If you read 100 Bullets you know the character Lono. For those that don’t, he’s an evil bad ass. A couple years ago Brian Azzarello asked me, “Do you like Lono?” I said, “Yeah, he’s a cool character.” Brian shook his head and said, “Why does everyone like him. You’re supposed to hate the guy.”
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Grey Skies Ahead
Fanboy Radio recently talked with Amazing Spider-Man artist John Romita Jr.
Early in the interview Romita Jr. said Howard Mackie and past Spidey scribes who came before current writer JMS were creatively stifled by Marvel. “I don’t blame them for the quality of the stories. They were really shackled by the EIC. The EIC at the time didn’t have a clue for a slew of years.
“Howard Mackie is a quality writer and a quality guy and they had their foot on his throat telling him what to do. I’ll give you the microcosm of what the EIC did to Howard Mackie before JMS got on the book. One of the characters was called the Squid. And it was a joke in my mind and it was a joke in Howard’s mind. The EIC said it was one of his favorite characters. He just kept on sending me little notes saying how much he loved the Squid and I’m saying to myself ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ And then of course they told me what the sales were like.”
Later in the interview JMS made a surprise call in to the show to ask John if his father, John Romita, enjoyed drawing a conversation between Uncle Ben and Peter in Amazing Spider-Man #500. “As you know your Dad did the last four pages of 500. Did he have any comment about it? Was he bored by the conversation or was he into it?”
John said his father loved it and that he’s read all the Spider-Man books JMS has written. According to Romita Jr. his Dad thinks JMS is the best writer that’s ever been on the book. “He’s such a big fan of the writing that he was just tickled pink,” Romita Jr. added.
John also took the opportunity to tell JMS about his progress on issue 500. “One quick note — wait until you see the double spread I just finished, Joe. The one where you asked for all the villains and everything. I guess I kind of got carried away and (laughs) it’s loaded.
Joe asked how many Jr. got in and John replied, “20 villains I think.”
John Romita Jr. also discussed his upcoming creator-owned project The Grey Area for Image Comics. He said the book will run three issues and clock in around 120 pages. As previously announced, The Grey Area will be written by Glen Brunswick who penned the screenplay for the film Frequency. Romita Jr. says he will begin working on the book in a couple weeks, “working the weekends on it — two or three days a week.”
When asked about the The Grey Area’s plot, John says, “We’ve pretty much created a whole new frame of mind here. Let’s just say 10 percent of all beings in existence are righteous souls that go right to Heaven. And then we have 10 percent on the other hand of evil souls — they go right to hell. The other 80 percent in between are people like us who are imperfect but you know, were good-hearted. However, we’ve had moments where we’ve had evil thoughts and probably don’t deserve to go straight to Heaven right now. So that’s the Grey Area, where everybody goes — the majority of us go to work out your problems and to work towards becoming that righteous soul so you can move up.
“When you go to the Grey Area, you go there to prove yourself. But it’s chaos. The protagonist in this story, who also happens to be a crooked cop, goes to the Grey Area and to justify and prove himself he has to be a cop again. But since he’s a crooked bastard he says no, I don’t want any part of it, and he goes through the moves and learns what he’s done wrong and to improve it. Well he learns basically to do what he did in the real world, which is to do everything but for the wrong reasons and get by. And he still doesn’t learn his lesson and that is the ongoing part of this.
“The dilemma this guy has is the problem I have. I help an old lady across the street, I don’t help the old lady across the street because I really care about that old lady, I’m doing it because I was told as a kid that you’re supposed to help old ladies across the street. Some Scoutmaster told me this.”
Romita Jr. admitted that his basic idea was not unique. The trick, he said, was to come up with a different spin on something that has been done before. “And we’ve come up with something different. And it’s really exciting at the same time. There’s twists and turns at the end of this that completely distance it from anything else.”
It’s also worth noting that John said his niece, Jordan, who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, is doing incredibly well and that she’s the toughest person he’s ever known. The money he raised drawing Spidey sketches and signing books for nearly 52 hours straight is still being used by the family. He thanked everyone who helped.
This Has A “Jr. League All-Star” Factor of Ten Out of Ten
Colorist Tom Smith is selling color guide pages to JLA/Avengers 8-9, 24 and 49 on Ebay at http://cgi6.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewSellersOtherItems&userid=tomscolor&include=0&since=-1&sort=3&rows=50.
This Has A “Color Me Bad-Ass” Factor of Seven Out of Ten
Bird of Prey
The other day I heard a major spoiler for Cartoon Network’s Justice League. So if you don’t want to know what happens don’t read this next part.
Drag cursor over white space to reveal the secret.
I’m told the second season finale, entitled “Starcrossed” will reveal that Hawkgirl is an advance scout for a Thanagarian invasion force that’s making it’s way towards Earth.
Obviously this will have major repercussions on the team. There will be serious trust issues. It also means that the character in question will probably have to make a big decision.
