Category Archives: Industry

Captain Marvel

CAPTAIN MARVEL. Debuted 1940, Fawcett Publications: One of my all-time favorite superhero comics.

 

SHAZAM (formerly known as Captain Marvel). Debuting 2012, DC Comics: …What the fuck?!?!?!

 

“This is a one-shot from DC’s continuing attempts to drag the Marvel Family into the mainstream as represented by the shared universe of DC Comics superheroes. I’m sure comics like this have an audience that loves them and that some of the creators do a very nice job, but these always seem wrong to me on a fundamental level, like trying to work Big Bird into episodes of Mad Men just because of an accident that gives them shared ownership.”

            — Tom Spurgeon, 25 January 2011 on Shazam #1, 2011.

 

Yes, I am petty.

So… I was somewhat looking forward to the above upcoming Superman one-shot. It was written by Martin (“Marty”) Pasko as part of DC’s nostalgia-driven “Retrograde” mini-event this month – a last hurrah before the big line wide reboot coming next month. It’s a series of one-shots that’s supposed to feature artists and writers (when available) who worked on various DC characters in the 70s, 80s, and 90s writing those same characters again in stories set in those decades, and presented as if they were written and drawn back then. This event was announced back in April, well before the reboot news hit, but it’s obvious looking back that they planned it to sequence this way. (The reboot, of course, should have hit back in 1985 after Crisis on Infinite Earths, but that’s another blog post.)

Marty Pasko wrote Superman stories in the late 70s / early 80s, back when the character was under the editorship of Julius Schwartz. Julie’s Superman was my first Superman, and was possibly one of the worst interpretations of the character in his history, usually only tolerable when Curt Swan was on art duties. Still, I couldn’t / can’t stop reading it. You read one, and it’s, like, “That was complete shit! Maybe I’ll buy another one!” “DC Retroactive: Superman – The 70s” is the kind of comic they make for guys just like me.

But, the thing is: I am now boycotting this comic.

Yes, you heard me right, Crime Fans. Pick yourselves up off the floor. I’m boycotting it! There’s no way I’m even flipping through this thing any more. Why? Because of recent comments by Marty Pasko about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

If you REALLY wanna interview someone who’s a creator of TMNT as we know it, f*** Eastman & Laird; talk to David Wise

TMNT was a lame, amateurish B&W indie when TV ani producer Fred Wolf bought the option for chump change. No key TMNT branding element came from Eastman or Laird–not Turtles’ personalities or any shtik like pizza thing. Every TMNT thing that was leveraged 4 big licensing bux came from the cartoon, not the stupid, insipidl B&W indie comix. TMNT works almost exclusively thanx 2 creative innovations by the brilliant David Wise

How do I know all this? I wrote the 3rd TMNT episode of the ongoing series (i.e., after David Wise’s 5-part “pilot”) & a few more TMNTs, & I can swear that what made TMNT huge & famous was what David brought to it. Why? Bcoz I consulted comix AS WELL AS David’s pilot script & bible & the comix were useless as ref. 4 series that estabed property. Fanboys hate hearing this, but most peeps who get “Created By” cred have high-powered lawyers who fuck over collaborators.

 

 Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down there, Marty.

1) However “lame” or “amateurish” or TMNT might have been, I don’t think Pasko should be going around pointing fingers when at the same period of time he was writing complete fucking corporate rubbish aimed at six-year-olds. At least TMNT was self-published.

2) How much more artistic merit did TMNT the animation have over TMNT the comic? I mean, really? This is like Pac Man The Cartoon (the pot) calling  Pac Man the Game (the kettle) black.

3) How much of the Superman comics of the 70s got used in the Christopher Reeve movie?

4) Most Importantly: TMNT inspired the catastrophic self-publishing boom and bust of the 80s from which comics never full recovered. But that Turtles money also led to foundation of:

a) The Xeric Foundation, which helped dozens of now-vital cartoonists get on their feet.

b) Tundra Publishing, which – though short-lived and insane – brought us Dave McKean’s Cages, Understanding Comics, Al Columbia, From Hell, Lost Girls, Skin, and more.

Eastman and Laird – whatever their missteps – have been vital to the development of alternative comics, and they deserve respect for that. What has Pasko done for the development of comics as an art form? Nothing. With “Retroactive,” Pasko is going back to the artistically bankrupt corporate sludge gutter once again, so you deserve the fucking, Mister Pasko, not Eastman and Laird.

KS

P.S. Even though he’s writing the Punisher and I suffer from Punisher-itis, I boycotted all of Jason Aaron’s comics a while back too. Though for different reasons, you can probably guess why.

Superman by Marty Pasko and a Committee, not at all like...

... "stupid" and "insipid" TMNT comics by Eastman and Laird.

Superman’s Citizenship

I’d completely forgotten about the whole Superman’s citizenship business until I read this today: http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/05/is-superman-still-renouncing-his-citizenship/

The fact that I consider myself a “Superman Fan” but had forgotten all of this probably shows how out of touch I am with the current iteration of the character.

