One week removed from the San Diego con, and I?m still going through a backlog of e-mails. My SBC account had almost 200 e-mails when I got back. Granted a lot of that was spam, but there were also some good leads in there that I haven?t had a chance to follow up on yet. So, thanks to everyone who sent in tips while I was gone. I really appreciate it.

We?ve got a lot to go over this week, so let?s just jump right into the news and rumors.

Superboy Lost?

Last Saturday, Tony Isabella posted a message to his board regarding ?the biggest news in comics.? Isabella initially kept the details to himself, saying only that he wanted to see who broke the story first. However, speculation quickly began to swirl that the news involved possible heirs to Joe Shuster?s Superman rights.

Finally, Isabella posted the following message last Wednesday:

    Man, this is embarrassing.

As I posted earlier today, my information on the Siegel and Shuster estates reclaiming their rights to Superboy came from three unrelated sources, all of whom I felt were good sources. However, I didn’t have the documentation on this ruling in front of me. If I did, I might well have broken the story myself.

I have been quietly seeking out people who could steer me to that documentation. The only place I stated the information I had was on what was supposed to be a private list for comics writers, a list founded by Steven Grant and founded under the basis Fight Club rules. Nothing from the list was ever to be repeated elsewhere, at least not without the permission of the person being quoted. Indeed, even the existence of the list was supposed to be secret…but, as I see it, Grant’s giving me as a source for his column frees me from that obligation.

It was *never* my intention to release the news without documentation. My hope was that the comics news media would investigate and report on the story. I wanted to needle them into covering it. Nothing more.

Now that the story is out there, I must decide if I want to give any interviews on it. My first inclination is that I do not. This isn’t my story, except in that anything that challenges the mistreatment of comics creators by DC and other companies – past and present – could eventually help me. Right now, I’m going to look at requests on a case by case basis. My own time is limited.

One thing I will absolutely not do is reveal any source of mine. If the sources wish to speak, they can come forward on their own.

I won’t have anything else to say on this today.

Since then, Isabella has remained silent on the issue and a corroborating source has yet to publicly come forward.

This Has A ?Red Kyrptonite? Factor of Five Out of Ten


The Chosen One

How do you make a sequel to the Second Coming? Ask Mark Millar. I?ve heard that he and Peter Gross are planning a second Chosen miniseries down the line, possibly to be released with the next round of Millarworld titles.

In the interim, Gross may also be working on a creator owned series with Mike Carey.

This Has A ?Walking on Water? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Saving Private Seaguy

Grant Morrison?s Seaguy three issue miniseries recently came to a close, and there?s already an online petition asking DC for another Seaguy mini. The fear among fans is that low sales may have doomed any future adventures of Seaguy. When one poster questioned whether Morrison would even return for the potential second miniseries, Seaguy artist Cameron Stewart responded:

      Oh yes he would. This wouldn’t be a tacked-on sequel –

Seaguy

    was originally conceived and pitched to Vertigo as a series of three volumes, three miniseries of three issues each. I’ve already read the treatment for the second volume and its brilliant. Grant wants to write it as much as I want to draw it, it’s just a matter of convincing the Powers That Be that it’s worth doing. If they give us the greenlight, we’re all ready to go.

Thanks for the support guys!

This Has A ?Mummy on the Moon? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


A Darkchylde On A Dark Horse

Late word coming out of the San Diego con has Randy Queen bringing Darkchylde over to Dark Horse Comics. When asked for confirmation, Queen replied:

      We’re doing

Manga Darkchylde

      (

Manga D.

      !) with the guys at Dark Horse and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Manga D. ZERO

      premiered as a San Diego exclusive comic, and is also available at

http://www.darkchylde.com

We hope to have our remaining stock solicited as an allocated order in Previews, before soliciting Issue # 1 — hopefully soon, to get more into the hands of retailers who could not make the show.

We’ll have an official press release soon, but I’m over the moon with being under the Dark Horse banner. They’ve always been very gracious, classy and kind to me as long as I’ve been in comics, and with their strength and presence behind Manga Darkchylde, it opens up so many possibilities for the future, and helps us in broader arenas where we’ve met difficulty. People who picked the book up in San Diego have already e-mailed to say that, while they are not manga fans per se, the story and art style seems like such a breath of fresh air that they’re already hooked. Both male and female demographics, and that’s always been true of any Darkchylde offering.



