Greetings and welcome to All The Rage, a column that in one form or another has been brought to you by me? for about six months so far. Here?s to another six months or more. I have this feeling I?ll be in these salt mines for some time yet.
Let?s get on with it, shall we?
Even Peter David Has an Opinion on Paris Hilton
Writer extraordinaire Peter David sums up the Paris Hilton circus at his website perfectly:
- Instead of putting her in jail or under house arrest, they should make it so that anytime she wants to drive someplace, she has to carpool with Robert Blake and O.J. Simpson.
PAD smash. Brilliant.
I never thought Paris Hilton would ever make my column. Odd week.
Thinking of Mr. David and this makes me think of Hulk which then leads me to the next logical step…
I wonder what would happen to the internets if she were selected to play She-Hulk in a film. Or even a school play?
An Editor?s Fun With Rejectees
One of my fave EiC?s out there, Jennifer de Guzman of SLG Publishing, sometimes goes over what one should not do when submitting material to an editor in her Livejournal. She uses examples of what some aspiring talent has sent her in the past and so forth. Now, everyone who works in the comics industry, heck?ANY industry that has to do with creativity, has dealt with rejection. It happens. She has some good tips for any of you out there looking to send stuff to publishers.
So, Ms. de Guzman recently tracked down a couple people that had been rejected and weren?t very happy about it. You can read about it here. The best thing to me about all this is how Jennifer and one of the ?rejectees? actually work things out and she then publicly apologises to the person for using them as an example in ?Fun With Rejectees?. I think I dig it because at least some part of this didn?t end up with people all going ?internuts? on each other. Good job, gang.
I would like to add that Jennifer probably balks in horror over my haphazard writing style if she ever reads this? Muahahahahaha!
This Has An ?It Doesn?t Always Have To End In Tears? Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten
Planetary #27 Script Done, Wil Wheaton Cheers
Fans of Wildstorm?s Planetary, who have Geek Lord Wil Wheaton in their ranks, will be excited to know that that final issue #27 has been written and sent in. Warren Ellis, who co-created the series along with artist John Cassaday posted the first page of the script to the issue online.
Wheaton, a big fan, apparently, expressed some of thoughts on this in his widely read blog:
- Like most fantastic graphic novels or comic series not called Watchmen or Sandman, I came to the party almost a decade late on this one, so I had the great pleasure of reading Planetary from start to . . . well, not quite to finish, because it’s been sitting around in its not-quite-done-but-tantalizingly-close state for just a little bit.
- He also mentions that the contents of the first page ?will provoke nerdgasms in some, head scratches in others. I am the former.
I like you, Wil. I really do.
This Has A ?Warren Never Gets A Mention Here Ever, Poor Guy? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten
Okay, well maybe not ?vs?, but it certainly sounded cool. And how many times have we seen a comic where it was all so-and-so versus whomever and they end up teaming up to beat down bad-guys who have neglected to fold their clothes properly or something.
I always feel bad for those bad guys.
Anyhow, I was talking to Christian Beranek the other day and we started to discuss the industry in general? Then I felt it would make a good interview-esque type thing, and so what you see below is what transpired. It was pretty spontaneous and off the cuff, just the way I like it. You may have heard of Mr. Beranek. He?s the guy who co-founded Silent Devil Productions and is a co-creator of the shockingly good Dracula vs. King Arthur as well as the writer on a few other things (such as The Gift and Se7en: Lust). He?s also done some editing, too. Christian is the consummate promoter who still somehow manages to be very non-annoying and sincere. He?s smart, observant, dedicated, and most of all: Driven. Like a hungry bio-mechanically enhanced triffid, I tell you. In his experience, he has gained some keen insight in regards to the comic industry. He also plays guitar and sings nicely, too?
CB: Sounds like a damn good plan.
ATR: Could you please tell our readers your background, so they get a feel of where you are coming from in this discussion?
CB: I have always created stuff. I was making my own comics since 4th grade, writing and drawing them myself, stapling those muthafuckers together. But then I discovered girls, so I lost about 8 years and had to play catch up. I realized there was no way to break into comics… so I had to create one.
ATR: And how did you do that?
ATR: But you guys certainly seem to be good at doing publishing, yes?
CB: Yeah, we sort of consider ourselves publishers by default. In the beginning we had no idea what we were doing.
ATR: How did you end up as publishers, then?
CB: We just figured that’s what you had to do. We had no clue and I am serious about that. This was before the internet gelled? before all of the resources available today were readily available.
ATR: Well, Silent Devil has done pretty decently, and has some pretty damn good comics under its belt… so you did something right.
CB: Thanks, man. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished. We’re still standing.
CB: We’re going back to the original idea about being a production company. We want to work with other publishers? we feel we can reach a bigger audience. And there are a lot of opportunities opening up in film.
