INTERVIEW: DiDio & Lee on "Dark Knight 3," Vertigo's Future & DC's Evolving Readership
No, it’s not a dream. That’s actually set of four hardcover volumes of Marvel’s Rom: Spaceknight. Unfortunately, however, your chances of getting one remain slim.
Despite a cult following, it’s been nearly 30 years since any Rom: Spaceknight has been published. The issue comes down to licensing, and Marvel’s agreement with Parker Brothers (now a Hasbro subsidiary) expired 1986. Certain elements created for the toy-inspired comic, originated by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema, remain with Marvel, but the name and signature armor are off-limits — to both new work and reprints.
Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay for the acclaimed 1967 Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever,” which was rewritten before filming began, will be adapted in a miniseries debuting in June from IDW Publishing.
“Presenting Harlan Ellison’s brilliant original script for ‘City on the Edge…’ has been a goal of ours since IDW first began publishing Star Trek comics in 2007,” IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall said in a statement. “The episode justifies its position atop ‘best Star Trek episodes’ lists but even it ain’t nuthin’ compared to what Ellison did in his original teleplay. This is truly going to be a Star Trek adventure unlike any other, even to fans who have that beloved episode memorized.”
The five-issue Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay is adapted by writers Scott Tipton and David Tipton and artist J.K. Woodward, with regular covers by Juan Ortiz and variants by Paul Shipper.
“The City on the Edge of Forever” follows Kirk and Spock as the pursue a temporarily delusional McCoy through an ancient time portal, where they end up in 1930s New York City. There they must not only rescue their friend but save their own future, which has been changed by McCoy’s actions in the past. The episode won the 1968 Hugo Award for best dramatic presentation.
“It was a superlative joy of my long life to have worked with Leonard Nimoy, who became my friend, and many others at Star Trek,” Ellison said, “and an equally heart-happy joy to be working with J.K. and the Tipton Bros. and Chris Ryall on this long-awaited visual of my (humbly, I say it) brilliant original ‘City…'”
There’s always a steady flow of new art to be seen at Chris Ryall’s Tumblr. The editor-in-chief of IDW Publishing recently saw a Jack Kirby tribute by Brendan McCarthy accompanying a ROBOT 6 story about soaring sales of the Dredd DVD, and contacted the legednary 2000AD artist to secure the use of that image, and to commission a series of covers in the style of other Silver Age greats. These will run as cover images — variants, I’d guess — for issues 13 to 16 of IDW’s ongoing Judge Dredd series:
IDW may be one of the Big Five publishers in the direct market — that is, one of the five publishers whose titles are listed separately from those of the hoi polloi in Diamond Comic Distributors’ Previews catalog. But unlike the Biggest Two, IDW’s line consists mainly of comics based on a variety of licensed concepts*, and therefore do not feature shared settings like the DC Universe or the Marvel Universe.
You’d think that would prohibit the company from doing the sorts of line-wide crossover stories that DC and Marvel have been pumping out with regularity, but IDW has found a pretty clever way to have its licensed comics cake and eat its intra-company crossovers as well, by dreaming up a fairly generic threat, and then having that threat appear in a bunch of unrelated comics whose characters never really meet.
Rather than all the characters teaming up to fight the same threat on the same battlefield at the same time, as in your Crisis on Infinite Earths or Civil War or whatnot, IDW’s crossovers are a bit more like individual battles in large-scale wars taking place in different dimensions.
So, for example, 2011’s Infestation crossover pitted zombies from the publisher’s Zombies Vs. Robots comics against characters from G.I. Joe, Transformers, The Ghostbusters and Star Trek, in two-issue miniseries set in different universes. That was followed by Infestation 2, in which Lovecraftian space-god-monster-things invaded the home universes of G.I. Joe, Transformers, Dungeons & Dragons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and 30 Days of Night.
More recently, IDW published a much smaller-scale, simpler crossover story of sorts in Mars Attacks …, in which the little green skull-faced men of the 1960s Topps collectible cards (and 1996 Tim Burton movie) “invaded” comics featuring a comically diverse group of licensed characters. For the more patient among us, it arrived in trade format this month, in a collection titled Mars Attacks IDW.
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.
