INTERVIEW: DiDio & Lee on "Dark Knight 3," Vertigo's Future & DC's Evolving Readership
A federal judge has dismissed a bid by Stan Lee Media Inc. to reclaim the rights to Conan the Barbarian, which the failed dot-com briefly held before going into bankruptcy in 2001. However, a bigger legal brawl still lies ahead, when the company appears before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on March 8 to argue it should be allowed to pursue the rights to Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, The Avengers and other lucrative Marvel properties.
Stan Lee Media, which operates independently of its namesake and co-founder — in fact, it’s suing Stan Lee — has struggled since emerging from bankruptcy in November 2006 to regain some of the money and glory from the heyday of the Internet bubble, primarily through lawsuits claiming the improper transfer of intellectual properties.
In the Conan lawsuit, filed in August even as Conan the Barbarian 3D arrived in theaters, the company claimed, in part, that when Conan Sales Co. bought back the rights to the Robert E. Howard characters in 2002, shareholders weren’t notified, and SLM’s interests weren’t properly represented. The complaint also alleged that Arthur Lieberman, Lee’s longtime attorney, committed fraud during the proceedings, and failed to report conflicts of interest. As a result, SLM argued, the transfer of the rights to Conan Sales Co., which subsequently sold them to Paradox Entertainment, should be annulled.
The ‘emo’ thing is both really funny and really annoying. All my books have been called ‘emo’ at one point or another, since Demo in 2003. Even Northlanders was called ‘emo’. Clearly its a meaningless insult, issued by lazy people who don’t have the proper words to describe something that is even a little bit less than 100% macho and straightforward. So Becky draws a sketch of Conan with a smile on his face, and only reaction available is to call it ‘emo’. It’s absurd. The funny part of it is these same people don’t even know what ‘emo’ is, what the word really means. A fun variation on this, something I spotted on some forum, was “Conan looks like a barista!”. I almost emailed Becky to ask her to sketch Conan working at Starbucks for the fun of it.
Brian Wood, talking to MTV Geek about his new Conan series, which launches this week, and the critique on some message boards that his character was too “emo.”
As funny as it is to imagine an emo Conan (paging Kate Beaton!), what I like about this quote in particular is Wood’s healthy attitude about criticism of his work. It’s not easy to put things out there and have them critiqued by the world at large, but dealing with it is a part of the job. Wood talks a little later about the passion of serious Conan fans and remarks that creators really should stay away from forums that discuss their work, saying, “I think readers should have the privacy and feel free to talk openly about a book without the writer or artist lurking over their shoulder, ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. It’s a little creepy, really.”
Conventions | San Diego City Council on Tuesday approved the basic funding plan for the proposed $500 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, home to Comic-Con International. At the center of the financing scheme is an assessment district that adds between between 1 cents and 3 cents per dollar to room taxes of 224 hotels with more than 30 rooms. Those hotels closest to the convention center would be assessed an extra 3 cents per dollar, and those farthest away could be charged an extra penny per dollar.
The expansion plan has a ticking clock, as Comic-Con has signed a deal to remain in San Diego through 2015, but larger venues in Las Vegas and Anaheim have been lobbying organizers to look elsewhere. [NBC San Diego]
Dark Horse starts a new Conan series next month with Conan #1, by Channel Zero and Demo collaborators Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. Based on Robert E. Howard’s “Queen of the Black Coast,” the comic will weave new adventures into Conan’s two-year journey with the notorious female pirate Bêlit, a period barely touched on in the original short story. Comic Book Resources has a preview of the first issue.
I spoke with Wood and Cloonan about their plans for the series, using the classic Howard tale as their framework, and the dynamic between the young Conan and Bêlit.
ROBOT 6: How did each of you first encounter Conan — in the novels, the movie, or the older comics?
Wood: I’m sure it was the Arnold movie that was my first exposure, but not in a really meaningful way. I was 10 when it came out, so I wouldn’t have seen it, but we all played it at recess anyway. Later on, as I started to become more aware of comics, I became aware of Conan as he was drawn by masters like BWS and Frazetta. Funnily enough, the novels came last.
