Welcome to our San Diego Comic Con International edition of ATR. I just got back from SD with the latest news and rumors for your reading enjoyment. And super-sized doesn?t begin to cover it. Hell, I?ve got enough material here for two columns, and it?ll absolutely, positively Crack the Internet in?

Well, you?ve probably heard that one? Just trust me, you?re gonna love this one.

And before anyone asks? Yes, Tenacious D was awesome?

Magic Kingdom

Early estimates of attendance for this year?s Comic Con International are already above 100,000, easily making it the most successful con in the show?s history. But all is not kosher in SD? There?s been talk about Comic Con International leaving San Diego. At this point, it?s only talk, but the Anaheim Convention Center has already made a play for CCI, and pitched it to Con organizers earlier this year. It?s difficult to picture the show anywhere but San Diego, but I?m told the Anaheim Convention Center is one of the few venues that could pull it off, and its size is comparable if not larger than the San Diego Convention Center. From what I?ve heard, the Anaheim Convention Center sales pitch was taken quite seriously by the CCI board, who apparently feel that the San Diego Convention Center is not treating the show with the respect it deserves, and that con organizers have had difficulties getting their preferred dates on the Convention Center schedule. However, the majority of the board is said to be against the move and sentiment is on San Diego?s side. If the convention were to move, it wouldn?t be for another five years at the earliest.

This Has An ?E-Ticket Ride? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


We Are Legion

This past weekend saw the US debut of ?Divided We Fall?, the penultimate episode of this season?s Justice League Unlimited schedule of episodes. The episode was also screened at the convention to thunderous applause and reaction has been incredibly positive on the net. The season finale should air this Sunday, and having seen it already, I can tell you it?s not to be missed. It would have been the perfect coda for the Animated DCU. In fact, the past two seasons of JLU have been a testament to the creative vision of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm begun so many years ago in Batman: The Animated Series. There?s just been fantastic work from everyone involved with the show. And contrary to rumors you may have heard elsewhere, there will be a fifth season of JLU. A preview panel was held at the con, in which the show?s creative team discussed upcoming episodes dealing with the newly formed Legion of Doom, Hawkman, Warlord and the reappearance of the Legion of Superheroes.

However, the truly BIG news was not mentioned at the panel. The Legion of
Superheroes
appearance on JLU is no coincidence, and I’ve been told by reliable sources that a Legion of Superheroes animated series is set to go into production immediately after the completion of JLU. And most of JLU?s creative team will be moving over to the new LoSH series, with one major exception? Bruce Timm. The new LoSH series is being spearheaded by Sam Register, the Vice President of Cartoon Network. Rumor has it that Register feels Timm?s work is ?tired and dated? and that the new LoSH series will be done in more of a Teen Titans style of animation rather than the classic Timm style.

There?s more? To further separate the two franchises, a major plot element from JLU is being ignored. In the new season, a JLU member will join the LoSH and stay in the future. But that character will not be appearing in the LoSH series. Instead, another DC ?silver age? character will appear regularly. Additionally, there?s talk that Register will not renew Timm?s contract when it expires next year. Why? Well, from what I?ve heard Register is more concerned with creating his own legacy of shows? that he wants to be regarded in the same way as William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The fact that most of you have no idea who he is should tell you how successful that?s been.

If Timm?s tenure at Warner Brothers Animation is in fact, coming to an end, it?s inconceivable that someone with that kind of talent will be unemployed for long. I?m sure DC would welcome Timm with open arms. And if Marvel wanted to make a smart move, they would swoop in and hire Timm to develop their properties into animated series?

But that?s just me thinking out loud?

This Has A ?Challenge of The Superfriends? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Waiding Waters

Word of Mark Waid?s exclusive deal with DC hit the show floor early Thursday. But for a while there, it looked like the official announcement was going to be pushed back to Wizard World Chicago. The rumors I heard suggested that Waid?s contract was not signed and finalized until the night before the announcement.

As mentioned at the DCU panel, Waid?s contract does allow him to continue his creator owned books, including Hunter-Killer at Top Cow and a new project from another company which should be announced later this year?

This Has A ?Brave & The Bold? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Follow The Drip, Follow The Drip!

Wondering how Reggie Hudlin?s new job as President of Entertainment at BET will affect his comics at Marvel? Well, Hudlin said at the con that he will be leaving MK Spider-Man after ?The Other? storyline is finished, but he will be staying on Black Panther.

