Well, I?m back. And I really enjoyed my week off. I?ll have to do it again sometime.

But the thing about being away from ATR is that I missed some stories. Like the whole Liefeld/Busiek flare up last week. And apparently, I can?t even count on MillarWorld to be in the same place when I get back.

Not to worry? we?ve got plenty of news and rumors coming right up. And we are under two weeks away from the biggest con of the year: San Diego. If things fall into the same patterns as last year, I?d say that DC, and most of the other comic publishers will make their major announcements at SD, while Marvel will largely hold off until Wizard World Chicago. In the interim, some bits and pieces will probably leak out. In fact, even the con schedule gives away a few surprises — like Mark Waid on Voltron?! I didn?t see that one coming. And once again, the con will be a multimedia experience. A lot of big name stars are coming to promote TV series, movies and DVDs. But it seems that even SD isn?t safe from the ugly specter of Reality Television. Exhibit A: a panel on Saturday, called Reality Stars Unleashed!, which is more or less what it claims to be.

Ugh? Who let them in?

Crossroads

There were several rumors flying around this week about ChrisCross’ resignation from Firestorm after issue 5. According to some accounts, his departure was less than amicable. When reached for comment, ChrisCross replied:

      There were many factors as to why I left

Firestorm

      . While I appreciated any opportunity to work with DC (heck, it’s a paying job. What can I say?), there were many things that were promised to me before I even accepted the gig in the first place.

 

      I really wanted the opportunity to be on bigger projects and I felt that

Firestorm

      was not a big enough project to get my name in a bigger arena of visibility. Through my career, I have been peppered with a litany of second tier and third tier projects, and I felt that since drawing some of the

JLA

      books, I should at least be offered and was due the opportunity to work on flagship books. I’m a big boy, I can handle it.

 

      They figured that the character changing his ethnicity would be a big enough draw to revive the book from the ether. And they also told me that if marketing my name was of importance that they would really be pumping that book as if it were

Superman

      and that Jim Lee himself was on it. Now you have to understand my ego. I have a pretty big one, but it’s not out of control. No one can tell me with a straight face that I suck as an artist or as a storyteller. I really believe that I?m just as good or better than a great portion of the comics industry. And I triple-dare anyone to challenge that. So I believe that whenever someone asks me repeatedly to come on to a project, they get the best and there’s nothing in the cards that says that they shouldn’t follow through on their promises. I, in the beginning, was really gung-ho for the project. And I was told that I could pick whoever I wanted, and that I would get whatever I wanted in order to really make the book fly and to make me happy.

 

      I wanted a great inker, A-list. I wanted a superior colorist. I wanted great paper so that the work that I?d do for them would shine brighter than any other book they were presently publishing. I was told I could redesign Firestorm in any way that I wanted. I was lead to believe that I would get a rush of interviews from many sources. I heard that Dan Didio himself was quoted on one particular site as saying that this book would make my career. So it sounded like everything was ready to go.

 

      What HAPPENED was THIS:

 

      The first issue, John Dell was asked by Marvel to take on the assignment of inking Adam Kubert on

Ultimate Fantastic Four

      , a top ten book. He took the book only because DC wouldn’t give him an exclusive contract. I had one of the best inkers in the industry inking my art, and some people at DC were actually angry that the brother took a better offer. They allowed him the position to take a better offer. This made me unhappy. I was extremely happy for him, though.

 

      I was told to have free reign to design the new Firestorm. I did and after continuously letting me think they were liking the designs, they got nervous and decided that they wanted to go back to the original costume. This made me unhappy.

 

      I repeatedly saw articles on websites and magazines that featured Dan Jolley as the writer and not ChrisCross as the artist. Never one blurb on me, and it was only when I complained, did some of those people throw basic Q&A together to hush me. Lord knows? I didn’t want another flashback where evidently the only artist on

Captain Marvel

      was Peter David. It was only when I left that book did people actually notice what I contributed. And I did not want that to happen to me again on

Firestorm

      . That stress made me unhappy. I’m extremely happy for Jolley, though. No joke.

 

      Things like the Jason Rusch character and his mother being colored dark-skinned after the agreement that he would be lightskinned was settled. People like to see characters that look like them. They can identify with them easier. After seeing him consistently colored in a darker hue, I started to think my suggestions weren’t being heard. We African-Americans do come in different flavors, you know. And being told that people would think that Jason might be white regardless of the heavy African American features I put on him, didn’t help. This, along with some personal stuff, also made me unhappy.

 

      But it paid the bills. And it wasn’t totally bad. I got paid. I said that. Then there was the paper, and so on. The other side of this was I was offered a lot of bigger assignments while I was working on the book, but I turned them down, because as a professional, if you promise someone you’re going to do something, you’ve got to come through. But soon, an offer came across the table that I couldn’t pass up. And they really wanted me. And they put me in a position to really enjoy myself in taking my time to do the best work I can do. And they pay more. And I work less. Who could beat that!

