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Joshua Hale Fialkov’s resignation from Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns was certainly unexpected, but it wasn’t nearly as surprising as the primary reason for the writer’s departure: an editorial edict to kill off John Stewart.
To a generation of fans who came of age watching Cartoon Network’s Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, the character is Green Lantern — forget Hal Jordan, Alan Scott, Kyle Rayner and the rest. In addition, he’s perhaps DC Comics’ most recognizable African-American character, facing competition only from Static and Cyborg, each of whom also appeared on television.
ROBOT 6 reached out to the voice of Stewart himself, veteran actor and comedian Phil LaMarr, for his reaction to DC’s editorial decree.
I touched base with Chuck Austen a few weeks ago, when Tokyopop put a selection of its original English language (OEL) manga up for sale on its revamped website. At that point I checked in with a couple of former Tokyopop creators, and I ended up having a fascinating e-mail exchange with Austen in which he said he made more money on one of his prose novels simply by selling it on Kindle than he would have made from a movie option. That caught my attention, and I asked him if he would write a guest post for Robot 6. Here’s what he had to say, and while all opinions are Chuck’s own, I think at the heart of it is some good advice for everyone who has ever done something they regretted later.
My name is Chuck Austen. Many of you have probably heard of me, and very rarely in a good way. But that’s one of the reasons I’m here.
Brigid asked me to address my fellow Tokyopop alums — people who created OEMs for that ill-fated company and, like me, watched their properties mistreated, ignored and ultimately thrown into ownership limbo, properties for which we will never retrieve our rights, worlds we imagined into being that we’ll never be able to create additional stories for.
The reason my past history is important is because I am probably the most extreme example of someone who “lost everything” and so am uniquely qualified to tell you this:
Viz Media has been busy snapping up licenses for its VizKids imprint, and now has announced a new one: a series of Ben 10 Omniverse graphic novels that will tie in with the Cartoon Network show.
Ben 10 Omniverse is the fourth iteration of the Ben 10 cartoon created by four comics writers (Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle), beginning as the story of 10-year-old Ben Tennyson, who changes into different types of aliens with the help of a device called the Omnnitrix. In Ben 10 Omniverse, Ben is now 15 and has a new Omnitrix that transforms him into different creatures. His Grandpa Max pairs him up with a rookie plumber named Rook (who’s “highly skilled with his Proto-Tool, but lacks any field experience,” according to the press release) to explore an alien city and stay one step ahead of the bad guys who are in hot pursuit. If this is making you feel a little lost, here’s some good news: Cartoon Network is having a “Ben 10 Bootcamp” this weekend, with 17 hours of Ben 10 programming so everyone can catch up.
It sounds like some interesting announcements were made at the ComicsPRO meeting over the weekend in Atlanta, and one that is already hitting the streets is that IDW Publishing will release an entire line of comics based on Cartoon Network properties.
“Many of these Cartoon Network shows have only grown in popularity since they originally aired,” Chris Ryall, IDW’s chief creative officer and editor-in-chief, said in the press release, “and we’re excited to be able to offer new iterations of the characters in comic-book form alongside both our planned reprint material and also some new animated ventures Cartoon Network has planned, too. There’s a wealth of fun properties to play with here, and we’ve already got some unique things in mind for them.”
The starting lineup will include The Powerpuff Girls, Ben 10, Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Johnny Bravo and Generator Rex. Many, if not all, have been made into comics before: DC released 70 issues of its Powerpuff Girls comic and 34 issues of Dexter’s Laboratory, in addition to a Cartoon Network Action Pack anthology, which featured many of the network’s other characters (like DC Entertainment, Cartoon Network is a subsidiary of Time Warner), and Del Rey published a Ben 10 graphic novel that was written by Peter David and illustrated by Dan Hipp. So there is an interesting back catalog to draw on in addition to new material.
An IDW spokesperson told ICv2 that the first release in the new line will be a Powerpuff Girls comic this fall.
While comics fans may miss seeing new work from Joshua Middleton on comics shelves (the covers to Sword & Sorcery and Before Watchmen were nice!), there’s some consolation in knowing that although the artist isn’t actively illustrating comics he is keeping within the superhero landscape. Middleton recently posted some landscape designs he created for Warner Bros. Animation’s Green Lantern: The Animated Series, which he worked on for some time. What he’s revealed so far is his renditions of Oa, interplanetary headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps. In his brief post, Middleton explains some of the obstacles from an art direction standpoint to the Green Lantern concept and how he overcame them for his work on the series.
