It?s almost here? the biggest con of the year. San Diego 2004.

This week is just the calm before the storm. Which isn?t to say we don?t have a lot to talk about. So, we?re gonna jump right into the news & rumors.

Crossroads Revisited

Following up on last week?s story, ChrisCross checked in again with some additional thoughts on the subject:

      I was once told that for every person in the world, there is one mistake that a person spends twice the amount of time getting into, and four times the amount of that time getting out of it.

 

      My father at one time saw me distressed about something to the point that it started to affect me physically and out of nowhere gave me the advice that there is a difference between an accident and a mistake. An accident is something done with good intentions and out of one uncontrollable thing, it goes bad. A mistake is something that you knew was bad from the beginning, but you did it anyway.

 

      While the words expressed in the previous ATR article were no accident, in many ways it was definitely a mistake. It was never my intention to come across as an arrogant, self-serving, prissy prima donna. That article made it look like that I was difficult to work with; that I was a difficult person to be around. The perception I gave was that none of the people that I worked with were good enough to work with me. I hurt a lot of feelings when that article posted, and I have to be man enough to publicly fix it. And most definitely apologize.

 

      Chris Sotomayor called and left a message on my answering machine around 1:30pm on, I guess, the day after it posted. He sounded upset. Understandably. It hit me to read the article. I read it thinking, “this guy is a little full of himself”, and then I realized that guy was ME. …And it sickened me. I gave the perception of the type of man I?ve always strived NEVER to be. I gave the impression that other than John Dell, no one else that I worked with was A-list after him. That no one else other than me was doing their job. I came off like I wasn’t a team player. And I feel REALLY BAD about that. The fact of the matter is that I came across like a blowhard publicly, and now I?m going to apologize to these people… PUBLICLY.

 

      I’d like to first apologize to Sotomayor. I’ve known him since college and he’s been like a brother to me. I gave the impression that I didn’t like his work and that he wasn’t up to snuff. The fact is he’s one the best digital painters in the medium in my opinion and he always seems to know EXACTLY what I want in order to make my work pop. As long as I?m in the industry, he will continue to work with me in any capacity not just because he’s phenomenal at what he does, but also because he’s just good people. I’m very sorry, Chris. Next, I’d like to apologize to John Dell. I put his business out in the street without even asking him if it was okay. If he wanted people to know why he left, he should have been the one to do so. I hope I didn’t cause you undue stress, John.

 

      I’d like to formally apologize to Peter Tomasi. Now this is going to take some time. I sat in his office to tell him why I was resigning my commission on the book, which was of some severe personal stress from family issues and some of my own personal problems. This was not only true, but it was also 3/4 of the reason why I resigned. Mixed in with the 3/4’s was also the fact that I was offered another assignment from another company. And we discussed it, and there was no animosity whatsoever. With that article, I practically demonized the man. And I came out looking like a hypocrite. My personal issues including the feeling that I wasn’t being exposed enough on the book messed with me so much that I started to lose the drive to even draw. That in turn, caused me to continuously miss my deadlines. Now, Peter is a good guy and a family man and he’s worked very hard to become Senior Editor. Editors nowadays have to handle anywhere from 10 to 18 books in a month, deal with twice as many artists and their personalities, and field at least a hundred phone calls a day. All that before lunch. And don’t be in the way on a Friday. It’s not an easy job and some of these guys have a bottle of Maalox on their desk. Sometimes they go home and still have to take their job with them. That is how stressful and demanding the job is. To know what the job entails and then post the thoughts that I said on the web in that way publicly minimized and dismissed his job and his work. Trust me when I say the saying “it’s just business, it’s nothing personal” is just the biggest bucket of bullcookies. I’m not surprised that he’s angry and possibly a little hurt. Peter, I am very sorry. It was not my intent to create a caustic relationship between me, you and DC. I did this out of pure emotion and personal circumstance with no foresight that I would be looking like I was full of myself. Even though I feel had some legitimate beefs, it could have been handled differently and never at the behest of what you do or belittling in any way your role in the company. Which I really hope I didn’t do. Like I said, I have no problem with you or DC and I hope with time you as a person will have it within your heart to forgive me if I?ve hurt you in any way. Hopefully, You and the people at DC can see this as my first and last offense, that you as a person can forgive my trespass, and that we can sometime in the future work together on something. At this point, it’ll probably be “Ambush Bug: The Return”, but it’ll be the best Ambush Bug ever put out. And it’s a paying gig.

