We?ve got a Super-sized ATR this week, so without any further ado, let?s get started:

?Donnie? Darko

It doesn?t look like Darko Macan (Soldier X) will be doing any Vertigo books in the near future. According to this blog, Macan made the following comments at a recent comic convention in Avil?s, Spain.

    ?Yo cre?a que Vertigo era un sitio donde se preocupaban por las buenas historias, pero s?lo quer?an historias pretenciosas y deprimentes.?

Roughly translated, it means:

    “I thought Vertigo was a place where they care about good stories, but they only wanted pretentious and depressing stories”

This Has A ?Yeah. So, What?s Your Point?? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Blood From A Stone

Rob Liefeld has announced that a second X-Force miniseries has been given the green light by Marvel.

Speaking of Liefeld, “Supreme Convoy” at Newsarama noticed something interesting about the reissued Youngblood: Bloodsport #1:

    I originally wanted to pick this book up for sh*ts n giggles but missed it the first time around. Thankfully it was resolicited over a year later and I bought it today. It has an outside cover over the regular cover. On closer inspection it looks like they took surplus books and stapled the new cover on top of it since there’s extra staples. But that’s not what pissed me off…

Looks normal right?

Wrong! The outside cover is actually bigger than the comic itself. Meaning that when it’s boarded and bagged, it’s going to be messed up (at least with my current bag & board). I seriously wondered what the hell the printer was thinking.

However, what he may not have realized is this: the issue of Youngblood: Bloodsport pictured above, appears to be a redressed version of the $10 limited edition (available online) which looks like this:

Is Arcade Comics using their ?limited editions? of Youngblood: Bloodsport to fill out their Diamond orders?

Sure looks that way?

This Has A ?Getting the Shaft? Factor of Six Out of Ten


Mirrors & Miracles

SBC contributor, Michael T. Deeley sent in the following report from Neil Gaiman?s recent appearance at New Dimension Comics in Pittsburgh:

  • Marvel will reprint Miracleman and Neil’s conclusion to his story within the next 18 months pending the conclusion of contract negotiations. “We’re dotting i’s and crossing t’s.”
  • Neither he nor Quesada have decided what his next project at Marvel will be.
  • The movie MirrorMask, which he wrote and Dave McKean directed, is in post-production. Neil’s just finishing the movie script book, which he described as practically a graphic novel. MirrorMask has been submitted to the Sundance festival, and will hopefully premiere there in January, followed by a limited release in early spring.
  • Good Omens will not be turned into a movie with Terry Gilliam as director. Terry Gilliam couldn’t find a studio willing to do a comedy about the end of the world after 9/11. Johnny Depp was slated to play Crowley. The film company is talking to other directors.
  • Death is going through at New Line Cinema. Neil just got notes from the studio. Some big stars are interested in appearing in it, but he’s not allowed to say who.

This Has An ?Endless? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


War and Peacekeepers

In September 2002, Farscape was abruptly canceled after a four-year run, leaving fans with a cliffhanger ending and no resolution in sight. In response, Farscape fans banded together in one of the largest campaigns to a save a show since the original Star Trek. Concurrently, the cast and crew of the series were also searching for ways to bring Farscape back. Now, two years later, their efforts have resulted in a four-hour miniseries entitled Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, which premieres later tonight. Earlier this week, Farscape creator, Rockne O?Bannon checked in for a quick Q&A:

Blair Marnell: Can you describe Farscape for someone who?s never seen it?

Rockne O’Bannon: It?s an epic adventure with a very loopy sense of humor. In a literal story sense, it?s about John Crichton, a man from Earth. He?s an astronaut and scientist who goes up in a one man module intending to just orbit the Earth a few times, conduct his experiments and come back down and have dinner with his friends. Essentially, something goes wrong and he gets shot through a wormhole and finds himself across the universe. He?s the man on the outside. He has no idea how the technology works. He doesn?t know anything about the relationships or conflicts between the various species, but finds himself thrust into the center of all of them. Plus, he?s very much a man of our generation. He seen all the Star Wars films, been a big Star Trek fan and he?s read Robert Heinlein. He views what he comes up against through the same filter that so many of us do, in terms of cultural references. That?s the way he keeps himself sane.

BM: Can you talk about the fan movement to get Farscape back on TV?

RO: The journey began almost the moment it was announced to the public that the show was going off the air at the end of the fourth season. Even before the last of the episodes aired, the fans rallied immediately. At first the campaign was rather ragtag, but the various groups began to organize. And it was their efforts that really kept the show alive and made it viable for us to do the follow-up miniseries.

