“Oh, don’t forget to check out next week’s ATR as the SBC editorial team in its definitely finite wisdom unleashes a brand new writer on the world… what will this make it? Seven now?”

That’s right, lucky number seven. Allow me to introduce myself:

I’m Blair Marnell, co-writer of Tangents: One Shots over at Gravitywell.com, and occasional news reporter here at SBC. I’ve been able to send a few stories Markisan’s way for ATR in the past, and he very generously recommended me for one of the guest slots during his sabbatical.

I’ve come to think of this one-off gig as ATR writer as a mixed blessing. Usually, I’m the one waiting for the latest installment to be posted. Now, I’m the one scrambling for info. Markisan does such a good job on a week-to-week basis that he makes this look easy. Trust me, it’s not.

However, I do have a few advantages. Over the years I’ve met a lot of comic creators. And for the past week I’ve been hitting them all up for any news they’ve heard. Not always with success. For example, I called two artists in the Pacific Northwest who happen to share a studio. When I asked them if they had any rumors for me, they said, “We get all of our rumors from All The Rage.”

ARGH.

Anyhow, on with the show…

Where’s The Rage?

ATR has never been a stranger to controversy, but rarely has it caused this many problems. Astute readers who caught it last Sunday might remember that former master of rage, Ian Ungstad briefly returned to the column. And I mean briefly. It was pulled in less than 24 hours. From what I understand, there were a lot of complaints about Ian’s “blind items” from fans and comic industry professionals.

We apologize if anyone was offended.

This Has A “Support The Rage” Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten


Uncle Mike Wants You

A number of comic creators have been scrambling to get proposals together lately. However, they’re not pitching to the usual suspects of CGE/Code 6, Image, or Marvel/Epic. Instead their target is none other than Dark Horse Comics. A couple of months ago, Dark Horse Publisher, Mike Richardson put the word out that they were interested in receiving pitches for creator owned properties. Since then, they’ve been getting non-stop proposals. I’m told that the pile of submissions they received at Wizard World Chicago was astounding.

Why the sudden interest in Dark Horse? Since Marvel made it clear they’re not interested in publishing any more creator owned material, and Image usually requires creators to carry the brunt of production charges. Dark Horse is widely perceived to be offering the best deal out there. And they’ve garnered interest from established pros and fans trying to break in. Some have gotten far enough to be called in to Portland for a face to face pitch. Even series that have already been published are being considered. The recent pickup of MegaToyko is seen as the first success of this program. And a sign of things to come.

What does Dark Horse get out of this? Before they handled multiple movie and TV licensees, Dark Horse published a number of creator owned titles. They’ve gotten away from that in recent years as their output has gotten smaller. This may be part of an initiative to increase their market share, as well as an attempt to bring in more properties for potential movies/TV series of their own.

This Has A “Who Owns The Movie Rights?” Factor Of Six Out Of Ten


Talkin’ About Your CrossGeneration

Despite CrossGen’s recent cash flow problems, the company doesn’t appear to have pulled back too much. In fact, they’ve hired a number of freelancers to fill in on their upcoming books and specials. The interesting thing is, a few of the artists had no idea that CrossGen was having any problems at all.

Guess not everyone reads the comic news sites. However, the artists I spoke with didn’t seem all that worried, as CrossGen has set a specific date for payment. For their sake, I hope so.

This Has An “I’m Almost Positive Your Check Is In The Mail” Factor Of Seven Out Of Ten


Off to War

George Perez will soon be taking a break from Solus to finish up the final issue of JLA/Avengers, and gear up for CrossGen’s Mega-Crossover The War. The early buzz is that The War will run for six issues, and give George the chance to work with the entire library of CrossGen characters. Makes perfect sense. After all, when you think of galaxy spanning crossovers, who else comes to mind?

Afterwards, George may be moving onto a new series. But details are still sketchy there.

This Has A “Breakdown Crisis Of Infinity Gauntlets” Factor Of Six Out Of Ten


The Doom That Came To Disney

Sixty-six years ago, Disney unveiled the first feature length animated movie. Earlier this month, they put the nails into the coffin of traditional animated features. David Koenig’s article on MousePlanet chronicles the demise of Disney’s 2-D feature animation division. Following the release of their last two finished features (Brother Bear and Home on the Range), all future Disney animated movies will utilize 3-D animation.

Which wouldn’t be quite as disturbing if they hadn’t used the opportunity cut most of their experienced animators. To say nothing of the fact the 2-D feature is far from finished as an art form. One look at Spirited Away should dispel that notion. But CEO, Michael Eisner has spoken. “2-D is dead.”

