When I saw the e-mail from our esteemed EIC, Jason Brice, I figured it was a belated congratulations for graduating the day before. Instead, he told me that Markisan was stepping down, and they wanted me to take over ATR.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement.

I?ve been reading All the Rage ever since the rumor king himself, Rich Johnston brought it over from it?s previous home. And I?ve kept on reading, through Ian, Alan and J. Hues. About a year ago, when Markisan took over, I started contributing stories here and there. Even filled in occasionally. But I wasn?t expecting it to build to this.

I?m honored to have been asked, and grateful to be here. ATR has become an institution, and Markisan will be a tough act to follow. Regardless, I?ll do my best to keep the column going strong.

Now then, on with the show!

Fighting Windmills

An informant told me that comic retailer Brian Hibbs of ComixExperience was spearheading an Eisner write-in campaign, for his book Tilting at Windmills. When I e-mailed for confirmation, he replied:

      There’s not any “campaign” per se — at least I don’t think one “speech”

 

      amounts to such.

 

      What happened is I posted one single message on the

Comic Book Industry
Alliance

      (CBIA) bulletin board that read as such:

 

      ****

 

      Right, so, as I’m sure you noticed,

TILTING AT WINDMILLS

      didn’t get an Eisner nomination.

 

      TaW is eligible for “Best Comic Related Book”, and, while it didn’t get the nomination, the Eisners, in full support of democracy, allow write-in votes – there’s an actual line for them on the ballot.

 

      The actual nominees for the category are:

      • The Acme Novelty Library Datebook, 1986?1995, by Chris Ware (Drawn & Quarterly)
      • The Art of Hellboy, by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
      • Black Images in the Comics, by Fredrik Str?mberg (Fantagraphics)
      • Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, by Chip Kidd (Pantheon)
      • Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book, by Jordan Raphael and Tom Spurgeon (Chicago Review Press)

Now, clearly, I want everyone to vote their actual conscience, but it’s a “weak” enough category that I thought a small amount of campaigning of some of the voting body probably couldn’t hurt.

If I ever have a chance for such a thing again, it probably won’t be for quite some time (I’d need to write another 79 to have a second book, so the earliest that could possibly be would be… November 2009) — but, really, “once in a lifetime” chance, and all.

I don’t think a write-in has ever won an Eisner, though it’s technically possible.

All retailers are eligible to vote (with a valid tax ID) in the Eisners, so if you haven’t received a ballot… well, hrm, I’m not sure what to do. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the FAQ on comic-con.org… Maybe Jackie or Mel will come along and give instructions on how to get a ballot. All of you SHOULD be voting, darn it!

Vote your conscience (but remember write-ins are valid!)
-B

****

I’m horrifically biased, but I think TILTING AT WINDMILLS is a valuable book at least insofar as being a record of what was going on in the comics industry throughout the 90s.

(TILTING AT WINDMILLS is a collection of my first 100 [-plus] columns for Krause’s print magazine COMICS RETAILER. I took a 3 year hiatus from the column and recently brought it back, on-line, at http://www.newsarama.com/pages/Tilting/Tiltingindex.htm>Newsarama.)

I, of course, was disappointed when it wasn’t nominated (it’s also nearly a decade of my life!), but I thought it wasn’t too terribly tacky to let people know they could write it in, in a forum full of my friends and peers.

I didn’t post the message on the “sister forum” of Comic Pros, for example, because I didn’t want it to be perceived of as a “campaign”, per se. I appreciate that the nomination/voting process of the Eisner’s can be a fragile one, which is why I stress voting one’s conscience repeatedly. It won’t shock me if I’m the only person who really, y’know, WANTS the book to win!

BTW, none of this should be considered an indictment of the awards or the process– I’ve been an Eisner judge myself and I think the selection process is a generally fair one.

For those who are voting, the deadline for Eisner ballots is June 18th. The award ceremony will be held July 23rd, at the San Diego Comic Con.

This Has A ?And Staring Don Quixote As Himself? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Cyberdata

ATR informant, ?Molly Molly Mole? sent us the following item:

      Mark Waid will be writing issue 17 of

The Darkness

      , which will be drawn by none other than Marc Silvestri himself. I’m not sure if it’s a single issue or the beginning of an arc, but it features the return (kinda) of Cyberforce!

 

    They will be returning, although somewhat different, and will get their own series again next year, which Marc will also be heavily involved in. Think of this as being like Claremont and Byrne’s introduction of the Doom Patrol in their JLA arc – old characters presented as new.

I e-mailed Top Cow for confirmation, but haven?t heard back from them yet. However, during their Wizard World East panel, Top Cow announced that Dave Lapham (Stray Bullets) would write a four issue story for The Darkness starting with issue 17. Now, it could be that ?Molly? is on to something, and just has the writers mixed up. But until we know more, this one could go either way.

