"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
The cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (which hit comics shops in the first week of June 1985) screamed, “This is it! Double-sized SHOCKER!” However, the ending had been spoiled about two months before, when DC Comics revealed this was when Supergirl would die. (The April 10, 1985, edition of USA Today also revealed the fates of the Earth-Two Superman and Lois Lane, seven months early.)
Usually I try to be somewhat coy about Crisis’ plot twists, as if I were coming to it for the first time. With this, however, there’s little use. By now everyone and their super-cat knows Supergirl dies in Crisis, and it was pretty much the same 30 years ago.
Therefore, the question is how well does Crisis’ brain trust sell Supergirl’s death? It’s harder than you might think. Issue 7 is certainly one of the maxiseries’ best single installments (and that’s not a backhanded compliment); but the fact is that Supergirl not only dies to save Superman, she tells him how great he is with her last breaths. It doesn’t get much more meta than that.
Sean Howe’s Tumblr is full of interesting supplementary material that work as visual erratta to his great book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. Now the author has highlighted a series of letters sent to the young Jim Lee (as recently posted by Lee to his Instagram account); they’re great, a fantastic lesson for any artist at the start of his or her career: keep trying, keep growing, keep submitting.
With the official debut today at Fan Expo Canada, Canada Post has revealed the designs for all five stamps in the series celebrating the 75th anniversary of Superman and the hero’s Toronto roots (co-creator Joe Shuster was born in the city, and the Toronto Daily Star building served as the model for the Daily Planet).
The stamps depict the Man of Steel in five eras, by five different artists: Superman #1 (1939), by Shuster; Superman #32 (1945), by Wayne Boring; Superman #233 (1971), by Neal Adams; Superman #204 (2004), by Jim Lee; and Superman Annual #1 (2012), by Kenneth Rocafort. They’re sold in sheets of 10, with the booklet covers featuring art by Shuster, Lee, Rocafort and Dick Giordano.
Although the stamps won’t be available until Sept. 10, people with Canadian addresses can pre=order them now on the Canada Post website.
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Joining us today is Gabriel Hardman, who is co-writing and drawing Star Wars: Legacy and co-writing Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm. He’s also the creator of Kinski, a new digital miniseries from Monkeybrain available now through Comixology.
Now let’s get to it …
After four installments, Comic Book Resources’ monthly “B&B” feature, in which DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase answered questions from readers and CBR’s Josie Campbell, is no more. Jerry Ordway’s work situation, and controversies generally, were apparently to blame. Of course, DC is free not to participate in such things, and CBR is likewise free to investigate such controversies on its own. Still, the whole thing only highlights the problems DC has had in connecting successfully with fans.
Now, it may be more accurate to say DC has had problems connecting successfully with fans who are vocal about their negative opinions of the company. For all I know, DC may be quite popular with whatever audience it has targeted. Regardless, despite its constant PR presence, today’s DC seems a lot more guarded than it has been; and I think that can only hurt it in the long run.
Ironically, part of the problem is the corporate-comics news cycle. Each week’s worth of DC books has a couple of promotional features, namely the “All Access” editorial and the new “Channel 52″ two-pager. Beyond that (and probably more frequently than once a week) the company issues press releases and facilitates interviews for various news sites. Furthermore, each month’s solicitations advertise what’s coming out at least two months in the future; and during convention season the company can manage its particular messages in person. That’s a lot of information for a company whose bread and butter come from a few dozen monthly 20-page story installments.
Every week, hard as it may be to believe, I try honestly to offer something I think might interest the larger group of DC Domics superhero readers. However, this week I am invoking a personal privilege. For one thing, with Halloween on a Wednesday (when I usually end up writing these essays), the holiday will more than likely take priority.