This Has A ?Kid ?N Play? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Bare Essentials

I heard about a few of Marvel?s upcoming trades during the show, including hardcover editions of John Romita Sr. Visionaries and Chris Claremont Visionaries, along with Tales To Astonish Masterworks, and finally, Golden Age: Human Torch and Golden Age: All-Winners Squad will be come out either later this year or next.

This Has A ?House of Ideas? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


War Without End

Word from San Diego is that Mongoose Publishing?s bid to get the Babylon 5 comic book license is dead, dead, dead in the water. As I mentioned previously, they never had the license in the first place despite their premature announcement. And Warner Brothers is reportedly still pissed at them for that?

In other B5 news, J. Michael Straczynski is still working on the script for a Babylon 5 graphic novel, which will be coming out from Wildstorm some time down the line?

This Has A ?Nobody Listens To Poor Zathras? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Burning Flaggs

At the Image Comics panel, Erik Larsen and co. mentioned that the long awaited American Flagg hardcover and the much delayed, Image Anniversary Hardcover (which may be called Image Comics #0) have both been completed. And both are coming in September.

This year.

I know? I know.

But it sounds like they?re serious this time. Apparently, the Image Anniversary Hardcover now ties in closely to both the upcoming Spawn #150 and the pending return of Cyberforce, so there was an added incentive to get it out to the stands. As for American Flagg, Larsen described in detail some of the problems that held up that collection, especially when it came to recoloring the pages. And the problems seem to have been resolved?

This Has A ?Slightly Delayed? Factor of Six Out of Ten


The Amazing Jennifer Maze

Mike W. Barr?s The Maze Agency is set to make a return in a new four issue miniseries coming out this November. Barr will be teaming with Spanish artist, Ariel Padilla, who will be making his debut in US comics with this project. And here?s a first look at some of his art:


Now, if they could only get Adam Hughes to do a cover?

This Has A ??Fair-Play? Detectives? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


The Braying of Barnyard Animals Follows

After a protracted legal battle with their first publisher, the webcomic Penny Arcade is finally returning to print from Dark Horse Comics. During the con, I caught up with Gabe (Mike Krahulik), for a quick rundown of what to expect from the new editions:

    It?s a collection of our first two years of comics along with a bunch of new writing from Tyco (Jerry Holkins) as well as a lot of the original sketches and stuff like that? We haven?t decided on the size of the book yet. We?re still tweaking it and finding the best way to do it. It doesn?t come out until March (2006). Once the first book hits, every six or so months, another volume will come out, year three, year four? each of those will get their own book.

Gabe also mentioned why they decided to go with Dark Horse:

    We looked around a lot of different places, and Dark Horse gave us the ability to do not just books, but toys. So after the book comes out, you?ll probably start seeing a lot of Penny Arcade action figures.

This Has A ?Pocket Full of Quarters? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Downtown Disney

The alliance between Disney and Slave Labor Graphics caught several industry observers off guard, when it was announced earlier this year. And admittedly, on the surface it seems like an odd pairing. But SLG seems to know what they?re doing and Dan Vado was hand to explain their approach to the books.

      Right now, we?ve got four books. The first is

Haunted Mansion

      , which is an anthology book that reveals the secrets stories behind the characters in the ride. The premise is that the mansion is a real mansion in Louisiana and the ghosts are really there. Each of the 999 ghosts has a story and we?re going to tell them all. Roman Dirge is doing the cover. Some of the contributors include Serena Valentino who writes

Gloomcookie

      , John Hastings (

Smith Brown Jones

    ) and a whole host of other people who have on Slave Labor books before and some new people as well. It?s coming out this October.



The next book is going to be Tron, based on the video game and the movie. It takes place six months after the end of Tron 2.0 and features Jet Bradley for the first several issues. That?s written by Landy Walker and Erik Jones who do Little Gloomy and is drawn by a newcomer, Louie De Martinis, a Canadian artist who?s an animator. He?s really captured the Tron look. That will be out, hopefully in January 2006.



After that, we have Gargoyles, which is based on the Buena Vista television series. That?s going to be written by Greg Weisman, who created the show. The artist is still being determined, but Greg Guler, who designed several of the characters, is going to be acting as art director on the project. We?re really hoping to capture the look of the show and bring in those Gargoyles fans, of which there are a lot more than I knew about. We?re looking at a March 2006 release for this book.

