All-CrossGen Special

It must be hard being Paul Levitz. Not only are you President of the USA?s biggest comic publisher but you?ve also got to contend with some snide little internet column from the arse end of nowhere taking cynical, bitter and quite pathetic pot shots every Sunday. It?s just not on.

Which is why, this week, Paul Levitz gets a well deserved rest. Of late, some at CrossGen have complained that they don’t get the same treatment as other companies. Let All the Rage put a stop to that now and declare an All-CrossGen Special as we focus our attention on the company and holy leader, Mark Alessi.

First, know this. The following stories come from a variety of sources, but all originally seem to have some beef with CrossGen or other. Consider, when reading, the motivations of those who felt the need to email me details of these stories, and how much you?d rely on their word in such a situation. However this was also filtered through CrossGen sources who pointed out a couple of absolute duds along the way. Read the Rumour Barrier again, then come back.


Always


This month’s CrossGen titles all have a fake Coke ad in the back, featuring the characters from Sojourn and Coca-Cola products.

I understand that CrossGen have produced this as a favour for Wizard, who are still trying to court Coca-Cola, and that it was well received both inside Wizard and Coke. And CrossGen liked to so much, they decided to publish it inside their own mags too.

The printed ads carry a line stating that it is not a paid advertisement. Coke, the logo, and its distinctive likeness are all registered trademarks of Coca-Cola International. Thing is, Coca-Cola is one of the more litigious companies out there and might not welcome such exposure of their product, even if it?s in a free ad. From the Coca-Cola website: “All images remain the property of The Coca-Cola Company. Under no circumstances can these images be used for any personal or commercial purpose.”

However I understand that CrossGen are playing such a risky game on purpose – they’re gambling the chance of getting a Cease And Desist from Coke, to getting some attention within the company and kick-starting some future co-operation. And the word is, they just might have found it.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Vote Early, Vote Often

And as to the Wizard Awards ads interrupting the story, as CrossGen vowed they?d never do, Tony Panaccio, VP of Product Development says, ?The Wizard ballot was necessary, because we needed to mobilize our fans to help us overcome the unfair advantages that other publishers have over us because of the way they do business in this industry.?

However, recently CrossGen have done business in this industry by encouraging those who enter the Wizard Awards to break the rules by voting multiple times, indeed stating that Wizard would accept them when Wizard themselves say they wouldn?t.

I understand that much of this was an attempt to force Wizard into counting the write-in votes, when in the past they?ve all but been ignored by the counters. However by breaking Wizard?s own rules, they may have gone that little too far.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10


Run, Rabbit, Run!

This is the memo that Chris Oarr sent to all creatives at CrossGen concerning the Harvey Awards that caused such a fuss across the internet. Not quite as bad as been portrayed as some, and hardly organised ballot stuffing…

      To: All Creative Staff

 

      From: Chris Oarr

 

      Date: March 11, 2002

 

      Re: 2002 Harvey Awards Ballot

 

      Along with the Eisners, the Harvey Awards is the longest-running and most prestigious award in American comics. Unlike the Eisners, however, the Harveys ballot and final winners are determined solely by the people who actually make the comics – writers, pencillers, inkers, and colorists. No retailers, fans, or non-creative staffers have a vote, and there is no “blue-ribbon panel” deciding on the nominees. That?s what makes the Harvey?s special: It is an opportunity for the creative community to honor their own.

 

      The Harvey Awards are a two-step process, beginning with the nominating ballot I?ve attached. You may name up to five nominees per category (or none at all). These are not weighted in any way, so it doesn?t matter who you list first or last. The Harvey Awards administrator will tally all nominees and place the top five on the final ballot. You will also have an opportunity to vote on that ballot.

