“There’s never a headline-grabbing agenda. I did the abortion storyline [in Buffy the Vampire Slayer] because I was becoming very frustrated with a lot of narratives where people either don’t even say the word abortion or have a very facile reason for not going through with it, and two-thirds of American women will have one in their lifetimes. It is a part of the reality of our society that people weren’t even talking about and a young woman who is no position to raise a child gets pregnant very often has to make that decision. It’s not an easy one, it’s not fun, it’s not something to be taken lightly but it is something that needs to be discussed. It needs to be out there and so I very baldly said, ‘We’re gonna do this because it needs to be done.’ And we bought it in a sort of, you know, in a ‘Buffy’ way — ‘Oh no, I’m not pregnant, I’m a robot.’ But that wasn’t to shy away from it. Because it wasn’t about the process, it was about the decision.”
– Joss Whedon, discussing balancing sensational storylines with those that advance the larger plot, in an interview with CBR TV at Comic-Con International in San Diego
Shiftylook, Namco Bandai’s webcomics venture, has inked a deal with Homestuck creator Andrew Hussie to create a dating-sim game, Namco High, that will allow players to mix and match characters from the different Namco Bandai games in a high-school environment.
There’s a pleasing symmetry to this alliance: Homestuck is a webcomic designed to look like an old computer game, complete with a cheesy home page that would be right at home on Geocities, and Shiftylook is a webcomics site that commissions writer-artist teams to make webcomics about characters from vintage Namco Bandai games from the 1980s and 1990s. I talked to the Shiftylook brass about their strategy at New York Comic Con; basically the idea is to build up a following for the characters and then bring them into other media, such as games and music.
As it did last year, Shiftylook set up shop across the street from the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con and offered an arcade where visitors could play Namco Bandai games for free. There was also an Adventure Time booth, selling merchandise from the popular animated and comics series, and a Homestuck booth, where Hussie himself made an appearance to sign autographs.
“I think it is not only unaffected by piracy, it benefits from pirating. You cannot stop pirating of comics. It’s like trying to push the tide back with a broom. You can either be angry about it, and resistant, and fight and clamp down harder, or you can find ways to make that tool work for you. With Thrillbent, we offered all our files free to download on a weekly basis, so you can read them free on the site and you can also download them for free, and that way, sure enough, we got to control the quality of the image, we got to make sure it was not out of focus or crappy or corrupted files or whatever, we got to make sure there was a placard at the end that says, hey, if you like this come to Thrillbent for more stuff, and that worked wonders for us. And I know that pumped up our traffic. That is not the answer for every publisher, but I will go to my grave not buying the baloney that every pirated comic was a lost sale.”
– Mark Waid, during the “Digital and Print” panel at Comic-Con International, when asked whether piracy poses a threat to the comics industry
Most fans who make the annual pilgrimage to Comic-Con International return with some creator signatures or sketches, a few exclusive releases and maybe a case of the con crud. However, Timmy Madere isn’t most fans.
According to The Verge, the New Orleans resident got drunk during the 2009 convention, stumbled into a nearby tattoo parlor, and walked out with the Green Lantern emblem affixed in indelible ink to the middle finger of his right hand. Since then, he’s returned to Comic-Con, and to Nothing Sacred Tattoo, each year to get another permanent memento of his trip.
This year he got two tattoos: a rendition of the Jerry Robinson-drawn Joker playing card, and the Superman Cyborg symbol, which join The Flash’s lightning bolt, the Black Adam’s lighting bolt, a Bizarro symbol, the black Superman emblem, and another Joker playing card. He’s still shooting for an enormous Starro on his back.”It’s weird because comics were the things that inspired me, that helped shape me as a kid I guess, and I ended up getting a bunch of villain tattoos,” Madere tells the website. “They have the coolest symbols! Everybody’s got a Batman or a Superman. No one ever gets the alternative.”
See more photos on The Verge.
Digital comics | Jason Snell uses Comic-Con International as an opportunity to take a snapshot of digital comics in “an era of experimentation,” and hones in on Madefire, the convention’s embrace of technology, comiXology and the growing popularity of the digital-first model. “Digital has made us rethink how we fulfill books into the [print] retail market,” Chris Ross, Top Shelf’s director of digital publishing, said during a panel. [TechHive]
Legal | The Attorney-Generals Chambers of Singapore has charged cartoonist Leslie Chew (the pen name of Chew Peng Ee) with contempt of court because of four cartoons posted on his Facebook page Demon-cratic Singapore. A hearing on the charges, which could result in jail time and fines, will be held on Aug. 12. Chew’s attorney M. Ravi said in a phone interview, “Our judiciary is not like fragile flowers to be offended easily by such criticism. We have full faith in the impartiality and independence of our judiciary.” [Bloomberg News]
In case you didn’t notice, Comic-Con International happened last weekend. As always, it was an epic affair with tons of announcements, stunts and surprises. Amid cannons firing, actors dressing up as themselves, and big movie plans, there were also a good number of genuine surprises from comics.
