Since the dawn of the medium, comic books largely have been the creation of writers and artists working hand-in-hand to produce the characters, stories, titles and universes you follow each week. Recently, however, lawsuits by comic creators against publishers — and sometimes other creators — have raised the question of where, when and how a comic is truly created. Are they the product of the writer, with the artist simply tasked to illustrate the story based on instructions laid out in a script or outline? Or is it a communal effort, with writer and artist both providing unique contributions to the creation of the character and setting, each serving as a storyteller in the planning, coordination and draftsmanship of the actual comic pages? In recent years, comics have become a writer-centric medium, for better or worse, but artists continue to play a crucial, if sometimes overlooked, role in the design of characters and transformation of the writer’s scripts into, you know, comics.
In an interview with ICv2.com, Howard Chaykin relayed a story about how an unnamed writer views an artist’s contribution as “absolutely nothing to do with the creative process in comics.” “I am of the belief that the artist does 50 percent of the ‘writing’ in comic books,” said Chaykin, who’s worked as a writer and artist for decades. “I think the guy is plum crazy. It staggered me in its limited understanding of what comic books are about.”
Yesterday we kicked off our holiday gift-giving guide, where we asked creators like Jim McCann, Matt Kindt and more for gift suggestion and what they’d want to receive this year. Today we’re back with six more creators, and we asked them the same questions:
1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?
So without further ado, let the joy continue …
1. If you have young children, you can give them hours of quality time with any of Dark Horse’s Harvey Comics collections. My kids have been poring through them repeatedly. I’ll be following up with old back issues of Casper, Dot, Richie Rich and Hot Stuff from the local comics shops; they’re always very cheap.
2. I would not sneeze at getting that Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes volume from Fantagraphics.
1. I’m a firm believer in buying comics for everyone on your list, even if they aren’t an avid fan. Make ‘em a fan! All-Star Superman for the superhero fan, Dungeons & Dragons from IDW for the gamer, Habibi for the sophisticated reader, and, of course, my Hack/Slash Omnibi for the horror fan. Or, if you’re planning on dropping a bit more, might I suggest an iPad, loaded with comics apps?
2. I want the collected version of the web strip OGLAF, which I thoroughly enjoy. I wouldn’t mind a CS Moore Witchblade statue to inspire me while I write.
Tim Seeley seems to be all over the place lately, whether it’s writing the new Bloodstrike series from Extreme or Witchblade for Top Cow, drawing issues of Marvel’s Generation Hope, or working on his own creations like Hack/Slash and Jack Kraken. There’s a good chance I forgot something, but you can follow him on Twitter to learn more.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Strap yourself in, kids, because this is going to be a big one, as we run through the lengthy and considerable career of one of mainstream comics’ biggest stars, Grant Morrison.
Comics | John Jackson Miller slices and dices the October numbers for the direct market, noting that overall dollar orders for comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines topped $40 million for the first time since September 2009. Orders rose 6.9 percent over September, the first month of DC’s relaunch. “While that may sound counter-intuitive, it isn’t when you consider that all those first issues continued to have reorders selling through October,” Miller writes. “Retailers with an eye on the aftermarket may also have some sense that second issues are historically under-ordered — something which goes at least back to the experience of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2 in the 1980s, which wound up being much more valuable than its first issue.” [The Comichron]
Passings | Tom Spurgeon reports that author Les Daniels has passed away. Daniels wrote horror fiction and nonfiction books on the comic industry, which include Comix: A History of the Comic Book in America, Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics and DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes. [The Comics Reporter]
Warner Bros’ animated adaptation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman is so reverent and faithful toward the source material that the film, to a certain extent, feels like a pale copy of its inspiration.
