Joe Quesada is polishing the brass on the Titanic. Discuss.
— Jared (jared@fpleeds.plus.com)

Well now, there’s a topic to start off my return to “live” columns!

Publishing is in trouble…and not just comic book publishing. Magazines, newspapers, and book publishers all face the same problem of rising costs, decreasing audiences, and stiff competition. That we are a generation (or less) away from a world in which students do all their work electronically is perhaps the greatest problem facing the publishing business. Or, to use your metaphor, the iceberg it is steaming towards.

It costs textbook publishers a fortune to develop material. In order to make money, they must sell lots of copies. They usually target Texas and California, the largest states in which there is uniform adoption of texts. (A single governing board chooses the books that will be used in all the schools in that state.) A number of publishers have survived for years on the adoption by California or Texas of a single series of books. Others have gone belly-up because they invested so much and were not able to make a sale.

If you haven’t seen a school textbook lately, you may not realize how much four-color printing there is and what it costs to print. Many cost a substantial amount to produce… and the per-copy price to the schools is often more than $100. Well, imagine replacing that with a laptop and a DVD or internet download of material. Once the material is generated, the cost of reproducing it would be minimal (or nonexistent).

Now imagine a classroom in which there are no printed materials… and all the student work is done with a keyboard or an electronic stylus. Where will such students look for entertainment, especially when you add in their home access to TV and the internet? Not likely to be anything that is ink on paper.

So who will be left to buy printed materials? Today’s comics fans are dwindling in number. Yesterday’s fans – those who remain – are getting older and, frankly, less interested in many of the current titles. Eventually, there won’t be enough of them to make printing a comic book worthwhile. And that’s when the publishers (or the conglomerates that own the publishers) will pull the plug. [By the way, I firmly believe that when Amazon.com is finally able to deliver books in e-form rather than in boxes via UPS, they will be able to make lots and lots of money. It is only a matter of time.]

Is Joe Quesada polishing the brass on the Titanic? Yes, but if he and Bill Jemas are smart (and I think they are), they’re also spending their time aboard building a new ship that will safely carry all the passengers away from the liner when it meets up with that big hunk of ice.


BOBRO’S TRIVIA QUIZ
1. There’s Daisy for Donald, Petunia for Porky, and who for Mickey?
2. Halo was a member of what team?
3. Each day for years, whose “Online Tips” have been there for all to enjoy?
4. So after Ignatz hits Krazy with a brick, who tosses him in jail?
5. Earth’s lesser gravity and yellow sun give who his powers?
6. A Fawcett title in the early 50s urged “what” WITH CRIME?
7. The combat-happy joes were members of what group?
8. Thomas Wright’s birth name is what?
9. Regarding the character in the previous question, what hero is he?
10. A half-dozen-plus-one dwarves play amn important role in whose life?
11. Can you give me the “parent” company of the Maverick line?
12. Taking a blast from the beasts of Korbal created what two heroes and what villain?

BOBRO’S FUN FACTS TO KNOW & TELL:
1. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of their birthplace.
2. Honey is the only food that doesn’t spoil.
3. Every day more money is printed for Monopoly ? than for the U.S. Treasury.


MORE FROM THE E-MAILBAG:

I am a Quality heroes fan. I learned that Kid Eternity appeared in the Shazam feature in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS and that simultaneously Plastic Man had a feature in the book as well. Do you know which issues included these 2 heroes? Also, I understand that the Ray and Doll Man each starred in back up features at the same time. Which titles and issue numbers were they in?
— Wayne P. Bertrand II (The1TheOnlyWPB2@aol.com)

Kid Eternity discovered he was Freddy (Captain Marvel Jr.) Freeman’s brother in the Shazam feature in WORLD’S FINEST #280. Plastic Man was not in WF, however; he was appearing in ADVENTURE COMICS #467-478. The Ray had a single appearance, in BLACK LIGHTNING #11, just before the DC Implosion ended his back-up series career. Doll Man, as far as I can recall never had a modern day back-up slot.