As for the reason I forgot about it the minute after I read about it, let me make the following simple points. I don’t understand why message board threads on the topic are running 13 pages long:

1) Superman is an alien being FROM ANOTHER PLANET.

2) Superman is an ALIAS. “Clark Kent” can be an American citizen, but “Superman” cannot except in an honorary sense.

3) Superman co-creator Joe Shuster was born CANADIAN.

4) Superman is a FICTIONAL CHARACTER.

KS

P.S. One scene I really hated in Superman Returns, was the scene where he flies up into space above the Earth and listens for all the bad stuff going on, and then flies down to stop a bank robbery IN METROPOLIS of all the shit going on in the world.

 

Something…

… just doesn’t add up.

Frank Miller’s SIN CITY A DAME TO KILL FOR and THE BIG FAT KILL letters columns:

SIN CITY comic-to-movie comparisons (see here):

SIN CITY THE MOVIE:

MPAA Rating:

R for sustained strong stylized violence, nudity and sexual content including dialogue.

All I’m saying is: The movie should have been released independently without any MPAA rating.

KS

My Toronto Something-Con 1998 Sketchbook

This was — I felt — a tiny little “con” (more like a market) occupying only a couple of rooms in a convention center in Toronto which it was sharing with a Jehovah’s Witnesses Convention on that same weekend. I can’t even remember the name of it but I don’t think it was the Fan Expo which is a rather large and significant affair these days, I am told. Or maybe it was and the Expo has actually grown exponentially over the years. Anyway, there were very few mega-guests from the Big Two (except for Joe Quesada or Jimmy Palmiotti — I can’t remember which, and John Romita JR), but there were some excellent Canadian stalwarts as you shall see below. Click to enjoy!

Dave Sim

He had just done his four-part mega-interview with Alan Moore in Cerebus and was happy to chat about him for a bit.

Greg Hyland

Koichi Ohata

This is fairly bad ass.

Stuart Immonen

Joe Matt

Seth

Joe Matt and Seth were looking pretty… uhh… unoccupied at this particular show. They had lots of time to do fully rendered sketches. Matt even did another one for me in a copy of The Poor Bastard that I bought off him. I can’t remember if I bought It’s a Good Life from Seth directly at this show or if I got it some other time.

Stephen Platt

When Stephen Platt first started out, he was eager to work on the Punisher. The Punisher editors at the time didn’t like him, but he ended up landing on Moon Knight where he earned his 15 minutes of mega-fame, while Platt look-a-likes started appearing in the Punisher books where the editors were kicking themselves. Platt went on to mostly mediocrity. I’m not sure what the problem was. Maybe his sequentials just weren’t that great. Maybe he could only draw one facial expression. Anyway, for a moment there, his art style was in the right place at the right time (early 90s / Image steroid armor fest), and it always pissed me off that we never did get to see this “hot” artist on a Punisher book — which is what HE wanted in the first place — instead of the amateurish artists they were using instead. So when I got the opportunity to ask for a Punisher sketch, he was more than happy to oblige. That is a wicked image right there. They outta give the guy some covers at least.

KS

My SDCC 1997 Sketchbook

Mike Allred

I asked him about the Madman movie, and he said, “All I can tell you is the potential director’s initials are DH.” I said, “D.H. Lawrence?!” and he said, “Who?!”

Mike Mignola

He seemed slightly reluctant to have to draw Rasputin for some reason…

Scott McDaniel

Ron Garney

Art Adams

Mark Schultz

Terry Moore

Geoff Darrow

One of my favorites of these. It’s amazing how much expression he gets out of so few lines, and yet he’s known for his hyper-detailed style.

Mark Texiera

I wanted a Punisher. He was, like, “Man, the Punisher is a dead character!” I was, like, “O-okay, Mr Texiera. Vampirella then please!”

Phil Foglio

Len Wein

Phil Foglio

Stan Sakai

Kevin Eastman

Rick Geary

Gary Gianni

Unusual to see anything by Brom in just pen-and-ink instead of fully painted!

Dick Ayers

Batton Lash

Eddie Campbell

Eddie seemed slightly annoyed to see me walking around wearing a From Hell shirt, and asking him to sign From Hell books. He seemed disappointed that I wasn’t into Bacchus, but I did end up buying three tpbs off him!

Matt Wagner

Larry Marder

Marie Severin

Sergio Aragones

I wanted a Punisher. He was, like, “I never drew that character!” I was, like, “O-okay, Mr Aragones. Superman then please!”