The second season of Justice League kicks off on October 5th at 10:00 PM Eastern with a two-part episode called “Tabula Rasa” featuring JLA nemesis Amazo. Oh, and if you ever go on Jeopardy or some other fact-based game show, “Tabula Rasa” is Latin for “Blank Slate”.
This Has A “Flipping the Bird” Factor of Nine Out of Ten
Over on Micah Wright’s message board, writer Joe Casey (Adventures of Superman, Wildcats) has been answering questions about the upcoming Eye of the Storm crossover event and its effects on the ongoing Wildcats series. According to the latest issue of Wizard the February 2004 mini-series, entitled “Eye of the Storm: Coup D’etat,” will revolve around the Authority’s takeover of the world and features the return of Wetworks.
Creatively, Coup D’etat will be broken down like this:
#1 – COUP D’ETAT: Authority by Ed Brubaker & Jim Lee
#2 – COUP D’ETAT: StormWatch by Micah Ian Wright & Carlos D’Anda
#3 – COUP D’ETAT: WildCats by Joe Casey & Ale Garza
#4 – COUP D’ETAT: Wetworks by Robbie Morrison & Whilce Portacio
Casey joined the discussion after posters questioned Ale Garza’s artistic ability. “If I could just chime in here…
“For my part, I’m going to do my damnedest to make Mr. Garza look as good as he’s ever looked. I’ll put as much care into the writing (and the overall production) of this issue as I do with every issue of WILDCATS.
“If that means anything…”
Posters responded positively to Joe’s initial post and he stuck around to comment on a variety of inquiries. In his follow-up posts Casey revealed that the Authority won’t be appearing in his issue of Coup D’etat. “For all intents and purposes, this will be an issue of WILDCATS (although outside of the regular numbering), and I haven’t yet had guest spots or even passing references to the other characters in the WSU. Maybe I’m a dramatic isolationist, but the series has just worked better for me by existing in its own little niche,” said Casey candidly. “Having said that, this WILL be a crossover event… but one unlike any you’ve ever seen and will hopefully live up to our rep as a true Mature Readers imprint.”
Switching gears, Casey also commented on his Adventures of Superman run after a poster said he enjoyed Joe’s work ever since the Superman titles separated. “I’d have to agree… this last year, starting with #612, was really my chance to tell Superman stories without any of the dreaded franchise ‘interference‘. Subsequently, I had the most fun on these issues and I think — I hope — it shows.”
At the end of this post Casey apologized for rambling. He mentioned he just finished a massive interview for the Comics Journal that stirred up old ghosts (like Superman) and was in a talkative mood. Micah forum boarders were happy to keep him talking.
When asked who Dustin Nguyen’s replacement would be on Wildcats Joe said it was Francisco Ruiz Velasco. Most recently Velasco has illustrated the re-worked Thunderbolts series for Marvel and Lone Wolf 2100 for Dark Horse. Joe praised the Velasco’s initial work on the Coup D’etat issue. “I’ve seen the art for his first issue (well, the half that he does) and it’s very cool. Kind of a Phillip Bond-thing going on with his art right now. At least, that’s how it looks to me in black & white, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with Phillip Bond in MY book…”
Posters also asked about the kind of impact that the crossover would have on Wildcats Casey responded, “There will be massive effects in the Wildstorm Universe. The effect on the WILDCATS book will probably end up being much more… subtle.
“We’re not stupid. We know EXACTLY why crossovers occur, from a marketing standpoint. We obviously want to raise awareness for the EOTS line and this is a way to do it that general fandom understands. But, how we execute this crossover will be different than any crossover they’ve seen. The goal is to give readers a taste of what each book is about, their individual flavors, etc. So, read into that what you will where its “effects” on the WILDCATS monthly will be…”
Posters pressed for more information on Wildcats, wondering what business endeavors would be up next for the Halo corporation. One poster speculated that the pharmaceutical business might be on the agenda. He mentioned a subplot developed by Mark Millar on the Authority in which the Engineer’s cures for cancer were banned by Big Business meddling. Casey remarked, “Errrr… don’t hold your breath on that one. After cars, Halo’s next target is the Internet.”
Casey said that Halo would not be targeting the internet until the third year of Wildcats 3.0.
Posters also inquired about the effect of the Coup D’etat mini on the upcoming trade paperbacks for each series. “This was one of my early concerns, as well,” Casey answered. “As it’s worked out… this crossover event will be collected — if it IS collected — on its own. The TPBs of WILDCATS, STORMWATCH, etc. will remain, in my own well-chosen word, pure.”
I guess this is as good a time as any to mention that I acquired the debut CD by Joe Casey’s band The Sellouts a few months back. I listened to it a few times and promptly filed it away in my ridiculous 1000 plus CD collection. But I recently rediscovered the disc and I’ve been playing it a lot lately. It’s really grown on me. I think Joe once described The Sellouts’ sound as “big, dumb rock”. I completely agree with that assessment. But it’s also a lot of fucking fun. Big catchy choruses and rolling guitars with classic rock touches, but not too old school. There’s a rocking song on the album called “Dear, Corporation” that always reminds me of Wildcats 3.0 even though it’s a negative take on big business. The nine-track disc clocks in at under 26 minutes. But even if it wasn’t a quick listen it would be worth your time just to hear Joe sing “I Fucked the Prom Queen”.
