So I thought I wrote this really great intro. for ATR about Emma Frost having mind sex on a Shi’ar spacecraft approaching lightspeed, and there was something about shiny things still left in unopened plastic boxes. But after reading it over a couple times I realized that it made about as much sense as this:
This week we have some new rumors and a conversation with Timespell creator Rich Henn about his DVD documentary on the comics industry. Read on to find out more!
Oh, and before I forget, make sure to check out the Daily Special from our pals at Dynamic Forces. I’d tell you what it is, but my homing pigeon that is trained to carry encoded communiqu?s between ATR HQ and DF HQ is off work, claiming workers’ comp for a strained tail-feather. Just do yourself a favor and click on one of the banners or buttons scatter around the periphery of this page and head over to the Dynamic Forces website.
In the Mouth of Madness
Before I get to this week’s new material, let me first give you comic news dogs an update on a story I ran last week. If you got all giddy over the bit I did on Ren and Stimpy being gay then this is for you.
The Ren and Stimpy Show savor period that I began last week is now over. I received an email from an informant known as Takashi Miike who was at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival a few weeks ago where Ren and Stimpy creator John K and his staff showed demos of the new show, and fielded questions from fans.
Clips of the first episode of Ren and Stimpy were shown. TM tells me that the following is what really happens in the first episode:
- Ren and Stimpy have taken up living in a homeless guys mouth (yes you read that correctly, a homeless guy’s mouth). It is evening and the homeless guy, Ren and Stimpy are all asleep. Ren is asleep face down and the homeless guys is snoring, which causes his tonsil to dart down and tickle Ren between the butt-cheeks before darting back up again. This repeats a few times before it wakes Ren up. At which time he grabs Stimpy and shakes him. “WHAT DID I TELL YOU?” he screams to the freshly woken Stimpy. Wide eyed Stimpy exclaims, ‘You’re the Pitcher, I’m the Catcher! You’re the Pitcher, I’m the Catcher! See…’, Stimpy points and we see a chalk board where he has written, ‘You’re the Pitcher, I’m the Catcher’ dozens of times (ala Bart Simpson in the
Um.. this is messed up stuff. Pitching and catching in some homeless dude’s mouth? I guess we weren’t the only ones savoring Ren & Stimpy last week..
This Has A “High Probability Of Hair Getting Stuck In Your Teeth” Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten
Okay. Now on to your regularly scheduled All the Rage program, starring me.
Somebody’s Got the Lines Crossed
A couple weeks ago an apology was sent out by CrossGen for failing to nominate any of its creators for the Eisner Awards. As soon as I read the thing my first thought was, “How the hell do you just forget to pump your books at one of the most prestigious awards shows in comics?”
The apology is especially strange since it comes after former CrossGen employee Mark Waid decided to decline his Harvey Award nomination for “Best Writer” last year.
To refresh your memories, when asked by Newsarama about his decision, Waid said, “This absolutely should not be perceived as any lack of pride in the work itself. I’m grateful to have been nominated for my work on CrossGen’s Ruse, I heartily endorse its other nominations, and I’m proud and lucky to be working with its extraordinarily creative team. However, for reasons of my own, I am respectfully requesting that my name be removed from consideration for ‘Best Writer’.”
CrossGen soon stepped up and released a statement which commended Mark for his decision. The reason? He bailed on the nomination to unselfishly acknowledge the hard work of the entire Ruse team.
So with that history lesson out of the way, the question that’s come up since the Eisner apology is whether or not CrossGen really suffered a case of benign amnesia? I’ve received some speculation that CrossGen feared similar publicity for this year’s awards and wanted to keep things on the down low. Now quite frankly, this rumor sounds ridiculous to me. But I figured I’d email CrossGen public relations guy Bill Rosemann to officially find out if there was anything more to the apology than a collective brain collapse and some subsequent fan petting.
- Nope…no fire, Mark just felt that our creators and readers deserved an explanation and an apology. We can’t always deliver happy news. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and admit when you screwed up. We have hard working creators and loyal fans — they deserve to hear the truth.
Can’t argue with that, B. But the fact that an entire comic book staff forgot about the awards sure isn’t helping that whole “worker drone” joke that CrossGen has been living down for years.
