Passings | Alvin Schwartz, the prolific writer who penned Batman comics and the Batman and Superman comic strips for DC Comics in the 1940s, passed away Oct. 28 after a long illness. He was 95. Before leaving comics in 1958, Schwartz wrote for most of DC’s titles, including Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash. [News from ME]
Creators | Tucker Stone talks to Mark Waid about his work on Daredevil, and Waid confirms that Marcos Martin, originally announced as the artist on every other arc, won’t be working on the book after issue #6: “Unfortunately, it was something that came up while we were working. He’s doing 4, 5 and 6. When he came on, I don’t think things were firmed up with his next project and now they have. I salute him, and I think it’s going to be great and I want to see him go off and do creator owned stuff. But my heart breaks.” [comiXology]
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics, graphic novels, books and what-have-you we’ve been reading lately. This week our special guest is Brian Ralph, creator of Daybreak, Cave-In and Reggie 12.
To see what Brian and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
Creators | With the announcement that Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios is back in business, former Extreme Studios employee and current Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson reflects on his time with the studio. “From 1992-1998, Extreme Studios was more or less my life. Youngblood, Supreme, Brigade, Bloodstrike, Team Youngblood, New Men, Prophet, Youngblood: Strikefile, Bloodpool, Glory… We put out a lot of comics, and for the most part everyone involved was incredibly young. Rob and I were amongst the oldest at 25. So many of the artists involved in various aspects of production were just out of their teens, and that made the work as frustrating as it was fun. But looking back, the main thing I remember about that time is Rob wanted to share his success with people who loved comics and wanted to make a living in the business as much as he had.” [It Sparkles!]
Webcomics | A Distant Soil creator Colleen Doran, who began serializing the comic online in 2009, notes “my bottom line is up significantly, and my online audience is ten times higher than when I started the five day a week online serialization of A Distant Soil 2.5 years ago.” She also shares advice she received when she started the endeavor that hasn’t worked for her. [A Distant Soil]
Could we be coming to the end of an era?
iFanboy has a fascinating interview with a recently retired comics pirate who says that same-day print and digital releases make comics piracy pointless:
As to why I quit, the “Scene” has become petty and incestuous. No one cared about “preserving” comic books in a digital form anymore. It was all about getting YOUR copy out FIRST so that you could flood the fileshares before someone else could get their version out just to acquire digital kudos from those around you. I grew wary of the “Race” and took a hard look at the current digital space. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and even Archie have been pushing more and more digital initiatives. If digital archiving was really my goal, and not piracy, then wasn’t I fooling myself by continuing to scan and edit comics that the publishers were offering in a pure digital form? DC’s push for “day and date” releasing of all their mainline titles cemented it for me and I stepped away.
He also comments on the addictive nature of scanning and the group dynamics of the pirates. This sounds like an expensive hobby, as he bought a lot of books to scan them — and sometimes bought hard copies of books he had read online. Underlying all this is the odd notion that making a book digital “preserves” it, although he contradicts that by buying the print editions. Anyway, interesting stuff and well worth reading; I’m looking forward to the rest of these interviews.
Meanwhile, Colleen Doran has put together an interesting roundup of links for freelancers at her website, and among them is one that finishes the story of HTMLcomics.com. As we reported in May 2010, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida had filed a suit in federal court asking that Gregory Hart forfeit six web domains that hosted scans of copyrighted material (actually, Hart got to keep one because it turned out to be just a blank web page). Earlier this year, Hart agreed to forfeit the web addresses; Copyhype has the details. The domains, including the infamous htmlcomics.com, now belong to the U.S. government, but nobody seems to be doing anything with them at the moment. Doran comments that her take has gone up since the sites were shut down, but that is probably due to other factors. In the end, Hart was not charged with any crimes or sued by any publisher.
Colleen Doran isn’t the first artist who springs to mind when I think of Archie Comics, but she signed a contract with them to do a Betty and Veronica project a few years ago. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out, but she posts a few sketches of the characters, whom she was to draw in her own style rather than Archie’s house style (which varies a bit, but not this much). Unfortunately, there’s no Archie, whom she said was “very hot,” but hopefully she’ll find those drawings and put them up as well.