The last book, Wonderland will also be coming out in the Spring of next year. That?s gonna be written by Tommy Kovac (Stitch) and drawn by Sonny Liew (My Faith in Frankie). Wonderland takes place almost from the moment that Alice leaves Wonderland at the end of the movie. It draws on elements both from the Lewis Carroll novels and the movie, but Alice is gone. She?s not in the story at all. The big conceit is that basically, Alice has somehow changed Wonderland just by her presence. We?re going to see dramas revolve around the characters there. And maybe learn why the Queen of Hearts is such a hardass? In the novel, the White Rabbit mistakes Alice for someone named Mary Ann. In our story, you?ll actually meet another human girl named Mary Ann. ?Mary Ann? was a Victorian term for ?hand maiden.? We assume that there is another girl running around Wonderland somewhere, who the White Rabbit knows, but she is much more low key. Things will revolve around her, as now, a human girl means trouble in Wonderland?

All of the books will be aimed at the teenage market, but we?re trying to stay very close to the look and feel of what these stories were originally about. We?re not trying to reinvent anything, however, we are doing interpretive looking things. The idea is to continue those stories that were begun in those films or TV shows. We might have the comics for sale in the Disney parks. Haunted Mansion and maybe Wonderland are going to be carried in Hot Topic stores. All of the comics are going to be available at Amazon.com. And we?re working on a number of different avenues that are outside normal distribution. We?re still basically doing comics. The graphic novels are a unique deal, because Hyperion Books, which is Disney?s children?s publishing line is going to have the right of first refusal to do those graphic novels. That would be a big boon to us, because then we?re using their marketing and their distribution strength to market our Graphic Novel product. But right now, what we?re focused on is making the comics as good as they can be. If they are successful, we are hoping to expand the license to include other things?

This Has A ?Walrus And The Carpenter? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


Section Disparu 6

Later this year, Disney Comics is going to release an Alias graphic novel. No, not the Brian Bendis series or the comic company? I mean the spy/action show staring Jennifer Garner on ABC. It?s being written by one of the staff writers with art by an Italian artist. It will hit in Italy first, sometime this Fall. Then it will probably show up in the US under a different publisher?

This Has An ?Authorized Personal Only? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Dr. Zaius! Dr. Zaius!

There?s a new Planet of the Apes six issue miniseries coming out this Fall from Mr. Comics. The miniseries is entitled Revolution on The Planet of The Apes and features the creative team of Joe O?Brien, Richard Pace and Ty Templeton. Attila Adorjany (the artist on Speakeasy?s Beowolf title as of issue 4) will also be providing a short story in the first issue of Apes miniseries.

This Has A ?You Finally Made A Monkey Outta Me? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


I?m Ready For My Close-Up

During their conventional panel, Oni announced that B. Clay Moore will be doing a miniseries for them next year. After the panel, I stopped Moore in the hall for a few additional details:

      It?s called

The Leading Man

      , drawn by Jeremy Haun, who did

Battle Hymn

    with me. It?s gonna be out in May of 2006 and it?s going to be a five issue, full color miniseries. Traditionally, Oni doesn?t do much color stuff at all, so we?re kind of excited about that. By the time the book is solicited, we?ll have least three or four issues in the can and ready to go. We?ll also be sending out previews to retailers.


The story is about a guy who?s the world?s hottest actor and he?s also the world?s greatest super spy. We meet him on a movie set on the coast of France during a routine case and he discovers a terrorist training base close to where he is and he also discovers there is another spy in the case of the movie he?s working on. He also ends up dealing with a female action star that tags along with him. She realizes that he?s actually a spy and decides that she?s just as capable of kicking ass as he is. So he has to make sure she doesn?t get her head taken off while they get entangled in this kick-ass, action epic spectacle. That?s the short version, anyway.

This Has A ?You Finally Made A Monkey Outta Me? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Goin? To Hell

In late breaking news on Sunday, Dan Jolley and Marie Croall from Studio Phoenix have signed a deal with Across The Pond Studios to bring out two of their new creator owned titles. Before heading out, I spoke with both creators about their new projects:

Marie Croall:
The book with Across The Pond Studios is called Heidi?s Inferno. It?s basically the Book of Job meets Dante?s Inferno as if it were done by David Lynch and Jim Carrey. It?s an absurdist comedy about a woman trying to get out of Las Vegas, not realizing that she?s part of this large plot between God and The Devil to see if she?s worthy of getting out of Vegas while demons try to make it their first conquered city on Earth. Her guide is a midget who dresses like James Dean and there?s a lot of really neat and bizarre Vegas things in there. To get out of Vegas, she has to complete these tasks and each task leads her on to something even more bizarre or stupidly ridiculous that she HAS to do while being chased by demonic showgirls. So call it kind of an action/comedy. It?s going to be a four issue miniseries, probably for next year. We literally just signed the contracts so we?re still working it out.