This Has A “Locutus Of Borg” Factor Of Five Out Of Ten
Someone to Pull the Trigger?
Ah, nothing warms the hot-blooded ventricles of my heart like another steamy helping of Warren Ellis gossip. A DC Insider tells me that Vertigo will be putting out Absolute Hellblazer, a new oversized hardcover collection that reprints all of Ellis’s HB work, including the infamously banned #141 issue, “Shoot” (cut due to the sensitivity surrounding the Columbine school killings). I hear that the hardback will also feature the scripts for unpublished Ellis stories written before he abandoned the book. Apparently he has completed them especially for this edition.
I mentioned this tasty rumor gem to my friends Matt and Dan after they’d had a few black and tans one night. They’ve been hardcore Hellblazer fans since the book began, so I knew they’d had some stuff to say.
Matt and Dan: Absolute Hellblazer? What the hell?!
Let me get this straight.. DC spends the last decade putting out Hellblazer trades, out of order and leaving out key story elements by the likes of Ennis and Jenkins, then they suddenly start collecting the Azzarello stuff? Granted, Azz came up with a great story arc, but there’s no consistent history to the character unless you’ve read the individual issues! So now, with Absolute Hellblazer, we get the Ellis run, including the banned story “Shoot” (which, for those of you without a pirated copy, was one of the best), without any of the background established by creators who should have gotten credit long ago for perfecting the ultimate anti-hero. So, Absolute my arse, DC. Get a pint ‘o the black, 20 silk cut, and get on the effin’ ball. Cheers.
- Someone’s been having some fun with you.
Just to expand on this — there were no incomplete/unpublished scripts. I was already into what proved to be my final issue when the SHOOT thing blew up — I finished it and left.
I guess those of us lucky enough to snag bootleg copies of “Shoot” mere seconds before it vanished from the internet will have to be content with crappy printouts for now. And for those who don’t even have printouts.. well, perhaps these preview pages of Ellis’ upcoming RED miniseries with artist Cully Hamner will help ease the pain:
UPDATE: Well what do you know? You can once again read “Shoot” on the internet. Go to: www.comicfandom.com/hellblazer.htm. Thanks to apoehler for the info.
This Has A “High School Violence” Factor Of Four Out Of Ten
I heard it through the grapevine that Bob Burden, creator of Flaming Carrot and Mystery Men has submitted proposals based on existing Marvel characters for the new Epic line. Can you imagine this guy doing something like Iron Man…?
After his sixth bottle of Jack, Tony Stark stumbles into his armored suit and once again becomes the Avenger known the world over as The Invincible Iron Man!
Iron Man: I am the golden justice that stems the tide of evil. I am smart and tough. My armored hands make small mammals weep when I pet them. I enjoy these moving metal pants. And.. I like.. to bowl!
Obviously overexcited about what Bob could bring to Epic, I emailed him to see if the rumor was true. He replied quickly:
- Yes, I’m looking to get my name back out there lately and figure writing for the majors would be a good way to do it.
Bob didn’t want to comment on his Epic story ideas since he’s still trying to get them approved, but he did express an interest in talking about the Epic line in general. Look for comments next week.
For those unfamiliar with the Flaming Carrot or Mystery Men, visit www.flamingcarrot.com
This Has A “Freshly Squeezed Carrot Juice” Factor of Nine Out of Ten
Bring Back the Black
Bob’s response gave me the idea to try and contact some other folks in the biz who may have some ideas on what they’d do with existing Marvel characters if given the chance.
I wasn’t going to start until next week, but I happened to strike up a conversation with artist Brett Booth, who is currently working on a new Thundercats mini-series and he had some interesting things to share. He tells me that he isn’t pitching Epic at the moment, because he’s busy talking to Roaring Studios about doing some fantasy book adaptations. Apparently the studio has the rights to some novels that Brett loves.
But if he did have the time to do some Marvel work, he says:
- I’d want to do something with Spider-Man, bring back the black suit!!!! The current one is getting dated looking and the black is still real stylish. I’d like to do some stories with the Black Cat or Daredevil. Something fun like Spidey used to be, before he was married.