 

      An artist loves having his or her ego stroked. Artists, or if you prefer, illustrators are like women in a relationship. We want to be reminded that we exist. When we work hard for you thinking only about you, we want you to sing your praises about us off the mountaintops. We get very upset after all the work we do to perform for Prince Charming only to find we’ve been played by some ghetto-Fabio; some brother one generation out of the projects talking about “Ah gots me a Bolex!” We like being told that our work was beautiful and that it matters and having people tell us how our work enriched their lives somehow. I know I like that. Especially the enriching part. I want to do work that matters. It doesn’t have to be Spiderman, or Supes. But it wouldn’t hurt if it was. And you get paid. I keep saying that.

 

      So, sometime in San Diego people will know what I?m up to. And we can talk about that at length when it’s advertised. Maybe even show the Firestorm sketches to you guys. The ones that didn’t get approved. They’ll probably scare you the way they did DC. I don’t think they were ready for ’em.

 

    But I have no hard feelings for the people I worked with at DC. Business is a hard mistress to massage, and a lot of times there are knots you have to break down in order to create even circulation. Don’t give me a hard time! I can be Confucius if I wanna be! It was a learning curve. When the timing is right, I would work with them in a minute. With the right project, that is. In the end, all I want is to be respected, and to be offered assignments worthy of that respect. I’ve always gotten better with every page, and it’s not too much to ask to want the offers to have the same ascension. But when I get to a point that I?m not happy with an assignment that I start to drag my deadlines because I?m not into it, it’s better to admit defeat and let the assignment go and not make it worse for the editor(s) than to cause undue stress and affliction. Besides, my name is on that work. And there’s something to be said about reputation.

This Has A ?Booyakasha? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


He Is Legion

John Cassaday has been working on a wide assortment of projects lately, including Astonishing X-Men and the occasional issue of Planetary. Somewhere along the way, he managed to finish a 54 page graphic novel for Humanoids entitled I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun. It was first published in Europe back in May, and will be translated and released by DC/Humanoids here in the US later this summer. Cassaday recently took the time to answer a few questions about his upcoming GN:

BM: On I Am Legion, you’re collaborating with French Screenwriter, Fabien Nury. How did you two come together?

JC: I was approached by the Humanoids company a couple of years ago about the book. They pitched it to me in California and I loved what I heard. More than anything I knew I’d regret not doing it. After signing on, Fabien and I started emailing. The editors and myself all threw in our two cents about the story and Fabien crafted a wonderful story. I was immediately pulled in by his compelling dialogue. Never melodramatic and always believable. And English is his second language!

BM: What?s the story about?

JC: It’s a World War Two horror/thriller that spans Europe. There are intricate threads of spies, espionage and a strong supernatural current that becomes more evident as the plot unfolds. Crack it open and you’ll be hooked.

BM: Is the title based on the “My Name is Legion” quote from the Bible?

JC: Yes, it’s prominently placed in the book. You’ll understand why…

BM: Earlier, you mentioned your admiration for Nury?s writing, including his ability to create compelling characters. Which aspect of this drew you into his story?

JC: I’m intrigued by characters who have to do ugly things to achieve the greater good. There’s a bigger picture in their sights and they know they must swim a river of shit to get the job done. Fabien has crafted several complicated and realistic characters. They all have true emotions and problems. Very human problems. They are fleshed out in order to make the more supernatural events feel fantastic, shocking and a bit unsettling.

BM: As I understand it, the US printing will be at a reduced size. If this is true, will the aspect ratio be maintained?

JC: It’ll get shrunk, I’m afraid. Some of the dialogue may even be edited slightly if the room isn’t there for balloons and captions. I can’t say I’m happy about the change in size, but it shouldn’t lessen the reading experience and I do understand DC’s reasons for doing it.

BM: Given that this is the first of three planned graphic novels, can you give us a hint as to where the story will go in future volumes?

JC: The first book, The Dancing Faun is more or less the set-up book. There’s plenty going on, but the real fireworks don’t start until Book Two. It escalates into some mad shit through the second and third volumes. It’s an intricate soap opera. We’re still working out some kinks on the next two, but it’s looking excellent. Fabien is a screenwriter in France and is writing Books Two and Three in screenplay format, per my request. I find it an interesting way to work and want to shake it up a bit. Fabien’s very comfortable in the process, of course, so it work for both parties.

I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun will be released on August 18th. For more info, check out the official I Am Legion website.

