• Ferret Press is a publisher of fine indie comix. PANEL is a comic book writer/artist collective, based in Columbus, Ohio. This is our group blog.
  • Check out our books at: Ferret Press
  • Check out Dara Naraghi's new site: DaraNaraghi.com
  • RSS Feed

Dara Naraghi's graphic novel Lifelike is now available in both digital and print editions. Click here for more info.

Books – Dara
Image of Lifelike
Image of Igor Movie Prequel
Image of Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland (Witch & Wizard (Idw))
Image of Terminator: Salvation Movie Prequel
Image of Witch & Wizard Volume 2: Operation Zero (Witch & Wizard (Idw))
Image of Ghostbusters: Haunted Holidays
Image of Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales Of The Here And Now
Image of The Absurd Adventures of Archibald Aardvark Volume 1: Bullets, Booze, and Beelzebub
Image of MGM Drive-in Theater: Motel Hell and IT
Books -Panel
Image of No Dead Time
Image of Comic Book Tattoo Special Edition
Image of Saint Germaine: Tales of an Immortal
Image of Sherlock Holmes & Kolchak: Cry For Thunder S/N Limited Edition HC
Image of Ghost Sonata
Image of Vampire The Masquerade Volume 1: Blood and Roses
Image of Moonstone Monsters Volume 1

Archive for the ‘Comics biz’ Category

Well, they say the Internets is forever, and it’s so true.

Cyberspace Comics is an Ebay comic book retailer, and they have a pretty nifty blog, with several recurring features like One Shot at Greatness (reviews of one-shot comics) and Famous Fanmails (reprinting letters written by future comics pros, as printed in comic book letters columns). And it’s the latter feature that finds episode #43 spotlighting a letter from none other than yours truly!

Yep, they found a letter I got published in Doctor Zero #6, a title in Epic Comics’ Shadowline Saga series, from February 1989. Check it:

Honestly, I gotta say I’m pretty flattered that they even know who I am!

The whole Famous Fanmails category is fun to read through. They have fan letters from the likes of Scott McCloud, Anne McCaffrey, Chuck Dixon, Neil Gaiman, and many more. Drop on by and take a stroll down memory lane.

Graphic NYC has a nice interview (sadly, one of the last) with the recently departed Dwayne McDuffie. It touches upon the highlights of McDuffie’s career, including his start at Marvel, Milestome Media, the ups and downs at DC, as well as other tidbits. For instance, I had no idea that Denys Cowan was involved in the creation of the short-lived V series M.A.N.T.I.S. And as you’d expect, there’s a lot of frank talk from McDuffie about the business side of comics.

“The readers that are left are only interested in things that were popular when they were twelve years old,” Dwayne noted. “They’re only interested in Hal Jordan Green Lantern and Barry Allen Flash. They just brought Barry Allen back and he’s been dead thirty years. Who’s that nostalgia for? I’m in my forties and I barely remember him. But when they announced that he’s coming back, people got really excited. Apparently, the core audience who is still around are people who are five to ten years older than I am.”


“My recent experience is that I like animation a lot more than comics,” he admitted later. “I have a lot more freedom to do what I want to with animation than I do in comics. There are a lot of managers in comics, but in TV there’s the network, the show runner, and there’s maybe a guy at the studio who cares. There’s three people, maybe, and you call them on the phone and go ‘I was thinking of doing this…’ and they go ‘You can’t do that.’”

Which is odd, since I’d always heard that TV/movies are nightmares compared to comics, since there’s usually a lot more money involved, and thus many more layers of management and executives to answer to. What does that say about the sad state of comics, if he felt he had more freedom working on DC’s animated features, as opposed to the comics themselves?

Comic Book Resources is doing a fun artist contest where each month they’ll post a script page and invite artists to show off their interpretation of it. Here are the details:

“So, each month, I’ll put up one page from a comic book script by a notable comic book writer. If you want to participate, you will then draw that page and e-mail it to me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com by Saturday, March 5th. On Sunday, March 6th, I’ll post all the pages people have sent in. Then the readers will vote on who they think did the best job on the page (I might do a secret panel, as well, but there will definitely be a public voting option). Sounds fun, right?”

The inaugural contest features a page from Andy Diggle’s script for Batman Confidential #1. There are no prozes, as far as I can tell, so it’s just for fun (and practice). Plus, it gets your art seen by a bunch of folks. And who knows, maybe some editors will be checking it out. So if you’re so inclined, give it a shot.

