My kingdom for a sane week. Seriously. Not only that but Vista ate my first draft of this damned thing and I’m sick. Again. But, being the diligent, diseased, excuse factory I am, I decided to pound this column out anyway even though I could have just skipped this week or something. Because I love you all.

Well, okay, I don’t love that guy. See him? The one with the hair? And the nose? Yeah, he sucks.

The upside to this week is that I got to stop by Legends Comics and Books in beautiful downtown Victoria. There I engaged in an epic yap-fest with co-owner Lloyd, who was more than happy to school me on all things comics. They have quite the vintage comic collection there and they also have creator sections. Grant Morrison is quite popular in this town, I’ve noticed. Another innovation that I’ve never seen before is the selling of complete series / arcs (that haven’t been made available in trades) for a reasonable price. This is a great idea, I tell you. One comic I was turned on to is Fell by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith. After picking up the first two issues, I can see why it sells like uranium-enriched hotcakes there. Speaking of Mr. Ellis…

Calling Doktor Sleepless

Warren Ellis is a writing machine, this much we know. Hell, I’m sure I’ve said that before just as I’m sure that I’ve said THIS before about saying that bef…well, you get the point. Anyway, here’s some tidbits he’s been posting about upcoming ongoing series Doktor Sleepless, due to be brought to us by the fine folks at Avatar Press:

Doktor Sleepless script page one of #1.

And here’s a bit where Warren explains some of what this title is supposed to be about.

I’ve sent some questions out for Mr. Ellis to answer, provided he has the time. If he does, I’ll make sure to paste it or link it here.

This Has A “Dystopian Tesla Scalpel” Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten.

Fantastic Morsel

Here’s something I just heard from a stealthy ninja… Around Fantastic Four #550 we should expect a major creative team change. Big things are coming with the Fantastic Four that very well may launch it to being a top seller (#1 or very close). That’s what I know. I’ll find out some more for you, not to worry.

This Has A ”Tripping The Night Fantastic” factor Of Seven Out Of Ten.

Splinterview: Jake Black

Since I enjoy conducting interviews with people, I’ve decided to fly these short interrogation pieces under the Splinterview banner, which was a segment idea from the very start of me taking the reins of this column. One could actually consider all of the other short interviews I’ve done on here to be Splinterviews… But the name really doesn’t matter. That’s more for my benefit than yours. Anyhowizter, I would like to introduce you to Jake Black, a hard-workin’ writer who is damn good at his craft. Here, I’ll let Jake explain…

ATR: Who are you, where did you start in all of this writing madness, and what have you done with the bacon?

JB: Well, I’m Jake Black, from the wild west known as Utah. I live here still, for the moment (at least until my wife graduates from college) and I write from my home. I’ve always been a writer. I started writing stories, plays, and even comic scripts when I was about nine or ten, even sending an awful Star Trek comic script to DC in the late-eighties. Bob Greenberger, who was the editor at the time, sent me a very nice letter encouraging me to keep writing every day, and to never give up. I have written ever since then, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I started being published/noticed. I was an intern in the SMALLVILLE production office, and was fortunate enough to have been given some writing assignments for the show’s online expanded universe  Smallville Torch and Smallville Ledger newspapers  and I wrote in-character there. My first real publication came in the form of a back-up story I co-wrote in the fifth issue of DC’s short-lived SMALLVILLE comic series. Since then, I’ve been writing whatever I can get, and it’s going pretty well… And as far as the bacon, well, I’d tell ya, but then I’d have to kill ya!

ATR:That’s too bad, because if I die, I will be unable to eat any bacon…
I notice you have adapted the Orson Scott Card novel Wyrms into a six-issue series (available through Marvel / Dabel Brothers) and now have Gold Bug (the first comic set in Card’s Ender’s Game universe, also on Marvel /DB). How has it been adapting this author’s work? How different or challenging is it from writing original material? I also assume you are an admirer of Card’s work…

JB: It’s been a great ride working with someone as prolific, knowledgeable, and supportive as Orson Scott Card. His work is very visual, so it makes for great comic book pages. I’ve really enjoyed working with him.There are unique challenges in adapting another’s work into comics, but the principles of comics pacing, storytelling, page layout, etc. are the same. There are certain parameters involved, like you can’t change the story points you don’t like, but overall, they are minor details. If you write established characters in the Marvel or DC universe, you can’t change those too much, either. So it’s been good.

ATR: Anything else Card related on your plate for the future?