 

      Next, I’d like to apologize to Dan Didio. Not only is he the Vice President of DC, but he once told me that he was an actual fan of mine! It doesn’t hurt to have a VP as a fan. He was really the guy that got the ball rolling when he called my house and asked me to be on

Firestorm

      . Me and my arrogant self said,” I’d rather be on

Superman

      or

Batman

      “. …arrgh. Now that I think about it, I was being a brat even then. Sorry, Dan. But the real apology comes when I dropped your name in the middle of my rant. Even though I didn’t mention you in anything morose, the fact that your name was anywhere near that insanity (here’s the word again) demonized you. Again, that was never my intention. My apologies, again.

 

      And to the other inkers that took over, like Dan Green and Rob Stull. Your professionalism is top rate, You guys also are great people. Especially Rob, who’s also been like a brother. He and I have some serious history and I hope he understands that I?ve always thought of him a better than Grade A. NO ONE inks like this man and he is one of the best inkers in the industry. I apologize to the both of them if they got wind of that article and thought that I thought otherwise.

 

      It had also accured to me that if I was being untoward to Tomasi and Didio, then Tom Brevoort deserves a gold medal for dealing with me for 3 years. He also expressed that he was a fan of my work, and there were many times that I blew up at him. It hadn’t occurred to me until now that I was behaving so badly. If I was out of turn Tom, I?m very sorry, man. To you and all of the people at Marvel who I ran over with my bullishness. I have to remember that I?m 6’9″ and 285lbs with a very deep and strong voice and that to a lot of people, when I make requests, it may sound like pure intimidation. I’ve been told by Tom that I have to learn how to be diplomatic. I guess after the mirror that was held in my face after this article, I?ll definitely consider it. I’m very sorry if I was difficult to work with, guys. It won’t happen again. It may seem to the fans and everyone else that Chriscross is backpedaling and getting desperate with all this apologizing. That’s not the case. The beefs I had were legitimate, but there’s a better way to administer it without creating havoc.

 

      There’s something you have to know about me. I’m a Born Again Christian. Christian meaning Christ-like. I’m supposed to pattern my life using Jesus as an example. There’s a biblical passage that says that wisdom is the principal thing. The most important thing. Patience is good wisdom. Thanksgiving is good wisdom. And I?m not talking about the holiday. HUMILITY is good wisdom. That article wasn’t any of those things. See, as a Christian, I’m supposed to hold myself to a better standard. Not saying that I?m better than anyone else, but if Christ is my example then I must understand that the people in the comic industry: the editors, the presidents and vice presidents, the group editors, the associate and assistant editors, the accountants, the creators (writers, artists, digital-painters, letterers) even you fans, are all human beings. And sometimes, fans, we forget that. We creators and the like all read message boards and we are hurt sometimes because the messages can be so harsh. Brevoort, Quesada, Didio, Tomasi and everyone else in the medium have families; have wives or girlfriends or boyfriends. They have parents and grandparents. Heck, they could be grandparents themselves for all we know. The thing I?m trying to get across is that the written word is premeditated. Which means every word we put down in writing, digital or otherwise, has to be thought out before we put it out in the public. Words are such a powerful thing and if we’re not careful and if we don’t use wisdom, we can hurt people. What hurts me is that I forgot that. In coming across the way I did, even my friends who aren’t even in the medium started arguing over the article. About who’s right and who’s wrong. The one thing I heard out my friend’s mouth was that Chris is a great man, but the Chris I read in that article was an elitist snob. If he wasn’t, it was sure a brilliant imitation. Ouch. Ow. That REALLY hurt. I’ve been apologizing to THEM all day.

 

    Finally, that’s why you the fans are last to be apologized to. You should not have to see that kind of nonsense. We creators have a certain responsibility to maintain character with decorum. I was raised that a man has to know his limitations. That he must bear responsibility when messes up. Bear the brunt of the pain he caused and make it better. Fix it. If you cut someone, DON’T LET IT FESTER. Clean it and bandage it right away and let them know that you’re sorry. I hope that this addendum bandages a lot of wounds that I created and that people see that I?m not the mean ogre that perception made me out to be. If you’re going to go insane, people, do it in private. Not in public.

