Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Creators | In an interview to be published in Japan next Friday, Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto says he plans to spend some time with his wife and child, and take a long-delayed honeymoon, before starting his next series. And as he is about to turn 40, he hints that he may not be up for another weekly series. [Anime News Network]
Comic strips | The first color Sunday funnies appeared on Nov. 18, 1894, in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. David Shedden observes the 120th anniversary of this innovation with a look back at some popular comic strips and footage of New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia reading the funnies over the radio during the newspaper strike of 1945. [Poynter]
Sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison has been hospitalized following a stroke late last week that left him paralyzed on his right side. However, according to multiple sources — including Patton Oswalt, Clifford Meth and Mark Evanier — the 80-year-old author remains as sharp, and as sharp-tongued, as ever.
Ellison’s wife Susan broke the news Sunday on his website in a brief announcement that’s been followed by updates and reassurances there and elsewhere from friends who’ve spoken to or visited with him.
“I was with him the day before yesterday when the specialist who checks verbal and memory impact was there, and it was like an SNL skit,” screenwriter Josh Olson wrote Sunday evening. “She’s checking for slurring and loss of memory, and he’s being quintessential Harlan — talking a mile a minute, and throwing out more obscure references per minute than anyone can possibly keep up with. (He did, at one point, forget the name of an actor with a wooden leg who played a supporting part on one of his favorite radio shows back in the forties, but last time I talked to him, he couldn’t remember the name of the key grip on Passage to Marseilles, so it’s probably safe to say that’s nothing to worry about. ) I can’t say he’s fine, because he’s had a stroke … but he’s as well as well can be under the circumstances, and had all of the nurses laughing. And he complained a lot. So, you know … Harlan.”
What’s this? DC Digital Editor Jim Chadwick doubling down on the delayed debut of television’s Two-Face? An unproduced script from the immortal Harlan Ellison to be adapted for the Batman ’66 digital-first series?
That was the word from the DC Digital panel at this year’s Comic-Con. Not to be outdone by IDW’s adaptation of Ellison’s original “City on the Edge of Forever” script, writer Len Wein, penciller Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and inker Joe Prado are bringing Two-Face into the Batman ’66 world.
The biggest comics news Thursday out of Comic-Con International was undoubtedly that, after years of debate, comiXology has introduced DRM-free backups of titles purchased from its storefront, with Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, Top Shelf Productions and Zenescope Entertainment signing on to the program.
An email went out last night notifying customers that books they’ve purchased can be downloaded and stored as PDF or CBZ files, and pointing them to an FAQ on the subject.
“This has been an oft-requested feature,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said during the company’s Comic-Con panel. “It’s a real backup file — it’s a fairly plain PDF or CBZ. They are high resolution, not a lot of bells and whistles, and my feeling is that people will continue to use the cloud-based reader to do their reading.”
The other big announcement was that Marvel will publish Avengers: Age of Ultron, an in-continuity graphic novel by the Uncanny X-Force team of Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña and Dean White scheduled to arrive in April 2015, ahead of the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Aw yeah! In my household, the best news from DC’s June solicitations is the six-issue Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse miniseries. I showed the cover to my 5-year-old and she was crestfallen to learn it didn’t come out for another three months. At least she can fill the time reading the other paperbacks (and Superman Family Adventures) and watching Frozen on an endless loop.
I may also have to get the Li’l Gotham figures, although at $13 a pop they are pretty pricey. Perhaps just Batman and Robin.
Oh, there’s more? What could it be …?
LET’S GO PLACES
The solicitation for Futures End #6 — advertising Ray Palmer, Frankenstein and Amethyst’s trip into the Phantom Zone — makes me irrationally optimistic about the series generally. I think the New 52 needs this series (or something like it) to present a coherent shared universe, because for the past two and a half years it’s been a clash of disparate styles and an array of changes without much to pull it all together. If Futures End can manage a good-sized, eclectic cast, and convince readers they’re all able to function in the same basic environment, that’ll go a long way towards giving the superhero books common ground.
Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay for the acclaimed 1967 Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever,” which was rewritten before filming began, will be adapted in a miniseries debuting in June from IDW Publishing.
“Presenting Harlan Ellison’s brilliant original script for ‘City on the Edge…’ has been a goal of ours since IDW first began publishing Star Trek comics in 2007,” IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall said in a statement. “The episode justifies its position atop ‘best Star Trek episodes’ lists but even it ain’t nuthin’ compared to what Ellison did in his original teleplay. This is truly going to be a Star Trek adventure unlike any other, even to fans who have that beloved episode memorized.”
The five-issue Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay is adapted by writers Scott Tipton and David Tipton and artist J.K. Woodward, with regular covers by Juan Ortiz and variants by Paul Shipper.
“The City on the Edge of Forever” follows Kirk and Spock as the pursue a temporarily delusional McCoy through an ancient time portal, where they end up in 1930s New York City. There they must not only rescue their friend but save their own future, which has been changed by McCoy’s actions in the past. The episode won the 1968 Hugo Award for best dramatic presentation.
“It was a superlative joy of my long life to have worked with Leonard Nimoy, who became my friend, and many others at Star Trek,” Ellison said, “and an equally heart-happy joy to be working with J.K. and the Tipton Bros. and Chris Ryall on this long-awaited visual of my (humbly, I say it) brilliant original ‘City…'”
In addition to guest appearances by Stan Lee and Harlan Ellison, Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons will also feature a tribute to anime legend Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his retirement from filmmaking in September, only to return his attention to manga.