Dan Jolley:
The new series I?m doing for ATP is a four issue miniseries called Ogre. I guess you could describe Ogre as ?Hulk meets Sandman.? It?s about a mythical being that used to be a part of the magical forces that essentially controlled the Earth thousands of years ago. Back then, magic was the ruling force on the planet and since then, everything has faded away and gone dormant. The being called Ogre awakens in modern day, takes a look around and decides that he doesn?t like it one bit. So it is his mission to awaken or free (sometimes forcibly) the other magical elements that have been driven underground. He accomplishes this basically by brute force. He?s a huge (pardon the term) hulking individual but he?s also very intelligent and sophisticated. In part, he?s struggling to understand the modern world at the same time he?s trying to restore the world that he knows. He is bonded, in a way, to a regular modern guy named Nate Fox, who is a college student. But it?s not like the Jekyll and Hyde persona of the Hulk or a lot of other characters like that. Ogre and Nate Fox essentially become one person and it always stays that way. Occasionally, he can look human, but that?s just an illusion he casts.

The artist is a fellow named Hal Saville. I haven?t worked with Hal before, but Stephan Nilson, the president of ATP, sent me a bunch of his art and I think it?s going to be a terrific and dynamic looking book. His art just jumps off the page. I think we?re going to get the first issue out before the end of the year.

In a way, it?s becoming more of a signature feature of mine, but Ogre is going to involve a tremendous amount of violence, things blowing up and people getting mangled severely. Even though the Ogre is not an evil creature, he doesn?t feel much sympathy for a lot of the humans that are in his way, screwing up his planet. So he does what he has to do get things back on track. Not an immediate process, but he?s on his way.

This Has An ?I?ll Eat Your Bones!? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Target Acquired

Speaking of Across The Pond Studios, and in another Sunday deal, ATP signed an agreement with Speakeasy to bring out Metal Locus, for release either later this year or early next.

This Has A ?System Lock? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


The RIC Is Out There

Remember the Superman II Restored International Cut DVD set I wrote about a few months back? To refresh your memory, it was a fan project that edited in footage from the extended versions of Superman II that aired over twenty years ago, including some pivotal scenes by the film?s first director, Richard Donner. Before Warner Brothers cracked down on them the project leaders attempted to give away copies for free. And a few copies made it out there before they shut down. During the San Diego con, the Superman II RIC DVD set was seen on several bootleg tables. And copies are starting to show up on ebay?

It?s out there.

But I really can?t support this. It flies completely in the face of what the RIC was supposed to be about. I?ve spoken with the project leaders repeatedly, and they seem genuine in their assertion that the RIC was meant to be freely traded among fans to preserve Donner?s vision. Not to fill some bootlegger?s wallet?

Despite all the mainstream media attention from Entertainment Weekly and Celebrity Justice, Warner Brothers Home Video doesn?t seem to have grasped the real demand for this footage. Fans would undoubtedly buy a legitimate version if it were available, and there would be no time better to bring it out than with a new Superman movie coming to theatres next year.

So, the fans are going to have to make a choice as to whether they?re going to support the bootleggers and settle for footage that was taped off television twenty years ago or fight for a truly restored edition of Donner?s film.

Me?

I?ll keep fighting.

This Has A ?Man of Steal? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures!

Tell Tale Games was running a demo of the Bone PC game on the show floor, and even though the animation was 3D, it still captures the spirit of Jeff Smith?s art. The game looks like it?s geared towards a younger audience, but Bone fans will probably really enjoy it too. Here?s a look at some of the promotional art that was displayed at the booth:

This Has A ?Out From to Boneville? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Bulletin From The Banzai Institute

And finally? I?ll bet you knew this was coming? Here?s Michael Stribling?s alternate cover from Moonstone?s upcoming Buckaroo Banzai revival coming out later this year. Enjoy.

This Has An ?Across The Eigth Dimension? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Damn? that took a LONG time to write. Ah well?

I?ll see you people, when I see you.

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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