This week I was happy to read that the Rob Liefeld X-Force deal I covered months back was finally confirmed. Rob even admitted that Mark Millar helped land him the job in a recent Newsarama interview. Faithful readers may remember the ?Millar-dude? conversation between Rob and Mark that I made up. I do and it was fun.

I was also thrilled to learn that Peter David is writing the Hulk again (in a new, limited series). Not only am I a huge fan of his 12-year run on the series, but I just so happened to report this news at the end of January, almost two full months before PAD made the announcement on his blog.

There?s more on Peter David at the end of this column, but before we get to that we?ve got a bunch of rumors and news from Wizard World L.A., courtesy of contributor Blair Marnell, and some other things I picked up from my vast network of drunken spies and lackeys.

Down Time

A couple weeks ago I told you that artist Jesus Saiz signed up to do a new Manhunter book with Casefiles: Sam & Twitch writer Marc Andreyko. But what does this mean for the promised relaunch of 21 Down as a mature title for Eye of the Storm? We haven?t heard a peep from DC in a long while and 21 Down was curiously absent from the Coup De tat mini-series that was just released. Well, various sources tell me that at least three issues of the new 21 Down are written and the first issue is drawn, but the relaunch probably won?t happen unless the WB buys the concept for TV. I?m also hearing that two studios are looking at 21 Down right now for a possible film.

This Has A ?You Won?t Live to See 21? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Generation Lost

I?ve been informed that Sojourn scribe Ian Edginton and El Cazador penciller Steve Epting quit CrossGen earlier this week. I hear Epting gave a 90 day notice. Edginton apparently just left the company without any notice.

I?m gonna go out on a limb and say this hasn?t been a great week for CG. A few days ago Broken Frontier reported that artist Andy Smith (The First) is suing the company. With an estimated $300,000 owed to creators, and staff continuing to drop like the balls of boys approaching manhood, how long can CG continue to operate?

This Has A ?Creator Cross Out? Factor of Seven Out of Ten

Sim City

Cerebus creator Dave Sim has answered a ton of questions for the Cerebus yahoogroups mailing list. He responded to inquiries on the final issue of the series, Cerebus as a whole, his beliefs and even Alan Moore questions. Here?s a link to the first part: There are two more parts that can be accessed from this page.

This Has A ?Aardvarkian Answer Parade? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


I?m told Astonishing X-Men artist John Cassaday has been looking for trade paperbacks of the ?Dark Phoenix? saga. Either John suddenly decided to catch up on some reading or the Joss Whedon scripts he?s been getting have something to do with the classic X-Men tale…

This Has A ?Re-Forged in the Flames? Factor of Six Out of Ten

To Live & Rage in LA: A Wizard World LA Con Report by Blair Marnell

Funny how things work out.

Two weeks ago, I had other plans for this weekend, which had nothing to do with comics. Some things fell through and suddenly I?m covering my first convention for SBC/ATR. Which is fitting, since this is the first ever, Wizard World Los Angeles. The name is a bit of a misnomer, since it?s actually being held in Long Beach, which is about 30 miles from LA. Or as I like to call it, a two hour drive.

Gotta love LA traffic.

When I finally got to the con, I have to say I was impressed. The Wizard crew knows how to put on a show. Which I suppose shouldn?t be that shocking, since they run three other conventions in the course of the year. Nor should it be surprising to hear that attendance was strong all weekend, which was a far cry from last year?s Creation Con debacle. If nothing else, they?ve proven that the area can support a major convention.

The only missteps were the size of the floor (it?s too small, but I hear they?ll have the entire convention center next year) and placing the ?Wizard Theatre? on the show floor. Nearly every panel of the day was constantly interrupted by inane P.A. announcements, much to the annoyance of fans and pros alike. I mean really, how many times do we have to hear that actor James Marsden and RVD were signing autographs? If we were interested, we?d already be in line!

The programming schedule also fell into the trap of counter-programming against itself. For example, putting the Kevin Smith panel at the same time as the Joe Quesada and Brian Bendis panels? Bad idea. So I asked myself, do I go to the panel where the guy might talk about projects he should have finished years ago, or do I go to the panels where there will be actual news?

Tough choice.

Naturally, I went with Quesada & Bendis. But the WWLA panels have been pretty well covered here at SBC and other places online, so I don’t really have anything to add there. However, I did take the opportunity to speak to some creators face-to-face, and pick up a rumor here and there.

Inter Actions

Jeff Parker, still riding the tidal wave of success from his self-published graphic novel, The Interman, was asked about the status of the The Interman movie.

