No Gay Sex Please, We’re The Authority
So you thought last week’s Authority, if nothing else, put lie to the rumour that DC have been very edgy about the relationship between Apollo and Midnighter?
Currently Wildstorm are launching a “round robin”, asking some of the bigger names in comics to pitch to write a mature readers ongoing Authority series. Six or seven names… names I’ve heard mentioned include Matt Wagner, Brian Wood, Doselle Young, Grant Morrison and Ian Edginton.
There is one proviso. According to the pitch document, they don’t want to see any gay stuff between Apollo and Midnighter.
This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10
Ran Out Of Beans
On Thursday, the receivers were called in to online comic book publisher Cool Beans Productions and a number of employees were dismissed.
Cool Beans is a design, animation and production company based in Sheffield, UK. Prominently, it also produced Cool Beans World, a pay-comics site featuring fine work from the likes of Simon Bisley, Charlie Adlard, D?Israeli, Kevin O?Neill, Ian Edginton, Pat Mills, John Wagner and more.
I understand that the receivers are currently preparing the company for asset stripping and have told creditors that cheques sent out will no longer be honoured.
There has been no official statement issued from either Cool Beans Productions or the Official Receiver’s Office regarding the future of the company. On Friday, the phone rang without being answered and e-mails to company addresses bounced.
However, word was passed on from one former-employee who said “It’s obviously been on the cards for a while, but everyone’s a bit stunned at the suddenness of it. That’s the trouble with venture capital I suppose – if they decide to pull the plug, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”
Another stated, “The receivers have shut down Cool Beans. It’s come completely out of the blue to me.”
Pat Mills, creator of Marshall Law for CBW told me “Coolbeans certainly had a fantastic dream which I can’t congratulate them enough on. Anyone trying to do something different and exciting needs encouraging and, if it doesn’t work out, our sympathy. If the rumours are true , I don’t believe it’s the end of the line anyway. I think Coolbeans created something so special and innovative that it won’t go away. Something new and even more dynamic will emerge from it.”
For a start, Titan’s repackaging of Marshall Law: Fear And Loathing!
Borderline, the online PDF international comics magazine is one of the many ventures threatened, as Cool Beans World was recently its main source of income.
Normally expecting to report on the news, Phil Hall, editor-in-chief of Borderline, said, “We were all as surprised as the rest, but to be honest we’ve put Borderline out for so long unpaid that it hasn’t really affected us on a production level. Personally I’m fishing round garbage cans for scraps, but the magazine’s health is fine.”
What else did Hall know about the closure? “Not a lot really. I got a call from the guy we’ve been dealing with on this deal – he’d been following up the cheque that hadn’t been paid and of course found out why it hadn’t been paid!! He just said that he’d got a call from the Receiver at home – he was on vacation – telling him he was out of a job and could he come into the office and clear out his personal belongings. You’ve got to feel sorry for the innocent people involved in this venture, a lot of them didn’t know this was going to happen.”
Borderline received their first cheque, one-and-a-half-months late, and hours before they were told that it would no longer be honoured. Phil Hall, editor and publisher told me that Borderline would definitely continue for two more issues – but after that, he’d have to see. More on that story below.
The Bristol comic convention, Comics 2002 was also to have had a massive Cool Beans presence, and will no doubt have helped towards its profitability. Thankfully, organiser Kev F Sutherland told me that the cheques have cleared, even if the company doesn’t show up. Might be some spare table space going if anyone’s interested.
There is speculation that funding was being sought from Germany, based on Cool Beans’ promo film, Saintly, featuring cutting edge computer generated images. I understand that funding for the film was not found and this may have precipitated the fall.
However, with so much talented comic book work produced by top names, and the print rights still held by Cool Beans World, expect certain publishers to jump on the carcass and start ripping out the juicier bits of meat. Comics 2002 will be a good place for negotiations to kick off.
The Cool Beans World website is at http://www.coolbeansworld.com
This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10
The House Of Work-For-Hire
Marvel’s basic contract with freelance creators, reportedly cause for much nonsigning, general rumpus, and a variety of online battles has been rewritten to address creator concerns. The new contract will finally make freelance work truly work made for hire. Until this point, although Marvel creators would sign a voucher stating the work was made-for-hire, the work technically wasn?t (unless the creator had a separate agreement so stating). Under U.S. copyright law since 1978 a work by a freelancer is work-made-fore-hire only if done pursuant to a written agreement signed before the work is commenced. So, although those vouchers may validly be a transfer of rights, they did not make the work one made-for-hire.
I understand after talking to a few creators that Harris Miller, who represents most of the top talent in comics, led the fight for freelancers in negotiations with Marvel. Miller declined to comment about this story apart, apart from stating, “The revised agreement is better for creators than the first draft, and the freelance community have Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada to thank for going to bat for them within Marvel.” I have not been aware of any other attorney or agent working for the freelancers over the contract.