The Beat has a short and somewhat funny interview with Chew writer/creator, John Layman. He talks about what a tough sell the series was (including being turned down by Vertigo) and touches upon other topics, such as the bad blood between himself and DC editorial. I liked this particular glimpse into the process of putting together an issue of Chew, arguably Image’s only big hit from the last couple of years:

Can you walk me through your working process for a typical issue of Chew?

Well, I write an issue, and that takes me anywhere from half a week to two or three weeks, depending on the issue and how much trouble it is giving me. Some issues I have banged out in no time at all, and others are really a wrestling match.

I often write out of sequence, and most times, once I am done, I don’t noodle with scripts or lines, though the fourth story arc I find I’ve been returning to scripts to make tweaks here and there. Rob draws it, and gives me pages several at a time, in black and white lo rez, for me to letter. Once he is done penciling and inking an issue, he colors it up. I take the final finals and paste up the lettering into one Photoshop file.

Rob and I go back and forth on the cover design, though lately I’ve been doing most of it. I design the inside front cover and back cover and do the letters page, and then we give nearly complete issue to Image to put into a document to give to the printer. We give them pretty much a final product. All they add is the bar code and the trademark symbols and the indicia/legalese small print.

It’s kinda a point of pride that Rob and I keep the operation to just the two of us. And we can do it almost monthly… just about a month and a week per issue, most of the time.”

Obviously, Chew is another example of how a purely creator-owned comic can benefit the creative team immensely. But at the same time, the above passage shows just how much work is involved in doing a book of this nature. If you want to have that ownership/control, be prepared to put in a ton of work aside from the purely creative process of writing and drawing. We’re talking lettering, administrative, pre-press, marketing, etc. And of course, forget about a a page rates. If your book eventually finds an audience and becomes a hit, you’ll reap the benefits. But you also need to be realistic; if I had to guess, I’d say probably 90% of creator owned books out there are losing money, let alone breaking even.

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

Some thoughts:

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).

Friend-of-the-ferret and fellow Columbusite Chris Sprouse is interviewed by Newsarama. It’s mostly about his latest Tom Strong mini-series being in limbo after the dissolution of the Wildstorm imprint, but he also talks a bit about the various writers he’s collaborated with, and that’s where I caught this interesting tidbit about Grant Morrison:

“[Grant’s scripts] are very loose, not a lot there…”

and this, specifically about the Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne script:

“There wasn’t a lot of dialogue in the finished book. There was none in the script,” Sprouse said. “Grant wanted to do all the dialogue after he saw the images, so he could match up or riff off the expressions that I gave him. So that was interesting, to not know.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I always enjoy these little glimpses into the process of creating comics by various writers and artists.

Er, ok, just this past month, really. I was invited as a guest on a couple of comic book related podcasts:

First up, you can catch me on the Outhouse Podcast #32. I ramble on for way too long, get dropped when my cellphone runs out of juice, then pop back in to ramble on a bit more. You’ve been warned.

Next, friend-of-the-ferret and all around nice guy Chuck Moore (of ComicRelated fame) chats with me on The Related Recap #239. We cover comics, comix, PANEL, and everything in between.

The Beat has an interview with Marvel’s new Editor In Chief, Axel Alonso, and I particularly liked his frankness on the topic of “big event comics”:

“I wish it weren’t the case but the fact of the matter is the sure fire way to spike a monthly title is to tie it in. The zeitgeist of the day is determined by the man or woman who goes into the comics store on Wednesday, and they want to know [the story] counts. And the only way they know it counts is for other people to say it counts because it’s tied in to the bigger title.”

No word on how to change this, but then again, the Big Two have been perpetrating this on themselves for quite a while now.

If you enjoy reading the “behind the scenes” stories of the comic book business as much as I do, you may enjoy this one. It’s a long, detailed essay from artist Paul Guinan, who co-created the character/title Chronos for DC Comics (along with writer John Francis Moore).

Chronos was one of those quirky books that had a cult following, received high critical praise, but just didn’t do well enough in the sale s department. Far from it being only a case of cancellation due to poor sales, Paul lays out the nitty gritty of all the factors that plagued the book, and it’s an interesting look behind the curtains. From creative differences, to bad timing, to unfortunate events (the death of editor Archie Goodwin), it’s a tale of how a lot of little things going wrong can lead to a good book falling by the wayside.