?They?re working on it. It?s in development and they?re still trying to pick a writer. They had a lot of turnover at Paramount, so a lot of new people are in, that weren?t there when it was bought. Thank goodness they?re still interested in doing The Interman. Still happening, as far as I know.?

Parker also mentioned that a 32 page The Interman one-shot will be coming out this summer, with art by Steve Lieber (Whiteout) and Tomm Coker (Blood and Water), as well as his own art on the lead story.

And yes, he is also gearing up for The Interman Vol. 2

This has a ?Waiting at the Intersection? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

Setting His Watch

Chuck Austen is cutting back his workload, citing exhaustion and a desire to spend more time with his new baby. However, in addition to writing X-Men, Action Comics and a six issue arc of JLA (starting with #101), Austen is also penning a creator-owned book called WorldWatch, which debuts this July. Tom Derenick (Smallville) is handling the art chores. When Austen was asked to comment on the status of WorldWatch, he replied, ?We?ve got four issues finished. And I?m really excited. It looks really good. God knows if it?s gonna sell, but I?m having a great time with it!?

The series will be solicited in Previews next month, listed under Austen Graphics and published by Wild and Wooly Press.

This Has A ?Chuck Woolery?? Factor of Six Out of Ten

Into the West

Breaking away from the spygirl genre, the Beautiful Killer creative team, Jimmy Palmiotti and Phil Noto are currently co-creating a new series for Black Bull entitled The New West. Noto described the series as ?a future film noir story.? However, Palmiotti was quick to add, ?It takes place just a couple of years down the line, when things are just a tiny bit different. No out of this world technology. Everything in there is based on tech that exists right now. It?s in the noir genre for sure.?

The project is still in the early stages of development, but the first issue is expected later this year. Possibly in time for a fall release.

This Has A ?Low-Tech? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Team Red Star has been pretty quiet since their departure from CGE last year. Fortunately, studio chief, Chris Gossett was on hand to remedy that:

      ?We?ve been working on the third story arc of

The Red Star

      . It?s called ?A Storm of Souls.? Been going really well. We?re going to finish that up and have the next trade available at the San Diego con. Other than that, we?ve been working really heavily on the video game. Writing the story for the in-game cinemas, storyboarding the in-game cinemas, dealing with character design, checking out the game play aspects and making sure it?s consistent with

The Red Star

      universe. And I?ve got to say, they?ve done an amazing job of taking

The Red Star

      (which really could be 15 different games) and as the introductory game they?ve chosen a really great genre, of classic arcade style shooter that I think is going to be really impressive.


    In fact, at a press summit with the dedicated game press from the United States and Europe came in a couple weeks ago and checked out the first playable demo of the game and just loved it. They unanimously thought that it was one of the strongest things to come from Acclaim in a long time. Some of the early online reviews are (according to some of the people working at Acclaim) the best they?ve ever gotten right out of the gate. There?s a lot of excitement in the video game press already. To have them on your side, it makes it a lot easier. We let them play the level, and then I gave them a copy of one of the trade paperbacks. Being dedicated hardcore gamers, most of them didn?t know the book. When they played the game, they were hooked. Then, when they saw the book, they couldn’t believe how consistent the two worlds where. Between comic and video game. And that?s something that I?m really appreciative of Acclaim efforts. They?ve really done everything they can to make it, not just your typical comic book video game, which typically, video games of comic book characters have problems. But Acclaim has worked really hard to make sure we don?t have those problems.?

The video game will be released this fall, for The X-Box and Playstation 2. In addition, Gossett also revealed that a special edition comic of The Red Star will be released at the E3 (the annual trade show for video games and interactive media), with a direct market edition to be released soon afterwards. The special edition will serve as a primer for both the comic series and the video game, with short stories focusing on each of the three playable characters in the game: Maya, Makita and Kyuzo.

This Has A ?Red Dawn? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Classified Intel

Also on the video game front, one of the publishers at the show let slip that they?ve landed the comic rights to one of the biggest gaming franchises out there. Unfortunately, this was all off the record, so all I can say right now, is that a major promotional push is being prepared. Expect an official announcement to be made at the E3.

Or possibly, here at SBC shortly beforehand. 😉

This has a ?Game Play? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Have you ever seen those ?The Complete Idiot?s Guide to?? books? Nat Gertler (The Factor) has one coming out this summer that may be of interest to comic fans. It?s called The Complete Idiot?s Guide to Creating Graphic Novels. When asked, Gertler commented on the genesis of the project:

      I?ve written a number of

Complete Idiot?s Guides

      for various things. The

Idiot?s Guide

      people wanted to know what else I knew about. I told them I knew how to write comics and graphic novels. They said, ?Graphic novels! We hear those words a lot lately. We don?t know what they mean, but we want to do it!? So I got together with Steve Lieber, the award-winning artist of



Detective Comics


On the Road to Perdition

    . And we wrote a book that covers all the basics of creating a graphic novel, from the concept, the writing, the penciling, the inking, the coloring, the lettering, printing, publishing and distribution. It gives a good strong base on everything.

