It looks like we might get some definitive answers on the Joss Whedon/X-Men 3 rumors soon. Later today (October, 24), Whedon will taking questions on a conference call with all participating High Stakes 2004 parties, which are part a nationwide fundraiser for the John Kerry campaign. On the subject X-Men 3, Whedon left the following message:

      The truth about the X-Men is…

 

      …much less important than this election. Much less important than putting someone in the White House who knows the difference between leading and bullying. I’m here to confirm that I will be doing the phone-party on Sunday and I’m urging any and everyone to attend one or even host one. (Highstakes2004.com.) I plan to be incredibly funny and insightful, or mention some people who have been in the past. We can talk about politics, we can talk about Buffy, we can talk about car maintenance (though I’ll mostly just listen at that point) and I will once and for all tell you all what IS going on with the

X-Men

    . And then we can talk about politics some more.

Anyone who wants to participate, can find more information here.


Super Soldier

There were a few rumors this going around this week about an Ultimate Captain America miniseries by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, possibly for a 2005 release. However, when reached for comment, Millar replied:

      It’s actually miles away. I won’t even be STARTING it until the end of next summer and have no idea when it’s scheduled. I’m currently working on

Ultimates 2

      ,

Wolvie

      , and

Spider-Man

      , but have two Marvel projects to do before my contract ends in August. One of these will be announced in December, I think, and the other one is probably going to be an

Ultimate Cap

    project of some sort. After this, I’m taking a year off company-owned characters, taking a holiday, doing a bit of lecturing and touring, starting up a charity I’ve been trying to get going for two years and focusing on Millarworld Phase Two for an 06 release.

This Has A ?You Think This Letter On My Head Stands For France?!? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Adventures In The DCU

ATR informant, ?Chap? sent in some interesting DC rumors this week, including this note:

    Did you see the announcement about Dan Didio’s recent promotion? Well it wasn’t really a promotion at all. You see before, Dan was in charge of ALL of DC’s Imprints. But he was always knocking heads with Karen Berger and Jim Lee. So to keep the peace, Paul Levitz took away his oversight of those imprints away from him and told him to occupy his time with the DCU/Johnny DC stuff. Kind of a demotion, don’t you think?

And that?s not all. According to ?Chap?, Plastic Man, Richard Dragon, and one or two other DCU titles will be canceled in the near future. Additionally, Mike Lark (Gotham Central) and Tom Raney (Outsiders) appear to have left their respective books, possibly for some Marvel assignments.

This Has A ?Crisis On Infinite Imprints? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Test Your Might

The long running video game series, Mortal Kombat is set to make a return to comics next year, from Walt McDaniel’s WAM Entertainment. Their first MK project (tentatively set for March 2005) will be an adaptation of the current game, Mortal Kombat: Deception. A creative team hasn?t been announced yet, though Marat Mychaels and Blond did the two color pinups below.

This Has A ?Finish Him!!? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Two Fisted

Earlier this week, an interview over at Newsarama about the Marvel Age Line revealed that Brandon Thomas (SBC?s Ambidextrous columnist) will be writing the upcoming Fantastic Four Tales. After the announcement, Thomas checked in for a quick Q&A:

Blair Marnell: How did you land the Marvel Age Fantastic Four Tales book?

Brandon Thomas: Well, one of the editors that I worked with on my Spider-Man Unlimited story e-mailed me out of the blue, saying that she was looking for writers for a new Marvel Age series, and asked me to send a couple recent samples if I was interested. Problem being, that she mentioned they were looking for someone that had a bit of experience writing books specifically aimed at kids, and the most recent scripts I had on hand were for creator owned projects, and were a little… grimy in parts. So, I sent them in and did a little extra legwork to let her know that I didn’t necessarily need the dirty words to write hot scripts, and thankfully, she believed me and asked me to adapt a little 6-page Spidey/Human Torch story as a tryout. She liked it, and here we are?

BM: Is this title going to be a reinterpretation of old stories or new material?

BT: It’s going to be “adaptations” of classic FF material, remixed for a new generation of readers. It’s the same song, preserving many of the same elements that made it notable in the first place, but with a flashy new beat underneath that completely changes the tempo.

BM: According to the early previews, your first issue is the Black Panther origin story. Any particular reason you?re starting there?

BT: Marvel makes the final decision on that end, but based on the issues that are coming up, they want to showcase the FF alongside some of their more popular allies. We start with Black Panther, and Spider-Woman, Dr. Strange, and the Hulk should be showing up before too long.

BM: Is Black Panther a personal favorite of yours?

BT: Oh God, definitely. I was walking around with a big ass grin on my face when they told me the first issue I’d be doing was the first appearance of the Black Panther. Priest’s work on the character really put him on the map for me, giving him a gloss and relevancy that for whatever reason was lacking beforehand, and there should be a couple nods to his run in the issue.

But I keep telling myself that I’m tasked with introducing him to a new flock of readers that might’ve never even heard of him, or cared about him before this point, and that gasses me up and scares me to death at the same time.

BM: Do you have any other Marvel work lined up?

