Welcome to the weblog of the writers and artists of Ferret Press (a publisher of fine comix) and PANEL (a Columbus, Ohio comic creators collaborative.) Here you will find our musings on comics, art, the creative process, politics, the web, and life.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2003
  Posted by Sean McGurr on 6/25/2003 07:54:00 AM :


Continuing the Discussion
I can see Tony's point and it is a good one, but I don't necessarily think that it is time to entirely drop the meta-superhero (and wouldn't it be cool to have a character called Metaman?). After all, if the industry stopped after reading Watchmen because it obviously is a definitive work, we wouldn't have Astro City or Starman. It is up to writers (and artists) to not rely on cliches, or at least use them in a new way. Now it may be true that most writers aren't up to that task (I know that I am not yet), but that shouldn't stop people from trying.

After all, most of Shakespeare's work (plot-wise) was utterly familiar to the audience, star-crossed lovers, regicide, mistaken identies that lead to love, histories of heroes and kings, it was how he presented them to his audience and the language that was original. That may be what is needed in the superhero genre. I do agree that the medium can be much more than superheroes though. Like Shakespeare, why rely on one genre. Mix it up a bit.

My two cents on Whiteout: I thought it was a good book. I don't think that the mystery was the point. It seemed that Rucka wanted us to know who the murderer was (he gave us enough not very subtle hints in the first few pages). I took it to be more like a Columbo mystery where the fun was in watching the protagonist figure it out. Carrie Stetko was a fairly interesting character and the setting was unique. The second book wasn't nearly as good.

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Friday, June 20, 2003
  Posted by Tony on 6/20/2003 10:49:00 AM :


This looks like a job for ...

So that�s why I don�t like metasuperheroes. But why are we so stuck on superheroes? For me, the answer came in an issue of Justice League from a few years back.

Superman�s been turned into a blue electrical thingie, and the moon is falling into the Earth. Thinking quickly, he wraps massive chains around the JLA watchtower. Using himself as a battery, he -- splash page!! -- reverses the polarity of the moon!

It looks silly written out in prose, but by golly, I had goosebumps.

A film might be able to reproduce that, if the director had enough time, enough workers and millions of dollars. DC did it with just the imagination of the writer, the skill of the artist and a few grand.

And superheroes are seemingly tailor-made for comics -- they almost can�t exist in any other medium. Films can rarely muster the budget to make a superhero adventure look good, and yes, yellow spandex does look silly on real people. But once you�ve stepped past reality -- once you�re looking at a drawing on a page rather than a real person on a set -- you�re willing to accept all sorts of other craziness.

Not only do comics promote over-the-top action, they also discourage dialogue. A lot of text on a comic page looks *boring* -- wouldn�t you rather look at the pretty pictures? And why would you want to look at pictures of people sitting and talking?

Other media are much better suited to sitting-and-talking stories. More words fit right in with prose. In movies, TV and plays, you can watch the actors� body language and hear their inflections.

In my opinion, that�s why superheroes dominate comics. If you like sitting-and-talking stories, you�re probably better off getting them through some other medium. But if you want that �wow� factor, comics are the quickest, most cost-effective way to get your fix.

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  Posted by Tony on 6/20/2003 10:28:00 AM :


Like a dog to his vomit ...

I just want to expand on my rant from last night on superhero satire and behind-the-scenes superhero stories: I don�t mean it as a criticism of Sean�s script. It�s a fine script. I once tried a metasuperhero story myself, and it didn�t turn out nearly that good. It was called �Spatulaman.�

And there�s the crux of my argument. I�ve done metasuperheroes. Everyone�s done metasuperheroes. SPACE is clogged with them. Jim Robinson did it well with �Starman,� Kurt Busiek hit it out of the park in �Astro City.� �The Tick� exhausted superhero satire about 15 years ago.

What�s really sick about metasuperhero stories is that they�re meant to be a more grown-up version superhero stories -- but they fall into their own set of cliches. If you don�t see a body, the villain isn�t dead. What do you want us to wear -- yellow spandex? If I put on a pair of glasses, no one will recognize me in my secret identity! A cliche based on a cliche is not where we want to be as a medium.

The superhero has been deconstructed and reconstructed. Regurgitated and re-ingested. And it wasn�t much of a meal to begin with, folks. Superheroes seem to work well in our little words-and-pictures medium, but they were never meant to stand up to this kind of scrutiny.

The fact that we keep raping this festering corpse points to a severe lack of imagination in our medium as a whole. Do we have so little source material that we have to keep mining this completely unrealistic concept? And like I said last night, anyone who brings in anything remotely original is hailed as a genius.

�Whiteout�s� a bad mystery, folks -- even on an episode of Scooby-Doo, you�re not quite sure if the villain was the kindly old farmer or Mr. Creeply. He hid the jewels in the corpses -- and he would�ve gotten away with it, too, if it hadn�t been for that meddling marshal! All it has going for it is some uneven atmospherics and a few factoids on Antarctica. Grab a Kleenex and wipe yourself off.