That’s not necessarily a damning criticism. Bruce Timm and company took the right approach in attempting to get as close a conversion from page to screen as possible (to do otherwise would have pleased no one). But the comic itself is so rich in detail and episodic in nature that even a trim, streamlined version like this that still manages to hit a number of the right high points feels a bit flabby in comparison. Saying “the book is better” is a rather easy cheat for a critic — the book is almost always better, but I suspect that fans of the comic won’t be able to watch this without running a compare/contrast checklist in their head and find the film coming up a wee bit short. The good news is that those coming fresh to the material probably won’t notice anything wrong at all.
Warner Home Video announced this week that the animated adaptation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman will arrive on DVD and Blu Ray Feb. 22.
Here’s how the press release described the film: “In All-Star Superman, the Man of Steel rescues an ill-fated mission to the Sun (sabotaged by Lex Luthor) and, in the process, is oversaturated by radiation – which accelerates his cell degeneration. Sensing even he will be unable to cheat death, Superman ventures into new realms – finally revealing his secret to Lois, confronting Lex Luthor’s perspective of humanity, and attempting to ensure Earth’s safety before his own impending end with one final, selfless act.”
The film will feature James Denton (Desperate Housewives) as Superman, Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) as Lois Lane, Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace, Happy Feet) as Lex Luthor, Ed Asner (Up) as Perry White and Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) as Jimmy Olsen.
The release didn’t mention the inclusion of an animated short, but it will include a preview of their next original animated film, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.
The complete press release can be found after the jump.
If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for Food or Comics?, where every week some of the Robot 6 crew talk about what comics we’d buy if we were subject to certain spending limits — $15 and $30. We also talk about what we’d buy if we had extra money to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list to see what arrives in comic shops this week,then play along in our comments section.
I’m running behind and want to go vote, so I’ll try to make this quick:
If I had $15:
The Boys #48 ($3.99) and Godland #33 ($2.99) are the the two must buys for me this week, along with the 17th issue of Berlin ($4.95). It’s been awhile since Jason Lutes published a chapter in this now-decade-plus long serial set in pre-Nazi Germany. I’m just impressed that he’s still sticking to the serial pamphlet format while every other indie artist has abandoned it. Bully for you, Lutes.
What’s that you say? You didn’t know there was a secret? Well, various internet wonks have been kicking around a very intriguing theory about Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman — the Absolute Edition of which hits stores tomorrow — involving its villain, Lex Luthor. In his latest column at Techland, Douglas Wolk sums up the All Star Superman secret theory and runs down all the available evidence for it. If you’re the sort of person who enjoys picking apart literary mysteries for which there aren’t obvious answers present in the text — from Mulholland Drive to the end of The Sopranos — this is very much the article for you. And even if you aren’t, it’ll give you a whole new way to look at one of the past decade’s greatest superhero comics, which is always a good thing.
James Denton (Desperate Housewives), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) and Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace, Happy Feet) have been cast as the voices of Superman, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor in the upcoming All-Star Superman original animated movie. Warner Bros. announced the direct-to-DVD project in San Diego this past summer.
Bruce Timm is executive producing, and Sam Liu, who directed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, will direct this one as well. Dwayne McDuffie, who wrote Crisis on Two Earths, Justice League Unlimited and many other animated programs (not to mention comics) wrote the script.
The DVD will be released next spring.
Grab your sword and check your blood sugar: Writer Grant Morrison has informed Robot 6 exclusively that a feature film version of Joe the Barbarian is now in development with Thunder Road Pictures, producers of this year’s Clash of the Titans remake. “Thunder Road just called me today and said we can officially announce it, so I’m quite happy about that,” Morrison says, though he himself won’t be writing the screenplay.
Launched in January, Joe the Barbarian is an eight-issue DC/Vertigo miniseries written by Morrison and illustrated by Sean Murphy. In its pages, a diabetic teenager named Joe is drawn into a fantasy world populated in part by his toys and his pet rat, where he discovers he is the long-prophesied “Dying Boy” who must save the world from the sinister King Death — while in the real world, home alone and delirious from diabetic shock, he struggles to stay alive. A hardcover collection of the acclaimed series is slated for a February 2011 release.
