?As some of you may already know Blair Marnell is off this week, and so he has allowed me ? John Voulieris ? to guest host this weeks All The Rage. Rumor has it he is off digging out an inactive volcano somewhere in the Caribbean that he plans to use as a future base of operations.?

Well? thanks for filling in, John. But contrary to the rumors, during my vacation there were no inactive volcanoes, no Caribbean Bond-Villain style hideouts and no mutant turkeys?

At least that?s what I told the parole board.

Night of The Fanboys

We’ve got some late breaking tidbits from Mark Millar’s appearance on Fanboy Radio. For starters, Millar revealed that the Silver Age artist contributing to Wanted #6 will be Dick Giordano.

And when a mysterious caller asked if he was writing Thor, Millar replied that the following Marvel titles will be receiving new creative teams: Hulk, Thor, and Fantastic Four, and that he would be writing one of those titles.

This Has A “Millar, International Man of Mystery” Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Cross & Country

With Tom Raney?s departure to Marvel, it?s been rumored that the new Outsiders artist will be ChrisCross. An interesting theory? but it?s not happening. Instead, Cross is penciling and inking The Embalmer, which is a three-book story coming out from Humanoids. The Embalmer is rumored to be on for a 2005 release in Europe, with a US release some time after that.

Additionally, Cross is said to be developing a creator owned title as well.

This Has A ?Six Feet Under? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Cat Scratch Fever

For a long time now, we?ve been hearing that Kevin Smith was going to finish his scripts for the long overdue Spider-Man & Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do miniseries. But this time, we finally have confirmation from a reliable source, SM&BC artist, Terry Dodson, via his Yahoo group:

      I have received the script to

Spider-Man and the Black Cat #4

    , and I believe it was worth the wait. A real page turner of a script (I’m sure it had a lot to do with the fact that I was as curious as you as to what happened next!). Now, Marvel is not going to have me start drawing this until all the scripts are turned in, which makes perfect sense. So I imagine I will work on it as soon as I wrap up my MK Spider-Man project.

It’s been so long since this series was supposed to be finished, I’ve forgotten how long it was supposed to be. I believe it was shortened to five issues, so that should mean there’s only one more issue for Smith to write.

This Has A ?Seven Years of Bad Luck? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Serenity Now

The recent delay of Joss Whedon?s Serenity isn?t the only intrigue taking place behind the scenes. Word is going around that Universal wanted to do a Serenity animated feature film direct to DVD, in the vein of The Animatrix or The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury. And apparently, they were serious enough to commission a script. The writer chosen for this project was Brett Matthews, who wrote an episode of Firefly and also provided the script for Dark Fury. Matthews and Whedon came up with a story for the Serenity animated feature and Matthews was set to tackle the script.

However, for reasons that aren?t entirely clear, the Serenity animated feature isn?t happening. But that doesn?t mean this story won?t see the light of day. Dark Horse is rumored to be very interested in using the story Matthews and Whedon came up with as the basis for their first Serenity miniseries. If it happens, look for the miniseries to be written by Matthews, who already has a few comic scripts under his belt, including the Marvel Knights Spider-Man/Wolverine miniseries that came out last year.

This Has A ?Reaver Nation? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Defenders of the Night

In 1994, Disney released Gargoyles, their first (and only to date) animated action/drama series. Gargoyles was one of the few shows that rivaled the Batman/Superman Animated Series in terms of quality storytelling and animation. Additionally it has built a large and dedicated fanbase over the last few years. Now, for the tenth anniversary and eight long years after the last episode, Gargoyles is finally coming to DVD later this week, when the complete first season will be released. Earlier this week, Gargoyles creator Greg Weisman took the time to answer a few questions about the DVDs and the future of Gargoyles:

Blair Marnell: For some of our readers who may not be familiar with Gargoyles, can you describe the series?

Greg Weisman: Sure. Gargoyles is basically about a small group of tenth century, medieval gargoyles who had a spell cast on them a thousand years ago, putting them to sleep. But gargoyles sleep as stone statues. So by definition, they were frozen in stone. The terms of the spell were that the gargoyles would sleep ?until the castle rises above the clouds.? Now, from the standpoint of the mage that cast the spell, that was like saying ?until kingdom come?. But he didn?t count on modern technology and a very, very wealthy man who could literally move the castle up above the clouds. Having done that, our six gargoyles burst forth from stone and awake from a thousand years of sleep. They wake up in Manhattan in 1994 and it?s a brave new world. And they?ve got to make massive adjustments, make new friends and they make a bunch of new enemies and they?ve got a few old enemies hanging around too. It?s an action/drama, so it?s heavy on that, but it?s got humor, romance, pathos and just a little bit of social concern in there as well.