 

      Over the years, the Harvey Awards have developed a reputation for honoring “artsier” or “avant garde” material. It is true that Chris Ware has gotten a lot more nominations than Alex Ross. As a former member of the Harvey Awards committee, however, I can assure you that that is a simple function of who responds. There is no bias, because there is no central committee calling the shots. It?s simply a matter of who bothers to turn in their nominating ballots in time. And, believe me, every vote counts in the nominating phase, which has a lot lower rate of response than the final multiple-choice ballot.

 

      While no one controls the Harveys nominating process, other publishers can and do mobilize their freelancers to vote. That has tipped the scale on more than one occasion, and that?s why I?m making sure that you get this ballot. I don?t care to dictate whom you vote for. I just want to make sure that CrossGen?s creative staff has a voice in the process. You guys are doing some very special work down here, but that doesn?t mean that the rest of the creative community is necessarily aware of it. As you know, a lot of comics professionals don?t even read comics! Don?t be shy about nominating your colleagues here at CrossGen or even yourself if you think the work deserves consideration.

 

      It would be a great honor for a young publisher such as CrossGen to earn a Harvey nomination or two. You all are doing some very special work. Let?s make sure that work is given its due recognition.

 

    If you take the time to fill them out, I will make sure that the ballots get to the Harveys administrator in time. I?ll be collecting ballots at the end of the week (Friday, Feb. 15).

I understand that 35 ballots were sent in by CrossGen staff. Hardly a huge amount – but when the short deadline of the Harvey’s only caught 170 ballots in before the cutoff, suddenly it’s a whole different story.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Colour Me Curious

Brian Rebur, the colourist on Radix, used to work at a major aerospace company. He posted frequently on the CrossGen boards, before the Middleton meltdown that got CrossGen all riled and Josh all fired. He got drawn into a controversial debate or two. Alessi didn’t like it, and contacted his employer (as some of the postings were made while he was at work) and asked if this was an appropriate way for their employee to be spending his time. He was fired. Now he’s a comic book colourist. Funny how these things work out.

When contacted about this rumour, Rebur told me, ?I’m not at liberty to comment at this time.?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 6 Out Of 10


Contesting The Law

Hero Realm have taken their absolute hatred of Bill Jemas and expressed it as an absolute love for Mark Alessi. As well as some of the most positive coverage on the net for Alessi and CrossGen, Hero Realm had a “contest” featuring a lunch with Alessi as a prize. Aside from a lack of warning not to drink the Kool-Aid in such a situation, this contest can only be entered if you purchase a membership to Comics On The Web, CrossGen?s new online comics portal. Each person who buys a subscription ensures a kickback is given to the site who put them there, including SBC itself!

Of course, this makes it a lottery, illegal in a number of countries and states. And a federal crime. When this was pointed out to them, Hero Realm did a quick double take, got some advice from CrossGen and changed the contest to have a ‘No Purchase Necessary’ clause.

Later, Hero Realm explained the change by indicating that they?d put up the wrong text by mistake and had replaced it with the intended text. This is not the case.

But it looks like the FBI agents won?t be circling the CrossGen compound after all.

The original competition text can be read here.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10


Cover Story

I understand that the display of Wizard?s Top 100 Comic Covers at Megacon didn?t go down to well with Mark Alessi when not one CrossGen cover was featured. Alessi ?jokingly? kneed Wizard?s Jim McLaughlin in the bollocks. So much of a joke, that Jim doubled up in pain.

Still, beats being dry-humped by Ron Garney, eh readers?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 5 Out Of 10


Everybody?s Talking ‘Bout It

Every CrossGen employee has a non-disclosure aspect of their contract (as well as that pesky non-competition clause) that lasts a lifetime and covers everything that goes on within the company? Forever? Which puts them up with the likes of Avatar ? except, of course, this contract covers the creatives as well as the execs.

