Archive for the ‘DC Comics’ Category
I decided to put my pitch from last year for a new Blue Devil series up on my blog. I knew it didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell (sorry, couldn’t resist) but I still had fun writing it. And if nothing else, it was good practice for writing pitches, which let me tell you, is not an easy thing to do.
Anyway, you can read it here.
There’s a SHADE, THE CHANGING MAN image at the 0:45 mark. And it looks like Kyle Baker’s style, though I’m guessing at that part.
Let that sink in again: A Shade, The Changing Man animated short. On TV. I never thought I’d be typing these words.
In anticipation of novelist China Miéville’s new Dial H for Hero series coming out later this year from DC, here’s a look at one of the characters from the 80s run of the series. The gimmick was that readers were encouraged to write in with suggestions for new characters, and they were credited for their creations if used in the book. Check out this kid’s suggestion:
More details at the always amusing Comic Book Legends Revealed.
Mercy sakes, you guys have been waiting for five months to hear what I thought of DC’s new Grifter series. Sorry about that.
I got issues 1-2 at Mid-Ohio Con, so I was able to read them both in one sitting. It felt like reading one issue, which is not necessarily a good thing.
The basic story is pretty familiar: Cole Cash is a former special forces operator-turned small-time grifter, who gets abducted by aliens called Daemonites. The abduction goes wrong, and he somehow gains the ability to hear the aliens’ thoughts. They’re chasing him, and apparently inhabiting the bodies of humans, so Grifter does his whole “They Live” bit. For some reason, he puts on a dew-rag mask.
The book is at its best when Grifter is conning someone, or relying on his wits to escape the aliens. In one sequence, he fights off a possessed cop with a frying pan and baking soda, then cons a bunch of cops who show up. In another, he hijacks a plane with an airline booze bottle. That’s a little of the old Grifter that we all know and love.
The biggest problem is the whole series is a little low-key (some might say “realistic”). Like, the payoffs aren’t big enough, or we’re not getting answers fast enough. After five issues, the Daemonites haven’t said anything about their plan other than they want to go home, and it’s not clear that they’re doing any great harm on Earth.
I think I’m just missing the original Grifter series, which gave you a lot more of that four-color spectacle. I got issues 3-5 the other day, so I may have more to say on this.
A modest proposal set forth by yours truly, over at my personal blog.
You’re welcome, DC Comics.
The newly relaunched Animal Man series from DC has been getting rave reviews, and you can count me as one of the book’s fans. Writer Jeff Lemire is tearing it up, presenting an intriguing story about a little girl with unimaginable powers in this bizarre horror book with a metaphysical bent. Unfortunately, I’m not as fond of Travel Foreman’s art on the series, outside of a couple of great covers on the first few issues.
However, this splash page in issue #5 did catch my eye:
Again, not so much for the art itself (I just don’t dig his wonky anatomy, thin line weight, and two dimensional backgrounds), but rather for the little details. So extra points to Mr. Foreman for drawing a butthole on this squirrel:
And nuts on this one:
Good thing this book is rated Teen+.
Did you catch the teaser trailer during the Green Lantern animated show for the “DC Nation” block of shows coming to the Cartoon Network in 2012? If not, check it out below:
They showed one of the Aardman claymation batman shorts, and it was charming. I’m digging the various animation styles featured in the trailer above, too. And there’s a Doom Patrol clip in there as well. Maybe it’ll be on the Young Justice show? or a short? Whatever the case may be, I’m excited for this thing.
PS. The Green Lantern show was pretty good, with solid writing and great action sequences. Too bad the CG animation style is a big turn off for me; they look like inflated plastic toys.
It was a week that nearly broke the comic book Internet in half, gave retailers a queasy feeling, and set rabid comic fans ranting and raving across the blogosphere. And when it was all said and done, DC Comics had announced their 52 new #1 titles for the big September relaunch.
