linking to/having his thoughts crystallized by ADDTF... Good luck, Sean, and Elvis peanut butter and banana sandwiches all round.
Don't Shit Where You Eat [Brian Hibbs Tilting At Windmills]
Half of the top ten books shouldn't ship in the same week, which kills smaller titles that week. Identity Crisis/Disc Witches/Witching confusing shenanigans need to stop. X-books and Batman at glut levels. This week's comics wrapped with the Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow CD killed perusing and sales; also jacked up the weight and thus retailers' shipping cost. Convention sales hurt the shops.
July 02004 numbers from Diamond [Newsarama]
Top 300 [ICv2]
Comic Dollars Flat in July Vs. 02003 [ICv2]
Top Comic Sales Drop in July; Also Lower at the Bottom [ICv2]
DC snags the top 3 spots for the first time. And Tokyopop beats out Image/a top 5 publisher for the first time.
Carl Icahn mulling buying a substantial $500 million stake in Mylan Laboratories and "ruffling some feathers" [CBS MarketWatch]
File under 'Where Are Those Corporate Raiders Who Almost Destroyed Marvel Now?' Beware Mylan!
Why don't you read independent comics? [Pulse]
Superhero Pantheon: Hand-knit and Embroidered Work by Mark Newport [Greg Kucera Gallery] [great image]
Thought-provoking imaginary worlds at the Greg Kucera Gallery include hand-knit superhero costumes, embellished comic book covers [The Seattle Times] [via WFC News]
From June: [Boing Boing] [In Sequence] [this site]
Dr. Manhattan's origin by Harvey Comics' Baby Huey? [Progressive Ruin]
And now back to Olympic Women's Beach Volleyball. Neilalien loves this crazy planet!
Posted 20 August 02004 - Permalink
Blood from KISS band members was mixed with the red ink used to print the first KISS comic [Snopes.com]
File with Mark Gruenwald's ashes being in the ink of a trade paperback edition of Squadron Supreme.
Stan Lee in The Princess Diaries 2 [The Beat]
Great Comics Panels in History: "Crazy black man" Luke Cage to Dr. Doom: "Where's my money, honey?" [The Beat]
Posted 16 August 02004 - Permalink
Infantino v. DC Update [Newsarama]
Brian Hibbs talks about the settlement package with Marvel re: late books [Pulse]
Overview of World Wrestling Entertainment vs. Marvel re: Hulk Hogan and Incredible Hulk [Newsarama] [ICv2]
WWE licenses the name from Marvel (expiration date in dispute), and now wants to rebroadcast old matches.
Kids comics won't succeed until they're subversively unpalatable to the parent; lots more on the topic [Steven Grant's Permanent Damage]
The Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve mulling a campaign to get comics to use post-recycled paper [AnimalConcerns.org] [via Thought Balloons]
Neilalien is concerned for the environmental health of your planet, but making comics that much more expensive? Say it ain't so.
JMS got cranky on Usenet re: fans and Spider-Man continuity; the always-sharp Paul O'Brien wins this round [rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe (Usenet via Google Groups)] [via Popp'd]
Posted 11 August 02004 - Permalink
Getting Strange with JMS [Newsarama]
Take Neo for a moment, in The Matrix. Virtually everything he does, Stephen Strange does: the flying, stopping bullets in mid-air, moving between realities, being the guardian between two worlds, enduring tragedy and growing past it... but Neo is hip while Strange has often been seen as old-hat. It's a matter of presentation. And that's what we're bringing to the book, a new presentation. That's the box we're building...
For me, Strange is the guy on the bridge who prevents some of the awfulness of what's "Out There" from getting "In Here." To take on that awesome and terrible responsibility, he has had to make profound sacrifices, some of which we'll be elaborating upon in the book, having to do with leaving behind family, friends, and his old life. There was a line I wrote in Babylon 5 for the Rangers: "We walk in the dark places no one else will enter; we stand on the bridge, and no one may pass." That's as much Strange as anything...
I know they [Marvel editorial] love the character, they just feel that there hasn't been a good, satisfying take on Stephen Strange for a long time. Strange, done well, can be profoundly successful. Strange, done badly, is just a goofy guy in a cape...
NRAMA: How is the issue of magic being approached in this series? Are we looking at more of a subdued, Hellblazer-ish type of "was it or wasn't it" approach to spells and magic... or are you going to have Brandon Peterson cutting loose with images of Strange shooting energy-beams out of his hands and screaming about the "Hosts of the Hoary Hoggoth!" on a regular basis?
JMS: Actually, it's the "Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth"... I think this is better suited to a more subtle approach, holding off on the flashy stuff until really necessary. And then it's got to be really scary. "Joe's Theory of Writing" is that if everything is big - or if everything is funny, scary, exciting, then nothing is big - or funny, scary or exciting. There has to be contrast. That way, when he pulls out the really big guns, your first instinct is to dive under the nearest desk and hold on for dear life...
