Bunch of stuff from message boards this week. Seems like comic book writers and artists are voicing more opinions via the internet. A lot of the buzz has been in response to the cancellation of the excellent Eye of the Storm series? Stormwatch: Team Achilles and Wildcats Version 3.0 (see below). It?s nice to see comic creators give a damn about good books leaving the shelf. I hope we hear more noise.


Not Dead Yet

Apparently Crossgen has a few people left on staff. When an SBC employee accidentally shot former PR guy Bill Rosemann an email, an ?Out of the Office? reply came back from Barbara Kesel. So I guess that means Barb is now handling CG?s public relations at the moment. Not sure how this change will affect CrossGen?s interaction with comic news sites.

You know, one day I?m gonna tell you guys the whole insane saga of CrossGen. From the beginning..

This Has A ?Incommunicado? Factor of Six Out of Ten


You?re Hired

I normally don?t read the messages posted below Newsarama stories, but yesterday a friend pointed out an uncomfortable exchange between Randy Stradley, editor and co-founder of Dark Horse Comics, and former Starman artist Tony Harris, so I took a look.

The Newsarama article gave some cool details about a new six-issue Dark Horse comic based on the BMW short film The Hire. Everything seemed fine. Then I got to the posts. A reader quickly chimed in and basically said, ?Hey, DH stole this contract from some other dudes!?

As first revealed in Lying In the Gutters a team of comic book professionals — Greg Scott, JF Mettler, Tony Harris, Jason Henderson and Churl Yo ? originally came up with the idea. They created proposals, put together pages and even had meetings with BMW. But BMW dropped them and shopped the idea around to established publishers. A deal was eventually made with Dark Horse. But according to Stradley, his company did not ?steal? the concept. ?For the record, BMW Films approached Dark Horse with the project (we learned they had already approached Marvel and DreamWave by the time they talked to us). They asked us to bid on the project, and outline how we would approach the comics. No mention was made of Jason Henderson’s, et al, previous proposals, and I didn’t learn of the work they had done until I saw the mention in the Lying In the Gutters column this past January. By that point, we had already been in discussion with BMW Films and working on the project for five months.?

Since he got the lowdown Stradley said he?s tried to find a place for Greg and Scott in the mini-series, but their participation is unlikely because DH has already contacted other creators about working on the book.

Seemed like a reasonable answer. But that didn?t stop Tony Harris from popping in and making things interesting. ?Yeh, Dark Horse didn?t steal it Randy, we know that,? Harris wrote. ?Doesn?t change the fact that Jason hatched this idea, he MADE the PLACE. Now there is no room? Hilarious. This sucks no matter how you skin this cat. No matter how. Jason is a sharp guy though, he landed on his feet. As did we all. You live and you learn, some mistakes you NEVER make twice.?

Randy wasn?t too thrilled with Tony?s message and responded, ?Oh, you mean somebody in the comics biz came up with the idea of taking a character from a movie and making a comic book from it. Well, yeah, that’s never happened before. Ever.

?I’m not sure where all of this animosity is coming from, Tony. But I’m glad you’ve found the appropriate public forum in which to work it all out.?

In his last post Tony said he doesn?t harbor any bad feelings for Dark Horse, but he is frustrated because his team put in a lot of time, work and research on the project. He wrote:

    Jason DID come up with the idea for bringing it into this medium. BMW wasn?t even aware of our industry on any real level, at all! Jason even set up the meets between Diamond and them, distribution plans etc.. Not to say someone wouldn?t have thought about it sooner or later, but he did it first, and then lost it. Once again, I think that?s tragic. It?s hard enough for the little guy to get ahead. This just makes it harder.

But you have it. We do not. No amount of my so-called Animosity is going to change that. This was all made public, and as part of this public forum, I thought I had a right to post here. I NEVER blamed DH, in fact for the record, I blame Fallon, and BMW for using Jason?s enthusiasm for their property (I don?t need to be reminded that it?s theirs and they can do with it what they want) to get to where they wanted to be, which is obviously Dark Horse publishing.

Personally I think this whole situation is complete bullshit. I like Dark Horse and I?m sure they make some good comics based on The Hire, but Henderson, Harris and the other project originators got seriously shafted on this. Fucking suits, man.