The main reason, though, is that today is my birthday, and as you might have guessed from the headline, this year is my 43rd birthday. Therefore, this week I have pulled together an especially memorable DC story and/or issue from each of those years, 1969 through 2012. (Note: They may not always line up with the actual year, but just for simplicity’s sake, all dates are cover dates.) These aren’t necessarily the best or most noteworthy stories of their particular years, but they’ve stuck with me. Besides, while I’ve read a lot of comics from a lot of sources, for whatever reason DC has been the constant. Maybe when I’m 50 I’ll have something more comprehensive.
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Retailing | Barnes & Noble, the largest book chain in the United States, lost $63 million in the first quarter, a vast decline from a $12-million profit it reported for the same period a year ago. The retailer pinned about $10 million in losses on its costly fight with billionaire investor Ronald Burkle, and warned that a proxy battle could push the company even further into the red. [Reuters, ICv2.com]
Passings | Paprika director Satoshi Kon, who began his career as a manga artist before moving into anime in 1995, died Tuesday from pancreatic cancer. He was 46. Kon made his directorial debut in 1997 with Perfect Blue, and went on to helm such critically acclaimed anime features as Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers and the aforementioned Paprika, as well as the television series Paranoia Agent. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Kai-Ming Cha looks at initial efforts by manga publishers to provide digital content as legal alternatives to scanlations. [Publishers Weekly]
Like clockwork, Comic-Con organizers have released the schedule for the third day of the convention, Saturday, July 24.
Below you’ll find highlights of the comics-related programming, ranging from movie panels for Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern and Marvel’s Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger to Joe Quesada’s traditional “Cup O’ Joe” and “Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour vs. The Fans.”
The full programming schedule for Saturday can be found here.
10 to 11 a.m. Spotlight on Carla Speed McNeil — Comic-Con special guest Carla Speed McNeil is best known for her creator-owned title Finder. A few years back, Carla took new stories of Finder to the Internet, and the result was an Eisner Award for best webcomic of 2008 and a new series of reprints from Dark Horse. Carla talks about her work and what’s next in this Spotlight panel. Room 3
10 to 11 a.m. The Black Panel 2010 — This year’s Black Panel will be one for the ages. The focus will be on empowerment, education, real-world networking, and finally but never last, fun. The panelists include entertainment attorney Darrel Miller, novelist Nnedi Okorafor, artist Denys Cowan and writer/producer/director Reggie Hudlin, with moderator Michael Davis. Once they answer life’s burning questions, they’ll chill with a salute and Q&A from the audience with actor/writer/director Bill Duke. As always, surprise guests who will rock your world. Room 5AB
10 to 11 a.m. Marvel Comics Writers Unite! — The third in Comic-Con’s series of “Year of the Writer/Comics Writers Unite!” panels focuses on Marvel Comics and includes Comic-Con special guests Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man), Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man, Thor) and Chris Claremont (X-Men Forever, X-Women) in a discussion with writer Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable). Room 6DE
Conventions | A Wizard World convention soon may be coming to your town. Wizard CEO Gareb Shamus has announced plans to double the number of shows in his company’s stable within the next year.
“We want to create an atmosphere that’s different than San Diego, one that has real access to the stars and is about celebrating these characters in many media, which includes Hollywood films but goes well beyond that,” Shamus told the Los Angeles Times. “San Diego has done a spectacular job. It took them 40 years to build it up to what it is. But there’s other ways of doing things, and people are responding to that. We have 12 shows that we started or bought, and next year we expect it to be 20 to 25. There’s a lot more coming.”