JB: Well, the final three issues of Wyrms are yet to come out, and Gold Bug hits in May. Otherwise, there are some things in the works, but it’s a little premature to announce them. Keep checking,, and the comics newsboards. While I’m at it, if you’re a fan of good science fiction, Orson Scott Card has an online magazine at that you can subscribe to. Some of my stuff will show up there before too long…

ATR: How has it been writing things to do with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? I understand that you’ve done a variety of Turtles stuff so far including Tales of the TMNT, TMNT kids books, the TMNT movie prequel projects, and Fast Forward. Would you say that you would like to focus on writing more Turtles material, and if so, what is your TMNT dream project to work on?

(c)2007 Mirage Studios
JB: I love being a Turtle! Sorry… just channeling my inner-Raphael! *grin* I’ve had a ball working on the TMNT projects I’ve done. Like you said, I’ve written two of the new movie prequel comics, which have been surprisingly (for me) well-recevied. I’m particularly proud of the issue I did on April O’Neil. I’m a huge fan of strong female protagonists, and April was certainly one of them. (Patience in Wyrms is too…) The TMNT are coming back in a big way, and it’s really fun to be associated with them. The kids book I wrote Leonardo Returns has been pretty popular at online retailers. The artist on that book, Diego Jourdan, is incredibly talented, and had built quite a fan base among the hardcore Turtles fans. He’s actually the artist on my next TMNT project, Tales of the TMNT #37 which is a potential origin story of Casey Jones, the hockey mask-wearing vigilante. It’ll be out in August, and the picture of him that accompanies this interview (debuting here) is from the story. That was a dream project, but I have one dream story left in TMNT-land…I would LOVE to work with Karai, the female leader of the Foot Clan (there’s that strong woman thing again…). In addition to Tales and the Movie Prequels, fans should watch for a UK-exclusive TMNT kids book I co-wrote to come out soon, as well as UK-published TMNT Fast Forward comics. I’m working on my second issue of those as we speak. Finally, there’s a very cool online TMNT project I’ve been involved in debuting on the official Turtles website, I believe in May…

(c)2007 Mirage Studios
ATR: You’ve also had some experience with Smallville related properties… Could you please relate what you’ve done and your take on the show?

JB: As I said earlier, I started with the show in the second half of the first season as the writer’s intern. It’s been a great experience working with the series for nearly six years as a freelancer. I started as a contributing writer to the in-character Internet stories that filled in gaps between episodes and made for some really fun interactive experiences for fans. I’m really proud of my involvement in those early online Smallville projects. Some of them have actually been reprinted on Smallville trading cards and in the Official Companion books. I also co-wrote a back up story in the comics based on the show, and have been a regular writer for the show’s official magazine. I write two features in the magazine  Strip to Screen, which compares the comic book versions of the Smallville characters to their on-screen counterparts, and short stories which again help fill in gaps between episodes. In fact, my latest short story in the magazine Mythology appears in the current issue (#20, the 100-page special, hitting comic shops on April 18 and newsstands everywhere) and connects several storyline dots from the show, including Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour’s characters, General Zod, the Kryptonian crystals, the caves in Smallville, and more. It was a kick to write, and one of the things I’m most proud of. Plus it plays into the bigger Smallville mythology throughout the rest of this season and into the next. Keep watching the show for info on what the story really means. *wink* In addition to that, I’ve been writing the script and researching on a DVD feature for the sixth season set. It’s the history of Green Arrow, and features interviews with Green Arrow writers and artists from the past and present. I think comics fans will really enjoy it.

ATR: Chaotic is a fun card game and cartoon that you’ve been working on lately. What is it you’re doing with this program and how has it been for you?

JB: Yeah! That’s been a really good gig, as it’s helped me start into the world of writing animation, which is one thing I want to do a lot more of. It’s a series produced by 4Kids Productions, who also did Yu-Gi-Oh, and the recent TMNT cartoon. I’ve really loved working with 4Kids, and am glad that Chaotic is taking off in the way it is. I’ve written two episodes of the show so far for the first season, and again am really proud of them. I hope to do more for the second season of the show…It airs on 4Kids TV which is on several FOX affiliates in the US (and some CW affiliates… check local listings), and I believe it’s on Teletoon in Canada. (Steve note: Yes it is; at 8.30am Sunday mornings, if I’m not mistaken)

ATR: What else do you have keeping you very, very busy?

JB: Well, I’m a regular contributor to Star Trek Magazine, have done stuff for Wizard, and have even recently written a Public Service Announcement comic for the state of Texas. On top of that, I’m a regular writer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated, and am even the voice of their 900-number hotline, which is a really fun gig for me. I got that one because I wrote two UK exclusive kids books for World Wrestling Entertainment, with one of them getting pretty high on the Amazon UK bestseller list late last year. And, of course, there’s the Smallville, TMNT, and Orson Scott Card stuff to keep me plenty busy.