Steve Bissette

I wanted an Abby, but my friend warned me beforehand that Bissette didn’t like doing sketches of her because she was hard to draw. But I figured I’d give it a shot. First, I got him to sign my copy of Swamp Thing #21 (“The Anatomy Lesson”) and I told him about how I’d recently bought page 1 of that issue (it is the one piece of original art I own). He asked me how much I paid for it. I said, “$900” (this was pre-eBay, remember.) Bissette: Poker face. So then I asked for an Abby sketch, and he was, like, “Wellll…” So I quickly said, “How about a Swamp Thing?” He said, “Okay, but can you go get me a Coke?” So I went and bought him a Coke, and when I came back this beautiful drawing is what was waiting for me! Thank you, Mr. Bissette!!

Jill Thompson

Carl Macek (R.I.P.)

Me & Carl Macek

He was the first creator I met at the show, and the only one I got my picture taken with. For better or worse, ROBOTECH has had an abnormally huge effect on my life. I was sadder than I should have been when he passed. He died at age 58. Meaning he must’ve been about 33 when he produced Robotech. Wow.

Mark Millar

Mark Millar had just finished his run on Swamp Thing, which I absolutely loved, but he was still relatively unknown in the US. I was determined to meet him to talk about his Swamp Thing work, but he never seemed to be around the first day or two. Finally, he was signing at the DC booth. At the table were Grant Morrison — at the peak of his super-popular JLA run — on the left, and Millar on the right. The mega-line was feeding into Grant (JLA artist Howard Porter may have been there too), and people would theoretically then travel along to Mark. Nuh uh. People would get Morrison to sign their stuff and then veer off into the ether. Millar was sitting there looking bored, and to be honest, a little sad — hard to imagine these days, I know! Anyway, so I’m in the line. Finally, I get to Morrison and I walk right past him to Millar. Morrison looks slightly taken aback — whether at being ignored or Millar getting eager attention, I don’t know. Millar is slightly shocked by the crazed fan too. In any case, we had a great lengthy chat (as far as Comic Con goes) about the whole legacy of Swamp Thing and his wonderful work on the series and he seemed to really appreciate my support too. Unfortunately, I haven’t liked much of what I’ve read of Millar’s work since, but that was always one of my favorite con memories. And who knew he could DRAW Swamp Thing so well to boot!

KS

R.I.P. Cathy

So Cathy — the newspaper strip by Cathy Guisewite about the perpetually mid-life-crisising modern, urban woman — is ending in October. Is it wrong for me to say I absolutely loathed this strip (not as much as I loath B.C., but still)? For me it always hit on about the same repetitive level as Garfield. Good riddance! (But thanks for those 17 great seconds on 30 Rock.)

Marvel Strip-O-Gram!

Late last year, Marvel announced its “Strip your DC event comics covers to get a free Deadpool variant” promotion, a juvenile attempt to show up DC’s premium-driven sales for what Marvel believed they really were (DC gave out free Green Lantern rings to retailers for ordering X number of copies of certain books).  In January, I wrote this is an email to Mulele about the whole thing:

I think the bottom line is really Marvel should offer free variants in exchange for their own overhyped event bullshit comics, rather than wasting their time trying to make DC look bad.
 
The thing about DC’s promotion was: if the retailer buys 50 copies of a specific comic, they get 1 (or some? or 50?) green lantern rings, buy 50 of another specific comic, the retailer gets a red lantern ring, etc. If you are a comic shop that normally sells 5 copies a month of title XYZ, but then you order 55 to get the ring, and now you are stuck with 50 extra copies — guess what, it’s the retailer that fucked up, not DC. Marvel thinks they are pulling a stunt on DC, but it’s really mud in the eye of stupid retailers, who will now be rewarded for their stupidity.

Well, it looks like Marvel — like the CIA — has been reading my emails because apparently they are listening, and are now offering premiums for returns of stripped covers on their own books: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=27130 . This seemed like a ballsy move to me at first, but actually Marvel only stands to make money from this.

Back in the early days of newsstand returnability, retailers would tear the covers off the comics and mail the covers back to the companies for a refund. But in this case, the comics are still non-returnable. Meaning Marvel gets to keep its money and only loses a few bucks from the few premium comics it has to print up.

This time around — hypothetically — foolish retailers might order 55 copies of Marvel comic X so they can tear the covers off and return them for the premium. I can’t imagine anyone would actually do this, but let’s say it happens. The retailer then sells the 5 copies he would have normally anyway and strips the 50 others for the freebie. Then three more customers come in looking for the same comic. Whoops! All his extras have the covers torn off. He can order three 2nd printings of course (which cannot be stripped for the premiums) and Marvel has now sold 58 copies, and only has to give away 1 free variant comic which cost Marvel $1.18 to print.

Like I said before, I don’t imagine this scenario will ever happen, but in any case, Marvel cannot lose in this situation. They don’t even come off looking like idiots the way they did trying to sabotage DC.

KS

Unrelated: Here’s a book on “self-publishing” that I will NOT be reviewing, but you can check out for yourself: http://www.co2comics.com/pages/how_to_start_a_comic_book_empire.html