In terms of actual production for the miniseries, that came together very quickly too. The Henson company put the new funding together and we had to write the script very quickly. We were writing all of it in a matter of a couple of months about this time last year. The reviews that have been coming in are really good. People seem to like it.

BM: I understand that the fans were influential in getting the new investors involved.

RO: Yeah, very much so. If there was not the interest in this show that was loud and clear then the investors would not have seen the value in financing the miniseries. The show just would have been gone. It was the campaign of the fans that is directly responsible for bringing it back.

BM: Were there any problems getting the cast back together?

RO: All of them were very eager to come back. I think it was a really good experience for everybody. The characters that everyone played were a little bit larger than life. To get to play an alien, to get to play emotions, attitudes and cultural things that you wouldn?t get to play under other circumstances. I believe there are aspects of working on Farscape in particular that are very appealing to our actors. Plus, as often happens in good television series, the cast became quite the family. So it was a great opportunity for everybody to have a reunion.

BM: Can you bring us up to date on the story as the miniseries begins?

RO: The miniseries picks up right on the heels of the last episode of season four. At the end of season four, our hero, John Crichton had proposed marriage to Aeryn Sun, the Peacekeeper/Sebacean love of his life. And she said ?Yes.? Right at the moment they were celebrating their engagement, they were crystallized by some unknown race and shattered into a thousand pieces, which floated to the bottom of an ocean. At the time, this was intended to be yet another Farscape season-ending cliffhanger. In our case, it became the series-ending cliffhanger. So, when the miniseries opens, the other characters onboard Moya (our living ship) are in the midst of doing everything they can in an attempt to collect all the pieces of John and Aeryn, to find a way to put them back together.

BM: What can Farscape fans expect to see in the miniseries?

RO: One big mother of a story. The subtitle is The Peacekeeper Wars. What we did was ask ourselves, ?What?s the biggest, most epic story that we can tell to close out this series?? To put John Crichton in the role that he played throughout the television series, which is the man from outside who is thrust into the center of great conflict. Even though John is from Earth and isn?t that familiar or steeped in the political intrigues and background of this conflict, he finds himself at the absolute crux of it. He?s the one individual who can cause this war to continue or to end. That?s always been an essential element of Farscape, the human who found himself in a place he didn?t fully understand, that for whatever reason is fully responsible or crucially involved with events. This miniseries is a four hour version of that with far bigger production values. It?s bigger in all aspects. And Brian Henson, who executive produced the series for four years, came onboard to direct the miniseries.

BM: I?ve heard that ADV had a Farscape animated series in development. Has there been any movement on that?

RO: That got tabled for the time being. Basically, our attention was marshaled on the miniseries. ADV is very interested in it and there was also interest from Japanese Animation studios. But as of right now, that?s been put on hold.

BM: Is The Peacekeeper Wars the last chapter for Farscape?

RO: Actually, our intent with the miniseries was to create a climax, but not the ?climax.? We ended before on a cliffhanger, so we wanted to have something that brought an element of closure to a lot of the threads that have been set up on the series. It?s not the ?climax.? We?re all very hopeful that other adventures will be manifest as a feature film, which is something that we?ve had ongoing discussions about. Brian Henson is an ardent believer in the notion that Farscape would translate to the big screen very, very well. There?s also potential for another miniseries and another series is possible. It?s wide open and we?d all love to keep the saga going.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, Part 1 airs tonight (October 17) on the Sci-Fi Channel at 9pm EST. Part 2 will air tomorrow night (October 18) at 9pm EST.

This Has A ?Crackers DO Matter? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


Man of Steel

A recent interview with Bryan Singer over at AICN sheds some light on the direction of his tentatively titled Superman Returns feature film:

      That’s strictly a working title. But it is a return story. It puts the first films in a kind of vague history. So what it doesn’t do is tread over the 1978 Richard Donner film, it doesn’t tread over

Smallville

    . It elaborates on the existence of Superman in the world in a history. He’s out of the culture and then he returns.

Singer also commented on the rumor that Warner Brothers would use Jim Caviezel as Superman if Singer is unable to cast an unknown actor by a certain date.

    No, that’s absurd. I read that too and think it’s just bizarre about James Caviezel, who’s a wonderful actor. But, no, I’m committed to casting an unknown.

In other Superman related news, Latino Review is claiming that Singer has already cast his Superman. According to their report, the actor in question is Brandon Routh, who has appeared in Gilmore Girls and Cold Case. If this report is legitimate, we should know more soon?