The mini-series features re-castings of some of the characters associated with Dr. Strange -- Clea, Wong, Baron Mordo, the Ancient One -- but in each case we've tilted the mirror a bit to show them in a different light. There won't be a rogue's gallery beyond that in the first six issues because the intention here is to really feature Stephen Strange as a person before he gets the abilities, and why he got them, and what he's going to sacrifice to accept them...
The Stephen Strange story traditionally began with Stephen already a doctor, fairly arrogant in his way, but Samm's notion, which was terrific, was to go start with his days as a medical student, when he was bright-eyed and idealistic... before self-assurance and confidence concretized into arrogance. She said, "Look, if he goes to Tibet later in the story, why not have him as a visiting intern in Tibet in the first book, helping treat the locals and studying alternative medicine? He's giving, he meets Wong as a young patient, we get a glimpse of the Ancient One, and he promises to return to continue to help out. But as so often happens, he doesn't keep that promise... and that's the first step down the road to becoming who he is. It also justifies why he goes there later." It's a terrific first step down a slippery slope, and that's where the first issue begins...
New York, city of 'Marvels' [New York Daily News] [via Thought Balloons]
"Marvel Super Heroes Guide to New York City," airing Sunday at 8 pm on the Travel Channel, to show viewers some of the real-life locations that have been immortalized in Marvel's publications. Stan Lee among those interviewed.
Comic Retailers Get Marvel Settlement Package [ICv2]
From that Brian Hibbs class action suit re: late books and books with content different than solicited.
Mr. A's black/white universe, online confrontationalism, no middle ground between the camps: Not so useful [Highway 62]
Stan Lee And The Rise And Fall Of The American Comic Book now in paperback [Amazon.com]
Comics have celebrity friends, rockstar buddies, and advocates in high places [Ninth Art]
Comic books generate and inspire creative, passionate people- from first-tier filmmakers to folks who make costumes for conventions.
Posted 10 August 02004 - Permalink
Doctor Strange and Steve Ditko fans: Check out the Mutts cartoon from 1 August 02004! Excelsior! [Source; posted here without permission for a limited time only :)]
The classic panel from Strange Tales #138, "If Eternity Should Fail!":
Here's a full scan with a Strange Tales intro panel, posted to The Defenders Message Board:
Posted 9 August 02004 - Permalink
Transcript of Keynote Speech by Michael Chabon at the 02004 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards; comics have abandoned children [Comic-Con.org] [The Beat with more] [Fanboy Rampage tracks some negative creator responses; read the comments too]
June 02004 month-to-month numbers at Pulse [Marvel] [DC and others]
The Walking Dead is humming along, more than double of Invincible; Sleeper: Season Two slow out of the gates; Witches "respectable".
Update: Probably shouldn't have called the new Sleeper "Season Two"; shorter series like Seaguy more likely to be waited-for-the-trade or should come out as TPBs only? [Popp'd]
Superman copyright battle update; Siegel and Shuster hiers actively trying to terminate rights transfers to DC; Superboy now in the mix [Newsarama]
Retailers seem to be leaning towards first Saturday in May for Free Comic Book Day 02005; no movie tie-in folly [ICv2]
Kirkman to "be using damn near everyone in the Marvel U by the end of issue #25 [of Marvel Team-Up]" [Newsarama]
Expect Dr. Strange to get his props somewhere after Paste-Pot Pete.
What are superheroes good for? Surrogate Family stuff, Big Crazy Ideas, and The Explodo [Warren Ellis at Pulse]
Unfortunately Ellis proves that he's only been skimming through his ultra-wired world with this line: "Have you noticed how online comics fans have decided it's okay to like Dan Clowes now he's done a superhero comic?"
Posted 8 August 02004 - Permalink
Blogging will likely be nonexistent this week while Neilalien enjoys some much-needed vacation time in the regeneration pods of Rigel VII with familial units. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
Marvel Q2 Numbers [ICv2]
Marvel's New Villain: Earnings [Motley Fool]
Increased sales and pre-tax earnings, but lower operating margins after-tax earnings. With no more big losses, the taxman came calling. Spider-Man 2 toy revenue wobbled. Publishing revenue is up 11% to $21.6 million, but it mostly came from selling fewer copies of more series, and 'distribution cost reductions'. 'Retailer exclusives'? to be a 'driver of profitability' in 02005. The stock tanked.
Andrew Hultkrans' Ditko essay in Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers! reviewed [Johnistan]
Liking Ditko requires no apology.