This Has A ?Making Amends? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Attack of the Little People

I?ve heard that several BIG name creators have been invited to pitch a new Atom series. A lot of years have passed since the last time Atom headlined a series, but apparently the senior editors feel that the time is right for a revival. Word out of DC is that they haven?t chosen a creative team yet, as they?re still looking for the right combination of creators and concept to make The Atom a ?top tier book.? In other words, having him fight with birds just isn?t going to cut it anymore.

In other news of the ?five-inch and under? variety, Daniel Way?s canceled Ant-Man miniseries might just be released after all. Rumor has it that the miniseries is being retooled to fit into the Ultimate line of books, instead of the original Marvel Universe.

This Has An ?Incredible Shrinking Men? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Animators Assemble!

The first direct-to-DVD animated movie under the agreement between Marvel and Lions Gate was revealed this week. According to the announcement, it?s The Avengers, by way of Millar & Hitch:

    The 66-minute film will feature a cadre of Marvel’s most popular characters, including Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man and Wasp. The animated feature, based on the Marvel Comics series “The Ultimates,” is still in the script phase. Glenn Ross, president of Lions Gate’s family home entertainment division, said he expects the complete film to be out on DVD in early 2006.

Over at Millarworld, Mark Millar confirmed that he and Bryan Hitch are creative consultants on the film. In addition, there?s a rumor flying around that members of the X-Men: Evolution creative team are also involved. However, there?s no word yet on which studio is handling the animation.

This Has A ?Hulk Smash Freddie Prinze Jr.!? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Back to Smallville

***Smallville Season 4 Spoilers Ahead!***
Two new cast members were announced for the upcoming season of Smallville this week: Jenson Ackles as Jason Teague and Erica Durance as Lois Lane.


Additionally, Smallville executive producer, Miles Millar dropped a few hints about the future of the series in an interview with Sci-Fi Wire. Among the revelations:

    Clark Kent, at the end of this year, will really graduate. And we’re introducing a whole new mythology as well that will involve Lana, Lex and Clark. And at the end of the season we pay off something that is huge in the Superman mythology. It all leads towards something. Diehard fans of the mythology will realize what it is pretty quickly, others won’t.

This Has A ?Cashing Jonathan Kent?s Life Insurance Policy? Factor of Six Out of Ten


Big Screen Monolith

Rumor has it that Warner Brothers Studios is interested in bringing Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray?s The Monolith to life as a live action movie. From what I?ve heard, discussions are still at an early stage, but look promising.

This Has A ?Hands of Stone? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Cinema Verte

This was by far, one of the most eventful weeks in recent memory for comic properties in Hollywood. Aside from the three previous items above, the following announcements were made:

  • Michelle Forbes (24) and Aimee Garcia (Las Vegas) were cast in the Global Frequency pilot.
  • The release date for Elektra was moved up from February 18 to January 14, 2005.
  • Jessica Alba (Dark Angel) was cast as the Invisible Woman in The Fantastic Four.

Then there?s the rumors. Gotta love the rumors. The best one this week was about Bryan Singer?s possible involvement with the next Superman film. Which if true, would be a huge step towards revitalizing that franchise. Paired with Chris Nolan?s upcoming Batman Begins, this could mean that Warner Brothers is finally ready to make quality DC movies again.

But for every encouraging sign from WB, something else rears its ugly head. Like Catwoman, or the rumored Jack Black as Green Lantern movie, which looks more and more like it?s real.

And it wouldn?t be Hollywood without the lawsuits. On Thursday, Marvel filed suit against Disney for ?shortchanging (Marvel) on payments for cartoon series of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and X-Men.?

So much for tying up loose ends… Still, it?s easy to see why Marvel went ahead with the lawsuit. Disney appears to have seriously dropped the ball on utilizing the various Marvel animated series, particularly in the DVD releases. However, Disney does have an army of lawyers and deeper pockets than Marvel. The ?House of Ideas? could be in for a hell of a fight?

It?ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.