This Has A ?Supernaturally Bound? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Devil?s Cut

Wondering why the Daredevil: Director?s Cut DVD was delayed without explanation earlier this year? According to what I?ve heard, it was held back in order to release it closer to the Elektra movie. In other words, corporate synergy. As for Daredevil 2, don?t look for it anytime soon. It?s believed that any potential DD or Elektra sequels will depend solely on the success of Elektra. And even if DD2 does eventually go forward, Ben Affleck is not expected to return.

In related news, the first picture of Jennifer Garner in her ?new? Elektra outfit recently appeared online.

Elektra is currently scheduled to be released in theatres February 18, 2005.

This Has A ?Deadly Assassin? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Just Call Her Crazy

Digital Webbing Presents #16 features the debut of Crazy Mary in a fully painted 12-page story. CM writer and creator Michael Colbert elaborates:

Crazy Mary

      is part Cyber-Punk action and part Supernatural Horror. It’s set in a world of the near future where people can and do have cybernetic enhancements, everything from holographic projectors in their hands to enhanced strength, generally known as “Upgrades”. Mary is a bounty hunter/bodyguard with upgrades, but there is something else, as a side effect of her military upgrades she sees a ghost world overlaid on ours and can interact with creatures from this plane of existence.

 

      Or does she? The other theory is she’s just plain crazy.

 

 

      Mary is a character I’m very proud of. I conceived her and her world in mid-1998, so I’ve been living with her for some time. Enough time, in fact, That she’s taken on a life of own in my head. When I think of some action I want her to do she tells me whether or not she’d do it. It’s not some weird psycho stuff, she’s just a fully realized character. Mary isn’t your typical big-breasted chick with guns. She’s a badass, but a lot of what drives her isn’t typical comic book motivations. Mary’s history is covered, briefly, in the story. A career military she was a natural solider, it’s really all she ever wanted. During her time in service she volunteered for

Project Dragonfly

      dealing with state of the art cybernetic enhancements (Upgrades as they are called) giving her enhanced strength, speed, hearing and vision. But something went wrong and when her enhanced eyes were put in. She began seeing visions of creatures, energy patterns, manifestations of emotions and people’s subconscious, supernatural things… Not “Dead People” but a twisted chaotic world that overlays and interacts with our own. She also refused to kill anymore. Project Dragonfly’s caretakers judged her insane and discharged her. Eventually, after several years of travels and searching she attained a balance and certain level of peace with what happened to her, and she returned to become a “Freelancer” using her talents and upgrades for Bounty Hunting, Rescue, and Bodyguard work.

 

 

    This is where the stories step in. Also the whole driving theme of the world is about the subjective nature of reality, every story deals with this in one way or another… Is she crazy? Does she really see these things? Yes…No…Maybe.

CM artist James Woodward (Flesh Angels) also checked in with a few words on his artistic approach to the series:

      The

Crazy Mary

      story in

Digital Webbing Presents # 16

      was done in gouache and airbrush. If you look at some of the city backgrounds on the first few pages, you can see that I used Times Square as a model and even used some of the real signs, billboards and buildings and just made them larger and added architectural extensions that don’t really

 

    exist today in Manhattan. The model from Crazy Mary was my ex-girlfriend. Between the 2 of us we had enough Latex clothes to dress her up in the costume and pose her while I painted.

Woodward also revealed that a five page Crazy Mary ashcan comic will be available at the San Diego Con:

      Here is the first page of that 5 page story.

 

 

    I decided to go in a different direction with the art. I thought maybe heavy inks might give the “real” world of Crazy Mary a darker feel making the gouache painted “hallucinations” stand out even more. This doesn’t mean that future Crazy Mary stories (and there will be future stories published under her own title) won’t go back to fully painted pages, I just wanted to try something new with this and see how it goes.

Digital Webbing Presents # 16 will hit this Wednesday, July 14th. As for the future of Crazy Mary, Colbert confirmed that an ongoing series is planned for later this year, with the creative team intact. Colbert also said that he and Woodward are lined up for a number of signings in Los Angeles and San Diego:

      We?re at

Golden Apple Melrose

      on July 14th from 6 PM to roughly around 8. We are also signing at

Toy Mandala

      on Ventura Blvd on Saturday and Sunday the 17th and 18th 2-4 PM,

Things From Another World

      in the Universal Citywalk on Saturday July 17th from 6-8 PM and we’ll be signing at a

Borders

      books in the Gaslamp District in San Diego each day after the Comiccon shuts down in the evening.

 

    See ya there!

For more on Crazy Mary, check out http://www.whoiscrazymary.com and http://www.vonphantasi.com.