Usually I end up picking a winner of Comic-Con, but after Dynamite Entertainment flooded the air waves with announcements the days before the event, no one else seemed to stand out as the clear winner. It’s not that everyone slacked off, however: They brought a good variety of interesting and exciting projects, and a number of standout announcements made my ears perk up. So instead of declaring a winner, I’m going to run down my Top 6 Comic-Con surprises in comics.
Before I start, though, two publishers deserve a little recognition for serious contenders for the Comic-Con crown. Top Shelf Productions classed up the joint by bringing in Congressman John Lewis for the debut of his graphic novel, March: Book One with artist Nate Powell and co-writer Andrew Aydin. I have little doubt this trilogy will end up being a historic release with profound benefits for schools, libraries and organizations looking for a powerful teaching tool and first=person account of the Civil Rights Movement and non-violent resistance. Plus, come on, photos of Lewis meeting Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lou Ferrigno? Everybody else, just pack it up. Maybe not as much of a milestone, but IDW Publishing also deserves a nod for the pure quantity and variety of good-looking books announced.
OK, on with my list:
An event like Comic-con International draws more than 100,000 people, and because of its popularity, certain groups will take advantage of the large crowds to have their voices heard. Aside from the artistic endeavors, pop-culture marketing and general excitement, during Comic-con, the streets of San Diego also became a platform for special-interest groups.
Mistaken for Pee-wee Herman, Doctor Who cosplayer encounters fundamentalists
I’m not going to lie: When I first saw the protest signs at Comic-Con, I thought they were a joke — some sort of bad-taste marketing scheme that would unveil itself as part of a B-movie. I was here when the Westboro Baptist Church protested a couple of years back; this wasn’t them. But alas, it’s another religious fundamentalists group wanting attention.
I wasn’t going to give them what they sought, but then the man with the bullhorn called a Doctor Who cosplayer Peew-ee Herman.
In an impromptu interview at The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary party held during Comic-Con International, CBR’s Karl Keily spoke briefly with Grant Morrison about the one superhero he’d still like to tackle, the status of his Rogue Trooper screenplay, and whether fans should expect another MorrisonCon.
Karl Keily: You just wrapped up your epic, decade-long, redefining Batman run. Are there any other iconic characters you’d like to revamp next?
Grant Morrison: The Flash is the only one left that I would still do. If I’m gonna do the Flash, I want to do it as a science-fiction story like The Incredible Shrinking Man or Stephen King’s Thinner, or The Fly, where you basically take a scientist and then subject him to a very simple equation. For Barry Allen, he’d just be getting faster and faster and faster — and what would that mean? Because somewhere up there is the speed of light, and when you hit the speed of light, basically all time stops and it’s the end. That’s the limit. So we’re watching this guy progress through it, faster and faster. By the end of Act 1, his clothes are burning off every time he moves, so he has to build himself a suit, and then he paints the suit red like a Ferrari and is just speeding around like he’s on coke all the time! I want to do that as a sci-fi story, but out of it comes the familiar image of the Flash. I think that’d be totally different, just taking it from a different angle.
With the announcement at Comic-Con International of Mouse Guard: The Weasel War of 1149, Archaia gave the panel attendees an exclusive print that creator David Petersen now reveals was “technically” the first artwork he produced for the acclaimed fantasy series.
“The Weasel War of 1149 is the earliest story I had ever thought of for Mouse Guard,” he explains on his blog. “In fact, at that time, the title of the project was 1149 and the Mouse Guard was simply the name of the group of heroic mice in the story. The three characters I wanted to focus on were Kenzie (leader, blue cloak, name means wise), Saxon (aggressive, red cloak, name means sword), and Rand (defensive, yellow cloak, name means shield) in the heat of an unevenly matched war against the weasels of Darkheather. [...] A lot of what I wrote down back in 1996 for that story is now junk. But the idea of it, some character interactions, and the way it resolves, are still alive and well in the mental draft I have going for the next Mouse Guard book. Plus after having three other Mouse Guard books of mine published since then, I have to incorporate what Mouse Guard has become into this forthcoming volume.”
Although the prequel is forthcoming, Petersen says he doesn’t have a start date or a completion date yet. “I have a few side projects I want to take some time to work on and publish before I dive into another Mouse Guard hardcover,” he writes. “I’ll update on all of that through Twitter and this blog, when I’m ready to share more info. And do not worry about my return to Mouse Guard, this is simply a short vacation. … Mouse Guard will be the project I work on for the rest of my life.”