Doran sees the drawing on the left as a good start for a Lois Lane character as well, and by happy coincidence she’s planning to pitch a Lois Lane miniseries to DC Comics: “I see Lois as a super-smart, Kathryn Hepburn/Rosalind Russell type. At a serious newspaper, instead of a yukky on-air correspondent.” Yes, please!
OK, she was never really gone … but lately there has been a rush of news regarding her work. At Comic-Con International last week DC Comic highlighted her next major project for Vertigo Gone to Amerikay, with writer Derek McCulloch, and over the weekend she posted some sketches she did for the ill-fated JMS reboot of Wonder Woman. To cap it all off, she’s now on Twitter!
Described by Doran as a story of Irish immigration to the United States, her writer Derek McCulloch spoke at length about the book at Comic-Con. “It’s a story about people emigrating to America from Ireland over the course of 140 years,” said the writer. “It’s a great big historical epic with a crime story and a ghost story and a couple of love stories and all kinds of things in it.”
Doran is best known for her long-running independent series A Distant Soil, but her work has been on my mind recently because of her graphic novel Orbiter with Warren Ellis and the final voyage of the U.S. space shuttle. Plans to do a second graphic novel with Ellis, titled Stealth Tribes, seemed to go on the backburner due to Ellis’ workload, freeing her up for Gone To Amerikay as well as Mangaman with novelist Barry Lyga.
When J. Michael Straczynski was still the writer of Wonder Woman, he approached Colleen Doran about developing a new, “fantasy-oriented” look for her. He’s given Doran permission to share what she came up with, which she’s done on her blog.
She clarifies a couple of things in the comments section of her post. First, that she wasn’t hired to draw the actual comic; just to design the look. But more importantly, that this look would’ve been for a story after the one in which Wonder Woman wore Jim Lee’s controversial redesign.
There’s anthologies. Then there’s Womanthology.
Designed to showcase the works of female comic creators “of every age and experience level,” the short stories in Womanthology center around the theme “Heroic.” In addition to comics, the book will also have interviews and “how-to” tutorials by female creators to encourage the next generation of talent. All proceeds from the book will be donated to the charity Global Giving Foundation.
To bring this all together, the women behind Womanthology are turning to Kickstarter.com to raise money to print the book. With a release date tentatively set for December 2011, the Kickstarter campaign has already generated $18,000 of its $25,000 goal with just under a month to go.
The list of contributors reads like a who’s who of comic creators, including the likes of Ann Nocenti, Camille d’Errico, Ming Doyle, Colleen Doran, June Brigman, Fiona Staples, Barbara Kesel, Gail Simone, Trina Robbins and more.
Friends of comic artist Chris Wozniak and his wife Debra have set up a Facebook page and PayPal account in support of the couple, who lost their home in a tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, Ala. on April 27.
“Their house was destroyed beyond words,” The Facebook page reads. “By the Grace of God, Chris some how made it out with his two dogs and is at a Red Cross Rescue Center. Debra was at work and also at a center.”
Wozniak has worked on several books for Marvel and DC in the 1980s and 90s, including Excalibur, Star Trek and the Spectre. More recently he worked on his own comics, including Bitter Midgets and the Marauders from Galaxy X.
Artist Colleen Doran (A Distant Soil, Orbiter) has teamed up with author Barry Lyga (The Adventures of Fanboy and Gothgirl) on a new “metafictive” graphic novel called Mangaman. The story is about a manga character who falls through a rip in reality into the “real” world.
“Ryoko, a manga character from a manga world, falls through the Rip into the ‘real’ world — the Western world — and tries to survive as the ultimate outsider at a typical American high school,” Lyga wrote on his website. “When Ryoko falls in love with Marissa Montaigne, the most beautiful girl in the school, his eyes turn to hearts and the comic tension tightens as his way of expressing himself clashes with this different Western world where he is stuck. ‘Panel-holed’ for being different, Ryoko has to figure out how to get back to his manga world, back through the Rip . . . all while he has hearts for eyes for a girl from the wrong kind of comic book.”