The main character is Goliath, who?s the leader of the gargoyles. He?s a strong, optimistic character who?s been through some tough stuff in his life but basically believes that someday gargoyles and humans will be able to live in peace together. He believes strongly in the gargoyle way of life, which is to protect those weaker than you and to protect each other. With him are four other gargoyles and a gargoyle beast. The other four gargoyles are: Hudson, who is an elder statesman and was the leader before Goliath. Goliath looks to him as something like a mentor. Then there are three younger, teenage gargoyles: Brooklyn, Lexington and Broadway? they picked their own names. Finally there?s a gargoyle beast named Bronx. Later in the second season, we introduced another regular gargoyle, Angela, who is Goliath?s daughter.

Our other major characters are: Elisa Maza, a New York City police detective who befriends the gargoyles in the pilot and becomes their main human ally. Then we?ve got a number of great villains, but two in particular are recurring: David Xanatos, who is a billionaire industrialist who owns the world?s tallest building in Manhattan, the Erie Building. He?s the one who moved the gargoyles and their castle to Manhattan from Scotland. Finally, last but not least, Demona, who was once Goliath?s mate. They once loved each other but Demona has intense hatred for humans and is determined to destroy humanity. So Goliath and Demona, once in love are now completely at odds. In fact, by the end of the second season, it was clear that Goliath and Elisa, the human cop had fallen for each other.

BM: Can you talk about how the fans have kept the show alive eight years after it went off the air?

GW: Almost from the beginning we had a great fan following for this series. I did two seasons of the show and after I left the show they did a third season for ABC called The Goliath Chronicles without me. But the fans have been there from day one and the show has never been off the air. If it wasn?t making new episodes, it?s been in reruns, first on the USA network and more recently on Toon Disney. So we always get new fans as well, but these dedicated fans, starting in 1997 began holding annual Gargoyles conventions called The Gathering of The Gargoyles (which can be checked out at http://www.gatheringofthegargoyles.com). These annual conventions have just been a load of fun. I?ve gone to every single one. And there have been other guests as well: voice actors, artists, writers? we?ve had huge turnout of cast and crew at various times at these conventions. These fans have just been truly faithful and have always kept the flame alive, largely on the internet, at these conventions and in other ways as well. That?s helped me keep my passion for the project alive. And I am passionate about the project. Always was and always will be, I think. But it makes it a lot easier to stay passionate when you know people want to see more. These fans have worked hard and fought hard to get the DVD set, which is being released December 7th, 2004, a few short days from now. It?s the complete first season and it?s the direct result of the fans pushing for it and because of their desire I have also pushed for it. Disney sort of turned around after a few years and said ?you know, maybe this would be a good idea?. These fans are the reason this property is still in Disney?s consciousness.

BM: What are some of the features of the DVD set?

GW: The main thing it has is the first season, all thirteen episodes uncut. There have been previous VHS releases where the pilot episodes were cut down into a single movie. This will have all five episodes of the pilot uncut plus the remaining eight episodes of the first season, also uncut. The first five episodes have a commentary track by myself and my fellow producer, Frank Paur and Keith David, the voice actor who played Goliath. There are also a couple of mini-features, one is the original series pitch from 1993 that we used to successfully sell the show, both internally at Disney and to stations across the United States. So, you?ll get to see me looking a lot younger. [laughs] The second feature is a mini-documentary on The Gathering of The Gargoyles most recent convention in Montreal, Canada. Our convention moves to a different location every year. We?ve been in New York three times, Dallas, Williamsburg, Orlando, Los Angeles and in this past year we were in Montreal. Disney sent a camera crew up there and shot a whole load of footage and edited it down to a pretty cool little documentary where the fans, myself and Keith David all talk about the show and what it meant to us.

It?s a nice little package and I hope it does really well. Because I think if it does really well it means we?ve got a good shot at getting the second season out on DVD and maybe even original material down the line. I also think this may pave the way for other Disney Television Animated shows to go out on DVD, because there are a lot of great shows that are still unreleased, like Gummi Bears, DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Talespin, and Aladdin.

BM: What do the DVDs mean to the future of the Gargoyles franchise?

GW: To some extent, I think this is a make or break opportunity for the fans of Gargoyles. If this DVD sells well, REALLY well, then Disney is going to see that they can make money on this property. And if they can do that, they?ll want to continue making money from this property. They?ll release more DVDs and potentially other things as well. There?s nothing I?d like more than to come back and do an original direct to DVD animated Gargoyles movie, or a series or one of the six spin-off sequel or prequel series we developed. I?d also love to do a lot of ideas and material that I?ve got in my head and on paper that we didn?t get to cover in the 66 episodes I worked on. I?d love to do Gargoyles novels or comic books. My background is actually in comic books, I worked for DC for years and years. I?d really enjoy doing a Gargoyles comic book. If this DVD demonstrates that there is money to be made here then I think that stuff has a good chance of all happening. Touchstone even has a live action movie in development, which is on hold at the moment, but again it depends on the DVD. This is a chance for the fans to prove to Disney in an objective way that they are ready, willing and eager to support Gargoyles.