I’d like to do something with Colossus’s son in the Savage land. I tried to do something with this a few years ago but was told that ‘Colossus doesn’t have a son.’ But being an old X-Men fan I know different. It would be his coming of age and manifesting his mutant power. Then trying to get out of the Savage Land to find the X-Men.
And last but not least Brett tells me he’d like to do something with Longshot:
- I had a little story I wrote a few years ago that I never heard back from. I always liked Longshot and was ticked when they got rid of him.
Look for more creator comments on Epic next week… if I happen to get any more.
This Has A “Colossus: Full Metal Boogie” Factor of Eight Out of Ten
Two Live Crew
The Marvel series Black Panther seems to be stirring up some debate on the internet lately. The preview text for Panther on the Diamond website and elsewhere indicates that #62 is the final issue of the series, causing devoted readers to shed tears. But according to BP writer Priest the series isn’t really going away. It’s simply evolving into The Crew, a new Priest joint rolling out in July. In the comments section of his weblog he writes:
- is not cancelled. Repeat after me:
- is not cancelled.
- is becoming
- . We’re still in business, kiddies. It’s just a new direction and a new take on things.
THE CREW is a very different book from PANTHER. It is MUCH more straightforward and actually is more cynical than PANTHER. The tone is borrowed heavily from “Three Kings,” and the series evolves into a kind of non-group with a new character from TRUTH at the center.
It’s a quirky, urban macho wiseass book, starring a Catholic, a Muslim and a Jew brought together in common purpose.
Sounds great for Panther readers, right? Yep. As a Panther fan myself, I’m excited. But here’s what gets me — The Crew ongoing series was announced a good while back and Marvel never mentioned that the book was a continuation of Panther. So, why didn’t the Mighty M let us in on this from the beginning?
From what I’ve been told, and from what I can surmise, the argument goes something like this: Black Panther hasn’t sold all that well, despite critical acclaim, and the House of Ideas wanted to jettison ties to all the old Panther luggage so new readers would be more compelled to give The Crew a shot. Even Priest admits, “The overwhelming majority of Marvel fans have turned a deaf ear to PANTHER for five years.”
I can understand Marvel’s thinking. But in all honesty not knowing the connection between Black Panther and The Crew upfront, kind of pissed me off. And after browsing message boards on the issue, it has obviously ticked others off as well. It seems to me that the world of comic books is so isolated and so very small that information really becomes crucial to making choices about what comics to buy and when to buy them. If Priest didn’t make the above comments, some faithful BP readers may have missed out on what is really a re-tooled Panther series. Hopefully Marvel’s recently released solicitation for The Crew #3 (which does give a nod to Panther) isn’t too late.
This Has A “Pouty Panther” Value Of Seven Out Of Ten
Not Just for the Kids
For a first look at Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean’s new children’s book, The Wolves In the Walls visit Bloomsbury.Com.
Looks to be another kid’s book with adult appeal from Mr. Gaiman. I checked his website and the title doesn’t appear anywhere on the site yet. It comes out in August.
Thanks to Sway for the link.
This Has A “I Got To Listen To Neil Gaiman Read His Entire Coraline Novel And You Didn’t” Value Of Eight Out Of Ten
The Real Rawhide Kid: An Interview with Rich Henn
People keep asking me if I’ve heard of a new DVD documentary on the comics industry. They tell me there’s a rumor going around that some guy has footage of Frank Miller trashing Wizard magazine. Well, it isn’t a rumor. The vid does exist and yes, Frank beats the piss out of your favorite glossy mag. I know. I’ve watched him do it — twice. In fact, I have the DVD in my player right now, ready to roll the hat trick.
Timespell and Zoomie creator Rich Henn spent two years of his life filming interviews with comic book creators, and now his efforts have been burned onto a two hour disc called Scenes From the Small Press – Mainstream: Raw. It’s damn good. Some of the highlights include Marvel Chief Joe Quesada tellling a remarkable story of how he first broke into comics and quickly became Editor-in-Chief. The interview takes place on the roof of the Marvel Comics building in NYC, and Joe gets repeatedly pelted by high winds; his hair swirling around like he just got blasted by Princess Vespa’s blow dryer in Spaceballs. I was also captivated by Frank Miller’s talk on censorship, and the honesty of A Distant Soil creator Colleen Doran, who literally cries on camera after reliving a bad experience in the biz.