So in conclusion: Let the superhero rest in peace. Read a book. Observe life. Talk to some people. Show me something new.

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Thursday, June 19, 2003
  Posted by Sean McGurr on 6/19/2003 10:14:00 PM :


Sports News?
McFarlane is at it again. He is bidding on the Barry Bonds 73rd home run ball. Isn't it nice to know that all those Spawn comics you purchased ten years ago went to a worthwhile cause?

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  Posted by Tony on 6/19/2003 01:48:00 PM :


This company is based in Jacksonville, Fla., but has some operations in Ohio. They make armored cars -- not Brinks trucks, but bulletproof passengers cars and whatnot. Freakin' rad.

Armor Holdings, included in FORBES magazine's list of "200 Best Small Companies" in 2002, and a member of the S&P Smallcap 600 Index, is a leading manufacturer of security products for law enforcement personnel around the world through its Armor Holdings Products Division and is one of the world's largest and most experienced passenger vehicle armoring manufacturers through its Mobile Security Division. Armor Holdings Products manufactures and sells a broad range of high-quality branded law enforcement equipment. Such products include ballistic resistant vests and tactical armor, less-lethal munitions, safety holsters, batons, anti-riot products and a variety of crime scene related equipment, including narcotic identification kits. Armor Holdings Mobile Security, through its Commercial Products division, armors a variety of vehicles, including limousines, sedans, sport utility vehicles, and money transport vehicles, to protect against varying degrees of ballistic and blast threats. Through its Military Products division, it is the prime contractor to the U.S. Military for the supply of armoring and blast protection for High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles, commonly known as HMMWVs.

Web site: http://www.armorholdings.com/

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  Posted by Dara on 6/19/2003 01:42:00 PM :


Transformers: The Live Action Movie (clip)

By now I'm sure most of you have heard of the planned Transformers live action movie, to be produced by Tom DeSanto and Don Murphy. If not, you can read about it here. Anyway, there's a very cool little clip of a transforming VW Beetle created by the folks over at The Michael Smith Computer Animation Workshop. From what I understand this has nothing to do with the movie, just a couple of friends playing around with a digital camera and some commercially available 3D modeling software. The short clip is way cool, and the website describes the process they went through to create it. Definitely worth a look.

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  Posted by Dara on 6/19/2003 01:26:00 PM :


Court Rules in Favor of DC, Again

Several years ago Marcel Walker sued DC Comics, claiming that a submission of his called Superman: Last Son of Earth was rejected by DC, but ultimately published with the same name and concept by Steve Gerber and Doug Wheatley. DC won the suit, basically arguing that Walker "could not claim to own the copyright to a story that featured characters that DC held the copyright to." He, of course, appealed the verdict but an appellate court today upheld the original ruling. So basically Mr. Walker is SOL. You can read more about this story here at The Pulse on Comicon.com

One of the interesting side effects of this whole case, of course, is that it ultimately led to DC removing their submissions guidelines and adopting an "unsolicited submissions are no longer accepted" policy, much to the dismay of many fan/aspiring-creators.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2003
  Posted by Tony on 6/18/2003 07:02:00 PM :


"I'm reminded of something Harlan Ellison once wrote. It was a bit precious, and I'm paraphrasing heavily, but it goes a bit like this:
people who haven't spent any time with sf think it's easy. With no study of how the genre works, and with no deep reading of it, a lot of people come to sf for the first time, stick together all the obvious ideas that everyone had fifty years ago, and expect to be lauded to the skies for Having Done Sci-Fi Right."

-- Warren Ellis, from his "Bad Signal" mailing list.

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Friday, June 13, 2003
  Posted by Dara on 6/13/2003 09:57:00 AM :


And you thought EPIC was your only shot...

...at breaking into comics. Well, Dark Horse has launched their own talent search. Here's an excerpt from their website:

"Ask any working professional what the hardest part of working in comics is, and they're bound to tell you that it's breaking in. Getting an editor -- or, better yet, a publisher -- to look at your work takes determination, patience, and sometimes a great deal of luck. Here's where Dark Horse can help: we guarantee that (provided you follow the guidelines below) publisher Mike Richardson will personally review your proposal!"

To read all the details on the Dark Horse Comics New Recruits campaign, go here.

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Thursday, June 12, 2003
  Posted by Dara on 6/12/2003 05:22:00 PM :


Wizard is #49

A link sent by my friend Muness: apparently Wizard magazine made it as #49 on the Chicago Tribune's 50 Best Magazines list. Here's what they had to say about everyones favorite [magazine to hate]:

"49) Wizard. So you like comics? Not like these people like comics. Providing the Entertainment Weekly approach to comic books and comic book movies, Wizard employs sharply written, side-splitting prose for a niche audience. With interviews, previews and a tongue-deeply-in-cheek style, Wizard knows its audience because it's written by its audience: comic book fiends and lovers"

I don't know if I should feel glad that our hobby is receiving even more mainstream attention, or frightened that some people's first impression of our wonderful medium is going to be what passes for "coverage" in Wizard.

I think it's mostly the latter...