The flip side of this, of course, is a little scary. Which is if the DVD doesn?t sell that well then Disney is going to shrug and sort of walk away from it. And it will be more difficult to get people interested in pursuing more stuff in the Gargoyles universe. I?m very excited about the DVD release and I?m crossing my fingers. I?m extremely hopeful but also a little nervous. If it does sell well, then the sky?s the limit.

This Has A ?Stone by Day, Warriors by Night? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


Hellspawn

An update on the status of the new Spawn Animated Series was posted earlier this week at Spawn.com:

      After an extensive search for a writer who could take the series in the direction Todd envisions, we have our man? or, well? actually, we have our men. As it turns out, no one could quite wrap their mind around Todd?s vision in a manner that was up to par, so Todd, along with Brian Holguin (writer of the

Spawn

    comic book), set about creating the outline for the series themselves. They have already turned the first draft in to the animation studio and work should begin on the first script within the next week or so.

Now that things have begun moving in the right direction we should have some very interesting details to share over the next few months, so stay tuned.

No word yet on where the new Spawn Animated Series will end up, but it almost certainly will not be returning to HBO.

This Has A ?Clownspotting? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


He Is The Law

In about three weeks, Will Eisner?s John Law will make its print debut with the release of Dead Man Walking. With a long running webcomic at ModernTales.com. John Law has already built a steady following under the stewardship of Gary Chaloner. Recently, Chaloner took the time to elaborate on the history of John Law and the future of the series in print:

    Kurt Busiek traveled half way around the world to my hometown of Perth in Western Australia. He was there to do a signing at Quality Comics, which is slightly spooky now that I think of it, because the characters I’m working with featured in Quality Comics titles back in the 30s and 40s. Kurt got me in touch with Denis Kitchen, who ended up representing a few of my comic book properties. I put forward the idea of developing one of Will?s lesser-known characters, always having John Law in mind. Denis asked Will and the rest is history.

I originally thought of running the series on Will?s web site, but at around the same time, Joey Manley was launching ModernTales.com. Seeing an opportunity to get the new Law series up and running quickly in an environment that included work by Roger Langridge, Tom Hart, Donna Barr, Lea Hernandez and James Kochalka (to name a few), I approached Joey and he happily invited Will to place the series there. I thought it would be a great way for readers to see what the new John Law is all about, without having to wait for the planned print series to go through production, solicitations and release.

Now, though, after several years of online publication, we have Will Eisner?s John Law: Dead Man Walking from IDW Publishing.

This first print edition from IDW is pretty damned special. It collects three of my stories that set up the premise for the new series. It also has the original three stories produced by Will Eisner back in 1948. These stories were turned into Spirit stories, but for this edition, we?ve restored the original art and dialogue, as well as coloring the stories in glorious new gray tones. I?ve seen the printed product… and Will?s art has never looked so good. IDW have done a wonderful production job, as usual. I think it?s worth the cover price just for these classic Eisner tales!

My job with John Law, was to try and keep the soul of the character Will created alive, but separate John Law and Denny Colt from their common, comic book origins. That?s what allowed me pick and choose elements from Will?s original work, plus add my own bits and pieces to flesh out the new interpretation of Crossroads and the cast.

Having a look back at how it?s developed, I suppose the best way of describing the series is Dick Tracy meets The Godfather meets Karl Kolchak (!) with the human touch of Bruce Springsteen?s lyrics… all filtered through Will?s original stylings.

I want readers to care about Law and what happens to him. I want readers to like him… or at least care about what happens to him. I?m not looking to do a heavy crime comic here, but stories about an ensemble of characters. Much the same way Will developed a close-knit cast in The Spirit. He said to me when we were developing Law: ?Keep the stories human.?

Will?s been so supportive of what I?m doing with the stories. With the release of the Dead Man Walking, I?m hoping that more people will visit ModernTales.com to read more of the new adventures as I produce them, as well as support the IDW print edition well enough to keep it in print and allow me to produce many, many sequels. I?ve got a lot of Law stories to tell… a whole stack are already in production. The characters have a life of their own now – and I?d like to see them all in print through IDW.

This Has A ?Hardboiled? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Wings Over the World

Warren Ellis? recent webcomic musings have had an almost immediate impact upon the strips that he mentioned. Case in point, Athena Voltaire, of which Ellis said:

      Paul Daly, Steve Bryant and Chad Fidler’s Athena Voltaire: classic adventure comics in the authentic pulp style. Imagine the likes of

The Mummy

      and

Van Helsing

    were actually, you know, good.