Wizard now has conventions in: Anaheim, California; Philadelphia; Chicago; Boston; New York City; Edison, New Jersey; Austin, Texas; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Atlanta; Toronto; and Nashville, Tennessee. Most of those are part of a recent, rapid expansion that involved the acquisition of small, local shows. [Los Angeles Times]
Politics | Ah, comics, the language of diplomacy. During his visit this week to the White House, French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave President Obama an 18th-century document accrediting Benjamin Franklin as ambassador to France and, for his daughters, a collection of Asterix graphic novels. [AFP]
Publishing | Rebellion Publishing, publisher of U.K. comics anthology 2000AD, will begin releasing U.S. editions of new and classic titles in graphic-novel format beginning in June with The Judge Dredd Complete Case Files and The Complete D.R. and Quinch. [PW Comics Week]
(Editor’s Note: Tom is on his way to San Francisco and WonderCon this week, so he turned his column in early … and as it relates to legendary artist and editor Dick Giordano, who passed away on Saturday, I thought it was appropriate to go ahead and post it today.)
By now you will undoubtedly have read any number of Dick Giordano obituaries, tributes and/or remembrances, most I’m sure speaking from a much more informed perspective than mine. I am only a fan, and specifically an admirer of his success across various areas of the comics business.
It was easy to spot Dick Giordano’s work, whether penciled or inked. He did not go in for much caricature or exaggeration, but there was invariably a twinkle in his characters’ eyes. (The exception, naturally, was Batman, whose cold white slits often burned menacingly against his black-inked mask.) As an inker, Giordano’s style came through clearly over other people’s pencils, but because it was inherently naturalistic it was never oppressive. Instead, he was a good complement to a wide range of artists, from the elegant lines of José Luis Garcia-Lopéz to the gritty expressionism of Denys Cowan. Of course, he was a fine penciller in his own right, with some 1450 stories to his credit.
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, our weekly look into the reading habits of your friendly neighborhood bloggers. As I mentioned on Wednesday, Chris Mautner has stepped back to concentrate on stuff like Comics College and won’t be doing What Are You Reading? anymore, so I’ll be playing the role of host every week.
Our guest this week is Raina Telgemeier, creator of the graphic novel Smile. She’s also worked on the Baby-sitters Club graphic novels, Flight, Bizarro World, X-Men: Misfits and Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery.
To see what Raina and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click on the link below …
News spread online this morning that artist and longtime DC Comics editor Dick Giordano has passed away, reportedly due to complications from pneumonia. He was 77. Giordano, who suffered from leukemia, recently had been hospitalized in Florida.
As an inker, Giordano is perhaps best remembered for his work with Neal Adams on Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow, with George Perez on Crisis on Infinite Earths, and with John Byrne on The Man of Steel and Action Comics. As managing editor and then vice president-executive editor, he helped to steer DC Comics through its 1980s heyday, when the company revitalized many of its decades-old characters.
“Few could ever hope to match what he accomplished in his chosen profession, or to excel while maintaining great humor, compassion for his peers and an unwavering love for the art form,” artist Bob Layton wrote in a widely circulated statement announcing Giordano’s death. “His unique vision changed the comic industry forever and all of those who work in the business continue to share in the benefits of his sizable contributions. I have been honored to call him a business partner, mentor and dear friend throughout the majority of my lifetime. We will not see his like again.”
Born on July 20, 1932, in New York City, Giordano began his career as a background inker for Jerry Iger’s studio before becoming a freelance artist in 1952 at Charlton Comics. By 1965 he’d risen to editor-in-chief of the company, where he fostered such new talents as Jim Aparo and Dennis O’Neil and oversaw the creation of characters like Blue Beetle and Captain Atom. Two years later he was hired as an editor by DC Comics Publisher Carmine Infantino, and left in 1971 to form Continuity Associates with Neal Adams.
Giordano returned to DC in 1980, initially serving as editor of the Batman line before being promoted to managing editor and then, in 1983, to vice president-executive editor, a position he held until his retirement from the company in 1993. After leaving the publisher, Giordano continued to occasionally pencil and ink — most notably, Modesty Blaise and The Phantom — and in 2002 co-founded the short-lived Future Comics with Layton and writer David Michelinie.
He is acknowledged as a mentor and inspiration to a generation of artists. Rob Liefeld hailed Giordano this morning as “the godfather of the modern inking style,” while Mike Gold praised his talents as an editor and artist as “nothing short of breathtaking.”