This Has A ?It?s a Bird, It?s a Plane, Whatever?? Factor of Six Out of Ten


Tales from The Underground

Earlier this week, there was a very public disagreement between UK publisher Dez Skinn and David Miller, an active figure in the 1980s independent comic scene. At the heart of the issue were Miller?s claims that Skinn?s book Comix, The Underground Revolution used photographs by the late Clay Geerdes without permission or compensation. When reached for comment, Miller had this to say:

      Clay Geerdes was a free lance photojournalist in the 70s. A drop out college professor, living in the Haight in San Francisco and teaching English in Fresno State. Having met the Beat poets and authors, like Ginsberg, Braughtigan and others, he followed their lead. He wrote articles for the Berkeley Barb, LA Free Press and other Hippie papers and men?s mags. He also took the pictures. His interest in the Underground Comix movement was inspired by UG artist, Roger Brand. He became a well known chronicler of the art movement and wrote some other earliest articles about it. He also started his own newsletter called

Comix World

    in 1973. He helped many of the artists get work with the Barb and other publications. He knew the publishers and hooked up the artists. His newsletter informed young people across the country and Europe what was happening in the business, what comix were in the works, etc. In 1973 he put on the first Underground Comix Con in Berkeley. Always behind the scenes, he was an important part of the movement. He took hundreds of photographs and did many interviews with the artists.

He died in 1997 of liver cancer. His archives left under copyright to his sister in Nebraska. I was Clay?s closest friend and had a strong interest in seeing his work survive and not sit rotting in a basement. I drew up a contract with Carol, Clay?s sister, that gave me the authority to sell his work and split the profits with her. Since then I have helped to publish a book of his UG photos called, The Underground Family Album, his photos were prominently used in the film documentary The Cockettes, also in TV documentaries on both Divine and John Waters. Comic Artist and Comic Art magazine have used his photos. Also Dutch Marie Clair in Holland, The San Francisco Chronicle. There have been two art shows in San Francisco with his photos at Yurba Buena Gardens and The Gay and Lesbian Center. Two other books are being worked on now using his photos and will be published soon.

I have tried to keep control over the use of the photos and mainly try to see that proper credit is given to Clay for his work. It is increasing harder do this with so many of his photos showing up the internet now. I have worried that his family will think I am dealing behind their back and keeping the money and will cancel our contract. Since Clay knew almost all of the UG artists and sold and traded his photos he took of them, the artists, on occasion, send along those pictures to a publisher along with an article about them. I have ran across this on 3 or 4 occasions. Each time the publisher has apologized and offered some compensation, usually free copies of the publication is all I get. The reality is, there is little money to be made in this business. There are few books on the history of Underground Comix. When one does come out, I instantly check the index for Clay?s name and then look for his photos being used. Recently Rebel Vision, by Rosengrantz came out. No mention of him, but no use of his photos either. Then a new one by Dez Skinn called Comix, The Underground Revolution appeared. No mention of Clay, but there were photos of his being used and no photo credit given.

I recognized the photos as the same ones that appeared in a book I sold pictures for. It is The Pirates and The Mouse by Bob Levin. Published by Fantagraphics. It is about the lawsuit Disney had against Dan O?Neill and others for use of the Disney characters in their comic books. It opened up a whole new era of what is parody and what is trademark, copyright infringement. I highly recommend the book. I know that I never sent the photos to anyone else but Fantagraphics. I also know that some were never published anywhere else. The photos had a second generation look to them, too. One had been a two-page spread in the Fantagraphics book. In the book by Dez, you can see the line where they pieced the two pages together. An obvious job of scanning the pictures out of one book and putting them in another. I checked the publisher and looked them up on the internet. A New York company by the name of Thunder Mouth Press. I called and the person I talked to was very concerned, but explained that they didn?t publish the book, but had bought it in a package deal from a British company. They promised to look into it and told me that they have a contract that ensures the purchase of any books do not have any such problems. They promised to get back to me. A few calls back and forth after a many days and I was told that the company was not answering their e-mails. ?Of course not! They stole my photos! Why would they call you back?!? is what I told them. I then got another call from them telling me that they were not responsible and that I had to deal with it myself with the author.

Since the author is in England, and I am in California, and since the book went to another company in the US, I felt I had no chance of getting money or justice. Searching around on The Comics Journal website for information about the book, I saw that they had a message board. I have never used one before, but it seemed a good idea at the time take my case to the public. I wrote an angry message and told the world that my photos had been stolen and that people should not buy a book that steals from artists. I was pretty surprised to see that it got fast results not only from readers, but from Dez himself! He threatened to seek legal council against me for defaming his name. I threatened legal counsel in return. He gave his e-mail address and told me to write if I cared to receive a copy of the book to read so I could judge it better. I wrote an e-mail to him, but received no response back. Then some others posted some messages in my defense and someone else in his defense. Dez wrote again in his own defense with words about the book being a piece of historical work and not subject to the usual copyright laws. Kim Thompson, co-owner/founder of Fantagraphics, wrote a message and defended my position and said I should be paid. Others rose to my defense as I explained that it is important for artists to fight this sort of pirating or possibly lose their copyright or trade mark.