This Has A ?High Velocity? Factor of Five Out of Ten


Dragonfly

According to the scuttlebutt I?ve heard, Image is planning a special promotion for Savage Dragon, from June 1 to July 14. Apparently, retailers who buy one copy of any Savage Dragon trade paperback will receive a second copy of the same trade paperback for free. Image Publisher, Erik Larsen responded:

    That’s the plan. I’m hoping to get more Savage Dragon books into the hands of more readers and retailers–it’s as simple as that. If I can save people a few bucks in the process–even better.

When asked if the promotion would be extended to other Image books, Larsen replied ?ALL of the books at Image are creator-owned and because of that–it’s entirely up to those creators!?

This Has A ?This Man, This Promotion!? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Keep On the Borderlines

Following up on one of Markisan?s recent stories, I?ve been reading up on Phil Hall, the former editor of Borderline. He is the originator of the comics gossip column, Movers & Shakers, which he wrote for over ten years.

Damn?

That?s pretty impressive.

Of course, what really interests me here, is the book that he?s writing; a ?tell-all? about his years in the comic industry. So I asked him if he would be willing to give us a preview of his book before it hits the streets. Here?s what he told me:

    I’d love to share something with you and your readers, Blair, I have links to SBC from Borderline and I admire Jason’s quick fingers. The problem is simple until I run the book past a libel lawyer or three I don’t want to do anything that might stop it from getting to an audience. But that said, I’m happy to talk to you about the book.

Given the popularity of tell-all books and (ugh) reality TV, I figured our readers would be interested in hearing about:

  • Lies
  • Money
  • Sex & Drugs
  • Falling Out

Phil responded:

      Yeah, they’re all in the book – stories, anecdotes, personal experiences. But I can’t really tell you about any of them, I mean, come on, if I gave you all the juicy bits what would be left for the reader? How about I tell you about my love for

Cavewoman

    . I have all the issues you know?

That?s? not exactly what people want to read about.

      Well… maybe not, but there’s a link. But if I told you that there are large chunks of the book dedicated to fans and the varying intensity of fans, you’d probably start to feel a little concerned because, let’s face it, the general conception of comics fans is that they are mainly middle-aged, sweaty, Internet nerds, with collections of action figures and porn in equal quantity, who, frankly, are not the kind of people you would want to meet in a dark alley. Or at least this appears to be the impression the mainstream press in the US and UK have of comics fans – we’re all fucking weirdoes, we must be we read superhero comics! And this has been the impression most people in the streets have of comics collectors. Well, I address that point and it keeps reappearing throughout the book. The face of the US and UK industry is that sweaty, greasy, dirty, slimy, urine-stained, net lurker who wanks over his Wonder Woman doll and for a while, just to lure the outsiders in, I agree with that description. But then gradually through some funny stories and some persuasion, I show the reader that actually these ‘weirdoes’ probably represent only a tiny fraction of the comics fans.

 

      And then I talk about the quiet ones, with normal jobs and families and how they’re the REAL fucked up ones!

 

      But don’t worry, comics fans come out of it pretty good and the future for comics fans is pretty good, especially young new readers. I might be seen as doing a hatchet job on comics, but in truth it’s just a hatchet job on certain things and people – comics come out of it OK.

 

    That’s your lot for this week.

Naturally, I emailed him and asked if he could share any more in the near future. If we?re lucky, it might even be next week.

This Has A ?Secret Origins? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Warren Peace

A few days ago, Warren Ellis sent out an intriguing message to his Bad Signal mailing list:

      So last week I came up with a newish take on superhero fiction and a newish way to tell it.

 

      Which is a huge pain in the arse.

 

      First, I’d want to own it. For another, it’d need to come out fairly quickly, which removes DC from the equation. For another another, I’d need to get paid for it, which takes out most of the indies. For another3, variant covers would remove some of its object-based intent, which sadly takes out friendly old Avatar, whose bottom line still depends quite heavily on variant cover sales.

 

      (The Apparat books are variant-free, but as a one-time favour.)

 

      So here I am with a superhero/sf book idea that could conceivably break new ground, and no way to do it.

 

      I hate writing superhero fiction. Hate it.

 

    ? W

Over at Millarworld, there was no shortage of suggestions for potential publishers. And Ellis shot them down, one by one:

Icon:

      ICON is invite-only. Didn’t see the point in mentioning it.

Image:

      They don’t pay upfront. See “need to get paid.”

Top Cow:

      I don’t see me doing anything new for Top Cow any time soon.

Moonstone:

      Via the power of the interweb, someone just sent me Moonstone’s base deal. I hope it works out for them, but it’s not for me.

Oni, AIT and IDW:

      Oni, sadly, are out of the question. I’m not a popular enough writer to carry a colour book on my name alone, according to their calculations; they have no reason to lie to me on that score, and it’s my assumption that they couldn’t afford a popular commercial artist to provide the marketing punch.

 

    AIT don’t pay upfront, and it’s my understanding that IDW request more rights than I’m comfortable with. That is, however, hearsay, and should be understood as such.

Finally, Ellis posted this:

    Anyway, see above — the idea’s gone in the bin. Thanks for your interest, all.