Now, instead of adding to the chorus of opinion pages and rants, I’m just going to follow up on my earlier post (The great 21st century DC Comics reboot 52 title Guess-a-palooza) where I tried to guess what all the titles would be. As you recall, 11 of them had already been announced, and quite a few more were making the rounds on the rumor mill before I put my list together. Anyway, let’s see how I did. I’ll list the official list, with commentary on how I did next to it:
- JLA – the first 11 titles were already a “gimme”
- Wonder Woman
- Fury of Firestorm
- The Savage Hawkman
- Green Arrow
- Justice League Internationsl
- Mister Terrific
- Captain Atom
- DC Universe Presents
- Green Lantern – guessed it (the GL titles were rather obvious)
- Green Lantern Corps – guessed it
- Green Lantern: The New Guardians – guessed it (I called it “a Green Lantern spin-off with all the color lanterns”)
- Red Lanterns – guessed it
- Batman – guessed it
- Detective Comics – guessed it
- Batman & Robin – missed
- Batman: The Dark Knight – guessed it
- Birds of Prey – guessed it
- Catwoman – missed
- Batwoman – guessed it
- Batgirl – guessed it (lots of rumors around this one, but I didn’t think DC would go there)
- Nightwing – guessed it
- Red Hood and the Outlaws – missed
- Batwing – missed
- Swamp Thing – guessed it
- Animal Man – missed
- Justice League Dark – missed (I did guess Shade the Changing man, who’s in this book, but I won’t count it)
- Demon Knights – missed (my guess was Viking Prince or some “fantasy series” but I’m not going to count that)
- Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE – missed
- Resurrection Man – missed
- I, Vampire – missed
- Voodoo – missed
- Legion Lost – missed
- Legion of Superheroes – guessed it
- Teen Titans – guessed it
- Static Shock – guessed it
- Hawk & Dove – guessed it
- Stormwatch – missed (I guessed WildCATS instead)
- Blackhawks – missed
- Sgt. Rock & The Men of War – guessed it
- All-Star Western – guessed it (I guessed Jonah Hex, which is essentially this book, so I’m counting it)
- Deathstroke – guessed it
- Grifter – guessed it
- OMAC – guessed it
- Suicide Squad – missed
- Blue Beetle – guessed it
- Superman: The Man of Tomorrow – guessed it
- Superboy – guessed it
- Supergirl – missed
- Action Comics – guessed it
OK, so if my math is correct, with 36 correct titles, I scored a 69% (heh heh). If we exclude the 11 titles that were already announced, my score drops down to 60%.
Books I guessed that didn’t make the official list:
- Edge (a rumored book, but turned out to be the “banner” for a bunch of thematically-related books)
- Dark (see above)
- My Greatest Adventure (coming later in the year, but not a part of the official relaunch titles)
- Batman Inc. (see above)
- Ambush Bug
- Trinty: Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman (I guess with them being in JLA, this is rather redundant…not that that’s stopped the Big 2 before)
- Batman Beyond (I bet this will return later in the year)
- Dr. Fate
- Xombi (it was getting fantastic reviews, but alas the sales were terrible, so not a big surprise)
- The Question (I was certain the lesbian angle would make this a sure bet)
- Shade the Changing Man
- Viking Prince (hey, it was a wild ass guess…though i was right about them doing a fantasy series)
So there you have it.
Finally, some random thoughts:
- The absence of Steel surprised me. Seems like a missed opportunity, especially in light of their supposed strive towards more diversity in the line
- Swamp Thing was a no-brainer.
- I love what Scott Snyder has been doing with batman in Detective Comics. Moving him to Batman is fine, but I can’t stand Greg Capullo’s art. Ugh.
- Speaking of Batman, I’m a bit surprised by how Bat-heavy the Batman Family of titles are. 10 books in that line, compared to only 4 in Superman’s family.
- No JSA? Also surprising, unless it’s coming back later in the year.
- I, Vampire and Voodoo (especially the former) seem aimed at tweens and teens, maybe? If so, good for DC. Hope it works out for them.
- Meet the new Teen Titans, aka Image’s Cyberforce from the 90s. Ugh.
- 3 relaunched Wildstorm titles? Seems too much to me, but then again I never read any of those books, so clearly not my thing.
- Rob Liefeld? Really?
- It would have been nice to have seen another Milestone book on the list. Oh well.
