I?m running a little behind this week, so let?s just get started with the latest news & rumors..

Phase 2

In a recent post at Millarworld, Mark Millar dropped several hints about his next round of creator owned titles:

      ?Experience has been a great one. I finished most of the work before Christmas and it was a great re-charge for the Marvel stuff after three years of being a good boy. Only three of the planned four were published and two of these have been snatched as movies before the series were even completed so I’m really happy about that. Critical response has been great too and sales for each title had us way ahead of anything else the publishers had coming out.


      has sold big name Marvel kind of numbers. I’d have been happy with 35K (original


    numbers) but we ended up doing more than double that so we’re very chuffed.

?The downside is that they took longer than expected. First four issues of Wanted were out in five or six months, which isn’t bad, but JG started to slow after this and now we’re looking at 10 months or so for the whole six issues (still not bad). Peter’s fast, but had his day job at Vertigo which had to come first and he really slowed on the final ish. Understandable, though, given that Vertigo is the bulk of his income. Unfunnies had legal problems (now sorted) which weren’t our fault and Ashley just couldn’t afford to draw for free.

?What I’ve learnt, therefore, for Phase Two in 06 is to get as many issues in the can as possible before launching because artists are twice as slow as they anticipate being. Everything else went really well. I loved the projects, people bought them in huge numbers, the trades look set to sell in huge numbers and I had two movie offers together inside five or six months. It also allowed me to get a better deal from Marvel afterwards and probably went some way towards Icon being formed, proof being there that is was possible to make more cash OUTSIDE the big characters than within. Marvel are now very keen to keep their writers and artists in the fold, one or two of the Phase Two concepts coming out through Icon as part of my new set-up.

?As regards the new books, I won’t have details until this time next year, but the artists I’m talking to are Hitch, JRJR, Quitely, Cassaday, Tim Bradstreet and a fifth guy for the fifth book I’m still negotiating with. Everything will be three or four issues long. The Chosen sequel, Damned, might also come out then too, but only if it’s in a shape that Peter and I are happy with.?

This Has A ?Phaser to Stun? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Day of the Jackal

Thor inker Drew Geraci had an interesting story to share at his blog this week:

    ?I’ll tell you what I know: Cons are great for schmoozing editors, but I’m terrible at that and self-conscious of other jackals, excuse me, comic pros, who are elbowing past me. There’s hundreds of other comics professionals gunning for your job, so you’ve gotta stay aware of your status with a company.

?Which reminds me: Another great experience at cons is meeting fellow pros, but be wary of ones who pepper you with questions at a rapid clip, each one more exploratory than the previous. ?Who’s your editor?? can be considered small talk, but ?What’s he/she like?? ?It’s the best way to get on his/her good side?? can lead you into dangerous territory. You may find yourself blindsided into volunteering how a fellow inker may insinuate themselves into your job, like a scam artist or telemarketer trying to get your financial information during a brief exchange. If you’re running a little late on a deadline, for God’s sake, don’t tell anyone! You’ll only create a window of opportunity for jackals!

?I remember when a certain jackal, I mean, ArtiSt, who will remain unnamed, called my penciller and claimed I had badmouthed the penciller to him and that I was eager to leave the comic we were working on. This ArtiSt caught me one particular week when I was feeling down about my career, questioning if I should stay in comics (a ritual every comics artist goes through, like molting season). Of course, this ArtiSt kindheartedly wished to console the penciller by offering his services in my stead. The penciller knew I was having a bad week, so the ArtiSt preyed upon my penciller’s fears and it caused some tensions that took a few days and a long phone call to resolve.

?Beware the Jackal, my son!?

Drew?s story lead to the following e-mail exchange:


    If I had to guess who you were talking about, would I Laugh-A-Minute?

DREW: HA!! I?ll never tell!

This Has A ?Knife in the Back? Factor of Seven Out of Ten

Teenage Wasteland

In the past few years, Sean McKeever has been garnering a reputation for quality teen drama comics, especially for his work on Sentinel, Inhumans and Mary Jane. Recently, I had the chance to talk with McKeever about his current and future projects:


    What are you currently working on?