*****
Who was that Alan Bennett guy who stepped in as a writer at DAREDEVIL #192, after Frank Miller’s Daredevil/Bullseye/”Roulette” issue that seemed so out of continuity?
 Guido Weisshahn (guido@weisshahn.de)

Alan Brennert is a sometimes comics writer who has spent most of his career writing TV shows. He is perhaps better known for some Batman stories he’s written.

*****
How old is Plastic Man? Has he been around since the forties (he was featured as a member of the All-Star Squadron) or did the Crisis put his origin on hold ’til the present day like Superman, Batman, etc.?
 Jeff (jefped@mail.com)

In HERO HOTLINE # 3, Stretch states he has been stretching longer than either Plastic Man or Elongated Man, but (pre-Crisis anyway) Plastic Man had been a charter member of the All-Star Squadron.
Was Stretch mistaken, Plas retconned out to the All-Star Squadron, or am I just wacked out?
 Mathew D. Reese (rhysapjesu@canoemail.com)

I guess turning into a human rubber band extends (heh heh) a hero’s lifespan. During the 60s, the Plastic Man who appeared was supposed to be the son of the original, but nowadays, it appears to be the original Eel O’Brian again.
As for Stretch’s comment, let’s just say he was stretching the truth.

*****
I have recently picked up some old DETECTIVE issues that feature Barbara Gordon as a US Congresswoman. Is this still part of her current origin or was this retconned out during Crisis, Zero Hour, etc.?
— John McCardell (john.n.mccardell@us.pwcglobal.com)

Barbara’s Congressional career, along with the brief tenure in office held by Linda (Supergirl) Danvers, appears to have been shuffled off into the deep background, if not entirely discarded.

*****
Who was the first president to make an appearance in a comic book?
–Michelle Hewitt (redqueen5@hotmail.com)

That would be Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was President from 1933-1945, much of the Golden Age.

*****
Where can I find old comic books called Capt. Jamer Kids?
 Michael A. (jeanmike@nconnect.net)

I presume you mean The Katzenjammer Kids, which also appeared as The Captain and The Kids… and both appeared in comics in the 40s and 50s.

Both series featured the same characters, the result of a lawsuit back in the early days of newspaper comic strips. When Rudolph Dirks, the artist who created the Katzenjammer Kids, switched newspapers, he wanted to take his creation along with him. Publisher William Randolph Hearst sued, claiming the Kids belonged to him. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that both could use the characters – Hearst got the name (and a new artist) and Dirks got to continue using his characters as The Captain and the Kids.

*****
Just curious. What is link to your chat? I would like to attend one.
— Marc Horowitz (mlh917@msn.com)

My Monday night chat is at 10:00 ET in AOL’s “Comics and Anime Chatroom.” I believe you have to have an AOL account to get in.

*****
I’m confused about the character Steel in the JLA books. I’ve recently started reading JLA. (Mark Waid is a great writer; I really enjoy most everything he writes) My collection starts with the “Tower of Babel” arc and continues up until the most recent issue. I also have “Heaven’s Ladder” and the “World War 3” trade paperbacks. Steel is in both of the TPBs, but he’s not in the anything since then. He wasn’t one of my favorite characters but I’m just curious as to where he went! Thanks!
— dschiari@optonline.net (Matt S.)

Well, wherever he went, he came back in time to apparently be killed in the current “Our Worlds at War” series.
By the way, I used Steel in the CELEBRATE THE CENTURY comics I wrote that tied in with the US Postal Service stamp series. During that time, he underwent a costume change, but nothing else that I recall.


That will do it for this installment. Come on back next week as I continue to dig through the pile of questions I’ve received. Meantime, you can ask your own questions using the handy box in the column on the left.

TRIVIA ANSWERS:
There are opposites hidden (sometimes in plain sight) in this week’s answers.
1. mINnie Mouse
2. The OUTsiders
3. tONy Isabella
4. OFFisa Pupp
5. sUPerman
6. DOWN
7. EASY Company
8. RicHARD Grey Jr.
9. BLACK Condor
10. Snow WHITE
11. DARK Horse Comics
12. LIGHTning Lad, Lightning Lass, Lightning Lord

 

Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.


 

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