“Archie, John, and I all figured the colorist would use a natural palette, taking his cue from the naturalistic story and art. Despite several conversations on this topic, he took a very stylized approach. He repeatedly made choices that didn’t complement the book’s tone (e.g., green skies, purple brick/masonry, blue walls, and orange floors), as well as inconsistent choices (note how many different ways the floor that the Timesmasher sits on is colored). It was demoralizing for me, after all the time I’d spent researching and drawing the settings in ‘Chronos,’ to see printed results like 1872 Metropolis in bright blue, or the 11th-century Chinese city of Kaifeng in dark purple and chartreuse.”

Anyway, you can read the entirety of Paul’s letter here.

(via CBR)

OK, I’m sure my comic book involvement with the new Terminator movie franchise had nothing to do with this, but there’s new news related to the ill-fated movie. First, the production company behind Terminator Salvation had to file for bankruptcy protection, and now I hear that the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park is shedding the Terminator Salvation branding from their expensive wooden coaster ride.

“The new-new name will be “Apocalypse” and the coaster itself will stay pretty much the same. But where Six Flags takes one in the pants, is they spent upwards of $1 million on the Terminator-themed intro in the queue. It included several animatronic Terminators and a training video featuring two of the film’s stars, Common and Moon Bloodgood.”

After I finished my movie prequel scripts, Halcyon and IDW were interested in doing more comics and asked me to pitch a 5-issue mini series made up of stand-alone stories. I came up with what I thought was a pretty good mix of stories, showing the human resistance operating all over the world, from the US to Japan to Iran. A couple of them tied in directly to the characters from the movie, including delving into the background of Blair Williams, played by the aforementioned Moon Bloodgood (what a name, by the way!) All involved parties liked the pitch and we were set to begin production, when Halcyon went under and with it went the comics series.

Oh well. Them’s the breaks.

Over at Newsarama, they have an interview with Keith Giffen, talking about him taking over as the regular artist on The Outsiders while still writing Doom Patrol and co-writing Booster Gold. But this quote caught my attention:

“I hate too much reality. I mean, the guys who Photoshop in photo reference and every superhero has to look like he’s really walking in the door and everything has to work? To me that is dull as dirt. Comic books are not reality. Yeah, this whole idea of trying to, I think it’s about getting them closer to reality so it’ll be more attractive to the movie industry”, like, “here’s how you can do it.” Screw the movie industry; I just want to tell good stories.

I just think we really, really, really gotta, you know, pull our heads out of our asses and realize that we can have so much fun with this stuff if we just stop treating it like we’re curing cancer. I just think it’s time to get back to that free wheeling, manic feel the comics used to have that made them so attractive.”

Also of interest to PANELista Tony Goins is this quote:

“And I actually got Dan’s permission to go in and make some of those costumes work. Like Geo-Force has been in that outfit for ages.”

Fun stuff.

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:



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.

So this is a cool little post on the official Vertigo blog, wherein Mike Carey (truly one of the best writers working in comics today) and artist Peter Gross share their stories about how their first gigs with Vertigo came about. It’s full of neat little behind-the-scenes anecdotes, and a nice quote from Karen Berger:

“When I told her I was waiting for my big break to come along, she said, ‘There’s no such thing – it’s a whole lot of little breaks.'”

I also like Carey’s story about how he essentially blew it when he had his first opportunity to pitch to editor Shelly Bond.

I saw this in this week’s The Other Paper: local Columbusite Victor Dandridge wants to gut an ice cream truck and rebuild it as a mobile comic book store to service the city’s under-served South side. I honestly don’t know how sound of a business plan that is, but as far as “thinking outside the box,” it’s a hell of an idea! Plus, any time someone wants to get kids reading comics, I’m all for it.

“I want to bring the comics to the kids, instead of the other way around,” he said.

Bonus: in order to raise the $2500 he needs to get his business off the ground, he’s running a fun little fund raiser called Super Kickball.

Super Kickball, in case you’re wondering, is an event Dandridge concocted that combines kickball and superheroes. The twist is that the rules for each round will be inspired by a different comic book character.

Different rounds will be based on different character-derived rules, such as Bizarro and Multiple Man.

This article made me very happy!

Well, the December solicitations are out and I can officially announce my debut DC work: an 8-page story in the DCU Holiday Special 2010 anthology. My tale features The Spectre and is set in Iran during Norooz, the Persian New Year. Here’s a look at the cover by Matt Haley:

And here’s the official solicitation text:



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!

On sale DECEMBER 8 * 56 pg, FC $4 .99 US

I don’t know yet who will be drawing my story, but as soon as I do I’ll post it.


Copyright © 2017 Ferret Press – PANEL Blog. Search Engine Optimization by Star Nine. Distributed by Wordpress Themes