INTERVIEW: DiDio & Lee on "Dark Knight 3," Vertigo's Future & DC's Evolving Readership
Dave Cockrum passed away in 2006, but his life’s work lives on in the minds of his fans and in the epic contributions to Marvel’s X-Men, DC Comics’ Legion of Super-Heroes, and elsewhere. And now, Aardwolf Publishing is looking to raise funds to release a never-before-seen chapter in Cockrum’s creator-owned series The Futurians, titled aptly enough, The Futurians Return.
Cockrum created The Futurians in the early 1980s following the success of the relaunched Uncanny X-Men, jumping into creator-owned with an inaugural volume published by Marvel before releasing another three issues through an upstart publisher. The series follows a group of superhumans whose powers come via a transmission from the future intended to help prevent a major disaster. Led by a hobo-turned-businessman Vandervecken (or alternately, the Dutchmen), the Futurians are assembled and quickly tasked with confronting the threats they were empowered to stop.
As the comics community continues to process the news of Joe Kubert’s death, everything else feels very secondary. One way of honoring the legendary artist and teacher is by appreciating his art, and the art of his peers. Steve Niles discovered this series of art jams featuring a Kubert Hawkman alongside Wendy Pini’s Elfquest characters, Neal Adams’ Conan, Dave Cockrum’s Human Torch, and others. The rest of the jams include characters drawn by C.C. Beck, John Romita, John Byrne, George Perez, Gray Morrow, Dave Sim, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Curt Swan, Jim Aparo, Milton Caniff, Hal Foster, Al Williamson, Chester Gould, and the list goes on and on.
I don’t know the history behind these pieces, but it occurs to me that many of these comics legends are still with us. In addition to saying our good-byes to Mr. Kubert and offering appreciations of his work, another great way to honor his legacy might be to reach out and express similar appreciation to living creators whose work we love.
Publishing | Despite the debut of DC Comics’ Flashpoint and the release of the second issue of Marvel’s Fear Itself — big summer events for both publishers — no comic sold more than 100,000 copies in the direct market in May. Fear Itself #2 led Diamond Comic Distributors’ list of Top 300 comics with an estimated 96,318 copies, a decline of some 32,000 copies from its first issue. But it’s the debut of Flashpoint in the No. 2 slot, with an estimated 86,981 copies, that ICv2 says “has to be considered disappointing.” However, the retail news and analysis website is quick to point out that several stores have indicated they sold out of their initial orders of the book, suggesting it may have been under-ordered by event-wary retailers. ICv2 also notes a 17.3 percent drop in the Top 300 comics before explaining the situation isn’t as grim as that figure may suggest. However, it cautions, the same can’t be said for the graphic novel category, which was down just 6.2 percent from May 2010 — a month in which no title sold more than 5,000 copies. John Jackson Miller has further analysis. [ICv2.com]
Creators | In a piece titled “Happy Father’s Day; Glad You’re Not Here,” Neal Kirby pays tribute to his father, the late Jack Kirby, in the process exposing some of the bitterness over the way the comics legend has been credited in recent movie adaptations: “If [you’re] unfamiliar with the comics industry, and just enjoy super-hero movies, you will notice my fathers’ name on some screen credits, usually buried at the end of the movie; sometimes, as in the recent Thor release, coming third after someone who had no hand in the characters’ creation other than being the editor-in-chief’s brother. Unfortunately, for the past several years, some in the comics industry who have had the benefit of longevity have used the opportunity to claim to be the sole creator of all of Marvels’ characters. Must be great to be the last man standing. It would seem that being backed by the public relations department of a large corporation buys access into the 24/7 news cycle.” [CO2 Comics Blog]
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is John Jackson Miller, writer of Star Wars: Knight Errant and Mass Effect comics for Dark Horse and various Star Wars prose novels. He’s also the curator of The Comics Chronicles research website. His next comics series, Star Wars: Knight Errant, Deluge, starts in August.
To see what John and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below.
Back in the 1970s Marvel Comics published a series starring one of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ seminal characters, John Carter, which featured the work of Marv Wolfman, Gil Kane, Dave Cockrum, Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson and many more great creators. John Carter, Warlord of Mars ran for 28 issues with three annuals, and next month Dark Horse will release a collection of the entire series.
You can find more info and a six-page preview featuring some sweet Gil Kane/Dave Cockrum art after the jump.
He’s one of the godfathers of alternative comics now, but Gary Groth was once a fanboy like any other. Well, that’s not quite true, as the future Fantagraphics publisher was always a lot more enterprising than most. The illustration above of Groth in the home of Nick Fury artist Jim Steranko comes from Groth’s Fantastic Fanzine #11, available for perusal and full download at Comic Attack. The issue dates back to 1970 and chock full of juicy Steranko interviews, Dave Cockrum illustrations, and drawings of shirtless barbarians of both genders. We’re a long way from Ghost World, but you’ve gotta start somewhere!
Back in the 1980s, before OGNs and trade paperbacks were as prominent as they are now, Marvel had an over-sized graphic novel series that did things like introduce the New Mutants, kill Captain Marvel and, on occasion, feature creator-owned work by the likes of Jim Starlin, Walt Simonson and Dave Cockrum, among others.
Once I discovered the joys of the comic shop, I made it my mission to buy up as many of Marvel’s graphic novels as I could, whether they featured Marvel’s characters or not. I remember Cockrum’s graphic novel, The Futurians, fondly; I of course was a fan of his work on X-Men, and the Futurians featured his incredible artwork coupled with a pretty cool story that begged to jump from the pages of that graphic novel into a regular series. Lodestone published a three issue mini-series, and a #0 issue was published by Aardwolf back in the 1990s. And now, some 25+ years after that first graphic novel, the Futurians return, courtesy of Clifford Meth, David Miller and Kickstarter.
Meth, who has been attempting to get the Futurians up on the big screen, talks about a new mini-series coming this summer on his blog:
First at bat is the new Avatar mini-series from David Miller Studios. This is the first time Cockrum’s “Andrew Pendragon” gets top billing. As David Miller explains, “Avatar returns to his English home for a family funeral and encounters an ancient evil from his past; an evil that could consume all of Great Britain.” Issue #1 features a cover by Greg Larocque, who was drawing DC’s Flash back when my buddy William Messner-Loebs was turning in the finest scripts that title ever saw ever (note the double use of the word ever). The incomparable Michael Netzer and inker Joe Rubinstien will be joining the series with issue #2.