SEAN: Technically, I?m currently working on nothing. Mary Jane is on a temporary hiatus and Mystique is currently approved through issue 24, but I got way ahead of schedule. I?ve been done with issue 24 for a couple of weeks now and I?m waiting to hear on the re-approval process for that. Right now I?m taking the time to work on some creator owned projects.

BLAIR: Anything in particular?

SEAN: Actually, there?s about a half-dozen different things. Nothing I can really talk about yet. Some of it?s science-fiction, some of it?s fantasy and some of it?s teen drama. It?s stuff I?m working on to either pitch to a specific publisher or just to develop it and figure out what to do with it later.

BLAIR: So, what does this ?temporary hiatus? mean for the Mary Jane series?

SEAN: Right now, Marvel is reevaluating how they want to market the book and get it out to as many readers as possible. I?ve done the first four issues and the third one just came out. We?ve got the next four issues plotted out; I?m just waiting to hear from Marvel on the go-ahead.

Before I continue, I want to thank the people who have been supporting Mary Jane. That book is a difficult sell to the mainstream comic book market. Especially with the people who go in every Wednesday to the shops to pick up a book that?s perceived as a ?trite kiddy book? that?s being marketed mainly to girls. People might not want to bring it up to the registers and have their retailer look at them funny. So, I appreciate anybody who?s been picking it up and trying it at all, whether they enjoyed it or not.

I?ve been having a lot of fun with the book. I love the creative team on it. Takeshi Miyazawa, Norman Lee and Christina Strain are all top notch. We?ve got a fantastic editor on the book, Mackenzie Cadenhead. She?s awesome, the best editor I?ve ever worked with. I?m looking forward to doing more MJ with all of them.

BLAIR: At Wizard World, a lot of professionals kept telling me that Mary Jane was a great book for their daughters, nieces, etc? That it was a gateway for female readers who are into manga.

SEAN: Yeah? that?s what Marvel pretty much figures. And hopefully, when the digest comes out in October and gets out to bookstores, a lot of the teen and pre-teen girls will be picking that up. I know that I?ve had teenagers, high schoolers and middle schoolers come up to me with books to sign in San Diego and Chicago. And I do hear some of those same stories, that the book gets passed down to kids and they go nuts over it. Even as young as five years old. That?s a really good thing, because I?d love to see us create a new batch of readers that in 10-to-20 years are hardcore into comics. When I grew up, I learned to read from Spider-Man comic books. I loved comic books and I still love them today. I think if we can get the books in front of the kids now, they?ll grow up the same way.

BLAIR: Sentinel has been collected for a while now; do you know how it?s been selling at bookstores?

SEAN: No, I haven?t gotten my reports or anything like that. But I do know that, as of a couple of weeks ago, it was sold out at Diamond. Although I hear that they?re moving some books over that were earmarked for the bookstores to go back over to Diamond. But that was a really good sign to me. I put in a proposal a few months back, for another six issues of Sentinel. At the time it was rejected. But they?re still looking at possibly doing another six issues down the road. Maybe even more.

BLAIR: Would that be a miniseries?

SEAN: Possibly. Or a second series. It?s hard to say at this point. What they wanted from me was another six issues of story ideas. Incidentally, the second Sentinel digest comes out in October, and that will collect issues seven through twelve.

BLAIR: What?s coming up in Mystique?

SEAN: The big stuff is starting in issue #20. We?re going to reveal who ?The Quiet Man? is and jump into the storyline that Brian (K. Vaughn) started with his first arc. By the end of the twenty-fourth issue, the run of the series to that point make for a nice epic story.

BLAIR: Did Vaughn tell you who he intended ?The Quiet Man? to be? And have we seen him before?

SEAN: Yes, he told me. And I?m using who he wanted ?The Quiet Man? to be. It is someone we?ve seen before in the Marvel Universe, but I won?t say where?

BLAIR: I noticed on your website, you have a creator owned series called The Waiting Place. What?s the story behind that?