What Manga D. does is takes the classic Darkchylde story of a girl who can become the creatures from her nightmares, and reinterprets it for an all ages audiences, in sort of a manga/cartoon fusion that’s all about fun. It’s not a stretch to say this is, in some ways, the modern day cousin of something like Astro Boy. It’s the best writing I’ve done, and the book benefits from some truly lush, gorgeous colors by Sarah Oates. We’ve been gone awhile, but I think once the word starts to get out, I hope people will see this as a book worthy of their attention, and we’re working real hard to make sure of it. This is not a replacement, but rather, an addition to previous, classic Darkchylde work, which I plan to return to in the future. In the meantime, we’re gonna have a blast with this, and invite everyone along for the ride.

This Has A ?Recurring Nightmares? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Strange Territory

Law Dogs Comics is set to release its first series this week: Territory 51. Creator/writer James Heffron elaborates:

      I came up with

Territory 51

      around spring of last year because I really wanted to do a western, but I wanted to put a little twist on it. I started with the idea of doing a western tale? but what? I?ve always been a big fan of history and always enjoyed conspiracy theories. I?m by no means an expert, but I really enjoy things on UFOs and the whole conspiracy behind Area 51 and the Roswell Crash. I think my interest in that was the missing piece of how

Territory 51

    got started. I took elements of Roswell and the crash as we think we know it in 1947, then tied it into the old west. The first issue starts to lay the groundwork as to how those two things tie together.

Imagine Roswell, 1947. There?s an explosion in the desert, which could have been a crash, but no one knows for sure. The explosion uncovers something unknown? An investigator, Dr. Benjamin Ayers is brought into Groom Lake (which is what?s termed Area 51) for further onsite investigation. The object of the investigation is a ship, which they initially assume is Russian. What they find is that, one, it?s not of this world. And two, it didn?t crash there recently. In combing the site, they find a lot of shells and signs that there was a battle outside that ship, but it took place in the late 1800?s? So the Roswell crash didn?t happen in 1947, it happened in 1873. And this series tells that story.

Our lead characters are Marshal Wyatt Earl McBain and Doc Hustace Brimstone. Wyatt is a lawman. He?s a bit of Col. Mortimer from For a Few Dollars More, a bit of Marshal Kane from High Noon and a bit of Wyatt Earp. He?s a man always haunted by his past. He served as a captain in the Union army and later became a US Marshal. He also has some demons, which we allude to and play a little more into in the second issue. The people who are closest to him have died and he?s become a bit of a drifter. But he?s also one of the greatest gunfighter legends in the west. And Doc is a former emancipated slave who served with Wyatt in the Union Army. He assisted the field medic until he died in battle. Doc was commended for valor for basically stepping in and saving the day. Hence the ?Doc? nickname. Wyatt was his commander back then, and he?s followed him in all of his adventures since and eventually becomes a law man. He?s trusted and respected to carry it out and he does. Besides being a law man, he?s also a preacher in training. Doc is not Wyatt?s sidekick, it?s more of a partnership.

Our other characters include Jessie James Kincade. He?s saddle trash for the most part. A former Rebel, he?s one part ruthless killer and one part inspiring leader. He?s like the character Pike in The Wild Bunch. He only knows one thing: which is how to be an outlaw. But he?s very good at it, and people follow him unconditionally. Billy Mactavish, his second-in-command, is based on William H. Bonney. He?s young, he?s a killer, but he?s also a bit na?ve. He?s been following Kincade blindly and their path has always led them to success. So they?re planning on pulling ?one more job? and Billy wants to follow his own crazy dreams. He wants to find El Dorado, the lost city of gold. More adventuring but not necessarily the pillaging, robbing and killing.

The alien ship that eventually crashes is actually a prison vessel bearing various prisoners that are heading to a front in a war. Most are cannon fodder but there are four onboard (which we recognize as the large-headed Roswell aliens) who are collectively a weapon. There are two alien ?Marshals? onboard, whose job is to take them to this place. Their ship is ambushed as they enter hyperspace and they come out of it and crash here. Their ship is damaged and they need to make repairs and find fuel. And they need to do it fast. What they find is that gold is actually a match to their fuel source and what they need puts them on a collision course with these other groups. Basically, all of their worlds collide.

Territory 51 is a two issue miniseries written by James Heffron, with art by Patrick K. LaHotch, colors by Chad Fidler and letters by Jamie Martin. The first issue goes on sale this Wednesday, and includes an Athena Voltaire backup story by Paul Daly, Steve Bryant and Chad Fidler. AV creator/artist, Steve Bryant also had a few comments on T51 and the future of Athena Voltaire.