If I was Stradley I?d call up one of these previously contacted creators and say, ?Listen amigo, I know we offered you a gig with the BMW book, but I just fucking found out that the original proposal came from some of our peers in the comic industry who got dropped for no good reason. I feel really bad. I want to offer them a spot on the project to in some small way acknowledge all the fucking hard work they did. I hope you understand.?

This Has A ?You?re Fired? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Devil?s Advocate

Earlier this week Brian Bendis posted a message on his Image boards asking fans who they?d most like to see draw Daredevil. The popular writer said he?s working on ideas for DD?s 40th anniversary. ?One involves a project that would feature art by people who have never drawn Daredevil before,? he wrote.

Bendis also set some guidelines, ?Try to be realistic. As in people who are alive or not under contract elsewhere.? He added that Alex Maleev is still the artist on DD and asked people not to panic or start rumors..

DD fans should also take note that DC: The New Frontier creator Darwyn Cooke probably won?t make the bald man?s short list. When a poster mentioned Cooke as a possible artist, Bendis replied, ?After all the crap he’s been slinging this week? No thanks.?

Darwyn, in a recent interview for Comic Book Artist magazine, questioned why adults need superhero comics like The Ultimates. He elaborated on this a couple weeks ago at Millarworld message boards, where he wrote:

    The Ultimates thing revolves around the book, Marvel’s approach and Mark’s interpretation of Kirby and Lee’s characters. It is a small part of a broader discussion that is basically me asking why we decided to take a genre of comics meant for young readers and subvert it for an aging audience that can’t let go.

Why is that what is being created? And why is that is what we seem to want?

I believe I put it this way in the article…….

Its like being 12, Julie Newmar in the catsuit does it for you. But then you’re forty and you need the full gangbang with cumshots to get a jolt.

I doubt this opinion will make me many friends here, but it is something I feel strongly about.

More importantly, why? Why are we doing it? And I don’t need the stock answer that there’s some books for kids and some for adults. Why does this group of Adults need this at all? Why haven’t they turned to other genres for more adult content? This is not even an issue aimed at creators. More the general audience we sell to. You guys love to buy this stuff. It sells like crazy.

Beyond the marketing and the aging audience, why do we as adults need to see these established characters more “adult”? Beyond short term financial gain, is there a reason for this?

Some of you may also remember seeing Darwyn in the Rage not too long ago after he made some criticisms of Frank Miller and his work on The Dark Knight Strikes Again. I emailed him and he apologized for his comments.

This Has A ?Cookin? Up A Storm? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Brain Storm

If you?re a fan of adult superhero books like me, you?ve probably heard this week?s sad news that Wildcats Version 3.0 and Stormwatch: Team Achilles will both end with their 24th issues. Now that the cancellations have been announced I?m hearing that Wildstorm may be looking to revamp its axed titles as more traditional superhero books. Quite frankly this doesn?t surprise me as other publishers like Marvel seem to be headed in that general direction as well.

I?m also hearing that Wildcats artist Dustin Nguyen will be drawing another Wildstorm book.

Despite these rumors, the internet has mostly been abuzz with discussion of what, if anything, could have been done to get these Eye of the Storm titles into reader hands. A few industry professionals weighed in on this subject at Millarworld. Here are some highlights from the conversation:

Mark Millar (Writer – Ultimates, Wanted, Chosen):

      I just can’t understand why this consistently excellent book [

Wildcats

    ] has been cancelled. The writing is top notch, the art is top notch and the covers and production values are recognised to be the best in the business. This is a very clever, good-looking book and I’ve enjoyed it a great deal since I recently went back and bought all the issues I’d missed in the two years or so since DC stopped sending me a comp box. Hearing it’s been cancelled just makes no sense to me. I know sales on the Wildstorm books are very low, but these NUMBERS make no sense to me either. Where is the problem in that company that prevents excellent, well-received material from reaching a decent audience? This has been happening month after month for around three years now and it’s clearly getting out of control.