In the interest of trying to say positive things, I’ll leave you with a selection of my favorite covers from the ones revealed so far:
OK, so if you follow any amount of superhero coverage, by now you’re probably sick and tired of reading about DC’s plan to reboot their universe and relaunch 52 new titles at issue #1 in September. Oh, and as part of the same event, they’re going to be releasing digital versions of the individual comics day-and-date, meaning you can choose to download the book on the same day it hits shops. This latter piece has been getting less press than “ZOMG they’re renumbering Action Comics back to #1!!!!,” but as Dave Uzumeri astutely points out over at Comics Alliance:
“Make no mistake, this entire endeavor is focused on the digital market. DC isn’t dumb. They know print is dying. They know they have no chance at beating Marvel in the print market, as years and years of examples have proven. Rejuvenating the characters (literally) and providing a fresh start all across the line isn’t about a quick sales bump in the direct market; it isn’t about the direct market at all. It’s so that people logging into comiXology to check out these digital DC comics they’ve heard about don’t see an issue number in the 900s after Action Comics and throw up their hands.”
Of course, anyone who has half a brain knows that all media is moving towards digital, and as much as you or I may love print books, there’s no stopping technology and progress. But then there’s Brian Michael Bendis, who tweeted this gem:
“@simps you’re also fucking the struggling retail community in the ass.”
With all due respect to Bendis, his writing skills, his successful career, and his gig as head writer and corporate cheerleader for Marvel, that’s about as unprofessional and dick-ish a thing you could say on the topic. You know, because the right thing to do is forgo new technologies and market direction, and cling to a rapidly deteriorating business model so you’ll be a nice guy in the eyes of comic retailers. Believe me, I love my comic shop and I’d be heartbroken if it went out of business (and put some good folks out of a job) but it’s not DC (or for that matter, Marvel or any other publisher) who is driving this. It’s business and technology. They change. And they change rapidly. And like any other business, you either change and adapt, or you go under.
And please, such righteous indignation from Bendis, as if Marvel doesn’t already have a digital business model as well, with plans to expand it. Grow up.
OK, but enough with the politics and inter-company mudslinging. As far as the 52 new titles go, I have to say I’m neither breathlessly excited, nor spitting mad. This stuff isn’t new, the Big Two have been doing it for a while now. Granted, this particular iteration is pretty ballsy, but for me, it’ll come down to which books have creators and/or characters and directions I like. I’ll buy the ones that appeal to me, and the fact that costumes are changing or books are being renumbered doesn’t really bother me (although, there is a part of me that feels a slight sense of loss at a book like Action Comics, which has been in continuous monthly publication for 75+ years and had just surpassed issue #900 is going to be renumbered. That’s a nice chunk of comics history gone).
Anyway, as of this writing, DC has officially revealed 11 of the 52 books. Plus, there’s plenty of rumors circulating on the others. So I thought it would be fun to come up with my guess as to what all the titles will be. When they’re all announced, I’ll go back and see how well I guessed. I’m hoping to do better than 70%, but we’ll see. So, let’s start with the known books:
Wonder Woman (surprised to see Brian Azzarello as the writer, but Cliff Chiang is a perfect artist for it, very classy style)
Flash (written by artist Francis Manapul)
Fury of Firestorm (co-written by artist Ethan Van Sciver)
The Savage Hawkman (written by artist Tony Daniel…detect a trend here?)
Justice League International
DC Universe Presents (an anthology book, cool)
OK, moving on, here are more titles that I’m guessing are pretty safe bets:
Legion of Superheroes (in one incarnation or another)
Birds of Prey
Batman Incorporated (or at least some sort of Grant Morrison Batman book)
Green Lantern Corps
…previously announced books which will probably debut as part of this initiative:
Batwoman (co-written by artist J.H. Williams…ok, ok, I’ll stop)
Red Lantern Corps (Peter Milligan writing)
…and rumored ones that seem pretty likely:
My Greatest Adventure (anthology, continuing 2 of the features from the recently concluded Weird Worlds)
Batgirl (supposedly Barbara Gordon)
a Green Lantern spin-off with all the color lanterns
Grifter (a revived Wildstorm book)
So that’s 34 books, leaving me with 18 more to guess. Let’s see, how about:
Swamp Thing (I mean, they did just bring him back into the DCU)
Blue Beetle (possibly team-up w/ Booster Gold)
Ambush Bug (or some kind of humor book)
Sgt. Rock (or some kind of war book)
Hawk & Dove (see: Brightest Day)
another Batman book (probably the hideously-delayed but still high selling Davind Finch one)
Trinity: Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman (replacing the current Batman/Superman book)
Batman Beyond (it was doing decent sales-wise, so odds are it’ll be back)
Xombi (not a sales powerhouse, but it’s been getting rave reviews)
The Question (because one book starring a lesbian isn’t enough)
WildCATS (If the Grifter rumor is true, I’m guessing this Wildstorm book created by Jim Lee book is probably slated for a return as well)
Deathstroke the Terminator (either this, or another “villain” book, maybe Deadshot?)