BT: Yeah actually, I’m going to be scripting the upcoming Shatterstar mini-series, that I think also starts in February, and has been bumped from three issues to four. If you’re following the new X-Force book that Rob’s doing, the mini is a prequel, showing you how the character winds up in the situation he’s in, when Cable shows up to recruit him to help him fight the Skornn.

That means two Marvel books from me in the same month, which I still don’t quite believe.

BM: How’s your creator-owned book, Cross coming along?

BT: Oh, it’s coming. Signed the final papers for that over the summer and have a new artist on it and cranking away. Hopefully, we’ll be ready for a spring/summer launch. I also changed the book’s name, but I’ll hold onto the final moniker until the publisher is ready to announce it.

BM: Is your professional work going to affect the way you write Ambidextrous?

BT: Only that the tone will likely become a little more hopeful over the next couple months. Writing something weekly allows my mood and temperament to bleed right into the column, and just a couple weeks ago, I wrote about how I was just completely down on myself for not hitting these insane goals I’d set for my summer. Wanted to nail at the very least, another mini at one of the Big Two, and get publishers for 2 creator owned projects. I found a home for Cross, but the other stuff wasn’t really coming through and after August, I was just irritable and depressed, and I think that shows in the column. Least it does to me. It’s kinda cool, because I can always go back and say, “Yeah, that’s when I was pitching Epic, that’s when my girl was pissing me off,” and always have a little mental reminder of where my head was at, even three short weeks ago. When my mind is right, it makes it that much easier to accomplish things, and on the flip side, that much easier to accept things that aren’t developing quite as fast, or as perfectly as I want them to.

But I’ll be writing it as long as possible, because I think it’s interesting to look at where and how I started out, and how things are changing now that I’m taking a couple baby steps into the industry. It’s about perspective, and I barely even recognize the dude that wrote Haters Be Hating like three years ago, and I’d like to think that’s progress. Probably going to “revamp” the column a little near the beginning of the year, cycle some new pics in, change the logo and update the profile. Keep a lookout for that.

This Has An ?Art of The Remix? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


A Mystifying Campaign

Alex Ross? cover for the latest Village Voice caused quite a stir this week. But he?s not the only comics creator to address the upcoming election. Over at his blog, Jeff Parker posted the following message:

      I said early on that I’d leave politics largely out of this blog, focusing on nonsense so as to give readers a break from all the partisan battling. But dang it, we’re three weeks away from an election that I seriously think could either put the U.S. back on the track to fiscal and moral responsibility, or to a 21st version of Mussolini’s Italy. A lot of my readers and friends are Republican, and I want those of you to know I’m not slamming YOU. From what I can tell, most of you identify with conservative ideals that were abandoned by the party back in the ’80’s. While the rank and file still want that ideal, the people in charge of the party are all about getting and keeping power, and grabbing all the money they can. I’d forgive them that if they weren’t willing to start wars to ensure their ends, and if they weren’t helmed by the most incompetent chump I’ve ever seen stand in front a flag. I’m tired of intellectuals being demonized (when are they going to start issuing little red books and encouraging “criticism”?) and the environment being ruined. And I better blog all this now before the Patriot Act gets expanded further.

 

      So what can I do to help? Since I work in speculative fiction and advertising usually, my skills lie in making things entertaining and more enticing. Looking at the Democrats’ ad campaign, my assessment is that it’s too bland and safe. I know that bland and safe are a virtue these days, but I think voters want some excitement in these things, something they can get fired up about. So I’m going to start making web ads that you can grab and use on your site or in your email.

 

      Now I’ll admit this first one stretches the truth a little, but hey, it’s not like I’m lying about a weapons program and a connection to terrorists to convince the public we should invade a country, so come on. My take here was make Kerry more appealing to young voters.

 

 

      Electrical powers = cooler! So that’s my positive, pro-Kerry one today. I’ll balance that out with one that just focuses on the opposition…

 

When reached for further comment, Parker replied:

      I’m thinking most of those still undecided voters… comics readers. Just like they fear backing a book that will get cancelled, they’re still biding their time, looking for that cool hook to get behind a superhe–uh, candidate. So I’m making web banners to emphasize the qualities that the readership judges by. I’ll admit, I may have exaggerated Kerry’s abilities somewhat, but I feel the Republican ad is very representative. I urge everybody to get involved, as this possibly even more important than the call-in vote in the 80’s to decide if the Jason Todd Robin would live or die.

 

    Let’s go, America!

This Has A ?Smirking Chimp? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Across the Pond

The UK Comic Convention scene has been in flux as of late. As documented online in the Comics2000@yahoogroups.com mailing list and in Phil Hall’s Borderline blog, Kev F. Sutherland (the organizer of Comics Festivals in Bristol and London) has pulled out of the event management business. To fill the void, Mike Allwood (the owner of the Area 51 comics shop in Bristol) and Dez Skinn have organized a new Bristol Show, the Comic Expo. Comic Expo I is coming up in about two weeks, Nov 6th and 7th in Bristol. Comic Expo II is scheduled for May 2005, effectively taking the place of Sutherland?s Comic Festival.

