INTERVIEW: DiDio & Lee on "Dark Knight 3," Vertigo's Future & DC's Evolving Readership
“The first issues of Before Watchmen will be published next month. Among the writers working on it is former He-Man scripter J. Michael Straczynski, who once penned a comic in which Spider-Man sold his marriage to the devil. (This is the rough equivalent of having Z-movie director Uwe Boll film a studio-funded prequel to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.)”
– Tim Marchman, in a broadside to the superhero-comics industry that began as a nominal review for The Wall Street Journal of Leaping Tall Buildings. Straczynski wasn’t the only comics creator targeted, however: Marchman also took aim at Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Grant Morrison and Dan DiDio, characterizing them as “the men most responsible for the failure of the big publishers to take advantage of the public’s obvious fascination with men in capes.”
“Your behavior was dickish. I became a better writer after He-Man. You will always be a dick.”
– J. Michael Straczynski, issuing his “final word” in the ensuing Twitter exchange with Marchman that began with JMS confronting the reviewer on “a cheap shot.” “You had to go back to 1984 to insult me? Really?” Straczynski wrote. “And [‘One More Day’] was Marvel’s decision not my call.”
“When I first started doing webcomics back in the dark ages of the early ’00s, word of mouth was how people found your stuff, but it was on a much smaller scale, and much slower. You’d have to get your comic passed around via e-mail, or posted in forums or linked to by other big artists. The whole crazy gag/meme/weird fandom social media comics thing didn’t really exist back then, so maybe people were doing more original stuff, but that’s just from what I remember and might not be true. I’ve never been a big fandom person. I feel like online comics nowadays are perhaps more mainstream, whatever that word means. Like everyone’s making comics and everyone’s passing comics around and comics are just this one part of the Internet, like cat pictures or whatever, rather than this specialized section, which was how it felt when I first started making them. Comics back then felt… I guess kind of niche. Now they’re part of the rainbow of fun that is the Internet. It feels like a good thing to me, but I’m sure there’s a downside to it. I guess people could complain that the craft of online comics is slipping, like, ‘Oh, this stupid gag comic about He-Man gets a million tumblr notes, but this impassioned comic about one’s state of being only gets 400.’ But I don’t even really see that, because it seems to me that the good stuff is always rising to the top. Sure, stupid He-Man comics will always get popular play, but whatever, that’s the Internet.”
– Faith Erin Hicks, in a thoroughly entertaining interview with Tom Spurgeon about how she got started in comics, her latest project Friends with Boys and much more. Maybe what we need is an impassioned comic about He-Man’s state of being.
DC Comics will return to Eternia in July with a six-issue He-Man and the Masters of the Universe limited series by James Robinson, Phillip Tan and Ruy Jose, MTV Geek reports.
Although several companies, from Marvel to Image to CrossGen, have released comics based on the Mattel toyline, DC was the first, introducing Superman to He-Man, Battle Cat, Skeletor and other characters in July 1982’s DC Comics Presents #47, followed by Masters of the Universe inserts in more than a dozen titles and, later that year, a three-issue miniseries.
In the new series, Skeletor has discovered a way to reshape reality, making himself ruler of Castle Grayskull while leaving the heroes of Eternia as peasants with no memories of their former lives. As for Prince Adam, the alter-ego of He-Man? He’s a woodsman who thinks his visions of wielding a sword in battle are merely dreams.
“Adam is in a place where he really has to reconnect with what it means to be a Master of the Universe,” Robinson tells MTV Geek. “It’s his odyssey, much like the Greek myth in fact, that is the backbone of this series.”
It’s a painting The Goon artist did for a mini-comic inserted in selected toy action figure packages for He-Man recently. This gem popped up on my radar when it came up as an eBay auction by Powell’s account there, and although there’s little chance we’ll see Powell ditching his creator-owned digs for a trip to Eternia, the fact that Dark Horse is the one publishing this comic for He-Man is interesting … could they be acquiring the license for He-Man, side by side with Conan?
I love He-Man and I don’t care who knows it. To my mind, the Masters of the Universe is one of the great untapped influences/resources in nerddom, a breathless (some might even say senseless) amalgamation of fantasy, science fiction, space opera, superheroes, pulp barbarians, and toyetic skunk dudes named Stinkor that in many ways prefigures contemporary comics’ fast and loose genre riffs and mash-ups, from Orc Stain to Prison Pit. The toys and the cartoon were good fun, but for sheer imagination-firing power, it’s tough to beat the line’s concept art. Aeron Alfrey of the indispensable art blog Monster Brains has assembled two eye-popping galleries of MOTU madness, one dedicated to paintings (in particular the work of the great Earl Norem), the other to comic and cartoon art. They have the power.
I think we can all agree it’s a great day that sees not one but two ’80s sci-fi-fantasy icons fed through a Tom of Finland filter by talented cartoonists — and my friends, today is a great day. Both Johnny Ryan and Nick Mullins have taken inspiration from the uber-macho gay erotica artist for their drawings of characters from Tron and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, respectively. Will anyone else follow suit with, say, Thundercats or The Last Starfighter or something? All I know is that Destro and Doctor Mindbender are already dressed for the occasion …
By the Power of Grayskull! Los Angeles’ Gallery 1988 has the power! Beginning tomorrow, Friday January 8, they’re hosting “Under the Influence: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” an art show featuring various reinterpretations of my all-time favorite action-figure/cartoon line ever. You can check out a Snake Mountain-sized pile of art for the show here and here.
Geoff Johns and I have something in common: We both want Geoff Johns to write a He-Man comic.
In an interview at writer Poe Ghostal’s toy and action figure news blog, the Blackest Night, Green Lantern, and Superman: Secret Origin writer says that He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is the only toy property he’d like to take a shot at writing. Now, normally this kind of offhand blue-sky wish-list comment wouldn’t merit a post, but I really love He-Man and Johns has written some of my favorite superhero comics of the past several years — and dammit, I’ve got a bully pulpit and I intend to use it.
Oh yeah, Johns discusses various other toy-related topics with Ghostal, including his childhood favorites and the highlights of his current collection. Unsurprisingly, Lantern Corps figures from DC Direct and Mattel fare pretty well, with Johns citing the action-figure version of his Blue Lantern character Saint Walker as his fave.
But seriously — Geoff Johns on He-Man! Start your letter-writing campaign to DC and Mattel in the comments.
He’s done comics with Frank Santoro, made videos with Animal Collective, and forever redefined the way we look at Kool-Aid and breakfast foods in his buoyantly bizarre comics for MOME, but now cartoonist Jon Vermilyea is tackling something near and dear to the hearts of nerds everywhere: The Masters of the Universe!
Behold He-Man and the 13 Trials of Eternia, a gorgeous silkscreened 11″ X 8″ booklet featuring the Herculean labors of the hero also known as Prince Adam and illustrated in Vermilyea’s inimitable day-glo style. Only 21 copies of the book were produced, and by god I’m getting my hands on one of them if I have to sell my soul to Skeletor.
(Via Sean Belcher.)