After watching the film I suddenly realized that this is the first real documentary on comics. And as fans there is so much we don’t know about the industry and the artistic folk who put together the books we love.
You may think you know comics. You may even think you know some of the people who create comics. But you don’t know dick until you watch Mainstream: Raw.
That said, here’s an interview with Rich Henn on Scenes from the Small Press – Mainstream: Raw
Rich Henn: Oddly enough, it was a documentary on Star Trek fans called “Trekkies.” I was up late one night channel surfing, and came across this train wreck of a film…and I mean that in a good way. Because it was just so damn fascinating that you couldn’t tear yourself away from it.
And then it occurred to me…why was it that nobody had done a film about us…about our industry? And I don’t mean the fans so much as the creators and what goes on behind the scenes of creating, marketing and selling a comic book…. what it means to self-publish something.
I have always felt that the small press/indy publisher/creator/artist have been the unsung heroes of our industry. So many people who are into comics know the basis behind well-known characters like Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, etc. Not so many know titles like Cerebus, Bone, A Distant Soil, Finder, etc. While I haven’t been in the industry for an awful long time, I’ve been in it enough years that I have several friends and know a lot of people. And as a self-publisher myself, I understand what it means to create something, to put your thoughts on the printed page for the entire world to see.
I had the means to make the film…it was really a matter of just making the phone calls and getting started.
And you know what…out of all the people that I was surprised hadn’t done something like this already…was Kevin Smith. Here’s a guy who I would have thought would have made a film like this years ago!
MN: What did you set out to capture with Mainstream Raw? Was there a particular theme you wanted to try and present?
“In our society, we have paintings that hang on the walls of museums and are revered as works of art. They are considered a part of our culture, a part of our history. These same people who go into these museums to admire these fine works of art, also read novels and books; these same people look upon these works as fine works of literature that are equally respected as a part of our society. But when you put the two of them together…these words on the printed page and fine art…all of a sudden it’s considered a pariah.”
And I remember hearing that (or something to that effect) and I recall thinking ‘How true.’
Because people outside of our industry look at comic books as kiddy books or funny books, and if you are above the age of 10 and still reading comics, then obviously there is something very wrong with you.
Very few people realize that books like MAUS, Berlin, From Hell and Cerebus have helped change the world of comic books as we know it. Comics books are so much more than they were 10 years ago, and they’re going to be so much more 10 years from now.
It’s only recently that people outside of our industry…our inner circle so to speak…are becoming more and more aware of the pop culture phenomenon that is the comic book industry. How many people who were fans of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles know that it started as a self published comic book with a print run of 3000 copies, funded with a loan from a family member?
And how many people who enjoyed the Batman movie with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson know that it was Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT that was the basis for that film?
Only recently is Hollywood and the media in general really beginning to notice that there is a whole world out there created by writers and artists who are just as serious about their work as say, people like Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Jackson Pollack and Norman Rockwell were about theirs. The comic book is a fine American art form that has been waiting to be seriously explored for far too long.
I wanted to present a film that would show the general public that there is so much to this industry that they don’t see or understand.
I felt the best way to do that would be to pick a few creators and document them from “cradle to grave” so to speak, in the production and marketing of their comic book. Those creators turned out to be Carla Speed McNeil (FINDER) and a group of animators from New York City who compose the anthology MONKEYSUIT. But that wasn’t enough for me…while I wanted the film to emphasize the small press and independent market, I really wanted to encapsulate the industry as a whole. So I set off to conduct interviews with the likes of Joe Quesada, Frank Miller, Steve Geppi, Dave Gibbons, Charles Burns, Matt Wagner, Colleen Doran, Jeff Mason, Dean Haspiel, Evan Dorkin, Jessica Abel…the list is endless.
I filmed at 3 conventions, and wrapped at the SPX (Small Press Expo) this past September.
MN: How would you describe Mainstream: Raw to people who are hearing about the DVD for the first time?