ATR: I think a good tag-line for you is certainly “Jake Black is one of the hardest working guys in comics you’ve never heard of”… What other things should we expect from you in times to come?

JB: Well, I’ve been very lucky so far in my career. The sky’s the limit, I think, and so keep reading and watching. TMNT, Chaotic, Smallville, pro wrestling, and who knows what else? Well, I do, but again, I’d have to kill you if I told you. Seriously, though, keep checking for updates on what’s coming next. I’m still taking Bob Greenberger‘s advice to heart, and writing every day.

ATR: What project/property is it that you most want to work on? Are you happy with working on existing properties or will the future hold the coming of something originally created by Jake Black? Does it involve tentacles?

JB: I really enjoy working on established properties, but I think I have a novel or two in me. My absolute, hands-down, dream project is Supergirl, though. Again, there’s that strong female protagonist, and I would love more than anything to write even one issue of her title.

Annnd I’m going to take a wild guess and say that it wouldn’t involve tentacles (though you never know what with DC’s new anime-esque toyline… What? I’m kidding!). Big thanks to Jake for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions!

This Has An “’All The Raph’ Sounds Great For A Re-Naming” Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten.

Reading The Cross Bronx Is Good For You

I saw this while I was poking around online and I just had to mention it. What you will find HERE are the first two issues of Michael Avon Oeming and Ivan Brandon‘s mini-series The Cross Bronx, which delivers street level grit and supernatural twists. I read the trade very recently and I can say without a doubt that it’s one of the most kick-ass things I’ve experienced comics-wise lately. So check it out, why don’t you?

This Has An “I’ll Show You A Reading Rainbow… Made From Tears” Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten.

Indie Front: Approbation, Scars, Bars and Septagons

Approbation Comics, headed up by talented workhorse Bart Thompson, has come up with a great new comic called The Donor which has everything it needs to be awesome… except a publisher. However, with this cool take on things, I’m betting this won’t be sans publisher for all that long. Here’s the synopsis:

What would you do if you discovered an organ you received in a routine transplant once belonged to the world’s premier superhero? How would you deal with gaining powers of your own? Brian Roberts is one of five recipients who are given a new lease on life. But this blessing turns sour when someone begins to murder the others to harvest the organs for themselves!

Now take a look at these purty images:

If you are a publisher and like what you see, get a hold of Bart:
And for those of you that like nice indie titles, head on over to Approbation‘s site to peruse their wares:

Another comic that was brought to my attention recently is Scars and Bars by William Rees and artist Jason Moser. Described as a topical crime comic set in post-9/11 NYC, Scars and Bars will be a complete 180 page story hitting racks in the future. You’ll be able to see more on it in Diamond’s May Previews. In the meantime, here’s some images, taken from Rees and Moser’s site (which has a lot more if you care to look):

Septagon Studios has something going on that might tickle your fancy. It would seem that they launched an Imagination Creativity Pad last month, in which it presents the comic book community with a unique web project offering an opportunity to allow users to express themselves creatively without any boundaries to complete user freedom. Want to rant? Comment? Post anything you desire. Septagon invites anyone to use the Pad whether they are comics fans or otherwise, and creative content not related to comics is certainly as welcome as comics-related content.

Sounds fascinating! Read more about it here and here.

This Has An ”I Need Superman’s Pancreas” Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten.

Some Tidbits and the Closing

Some things of interest…

Being the enormous fanboy of The Venture Bros. that I am, I am compelled to inform/remind you that Season Two is Jackson Publick is ebaying original illustrations of the DVD packaging . I have my eyes on ?nderbheit. Mmmmm…

I suppose this is a good a place as any to throw out my awesome idea that there should be a Venture Bros. comic. If the regular creative team hasn’t the time to script it, my vote is for someone like John Layman to do it. Or me, if they want someone infinitely less qualified than the aforementioned.

Hey, I work for damn cheap. I do this don’t I? Yeah, you’re welcome.

Read it here. It makes a great companion to an already massively ass-kicking comic.

That’s it for this installment of All The Rage. I thank ye for tuning in and reading the crap I write. Always feel free to contact me with comments, suggestions, and news. And make sure to keep those senses of humour expertly honed.

Find me:

Ugh. I need to crawl back into bed and make the world stop spinning.

Until next time, dear readers…

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