One freelancer currently working for Marvel described the revised agreement as having been changed to it being “now just a case of simple rape rather than the case of aggravated rape as it was initially drafted.” Some creators were reportedly so insulted or offended by the first draft and Marvel’s stance during the negotiations, that they ceased working for Marvel. I understand that this may now change too.
Based on copies supplied to me, it appears that the following amendments were made in the freelancers’ favour:
- The contract is tighter and covers only work Marvel and the freelancer intend for it cover, rather than its previous broader coverage of almost anything the creator had done and would do. Specifically “This Agreement will not in any way affect, amend or modify any Creator-Owned Agreement that has been, or in the future may be, entered into by MARVEL and TALENT.”
It now covers only material that Marvel has requested, rather than anything additional the creator produces, such as sketchbooks.
It states that Marvel will not present creators as endorsing anything without their permission.
It holds Marvel culpable if artwork is not returned and it’s Marvel’s fault.
And, yes, Marvel will pay up page rates and fees owed if the creator dies. The “pay during the creator’s lifetime only” aspect has been removed from the new contract.
The freelance agreement never dealt with incentives, which was a matter of Marvel corporate policy, but thanks to Jemas and Quesada, the lifetime restriction has been modified there as well to a certain extent (the details of which were not available as yet).
With a number of creators previously unwilling to work for Marvel because of their old contract, we may see a new flurry of creators returning.
This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10
On The Borderline
So what will happen to Borderline now? How will the closure of Cool Beans World affect this online international comics magazine? Phil Hall told me, “Not a lot really. There was a rumour I’d been considering throwing the towel in a couple of months ago, but that probably came from the frustration of dealing with some of the well known message board posters – and anyone who’s been on something like a Delphi forum knows how you can lose your cool quicker than a quick thing!”
“The bottom line is that Borderline will continue for at least two more issues. You could say I’m “contracted” with myself to do a dozen. However, the general feeling from my team and the readers is “DON’T STOP!” and, hey, if there’s anyway we can continue producing the magazine we will – even if it means me asking someone to take a lot of my work off my shoulders and allowing me to get out there and earn some sheckles!”
“One thing I’ve noticed over the last couple of months is just how important the magazine has become to some people and for the industry as a whole. That’s why I’d like it to keep on going. Yeah, we may well be allowing a little more cynicism than we ever anticipated when we started, but on the whole we offer so much more than *anything* else out there and of course, we’re free!”
So how will the lack of funding affect Borderline? “Well, it means that I have to look for work, either in or outside of comics and some of our freelancers, who were just getting their first taste of being paid journalists, have been badly let down, but they’ve all been positive about it. Mike [Kidson] keeps telling me I have nothing to feel guilty about, but I do. I was so damned proud the day Cool Beans offered us this deal and I felt that even if I could only offer them all something token, at least I *could*!”
“Seriously, both Mike Kidson and I have struggled to make ends meet since last June and we’ll probably continue to struggle until we get ourselves some paid work. But . . . we love doing it, we believe in the product–who couldn’t?–and both of us are in our 40s now and we’re enjoying having the naked women throw themselves at our feet just because of Borderline. . . . OK, I lied about the being in our 40s bit!”
What ultimately would he like to see happen with the magazine? “Borderline as a printed magazine–it’s always been the intention. Whether a physical manifestation of the magazine would be identical to the PDF version is very doubtful, but you can guarantee one thing it will have a quality about it comics fans appreciate. But my hat goes off to people like Gary Groth, Dez Skinn and that Shamus fella for continuing to get this kind of product out on the stands month in month out, what we do at Borderline is only two thirds of the work that really goes into producing a comics magazine of quality.”
“I think we’re good enough to carry print off–we’re a serious comics magazine that isn’t *that* serious about it’s subject–the middle ground’s borderline, if you like. I think we have that middle ground and that’s why over 40,000 have downloaded us since last August.”
The next issue of Borderline, issue 11, will be available from midday (BST) May 31st from http://borderline.mediahall.co.uk free.
This Has A Dez Skinn Glee Value Of 8 Out Of 10
Back To Basics
On his newly launched website, Peter David writes, ?Just finished the script for Supergirl #74… we have a major new storyline that starts with #75… which will launch a major new, and highly demanded, storyline.?
I understand that this new storyline is called “Many Happy Returns” and features Supergirl finding herself face-to-face with a young girl in a Silver Age Supergirl costume landing on Earth who introduces herself as Kara Zor-El from Argo City.
This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10
And so the dodgy rumour came down. That later this year, the new Wolverine team would be Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, the same team who worked on Fury recently for Marvel.