RH: “Scenes From the Small Press: Mainstream Raw” is actually not the movie I set out to make. In fact, it’s only by sheer accident that the film even exists today. With over 45 hours of footage, it became clear that it was going to be hard to whittle down the best of the best and create a solid hour and a half, or 2 hour movie. While the mainstream superstars of our industry gave me excellent material to work with, it was going to be tough to include just snippets and sound bytes here and there. I mean, take for instance the 20-minute rooftop interview with Joe Quesada, or the now infamous Frank Miller keynote speech at the Harvey Awards 2 years ago. I mean, Miller was just brutally honest, forthcoming and ripped right into the industry, so to speak. And you look at that half-hour piece and you’re just “Wow.”
The film I set out to make is “Scenes from the Small Press: The Road to SPX”, and it was from showing that 15 min. preview at conventions that several people began to inquire about the rest of those interviews, and would they get to see the balance of those 45 hours of footage…DVD extras and the like.
The short answer was no.
But it was Tim Stroup at Cold Cut Distribution who gave me a great idea…while not the first time I’d heard it, Tim presented it to me in another fashion. Tim knew that I was going to be struggling with the financing for the rest of this film. The editing costs and marketing would be very costly. Tim suggested a DVD that would feature some of those great interviews uncut from the raw footage.
It would serve two purposes…generate some nice overall buzz for the project itself, and help raise the funds to complete the film.
Thus, “Mainstream Raw” was born.
MN: What was it like to interview such well-respected creators? Were you Intimidated at all?
RH: You know what…I wasn’t as intimidated as I thought I would be. In fact, it was a lot easier than I would have expected. My first interviews were with Renee French and Bob Schreck at Midtown Comics in Manhattan around the 2nd week of March 2001. That night I went to Brooklyn and started filming with the Monkeysuit crew, and the next day I was on the rooftop of Marvel Comics with Joe Quesada.
While I have many favorite interviews and footage from the movie, the Joe Quesada piece is one of my favorites. Joe was quite simply the nicest guy, and met with us on his own time on a cold Sunday morning — even after being up all night with a sick little girl. I was simply awed that he would come out to meet with me to contribute to this project after such a rough night.
I’m a new Dad myself and I can tell you…after several nights without sleep, it would be hard for me to do anyone any favors, let alone someone I didn’t even know.
I thought from the beginning that if I were able to get Dave Sim involved on this project, what a major coup that would be. I mean, he is after all, such a huge front-runner in our industry of self-publishing.
What wider respected man could you find? Especially for a film that’s ABOUT self-publishing? And all it took was a phone call…and a drive to Kitchener, Ontario.
When I was able to get Colleen Doran as well, I thought, “How cool is that. I’ve got film with both the one man and one woman who’s been at this the longest.”
Matt Wagner was definitely a fun interview. MAGE had probably the single largest impact on me than any other comic I’ve read to date. I’ve brought people into comics just based on showing them MAGE: The Hero Discovered.
I think the only time I really felt intimidated was when it came to do a sit down with Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons. I asked my friend and industry journalist, Bill Baker, to conduct those for me while I ran the camera. I was seriously experiencing the case of the fanboy tongue-tied lips.
MN: Were you surprised by how forthcoming some of the interviewees were with their responses?
RH: Yes and no. I mean, I was more surprised with how easy it was to set this up with so many people.
While there were many who knew me over the course of the past several years peddling my own book at the conventions and being on the SPX Steering Committee, there were those who didn’t know me from Adam and were still more than willing…if not excited to be a part of the project.
RH: Colleen Doran.
She’s one hot redheaded Irish woman with a heart of gold…but don’t mess with her. I think because she’s both beautiful and smart that people might tend to feel intimidated by her, but let me tell you…I could sit and listen to her talk all day.
In fact, I did!
Carla Speed McNeil and I drove out to her house in Virginia one Saturday and spent the whole day chatting. That footage…over an hour and a half…turned out to be the best stuff (in my opinion) that I got to date. She was by far the most brutally honest and forthcoming and covered the spectrum of emotions with stories reaching as far back as to her teen years when she was getting started in the industry.
There’s a very well known scene in the movie that people talk about because they’ve seen it on the trailer. It’s a moment where Colleen starts to get visibly upset while recounting something that happened to her years ago. And at first we (Carla and I) weren’t sure if Colleen was trying to gather her thoughts or what was happening.