CB: It is. That is not to say we haven’t done well as a publisher as we have been profitable on most of our books? just due to being so lean and hungry. The money we have made we always put back in, whether it be for travel to reach out to new markets such as Europe or to develop new ideas.
ATR: Now it goes without saying that you’ve probably developed a view on the industry… So let me ask you: What is your overall take on the comic business in general? Where do you see it going, whether it’s involving Marvel, DC or anyone else?
CB: My overall take is positive. Granted, sales for independent books are mostly in the gutter. But there are some success stories, such as Mouse Guard.
CB: Publishers like ASP are partnering up with companies such as Random House to reach a massive audience; Mouse Guard appeals to a wide audience. It?s all ages, has some Lord of the Rings qualities, and very distinct, easy to understand themes. It falls in the realm of something like Harry Potter and so parents feel comfortable buying it for kids; but there is enough in there to keep it slightly dangerous.
ATR: Yeah, it’s a good title… ?Least I think so.
CB: I really enjoy the book quite a bit. I wish there was more stuff like that out there. But in terms of Marvel and DC, they are happy to maintain the characters they have. They are basically libraries. Now they have had major success in film, so they are working to make sure they get all of their characters to the screen. Which is smart; but they are not about new ideas. That?s why it is a good time to be an indie guy; because we are lean, we are able to move quickly and test out new concepts? which is something Hollywood so desperately needs.
CB: They will. After 300, it?s become really crazy out here. A guy like me can score a meeting with some big names just because I make comics. But the window is very short. You have to get in there now because in 2 years it will all be locked down.
ATR: Yeah, I’ve noticed that more and more folks are doing comics as essentially illustrated scripts…
CB: Well, I don’t agree with the concept of making a comic just to sell a film. You have to concentrate on having a good idea first?you must tell a good story.
ATR: But these days there?s no set standard to this aspect of the industry, right?
CB: As of now, it is the fucking Wild West out here; and I’m glad to be going from town to town fucking shit up. *laughs*
ATR: Comic creators are kinda like the gunslingers or cowboys of the movie industry, huh?
CB: That’s what it feels like; at least for me. I have had a few production companies try to lock me into exclusive deals, but I don’t feel comfortable in that position. I like doing the projects that interest me. I guess it’s because I had so much freedom as an indie publisher. We just did what we wanted and I’m too old to change now.
ATR: Hey, I was just thinking of something… speaking of your projects and movies and stuff… Any chance we’ll see Dracula vs. King Arthur as a movie?
CB: I’m working on the screenplay right now, in fact, with Kickstart Productions. They just got Wanted greenlit with Universal and are working with HBO on Preacher. I really like the way they operate. My bro, Adam [Beranek], and I turned down a ton of offers and producers. We wanted to write the screenplay, so we waited for someone that believed in us.
ATR: Do you have a lot of control over the project?
CB: I have control over the first draft of the script. They?ve been great with notes and it is flowing well.
ATR: Nice. Anyone you can mention that’s attached to it? Or is that impossible to say since it’s in the early stages of development?
CB: We are at the very beginning? so far it’s just Kickstart. Once the script is ready I should have more news? We need someone who understands the book. I?m patient.
ATR: Yeah, I hear you there. You don’t want it to turn out to be Mrs. Dracula vs. Mothra, with a special appearance from Man-Spider and King Arthur or something…
CB: Hah! Yeah, there?s big chance someone could cheese it up.
ATR: Oh, man, that could really suck, too. It has a high probability factor of that if not watched carefully, you know? Going in a bit of a different direction here… What do you think of the rise in popularity of digital comics?
CB: I am all for it as a compliment to the printed page. I work heavily with the guys over at http://www.comflix.net. They get this space and are working to produce great digital content. I?ve seen the power of webcomics. I publish the collected editions of Jennie Breeden’s webcomic The Devil’s Panties. Her fans are rabid and it’s all because of the work she has done on the web.
Same goes for Tony DiGerolamo’s Super Frat. I don’t think the digital comics will kill the printed ones, however. They both need each other and there should be synergy there.
ATR: And what’s your thoughts on the illegal downloading of comics?
CB: Well… I wish they would buy the books, instead. *chuckling from both of us*
ATR: You think it can really hurt the industry as some people are saying?
CB: Sure, look at how bad off the music industry is. But the publishers need to adapt; technology changes. The publishers have to adjust. The music industry finally woke up, but they have tons of ways to make money. Publishers have the book. Maybe movie money, but that is a big ?maybe?.
ATR: What about the move to make comics that appeal to female readers? Do you think this being done in a good way? If not, what would you do to change things?
