Frank Miller is back behind this camera, this time for the director’s cut of the Sin City-inspired television commercial for the Gucci fragrance Gucci Guilty Black, starring Chris Evans and Evan Rachel Wood, with a cameo by the filmmaker himself.
Comics | Johan Palme talks to Nathan Hamelberg of The Betweenship Group about the continuing controversy over a Swedish library’s decision to re-shelve some Tintin comics because of racist caricatures and colonialist attitudes. The books were put back following an uproar, but the move has sparked a larger conversation, and it even has its own hashtag, #tintingate. [The Guardian]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald and the Publishers Weekly team (including Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson) post a comprehensive report on New York Comic Con, including debuts, new-title announcements, and a quick look at logistics. [Publishers Weekly Comics World]
Conventions | Dave Smith looks at one of the most vexing problems of New York Comic Con: the lack of decent wireless access, a situation troubling exhibitors and media alike. [International Business Times]
One of Frank Miller’s former employees is suing for discrimination and mental anguish, claiming she was repeatedly mistreated by the comic creator’s girlfriend Kimberly Cox.
The New York Post reports that Joanna Gallardo-Mills, who was hired as Miller’s executive coordinator in November 2008, accuses Cox of verbal abuse, smearing her work area with feces, throwing phones at her, using a hammer to destroy her printer, and leaving dirty underwear and a “used menstrual pad” by her desk.
Gallardo-Mills says that after she complained, Miller agreed to allow her to work from home. However, she asserts that her complaints ultimately cost her the job.
Cox, who had a small role in Miller’s 2008 adaptation of The Spirit, told the newspaper she’s “shocked” by the lawsuit, as Gallardo-Mills “was offered a very heavy settlement and declined.”
Before a shocked country, let alone investigators, can begin to get a grasp on what led 24-year-old James Holmes to open fire during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing at least 12 and wounding dozens more, at least one newspaper writer is willing to take a wild guess: a comic book. Specifically, Frank Miller’s landmark 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns.
Under the headline, “Was the Batman shooting movie shooting imitated from scene in 1986 comic?,” The Washington Examiner’s Sean Higgins claims the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, “bears eerie similarities” to the scene in which “a crazed, gun-toting loner walks into a movie theater and begins shooting it up, killing three in the process.”
In an effort to bolster his shaky, if not downright groundless hypothesis, Higgins points out that The Dark Knight Returns served “a key inspiration” for director Christopher Nolan’s big-screen trilogy. (Why stop there, though? Coupled with Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Year One,” the miniseries has influenced virtually every depiction of Batman over the past quarter-century.)
“Sadly, the lesson that was gained from these books was not that comics didn’t need to be hacked-out, disposable, interchangeable stories but could be well written and relevant. Instead what happened was every superhero comic, whether it lent itself to the transformation, or not, was made grim and gritty, which meant more violence, more sex. more trying to fit the superhero world into the real world.”
– John Rozum, putting the Grim and Gritty Era into historical context.
Recently, an off-hand tweet by Kurt Busiek brought something interesting to mind. First, the tweet: “There are SUPERMAN BY GARCIA-LOPEZ and BATMAN BY ARCHIE GOODWIN hardcovers coming. Life is good.”
The two books he’s talking about are Adventures of Superman: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Tales of the Batman: Archie Goodwin, both hardcovers and both scheduled for release in April. It’s interesting because, by and large, DC Comics hasn’t released a lot of books focusing on a creator. Sure, the publisher has made exceptions for Alan Moore (DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore), Jack Kirby (Jack Kirby Omnibus) and Geoff Johns (The Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus), but seeing it done for creators like Goodwin and Garcia-Lopez feels different somehow. While Goodwin was a positively epic force during his time in comics, he’s not exactly a household name in the modern parlance of comics fans (unfortunately), and Garcia-Lopez was an artist, not a writer like all of those listed above. DC, and comics in general, has shown itself to be very writer-centric in terms of the attribution of works, so for me this is a breakthrough — or at least a crack in the wall.
Spurred on by these ideas, I’m beginning to think of what else, and who else, DC could capitalize on with its massive library of work created in the past 78 years. Here are some ideas:
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d walk out of the comic store with one book this week Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me (Image, $14.99). I fell off this book after the first issue, preferring to read in trades, and now that time has come. I’m looking forward to being surprised at what Brubaker and Phillips have done in this first arc as the debut issue was very promising.
If I had $30, I’d load up at Image with Manhattan Projects #4 (Image, $3.50), Prophet #26 (Image, $2.99) and Hell Yeah #4 (Image, $2.99). Prophet is becoming my favorite Image book because it unites my comic heroes of childhood (Prophet!) and one of the top cartoonists out there (Brandon Graham) with a surprising introduction of BD-style science fiction. Hell Yeah is a fun romp reimagining the staples of ’80s and ’90s comics as if John Hughes were the eighth Image founder. Last up I’d get Wolverine and the X-Men #12 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series would get derailed by Avengers Vs. X-Men, but Aaron and Co. have managed to keep it on point as best as conceivably possible. It’s an ideal opening to bring Rachel Summers to the forefront, and the smirking Kid Gladiator on the cover is full of win.
If I could splurge, I’d get Michel Rabagliati’s Song of Roland hardcover (Conundrum Press, $20). I’ll always admire Free Comic Book Day, because it was there that a little Drawn and Quarterly one-shot introduced me to Rabagliati’s work. I’m surprised to see this new volume of his work not published by D&Q, instead published by Canadian house Conundrum. Anyway, this book appears to deal with the death of the father-in-law of the lead character, Paul. It’s been extremely engaging to see Paul grow through the series, and having him deal with events like this as I myself grow up and experience similar events is really touching.
The greatest comics of all time don’t appear on bestseller charts or canon lists or big-box bookstore shelves. They are the property of the back issue bins and thrift store crates and convention hawkers of America, living like the medium itself in the unseen crags and pockets of publishing history…
Daredevil #220, composed and drawn by David Mazzucchelli, colored by Christie Scheele, scripted by Denny O’Neil, with unspecified assistance by Frank Miller. Cover-dated July 1985. Published by Marvel Comics Group.
How acquired: In a back-issue sale at the worst/best comic book shop in the Los Angeles area. You know the type of place: dust everywhere, smell of Indian food, way too hot, full boxes of X-Force #1 from the early ’90s blocking the shelves in the back. The type of place where when they have a half-off bin blowout you can grab all the David Mazzucchelli Daredevil issues for a flat fee, and get them to let the ones that aren’t in the bins (like this one) go for half price too, provided you’re willing to sell them your heavily dented copy of Absolute Watchmen.
A couple of weeks ago, I wondered whether we could trace the entire sidekick-derived wing of DC’s superhero-comics history back to Bill Finger. Today I’m less interested in revisiting that question — although I will say Robin the Boy Wonder also owes a good bit to Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane — than using it as an example.
Specifically, this week’s question has nagged me for several years (going back to my TrekBBS days, even), and it is this: as between Alan Moore and the duo of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, who has been a bigger influence on DC’s superhero books?
As the post title suggests, we might reframe this as “who won the ‘80s,” since all three men came to prominence at DC in that decade. Wolfman and Pérez’s New Teen Titans kicked off with a 16-page story in DC Comics Presents #26 (cover-dated October 1980), with the series’ first issue following the next month. Moore’s run on (Saga of the) Swamp Thing started with January 1984′s issue #20, although the real meat of his work started with the seminal issue #21. Wolfman and Pérez’s Titans collaboration lasted a little over four years, through February 1985′s Tales of the Teen Titans #50 and New Teen Titans vol. 2 #5. Moore wrote Swamp Thing through September 1987′s #64, and along the way found time in 1986-87 for a little-remembered twelve-issue series called Watchmen. After their final Titans issues, Wolfman and Pérez also produced a 12-issue niche-appeal series of their own, 1984-85′s Crisis On Infinite Earths.* The trio even had some common denominators: Len Wein edited both Titans and Watchmen (and Barbara Randall eventually succeeded him on both), and Gar Logan’s adopted dad Steve Dayton was friends with John Constantine.
Comic strips | Cartoonist Tom Batiuk, whose Funky Winkerbean has addressed such topics as teen pregnancy, land mines and capital punishment, will next turn his attention to gay rights in a storyline about a gay couple that wants to attend the prom at the comic strip’s fictional fictional Westview High School. “It struck me that whenever I sit in classes at Midview High, which I still do, my overall impression is that the younger generation’s attitudes toward gays is more open and accepting than their predecessors,” Batiuk said. “It’s not perfect, but it shows promise for an emerging generation that will bring this issue (intolerance) to an end. I wanted to take those two opposing viewpoints to reach across that divide of intolerance.” The month-long storyline begins April 30. Funky Winkerbean appears in more than 400 newspapers nationwide. [The Chronicle-Telegram]
Conventions | The hotel reservation system for Comic-Con International in San Diego will open Thursday at 9 a.m. PT, as the yearly mad dash for discounted hotel rates begins. CCI has posted a list of hotels, and if you’re willing to stay in Mission Valley, you can book a room early. The process will be the same as last year — select up to 20 hotels where you’d be willing to stay, and you’ll get a confirmation email no later than April 1. You can leave your April Fool’s jokes in the comments below. Also of note this year, shuttles to and from hotels will run 24 hours a day during the show, beginning at 5 a.m. Thursday. [CCI]
Editorial cartoons | Michael Cavna rounds up nine editorial cartoons commenting on the killing of Florida teenager Tryavon Martin. [The Washington Post]
Although DC Comics’ new printing of the Batman: Year One Deluxe Edition doesn’t arrive in stores until next week, the 144-page hardcover already has drawn sharp criticism — from artist David Mazzucchelli himself.
“DC just sent me this book last week, and I really hope people don’t buy it,” he told The Comics Journal‘s Dan Nadel. “I didn’t even know they were making it, and I don’t understand why they thought it was necessary — several years ago, DC asked me if I’d help put together a deluxe edition of Batman: Year One, and Dale Crain and I worked for months to try to make a definitive version. Now whoever’s in charge has thrown all that work in the garbage. First, they redesigned the cover, and recolored my artwork — probably to look more like their little DVD that came out last year; second, they printed the book on shiny paper, which was never a part of the original design, all the way back to the first hardcover in 1988; third — and worst — they printed the color from corrupted, out-of-focus digital files, completely obscuring all of Richmond’s hand-painted work. Anybody who’s already paid for this should send it back to DC and demand a refund.”
Mazzucchelli, who collaborated with Frank Miller on the seminal 1987 storyline, said he’s sent letters and emails complaining to DC executives but has received no response. The new printing, which includes new introductions by Mazzucchelli and Miller, goes on sale March 14.
More than nine months after an original splash page from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns sold for a record $448,125, Heritage Auctions is offering two more original pieces of Frank Miller art, expected to bring in more than $50,000 each.
Consigned by Miller himself, the pieces are the cover to 2006′s Absolute Dark Knight and the frontispiece from the 1997 10th-anniversary edition of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
“It took me years to define, in my own mind, Batman as less a creature of vengeance than of vigor,” Miller said of the Absolute Dark Knight cover. “This piece is one of my personal favorites. To me, it sums the man up.” And on the Batman and Robin splash: “Like any hero, Batman is complex. Here we see him as a father figure, instructing one of my favorite creations, dear Carrie Kelly.”
The two pieces will be auctioned Feb. 23 by Heritage, which notes that while Miller worked with inker Klaus Janson and colorist Lynn Varley on The Dark Knight Returns, “these images are rare examples of 100 percent Frank Miller pencils and inks on his most popular character.”
With so much being reported about Alan Moore’s connections to the Occupy movement — through his endorsement of its ideals, his contribution to Occupy Comics, and protesters’ co-opting of the David Lloyd-designed Guy Fawkes masks — U.K.’s Channel 4 News coaxed the V for Vendetta writer from his home in Northampton to London to meet some of the demonstrators for the first time.
“It’s a bit surprising when some of the characters you thought you made up suddenly seem to escape into ordinary reality,” Moore told some disguised protesters. “I mean, what is it about the mask — is it just useful, or what?”
The report also delves into Frank Miller’s criticism of the Occupy movement, Moore’s displeasure with film adaptations of his works and, yes, the irony that each Guy Fawkes mask that protesters buy puts more money into the coffers of Time Warner, one of the world’s largest media conglomerates.
Perhaps the most disturbing scene in Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (also known as DK2; Miller and Varley 2001-2002) is where Batman attacks the corporate leaders of the United States government, giving the word “terrorism” a new meaning. The Anarcho-terrorist superhero’s assault is directed against “the real monsters” (page 53, panel 1), the corrupt powers-that-be that rule behind a virtual president….In “late capitalism”, the virtual transactions of financial speculators determine the entire economy of countries, the “democratic” political system of their governments and, of course, the real life of their citizens. We should ask ourselves if the world we inhabit now is so different from the virtual United States ruled by the computer-generated president Miller imagined.
—The Comics Grid’s Pepo Pérez wonders if Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again was prophetic (in a way Miller himself probably wouldn’t approve of today). Personally, I think it’s a stretch to compare the real America to Batman’s America. I mean, one has a glossy, shiny surface built on human suffering, as citizens participate in a sham democracy treated like a sporting event by blathering talking-head news-media figures, while corporations engaged in criminal conspiracies for which they suffer no lasting legal consequences loot the world with impunity behind the scenes. The other has Batman in it.