Colleen raised her hand and asked me to turn off the camera. We did.
We sat and waited…and then Colleen, still shaken and upset looked at me and said, “No…no…turn the camera back on. I want this to be as honest as possible.”
And I did.
And we rolled film and I sat there torn between wanting to put my arm around her and thinking to myself, “Oh my gosh…this is filmmaking GOLD right here!”
Because while everyone has a story to tell, Colleen bared her soul to do it. I admire and respect her more than I can say.
It was on the way home that night that I realized that my tag line for this film should be: “In the world of self-publishing, nothing is black and white.”
MN: This is only the first of a series of DVDs. What can we expect to see in future volumes and how many will there be?
Rich: There will be a total of 3 DVDs the way I see it. You’ve got “Mainstream Raw,” then you’ve got the main film I set out to make, which is “Scenes from the Small Press: The Road to SPX,” then there will be a 2 hour film that’s just Colleen Doran. We’ve talked about it, and I’m going to be going out there shortly to do a follow up, then cut the two pieces together. Especially now with the 20th anniversary of “A Distant Soil” this year, it’s the perfect time for it.
“Road to SPX” will be out in July, and premiere at San Diego Comicon. The Colleen Doran film, most likely shortly thereafter.
MN: When do you plan to release the DVD to Diamond?
RH: This Summer, probably closer to the end. I really needed to make sure that the film was marketable before I went and burned a bunch of coasters. Plus, after some early reviews and more buzz during the convention season, it will be easier to sell. The marketability will be much better with people talking about it and pull quotes from different reviewers and websites. I’ve already received some nice praise from Cinescape, Zentertainment.com and Moviepoopshoot.com.
MN: What do you think the chances are of seeing a Windblown Hair Joe Quesada action figure after the DVD is released through Diamond?
RH: Working on it. Let me get back to you on that!
MN: Where can folks snag a copy of Raw right now?
RH: Right now the best, easiest and most efficient way to get “Scenes from the Small Press: Mainstream Raw” would be to go to my website at www.TimeSpell.com and order one. I can be simply emailed directly at email@example.com and for the record…shipping is free. I offer the same deal to retailers, so take note…no matter how many DVDs you order, I will not charge you shipping.
The film is ready to ship immediately, so there’s no waiting.
Not very many comic shops have this right now, unless they ordered it through Cold Cut Distribution. And from what I understand, it was a special deal with a new catalog that Cold Cut was trying out, and only retailers were able to obtain copies.
So for the average joe looking to purchase…be it one individual or a retailer… email me directly, or go to the website. Again, there is no waiting, so expect you DVD immediately upon receipt of payment.
If you’re a retailer, let me know because I offer a special deal to retailers.
MN: Anything else you want to add, Rich?
RH: I’d like to give a shout out and huge thank you to all who contributed to this film…I am so very grateful for their eagerness to be involved.
Secondly, a major thank you to my editor, Kevin Kangas of EMPYRE COMICS in Glen Burnie, MD who really came through for me in a pinch.
Lastly, I’d like to mention that my future plans for the series is to pitch it to the likes of Discovery Channel, A&E, Cartoon Network, Sundance Channel, and so on. I’ve already received some interest from the Discovery Channel, but will be exploring all options down the road. The big premiere of the main film, “Scenes from the Small Press: The Road to SPX” at the San Diego comicon will no doubt draw more attention to the film.
To download a trailer for Mainstream: Raw visit www.indycomics.org/movies/ROAD_SPX_PRE.RM. Rich tells me it’s a big file, but recommended it you’ve got high speed connection.
Rich Henn will be attending:
Wizard World Philly May 30th-June 1st
San Diego Comicon July 17th-20th
HorrorFind August 15-17th
SPX September 5-7th
Baltimore Comicon September 20-21st
He will also be at Marc Nathan’s shop Cards/Comics/Collectibles on Free Comic Book Day Saturday, May 3rd
For more information on TIMESPELL and ZOOMIE (the backup feature in Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder) visit www.timespell.com/.
PS If anyone has any rumors to share please send them to me immediately. Just click on my name at the top of the page and you’re halfway there. If you don’t want your name revealed then just give me an alias or let me know that you don’t want to be mentioned in any way. Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It’s appreciated.