SEAN: That?s the book that got me into Marvel. I was pitching for Marvel a lot when I was in my early twenties. Spider-Man stories, etc? and getting back the rejection form letter. Eventually, I realized that this was not going to be a great way to break into comics. And I asked myself: if I couldn?t write Spider-Man, what would I want to write? So I came up with this series, The Waiting Place, which is a teen drama about kids growing up in a dead-end town. I found an artist for it, we did the first issue and found a publisher for it, which was Slave Labor Graphics. That book started coming out in ?97. Fast forward a couple of years, about eighteen issues later, Paul Jenkins (a buddy of mine) was writing Incredible Hulk. He knew I was really frustrated and wanted to break into the mainstream. I was getting a lot of acclaim for The Waiting Place, but not much sales and I wasn?t getting any work out of it. He said he?d talk to his editors at Marvel for me and see if they might have something I could work on. It just so happened that Tom Brevoort, who was editor on Hulk at the time, was also a regular reader of The Waiting Place. The book was only selling like a thousand copies an issue, but Tom was one of the people reading it. He liked my work and Paul was a little behind on Incredible Hulk so they needed some fill-in work. Paul convinced Tom to let me come in and co-write some issues with Paul.

BLAIR: Anything else you want to get out there?

Thanks to everyone who?s supported me. And feel free to drop by www.seanmckeever.com and post on the message board.

This Has A ?They?re All Wasted!? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Rough Rider

The upcoming oneshot, Tales From The Bully Pulpit by Benito Cereno, Graeme MacDonald and Ron Riley, is one of the most bizarre projects to come along in a while. The book follows the comedic exploits of an unlikely duo of adventurers: Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Edison?s Ghost. TFTBP was previewed at Wizard World two weeks ago, and is already generating a lot of buzz. Earlier this week, Cereno took the time to answer a few questions about the book:


    Okay, I’ve read the book… and I?ve got to ask: What the HELL are you on?!

BENITO: Actually, you’d be surprised at how often I get that question. But I maintain that until the FDA can somehow prove the narcotic nature of General Tso’s chicken, my answer will have to remain “No comment.”

BLAIR: Where did you come up with this, and why use Teddy Roosevelt as your hero?

BENITO: This story stemmed for the most part from my desire to write a story in the science fiction vein, but from a time before sci-fi became so cynical and dark, and also to write the story using as many iconic archetypes as I could. This desire resulted in me choosing a President from a time when Presidents were still great American heroes, and utilizing elements from the wide-eyed sci-fi fantasy from around the turn of the century. Teddy was an easy choice, because he was already an action hero, and just exudes optimism.

BLAIR: What, FDR?s wheelchair action wasn?t good enough for you?

BENITO: I do like FDR a lot, I must admit. But the story just called for a little more jumping than I thought he might be capable of.

BLAIR: How do you explain Edison’s Ghost as Teddy’s sidekick? Discrimination against the living?

BENITO: The image of a ghostly Edison came to my head while listening to a song — “The Edison Museum” by They Might Be Giants — about the ghost of Edison haunting his old stomping grounds. And once that image came into my head, I couldn’t shake it. It was the perfect way for me to use a person from the early 1900s and still give him a modern attitude. He’s been around. Just not, you know, living.

BLAIR: How did this project end up at Image?

BENITO: Well, Image was my first choice of publisher, so in that regard I got lucky. I think Image is a highly overlooked publisher of a wide variety of cutting edge comics in multiple genres. To me, there is a sort of exciting buzz around Image right now, and I wanted part of that energy. Plus, I’ve got my fingers crossed for a future Spawn crossover with Teddy.

BLAIR: How did you hook up with Graeme MacDonald?

BENITO: I first met Graeme (and Ron Riley, too, for that matter) online at www.Penciljack.com, which is a community for aspiring comics creators. I had enjoyed his art for years, and he seemed like he would be a great choice for this project, and he was really excited about it. Then it all fell into place.

Besides creating the distinctive looks of our two heroes, Graeme also designed the Bully Pulpit itself, based on the old movie time machine, all the Martians, the whole world, and any…other characters that might show up. He completely designed the visual aspect of the book, so he really did bring a lot to it.

BLAIR: Backing up a bit, how would you describe your book to the uninitiated?

BENITO: I like to describe it as less science fiction, and more fictional science. It’s a bouncing, bounding adventure through some parts history, some parts surrealism. It’s like the unholy child of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Amazing Screw-on Head, and Scud: the Disposable Assassin. Plus, it has Paul Bunyan.

