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Something of interest Dez Skinn posted to the Comics International group a little earlier concerned Marvel/Miracleman, which Dez Skinn commissioned and first published in Warrior.

He writes, as to the rights to the character go, “I seem to recall the Eclipse contracts had a ‘5 year rights reversion’ clause. Must dig the file out when we’ve moved. Not sure who the “original creators” would be offhand, presumably Messrs Moore, Leach and Skinn. But if it has reverted, that kind of cuts McFarlane’s share out, if such trivial things as ownership concerns him…”


This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10

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I’ve been told that Comic Shop News, the free weekly newspaper distributed to a large number of comic shops, hasn’t been running much Marvel coverage of late, much to the chagrin of their press and PR people. Sources close to Marvel believe that this is down to either a) Marvel not buying ad space in the publication or b) CSN writer Cliff Biggers being one of the retailers totally fed up with Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas.

Marvel seems to have trimmed its advertising, these days you’ll be lucky if you see more than two ad pages in Wizard a month. However, Marvel does make plenty of graphics, interviews and content available to comics publications for free (although try asking them about what Marvel paid to CrossGen to get Bryan Hitch out of his contract and see what happens).

Anyway, other mags such as CI, Tripwire, CBG, hell even TCJ, seem to be happy to run Marvel news in abundance. Indeed my column has, on occasion, become stuffed full of the latest Marvel shenanigans. And indeed the Marvel editors and PR people get comp copies of such magazines which helps them decide future publicity, interviews and the like.

Apart, apparently from CSN, which I’m told doesn’t send comp copies to Marvel. Well, after all, they aren’t buying ads… chicken and egg anyone?

So where’s all this leading?

Well, I’ve heard that Marvel and CSN went from having a frosty relationship to an all out war when CrossGen’s regular ad, in the form of a strip cartoon, started taking humourous potshots at Marvel and other publishers, even other comic creators. And some didn’t think they were that humorous.

I hear Joe Quesada rang up CSN and told them that if they continued to run the CrossGen ads, Marvel would stop sending them content to use. Despite CSN not using that much anyway, I hear they agreed and will now vet CrossGen’s ads in advance.

Cliff Biggers, editor of CSN, has a different take, telling me, “CSN did not change any policies as a result of any letter written by Joe to CSN. Joe Quesada has been very good about discussing concerns with me as retailer and as a publisher, and I am always glad to hear from Joe regarding his concerns as well.” This was very specific language, and any attempt to ask whether CrossGen ads would run in CSN without any further CSN involvement, if CSN had expressed no concerns to CrossGen about their content and if CSN was happy with the ads that have run so far, was rebuffed with, “Those questions aren’t matters that I feel are appropriate for public discussion” followed by a repeat of the previous response and, “CrossGen continues to advertise with us, and we have a very positive relationship with them.” This also leaves the allegation that changes were made after Joe made a phonecall, as opposed to writing a letter, unanswered.

However, the picture starts to fit together further after talking to someone who heard CrossGen’s side of it all. That Cliff did receive a call from Joe and that Cliff called CrossGen in a bit of a whirl. It transpires that Joe, rather than calling CrossGen direct about their advert, decided to go through Cliff. And, as we heard, threatened to pull Marvel content if the ads continued.

I hear from CrossGen that award-winning editorial cartoonist Dave Lanphear had been drawing the CrossGen cartoon for about a year and had mostly been used to make potshots at CrossGen itself, but of late had criticised what they saw as idiotic company policies – such as printing to order, rockstar artists, creating variant covers or encouraging the transient speculators market.

I hear CrossGen then wrote to Joe, expressing their displeasure at his tactics but, wishing no harm to befall Cliff, have decided to withdraw the cartoon.

I also hear that some CrossGen staff thought the strip wasn’t as funny as it used to be and were thinking of making changes anyway.

Why Marvel felt it necessary to threaten the messenger rather than the source is unclear. But Cliff did try to clarify the question of CSN’s Marvel coverage, stating:

“CSN runs Marvel covers; however, there have been some deadline conflicts at times in getting information from some Marvel creators in time for a CSN cover. Faced with a choice of responding for a CSN story or getting the latest issue of a comic out on time, I think we’d all agree that the wisest thing for a creator to do is to focus on the book, not on CSN. For example, a recent cover for Marvel had to be bumped because we weren’t able to get the necessary info from the book’s writer in time. However, we’ve been in contact with that writer on multiple occasions since then and are still working with him to get a story that we can give cover placement to.

“CSN routinely sends a bundle of each issue to advertisers; we send a single comp copy to many other publishers. When we asked Bill Rosemann to whom we should send the comp copy, he indicated that he was already getting CSN through his local comic shop, so that was unnecessary. So Marvel was not cut off from CSN.

“And I should point out that there’s a big error in your story regarding the coverage that Marvel gets: the company receives a great deal of coverage, with art, in CSN every month. We have not dropped
our Marvel coverage, nor have we any intent of doing so. Our monthly coverage of Marvel is quite strong, in fact. And thanks to cooperative efforts from Joe Quesada, Bill Rosemann, Axel Alonso, Michael Marts, and many creators, we will continue to offer prominent Marvel coverage.”

Cliff concluded saying, “Just went through a recent ten-issue run of CSN; approximately 17% of our total editorial content (not counting ads) was devoted to Marvel. That’s the second-most space devoted to any publisher. So I’d say that any claims that we’re ignoring Marvel are most seriously in error.”

The CSN website however tells a different story, with Marvel being far outstripped in terms of content compared to other companies in a month where Marvel have had more news available than anyone.

Cliff responded to this saying “CSN’s website is only a SMALL part of what CSN is. Remember, our
primary responsibility is to comic SHOPS and their customers; we use the website as more of a promotional tool for CSN, offering a limited selection of the material that comprises the printed issue. Far less than 25% of what’s in each printed issue of CSN ever makes it to the website–in the case of some issues, it’s less than 10%. We continue to offer news highights and coverage on the site, but that’s a VERY secondary focus to us. The site is, in effect, a teaser for the printed issue. We put far more time and include far more material in the print issue–including more art, more stories, more CSNsider,
more reviews, and many other features that we do not offer on the website.”

However, this doesn’t explain, if true, why the website is very unrepresentative of the published magazine…

This Has A Rumour Value Of 5 Out Of 10

Sign Of Cancer

You know what? I really don’t like those anti-smoking ads paid for by tobacco companies in comics, purporting to persuade teenagers not to smoke but instead

  • Often making it look cool to do so.
  • Having some strange internal logic that goes, “If you’re a teenager, smoking can do horrible nasty things to you. But once you’re an adult, it’s fine! Knock yourself out!”
  • Oh, and if you’re younger than a teenager it’s fine too. 9 year olds, start chain smoking now!

Joe, any chance you could talk to your sales team about those ads too? Bring back Nick O’Teen, that’s what I say.

This Has A Bad Ad Value Of 9 Out Of 10

Phill In

We hear that WildCATS penciller, Sean Philips schedule for the next few months includes a Tangled Web one-off, 3 fill-in issues on the Brotherhood (still with Howard Mackie scripts), part of X-Men #400 and then Ed Brubaker’s Sleeper project for Wildstorm.

What a busy boy!

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10

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