This is a mind bogglingly stupid and shortsighted decision. Even for Eisner.

My take? Eisner is fond of saying “Technology doesn’t make the movie; the story makes the movie.” But he clearly doesn’t believe it. Eisner is dazzled by Finding Nemo‘s fantastic box office numbers, and seems to believe that 3-D animation was the only key to it’s success. He also knows that Pixar can write their own deal with any of the other major studios. That is if they choose to leave, instead of signing a deal that would greatly increase their share of the film’s profits, at Disney’s expense.

On top of that, Disney Animation is facing an even larger problem on the horizon. The early test screenings of Home on the Range describe it as being “More boring than church.” Which isn’t that surprising. Can you name the last non-Pixar Disney movie that had a good story? I can’t. This means that either the writers aren’t doing their jobs, or the higher-ups have stifled their creativity through inane and useless notes. Probably both.

It’s about the story. It’s ALWAYS about the story. But Disney is like NASA, so caught up in their own internal politics that they can’t take the necessary steps to fix their problems. And it’s not as if 3-D animated films are bullet proof. Anyone remember Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within? Breathtaking Animation. Craptacular Story. It’s colossal failure shut down an entire animated studio

So what happens when Disney has their first 3-D bomb on their hands?

This Has A “Walt’s Spinning In His Cryonic Chamber” Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten


No Defense

Apparently not satisfied with two failed relaunch attempts, Marvel is set to go with yet another Defenders series. The names of the creative team are still being held close to the vest, but the word is that the new series will have a “humorous” take on the concept.

Humorous?

Wasn’t the last series a comedy? As in hilariously bad?

This Has A “Secret Order Of Desperate, Desperate People” Factor Of Seven Out Of Ten


The Main Man’s Authority

Looks like Lobo Unbound won’t be the last story Keith Giffen writes for the “Main Man.” A Lobo/Authority crossover is already in the works. The full title is Paramilitary X-Mas 2: Jingle Hell. Giffen had this to say:

    “It’s pretty f***in’ sick and twisted… My favorite line in the book, and one that I think is going to get through, is when Lobo turns to Apollo and says, “Hey, blow me, and that’s a figure of speech there, rump-ranger.” It’s funny because Wildstorm will let me get away with murder in it and DC won’t, so the Wildstorm one is much closer to what I want to do with Lobo. MUCH closer.”

The book will come out later this year from Wildstorm and will feature artwork by popular Lobo artist, Simon Bisley.

For more Giff related fun, check out Mike (SBC features guy) Jozic’s Keith Giffen Resource Page.

This Has A “Fraggin’ On” Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten


Air Jordan

New Green Lantern editor Pete Tomasi caused quite a stir with his comments at the San Diego Comic Con. And evidently, it wasn’t just talk. Word from on high is that there is a major creative team shakeup coming down the line…

And Hal Jordan will be back as Green Lantern by the end of 2004.

This Has A “H.E.A.T. Members Crying Tears Of Joy” Factor Of Seven Out Of Ten


And Now…

Because he can’t quite pull himself away from the Rage, Markisan sent me these next three items:

Join The Brigade

SBC’s own Ambidextrous columnist, Brandon Thomas is working on a revival of Rob Liefield’s Brigade, along with original series artist Marat Mychaels. Brandon recently commented on it over at the Millarworld forums.

Some highlights:

    When me and Marat talked about the particulars of this in San Diego, one of the conditions of us working together was that I pulled him to his absolute limits artistically. He said that no one will let him draw comics anymore, and told me he wanted something from my end to help change that. And he should know…you never give a writer an opening like that… Will answer what I can without giving too many things away, Jason. Battlestone is an early favorite in the hero department, for the villain dept. wait and see, as we’re adding one old character to the mix, and also a brand new villain. Probably won’t be as closely linked to YB as before, but they will maintain a definite outlaw contrast to the TV team known as Youngblood. Final team I’ll keep on the “downlow” for a little bit, but I will confirm Battlestone, Coldsnap, and Lethal are definitely present. The ad above is from a small preview that Rob and Marat did, which I later scripted and added a couple pages too, before taking over the remainder of the series. Marat is finishing up something small for another publisher, and then he’ll be able to dive into Brigade without interruption. And I make him work…

This Has A “Zombies Fighting Over Supreme’s Knickers” Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten


Man Bites Hulk

Last Sunday, Peter David broke his silence regarding the new direction of Incredible Hulk. From his website:

      OKAY…I DON’T GET IT. So I’ve been reading

HULK

      for the past year, determined to wrap myself around why it is that the book is so beloved. Guys…is it me? Be honest. Seriously. Am I so biased that I’m simply *incapable* of understanding the book’s success? Don’t get me wrong: Bruce Jones, perfectly good writer Loved his stuff on

Ka-Zar

    . But, my God, people say *I* drag out stories? Snails could do windsprints around this pacing. The latest storyline is pretty much the last straw for me. Five issues to tell a story in which the Hulk makes no significant appearance until the last issue…at which time, unless I’m reading it wrong, he did nothing to aid in the resolution of the story. That’s not even taking into account that the Absorbing Man talks and acts nothing like the Absorbing Man of forty years standing. Yet fans support the book by the carload. Really, I desperately want to understand the popularity. Someone explain it to me. PAD.

Grumpiness or Bitterness? U-Decide!

This Has A “Green Grapes Of Wrath” Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten


Blow By Blow

An interview with Marvel EIC, Joe Quesada is up at FanBoy Radio. And he had a few interesting things to say about the “confrontation” between himself and Grant Morrison at the San Diego Con:

    There was no Morrison fight. I’ve actually heard this from creators saying ‘Oh my God, I heard you and Morrison had a blowout in San Diego.’ That’s not what happened. We never had a blowout in San Diego. I saw Grant in San Diego and I asked him a few questions on the convention floor, but there wasn’t even a crowd gathered around. I can tell you the three people around me because I recognized them all. I’m sure Grant would tell you the same thing. There was no raising of the voice. There was nothing. I just saw Grant and I guess people were surprised that Grant and I were on the convention floor sort of talking to each other. I asked him a couple questions, he asked me a couple questions and that was it. He just sort of walked away. And this Morrison fight thing is just something that people just want to sort of perpetuate because they think it makes for great drama. I hate to disappoint everybody. But first of all I’m not a guy who raises my voice. Ever. And secondly, neither is Grant. He’s the nicest, quietest guy that I know. I’ve actually heard that we almost came to blows!

It’s almost so cool that you want to keep it out there. I don’t mind other rumors being out there but that’s kind of a weird one for me because I’m such a non-violent person that it would just never occur to me to have a screaming match with somebody, especially coming to fisticuffs.

When asked if he was surprised by Morrison’s exclusive DC contract, he replied:

    I was very surprised. But that’s between Grant and myself. The signings of exclusives and people going to DC and Marvel is the ebb and flow of comics. This has been going on since the two companies have been around. I certainly respect someone’s decision to go work for DC, just as much as I respect someone’s decision to come and work for Marvel, but there’s a certain kind of protocol and etiquette that’s followed in these kind of situations. The situation that went down between me and Grant is between me and Grant. But there was absolutely.. I swear.. absolutely no fight whatsoever and no fisticuffs or anything like that.

This Has A “When Comic Creators Attack” Factor Of Six Out Of Ten


Comics On The Web

Back when Alan Donald was writing the column, one of my favorite sections was his web comic recommendations. Since I have the floor at the moment, I’d like to make some recommendations of my own. These are some of the best comics I’ve read on the web:

Athena Voltaire
http://www.athenavoltaire.com

Paul Daly, Story; Steve Bryant, Art and Chad Fidler, Colors.

A riff on Indiana Jones and classic movie serials done with style. The art & colors are particularly amazing. The only drawback is that it’s on www.moderntales.com, which charges a monthly fee for full access. Fortunately, the updates are free every Tuesday. I’m not a fan of the micropayment system, but I’d pay to see more of this.

Something Positive

Randy Milholland, Writer/Artist

One of the funniest comics out there. Constantly updated and consistently hilarious. And the archive contains every strip put out to date. What more could you ask for?

Same Difference
http://www.smallstoriesonline.com/

Derek Kirk Kim, Writer/Artist

This is considered a “slice of life” style of comic, but that label doesn’t do it justice. Read it, you’ll see what I mean.

Los Malditos: Last Man Standing

Brandon Montoya, Writer/Artist

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the work of the multi-talented and versatile Brandon Montoya. Along with his work on every variation of Tangents, he finds the time to work solo on Cycle, Red Krewe, and Los Malditos. LMS is the currently running storyline parodying Resident Evil and other Zombie horror films. He’s putting out some great work on this one, check it out!

These Comics Have A “Highest Possible Recommendation” Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten


That’s all for this week folks. Thanks again to Jason and Markisan for giving me this opportunity, and to everyone who sent in rumors. I had a blast and hope to do it again some time.

Come back next week for a “mystery columnist.”

Later,
Blair


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