This Has A ?Hurray For Hollywood!? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Alternative Aid

Earlier this week, Jeff Mason, the publisher of Alternative Comics sent out a call for help to the comics community. When asked for more details, Mason replied:

      Late Tuesday night April 2, 2002, I received a bulk e-mail from David Wilk, the President of our then exclusive book trade distributor LPC Group. Wilk was e-mailing to let everyone know that his company had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier that day. Alternative Comics had initially entered into the book trade contract with LPC to test the waters with them as a company. At first we were putting our toe into the water to test the temperature. Personally, I went with LPC because of my great interactions in the past with then LPC employee Robert Boyd and because a number of my comics publishing friends were also dealing with them including Chris Staros and Brett Warnock of Top Shelf Productions, Tom Devlin of Highwater Books, and Chris Oliveros of Drawn & Quarterly.

 

      The bankruptcy couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Starting in about 1998 and 1999, the comics industry started to pull out of its steady decline of the ’90s and the book market was really starting to take notice of graphic novels. I was expanding Alternative Comics quickly as we were experiencing better sales and sell-through in the book trade. LPC went out of business owing Alternative Comics a huge amount of money.

 

    Back in April 2002, I had a substantial publishing nest egg. I had accumulated much of this money since graduating from Law School in 1997 and becoming a private criminal defense attorney. I was still living the relatively inexpensive lifestyle of a college student while bringing in the salary of an attorney. LPC’s bankruptcy was financially devastating to me, but because I had the stockpile of capital, I went forward as if it were business as usual. I should have reduced the growth of my publishing schedule, but did not. Diamond Comic Distributors started distributing books to the book trade, and I joined up with them. In 2002 and 2003 I published more than in the seven years prior. I did not foresee that the market could not handle six books a month from Alternative Comics. The remainder of my nest egg slowly dwindled away over the next two years, as did my credit. Toward the end of 2003 I realized that I had to take the foot off of the accelerator and slow down my publishing schedule. In October 2003, I stopped accepting unsolicited submissions, and as of June 2004, I finally got to the point of only soliciting one or two books a month to be released.

Mason also reiterated how readers can help Alternative Comics stay afloat:

      Our preference is for our readers to support their local merchants and for them to purchase our comics and books at their local comic book retailer or bookstore. You can find a comic book store in your area by using the

Comic Shop Locator Service

      ; or call them toll free in USA at 888-COMIC-BOOK (888-266-4226). We maintain a list of

Indy-Friendly Stores

      that are likely to carry many of our books.

Mars Import

    is our exclusive online retailer. Please visit their site to order books from Alternative Comics.

As for upcoming graphic novels from Alternative Comics, Mason had a few recommendations:

      September 2004 is the final month I had solicited more than one or two books. I’m hopeful that if readers are interested in reading these books they will advance order the books from their local comic book store. For September, we are releasing Joel Orff’s second book,

Waterwise

      , Brandon Graham’s

Escalator

      , Jed Alexander’s

Turtle, turtle

      , Jen Sorensen’s

SLOWPOKE: America Gone Bonkers

      , and we are distributing Josh Neufeld’s Xeric grant-winning

A Few Perfect Hours and Other Stories From Southeast Asia and Central Europe

      .

 

      Cartoonist Joel Orff is a perfect example of why I became a comic book publisher. Back in 1993 I stumbled across a comic that Joel Orff had self-published. He had printed only 1000 copies and the book is long out of print. Something about his work absolutely touched me. A combination of his lush inky artwork and his very personal storytelling moved me. I had to make sure that his work was widely available and that he continued to make more comics. As a comic book publisher, I have been able to let Joel Orff be Joel Orff, to let him be the brilliant cartoonist that he is, and to make it possible for him to share with readers everywhere.

 

      In May 2003, we released Joel Orff’s widely critically acclaimed

Strum and Drang: Great Moments in Rock ‘n’ Roll

      and in September we’re releasing his second book,

Waterwise

      . Imagine a cross between

American Splendor

      and

Alice in Wonderland

      …or imagine a cross between Carl Barks and Carlos Castaneda…

Waterwise

      is the story of two old friends who are reunited for one night and wander together through a surreal, vaguely apocalyptic landscape, pondering life, griping about their circumstances, and trying to connect. Along the way they explore the nature of dreams, the fragile fa?ade of civilization and the tenderness of a true friendship.