CB: I’m not sure if that will work the way they want it to work to win over an audience like that. You need to be invested for many years and they need to do it in the correct format. There needs to be more content? content that appeals to the root audience. I am not trying to bash their efforts, but I do think it is slightly skewed. I sincerely wish them the best success, because I would love to write one of those books. I work with a ton of female creators and I have heard mixed reviews of the material out there. I will say this, though– I am seeing more female readers than ever and I attribute that to crossover from the manga audience.
Tastes change over the years but people get used to a certain format, so publishers need to be mindful of what their audience is comfortable with. Super-hero fans like the standard comic format. I have spoken with retailers and when a book is released in a different size it can affect sales.
ATR: I’ve heard that, too… like about how digest sized supes books can be a gamble.
CB: Yeah, it?s a gamble; but if they want it to work they have to stick to their guns and give it the time it deserves to push over. There are very few overnight successes.
ATR: I was going to ask (and good timing on mentioning manga earlier) you what you thought of the current upswing in manga (and other Asian comics, like manhwa)? Do you think it hurts or helps “mainstream” comics publishers at all?
CB: It helps. There?s potential for crossover?
ATR: I?ve seen some crossover, but not TOO much. And then you have what I call the Heroes For Hentai flap not all that long ago…
CB: *laughs* That cover. They should be ashamed. I like Joe [Quesada] and the guys at Marvel, and I would love to work with them one day on something, but, wow, I can see why people are upset but the real outrage is that it makes no sense in relation to the material. If that cover is on a hentai book, I get it. It is actually drawn well; but in terms of Heroes For Hire, it doesn’t advance the story.
ATR: And with that, let’s advance past all the gooey Brood tentacles… Where do you see the comics industry in 5 years?
CB: Still standing! I see us shifting towards the graphic novel format. I expect that to be 75% of our sales by then. Single issues will still be around for the super-hero crows. Trades and OGNs… that is where it?s headed. *pauses* Hell, we’re already there– but it is going to become more and more of our sales base.
ATR: How about 10 years and beyond? Will indies still be around as a part of a viable market?
CB: There will always be an independent spirit. I don’t know if most indie publishers will survive most of the new indie creators are getting their start on the web and some of them are making a living doing it. You can’t really do that as a publisher, the sales aren’t high enough. Sure, there are some… but it’s quite desolate out there. You have to fight for every fan, and fans only have ?X? amount of money each month to spend on books. So you have to convince them to try your stuff out. But that usually means they have to drop someone else’s title for yours, to make room in their budget. It’s brutal, but do I think it has made people create better books. We are seeing some of the best work of all time come out and it’s due to the current market.
ATR: I’m sagely nodding in acquiescence at this very moment…
ATR: What advice can you give someone who’s trying to break into the industry, aside from using bribes and extortion to become the new All The Rage writer?
CB: Bribes work! *laughs* I would recommend starting on the web. It’s a great place to hone your skills, get feedback and build a network. Having a blog or a column is also a good way to get people to notice you. It?s a creation just like anything else? And then find your own way to make it happen.
ATR: Hmmm… A column… I?ll have to look into that.
CB: Ha! Yes, it works!
ATR: Alright, we should wrap this up before my wife wonders where I am… Any closing statements, Christian?
CB: I think we’re in a golden era of sorts. I’m happy to be working in the industry and am glad to have made so many friends. I expect the best is yet to come. Thanks for the great interview. I hope it works?
ATR: It might work… I’ll let you know… If it doesn’t work, you’re so fired, dude.
Seriously, though, I hope you enjoyed this bit. It was fun to do, a pain to edit (we yapped A LOT), and I know that some of you may feel it?s just too damn long? to which I say: We can make it through this if we just do a little dance then hug. I get to wear the Leatherface mask. What?? I paid a great deal for it and I need to use it for something, okay?
A special treat for those of you who slogged through the above conversation! Comicflix.net is gearing up to launch by July 20th. What is it? It?s a site where comics are adapted into ?moving pictures? using the actual artwork and panels of the comic; then voice actors and sound effects are added. Sort of like a radio play with the comic panels moving in places to show movement, action, articulation and all that. Prior to the launch you will be able to gain the password to the site (which is currently locked) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and having it sent to you. Then you?ll be able to preview episodes of Dracula vs. King Arthur and The Last Sin of Mark Grimm (I?ve seen them and I was pretty impressed). You will also have the opportunity to enter a contest, ?Win a Lunch with Doug Jones?. For those of you who went ?Who??, he?s the guy who played Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movie, as well as providing Abe?s voice in the animated Hellboy films. Oh, and Doug is also the fellow in the role of the Silver Surfer in the upcoming Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
This Has An ?I Swear We Weren?t Drinking? Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten
Swamp Thing and Hellblazer Grow Roots
This site HAS to been mentioned here, as I am a long-time Hellblazer and Swamp Thing fanboy. Roots of the Swamp Thing is a website which claims to be ?a comprehensive chronology of the events of DC Comics’ Swamp Thing and John Constantine: Hellblazer comic book mythos. (And not a Keanu Reeves or Heather Locklear film to be found.)?