Comic-Con International saw the arrival of not one but two new trailers for LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, the upcoming action-adventure game from TT Games and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
The first, appropriately titled “Big Figure,” showcases some of the Marvel Universe’s more … big-boned … characters, including the Hulk, Kingpin, the Blob, the Rhino, Colossus, the Juggernaut and The Thing, while providing glimpses of an array of heroes, ranging from the Invisible Woman and Jean Grey to Iron Man and Wolverine.
The second, packed with gameplay footage, highlights Stan Lee as a playable character who can sling webs and Hulk out with the best of them. Other playable characters range from the expected (Captain America, Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel) to the offbeat (H.E.R.B.I.E., Malekith the Accursed, Squirrel Girl).
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes will be released later this year on PC, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, DS and PlayStation Vita.
“I actually got a text from somebody saying, ‘Is that allowed? And how long is that going to happen?’ And I texted back saying ‘I don’t know and I’m wondering myself.’ We certainly were not made aware of that, so it was a little surprising. I jumped out of my skin, and I was inside the hotel. I can’t imagine what it was like outside.”
– David Glanzer, Comic-Con International’s director of marketing and public relations, addressing the unexpected cannon fire from the ship anchored outside the San Diego Convention Center as part of Ubisoft’s promotion for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
We’ve seen Deadpool vs. Comic-Con 2012, Deadpool vs. “Gangnam Style” and, earlier this year, Deadpool vs. WonderCon, so it would’ve been more than a little disappointing if we weren’t treated another visit to Comic-Con International by the Merc With a Mouth. Thankfully, a video was uploaded this morning chronicling Deadpool’s return to San Diego, where he crashes a religious demonstration, torments a zombie, spars with cosplayers, and dances with just about anybody who’s willing to shimmy, thrust or Dougie.
News flows out of Comic-Con International like an avalanche: Sometimes the interesting announcements gets buried by the more glamorous and higher-profile projects. One story that caught my eye was that filmmaker Duncan Jones and 2000AD/Preacher artist Glenn Fabry will be collaborating on a graphic-novel adaptation of Jones’ unproduced script Mute for Dark Horse.
Mute was originally planned to be Jones’ second film, after the much-praised Moon. Failing to secure funding for the ambitious, Blade Runner-influenced, project meant Jones was forced to move on. His second film instead was Source Code, a rollicking adventure that showed Jones as a capable director of action, after the more sedentary thrills of Moon. He’s now in the pre-production stages of the World of Warcraft movie, the sort of potential franchise tentpole film that could result in Jones being trusted with a budget large enough to make any feature he wants. Jones debuted a “mood piece” — a teaser trailer — for Warcraft, currently unavailable online (but a few souls in attendance in Hall H have posted their descriptions of it). He’s been talking up turning Mute into a graphic novel since 2011, when he told Gordon and the Whale:
Author Chuck Palahniuk is writing a sequel to his debut 1996 Fight Club, planned as a series of graphic novels. The news, which trickled out of Comic-Con International, was confirmed Monday by the writer himself.
“Chelsea Cain has been introducing me to artists and creators from Marvel, DC and Dark Horse, and they’re walking me through the process,” Palahniuk told his official fan site. “It will likely be a series of books that update the story ten years after the seeming end of Tyler Durden.”
Adapted by David Fincher for the 1999 film starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, Fight Club follows an anonymous and unreliable Narrator (typically referred to as Joe in the novel and Jack in the movie) who, while suffering from insomnia, begins attending support groups for people with problems much larger than his. At one, he meets a disturbed woman named Marla, and the two become involved in a sort-of love triangle with the charismatic and mysterious Tyler Durden. That leads him down a winding path involving an underground network of men who beat the hell out of each other for fun, large-scale destruction, human fat transformed into soap and — well, that’s only the beginning.
As the Comic-Con International hangover sets in and the industry goes silent while creators, editors, publishers and publicists stagger home from San Diego, we’ll take a few minutes to try to collect the comics-related highlights of this year’s event. We’ll attempt to update as more panel reports appear and other information trickles out.
• Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Hawkeye‘s David Aja, and Building Stories by Chris Ware were the big winners at the 2013 Eisner Awards.
• At Diamond Comic Distributors’ Retailer Appreciation Lunch, Marvel teased the arrival of Marvelman — it’s been four years since the publisher revealed it had acquired the rights to the property — and, scheduled for January, a new wave of Marvel NOW! titles. In convention panels, the company announced: Wolverine: Origin II, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert; the return of Nightcrawler in the first arc of Amazing X-Men, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness; the November debut of Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, by Chris Hastings and Jacopo Camagni; “Afterparty,” a two-issue arc of Young Avengers that celebrates Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s first year on the series; Steve McNiven will join Rick Remender in November on Uncanny Avengers; Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, a Galactus-focused Ultimate Universe event by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley; and the January-launching Revolutionary War, in which writer Andy Lanning and “various superstar artists,” will resurrect some of the Marvel UK characters.