Naturally this ensures that a number of CrossGen projects such as Comics On The Web or the Compendias remain a secret until the planned unveiling ? and to stop competitors from stealing a lead. But the lifetime aspect of the contract is an unusual one ? and may cause some ructions in the future.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


I Fought The Law

Talking of which, almost every single ex-CrossGen employee is involved in some kind of litigation with CrossGen or Mark Alessi. Aside from a few receptionists, a support member of staff or two, and Kevin Sharpe, it?s good to be a lawyer.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10


Freedom Of Impeach

Alessi is considering having CrossGen IT people trained by the FBI to track down hackers – and using them to chase people who post what Alessi considers to be ?actionable? items on the internet? Whether that?s statements from fans or pirated versions of Comics On The Web. Not only that, but the an FBI employee and CrossGen fan suggested it.

Hang on, I thought the FBI were meant to camp outside the CrossGen compound, not collaborate with them. What?s going on?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Waiding In Deep

As to Mark Waid?s refusal to accept the Harvey nomination for Ruse, CrossGen?s response that it was because he didn?t want sole credit, and Waid?s denial of that, I hear it?s a very personal thing indeed. Even letting go of Waid?s distaste of anything even once associated with Fantagraphics (not including himself), it seems that this was a middle-finger aimed at Mark Alessi, who Waid seriously fell out with when working at the CrossGen compound. CrossGen?s then attempt to spin the story into something positive, albeit incorrect, can only have made matters worse.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 6 Out Of 10


Future Of CrossGen

So why is everyone paying attention to this small company, without so much as 5% of Diamond’s marketshare (important that – since after it gets over 5%, Diamond’s Terms of Sale change with CrossGen and Diamond start to have to treat them differently – say is that why Diamond have been so bad with fulfilling CrossGen backstock?)

They’sve got the money and drive to succeed, pushing comics outside the usual and expected areas. With major web portals being signed up to push content, with movie and multimedia deals coming out of all their sigils, this week CrossGen hit Los Angeles with plenty meetings scheduled all over the place. With Comics On The Web, the new trades and increased distribution, it looks like there’s one or two more shoes to drop from the CrossGen caterpillar in the upcoming months… including TV/movie announcement lined up for next week. It’s with a producer of some note, and involves more than just a television or film relationship?.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


A Supergirl’s Intuition

Right, enough about CrossGen, what else is going on?

What was the relevance of the timing of Peter David’ recent Open Letter about the pricing of Captain Marvel and offering to write the book for free? Could it have anything to do with a meeting about the future of Supergirl at DC? Maybe a practical demonstration that he still has what it takes to make a big media event?

If so, it may have worked. Despite prominent industry rumours that Supergirl was to follow Superboy for the chop, I hear that’s not the case anymore. Not after Friday, anyway. Supergirl is staying around. A controversial storyline has been approved that may result in an old character being made new again. Seeds are sown as of #73, and the full reveal is in #75.

He’s a canny lad, that Peter David. If he really is the dinosaur some make him out to be, then he’s learning to flap.

On that note, Peter David’s suggestion that he write Captain Marvel for free(ish) until sales recover, that the price not go up and a bit of promotion be carried out for the title in return is a terribly New Marvel idea. Paul Levitz would never countenance such a thought? so Joe Quesada should.

Damn, I wasn’t going to mention Paul anymore. It’s all ruined. Ah well.

And as of yesterday afternoon, my local comic shop had not only sold out of the new Captain Marvel issue, but all their back issues. And the trade.

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10


Colour Of Money

Further to last week’s rumour that Mark Millar and Paul Grists’ The Insiders is to be reprinted by Avatar, I heard an amusing story about the? unusual colouring on that project.

Mark Millar had a welder friend who suddenly needed money fast. Mark, who was just starting to make a small name for himself in the UK comics industry asked him if he could do comics. The welder couldn’t draw or write. Mark tried him out lettering. The welder couldn’t letter. All there was left was colouring.

So Millar told Grist that he’s found this incredibly experienced and artistic colourist for The Insiders. The welder coloured the story. Grist thought it was… interesting, colour was everywhere, green faces and never within the lines.