Shade the Changing Man (see: Flashpoint)
Viking Prince (a wild ass guess; I’m thinking they’ll want a fantasy series for diversity of genre, but they already tried Warlord recently and it didn’t take)
So there you have it, my list of DC’s 52 titles debuting in September. I think for the most part I played it safe, although I did throw in a couple of long shots (Viking Prince? What the hell am I thinking?) By the way, feel free to play along in the comments section with your own guesses as to what the 52 titles will be.
Last year, I did my first work for DC Comics in the form of a short story in their DC Universe Holiday Special #1.
As this detailed post on the Bleeding Cool news/gossip site lays out, quite a number of former DC editors who were either publicly or privately known to have been “let go” of their jobs are actually quite gainfully employed by the DC/Warner Brother family.
Last year over in Burbank, LA, within Warner Bros, DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns put a team together that included a number of recently-made-redundant DC Comics editors. And no one talked about it.
Titled DC Entertainment Creative Affairs, the group has a rather roving brief. Working on multimedia exploitation such as animation and live action, including DC Nation, Young Justice, Brave & Bold, Smallville’s final season (including another Geoff Johns’ episode), the Sandman TV show and other not-yet-announced projects up and running for development (including a possible animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns), it’s basically a Bullpen for a different multi-media world and a veritable West Coast Justice League Of DC Comics.
Among the group is Mike Carlin, ex-longtime senior editor at DC, and the guy who gave me my break on that Holiday Special. Mike was kind enough to give me a tour of the DC office last year when I was in New York for the NYCC show, and he was honest and professional with me during the whole process of getting my story into print. He even let me know privately about his transfer out of the publishing side of DC when it happened, since he was my main contact at the editorial offices (now that this story is public, I feel like I’m not betraying any secrets by mentioning it here). Over the last year or two, I’ve kept in contact with about half a dozen other editors at DC as well, sending them copies of my latest books, and just reminding them that I’m still out here. Well, according to the article, 2 more of those folks are no longer editors either: Adam Schlagman and Sean Ryan have both moved over to the new DC Entertainment Creative Affairs. So, yeah, most of my contact in DC editorial are gone.
To further complicate matters for new creators looking to break in, the kinds of writing gigs that in the past may have been open to folks like me (and I say may because even then, the odds were way against you, as you were competing with seasoned pros who were desperately looking for gigs as well) are now being filled with many of these same ex-editors:
And in a further twist, a number of the now-ex-editors working for this new department have been hired by Eddie Berganza to write comics involved in the Flashpoint crossover.
The upcoming Flashpoint event is a good example. The crossover comprises something on the order of 14 new mini-series and one-shots. You might think that somewhere in there, an issue or two (or maybe even a backup story) would be open to new talent. But a look at the creative teams shows that of the few not being written by DC regulars (folks like Tony bedard and Peter Tomasi), they are being written by current and former editors: Adam Schlagman on Flashpoint: Abin Sur the Green Lantern and Flashpoint: Hal Jordan, Rex Ogle on Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint, Sean Ryan on Flashpoint: Grodd of War, Pornsak Pichetshote on Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries, and Mike Carlin on Flashpoint: The Canterbury Cricket. Related to the above, a mini-series spinning out of the recently-concluded year long mega series Brightest Day, titled Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search, will be written by former Vertigo editor Jonathan Vankin.