      I met Jim through Chad Fidler, whose brilliant color work makes the

Athena Voltaire

      webcomic sing. Jim approached Chad at Wizard World Chicago last year based on the strength of our Athena display and asked if Chad would be interested in coloring

Territory 51

    . Chad signed on and I got to see little bits as he was working on it. As time went on, Jim and I became fans of each other?s work and really began to feel a connection. We have a lot of similar thoughts about what kind of comics we?d like published. It?s been a vicarious thrill for me to see the reaction that T51 received at SDCC.

When Jim offered us five pages in the back of the book as a backup feature, we jumped at the chance. To familiarize our new audience with Athena Voltaire, we used two pages for an intro featuring some full-page artwork and background text. The remaining three pages have two strips to a page and kick off the surface of the first arc, The Terror in Tibet. That’s where the story begins.

For the uninitiated, Athena Voltaire follows the adventures of the titular globetrotting aviatrix; a former Hollywood stuntwoman, sharpshooter, trick rider and barnstormer. In The Terror in Tibet, Athena is hired to pilot and lead a climbing expedition to Mount Everest, where members of a previous party were torn limb-from-limb. Throw in some nazis, some occultists, an ancient evil and some monsters, and there you have it.

We had a great response in San Diego this year, showing the existing web comics and feeling out publishers. It was quite cool that a number of them were already familiar with us. Hopefully we’ll end up in print some time in the next year and build from there. Because the pacing of a weekly strip differs so much from the pacing of a 24-page comic book, we?d like to make the first release something brand new, specifically for the medium. If it’s successful, I’d like to see the web comics collected in a horizontally-formatted trade paperback with one strip to a page.

It was also cool to see the reaction that non-comics media types had to Athena. It would be great if one of the interested parties that I spoke with at SDCC eventually translates the comic to film. But that?s down the line. For now, we’re working on the webcomic and getting AV into print.

We’re running daily Athena Voltaire strips at http://www.moderntales.com through August 19th. Then we go back to our usual weekly schedule. So, starting on Tuesday, August 24th we’re going to run a new episode per week for the foreseeable future.

This Has A ?High Adventure? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Toon Talk

Paul Dini updated his website this week, with news about some upcoming Warner Brothers Animation sets on DVD:

      Even though I have departed Termite Tower for the House of Mouse, I still get yanked back for the occasional special project. Just this week I did a bunch of new interviews and commentaries for the second

Batman Animated DVD

      set, due out later this year. Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Glen Murakami, the

Superman

      directors and I will also appear on a

Superman Animated

      compilation released around that time, too. Bruce and Glen reveal the stylistic differences between the

Batman

      and

Superman

      series while Alan talks about the challenges of writing a fresh yet iconic version of the Man of Steel, and I shriek out the name ?Mxyzptlk!? now and then just to be annoying. For reasons unknown, I also pop up on the

Wacky Races DVD

    boxed set, again out later this fall. Gotta love that Dastardly and Muttley.

Between Superman commentary sessions, Bruce and Justice League director Dan Riba told me that the last JLU episode I scripted was back from animation and looking great. I?m not sure exactly when it will be airing, though it was number five or six on the production slate this season, so I?m guessing around the end of August. Batman and Zatanna literally travel to Hell and back to save Wonder Woman from Circe. Special guest appearance by B?wana Beast. No seriously, B?wana Beast!

This Has A ?WTF is B?wana Beast?!? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Down in the Boondocks

Looks like Birth of a Nation isn?t the only collaboration between Aaron McGruder and Reggie Hudlin. A story this week in The Hollywood Reporter states that the two are developing an animated version of The Boondocks comic strip for Cartoon Network:

      Sources say Cartoon Network is finalizing a deal with Sony Pictures Television to pick up a half-hour series based on the newspaper comic strip

Boondocks

      , penned by Aaron McGruder. The TV adaptation was initially developed as a pilot for Fox Broadcasting Co., which passed after viewing a six-minute presentation reel during its pilot screening process earlier this year. Cartoon is believed to be eyeing

Boondocks

      for its “Adult Swim” late-night block, given the racially and politically charged humor that has been the hallmark of the newspaper strip. “

Boondocks

      has had a fast rise since its 1999 debut and now appears in more than 200 newspapers. As in the strip, the TV series will chronicle the clash of cultures that ensues when two youths from inner-city Chicago, Riley and Huey, move to the suburbs to live with their grandfather. McGruder and Reggie Hudlin are executive producers of the TV series. Reps for Sony, which also is developing a

Boondocks

    animated feature, and Cartoon Network declined comment Wednesday.