Publishing | The X-Files is in the headline, but this interview with IDW Publishing Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall covers a lot of ground, including the logistics of continuing a defunct TV franchise as a comic, the standouts among IDW’s young creators, and the challenges of being a comics writer. [Hero Complex]
Publishing | Alvin Lu has left his position as executive vice president of the manga publisher Viz Media. Lu had been at Viz for 13 years and was one of the top executives in the company, reporting directly to CEO Hidemi Fukuhara. [ICv2]
Comics | The graphic novel Metro, once banned in Egypt, is available in Cairo once more. [The Comics Reporter]
It’s become an annual tradition during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of people we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we have in past years, we have asked various comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they are excited about for 2013.
Check out Part One, and keep reading to see more of what people shared with us, including details on their upcoming projects. Our thanks to everyone who responded this year. Also, thanks again to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
SAM HUMPHRIES (The Ultimates, Sacrifice, Uncanny X-Force)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Avengers #1 (Marvel): Has Marvel NOW! already gotten enough attention? Maybe so, but that’s partly the reason I’m highlighting this specific book. In the rising tide that’s pushed all of the Marvel NOW relaun!ches, for me — as a fan and journalist — the marketing has dulled the unique appeal of every book. Flipping through Previews and giving this a deeper critical eye, it made me realize – this is Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña doing Avengers, the de facto flagship book of Marvel since 2004. Opeña really turned a corner with Uncanny X-Force, and I’m interested to see how Hickman brings his meticulous plotting to a biweekly book with a cast larger than Circus of the Stars. And what’s interesting is that he’s done a version of this when he relaunched the “Ultimate” version of the Avengers in Ultimate Comics: Ultimates. I’m not saying this will be that re-heated over, but it’ll be interesting to see how he takes roughly the same characters and bobs instead of weaves.
Hiroaki Samura’s Emerald and Other Stories (Dark Horse): Samura’s Blade of the Immortal was a major manga when it debuted, but when you have one artist doing a long, drawn-out story it tends to dull in the eyes of fans on the outside looking in. But his short-story collection Ohikkoshi was fun, modern and completely different – a great bite-size snack from the eight-course meal/buffet that is Blade of the Immortal. This collection looks to be like that, centered around Samura’s western teen drama Emerald. I’ve heard of another set of stories called Bradherley’s Coach about a family whose business is to ferry orphans to their new home, which I hope is in here as well.
Mara #1 (Image): I’ve been loving Brian Wood’s work since he jumped to AiT-PlanetLar too many years ago, and seeing him branch out with another new series makes me wish for Brian Wood Month all over again. Besides swami Brian, it’s the artist he’s doing this with that really deserves some attention; Ming Doyle has killed it in her work featured on Project: Rooftop (shameless plug), and when she moved to doing shorts for Marvel in things like Fantastic Four she showed she could really play with the big boys. Seeing Wood and Doyle doing a sports-themed action series set in the future, this is a unique-looking story that’ll be at the top of my stack when it comes out on Dec. 26.
Hip Flask: Ourborous (Image): In comics today there’s a rare group of artists that are like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents; an older race who were once masters of the world but now subsist on making rare, but eventful appearances. Alan Moore is this way; so is Art Adams. To that list I’d like to add Ladrönn. This has my money, even if I didn’t know how great a story this is.
Orcs, Vol. 1: Forged For War (First Second): Speaking of Tolkien, am I the only one that felt compassion for the Orcs in Lord of the Rings? Well, this reprinted graphic novel by writer Stan Nicholls and artist Joe Flood brings the orc race to the forefront. Orc Stain was great, and this could be too!
I thought I’d been following Chris Ryall’s career a long time (I first met him when he was editing Kevin Smith’s now-defunct Movie Poop Shoot website), but obviously there’s more to IDW Publishing’s editor-in-chief than meets the eye. No, wait … that’s Transformers. Ryall’s early days were more of the morphing variety. That’s him above (and in the animated GIF below) getting trash dumped on his head by Bulk and Skull in an episode of The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
With that kind of history, it makes me wonder why IDW hasn’t picked up the MMPR license yet. We sort of need a Power Rangers/Transformers crossover, don’t we?
• Marvel announced that Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega, The Massive and Conan the Barbarian writer Brian Wood will take over writing both X-Men and Ultimate X-Men. About the latter, he told CBR, “I can bring something to the table here, a certain POV that I think will work really well. At its core it’s still the same mutant/human conflict, but the stakes are incredibly high and with the Ultimate line having more leeway than 616, you can really push it to the edge, and over the edge. With my stories, I’m looking forward to having them push back against this repression in a major way — not just in one-on-one cases but as a collective whole, a unified mutant push for freedom, for safety, for basic human rights. For the right to be a mutant and live free. What’s happening to them now is essentially a genocide, an ethnic cleansing.”