(Aside: for another take on this topic, check out friend-of-the-ferret Caleb Mozzocco’s post What the Flashpoint creative teams tell us about DC’s strategy regarding talent on his Every Day Is Like Wednesday blog.)
I think the writing is clearly on the wall for writers like me when it comes to DC Comics.
Now, I’ve never had any illusions of writing comics for a living, nor of getting a “dream job” of writing the Batman monthly or what have you. But, I do have a connection to a lot of these characters that I’ve been reading for almost three decades now, and it’s definitely fun to “play in the DC sandbox,” as the saying goes. However, I think these days, more than at any other time, the door to that playground is firmly shut to new talent. So the choice is to keep beating my head against that wall (wait, did I just switch metaphors on you?), expending a lot of time, money, and energy in the process, or move on to other projects and opportunities.
I choose the latter.
This year, I’ve been concentrating my efforts on getting a few of my creator-owned projects off the ground. In many ways, that’s just as daunting a task as trying to “break in” to Marvel and DC, but if and when it finally does happen, the emotional rewards are much more gratifying. Already, I’m enjoying small victories. I just sold an autobiographical short story to the new Dark Horse Presents, and wrapped up another short autobio for this year’s Liberty Annual, to benefit the CBLDF. And if nothing else, the process of pitching my Persia Blues series has been a great learning experience, and a fantastic way to hone some writing skills unrelated to the actual creation of a story (those loglines and summaries are a bitch to get right!) Add to that The Unseen pitch (with artist and fellow PANELista Andy Bennett) and a couple of other in-development proposals, and I remain hopeful that at least one of my books will gain some traction this year. And of course, I continue to be involved with the PANEL group, which is my single biggest outlet for creative expression.
All of this isn’t to say that I won’t keep an eye on the industry and look for opportunities here and there, but unlike last year where I spent an inordinate amount of energy trying to play with the big boys, I’m going to be much more judicious with my time now. But as for me and DC, I think that first date may have also been the last. And you know what? I’m OK with that. I gave it my best shot, and ended up in one of their books with a story I feel proud of.
Now it’s time to dial it up to 11 on my own books.
Well, DC’s April solicitations are out, and to no one’s surprise, a whole slew of their low-selling titles are getting the axe. Among them is one of my favorites, the quirky Doom Patrol.
Here’s a look at the titles being canceled, and their most recent monthly sales figures from December 2010:
- Outsiders #35 — 13,133
- Doom Patrol #17 — 9,564
- Freedom Fighters #4 — 10,028
- R.E.B.E.L.S. #23 — 10,619
- JSA All-Stars #13 — 18,395
Doom Patrol – to be honest, I’ve been surprised for the last half a year every time DC solicited a new issue, given how poor the sales numbers have been for a while. I’m going to miss the book. The current incarnation isn’t in the Grant Morrison plane of weirdness, but it’s definitely a different offering than DC’s other books.
Freedom Fighters – Given that the two mini-series that preceded this regular series didn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire, I was surprised they gave a green light for a monthly. Odd.
JSA All-Stars – with sales nearly double that of Doom Patrol, this one seems to be well above the cancellation threshold, so the decision was probably based on some other factors. Perhaps a second JSA series was deemed superfluous by editorial?
Interesting to note, both The Spirit and Doc Savage monthlies are already selling in the 8K range, but they’ve so far been spared cancellation. Not sure about the business decision behind that. And Jonah Hex has been selling at the 10-11K level for a year now, but to their credit DC have shown a lot of dedication to keeping that series going.
Replacing all the canceled series seems to be only one new monthly book: Static Shock (the Milestone character, now firmly established in the DC Universe). With so many Batman and Green Lantern books on their monthly roster, I can’t help but to be disappointed that the diversity of title offerings is shrinking (and yes, I realize the irony of talking about diversity within a very niche superhero catalog).