They didn?t know what a graphic novel is? Why is that not surprising? Regardless, expect it to hit bookstores nationwide somewhere around June or July. With a number of people looking to jump on to the Blankets and Interman bandwagon, this should be a hot seller.

This has a ?Self-Help For Comic Geeks? Factor of Seven Out of Ten

Hell to Pay

I?m told that Columbia/TriStar Studios hired mock Hellboy protestors. Sharp-eyed fans may have seen them at the Con. I say sharp-eyed, because they were all outside of the convention center, instead of inside where the actual fans were. To the casual observer on the street, they must have looked rather strange with their ?Hellboy is Real? signs. Nor were they particularly enthusiastic about anything except their payment for services rendered: $100 each person, for a four hour shift. Which isn?t bad for the work, just doesn?t do anything for the movie.

Here?s hoping that next time, the studio actually puts some thought into the promotion.

This has a ?I?ll Take The Hellboy Happy Meal To Go? Factor of Six Out of Ten

The Deadly Hands of Amanda Conner

Amanda Conner turned a lot of heads last year, with her appearance in an advertisement for The Biography Channel. It was the most TV exposure a comic artist has received since Rob Liefeld zipped up his 501 jeans. She received high marks for the ad and presented herself well. But I had to ask? ?You?re a martial artist?? Her response:

      When I did The Biography commercial they said ?Okay, it came out great! It looks really, really good. We just need to know what else you do besides draw comics.?


    And well, it turns out that?s pretty much all I do. I sit on my ass at home, all day long, and I draw comics. And he?s like, ?well there must be something else that you do?? Occasionally, I go out to bars with friends and drink. But I don?t know if you could put that down as a hobby or a pastime. And he?s like, ?Well, I?m sure you can come up with something.? There I was, racking my brain for a whole day. ?What else do I do? So I called my friend Nelson, and I was like ?Nelson! You see me during my leisure time. What do I do besides draw comics?? And he goes, ? I don?t know. You come out with us and you drink.? (laughs) I know I can?t use that for the commercial! And he goes, ?Well, you used to take Karate, right? Technically, you?re still a martial artist.? And I?m like, ?Really? Even though I haven?t done it nine whole years? And he?s like, ?Yeah! Why not?? I didn?t have much of a choice, so I told the guy I was a martial artist, hoping that no one would call me on it, challenge me to anything and kick my ass.

D?oh! Too late?

This has a ?Kung Fu Action Grip? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


While walking through the Artist?s Alley, I saw the usual line up of established, indie and upcoming artists. Some great artists, lot of good artists? and let?s just say some that weren?t . But there was one artist who blew my mind. His name is Stuart Sayger, and he?s an incredible talent. He has kind of an abstract art style that I?m not normally into, but it?s powerful and visually arresting. He?s got his own comic out on the market, so I?m going to cede the floor to Stuart and let him fill you in:

      Hello, my name is Stuart Sayger, and I?m the writer, artist, publisher of

Shiver in the Dark

      . It?s the story of a character named Grace, who is sort of the stereotypical spoiled, good looking rich girl. Her whole life, everything has been handed to her. She?s pretty nasty and selfish. Basically, she comes into contact with the forces of evil, [who] take a look at her qualities and decide to recruit her.


      I?ve got two issues out already, and issue three is going to be solicited in the May issue of


      . My publishing name is Singing Ink. So, everybody out there, order this book! It?s an independent. People seem to like it. I?ve gotten some nice write-ups in


      and I?m going to be in an upcoming

Comic Book Artist

      . If you like art that is kinetic and organic, or [you like] someone who can tell the difference between something that?s romantic and sexy [you?ll like


    ]. I want [to create] something that?s romantic and expressive and moody. Full of atmosphere. If you like that sort of thing, please check out my book!

To see more of Stuart?s work, visit his Website

This A ?New Recruits Wanted? Factor of Ten Out of Ten

Closing Time?

5:00pm on Sunday. Time to go home?

They?ve got some programming and space issues to deal with, but overall, WWLA was a pretty good show. If they?re serious about expanding into the west coast market, they?ll have to go bigger, sooner rather than later. Even if they get the entire convention center next year, that?s still not going to cut it. To really compete with the San Diego con, they?ll have to be more ambitious. Which won?t be easy or cheap. But if you aspire to be the king, there?s a certain standard to live up to. They?re not there yet.