The average Wildstorm book sells less than 10,000 copies and I’m just curious where the blame lies. The creators clearly aren’t at fault and Jim Lee is obviously completely guilt-free (he’s the one golden goose they have over there), but something weird happened in the twelve to eighteen months following DC buying that company. Top 10 books like WildCATS are now selling outside the Top 100 despite the fact that the material has improved on every level and the industry has grown considerably over the same period. As a creator, this disturbs me because I see terrific work from people I like being killed between the printing press and the comic-book stand. This is not another DC bash (because there are some new people over there that I like very much), but somebody, somewhere isn’t doing there job and it isn’t Joe and Dustin.

Richard Friend (Inker – Wildcats 3.0, Batman):
I guess working on the title you get a bit insulated and spend most of your time focusing on the art. Then one day they tap you on the shoulder and say “hey by the way, your book is over” I had no idea it was coming and I think things happened so fast I didn’t have time to react.

The whole time we have been working on Batman the one thing Dustin and I always talked about was how excited we were to get back to working on Wildcats. It was where we felt at “home”. Issue 25 was going to be the new begining. ..with a little fresh steam from Batman, a bunch of comics under our belt and a new confidence in our art working together….it was so perfect.

Ale Garza (Penciller ? Starjammers, Spider-Man Unlimited):
The funny thing is, is this… The book just doesn’t sell well enough. I don’t mean to be rude. Wildcats is a book I’ve read religiously. But it doesn’t matter, bottom line, unless you can get another 20,000 people to buy this book and many other great books in the same position, there’s nothing that can really be done. I know from experience. The trades aren’t even pulling their weight. Which to me is shocking, to me this is a book that shines in trade. With that, what really can be done? There have been many a show I’ve enjoyed on TV, only to see it pulled off, because it can’t compete with the “friends” or “everybody loves Raymonds.? So to me this is how this book falls. I enjoyed it. I don’t think anyone can say this wasn’t a pretty good book. Let’s just hope these creators get something else to really shine on.

Justin Gray (Writer – Monolith, Hawkman):
I know from experience how difficult it is to bring up and sustain numbers on a WS book. I can fully empathize with Joe and Dustin on having to watch your baby die a slow death only to find out it’s been pronounced dead the night before. There’s no easy answer to the a problem that spans the entire industry and there isn’t a single culprit responsible for the state of things. Some blame publishers, some blame fans and some blame retailers…this is all just a cat chasing it’s own tail. We’re all part of the same fragile ecosystem.

You know the true power lies in the hands of the consumer. That whole vote with your wallet philosophy people start shouting about when they smell the blood in the water. It’s supply and demand. Writing letters after the fact is no substitute for aggressively pushing the books you like when they’re starting up or start to stumble. I don’t just mean online either because I’ve seen no evidence of the internet pushing a book into the top fifty. However, if you really wanted to you could reverse the flow of what sells. If the consumer pressures the retailer by demading certain books and not buying others — the retailer then pressures publisher for more of the material that sells — publisher makes changes. Until the consumer uses that power to effect a shift in the dynamic of comics books as a marketplace more books like Wildcats will go down.

Mark Millar:
Wanted, Chosen, etc, are all selling out because the creators are being backed to the hilt by the publishers and doing what they’ve always wanted to do. To answer Andy’s point; this is what DC needs to do to save the WS line, but it’s something they won’t do because they HATE these kind of books. It’s no accident WildCATS dropped from the top ten to the top 150 on DC’s watch as the industry rocketed. They just don’t dig the book and are not supporting Joe in any way because, as a VP said to me two years ago, “the Wildstorm superhero books do nothing to improve the human condition.”

I stress that they’re not bad guys. This is not a bash. They just have a different publishing agenda from one I understand and appreciate. They want to do pretty traditional superhero books and that’s cool. It’s just a shame that WildCATS is another casualty and what was a vibrant and exciting company is now selling on a par with Powerpuff Girls because they were bought by people who don’t know what to do with it.

Can anyone now tell me why DC bought Wildstorm? Was this really just a way to get Jim Lee???