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  Posted by Dara on 6/12/2003 05:15:00 PM :


So you wanna be a colorist?

Scott Kurtz's PvP online comic strip site had a cool little info summary on what type of PC to get if you're interested in high-end computer coloring. The info came from Brandon Peterson, CrossGen colorist and Photoshop beta tester. Here's the meat of it:

"1) Ram: Go with at least a 1 GB if you can, and make sure you don't run other memory hog programs when you use Photoshop.

2) Install a second physical hard drive for Photoshop to use as it's scratch disk. Get a cheapy 2-4 GB Hard Drive that will be dedicated to Photoshop alone. It's important for the next step...

3) Tweak your photoshop preferences. Make sure you have your memory usage set for more than the standard 50% (I recommend 75%).Make sure your Photoshop scratch disk is NOT set as the same disk as your windows virtual memory swap file. Set Photoshop to use that extra hard drive, then go into windows and make sure it DOESN'T use that extra hard drive for windows virtual memory."

For more, visit Skott's news archive here.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2003
  Posted by Dara on 6/11/2003 02:40:00 PM :


Vertigo on the X-Box???

Here's a weird news story I just stumbled across:

"Acclaim Entertainment Inc., the Glen Cove-based designer of software for video games, said today it has signed an agreement with DC Comics to publish an interactive game based on '100 Bullets', a monthly comic book series."

Huh. A video game based on a Vertigo comic. Interesting.

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  Posted by Dara on 6/11/2003 01:45:00 PM :


Ferret Press and PANEL signing

I'm pretty excited. Tonight, the PANEL gang is doing a signing at the coolest comic book store in Columbus, The Laughing Ogre. We'll have copies of AKA, PANEL, and other works available for sale and signing, the artists will be doing sketches, and we even have a "get your image drawn in a future PANEL story" contest going on. Hopefully I'll have a few pictures to post here of the event, provided one of us remembers to bring a camera :-)

In other news, I heard back from Cold Cut Distributors and they will be carrying AKA (and possibly even PANEL) via their new Catalog X online catalog. 2 down, 1 to go (Ferret Press is now being carried by Cold Cut and FM, now if I could just break into Diamond...) Orders are still coming in from overseas, thanks to the brief, yet positive, review in Comics International #158. Oh, and one of these days I'll get around to doing the SPACE convention report (with pictures) for my column over at 4ColorReview.com

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Friday, June 06, 2003
  Posted by Dara on 6/06/2003 11:08:00 AM :


The Onion does it again

From the June 4th edition of The Onion:

Friend Gearing Up To Hate The Hulk
EL PASO, TX - For the past three weeks, comic-book aficionado Derek Linden, 23, has been gearing up to hate Universal Pictures' The Hulk, which opens June 13. "Maybe it'll be good, but I'm bracing for the worst," Linden told friend Paul Comello Monday. "The CGI makes him look like Shrek. And even though The Hulk has the ability to leap long distances, in the trailer it looks like he's flying, which he can't do. And I won't even get into how, in the Hulk origin story, he was gray, not green." Linden said he also has "grave doubts" about Jennifer Connelly's ability to convincingly portray Betty Ross.

Man, I love The Onion! And stories like this make me wonder exactly how many comic book fans write for that paper?

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Monday, June 02, 2003
  Posted by Dara on 6/02/2003 01:18:00 PM :


Alison and Katie go to England

So I've been getting a few orders from England for the AKA limited-series I'm doing with Steve Black, which prompted me to ask one of the fine folks asking for the book where they heard about it. Well, turns out the review copies I sent to the British-based Comics International magazine were indeed reviewed. I'm still trying to get my hands on a copy, but here's the mini-review from Comics International #158, by Leonie O'Moore:

"First glance at the lovely painted cover, you may think you've found a Nancy Drew comic. But Naraghi presents us with a more grown-up detective tale. The simplicity of the premise (a geeky girl and a popular girly-girl running a detective agency) allows you to get straight into the story. Black's striking linework is reminiscent of Duncan Fegredo's, but wavers slightly in some panels. However, when he gets it right, it's perfect. Good quality stuff. 7/10"

Thanks Leonie. Next stop: Japan!

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Sunday, June 01, 2003
  Posted by Dara on 6/01/2003 09:29:00 PM :


FP site updated...finally

It's been a long weekend. I finally got around to updating the Ferret Press website with some info I've been meaning to post. There is now a 6-page preview of the PANEL anthology, plus a link to purchase the book via Pay Pal. I also added links to several interviews with FP creators, info on stores and distributors that carry our books, and some other miscellaneous stuff.

I gotta' tell ya, maintaining the site can be tedious, busy work at times. But it's also a blast to see it grow week by week, month by month. Creating comics is one of the biggest joys in the world for me, and there's nothing better than having a wonderful outlet for it via self-publishing. Being your own boss can be hard work, but it's more than balanced by the creative freedom of doing what you want to do, how you want to do it.

Okay, I'm done spouting off my warm-an-fuzzy feelings :-) Gotta' go get caught up on sleep now...

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