Now, it?s somewhat disconcerting to see that a writer of Ellis? caliber can?t get the deal he wants. At one point in the thread, Ellis posts: ?You seem to be under the impression that I’m still a popular commercial writer.?

Excuse me?

Since when is Ellis non-commercial?! Isn?t DC still making money off comics he wrote years ago? Hasn?t Global Frequency been picked up as a midseason TV series for the WB? What does he have left to prove?

Icon may be invite only, but there should be a place at the table for Ellis. Brian Bendis and David Mack are already onboard, with J. Michael Straczynski (presumably) and Mark Millar (presumably) joining down the line.

Doesn?t Ellis deserve to be among them?

This Has A ?Commercially Viable? Factor of Two Out of Ten


Game World

Last week, I made it out to the E3, an annual video game trade show held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. And it was packed. Attendance estimates range from 65,000 to 70,000 people.

It?s truly a unique experience if you?re a gamer. Otherwise, it?s simply an all out assault on your senses. For sheer spectacle, it out does even the San Diego Con.

This is where the game companies come to promote their upcoming games to the retailers. And there were some great games on the floor. However, missing in action, for the second year in a row: Innovation.

Nearly everything here is either a licensed property or a sequel. No one is taking any creative risks, and the lack of originality is stunning. It?s as if the industry as a whole is moving away from what made it a success in the first place.

You know there?s a problem, when even Variety is calling out the industry for it?s lack of creativity.

Now, it?s not as if there won?t be success stories here. Doom 3, Half-Life 2, GTA: San Andreas and so on? Barring major problems in game development, the established franchises will be hits. No question.

But then what?

To give an example of the ?creative? thinking the industry is mired in, take Konami?s Metal Gear Acid for the Sony PSP. The PSP is a portable system, supposedly on par with the Playstation 2. You might reasonable expect it to be an action game, or even a shooter.

Instead it?s a turn-based game, with card-battle mechanics mixed in. Think of it as Metal Gear meets Yu-Gi-Oh.

This Has A ?Same Old, Same Old? Factor of Six Out of Ten


Solidus

Speaking of Metal Gear, I managed to track down the writer of the upcoming Metal Gear Solid comic: Kris Oprisko (Underworld: Red in Tooth and Claw). He had a few thoughts to share on adapting the game to the printed page:

      The

Metal Gear Solid

      comics will indeed follow the storyline of the first game, as Snake infiltrates Shadow Moses Island to foil a terrorist takeover. It will be a close re-telling of the story, but Ashley Wood?s amazing artwork will be allowed to stretch out and breathe.

 

      My main concern is staying true to the great concept that Hideo Kojima has created. I?m not setting out to re-invent the wheel here: rather, I am concentrating on presenting the existing story in a way that maximizes the thrills for the comic reader and allows Ash Wood?s art to be used to its full potential.

 

    We hope that this is the beginning of a long run for our Metal Gear Solid comics. Once the original MGS story is told, we?d love to continue telling Solid Snake?s story. This will ultimately be determined by how well the comics sell, so I encourage all comic and video game lovers to support this great title!

Metal Gear Solid will be an ongoing monthly series, with the first issue hitting the shelves this September.

This Has A ?Continue The Mission? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Your Missing Neighborhood Spider-Man

Activision?s Spider-Man 2 is one of the company?s most anticipated new titles this year. Promising Grand Theft Auto style gameplay, it reportedly includes a fully explorable recreation of New York City. It?s also expected to be a major hit. There?s only one hitch?

There was no playable demo on the show floor. Only a trailer, which was constantly repeated.

Usually, the only reasons a company won?t bring a playable version of a game is if it?s early in the development cycle, or if they?ve got programming ?bugs.? Like control problems, and so on? A third possibility is that they are simply trying to keep a veil of secrecy around the game. Which if true, would be an odd move to make this close to the release date. The game is set to come out next month, to coincide with the movie.

If Spider-Man 2 isn?t ready to be released when the time comes, gamers could have another Enter The Matrix on their hands.

This Has A ?Spider-Sense Tingling? Factor of Five Out of Ten


Fully Loaded

Of all the companies to jump on the comics-to-video games bandwagon, Acclaim seems to be the one most on the ball. First, with The Red Star, and now with the 100 Bullets video game, scheduled to hit this Fall for the X-Box and Playstation 2.

I had a chance to play the game at E3, and it was one of the better games there. Graphically, it was several steps above Max Payne. And the dual analogue control scheme was a nice touch.

100 Bullets artist, Eduardo Risso was heavily involved in the design of this game. And it shows. This game captures the spirit of the comic and brings it to life. Series creator, Brian Azzarello, was also brought in to write the story and game script. Early reviews from the dedicated game press have been extremely favorable.

And from what I hear, this won?t be Azzarello?s last video game.



This Has An ?Untraceable Bullets? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


One last thing before I sign off, check this out:

It?s the cover to The Uncanny Dave Cockrum Tribute, which you can order here. The proceeds are going directly to Dave and his wife, Paty, who badly need the help.

Thanks again to M & J.

Later,
Blair

PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share, please email me at [email protected] Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It?s greatly appreciated.


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