At this point Dez wrote me a personal note defending his position pointing out harsh dead lines, having to fight many others to get the proper indexes in, losing control of what other people in other departments were doing, etc. He then offered me payment for what ever I thought a fair price. He did take me to task about posting the attack publicly before going to his website first and confronting him personally. I looked over the course of events, who said what and when it was said. I think Dez was right about that point. I should have written him first and given him a chance to explain and offer compensation first, before I went public. So, I wrote back and told him that I would like a copy of the book, but would take no payment and we would call it even. I said I would like payment and photo credit in any future editions. He was agreeable and even sent me two more copies of the hardback, or so I am told they are on the way. I posted that message on the message board to show others that the whole thing had been resolved.

This is a real problem for any free lance artist and it is only more difficult with the internet, to maintain control of one?s work. Sometimes it becomes more trouble than it is worth. The use of a blog or message board is powerful tool for the independent artist. so publishers beware!

This Has An ?Underground Railroad? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Chrono Trigger

Art Thibert and Richard Birdsall?s Quantum Mechanics has quietly undergone a change of title prior to it?s release later this month from Image Comics. The new title is Chrono Mechanics. When reached for comment, Thibert replied:

      Another publisher had a book by the same name about six years ago and he sent a ?cease and desist? to Image. We had done a copyright search and there was no entree for that name. That?s why we went ahead using

Quantum Mechanics

      as our title. But just to keep things friendly and to avoid any trouble, we changed it to

Chrono Mechanics

    , which is more descriptive of what it actually is and looks a lot cooler than Quantum!

Chrono Mechanics is an action-adventure comedy. Looney Toons meets H.G. Wells? The Time Machine. It?s a departure for me, art wise. I came up with a Mobeius meets Bill Watterson (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) style. The premise is that time is literally a big machine and when it breaks down someone needs to fix it. So qualified people throughout time are recruited to become Chrono Mechanics, to repair the machine. The story really is a lot of fun and there?s a little bit of something for everyone in here.

Time, like a car?s engine, has several different mechanical components, all of which can break down. When this happens, timelines start merging. So as the mechanics are trying to fix the machine, more and more anomalies pop up, like a fifties caf? appearing in a prehistoric desert while a space ship flies over head. Or a cavalry riding by. These are examples of what happens when time runs amok.

There are four different characters that we focus on: Oot, a caveman with a primordial intellect, Zyn, the galaxy?s most famous philosophy guru, Caravaggio, who?s a renaissance inventor and Doug, a huge seventies rock star. This story is the origin of Doug, who becomes the latest Chrono Mechanic after one of the original team members dies on a routine call, during a Chronomite (they?re like piranhas living in the time stream) attack. Doug is plucked from the middle of one of his concerts and is brought in to be the fourth member of the Chrono Mechanics.

There are a lot of twists and bumps in this story. It?s not easy for Doug to adapt. The original team members are so used to ?business as usual? that they really don?t want to bring in a new member. And Doug has been used to working alone and being the center of attention. He doesn?t really want to be there either. Basically, the heart of the story is these guys coming together as a cohesive team.

One of the fun things about the book, is that the Chrono Mechanics have a rival group called ?The Quickie Time Guys.? Whereas the Chrono Mechanics are principled and highly competent, these guys are just the opposites of that. They cheat to get the jobs and race them through the timestream to get to the work sites before them and do a half-assed job. They?re just a bunch of drunk idiots recruited by ?Joe Q?, who?s the owner and manager of Quickie Time. I?ll let people draw their own conclusions where I got that one from.

We?re doing Chrono Mechanics as a 48-page black and white graphic novel and it?s coming out later this month! We?ve had so much fun doing it that we?re going to put out another one in the same format. Not as an ongoing storyline, but as a oneshot. We?re also in an early phase of development at Warner Brothers Animation for a potential Chrono Mechanics animated series. So, I?m keeping my fingers crossed!

For more on Chrono Mechanics, visit http://www.hackshackstudios.com.

This Has A ?When Time Breaks, We Fix It? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Special thanks to Nicole Goldman. Stick a fork in me, I?m done? Until next week.

Later,
Blair

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


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