Consider this my calling my own bluff. Awhile back, I opined that no-one online really spent enough time talking about independent books that were being solicited, meaning that when they were finally released three months later, your store might have missed out because you didn’t even know to pre-order. With the March Previews coming out a week tomorrow, I figured there was no better time for me to tell you what you should be pestering your retailer for from the February edition. Here’s my pick of the top five books you should be looking to pre-order. Continue Reading »
Conventions | Wizard’s executive chairman Mike Mathews tells Heidi MacDonald that after the resignation of former CEO Gareb Shamus, the company wants to be “a Switzerland of entertainment” and mend fences with members of the industry: “Gareb is one of these types of personalities who has taken strong positions over the years with various people in the industry and brands. And that kind of hurt us because of where we are trying to go — we’re trying to be a Switzerland of entertainment and we want to try to try to reach out to brands.” MacDonald notes the company is offering a $100 credit toward Wizard conventions to former Wizard subscribers whose subscriptions abruptly ended when the magazine was shut down. A new CEO is expected to be named early next month. [The Beat]
Conventions | Image Comics announced several more guests for the Image Expo, scheduled for Feb. 24-26 in Oakland, California. The lineup now includes Blair Butler, John Layman, Rob Guillory, Nick Spencer, Joshua Fialkov, Joe Keatinge, Jim McCann and Jim Zubkavich, among many others. [press release]
Organizations | The Associação da Luta Contra o Cancer is running an awareness campaign in Mozambique featuring images drawn by artist Maisa Chaves of Wonder Woman, Catwoman, She-Hulk and Storm checking their breasts for lumps. [Daily Mail]
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Wonder Woman is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Judge Bao and the Jade Phoenix - A detective story set in ancient China. Plus: cool name.
Dicks #1 – Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s humor makes my top hat explode and my monocle fly off my face, but I remember this being pretty popular back in the day and I imagine that it’s new presentation in color and leading into a new storyline could make it popular again.
Ralph Wiggum Comics #1 – This, on the other hand, is exactly my kind of funny. Kind of like 30 Days of Night, I’m astonished no one’s thought of it before. Too bad it’s just a one-shot, but hearing that Sergio Aragones is one of the contributors makes me want to poke myself with my Viking helmet to see if I’m dreaming.
New York Comic Con picked up steam in its second day with announcements from Vertigo, Dark Horse, Marvel, IDW Publishing and Image, and the possibility of Sesame Street comics. Here are some of the highlights:
• Following in the footsteps of DC Comics: The New 52, most of Vertigo’s titles will be available digitally the same day as print.
• Geoff Johns announced that work is about to get under way on a Robot Chicken DC Comics special that will skewer the company’s superheroes in the same way that the show tackled Star Wars. The episode, written by Johns and MAD‘s Kevin Shinick, is set to air next summer.
• Confirming last-minute speculation, Ed Brubaker announced that he and frequent collaborator Sean Phillips (Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito) will release their next project through Image Comics. Called Fatale, the series blends noir elements with the supernatural world. “I’ve been wanting for a while to do something with a more supernatural element to it,” Brubaker told Comic Book Resources. “So Fatale mixes what we do and all the ways we’ve poked fun at the noir genre. If Incognito was us doing ‘What if Doc Savage, Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler had all existed in the same universe?’ then this is a weird combo of James M. Cain and Lovecraft. It’s got a real horror element to it — the first time I’ve really tried to do anything with horror — but it’s also got this really epic story to it.”
Dark Horse has made it official, announcing at New York Comic Con that Demo collaborators Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan are reteaming for an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian short story “Queen of the Black Coast.”
Often considered among the best Conan stories, the 1934 tale finds the Cimmerian taking to the high seas, where he joins up with the pirate queen Bêlit for an adventure marked with romance, terror, murder and madness.
Dark Horse teased the reunion of Wood and Cloonan two weeks ago with a vague convention schedule listing and a graphic that read simply “Brian & Becky & Dark & Horse.” The duo partnered on Channel Zero: Jennie One in 2003, which they followed with their breakout work Demo and the 2010 sequel Demo: Volume 2. They also collaborated last year on two issues of Wood’s Vertigo Viking series Northlanders.
Their run on Conan the Barbarian, described by the publisher as “a perfect jumping-on point for new readers,” begins Feb. 8.
In addition, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announced this morning that limited-edition prints of the above image, signed by Wood and Cloonan, are being sold for $50 this weekend at the CBLDF booth (#1158) to benefit the organization.