However, they may soon receive fierce competition from MCI Exhibitions Ltd. MCI has recently purchased a show called Memorabilia, which is an extremely popular comics, film and sci-fi convention held quarterly at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre. MCI is said to be planning a new Memorabilia show, which will be the largest comics convention EVER held in the UK. This would be the UK’s version of the San Diego Comic Convention, in terms of size, guests and attendees.

Additionally, MCI may run the new show more than once a year, depending on the response. I?m also told that Birmingham is far more accessible than Bristol or London, which could lead to a greater turnout than any previous UK comic con has ever seen.

This Has A ?Shores of Avalon? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Les Faux DC

One of our readers in France sent us a message about this website, which is almost an exact copy of DC?s official site. Additionally, the company running the website may be publishing and selling bootleg DC comics without a license. For example, Les Outsiders, a translated version of The Outsiders is available for sale on their website. However, the officially licensed French version of The Outsiders is only available in the Generation DC anthology, which is published by Semic. If this is the bootleg operation it appears to be, it?s a safe bet that DC won?t exactly be pleased when they find out?

This Has A ?World?s Mightiest Lawyers? Factor of Six Out of Ten


A Picture?s Worth…?

Following up on last week?s story about the use of Clay Geerdes? photographs in Dez Skinn?s Comix, The Underground Revolution, several readers e-mailed me about the latest issue of The Comics Journal (TCJ # 263), which contains an editorial by Patrick Rosenkranz, the author of Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution. In the Journal?s “Opening Shot”, Rosenkranz states:

Comix

    reprints seven of my photographs without my permission, including Greg Irons (p. 119), Jack Jackson (p. 134), Denis Kitchen (p.138), and Trina Robbins (p. 157). Our lawyer agrees that move crossed the legal line. I did not and would not give him permission to use my photos. He never asked and made no attempt to contact me. There is a big difference between the Fair Use doctrine in journalism and outright piracy. Fair use benefits the public, but theft just enriches the crook. If he had been writing a magazine article about my photographic career, he might have a justifiable reason to print some of my photos. But in a book about underground comix, a subject I have been covering for over 30 years, without permission and without credit, there is no excuse. It?s robbery.

When reached for comment, Skinn replied:

      You may wish to refer to the TCJ

noticeboard

      wherein I hope I explained myself. I seem to recall we gave Rosenkranz a picture credit and referred to his “excellent” hardcover within the book, and plugged it in the bibliography for those wanting a more in-depth look at the US side.

 

      Given its patchy distribution, I haven’t seen

The Comics Journal

      you refer to but I can’t really see how anybody was “enriched” by the photos usage except the reader, though. Strangely enough, all the actual underground artists I’ve spoken to have been delighted by the coverage and mainstream exposure and highly supportive.

 

      Needless to say, he hasn’t complained to me directly, despite my email appearing on his own publisher’s noticeboard. I’m both accessible and affable, always have been.

 

    So much for the spirit of the underground! By the 21st century it’s no longer about credit where credit’s due and sharing material to spread the word, but money and lawyers. Hopefully, instead of wasting money on premature legal advice. He’ll simply drop me a line now.

Rosenkranz was also reached for further comment. He included a page from Comix, The Underground Revolution to illustrate his point:

 

      I never met Dez Skinn but I’ve read his words on

The Comics Journal

      message board and on the Silver Bullet website. You can learn a lot about a person by meeting them face to face, but you can also get clues to their persona by reading their words.

 

      Note the belittling terms, like ?patchy distribution? to lessen the credibility of

The Comics Journal

      , and ?premature legal advice? to connote that it would be a waste of time. The holier-than-thou bit is also a giveaway. He’s been caught red-handed and he’s trying to palm it off with flippancy.

 

      It’s true that I was one of the few sources credited for any of the reproductions in his book. He did put my name on Trina Robbins? and S. Clay Wilson’s photos, and he did list

Rebel Visions

      in his bibliography. He even called it excellent. While I appreciate the compliment, I object to his other actions, such as taking those photos and five others of mine without asking for permission or paying me. They are unique historical documents that I personally created and I own them. If he had asked, I would have said no. What was especially insulting was finding familiar quotes in his book, from interviews that I had conducted over thirty years, passed off as his own work. That takes the cake.

 

    I sent an invoice to his American publisher, Thunder Mouth Press, in September, demanding payment for reproduction of my photos. After Skinn listed his address on the message board, I also sent a copy of that invoice to him. I don’t have any other reason to talk with him. When a burglar breaks into your house and steals your TV, you don’t call him up to talk about it. You call the cops.

This Has A ?Freeze Frame? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Decompression

Seen recently on the Geoff Johns Message Boards:


As you can see, even the Avengers have theories about the Identity Crisis killer!

These pages were remixed by ?CapVsBats?, who was also responsible for the Dr. Light/Hostess Parody a few weeks back.

Enjoy.


One last thing before I sign off: The Dave Dorman benefit auctions are up on ebay including art by Adam Hughes, Neil Vokes, Hoang Nguyen and more. Check them out; it?s for a good cause.

That?s all for now?

See you in seven.

Later,
Blair

PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share, please email me at blairm@silverbulletcomicbooks.com. Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It?s greatly appreciated!


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