That?s all for now, folks. So until next time?


Properly Avenged

There?s been a ton of news about the upcoming changes to the Avengers and its sister books. At the LA convention Brian Bendis revealed that Mike Oeming will write Thor, Robert Kirkman will write Captain America and Mark Ricketts (Nowheresville) will write Iron Man. But these authors will only be on their respective titles for a few issues, paving the way for what will most likely be relaunches and new creative teams ala May?s X-Men RELOAD event.

On the Image messageboards, Kirkman confirmed that his run on Cap will be just four issues. Most newsites have already pointed out Kirkman?s involvement. But what they don?t know is that he?ll likely be teamed up with Thor?s Scot Eaton and Drew Geraci. I asked Drew about the change and he said, ?I’m enjoying wrapping up Jurgen’s Thor storyline, then doing my dream assignment, Captain America, fighting Hydra & the Red Skull.

Taking the place of Eaton on Thor is Andrea Di Vito, who has been confirmed by the new Previews catalog and by Oeming (via email).

I also asked Oeming how long he?ll be writing Thor. ?Six issues!? he said. ?Self contained so anyone can read them, even if Thor isn?t your thing.?

Oeming told me that his run will take the character back to his traditional roots. Given recent Marvel moves such as returning the X-Men costumes, it seems like the company?s new direction may be to go old-school. I?ve already heard that Walt Simonson is a possibility for Thor. This is completely unsubstantiated rumor-mongering, but given the more classic approach Marvel seems to be taking and the fact that Simonson?s run is the definitive Thor, I don?t think it?s completely out of the question. At Wizard World L.A., Joe Quesada said, ?Anyone who?s a Thor fan, you?re going to love my ass by the end of the year.? As a Thor fan, I?d love to see Walt take a second crack.

In any case, look for more Marvel books influenced by Kirby and less by manga in the future.

This Has A ?Lotta Ass to Love? Factor of Seven Out of Ten

Iron Insects

Planetary writer Warren Ellis took a few days to answer excited fans at Millarworld, who are dying to know the answer to one question: Is Ellis writing Iron Man?. Ever since Rich Johnston ran the rumor a couple weeks back it?s taken on a life of its own. Even Warren?s friends aren?t safe.

To curb the rampant inquiries Ellis asked people to stop asking writer/artist and friend Lauren McCubbin (XXX livenudegirls) about his involvement with Iron Man. ?Lauren McCubbin is one of my best friends, but not even she knows if I’m doing Iron Man or Iran Man,? he wrote. ?And if you people keep emailing her to ask her, she’s going to cry. Yes.?

?Look at those eyes. Welling up with tears as we speak. Hounded. Hounded, I say, by eager fans wanting to know what my next superhero gig is. You will all now go and read Laurenn’s free online comic, Harvest Gypsy, as your penance:

Quick side note: You guys should also pick up the first two issues of XXX livenudegirls. It?s not porn. It?s a fantastic book about the lives of women. My girlfriend keeps asking me when the third one will come out.

Despite Ellis? silence on Shellhead, the upcoming Ultimate Fantastic Four scribe does answer a shit load of other questions on the thread, including this one on the former Justice Leaguer Blue Beetle. It greatly amused me.

      If DC came to you with a suitcase full of money and asked you to write a Blue Beetle comic and make him “cool,” what ideas would you have? Do you have any interest at all in Blue Beetle, or is he just a third-string pervert suit? (I only ask because you wrote the


    episode about the Atom, and I was wondering what drew you to him.)

And Ellis? answer actually made me want a Blue Beetle comic. He wrote:

      Jesus. Blue Beetle. That was just cruel, you know that?


      For a start, you have to pick your version. There was the one who rubbed his magic scarab and said his magic word — “Khajida” or something similar — to turn into the superpowered Blue Beetle. Or there was the rich young electronics genius with his gadgets and flying beetle, whom Alan and Dave riffed off with Nite Owl II in




      So we’re assuming I’ve been offered a stupid amount of money to think about this (rather than using it as a warm-up exercise in the pub, which is what I’m actually doing).