Ed Brubaker (Writer ? Sleeper, Catwoman, Gotham Central):
Retailers have a bias against WS books on the whole. Not every retailer, obviously, but enough of them so that WS hasn’t had a huge launch of a new book in years. I remember the same feeling when I was doing Deadenders at Vertigo. You’d go online and see retailers predicting Vertigo’s demise everywhere you turned. They were rats leaving a sinking ship, and nothing that launched then did well, other than 100 Bullets in trades. Until Y and Fables, retailers had lost faith in Vertigo. Now it seems like they’re at least willing to give their books a shot at first, though their average sales are not that great, either. Maybe WS just needs a new hit book? Maybe Ex Machina will be a hit? It’s got two pretty big names, and a new concept. Maybe that will be the turning point? Or maybe Sleeper Season 2 will sell twice as well as Season One?

They always tell you “quality will out” but that’s only if people know about the quality.

Dustin Nguyen (Penciller ? Wildcats, Batman):
Rich [Friend] and myself left to do a Batman stint planning to come back bringing along any fans that we could reach outside the mature readers line of WS (all while fulfilling both our short term goals of working on Batman of course). Its funny… Wildcats was always the book we always said would break us in and take us to the next level or open up the “big gig”, but in the end, it was the one book we both wanted to get back on after the Batman run. Joe had huge plans for us, and we had full support editorially.

What happened, I have no idea, but I guess to predict the status of a book for more than half a year ahead nowadays is pretty shaky considering the market and numbers and such other things I don?t understand too well. I guess we just needed to sell more comics.

This Has A ?Eye Sight? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Speak of the Devil

For a while there?s been talk about Marvel doing an Ultimate Daredevil book. Well, I hear that the company is actively pursuing pitches at the moment, but just hasn?t found the right one yet.

This Has A ?Dare to Imagine? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Turn the Page

Along with his recent search for DD anniversary artists, Bendis also accepted a challenge to make a fan fall in love with Matt? Murdock?s deceased girlfriend Karen Page. SeanWLuck wrote this plea to Bendis:

    Make me fall in love with Karen Page. Please.

I’ve never been fond of her character as other people seem to be. She just seemed to be one of those pretty little blondes that walked around the office of Nelson and Murdock saying, “La la la I’m a pretty little blonde.” She was instrumental in ‘Born Again’ but not interesting. In Nocenti’s run she was the horrified by violence housewife struggling to do good in the community. Chichester made her an anit-porn lobbyist/activist running trying to find redemption from the past.

It was during this time that I actually started to like her character since she didn’t immediately come back rushing into Matt’s arms. She actually showed a measure of strength and independence that was lacking in all her previous appearances.

The writers that worked on Daredevil post 350 made her a radio talk show host I think. I don’t know. Sadly the industry drove me away from comics completely except for that one single title and then the light-hearted retro tone of the series. I’ve no idea how Page’s character actually changed during that time.

All I can speak for is myself: I’ve never fallen in love with Karen Page’s character. I’ve never known what Matt Murdock saw in her unless he was subconsciously looking for a woman he could control that wouldn’t walk away from him.

SHIT! If you’ve read this far I’ve taken too much of your time–straight to the point then–!

IS IT POSSIBLE THAT WE CAN SEE A FLASHBACK, JUST A SINGLE SIMPLE CONVERSATION SUCH AS WHAT WE SAW FROM THAT COLLEGE DORM ROOM, BETWEEN MATTHEW MURDOCK AND KAREN PAGE??

I just want to know what Matt saw in her so I can share his pain at her loss that much more.

This Has A ?Well, She Was A Pornstar..? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Before I get out of Dodge, just a couple quick notes. Peter David has a new forum on ComixFan.com. He started this thread where posters provide an answer and he comes up with the question. Fun stuff. I hope you guys ordered some Fallen Angel like I told you too..

For those looking for the Colleen Doran interview, sorry. Not this week. I drank too much beer and caught up with too many relatives during Easter break so I didn?t get her the questions until Thursday. Can?t expect her to just get me answers in two days. Especially the questions I asked.

And finally, I love you guys, but a handful of you have expressed some impatience over the release time for this column. Rage comes out on Sunday. There is no specific time you should expect it to drop. Just Sunday. Thanks.

Out,
Markisan

PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share email me at markisan@silverbulletcomicbooks.com or IM me via AOL Instant Messenger. My screen name is Automatic San. Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It’s greatly appreciated.


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