This Has A ?Right To Be Hostile? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Does Whatever A Spider Can

The Spider-Man 2 video game came out a few weeks ago to coincide with the release of the movie. This week, I finally had the chance to catch up with Gregory John, the Senior Producer on Spider-Man 2 from Treyarch:

BM: What exactly was your role in the creation of the Spider-Man 2 video game?

GJ: Essentially I?m the project lead, so I mainly take care of project management.

BM: How long was this game in development?

GJ: About 2 years. We started this project right after finishing the first movie game. The first movie really inspired us to give the player a new physics-based web-swinging system that really hit home the Spider-Man experience.

BM: At what point was the decision made to opt for GTA, open-ended style gameplay?

GJ: After we perfected the web swinging and we?d started building a fully 3D volume of Manhattan, we realized we had these two major elements that would fit perfectly with a non-linear open game play system. Also, lots of fans of the first game had been requesting open game play, so it all came together as our third major element. It?s really much more of a revolution than an evolution from the previous game.

BM: Can you briefly describe the stages of this game?s development cycle?

GJ: Roughly speaking, the first six months were devoted to perfecting the swinging and prototyping what sort of city was ideal for the swinging. The next six months were devoted to working on a streaming system that would allow us to have the huge 3D volume of city and be able to run random missions like purse snatchings and bank robberies. Along with that, and to the end, we were just adding content and polishing the game.

BM: Having played through the game, it seemed more like a sequel to the first Spider-Man movie game than a straight adaptation of the Spider-Man 2 film.

GJ: Oh, I think we very much adapted the Spider-Man 2 film into our game. We took the playable action sequences from the movie and integrated them into the story narrative of our game. Of course, the game is an order of magnitude longer an experience than the movie, so we had to include several classic comic book characters like Black Cat, Rhino, Shocker, and Mysterio.

BM: Were there any characters or features that didn’t make the cut?

GJ: Yes, several characters and missions were cut along the way. Some were cut because they just didn?t come together enough to be a satisfying experience. Some were cut due to time. In order to provide a great game, we have to be willing to cut stuff along the way.

BM: Are there any Easter Egg features of the game that comic fans should be looking for?

GJ: Interestingly, when it came to including Easter Eggs, most of the time when we thought of one, we decided that it was just too cool to hide, so we tried to make all the cool stuff easily accessible? well? at least eventually accessible through reasonably normal game play.

BM: What project are you currently working on?

GJ: Right now, we?re just taking a rest and seeing what the feedback is from the players of Spider-Man 2.

BM: What do you see in the future for Spider-Man video games, in terms of features and interactive storylines?

GJ: I think we will see more expansion of game play along with some new innovations. I think Spider-Man 2 was a big step up from the first game and it provides a solid base as a great game, in and of itself, for future iterations.

This Has A ?Webslinger? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Ultimate Action

Earlier this week, at a European press event, Activision revealed their plans for the next Spider-Man video game, which will be based on the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series. An article at IGN had further details:

      While it didn’t reveal the developer or the game’s content, Activision’s

Ultimate Spider-Man

      is most likely to be developed by Treyarch (which has worked on the last two

Spider-Man

    games). It’s also sure to be stylized like Spider-Man is in that series and to include the villains and storylines from it as well.

Since Activision is newly bent on pounding gamers with its franchises each year, expect Ultimate Spider-Man (2005) to be followed by Classic Spider-Man in 2006 (that’s just our guess), and Spider-Man 3 (confirmed) to appear in 2007 to coincide with the third and final Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man movie.

This actually won?t be the first game based on the Ultimate line. The upcoming X-Men: Legends video game was also largely inspired by the Ultimate X-Men comic.

This Has An ?Ultimization? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Untangled Web

Remember these?




These remixed Spider-man comic strips caused quite a stir a few weeks back and also a few problems for their creator, Jay Pinkerton. Earlier this week, Pinkerton left this message on Millarworld:

      Yeah, Marvel sent me a cease and desist letter. Keep in mind the comics were never meant for a mass audience — I honestly did just write them to amuse ten people I knew, and they got smuggled out onto the internet just in time to coincide with

Spider-Man 2

    . If I’d been smart I’d have taken out Stan Lee’s signature, which is where the majority of the legal problem lies. But as I said, they were never intended for mass consumption, so it never occurred to me.

Ironically, the guy who smuggled the comics out and put them up on his site never got a letter — just me, and I never even had all the comics up on my site. Go figure. I guess Marvel figured they’d just go to the source. They couldn’t stop the ones that’d already circulated, but they could at least ensure no more rolled off the assembly line.

Incidentally, Pinkerton is currently working on another series of webcomics, which can be found here:

Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four
This Has A ?Fappo!? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


And that?s all for this week. 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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