This is the third Morrison movie project announced in as many days: Morrison is writing the independent film Sinatoro for director Adam Egypt Mortimer, while Warner Bros. is planning an animated adaptation of Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Eisner Award-winning series All-Star Superman, written by Justice League Unlimited‘s Dwayne McDuffie.
A quick round-up of Comic-Con updates, additional announcements and interesting links:
• Warner Bros. Animation officially announced a DC Universe Original Movie based on All-Star Superman, the award-winning series by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. The direct-to-DVD animated feature, set for release in spring 2011, is written by Dwayne McDuffie, who calls the series “one of the greatest stories in comic book history.”
• ICv2.com has additional details about one of the more interesting announcements from the convention, Fantagraphics’ partnership with Disney to publish the complete Mickey Mouse comic strips by Floyd Gottfredson. The collections will be released beginning in May at a rate of two volumes a year. They will retail for $29.99.
• Tom Spurgeon rounds up the selections from the Thursday panel “The Best and Worst of Manga 2010.”
• I enjoyed Todd VanDerWerff’s coverage of Comic-Con for The A.V. Club, including his visit to Artists’ Alley, and this broader post in which he questions whether the convention is “worth serious news coverage.”
• In the midst of Comic-Con, the Los Angeles Times rolled out a look at digital comics and their potential impact on the industry. “Comic book stores have a very close relationship with their customers,” says author and critic Douglas Wolk. “But the old-school collectors are aging, and it may be that the print comic goes away eventually. There is an entire generation of readers who is not interested in physical copies.”
• Grant Morrison chats briefly with IGN.com about his newly announced series Batman Inc.
• Is it just me, or are the round-ups of convention “winners and losers” pretty much meaningless? I’m sure Snakes on a Plane was declared a “winner” of whichever Comic-Con it was promoted — 2006, maybe? — and we all know how that played out.
Via the Source, here’s Frank Quitely’s cover to the Absolute Edition of All Star Superman, which is due in October.
The holidays are a time for family, food, fun and, of course, the spirit of giving. I thought I’d check in with the members of the Robot 6 crew to see what comic-related gifts they received this year, along with any they gave as presents. Feel free to share anything comic-related you gave or got this year as well.
Tom Bondurant: I got The Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics (Abrams Comicarts), selected and edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly. A good bit of Carl Barks Duck work, from what I can tell. My parents gave it to me.
I know I’ve linked to a lot of Grant Morrison interviews lately, but I won’t apologize for it. I could read a Morrison Q&A every day and still never grow tired of the immensely quotable Scotsman.
Take this latest interview, with Wired’s Underwire blog, in which Morrison focuses again on Final Crisis and All-Star Superman:
We’ve deconstructed all our icons. We know politicians are lying assholes, we know soap stars are coke freaks, handsome actors are tranny weirdos and gorgeous supermodels are bulimic, neurotic wretches. We know our favorite comedians will turn out to be alcoholic perverts or suicidal depressives. Our reality shows have held up a scalding mirror to our yapping baboon faces and cheesy, obvious obsessions, our trashy, gossipy love of trivia and dirt.
We know we’ve fucked up the atmosphere and doomed the lovely polar bears and we can’t even summon up the energy to feel guilty anymore. Let the pedophiles have the kids. There’s nowhere left to turn and no one left to blame except, paradoxically, those slightly medieval guys without the industrial base. What’s left to believe in? The only truly moral, truly goodhearted man left is a made-up comic book character! The only secular role models for a progressive, responsible, scientific-rational Enlightenment culture are … Kal-El of Krypton, aka Superman and his multicolored descendants!
So we chose not to deconstruct the superhero but to take him at face value, as a fiction that was trying to tell us something wonderful about ourselves. Somewhere, in our darkest night, we made up the story of a man who will never let us down and that seemed worth investigating.