• Marvel also announced a new Dark Avengers series by Jeff Parker, Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey that replaces Thunderbolts. The book will feature Dark Scarlet Witch, Dark Spider-Man, Trickshot, Ragnarok and Skaar, along with Luke Cage.
Passings | Classic comics artist Sheldon Moldoff, who co-created Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat Hound, passed away Wednesday. He was 91. Moldoff broke into comics at the age of 17 with a sports filler that appeared on the inside back cover of Action Comics #1. He went on to become a prolific cover artist, drawing the first cover image of the Golden Age Flash for Flash Comics #1 and the Golden Age Green Lantern for All-American Comics #16. He also worked on comics featuring Hawkman, Kid Eternityand Black Pirate. He also was one of the pioneers of horror comics in the late 1940s and worked as a “ghost artist” for Bob Kane on Batman from 1953 to 1967. After being let go by DC Comics in 1967, he went on to work in animation. [News from ME]
Conventions | Badges for Comic-Con International sold out Saturday morning within an hour and a half, a record for the annual pop-culture extravaganza. Last year it took about seven hours for badges to disappear. [U-T San Diego]
Here’s a great way to end the week–IDW Publishing Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall has been sharing teases of various 2012 IDW projects, and today’s is, literally, quite the score. Coming in May is the third Parker novel adaptation by the great Darwyn Cooke, titled Parker: The Score. It of course follows Cooke’s adaptations of Richard Stark/Donald Westlake’s The Hunter and The Outfit, both of which feature Westlake’s famous Parker character. Can’t wait!
The New York Comic Con officially opened its doors this afternoon, but comics publishers and distributors have been releasing announcements leading up to it all this week. Here’s a round-up of news from today, as well as some that hit earlier this week.
• DC Comics, who were having a pretty good week already, announced two creative team changes for the New 52. Ann Nocenti of Daredevil and Longshot fame will write Green Arrow starting with issue #7. She spoke to Comic Book Resources about her approach to the series: “I have a particular way of writing a comic. Comics are short. They are only twenty pages, so you can take a year of comics and that can be your opera, and the opera can have a lot of different passages in it. I kind of believe every issue should be a single story, just a complete story. But there is a momentum that forms like triptychs over it, and then it forms your big overtures, and then the whole thing ends up kind of operatic. I also want a beginning, middle and end, a classic short story approach to every single comic. What I do is I try to figure out, what is the kick in this comic, what is the main feeling I want to get, and everything in the comic has to serve that.”
• And Marc Bernardin (Monster Attack Network, The Highwaymen, The Authority) will take over the writing duties on Static Shock beginning with issue #7. “As a fan and as a writer, one of the great things about Static isn’t just that he’s a new hero, it’s also that he’s a young hero,” Bernardin told CBR. “He will make the mistakes of youth and, even though the New 52 is resetting a lot of heroes to their early days as do-gooders, there’s nothing quite like the fumblings of a teenager.”
Back in 2009, when IDW announced their intentions to collect Andy Hartnell and J. Scott Campbell’s former WildStorm series Danger Girl, they mentioned plans to publish new stories at some point. Today in an interview with Comic Book Resources, IDW’s Chief Creative Officer and Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall revealed that plans are in the works on a new Danger Girl series coming next spring.
Reporter Shaun Manning asked Ryall about Abbey Chase’s appearance on the cover of Infestation 2 #1. “Yeah, we were going to do her own [“Infestation 2″] series, but we’re actually doing a new Danger Girl series in the Spring, too, so we didn’t want to conflict with that,” Ryall said. “She’ll be part of the storyline but not have her own spinoff book attached to the Infestation event.”
While it’s been years since a Danger Girl solo comic graced the stands, Abbey Chase and her friends have popped up in other places, including the Danger Girl/Army of Darkness crossover series published by Dynamite earlier this year.
IDW Publishing Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall has posted some interesting bits from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 at his blog, including the variant covers, a link to a preview, and side-by-side comparisons of Kevin Eastman’s storyboards and Dan Duncan’s finished art (colored by Ronda Pattison). It’s interesting to see how much the layout changes from draft to finished product, and also how dynamic Eastman’s drawings are — the figures are rough, but there’s a lot of energy to them, and they could almost stand on their own.