Print Wizard and The Comics Journal feel the pressure now that any nerd with dialup can gorge himself on comic-news websites [Ninth Art]
Posted 2 August 02004 - Permalink
The Story. A bad guy (ends up being Satan) tricks a member of the Kale family (Jennifer's brother) into opening an ancient book called the Tome of Zhered-Na ("Only a Kale could open it. Only a Kale can close it."). This releases a creature called that Hellphyr that takes over Jennifer's brother and feeds off of mystics and their energies and souls. So Doc goes off to find Jennifer. Topaz, now of Indian ethnicity, is already around, since she's now Doc's apprentice. Then Doc pentagrammatically summons Satana from Hell, so now all the T&A is together. The girls bicker, but eventually they defeat the creature (Jennifer's brother is killed) and get the book back. Meanwhile, Lillith took advantage of the situation to beat up on a Hellphyr-weakened Doc a bit.
The Art. Deodato's art is as luxurious as ever with some interesting panel construction and page-size images. He draws the Cloak of Levitation like one crazy motherfucker. Unfortunately, we only get it for the first two issues. As with Flight Of Bones: geez, why can't we get one artist to stay on an entire Doc mini-series for once? Conrad's art is good too, and he gets even wilder with the panels. But the comparison to Deodato's issues is inevitable, and Conrad's just not going to win that fight. Something about Conrad's flat faces bothered Neilalien too.
Doc's Characterization. In a way, what bugged Neilalien the most about this miniseries is the very last page. The book is a serious threat to the world, and Doc just takes lip from these petulant children and lets them walk off with it while he looks down sheepishly. Screw that! Doc should just take the book and lock it up in safe storage, as is his charge. He should have never promised to let her keep the book in the first place, so there would be no issue of breaking a promise and all the drama of Doc acting petulant and out-of-character himself and just cutting off Topaz's studies with him. He should have just told Jennifer that the creature was her brother- true, telling her would have meant she would have held back, but isn't the goal to *save* her brother? Wouldn't that motivate her? Doc makes no effort to save Jennifer's brother!? His death is pointless and adds nothing.
Doc's Powers. Doc summons Satana. He does some minor astral projection and divination to find and recruit/communicate with people. In the fight with Lillith, he does two energy blasts and one shield. He fights Lillith hand-to-hand, and even though he's a martial artist who's dodged a Mantis strike, he gets knocked unconscious. Doc is weakened by the creature throughout the series, so some vulnerability is acceptable- but even then, there are ways to make weakness interesting. All the witches do are energy blasts. Doc is boring and incompetent; all the fights are boring.
If you're going to make it 'Charlie's Angels', then you have to show Charlie as hypercompetent. That's why it's *Charlie's* Angels and not someone else's Angels. Either he's a mysterious chessmaster behind the scenes rarely shown, or if he's going to be in the trenches, he kicks ass. You don't show Charlie getting his hands dirty and his ass kicked. But that's the Doc we got here.
Why does Doc even need these three women? Surely a weakened Doc is still stronger than those three combined. Why aren't the three witches also weakened?- is it one of those 'the stronger you are the more it affects you' things? Neilalien can see why a Kale is needed, and Topaz is there already, but why summon Satana? The danger is so great that there's this huge splash page of all these Marvel Universe mystics noticing and shocked that the book has been opened, and these three half-nude jailbait punks are the best we can line up against the threat?
What is Lillith doing here? She ends up being completely unconnected. And the multi-page heart-to-heart chat between Satana and her father Satan? The plot's so flimsy and the characters do so little, that four issues could not be filled.
What is with changing the ethnicity of Topaz? She's a blonde, and not from Calcutta. One assumes that Marvel is using Topaz instead of a completely new character to bring the established fanbase in, but then the arbitrary ethnicity change turns off said fanbase. This stinks of a cynical commercial that makes sure to show every ethnic group enjoying the product. Dropping a latina-like character into this product isn't going to bring new readers.
Who is this book for? This T&A ain't getting any girl readers. The stage is set for an ongoing series with the Witches out on their own with the Tome- but Marvel's own actions with the work show that they're just pumping out half-done work they've already paid for at the wall to see if it sticks.
Plus, add in the meta problems this series faced, as reported by Lying In The Gutters. IIRC, originally it was Bronwyn Carlton's and Lysa Hawkins' project. Deodato drew the first two issues based on their story. But Marvel editorial wanted changes and more changes. So in the drawer it sat for years. Now they pull it out. Brian Walsh is brought in to rewrite what's already been drawn. Will Conrad is brought for the last two issues of art. A stink gives Carlton and Hawkins a "Special Thanks" credit. The perils of work-for-hire faced by creators and readers, one supposes.
Overall, a big bomb. Reviewing this book made maintaining a Dr. Strange fansite a chore, not a joy. Let's move on.
Posted 1 August 02004 - Permalink