A quick e-mail to Darick scotched it completely. He writes, “Garth is definitely not writing it, and I may be doing some Wolverine special projects. Since Axel Alonso is the new editor people have made assumptions, and I may have been misquoted about what I’ll be doing under my new Marvel Exclusive contract. Frank Tieri and Sean Chen are doing a fine job and I don’t think anyone’s taking them off the book anytime soon. If there are plans to change the team I am not a part of that decision.”
Darick went on to say, “I am currently doing Deathlok: Detour, a MAX miniseries, and will be doing a fill in issue of the Punisher (#15) with Garth as well as a MAX Punisher project for the fall. Within all that I’m doing an issue of X-Men Unlimited with Greg Rucka, and finishing up Transmetropolitan. So there are no immediate plans for me to take on Wolverine monthly.”
This Has A Rumour Value Of 1 Out Of 10
And You Thought Thundercats Was Bad
DC have the licence to He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe and are not afraid to use it.
This Has A “I Have The Power” Value Of 7 Out Of 10
Jim Krueger is to be the new writer for Firestorm ? at least he recently bought a large run of backissues on eBay for research. A fairly telling sign?
This Has A Rumour Value Of 3 Out Of 10
More Than Meets The “Ey”
I understand that John Byrne has been commissioned to draw the cover of an upcoming Transformers trade paperback.
This Has A Rumour Value Of 5 Out Of 10
George Brewer, one of the execs involved in DC Direct’s daily business, informed several different people at WizardWorld Philly this weekend that it has been decided to discontinue the PVC set program because of poor sales.
Anything to do with recent sets being Metal Men, a third Justice Society, a second Green Lantern Corps, Silver Age Justice League Villains and Smallville (comics, not TV) all scheduled close together?
This Has A Rumour Of 8 Out Of 10
Ty Templeton appears to have sworn off Vertigo Comics. His project Bigg Time was previously edited by Heidi MacDonald, and had to go through some serious editing after DC’s legal department got involved way back. However I understand that he and Vertigo have now come to blows after Heidi’s departure, over a difference of opinion over financial matters over the project.
This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out of 10
It’s good to know that Mark Millar is still an All The Rage reader. On Millarworld he writes:
- “Jerry Seinfeld says the best revenge is living well and I swore to myself I wouldn’t bash Wildstorm anymore, but JESUS…
“Not content with turning Authority vanilla and then canning it over a painful eighteen month assassination exercise, I now hear that these guys are doing Thundercats and Christian Comics.
“(must bite tongue, must bite tongue)
“Holy fuck! Have DC replaced these guys with the Stepford editors or something?”
A couple of pages later, that tongue was unbitten.
- “Basically, I chose to attack Wildstorm/ DC because I have some insider-knowledge of the company and I have been seriously undermined by the machinations of the corporation. I’m not alone in this and this was evident by the number of people who jumped ship last year when Bill and Joe seized control of Marvel and raised the good flag.
“Authority is a perfect example. The book was brilliant, but was stuck around number eighty or ninety in the sales chart (which made no sense given that it was the best book on the market). Quitely and I took over with issue 13 and sales stayed the same. We did an international promotional stunt with Apollo and the Midnighter and sales jumped over five months to make the book not only Wildstorm’s biggest seller, but DC’s THIRD biggest. Our last issue together outsold Superman and Batman and was only beaten into third place by JLA and Kevin’s Green Arrow. We picked up a bundle of awards, got nominated for a dozen more and were named as Wizard’s book of the year.
“But they still fucked us.
“At a time when the industry was dying on its feet, this was defying all the odds and actually rising up the charts. But they still fucked us. The reason was simple; DC is a corporation and they didn’t like a character who looked like Batman having a relationship with a guy who looked a bit like Superman. They also disliked the attitude, the violence and sometimes the language, but this was always a smaller concern. Wildstorm did, however, like the sales. They liked the sales so much that they spun the book out into two ongoing series and had a whole gaggle of special projects planned. But DC were making things VERY uncomfortable for them and an eighteen month assassination took place.
“First off, they let Marvel steal Quitely. Frank would have stayed for an extra few bucks a page, but they said they wouldn’t pay him a cent. I don’t think this was planned, but it was very, very stupid. The time needed for a new artist to start from scratch would mean that the issue would be delayed a few months. Art Adams, brilliant that he is, is famously meticulous and very, very slow. This meant the book would be delayed for TEN months. Between parts one and two of my final story, they then sandwiched a four part series and then, to make matters worse, they started chopping into my scripts (and Art’s art) making the book as vanilla as possible. They liked the sales, but they didn’t like the reasons the book had so much heat. Could this be any MORE of a corporation?