Athena Voltaire creator and artist, Steve Bryant had this to say about Ellis? endorsement:

      It was great to get the “Warren Ellis Stamp of Approval” I mean this is a guy who our entire creative team follows

everything

      he does. And the result was

huge

    . And immediate. In the first 24 hours after Warren mentioned us on his blog, we had about 700 people checking out the strip for the first time. Of course, the numbers gradually dropped off after that initial spike, but we still ended up with well over 1,000 first-time readers. The trick is keeping them coming back.

Holding their interest could be pretty tough, I admit. On our regular schedule, we’re doling out a page a week. But this holiday season is squeezing color god Chad Fidler really hard (with deadlines and family obligations), we’re going to update every other week in full color instead of going black-and-white for a short period. We want to do right by the readers and the story, and that means creating breathtaking epic visuals for the story’s finale in full color. Worst case scenario, this will only go on through the end of the year or so (2-3 strips).

On those weeks where we won’t have a new strip, the newest strip will still be available, as well as some additional material: pin-ups, concept art, etc. Hopefully the readers will keep checking in; we promise to make it worth their while.

In February, following the conclusion to Athena Voltaire: The Wrath From The Tomb, we kick off our next storyline, A Rescue on Formosa. It’s a short story (10 pages), mostly a quick dust-up to re-establish Athena and cleanse the palette after finishing up a sprawling epic.

A Rescue on Formosa is actually already completed. It marks a switch in format from the horizontal comic strip layout of our first two arcs to a traditional comic book vertical page layout. Formosa was nearly the follow-up to our first arc, The Terror in Tibet. But we opted to do Wrath in a horizontal format, too, so that Terror wouldn’t be an anomaly. With Wrath and Terror, we’d like to eventually package them as a trade paperback, Athena Voltaire: The Complete Webstrips.

While we’ve been juggling all of the webcomic stuff, we’ve also been working on a print project that we’re starting to shop, Athena Voltaire: The Flight of the Falcon. Paul [Daly, Athena Voltaire writer] has the story done, I have the first 12 pages penciled, inked and lettered and Chad will start coloring them in early 2005.



We get to really play up the whole “globetrotting aviatrix” thing, with the action taking place on 6 different continents! Plus, there’s two lost cities, an ancient artifact, black magic, nazis and more! It’s set for 96 pages and we’ll either do it as an OGN or a mini-series, at the publisher’s discretion. We haven’t found a home for it yet (although we’ve received some inquiries), but interested publishers can contact me through the Athena Voltaire website. Regardless, we’ll begin shopping it in earnest early next year.

This Has A ?High Adventure Takes Flight? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


The Bat of Tomorrow

Neal Adams recently took the time to redesign Batman?s costume over at his website:

If I redesigned Batman, I wouldn’t exactly redesign him. I would revamp him. I would find the perfect story to do this in and I would attempt to correct errors made along the way as well as make the costume do the work better. I would take disadvantages of the old costume and make them into advantages.

  1. The fins on the gloves should not be fabric, but pointed and sharp. The blade should be hidden and pop out with a muscle twitch.
  2. Batman’s Belt. The old capsules ceased being effective 25 years ago. No, they never were effective, nor is a World War 2 garrison belt. But a utility belt, as in a carpenter’s utility belt that holds weapons, grapplers, guns and crime-fighting paraphernalia as a uniquely designed true utility belt would be perfect.
  3. Boots are thick soled ninja boots with wraparound flaps velcroed up his leg. In the shank, weapons.
  4. Costume. Bulletproof and watertight, thermal coils and refrigerant coils throughout, acid resistant, padded at the shoulders and riddle with structural supports for (if needed) a kind of super strength.
  5. Cowl is pulled over a face plate containing radio, infrared biometrics and night vision as well as video feed. A waterproof breathing mask slides and seals over the face for breathing underwater. (Oxygen in utility belt.)
  6. Bat symbol subtle but bold. Dark against dark.
  7. Cape stiffens for flight. Acts as fins underwater.

Same ol’ Batman. Man of tomorrow.

Thanks to Alex Segura Jr. (from The Great Curve) for the tip.

This Has A ?Bat Wave of the Future? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Bendin? In The Wind

Brian Bendis posted these two pics at Jinxworld earlier this week. They?re from What If Jessica Jones Joined The Avengers? and New Avengers #2.


Enjoy.


That?s it for this week. Thanks again to John for filling in last week. That won?t be the last you see of him here. He?ll be back on Dec 26 during my Christmas vacation. But in the interim, he has an interview with Roger Stern, which will be going up on SBC very soon.

See you in seven.

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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