The book is due out in November from Houghton Mifflin. You can see additional artwork on the book’s official site.
I’m still in shock over the sudden, tragic death of comics writer, Milestone Media co-founder and animation producer Dwayne McDuffie, as I’m sure many of his fans, friends and fellow creators are. I’ve rounded up some thoughts and memories from some of those folks, as well as a few items of note about memorials and some of his work.
- If you’re attending the Emerald City Comicon March 4-6, they’ve announced a memorial panel remembering McDuffie that will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. in Room 4C1-2. Per writer Mark Waid, C2E2 is also planning to hold one.
- Both Heidi MacDonald and Rich Johnston posted pages featuring the parakeet metaphor that McDuffie first introduced in Hardware #1 — a scene that, for me personally, sparked one of those lengthy late-night discussions about society, racism, politics and a whole lot of other things with my older brother. As Heidi points out, McDuffie revisited it in both X-O Manowar and at the end of the Milestone Forever two-parter, basically bookending the life of the Milestone Universe.
- The Weekly Crisis, meanwhile, looks at a poignant page from McDuffie’s more recent Fantastic Four run.
- The good folks at the Project: Rooftop site have declared “McDuffie Week” at their site, and have put out the call for redesigns of Static. Dean Trippe writes: “Dwayne’s work in the field of comics and animation was near-universally respected. His knowledge and understanding of the DCU heroes in particular, always meant a lot to me. He worked for Marvel, DC, founded Milestone along with Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle, achieved more respect and admiration as a screenwriter for Justice League Unlimited and other DC animated projects, faithfully bringing the light of our heroes to the non-comics-reading public. Dwayne has left us far too soon, with too many wonderful stories left untold.”
Legal | A federal judge has lifted the delay in the ferocious legal battle over the rights to Superman, allowing attorneys for Warner Bros. to proceed with deposition of the families of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright issued the stay last month while he considered an appeal on a procedural ruling, but on Tuesday he modified the order, permitting the studio to “proceed with full discovery of [heirs] Joanne Siegel, Laura Siegel Larson, Jean Peavy and Mark Peavy.” The depositions are expected to begin immediately. [THR, Esq.]
Retailing | Bookstores had their worst month of the year in September as sales slipped 7.7 percent, to $1.51 billion. [Publishers Weekly]
Piracy | Colleen Doran argues that it’s the middle-class artist, not the rich corporations, who are the real victims of digital piracy. [The Hill]
Crime | Houston police have arrested two people believed to be responsible for stealing thousands of dollars worth of comics from stores around the city. Bedrock City Comic Company was hit at least four times. [My Fox Houston]
Publishing | Marvel reportedly has issued a round of Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices to Google in an effort targeting Blogger sites that serve as clearinghouses for links to pirated comics. (Blogger was purchased by Google in 2003.) One such blog, Comics Invasion, already has been shut down. [Bleeding Cool]
Passings | Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad passed away Saturday of natural causes. He was 86. The winner of three Pulitzers, an achievement matched by just two other cartoonists in the post-World War II era, Conrad worked for the Los Angeles Times for nearly 30 years, and earned a place on President Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.” [Los Angeles Times, Comic Riffs]
As a part of their Creators Across America series, the Copyright Alliance has posted the above video interview with A Distant Soil creator Colleen Doran. The artist discusses her early career and the importance of knowing her rights as a creator, among other topics. Patrick Ross, who conducted the interview, says she is “successful and accomplished, and a hoot.”
Tablets | Hey, guess what? Apple’s making headlines with a new product. On the heels of yesterday’s iPad announcement, Comic Book Resources and Newsarama both reach out to members of the comics industry to get their thoughts on the new device, from traditional publishers to digital comics companies. Rich Johnston has a collection of reactions from Twitter. Meanwhile, we heard from Dark Horse directly:
“We, like all publishers, are excited about this new format, and all of the possibilities which come along with it. We have already experienced great success with our existing iTunes program, and are excited to see just how this new interface will fit into our company’s overall digital strategy,” said Neil Hankerson, executive vice president of Dark Horse Comics.
Other links of note …