BLAIR: And Cicero, don’t forget Cicero.

BENITO: O tempora, o mores. How could I forget?

BLAIR: Any plans for more Tales From The Bully Pulpit?

BENITO: I have plans. Oh, I have plans. But we’ll have to see how the first book does, and how Graeme’s schedule looks. But I figure I could write the adventures of Teddy and Edison forever. The next book would have pirates.

Nerd pirates.

BLAIR: How would they be different from those online?

BENITO: They actually use ships and bathe occasionally.

BLAIR: Ah? Anyway, when?s TFTBP coming out?

BENITO: It should be hitting shelves this Wednesday, September 1. Also, I have stories appearing in the first two issues of Western Tales of Terror, published by Hoarse and Buggy Productions, and as always, I have the backup strip appearing monthly in Image’s Invincible. I have a couple of other projects cooking as well that it’s too early to talk about.

This Has A ?Heeding The Call of Adventure? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Paging Mr. Kent

The Superman casting rumors just keep on coming. The most prevalent one this week came from Superhero Hype, which posted a casting sheet from Batman Begins that lists a ?T. Welling? in the role of ?Kent.?

Naturally, this has led to speculation that Tom Welling (Smallville) will have a cameo in the upcoming Bat-film. Which, if true, would also give credence to recent rumors that he has been cast in the lead for the new Superman movie. However, there?s been no independent confirmation that the casting sheet is real.

Also, an older rumor resurfaced this week at www.Superman-V.com, regarding the fate of the Smallville TV series. According to the rumor, the Warner Brothers Film division is pushing for Smallville to be canceled in order to leave as much time as possible between the end of Smallville and the release of the movie. This would also be used to create a separation between the two Superman incarnations, if they decide to go with an actor other than Welling.

But fans of Smallville shouldn?t worry too much. That series generates too much income for them to cancel it prematurely. It?s far more likely that they?ll keep it on the air as long as possible.

This Has A ?Golden Meteor Rocks? Factor of Three Out of Ten

Hardly Clerkin?

Looks like Kevin Smith has another project to work on before The Green Hornet makes it in front of the cameras. According to an article from the Associated Press, Smith will direct The Passion of The Clerks, a sequel to his debut film, Clerks. The new film will reunite the cast of the original, and begin filming in January.

In other Smith related news, his latest comic shop, Secret Stash West will be opening soon in Los Angeles. And a Clerks X DVD signing will take place on Tuesday, September 7th (http://www.viewaskew.com/theboard/viewtopic.php?t=13853).

This Has A ?Snoogans!? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Not Your Usual Watchmen?

Currently making the rounds online:





Apparently, some of the users at http://www.somethingawful.com remixed panels from The Watchmen. They?re kind of like the Spider-man strips from a few weeks back, only more porn oriented. The difficult part was finding strips tame enough for this site. The rest definitely aren?t ?work safe? or suitable for minors.

Keeping that in mind, you can see more here: http://www.somethingawful.com/articles.php?a=2311&p=3.

This Has A ?Atomic Wedgie? Factor of Seven Out of Ten

Small Talk

******************SPOILER WARNING!!!******************

Possible Avengers Spoilers Ahead! If You Don?t Want to See Them, Then Stop Reading Now!!

Drag cursor over white space to reveal the secret.

It?s looking more and more like the mastermind behind the events in Avengers Disassembled is none other than Hank Pym, one of the founding members of the team. Never one of the most mentally stable guys, the theory is that Pym was driven over the edge by catching The Wasp (his ex-wife) in bed with Hawkeye during Chuck Austen?s run. If true, it could explain why Hawkeye will be killed in an upcoming issue (provided that rumor is also legit). Some of the clues leading back to Pym?s involvement include his proximity to Iron Man during his public meltdown and the resurrection and evolution of Ultron in Avengers #500.

It?s not a bad theory. The only reason I doubt it is because I?ve heard several times that Marvel has plans for Ant-Man (Hank Pym). But who knows? Maybe this is the plan?

This Has A ?Where?s Egghead When You Need Him?? Factor of Six Out of Ten

Thanks to JV out of Montreal for sending in some good tips this week.

That?s all for this week.


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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