This Has A ?Girl, Interrupted? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Blood Will Pour

Echo 3 Worldwide announced this week that it has acquired the comic license for the BloodRayne video game franchise. E3W President, Steven O’Connell (Tiger Wraith) explains how the deal came about:

      I was trying to think about which game out there would be perfect for the comic book treatment. Most of the games were first-person or third-person shooters but they didn’t really have a detailed storyline. When I picked up the cover to

BloodRayne

      and read the back, I was intrigued…so I purchased the game and just simply fell in love with it. Here was a sexy half-vampire running around shooting Nazis, throwing snide remarks around…how could you not love it? So, being that I’m from New Jersey and Majesco Games is located in New Jersey, I shot them an email. After a few weeks Product Manager, Liz Buckley wrote back. She told me to call her. I did. I told her my plans for the comic book if I was to obtain the license. She said put a pitch together – so I did. I knew Romano Molenaar (series artist) and shot him an email asking him if he’d be interested in helping me with the pitch. He loved the pictures of the character I forwarded to him so he jumped on board. He supplied me with a spec cover that was truly awesome (see attached picture). I then asked another guy I’ve known for a bit, Blond (Kevin Senft) to add the colors to it. He agreed. I put the whole thing together, sent it off to Liz and waited. I guess they loved the pitch because now we’re producing the comic!

 

 

    For those who don’t know anything about BloodRayne…she is a dhampir, born from the unnatural union of vampire and human. Raised and trained to hunt supernatural evil, Rayne is blessed with the powers of a vampire, but is also cursed with the unquenchable thirst for blood and a weakness to sunlight. As a writer, I think she has this deep history of untold tales that need to be told…

BloodRayne will be released in a series of quarterly one-shots. The first one-shot, BloodRayne: Skies Afire will be written by O’Connell, with pencils by Romano Molenaar (Witchblade), inks by Marco Galli (Aphrodite IX) and colored by Blond (Masters of the Universe). It?s currently scheduled for an October release.

This Has An ?I?m Not Bad, I?m Just Drawn That Way? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Spin Cycle

If you haven?t read the latest issue of Spin Magazine (with the Beastie Boys on the cover) you might have missed this: a one-page comic by Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts based on the exploits of the band, No Doubt.

Looks like some good mainstream exposure for Conner and Mounts? but not so much for the naked guy.

This Has A ?Shriveled Drizzle? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Micahwatch

Micah Wright resurfaced this week, in the ?Liefeld Vs Busiek? thread over at MillarWorld. One poster wrote, ?Nice to see you back around and out of seclusion. I really mean that. Start putting out some more comics now.? To which, Wright replied:

      Hi.

 

      Thanks for the kind words.

 

      As for doing new work, oh, I will be… I WILL BE…

 

 

    I had pitched a LOT of book ideas to Wildstorm which are still mine. I’m shopping for Publishers right now. Give me about six months or so and I’ll be up and dancing in a Diamond Previews near you.

This Has A ?ROTC? Factor of Six Out of Ten


Six More Webs in the Shooter

The oft endangered Spider-Girl has won yet another six-issue reprieve from cancellation, according to series writer, Tom DeFalco:

      Thanks to the efforts of Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley and Andy Schmidt–and ALL of you guys–

Spider-Girl

      has been renewed for (at least) another six issues. We are currently guaranteed to run until

Spider-Girl #87

      . While #87 could be our last issue, we could also be extended beyond #87…if we can increase our sales.

 

      The little comic could that could is still alive–HOO-HA!

 

      Thanks for being there!

 

      Tom D.

 

      Mayday Parker?

 

      The one, true Spider-Girl!

 

    Accept NO substitutes!

This Has An ?Amazing Fantasy? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Art for Show, Not Tell

Some interesting pieces were on the Image Boards this week. An Adam Hughes Legion cover and a double-page spread from Return of Shadowhawk.


Enjoy.


An Unfortunate Twist of Fate

In a late breaking story, Todd McFarlane has lost his latest legal battle with Tony Twist. Lost, and lost big. To the tune of $15 million.

This all stems back to McFarlane?s use of a character named Tony Twist in the early issues of Spawn. The real Tony Twist (a hockey player) sued and was even awarded $24 million by a previous jury, which was overturned on appeal. This latest verdict could also be overturned on appeal, or at least greatly reduced. I mean, who in their right mind thinks that the Tony Twist character was worth $15 million? Or even the real Tony Twist?

But if the legal battle continues to go badly for McFarlane, it could threaten his toy and comic empire. To say nothing of the free speech implications. It?s doubtful that McFarlane could afford a multimillion-dollar judgement against him. This isn?t chump change. Even for him.

Hey? you know who?d be really helpful for McFarlane here? Someone who?d be great to have on his side?

Neil Gaiman.

Maybe you?ve heard of him. He?s a noted freedom of speech activist, a champion of creator?s rights, an expert witness?

Oh wait?

Scratch that.

This Has A ?Standing At The Gates of Hell? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


And that is it for this week. See you in seven.

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.

About The Author