The hallucinatory sequence, which you can watch below, features Homer and a salaryman stumbling through the streets after a night of drinking, and encounter a veritable parade of nods to Miyazaki’s classics, from Otto as Catbus to Patty and Selma flying on broomsticks to a moving Kwik-E-Mart.
In case you don’t recognize all of the references, Salon.com has put together a video that annotates most of them (also below).
The Simpsons airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons, “Married to the Blob,” not only spotlights a blossoming relationship between Comic Book Guy and a manga creator (which naturally threatens to be ruined by Homer), but also features guest appearances by Stan Lee and Harlan Ellison.
The Hollywood Reporter has debuted a featurette that goes behind the scenes with the two legends; it’s Lee’s second visit to Springfield, but for Ellison, it’s a new experience.
“I was here 12 years ago,” explains Lee, who plays himself as a Watcher-type character, “and I think I impressed them so that after 12 years they figured they had to have me back.”
Lee previously appeared in the 13th-season episode “I Am Furious (Yellow).” The Simpsons airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
This tidbit seems perfectly timed, considering both the success of DC Comics’ digital-first Batman ’66, and Tom Bondurant’s recent column about DC-inspired movies and television series that should make their way to comics: Author and screenwriter Harlan Ellison wrote a (fittingly) two-part Two-Face story for the classic Batman TV show that, alas, was never produced.
Neil Gaiman discovered that detail over the weekend — “WHY IS THIS NOT NEWS?” he tweeted — in the description for the fifth volume of Harlan Ellison’s Brain Movies, a series that collects his original teleplays.
The listing reads: “SEE ELLISON’S FIRST ADVENTURE WITH THE CAPED CRUSADER: Though Harlan’s written numerous comic book scripts for the Dark Knight, his first slide down the Bat-Pole was in 1966 when he pitched an episode to ABC’s Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Tragically—for reasons explained in the editor’s notes—’The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face’ treatment was never produced, but now you can read what the Unrepentant Harlequin had in mind for the Dynamic Duo and their Bifurcated Foe.”
Bestselling novelist and comics writer Neil Gaiman took over the Guardian Books site today — “Even as I write this the power is starting to go to my head,” he cautions in his introduction — and delivered precisely the kind of content you would expect: There’s a gallery of artwork by his longtime collaborator Dave McKean; Damian Walter’s Q&A with Harlan Ellison; an excerpt from Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane; an invitation for readers to write a story with the author (he provided the opening, “It wasn’t just the murder, he decided. Everything else seemed to have conspired to ruin his day as well. Even the cat.”); and a webchat.
So this is what happens when you praise Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern run …
Let’s be clear: I do not generally have violent mood swings. My sense of well-being does not depend on the fortunes of DC Comics. I don’t pretend to have any special insight into the publisher’s inner workings, and I’m sure the reverse is equally true. However, after saying many nice things about Green Lantern a couple of weeks ago, and then eviscerating the humorless “WTF Certified” last week, it was pretty surprising to see the May solicitations address both topics.
NEXT, RAFALCA JOINS THE LEGION OF SUPER-PETS
The Green Team may have been a group of entitled, self-satisfied jerks with an abnormal need for validation, but if anyone can make them lovable — or, alternatively, entertainingly clueless — it’s Art Baltazar and Franco. I don’t see this book as DC scraping the bottom of the character barrel. Rather, I take it as a good-faith attempt to update a (perhaps misguided) concept for the sensibilities of our time. Not quite “at least they’re trying,” but … at least it’s not another big-name spinoff, you know? (Although a new Steel series is always welcome.) Regardless, the over/under for this book has to be somewhere around 6 issues.
With what is probably the greatest press release I’ve ever read, Harlan Ellison, who wrote the Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever,” announces he is suing Paramount “for failing to account to, or pay, Mr. Ellison for the merchandising, publishing, or any other exploitations, of the famous teleplay, from inception to date. The suit also names the Writers Guild of America and alleges the WGA failed to act on Ellison’s behalf after numerous requests.”
For those of you who can’t instantly recall the plot of a Star Trek episode based on the name alone, “City on the Edge of Forever” was the one that featured Kirk and Spock going back in time to the Great Depression and guest starred Joan Collins as a war protestor and Kirk’s lover. Spock wore a hat to hide his ears.
Per the release, Ellison and his attorney have set their phasers to “burn” because they say Ellison is entitled to 25 percent of revenues from “the licensing of publication rights.” They say Paramount hasn’t paid him anything for a series of books that spun out of that episode or for one of those talking Hallmark ornaments that used lines from his script.
Ellison says, ““And please make sure to remember, at the moment some Studio mouthpiece calls me a mooch, and says I’m only pursuing this legal retribution to get into their ‘deep pockets,’ tell’m Ellison snarled back, ‘F- – – -in’-A damn skippy!’ I’m no hypocrite. It ain’t about the ‘principle,’ friend, its about the MONEY! Pay Me! Am I doing this for other writers, for Mom (still dead), and apple pie? Hell no! I’m doing it for the 35-year-long disrespect and the money!”
How much would it cost to have Ellison write all press releases?