“One major problem from an art direction perspective, with Green Lantern: The Animated Series and anything Green Lantern in general, is the overabundance of green,” Middleton writes. “It can be difficult to come up with nice color palettes when everybody and everything in the scene is glowing green. Matters were not made better with the introduction of Red Lanterns, as we now had the world’s weirdest Christmas to deal with.”
Last month we posted shaky footage from a short from Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block called “Bat Man of Shanghai.” Featuring an anime-influenced Catwoman in 1930s China, it made me long for the return of DC’s Elseworlds imprint, in which creators reimagined familiar characters in different time periods and settings.
Now, just as the Elseworlds nostalgia had subsided, Cartoon Network has released a three parts of the series online — each spotlights a different character — showing us Bane’s ode to King Kong, Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Bat Man and a high-speed three-way fight.
Back in July when Mark Waid announced that Thrillbent — his digital comics portal — would be ramping up to phase two (as detailed in CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley’s recent Waid interview), I hoped writer Tom Peyer would be part of the mix. Soon enough, I discovered that indeed Peyer was writing Clown Tales, a horror story set to launch this fall. The story should be interesting on many levels, given that this marks Peyer’s first foray into writing horror — and that clowns bored him as a child (as I learned in this interview). While I had Peyer’s attention I also asked him about getting to recently write for TV (on DC Nation/Cartoon Network’s Doom Patrol interstitials) and working for Stephen Colbert back in 2007. Added bonus, at one point Peyer taunts clowns in our discussion.
Tim O’Shea: Was Clown Tales already in the work before you signed onto Thrillbent, or was it developed just for the site?
Tom Peyer: A few years ago I wrote some short horror stories, mainly to see if I would enjoy it. A publisher was planning a clown horror anthology that didn’t end up happening, but I put clowns in some of them just in case. I’d written humor and superheroes, but I’d never gone near horror before. I had a great time and I liked how they came out. It felt like taking a new route to the humor and pathos I always try to write toward anyway. But it felt more direct, maybe because I hadn’t taken that route before.
In case we didn’t already miss DC Comics’ Elseworlds imprint enough, at Comic-Con International on Sunday Cartoon Network premiered a fantastic clip from DC Nation’s three-part short series “Batman of Shanghai,” featuring an anime-influenced Catwoman in 1930s China (there’s also a cameo by a floppy hat-wearing Bane). If DC Comics doesn’t do something with Shanghai Catwoman — I love that character design — well, they’re really missing the boat. Maybe they can relaunch the character’s solo title (again) in the next wave of the New 52.
Check a somewhat shaky, but surprisingly decent-quality, fan-captured video of the clip below.
Organizations | Tom Spurgeon reports that The Hero Initiative has now received close to $3,000 so far due to campaigns asking those people who watch Marvel’s The Avengers to donate money to the organization. The Jack Kirby Museum, meanwhile, reports it has received $1,300 from Avengers-related giving. [The Comics Reporter, The Kirby Museum]
Conventions | Chris Butcher, co-founder and director of the Toronto Comics Art Festival, reports that about 18,000 people attended this year’s TCAF-related events: “TCAF 2012 was the most ambitious festival yet, and my most ambitious personal undertaking. With more off-site and lead-up events than ever before, more partnerships than in previous years, an additional day of programming, and more than 20 featured guests, I worried in the weeks leading up to the show that perhaps we’d bit off a bit more than we could chew. Luckily through the talent and support of some wonderful folks we had varying levels of success on every front, and as always, lessons were learned and we think 2013 will be even stronger.” [Comics212]
DC Entertainment has rolled out details of its new monthly kids magazine and mobile app built around Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block, touted at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.
According to Variety, the 64-page DC Nation Super Spectacular will debut on newsstands next month, featuring new comics based on DC Nation shows like Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series, as well as programming details and exclusive content, like “DC Nation Secret Files.”
The DC Nation app, meanwhile, boasts free digital first issues of such comics as Batman Adventures, Superman Adventures, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! and Tiny Titans, as well as the first six installments of “DC Nation Secret Files.” In addition, more than 100 kid-friendly DC titles, including Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade and the original Young Justice, are available for 99 cents. The features appear virtually identical to those of DC’s LEGO Hero Factory app, which debuted in January; Warner Bros. Interactive’s upcoming video game LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is sponsoring DC Nation Super Spectacular.