This Has A “Joe Cool” Factor of Nine Out of Ten
Over on http://www.manofaction.tv/home.html the Man of Action creative team of Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and Steven Seagle have announced that their first animated property, BEN 10, is in development with Cartoon Network. A pilot episode has been written and animation tests are underway. According to the website, Cartoon Network describes the show as, “Shazam! meets Dial H for Hero. It’s about a kid who can turn into one of ten superheroes, all original.”
The Man of Action website also mentions that JLA fill-in artist Duncan Rouleau is developing a show for Nickelodeon.
This Has A “Toon Up the Action” Factor of Six Out of Ten
Third Degree Byrne
Last week I ran a story about legendary creator John Byrne asking people when his work began to be disrespected by readers at http://www.network54.com/Hide/Forum/248951. Since then I’ve received a few stories about Byrne. I found one to be particularly disturbing. Now, I have nothing against John Byrne. Quite frankly, his art on Uncanny X-Men is still the standard for me, not to mention I really enjoyed his writing on Wolverine, Namor and Next Men. So, let me say I can’t verify whether or not the following event happened. But if what transpired is true, one of the contributing factors to the deterioration of Byrne’s reputation would be Byrne himself. Here’s the letter:
- Well, here is a first hand account of what an ass John Byrne is to his fans. And since Mr. Byrne claims no one steps forward, I’ll even give my name — Dennis Feeback of Frankfort, KY.
I was at Mid-Ohio Con in either ’94 or ’95 (can’t remember the exact year). I was waiting in line for an autograph from Byrne, there was a 10 to 12 year old kid a few people in front of me, he had a Dark Phoenix Saga TP. He was clutching it eagerly and was excitedly waiting for his book to be signed. When he got to the front of the line, he handed it to Byrne. Byrne looked at it in disgust, reached into his bag, and retrieved a stamper. He screamed “REEPRINT!!!!” at the top of his lungs and stamped his signature on the TP. Byrne then stated: “A reprint signature for a reprint book!”, a smug smile on his stupid face. The kid took off very upset. I waited til I got to the front of the line, told him he was a prick, and handed him the few books I wanted him to sign, and said; “Fuck you prick, I don’t want your books” and walked off.
And people actually have to wonder why kids don’t stick around…
This Has A “Still Waiting For My ‘Markisan Rules’ Stamper to Come In the Mail” Factor of Five Out of Ten
I’m told that superstar artist George Perez (JLA/Avengers, Solus) will leave CrossGen Tuesday morning.
This Has A “George Leaves the Jungle” Factor of Nine Out of Ten
In the Game
Ultra-consistent artist Mark Bagley (Ultimate Spider-Man) recently attended the Armageddon Pop Culture Expo in New Zealand. A source who attended the show tells me Mr. Bagley mentioned he is working for a company that he can’t name, on redesigning all of Marvel’s characters for an online game.
This Has An “Even Armageddon Can’t Stop Bagley” Factor of Six Out of Ten
Get Thee To A Nunnery
Earlier this week Weapon X writer Frank Tieri sent me some additional information on the Vampirella story I talked about in last week’s ATR. He writes, “Maureen wasn’t kidding when she said she didn’t know how to react when I first pitched her “The Convent” (in fact, I think she literally dropped the phone at one point — which of course, is always the reaction you want to give your editors whenever possible). I’ve always found it fun to visit long lived characters at various points in time, which is why this particular Vampirella tale occurs over a hundred years ago. You may have also guessed from the title that it’s set in a convent — and that as such, there’s a good shot we’ll have some fairly bad things happening to nuns. So yeah, folks, I’m officially going to Hell after this one (like that wasn’t going to happen already…)”
This Has A “That Will Be 100 Hail Mary’s, Frank” Factor of Seven Out of Ten
Withdrawing the Dagger
This must be the week of updates.. In last week’s ATR I also ran a rumor about the possibility of a new Cloak and Dagger series from Marvel featuring art by Steve McNiven (Meridian). My source also claimed that freelance Veggie Tales artist Franchesco! was initially assigned as the artist but was dismissed after refusing to make design changes. Well, apparently this is not true. At least the part about Franchesco! being canned.
Franchesco! wrote me an email and denied the story. “Normally I would be flattered to be mentioned in the press, if what was being printed was not a complete fabrication out of someone’s fevered imagination. The sum total of that slanderous drivel, is complete fiction. There is not a shred of truth in that statement regarding me working for Marvel in any capacity (in reference to the new Cloak and Dagger series that’s in the works)… or getting fired from said series.
“Nothing would make me happier than to draw Cloak & Dagger for Marvel.”
Franchesco! also sent me a pencil drawing of the characters in question.
This Has A “Cucumbers for Cowls Trade” Factor of Nine Out of Ten
PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share email me at email@example.com 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.