      It begins with what I want to talk about, and whether I think the character can carry it. What themes are suggested by Blue Beetle that are worth discussing? With two Blue Beetles, there’s the generational option that Alan played with a little, but that kind of bores me. It’s not big enough. No space to move. For me, one of the primal elements of the superhero is The Change, the point where they take on their aspect. For that reason, the original appeals to me more — the flash of light, the emergence of the superhuman. In the original, it’s achieved through an archaelogical artifact. What was that doing just laying around in ancient times? Is there a new angle to be had on Egyptian mysticism and the “forbidden archaelogy” field? I’ve got a book by David Hatcher Childress in the attic called

Forbidden Archaeology

      , all the “pyramids were made by aliens” stuff. I’d read. As I mentioned earlier, Lovecraft had a thing about pyramids. Read that too. The guy who found a slot in one of the pyramids that was supposedly designed to funnel the light from a particular star down into the guts of the building — re-read all that. I’m going to need research on the symbolism of the scarab beetle in the period. To a great extent, magic


      science in that era, all part of Chaldean priestcraft. Along with fiddling with little boys, but we’ll gloss over that for the moment. Why would the savants of the era create a voice-activated device that transformed the holder into a superhuman?


      Do some reading on celestial precession: what stars were in the sky of ancient Egypt? In what configuration?


      Deep time. Lost knowledge.


      What’s on the scarab? The Rosetta Project is an effort to encode every world language on an indestructible disc. Are those really scales on the scarab? Or are those marks the encoding of an entire scientific system? Incised by a team aware they were living in politically volatile times and terrified that all their work could be wiped away in an instant? Perhaps they couldn’t make it indestructible — but they could lock it onto the device their spear-resistant superhuman would possess.


      It’s about The Change (as opposed to Change in general). It’s about lost knowledge and deep time. It needs the human element and, being superhero fiction, it needs some form of dramatic conflict. What does someone with the scarab do with The Change? This is such old ground now. This is one reason why it’s hard for me to write superhero fiction. It’s such a strip-mined seam that finding new jewels in it is just a pig of a job. It’s got to have the ring of the new to it, or it’s not worth me doing it. I don’t want to go too deeply into the archaelogy riff, for fear of repeating


      , but the thing is starting to demand a theme of Exploration to me. Which suggests the conflict of a post-exploratory society. People who don’t even want the knowledge for themselves. The worst kind of ignorant people — they don’t want to know, and they don’t want anyone else to know. People who’d rather kill than know something. The sort of people who don’t even read evidence of climate change.


      Ignorance is the enemy. Three thousand years ago people died to preserve their knowledge for us, encoding it on a blue stone scarab that rendered its protector superhuman, so that we may take their gift and become great. But the more things change, the more they remain the same; and the holder of the blue beetle has his own mad kings to fight.


    I think that’s the general direction I’d head in.

(Markisan raises pint of beer) Here?s hoping DC sees this and actually asks Warren to write the book. And hell, I can?t stop wondering what Warren would do with Booster Gold..

I guess that means it?s time to drink some more.

This Has A ?Beetlejuice? Factor of Ten Out of Ten

Alright before I get too ripped, I want to mention one final thing.

Earlier this week Peter David confirmed that Captain Marvel is being cancelled with issue #25. Instead of rallying the troops to save Marv, David asked readers to get behind his DC title Fallen Angel. Most of you reading this column aren?t reading Fallen Angel, but you should be. It?s an excellent book with fascinating characters, great suspense and a unique tone (it straddles the line between DCU and Vertigo). I think that most people will really dig this title if they just give it a shot. Here?s a quick summary to give you a better idea of what FA is about:

Set in the fictional and mystical city of Bete Noire, Louisiana, Fallen Angel is a dark story about a young woman who lives in the shadows, wandering through back alleys, haunting bars and byways. She?s a woman who drinks too much and falls into empty affairs to hide from herself and loved ones from the past. Along the way she picks up the nickname, Fallen Angel, and becomes drawn to people at the crossroads of their lives. ?[She is] the woman to whom you go when you?re utterly desperate…because depending upon her whim, she may make things better for you, or a hundred times worse than you ever thought possible,? David said.

Okay, bottom line is that Fallen Angel sells about half what Captain Marvel does. It obviously needs new readers to survive. The best thing to do is to buy the monthly issues because good sales numbers on singles are needed to justify the printing of collected volumes. You shouldn?t have that much trouble finding the back issues.

That said, buying the trade still helps the series. The trade paperback collecting Fallen Angel 1-6 is solicited in the current, April 2004 issue of Previews on pages 92 and 104. The trade ships in June and it?s only $12.95. Ask your retailer to order a copy before April 10. That?s when the order forms are due.

I know you a lot of you guys are hesitant to pick up new titles, but I’m telling you Fallen Angel is a great book. I wouldn’t be writing this if the title was anything less. FA has a lot of edgy humor and super-powered/supernatural action, the art team of David Lopez and Fernando Blanco deliver consistent, quality pages, and Peter says the book features some of the best writing he?s ever done in his life. I like to see good comics stay on the shelf, so please, give it a try.


PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share email me at 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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