“Dick always defended creative freedom and aesthetic opportunity,” Gold wrote, “sometimes putting him heads-on with management powers, often representing not his own work but that of the editors in his charge, most certainly including myself, for which I will be forever grateful. He knew the good stuff when he saw it, he knew how to improve it, he knew how to incubate it.”
Marv Wolfman added: “Dick was way more than a good inker. He was an encouraging force in the industry who brought in new people and helped nurture them.”
Much of this Jimmy Palmiotti email interview happened right before Friday’s announcement that Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner are saying goodbye to Power Girl once they finish issue 12. I could have reworked many of the Power Girl questions, but I chose to keep the remainder of Power Girl questions intact, as there’s still a few issues of the run (the focus of the discussion) and Palmiotti (as he always does) gave some great answers. Any interview with Palmiotti has to include his and Gray’s continuing work on Jonah Hex, of course. Finally, Palmiotti often has some creator-owned work set to release, and this time around it’s his and Gray’s collaboration with artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo on Random Acts of Violence, a 72-page graphic novella (published by Image and set to be released on April 28, 2010). I always enjoy the chance to interview Jimmy, and this go around proved no different.
Tim O’Shea: Can you divulge some more details about Power Girl 12 — and from a writer’s standpoint, how enjoyable/bittersweet is it to get to this 12th (and final one for the team) issue, where you get to (as the solicits put it) “All the pieces of the puzzle come together…”? As a creative team did you accomplish a great deal of what you had wanted to do in the 12 issues?
Jimmy Palmiotti: We all knew that issue 12 was going to be Amanda’s last issue on the book for a while but we didn’t know just how much her work and Power Girl became one for us. As we got closer to the deadline to find another artist, Justin and I started really thinking about how it would be next to impossible to find a replacement and even if we did, how it would be difficult to write a book like this for someone else…so we just figured it was time to move on, be a real team and all of us leave the book for the next crew to take on. That said, we know who the new writer is, are excited about who it is and have fed them the scripts and even asked if there was anything we could do with the book to leave it in a place where they need it and so on. Fans of the title will be happy that the book does not skip a beat and will be pretty excited with what the title has in store. Leaving the book is a hard thing to do, especially since we gave it our heart and soul and Amanda , Paul and John put so much into each and every page … but at the same time we look back at the 12 issues and are really proud of the work we have done and how we built on to Power Girl’s legacy.
Let’s just say the last 3 issues are going to be remembered as the best in the run and we couldn’t be happier with all the support we have been given by our editors Brian and Mike and the rest of the D.C. crew. it was a dream gig on all levels. I don’t think I ever laughed as hard or had more fun on any title.
This Wednesday marks the return of Peter Krause to monthly comics as the artist on BOOM! Studios’ Irredeemable. The series is described by BOOM! as daring to “ask the question: what if the world’s greatest hero decided to become the world’s greatest villain? A ‘twilight of the superheroes’-style story that examines super-villains from the writer of KINGDOM COME and EMPIRE!” Many people, including myself, fondly remember Krause’s great run on the 1990s DC series, The Power of Shazam. My thanks to Krause for this email interview regarding his return to monthly fun, as well as BOOM!’s Chip Mosher for facilitating the interview.
Tim O’Shea: This marks the first ongoing title you’ve done since Power of Shazam–but you’ve been a busy and happily employed artist outside of comics all these years. How has your non-comics work served to help improve your artistic skills overall and are there certain chances you’re now willing to take–or visual experiments you want to try now that you never would have considered earlier in your career?
Peter Krause: Wow…what a great opening question. I suppose there are some chances I’d be willing to take, but I’m not sure if I can point to the non-comics work specifically as the reason. After a time, I think you get a bit more comfortable in your own skin, and you’re not chasing the artistic flavor of the month. You can be a bit more confident in the decisions you make.