"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Passings | Dr. Michael J. Vassallo notes the passing of Marion Sitton, who drew romance, crime and Western comics for Timely and Atlas (earlier incarnations of Marvel) as well as Fawcett, Quality and other publishers. He was 92. [Timely-Atlas-Comics]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald interviews Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson, who was selected by readers of The Beat as the Comics Industry Person of the Year. [The Beat]
Organizations | Babymouse creator Jennifer L. Holm has joined the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board of directors. [CBLDF]
Any interview in which I can ask a question that prompts Jeff Parker to damn me is a good interview in my estimation (read on to find the “damn” moment, it’s a fun-loving damn). We initially conducted this interview before last week’s announced demise of Wildstorm, but I gave him a chance to adjust his response when discussing the likelihood of a second Mysterius miniseries. I’m sad to see Parker’s series Atlas come to an end this week with the release of Atlas 5. It’s not often that a writer gets to end a series on his own terms, and yet that’s what happened for Parker with Atlas. While the Atlas series takes its final lap, last week marked the start of Parker and artist Gabriel Hardman on the Hulk monthly (and I loved their first issue ). While this interview does not cover all of Parker’s Marvel work, we definitely work in a discussion of his Thunderbolts work.
Tim O’Shea: You ended the ATLAS series on your own terms. When you wrote the final scene of the last issue was it upsetting, or was it fine, as you realize you can always find ways to work aspects of these characters into future Marvel books?
Jeff Parker: No, I was actually pretty happy as I wrote it, because I felt this was one of the most “Atlasy” of all the stories. It did its own thing and was exciting and defied expectations, which is what that book should do. I can probably have them pop up in other things, but I really prefer them in their own corner of the Marvel Universe.
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is STORM, who works at San Francisco’s Isotope Comics, is the creator of Princess Witch Boy (the second issue of which will be available at APE this year), reads Heroic Tarot with X-Men cards and is a member of Writers Old Fashioned.
To see what STORM and the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, read on …
Happy Comic-Con week, and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest contributors are Jim Demonakos and Kyle Stevens from the Seattle nerd rock band Kirby Krackle. The band, whose newest video features Wolverine, is currently in Florida for Nerdapalooza, and will be in San Diego later this week at booth #1803. So stop by and say hi if you’re going.
See what the boys from Kirby Krackle, as well as the rest of the Robot 6 crew, have been reading lately after the jump …
Sounds like the little series that could finally couldn’t. In an interview with Comics Alliance’s Chris Sims, writer Jeff Parker has revealed that Atlas, the very recently relaunched series starring a motley crew of 1950s superheroes from the Marvel/Atlas/Timely stable, will end with #5 — largely at Parker’s own discretion. “I’m killing ‘Atlas’ at issue 5….But at least it was me who went out back and shot Lenny while he looked for bunnies, not Marvel,” Parker said.
According to Parker, the series’ first issues sales, in the 20K range, put it on the potential chopping block right away. “Atlas has actually always sold better than a lot of books that get to go on much longer- a good bit of DC’s line. But the Marvel danger zone is 20k more or less, and since books tend to trend downward, that always sets off alarms,” he told Sims. Parker notes that Marvel editorial suggested he “tie the book into another crossover mini-event” to keep it going, but having done that several times in the past with everything from Dark Reign to the X-Men to the Avengers to Hercules, he didn’t feel like going back to the well once again.
Parker’s optimistic about the future for some of the Atlas team: Venus will be appearing in Hercules’ God Squad, while Gorilla Man — who’s the subject of the bulk of Sims’ “interview” — is the star of his own miniseries. But collectively, Jimmy Woo’s team has seen its last stand-alone adventure.
Honestly? I really applaud Marvel for working as hard as they did to ensure the Agents of Atlas stuck around as long as they have. A team of largely forgotten pulp-ish superhero-esque characters from Marvel’s most fallow period as a publisher, tonally reconceived as sort of Marvel’s answer to the B.P.R.D., was always gonna be a tough sell. But Marvel clearly believed in the concept, in Parker, and in the rock-solid line-up of artists he assembled for the team over the years. By my count, the Agents starred in the Agents of Atlas miniseries, which received an impressive collection stuffed with back-up material and reprints from the team members’ golden years; came back a couple years later to launch an ongoing series by the same name; were the beneficiaries of a Dark Reign tie-in; made cameos in Thunderbolts and Deadpool Team-Up; saw their main series cancelled only to co-star in crossover miniseries with the X-Men and the Avengers; briefly shifted over to back-up strips in an Incredible Hercules storyline that culminated in the title character’s semi-death; generated spin-off minis starring team members Marvel Boy and Gorilla Man; and got relaunched yet again as Atlas with the dawn of “The Heroic Age,” the promotional images for which prominently featured Gorilla Man. As always, I think we need to look long and hard at a publishing and retailing model that works relentlessly to pump up the top sellers but can’t sustain a book that even its biggest publisher so clearly believes in, but that said, Marvel and Parker showed a sticktuitiveness here that’s nothing but praiseworthy.
Welcome to a special holiday weekend edition of What Are You Reading?, as we take a break from hot dogs and street festivals to take a look at what comics we’ve been reading this week. Our special guest this week is Vito Delsante, writer of FCHS and the upcoming Stray. When he isn’t making comics, he’s selling them at Jim Hanley’s Universe, located in New York near the Empire State Building.
To see what Vito and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …