INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Never one to shy away from politics or controversy, Erik Larsen will bring Osama bin Laden back from the dead as an irradiated giant green monster in October’s Savage Dragon #177.
It seems that after the body of the al-Qaida founder was dropped into the ocean from the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, it came into contact with radiation, bringing the terrorist to life and transforming him into a literal monster — Godzilla-like, even — hellbent on destroying America. Unless Dragon’s children Malcolm and Angel can stop him.
“Radiation is the cure-all. You get some of that stuff and life is good. In the real world, you get diarrhea and your hair falls out. But in comics — boom! — you’re brought right back to life,” Larsen tells USA Today. “”There’s not really going to be anybody going, ‘Whoa, don’t hit him!’ He’s kind of a (jerk), let’s throw that out there.”
Savage Dragon has famously featured appearances by Hitler, former presidents George W. Bush and George Bush, candidate Barack Obama, President Obama, and even God and the Devil. But is five months a little too soon to bring back bin Laden? Larsen fully expects some criticism.
“It’s not like this is ancient history and we’re looking at pictures and most of the people are dead and gone,” he tells the newspaper. “This guy did evil crap recently.”
Publishing | Marvel’s Fear Itself #1 topped Diamond Comic Distributors’ April charts with an estimated 128,595 copies, the highest monthly sales for a comic since X-Men #1 surpassed 140,000 copies nine months ago. Retail news and analysis site ICv2 sees the strong debut of that crossover and the performance of DC’s Flashpoint prequels as signs “that this summer’s big events may be able to reverse the downward sales trend in the first quarter of 2011.”
Retailing | The bankrupt Borders Group reportedly has been unable to find a buyer for its entire business, which could signal the end of the second-largest book chain in the United States. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in February, and is closing about one-third of its locations. [Detroit Free Press]
After a stellar run as the back-up story in Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon, the Michel Fiffe-edited series Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies is making its way toward the bookshelf with a collection that boasts some amazing extras.
The collected Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies is scheduled to hit this July as an over-sized 144 page book, collecting all 12 back-up stories as well as some new material from the likes of Tom Scioli, Jim Rugg, Jasen Lex, Paul Maybury, Zack Soto and others.
If you missed it in singles, this collection is worth a flip through. You have to admire Larsen’s agreeance to allow Fiffe and his team of creators to do this liberal a take on his characters. It really allows each of them to play to their strengths, and wish more creator-owned cartoonists would consider giving over the reins of their characters like this.
Many who have been following this blog know I’m a fan of both Image’s Skullkickers and Oni’s The Sixth Gun. So when I saw that the two creator-owned books were having a mini-crossover of sorts — or, to be more specific, an ad swap — I thought it might be fun to see if Skullkickers writer Jim “Zub” Zubkavich and The Sixth Gun‘ writer Cullen Bunn might be up for interviewing each other.
So the duo hit Skype and had a long conversation that covered many different topics — how they pitched their books, their writing process, how they work with their artists, finding time to write and much more. My thanks to both Cullen and Jim for doing this, with an extra tip of the hat to Jim for transcribing it. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second part of the interview.
Zub: So, let’s start right off with the big news. Did I hear correctly that you’re now writing full time? You quit your day job?
Cullen: I did. This is my third week as a full-time writer.
Zub: Awesome. What were you doing before that?
Every crappy submission can “see print” on the web–every reprint book that would sell three copies in print would work on the web. The web is the great equalizer. Every crappy thing can get tossed up there. If it all went digital nothing separates a pro from an amateur. Print is far more discriminating. There are fixed costs which can’t be ignored for long. It’s not the wild west like the Internet is. That’s why the web doesn’t excite me a whole lot. Every nitwit can put stickmen telling fart jokes up–there’s nothing special about it.
Stickmen telling fart jokes is Watchmen as far as the internet is concerned, @BizzaroHendrix.
I mean–there’s things on the internet that people are willing to read but they would never pay for–and those are the success stories.
It’s an entirely different level though, @NoCashComics– even the worst pro comics have a modicum of professional standards.
I’m not saying everything on the net is bad–no need to take offense, @tsujigo @BizzaroHendrix just that there is no filter.
I disagree and I don’t disagree, @IanBoothby — how’s that for being agreeable? There are plenty of groundbreaking things in print as well.
I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the best online work is on par with good pro comics but the worst is far worse. I don’t think there is a web only comic that’s as good as Watchmen or Dark Knight. Correct me if I’m wrong. There are certainly web comics that are good for a laugh–and better than what’s in the Sunday Funnies–but not at a Watchmen level–yet.
Point being–anybody can do a web comic. There’s nothing preventing a completely incompetent idiot from doing it, @215Ink.
No. Nothing promising falls through the cracks, @drawnunder if you can’t get your proposed book in print somewhere–your book sucks.
–Savage Dragon creator and Image Comics co-founder Erik Larsen bemoans webcomics’ lack of the quality control inherent in the cost-prohibitive economics of print publishing. (Quotes from Twitter edited slightly for clarity.) Yes, if only webcomics had the high standards on display in any given issue of Previews. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go scour eBay for that Dart miniseries…
In all seriousness, Larsen’s right — there are obviously virtually no barriers to publishing comics online. So what? With the advent of easy blogging platforms, there are no barriers to publishing your opinion writing. With cheap digital cameras and YouTube, there are no barriers to making and distributing short movies. GarageBand turned any computer into a halfway decent home recording studio. And on and on and on. Isn’t this, y’know, awesome? On the flip side, is there really any reason to believe that money provides for quality control? All that the expenses of printing do is raise the barrier from “any completely incompetent idiot” to “any completely incompetent idiot with a little cash.” I’m not one for Internet triumphalism, but it seems awfully churlish — and odd, for an artist and publisher — to greet the Internet’s enormous boon to speech and self-expression in this way, quite aside from the question of whether he’s accurately characterizing webcomics to begin with.
Legal | A Rochester, N.Y., businessman and the three men he allegedly hired to steal $40,000 worth of comics have been indicted on federal murder charges in connection with the death last summer of an elderly collector.
Authorities allege that Rico Vendetti hired Rochester residents Arlene Combs, Albert Parsons and Donald Griffin to break into the rural Medina home of Homer Marciniak, a 77-year-old retired janitor, on July 5 to steal his comic collection, described as “his pride and joy.” Police say the burglars entered the house in the pre-dawn hours after cutting the telephone line. When Marciniak awoke and surprised them, he was allegedly beaten and knocked to the floor. Although his injuries weren’t life-threatening, Marciniak died of a heart attack later that day. The four defendants face mandatory terms of life in prison if convicted. [The Buffalo News]
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where we talk about what comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately.
Today’s special guest is Joe Keatinge, writer and co-creator of the upcoming Image comic Brutal with Frank Cho. He’s also the writer of the final “Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies” installment in April’s Savage Dragon #171, drawn by Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen, Billy Dogma’s Dean Haspiel, Nikolai Dante’s Simon Fraser, Parade (With Fireworks)’s Mike Cavallaro, The Transmigration of Ultra Lad’s Joe Infurnari, Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation’s Tim Hamilton and Olympians’ George O’Connor. He’s also executive editor of the PopGun anthology, he’s got an ongoing series coming soon that he can’t say anything else about and with his fellow studio members at Tranquility Base, regularly beats up on 13 year olds at laser tag.
To see what Joe and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
“Fun fact! NINE of the TOP TEN graphic novels in 2010 were creator-owned books! Walking Dead, Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim among them.”
–Savage Dragon cartoonist Erik Larsen, speaking the truth. Of course, the flip side of this is that NINE of the TOP TEN graphic novels in 2010 had major Hollywood properties to thank for much of their notoriety, Walking Dead, Kick-Ass, and Scott Pilgrim among them. (The tenth was a Superman book that got over with mass audiences largely on the strength of a fortuitous press comparison to Twilight.) I don’t mean to short-change the success of Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, Mark Millar, John Romita Jr., and Bryan Lee O’Malley, but proponents of creator ownership and creators’ rights probably ought not break out the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner just yet.
The news broke yesterday that Axel Alonso will take over as editor-in-chief of Marvel Entertainment, following Joe Quesada’s shift in focus to Marvel’s multimedia initiatives. Here’s a few reactions over the last couple days from various folks around the industry:
Tom Spurgeon: “I don’t know Alonso at all, not even a little bit, but he strikes me as a comics-first guy in a period in comics history where Marvel as a publishing company could use every bit of close attention that comes with having a savvy, comics-first guy in that position. That’s not in any way implied commentary on Joe Quesada, I swear. I’m comparing Alonso to other people that might hold that position in this day and age, not to his predecessor. Quesada’s run would have to be termed a big success. Moreover, he leaves that historical position I believe still generally well-liked and certainly widely admired, which is sort of astonishing given the decisions that job calls for over time.”
Tom Brevoort: “This is Axel’s moment. He shouldn’t have to share the spotlight. He well deserves it.”
Jason Aaron: “My bold prediction: the Axel Alonso era at Marvel will be just as exciting and groundbreaking as the Joe Q one, only with more cursing.”
In the days following last week’s ruling in the long-running copyright dispute between Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman, we heard from Gaiman, countless fans on both sides, and an Image Comics founder. However, we didn’t get comment from McFarlane — that is, until last night.
“Neil Gaiman has the absolute right to defend his position,” he wrote on Twitter. “That’s one of the great privileges we all have in this country.”
That’s it; just two sentences. That’s in stark contrast to Erik Larsen, who has tweeted on the subject more than 50 times since early Monday. His flurry of comments, which were largely critical of Gaiman, drew a few replies from the writer.
“Waves. Hi Erik,” Gaiman tweeted last night. “When Todd comes out of bankruptcy you owe me $40,000. […] Of course @erikjlarsen is grumpy over me winning again. He ran Image when the 1st round of the case gave me a $40,000 judgment against them. Last time @erikjlarsen blamed the loss not on Todd breaking the law, but on a female jury (& now on a female judge?) http://bit.ly/cbrs8i.”
This morning, Larsen fired back at Gaiman’s initial tweet with, “what did *I* ever do to you? Seriously. What was it that *I* personally did to you which would warrant such a thing?” Minutes later, he added: “How did you ever come up with Spawn on a horse, @neilhimself?”
When one Twitter follower, Brandon Fox, replied, “Dude, a judge, a jury, & the court of public opinion ALL believe @neilhimself deserves a portion of a characters he CO-created,” Larsen answered: “and a jury decided OJ Simpson didn’t kill his wife. What’s your point?”
“The Neil Gaiman thing perplexes me because it seems so unfair. The characters he created were clearly derivative of the ones Todd created. How anybody can look at Medieval Spawn and side with Neil just shows their bias against Todd. It’s Spawn on a horse, for cryin’ out loud! Everything Neil created was derived from Todd’s creations and all of it was designed by Todd. Claiming ownership just seems really unfair. Now Todd is forced to have people sign work-for-hire contracts. It’s sad — but that’s the price we all have to pay.”
– Image Comics partner Erik Larsen, on last week’s ruling that Todd McFarlane
owes Neil Gaiman a share of profits from the derivative characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany
DC had Bizarro Comics, Marvel had Strange Tales, and now Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon has secured an alternative comics-style tribute of his very own. Starting with May’s Issue 160, Savage Dragon will run a series of “Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies” back-up strips by an array of indie cartoonists. The project is spearheaded by Act-I-Vate‘s Michel Fiffe, and the full line-up for the first year or so — including Vito Delsante and Rachel Freire, Hyeondo Park, Andrew Dimitt and more — can be found on the blog of contributor Chris Sinderson.
Fiffe’s press release is below:
Wow, newspaper nostalgia is quite the hot ticket for comics these days, huh?
First there was Kramers Ergot 7, Sammy Harkham and Alvin Buenaventura’s avant-garde anthology, printed at a massive size meant to emulate Winsor McKay’s full-page Little Nemo in Slumberland newspaper strips. Then there was Wednesday Comics, DC’s 12-issue anthology title, published on fold-out newsprint. And now there’s the San Francisco Panorama, a one-time-only “21st-century newspaper prototype” that doubles as the 33rd issue of author/publisher Dave Eggers’ McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.
Boasting 320 pages of original content, the broadsheet-format Panorama contains full-color comics from Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Seth, Jessica Abel, Adrian Tomine, Kim Deitch, Ivan Brunetti, Gene Yang, Alison Bechdel, Erik Larsen (still can’t get over that) and more. It also features prose contributions of varying stripes from such comics-relevant authors as Michael Chabon, Chip Kidd, Stephen King, Junot Díaz and Michelle Tea, and a poster of the 49ers’ Patrick Willis drawn by Wonton Soup‘s James Stokoe. And there’s all the other stuff you’d expect from a newspaper — journalism, sports, features, a magazine, a book section and more. Only, y’know, all fancy-pants.
The New York Times reports that the paper has already sold through the limited run made available for sale on the San Francisco streets yesterday at the low price of $5, but it’s still available (or will be soon, that is) at the full $16 pricetag at bookstores and at the McSweeney’s site. Click here for an extensive preview.
(Times link via Pop Candy.)
Image Comics will be out in full force at the con, with several panels and a huge list of folks who will be signing all weekend — everyone from Mike Allred to Christopher Yost.
The biggest event on their schedule is a special signing event with everyone involved in their upcoming Image United book: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio and Jim Valentino.
Find their full press release and schedules after the jump