 

Waterwise

      , deluxe graphic novel by Joel Orff; for Mature Readers; 128 pages; 6″ x 9″; $14.95; ISBN: 1-891867-82-2; Diamond Code: September 2004;

      Starting in October 2004, Alternative Comics is only offering one or two books in any given month. For October, we are releasing Rick Smith’s

Baraka and Black Magic in Morocco

      . I re-solicited

Baraka

      for October from earlier this year because of our current financial difficulties, and I’m hoping that it isn’t overlooked and everyone remembers to re-order it! This stunning graphic novel details cartoonist Rick Smith’s travels with his wife Tania throughout Morocco, from Tangiers through the Sahara Desert and on to Marrakech and Casablanca. From hassles with transportation and the locals to language barriers and drugged carpet sales, this travelogue is a whirlwind through pre-9/11 Morocco! Like Josh Neufeld’s Xeric grant-winning

A Few Perfect Hours

      in September, Rick Smith’s

Baraka

      is a travelogue graphic novel that whisks readers across the globe to savor exotic cultures, settings, and experiences.

Baraka and Black Magic in Morocco

      , deluxe graphic novel by Rick Smith, For Mature Readers, trade paperback, 128 pages, b&w, 6″ x 9″, $14.95, ISBN: 1-891867-69-5; Diamond Code: AUG04 2362; October 2004.

 


This Has A ?Support Diversity? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Paranormal Research Continues

Mike Mignola?s next comic project is already well underway. BPRD: The Dead will be a five issue miniseries that follows up on the previous BPRD series (set in the Hellboy universe). Guy Davis is back on art, with John Arcudi (The Mask) coming onboard as co-writer.

BRPD: The Dead is currently set for a November release. Expect an official announcement soon.

This Has A ?Hellbound? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Oddly Enough

Oddly Normal is making the leap from web-comics to print, thanks to Viper Comics. Oddly Normal originally appeared on Girlamatic and has garnered rave reviews as one of the best ?all-ages? comics on the net. Otis Frampton, the creator, writer and artist of Oddly Normal, elaborates:

Oddly Normal

      is a coming of age story. The series will feature the adventures of a 10-year old girl with the most unfortunate name and the luck to go with it. The product of a unique mixed-marriage (her mother is a witch and her father is human), Oddly has grown up between cultures and she is the proverbial outsider. Her green hair and pointed ears have earned her mocking derision from other kids.

 

 

      On her 10th birthday, her parents mysteriously disappear and she is left in the care of her great Aunt, a citizen of a fantastical place called ?Fignation?. Unfortunately for Oddly, her experiences there will not be any better than it was on Earth.

 

 

    Oddly Normal is not the happiest kid on the block. She’s basically an outcast wherever she goes, and the experiences she has in this series are going to shake up her world in a big way and make her realize a few things about herself. It’s a story about change, and Oddly will be forced to do so.

When asked which audience Oddly Normal is geared for, Frampton replied:

    Human beings, basically. That’s my audience. The series is going to be a mix of humor, action, suspense and wild visuals, so hopefully it will appeal to a wide audience. You can call it an “all ages” book, if you like, but I’m not aiming it specifically at younger audiences. I’ll be thrilled if kids read it, though. There aren’t enough titles out there for the younger crowd, in my opinion. It seems that the battle cry, “Comics, They’re Not For Kids Anymore” was a dangerous self-fulfilling prophesy for the industry. Titles like Jeff Smith’s Bone, which appealed to young and old alike, were few and far between. And now we don’t even have that. So hopefully, Oddly Normal will be a worthy addition to that market.

Oddly Normal will be a 4 issue miniseries, and is currently scheduled for release in March 2005.

This Has A ?Bewitched? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Pre Aftermath

Here?s a teaser page from one of Devil?s Due Publishing?s upcoming Aftermath books.

Enjoy.

 


Alright people, quick announcement time. Next week, I?m going to be in San Diego for the Comic Con, and I may not have access to a computer while I?m down there. So don?t freak out if the column isn?t up on Sunday. Worst case scenario, I?ll get something up when I get back, Monday or Tuesday.

As you probably guessed, I?ll be actively looking for ATR material while I?m down there. But I can?t be everywhere. So if any ATR readers at the con hear any good rumors or stories, please e-mail me at [email protected]. It?ll be greatly appreciated.

That?s all for this week.

San Diego, here I come?

Later,
Blair


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