This week’s been a hectic one, so I totally forgot to mention that I’m doing a signing at The Laughing Ogre tonight from 5-8 pm. Seeing as how it’s now almost 11 pm, I suppose this announcement only does you some good if you have a time machine. For the rest of you, let’s just move one…
So, today saw the release of my first work as a writer for DC Comics, in the form of an 8-page Spectre story in the DC Universe Holiday Special 2010 #1. (Aside to FOX “News”: yes, that’s right. Holiday Special. Not Christmas Special. Because all your fears were correct, there really is a War on Christmas (TM) and guess who contributed to it? Me. An Iranian! Gasp! And my story deals with Norouz, the Persian New Year. So yes, feel free to invite me unto one of your fine programs and browbeat and berate me in the name of saving America and its children. Any of them will do, The Hannity Factor, or Glenn O’Reilly, or any of the half dozen shows hosted by Fox Interchangeable Attractive Blonde Female Reporter Standard Model #B-726.)
Er, sorry. Where was I? Oh right, the DC Holiday Special. It’s a one-shot, costs $5, and in it you’ll find six 8-page stories featuring various DC Universe characters from different timelines dealing with an aspect of the season. And it’s all wrapped up under a nice Matt Haley cover:
DC UNIVERSE HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2010 #1
Written by DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING, SETH ALBANO, TONY BEDARD, JOEY CAVALIERI, KEVIN GREVIOUX and DARA NARAGHI
Art by RENATO ARLEM, ROBERTO CASTRO, RICHARD & TANYA HORIE, CARLO SORIANO and more
Cover by MATT HALEY
From the dawn of time (Anthro) to the far-flung future (Legion of Super-Heroes), sentient life has honored the winter holidays with celebrations and rituals as diverse as the universe itself! Join DC Comics – and a stellar team of writers and artists – to honor the vast and diverse holidays of the DC Universe in 6 tales of holiday cheer! Starring the aforementioned characters along with Superman, The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Lantern John Stewart for a HOLIDAY SPECIAL like no other!
So I thought it would be fun to show a tiny bit of the process behind creating my story. We’ll just look at the first page. First up, my script for page 1:
Suggested Page Layout: 1 x 1
PANEL 1: Wide/Large, about 3/4 page. We open with a dramatic shot of The Spectre flying high over Tehran, Iran. It’s a sunny spring day, with the clear blue sky and the snow-capped mountain range in the background nicely juxtaposed against the densely populated urban sprawl below. (References: with mountains here and here, without mountains here)
1. Masthead/Logo: The Spectre
2. Caption (credits): “The Gift”
Dara Naraghi – Writer, etc.
3. Caption: Tehran, Iran. On the eve of the vernal equinox.
4. Caption (Crispus): Being what you’d call a non-believer, the holidays, to me, were always more about spending time with family than anything else.
5. Caption (Crispus): But after my death, they lost even that meaning.
6. Caption (Crispus): So this year, I ditched the painful memories at home for the far corners of the world. I’ve been at it for a few months.
PANEL 2: Wide. The Spectre is now “landing” on a busy street in a rich part of town, lined with high-end stores and boutiques. Show several young, attractive, trendy Iranian women carrying shopping bags. (References: here and here) Also show a beggar sitting on the sidewalk, panhandling.
7. Caption (Crispus): Guess there are a few perks to being The Spectre’s human host. No borders. No jet lag.
8. Caption (Crispus): And apparently no need for a Farsi translator. I understand what everyone around me is talking about.
9. Caption (Crispus): From the rich…
10. Caption (Crispus): …to the poor.
You’ll notice a lot of “here” and “here” talk in the descriptions. That’s where I linked to URLs of photo references for the artist in my Word document; I just didn’t reproduce them in the sample above.
Anyway, next step is the pencils, which were provided by Tom Derenick:
The pencils were then inked by Norm Rapmund, and a proof of the initial lettering was done, in this case featuring the lettering of Travis Lanham:
And finally, here’s the finished page, including colors by Chris Beckett. You’ll notice some of the lettering on the story title was tweaked from the previous stage:
And of course, editor Mike Carlin guided the whole book through from start to finish, assisted by Rachel Gluckstern. So there you have it, the magic of comic book creation, demystified.
The only small downer is that a couple of lettering mistakes that were caught during the production phase somehow didn’t get corrected before printing, and ended up in the final product. Oh well, nothing can be done about it now. I’m still quite happy with the story, and hope you’ll enjoy it as well.
So if you picked up the book, drop me an email or leave a comment below and share your thoughts. What worked and what didn’t? I’d love to hear from you.