It must be said that site creator and self professed ?unrepentant space nerd? Rich Handley has done a knock-out job and I feel that I would be committing a horrendous crime by not at least mentioning it here. Bravo, Rich, very nice work.
This Has A ?Geek At The Gates Of Hell? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten
Indie Front: Black Metal and Sky Sharks
Here are some interesting things by way of independent publishers I?ve come across or have been brought to my attention?
- is truest, grimmest comic ever crafted by mortal souls. The eternal god of destruction will wreak his vengeance on us all!
O RLY? Upon reading that I just had to take a peek? I?ve always had a soft spot for heavy metal nerds doing comics. Black Metal, upcoming from Oni Press, is a graphic novel hatched from the heads of Rick Spears (Pirates of Coney Island and artist Chuck B.B. Judging from what you can read here, it already proves to be very amusing. Throw up those horns!!
- This is Sky Sharks! High-flying, high-octane, and high adventure in a 1940s where Hitler got his butt kicked to the curb before he could do jack! This is Sky Sharks! A hand-picked team of aerial experts for hire? but only to those in need. The team finds trouble right off the deck, though, when Commander Frank Derringer accepts a food-shipment escort mission from top client Prince Ahmed. Thanks to Derringer’s loose-cannon hot shot Jason Mars, the deal turns out to be more than they bargained for! The team must retreat from the Middle East and refuel at the worst possible supply point: the floating fortress known as War-Island! From the get-go, this gun-blazing action/adventure fills you full of daylight and makes the Rocketeer bust one from its awesomeness! The art is splendiforously rendered by the incomparable Fred ?Gold Digger? Perry with a story woven from the threads of Amazing by Wes Hartman (Pirates vs. Ninjas, I Hunt Monsters)! Aim high and score a direct hit with Sky Sharks!
And it looks as exciting as the press bit reads, doesn?t it? Kudos for the brilliant line ?makes the Rocketeer bust one from its awesomeness?. Sounds like something I would say.
You know, I?m a sucker for this kind of stuff. I must have played the Xbox game Crimson Skies until my hands bled, and they bled joyously. Drop by Antarctic Press? site and see what other cool comics they have to offer.
This Has A ?How Does Someone Come Up With The Word ?Splendiforously?, Anyway?? Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten
Darth Busch Gets Beaten By Kids
Some background: At Celebration 4 (the Star Wars convention, for those of you not in the know), artist Matt Busch decided to challenge some children to a lightsaber duel after a drawing workshop with them. Get the full story and more pictures here.
I sure hope Matt said ?Impressive? when those younglings were done with him!
(There?s also an interview about Dark Lord Matt?s experience at Celebration 4 here.)
This Has A ?Sith Lord Down!? Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten
Last Minute Bits and The Closing
Here are some other things you may find of some significance?
The trailer for the film adaptation of Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith?s 30 Days of Night is up. It?s nice to see Steve Niles and Matt Busch popping up in the same ATR edition without any mention of their past feud. What? Aw, crap! Well, they did put all of that nonsense behind them, which is nice indeed.
Those of you that play the MMO game City of Heroes, may not be aware that this popular and immersive pastime is planned to be turned into a movie then probably a TV show, as Variety reports.
There?s an online petition to bring back the Spider-Man balloon or set up a Marvel-themed float the Macy?s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Yeah, I signed it.
Last, and most certainly not least, I would like to direct you to a terrific interview with Phil Hester, the talented chap doing art on Irredeemable Ant-Man (written by Robert Kirkman). This is one of the titles I cherish most on the market currently, and it could use all the love it could get. Trust me when I say it needs more readers. More readers like you? and you over there. And you too, with the funny contraption on your head.
I?d like to take this chance to thank Ryan Huston for making my vision of She-Hilton come to life (he was the one who named her ?She-Hilton?; my original idea was ?Paris-Hulk?).
Don’t forget to check out MediaGauntlet.com for me briefly opining on comics all all sorts of other content that may interest you.
And that?s it. The lights are on now and you have to go. But before you do, here?s how you can get a hold of me:
Livejournal (link: http://synabetic.livejournal.com)
ComicSpace (link: http://www.comicspace.com/steven_g_saunders/)
MySpace (link: http://www.myspace.com/synabetic)
Thanks to everyone who drops me tips, gives me suggestions, and contacts me in general. I hate to do this thing alone, so it?s nice to have you lot along for the ride.
Until next time, dear readers.