It was published, the welder got thousands, and he decided to retire from comics.

Maybe Avatar will need to spent a little on the production here?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 6 Out Of 10


Trial Notes

From Todd McFarlane?s response to Neil Gaiman?s suit, printed at Newsarama, a few notes…

The statement includes the following:

      “From the mid 1980s to the early 1990s, Todd McFarlane worked as the graphic artist and/or writer on a variety of comic books, including

The Incredible Hulk

      published by Marvel Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Marvel Comics and

Batman

      published by DC Comics. Eventually, he became the sole writer and graphic artist on Marvel Comics’

Amazing Spider-Man

    .”

Todd McFarlane drew Detective Comics, only contributing a cover to Batman. He wrote and drew Spider-Man, only drew Amazing Spider-Man. Even then, there were issues of Spider-Man where his peers helped out on inking duties.

As to:

      “Mr. McFarlane was the sole creator, writer and graphic artist of Issue I of

Spawn

    , which debuted in May of 1992.”

Maybe Neil Gaiman’s team should call Spawn issue 1 co-writer Lance Gueck to the stand.

And again:

      “In 1996, TMP reprinted

Spawn

    Issue 9, along with Issues 6, 7, 8 and 10 in Volume 2 of the Spawn trade paperback series.”

Not issue 10. Dave Sim, the writer, asked/told Todd not to. Although not material to the suit, these factual errors could cause problems for Todd?s case if they?re shown up.

Also if that issue 10 story could be withdrawn by Dave Sim, does he have creative control? How about the Moore and Miller issues? Are we to believe that they all got a different creative deal from Gaiman? As for Moore, the character he later created for Todd, Celestine, was referred to as copyright Alan Moore.

I understand that DC will comply with the wishes of the prosecution or defence if employees are called to the stand. Specifically, it looks like DC Comics will take the stand to defend Gaiman?s statement about what his deal with DC was, the deal that caused Todd to say Gaiman was defrauding him and seems to have started this whole kerfuffle. If that point disappears, what?s left for Todd?

Maybe it?s this ? Neil?s statement, “It?s your playground ? I?m just in for an afternoon on the swings.” That could be interpreted as an admission of work-for-hire.

Either way, Todd must have got something else here. Let?s wait and see? but if Moore, Miller and Sim are called to testify, we might have the best comics trial since Wertham.

Popcorn anyone?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10


Bribery And Corruption

I’ve been told that Chris Claremont will be in the UK next Saturday, doing a signing down at Chaos City Comics in St Albans from 2 to 4pm. The shop offered me a bribe to announce this and I’ve gladly accepted, suggesting a Preacher trade or two. Go here for details.

I’m still open to all offers, folks.

This Has A Get-Your-Sovereign-Sevens-Here-Folks Value Of 8 Out Of 10


On That Note

Howard Stangroom of 30th Century Comics passed me a freebie copy of the new Comic Creators’ Guild Magazine – and a fun read it is to. Highly recommended and well worth a butchers. With more original Donna Barr stories, a good stack of Obituaries (guys, did you really have to do this by putting Death on the cover?) Duck stuff, X-stuff and Paul Gravett, maybe you should contact the CCG at [email protected] to try and get your copy.

This Has A How-Low-Will-He-Go Value Of 6 Out Of 10. I can go far lower?


All The Rage Live

As part of Comics 2002, the British comic convention at Bristol, scheduled for Jubilee weekend 31st May-2nd June, All The Rage will be holding a panel. All the stuff I’ve stopped myself from talking about, promised that I wouldn’t print. Scheduled smack opposite the big Marvel panel, it should be a small affair but just to be sure, there will be limited seating with free tickets available from the convention. There will be no comic book professionals allowed in the room, unless they’re willing to come to the panel and blab their heart out.

More details to come. Be seeing you?

This Has A Rumour Value Of 9 Out Of 10


About The Author