The trade paper notes that since debuting in March, the DC Nation animated block has improved Cartoon Network’s season-to-date ratings 32 percent among boys 6 to 11.
With less than two weeks until the second-season premiere of Young Justice, Little Orbit and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have announced a video game based on the Cartoon Network series.
Arriving in early 2013 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Young Justice: Legacy is set between seasons 1 and 2 of the animated series, with an original storyline by show producers Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti.
Inspired by the DC Comics series of the same name, Young Justice premiered in November 2010, with teen heroes Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Superboy, Miss Martian and Artemis serving as the covert-operations team of the Justice League while also honing their skills under the watchful eyes of their mentors. DC launched a new Young Justice comic series last year based on the cartoon.
DC Comics has announced it will publish the long-hoped-for collection of its 1980s fantasy property Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld in September — no doubt thanks to the character’s inclusion in Cartoon Network’s upcoming DC Nation programming block.
Created by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Ernie Colón, Amethyst debuted in 1983, at a time when DC boasted such fantasy series as Warlord, Arion, Lord of Atlantis, and Arok, Son of Thunder. The initial limited series, subsequent short-lived ongoing and later one-shot and miniseries centered on Amy Winston, a teenager who discovers she’s actually the orphaned princess of Gemworld, a magical realm ruled by the evil Dark Opal. In short, it’s the perfect setup for a children’s fantasy story (although the later issues took on a darker tone than the original miniseries).
The 648-page Showcase Presents: Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, Vol. 1, collects the character’s first appearance in 1983’s Legion of Super-Heroes #298, the original Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld 12-issue limited series, the subsequent Amethyst Annual #1, the one-shot with Superman in DC Comics Presents #63 and the first 11 issues of the 16-issue ongoing titled simply Amethyst. That leaves the last four issues of the ongoing, the 1986 Amethyst Special and the final four-issue miniseries for another (thin) volume.
Check out the solicitation information below:
A few months ago, I picked up Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline’s minicomic The Potter’s Pet and was really impressed — it’s a cleverly written, beautifully drawn, handsomely produced little comic. I have been a fan of Lamb’s work since I discovered his (unfortunately incomplete) webcomic Kitty Hawk years ago; Paroline’s work was new to me, but her lively lines quickly made me a convert.
So I was delighted to see that they will be handling the art for BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time comics, which are based on the animated Cartoon Network series.
Everyone else seems to be excited about the concept here, but we don’t watch a lot of Cartoon Network in our house and, to be honest, I have never seen the show. It’s the creators who have me interested in this series, which is the opposite of how things used to work with licensed comics. When I was a kid, the Disney comics I read all looked alike, and they weren’t signed because the Disney folks wanted me to think that they all flowed from Walt Disney’s magic pen. More and more, though, creators are putting their own stamp on licensed comics and becoming an important part of the package. Think of Roger Langridge’s run on The Muppet Show comics, or Dan Hipp’s reinvention of Ben 10. What’s more, licensed projects give artists a chance to work on their skills and bring in a regular paycheck without the risks of creator-owned work. If you want to see the up-and-coming artists of the next decade, check out BOOM!’s Pixar and Muppets comics or Archaia’s Fraggle Rock anthologies.
Lamb and Paroline have honed their craft working on BOOM!’s Muppet comics: Paroline was the artist and Lamb the colorist for Muppet Snow White, which is apparently out of print, and Paroline actually drew the Muppet Show #0 comic. From what I have seen, Adventure Time will be worth picking up for their art alone.
“I had no idea it [Amethyst] was being animated. You know, when you create something, it isn’t unreasonable to imagine it belongs to you. That whoever is in charge in the corporate structure, they’ll want to consult you as to where your character is headed. Not DC Comics. Maybe not any corporation. Maybe we could have been better business people, better negotiators. Amethyst has been through a wringer, twisted by lesser lights than the guys who created her — Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and — if you’ll permit me — me.”
Warner Bros. has unveiled the 10 designs for the official Comic-Con International bags, which this year include promotional art for DC Comics’ relaunched Justice League, Cartoon Network’s Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s Batman: Arkham City.
More than 130,000 of the oversized bags, described by Entertainment Weekly as the San Diego convention’s “ubiquitous accessory,” will be available to those attending the July 20-24 event. This year, for the first time, the 24-inch by 28-inch bags convert into backpacks. Other designs include The Big Bang Theory, Fringe, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The Looney Tunes Show, ThunderCats and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7.
Check out the designs for Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Batman: Arkham City after the break, and visit TheWB.com to see the rest.