Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
“I am thrilled to be well remembered, and respected in the comic book community, and to have fans willing to pay me to draw commissions, but I got into comics in order to tell stories, not to draw custom art. I still feel vital, and still want to be at that table. Do I think DC comics owes me anything? Yes and no. I understand that no company owes anything that isn’t contractually stipulated, but in my heart, I think I deserve better than being marginalized over the last 10 years. I’m not retired, I’m not financially independent. I’m a working guy with a family, working for a flat page rate that hasn’t changed substantially since 1995. I may have opportunities at smaller companies, companies that pay less per page than I made in 1988, with no royalties or ownership of any kind. I’m not at all looking down at that, but it is hard to reconcile, as I can’t work faster, and refuse to hack my work out to match the rate. I have pride in what I do, and always have. As to my part in the history of DC for the past 33 years, I was a highly visible and successful part of it, not a minor footnote. […] all I ask is for some of the same consideration my generation of creators and editors gave to the older guard in the 1980’s. My work is still sharp, my mind is still full of stories to tell, and I’m still willing to work all hours of my day to meet my deadlines. Why am I out of work from the publishers? Why are my friends, people who turned in great work, worthy of hardcover and trade paperback reprints, not able to get work?”
– veteran artist and writer Jerry Ordway in an essay titled “Life over fifty,” lamenting the lack of regular work from DC Comics, where he once worked on such titles as Adventures of Superman, All-Star Squadron, Infinity Inc. and The Power of SHAZAM!
Archie Meets Kiss (Archie Comics) Archie has proven especially adept at coming up with attention-grabbing — as in mainstream media attention-grabbing — storylines of late, and of all the “stunt” stories they’ve pulled off in the last few years, this one is by far the weirdest.
The closest thing I can think to which to compare it would be 1994’s Archie Meets The Punisher, although if that project worked by gleefully combining two funnybook polar opposites and letting that unlikely tension sell the book, having the eternal teenagers of Riverdale meet a rock band from the 1970s in the year 2012 is … well, it’s not so much the team-up you thought you’d never see, as it is the team-up no one could have imagined (except, I guess, for Gene Simmons, who apparently called up Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and asked him to do the story).
Archie PR guy-turned-Archie writer Alex Segura and regular Archie artist Dan Parent (inked by Rich Koslowski) tell the tale: One night at a treehouse meeting of the Riverdale Monster Society, Sabrina (the Teenage Witch) is attempting to cast a protection spell over the city, but Veronica and Reggie accidentally mess it up, casting a projection spell that summons a quartet of monsters to town and, hot on their heels, Kiss.
The monsters—specific, teenage stereotype versions of the Universal monsters — set about sucking all of the fun out of Riverdale, threatening to make it an eternal land of lameness and tedium (Don’t worry, Segura makes the joke you yourself were just thinking of), and turning its residents into mindless zombies.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, a new Peter Bagge comic is always cause for celebration, so my first grab would be for Reset #1, Bagge’s new limited series having to do with virtual reality and the opportunity it affords a washed-up comedian to fix his past mistakes. And then there’s Linda Medley, who’s been laying low for awhile, but is back this week with a new issue of her ongoing, low-key fantasy series, Castle Waiting. These will probably be the first comics I read once I get home from the comic store this week.
If I had $30, I’ve already gone on about The Shark King, R. Kikuo Johnson’s warm and charming all-ages story based on a Hawaiian folk tale of a shark god and his half-human, mischievous progeny. It’s a lovely little book that I thoroughly recommend checking out even if you don’t have any kids in your home.
There’s also a number of notable manga out this week so I’d likely pick up one of the following: Either the latest volume of 20th Century Boys, the latest volume of Gantz or volume 2 of Katsuya Terada’s The Monkey King. There’s been a bit of a wait (seven years) for that last one, which is a gonzo, sex-and-violence rendition of the classic Journey to the West myth.
It’s not so much a splurge as a must-buy for me — Krazy and Ignatz 1922-24: At Last My Drim of Love Has Come True is the final volume in Fantagraphics’ collection of Sunday Krazy strips and full of the same George Herriman magic as the previous volumes. There’s a tinge of sadness here as I believe the late Bill Blackbeard, who helped bring this project into fruition, has an essay here, as well as a remembrance by Kim Thompson.
Since the March solicitations kick off the back half of the New 52’s first year, it’s probably worth noting that the whole line remains unchanged: no “midseason replacements” like Justice Society, but no cancellations either. If I hear relieved sighs from OMAC and Men of War, certainly Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have to be pleased generally that they’ve gotten this far with the 52 intact.
Well, pleased or stubborn, I suppose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Ahem. Away we go…!
One of my pet peeves about the New-52 is the sense that it lacks a meaningful “history.” For at least the last few decades, a reader might not have known exactly what had happened or when, but s/he could tell that these characters hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck. I say this because the solicits for Justice League #7 and Flash #7 both allude to their books’ untold backstories. With Justice League, we’ll learn about membership turnover and other details of the five years between the League’s debut and today. (To be sure, some of that has already been alluded to in the League’s previous present-day appearances, like JL Dark #1.)
DC’s superhero comics of the ‘70s and ‘80s will always fascinate me — not just because I grew up on them, but because they represented the first steps past the Silver Age. While the latest members of Marvel’s Bullpen sought to maintain the momentum Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko brought to their creations, DC’s writers, artists, and editors took their iconic charges in new directions. We all know what Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams did for Batman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow. We can see some of what Kirby wanted to do for Superman, and we know what writers like O’Neil, Elliott S! Maggin, Cary Bates, Martin Pasko, and Marv Wolfman ended up doing. Of course, the period brought two revamps (and a revival) for Teen Titans, the first making them into an un-costumed youth group, and the second involving Wolfman and George Pérez….
… and at this point the post threatens to turn into another Tom Goes Down The Old-Comics Rabbit Hole extravaganza. Haven’t we had enough of these indulgences?
Well … yes and no. I bring it up (again) on account of the Retro-Active books, and specifically Retro-Active ‘70s-style Superman. I talked about the book’s merits in our last What Are You Reading? roundup, so today let’s look at the nuts and bolts of Superman in the Bronze Age.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is Shannon Wheeler, New Yorker cartoonist and creator of the Eisner Award-winning comic book Too Much Coffee Man, Oil & Water, the Eisner-nominated I Thought You Would Be Funnier and the upcoming Grandpa Won’t Wake Up.
To see what Shannon and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Last week I talked about rediscovering the ‘70s series Secret Society of Super-Villains. As you might have guessed, this was made possible largely by the Internet. Without it, I would have had to scour back-issue boxes at regional comics shops and/or at the occasional convention. After all, that’s what I grew up doing.
Regardless of where or how I bought those back issues, the fact remains that I bought them pretty much sight-unseen. Oh sure, I remembered random scenes from isolated issues, but basically my yen for SSoSV grew out of two things: its concept and its reputation. I knew what it aimed to be, and I figured if Gerry Conway wrote most of it, it couldn’t be all bad.*
What’s more (at the risk of being obvious) I had to track down these back issues because a collected version of Secret Society of Super-Villains is apparently still trapped in royalty-payment limbo. Not that I am especially bitter about that, mind you; because clearly I don’t mind reading the individual issues and they weren’t that hard to find.