“Add this to the fact that I received two personally abusive messages from the New York office (too obscene to be printed here) and had people at Wildstorm and DC briefing against me in private to Rich (Johnston) and other people at a time when everyone thought I had cancer last year, I think I have every reason to feel slighted and to lash out at what I think are a bunch of people making very bad decisions and slighting the people who have a tendency to sell a lot of comics. The final insult, I discovered last month, was when they held back the solicitation for the next Authority trade until I handed in the final dialogue for issue 29 because, and I quote, ‘we knew he wouldn’t hand it in if he saw that we were splitting his last two story arcs over two collections.’
“Again, I can only wonder at the logic of annoying a creator who’s writing two of the top 5 books at the moment, someone who sold a great deal of comics for them recently and someone who (let’s face it) didn’t bugger off. I stuck around and finished my commitment, despite everything they did to me.
“Yeah, Marvel was a piece of shit for a long time and the creators were treated badly in a great many cases, but I didn’t blame Bill Clinton for the Nixon administration. Bill and Joe have done a lot of good things since they took over Marvel. They killed the pay-freeze for creators, they NEVER interfere with the scripts, they treat the artists like artists and, no matter how much of an ass you think Jemas is, he and Joe have pulled that company from the red into the black and Marvel have 21 of the top 25 books. This isn’t just sales, this is also critical acclaim so they must be doing SOMETHING right.
“Meanwhile, I wouldn’t rule out working for DC ever again. John Byrne says that every five years and it always comes back to bite him on the ass. What I WOULD rule out is working for many of the personalities who made a lot of stupid decisions in the last eighteen months. But I don’t think they’ll be there by the time my Marvel contract expires anyway.”
This Has An Unbitten Tongue Value Of 8 Out Of 10
Here Lies Moon, Second String, Where?s Higgs?
My worthy rumour compatriot, Ian Ungstad, has also been gathering a bunch of worthy words. He reports for All The Rage:
- Update On The ThundercatsRecently a number of Thundercats Images that Dreamwave had commissioned from Brett Booth began to appear across the net. Obviously Dreamwave lost the liscence to Wildstorm . . . but apparently Wildstorm offered Thundercats to Brett Booth anyway, who had to turn the assignment down to work on the Dreamwave series Limbo City, with writer Brian Augustyn.
- Metal Hurlant UpdateWriter Alejandro Jodorowsky and Promethea artist JH Williams III will collaborate on a short story for an upcoming issue of Metal Hurlant. Williams will pencil and ink his own art with painted colors by Jose Villarubia. Look for this and the collaboration between Geoff Johns and Team Red Star (previously announced in All the Rage) to hit comic shops later this year.
- How Long Is Mike Carey Writing Hellblazer?Lucifer writer Mike Carey?s initial run was supposed to only run 6 issues . . . now it will be at least 14, maybe longer, depending if Azzarello wants to return to the title . . . at all.
- Mick Gray To Ink Batman/DeathblowDue to time constraints placed on some of Tim Bradstreet?s other assignments, inker Mick Gray will step in to help Tim finish the inking on Batman/Deathblow #3. This book has been resolicited and rescheduled.
- Brian Talbot And Bill Willingham CollaborateLook for Brian Talbot to illustrate a self-contained story “Bag of Bones” for Willingham?s new Vertigo series FABLES. The story takes place in the Louisanna bayou during the American Civil War. It won?t be till issue 11, so it?s going to be a long wait for Talbot fans. Gilbert Hernandez will also pencil a two issue arc.
Thanks Ian! Keep them coming, you hear?
Joe Speaks. The Nation Listens
We?ll leave the column with a few wise words from Joey Da Q.
Joe Quesada gave an interview a few weeks back that hasn?t received much coverage elsewhere. Shame, cos there?s some belter quotes. Click here for the full article, but here?s something to wet your whistle.
- “After we?re through, you?re going to be Spider-sick! We?re going to have people puking Spider-Man.”
“I liked it when the two companies hated each other,” he said. “It made it better for the fans. You know, if you like DC, then you hated Marvel. If you like Marvel, then you hated DC.”
“What the fuck is DC anyway? They?d be better off calling it AOL Comics. At least people know what AOL is. I mean, they have Batman and Superman, and they don?t know what to do with them. That?s like being a porn star with the biggest dick and you can?t get it up. What the fuck?”
“You know what? I?m going to have books that are going to sell a lot and are going to be critically acclaimed. So, what are you fucking going to cry about tomorrow?”
This Has A Joey, Joey, Joey Value Of 7 Out Of 10
Okay, one last last thing. In two weeks time, it’s Comics 2002, at Bristol. On Sunday at midday, there will be a very special occasion, All The Rage Live! Taking a room, it’s bound to be packed–for the first half hour anyway, until the Marvel panel starts.
I need volunteers for the door. Big burly chaps or chapesses willing to eject certain ne’er-do-wells from the event who will no doubt cause trouble–say, people with tape recorders, company lawyers, and Patty Jeres. Make yourselves known to me . . . and anyone else who fancies helping, email me at email@example.com.