Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Ivan Salazar, public relations and marketing manager for Studio 407.
To see what Ivan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading (and playing), click below.
“It seems a bit desperate to go after a book famous for its artistic integrity. It’s a finite series. Watchmen was said to actually provide an alternative to the superhero story as an endless soap opera. To turn that into just another superhero comic that goes on forever demonstrates exactly why I feel the way I do about the comics industry. It’s mostly about franchises.”
– Alan Moore, reiterating to Fast Company his objections to DC Comics’ sprawling Before Watchmen prequels
“One of the key characteristics of the comic book medium is that it is not brought to life by just one voice. These universes are developed and evolved by multiple creative voices, over multiple generations. The influx of new stories is essential to keeping the universes relevant, current, and alive. Watchmen is a cornerstone of both DC Comics’ publishing history and its future. As a publisher, we’d be remiss not to expand upon and explore these characters and their stories. We’re committed to being an industry leader, which means making bold creative moves.”
– DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee in the same article, offering an alternate view
When the 2012 Free Comic Book Day line-up was announced, some folks mistakenly assumed that gold-level offering, DC Comics: The New 52 Special Edition would simply be a reprint of previously published material. As revealed on The Source today, that’s not the case.
The comic will feature “art by legendary illustrator Jim Lee and other top talents” and will “include a new story by New York Times bestselling writer Geoff Johns.” In addition, the book will also include previews of DC’s second wave of New 52 titles, including Batman Incorporated, Dial H, Earth 2, G.I. Combat, The Ravagers and Worlds’ Finest. They also say to stay tuned for “more surprises to come.”
In addition, the Free Comic Book Day site also has more information and a preview from Image 20, the 20th anniversary anthology of “six, all-new original stories promoting upcoming Image Comics titles.” Two of the titles will be Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton, which you can preview on the site, as well as G-Man by Chris Giarrusso. The other stories will be announced at a later date.
The FCBD site also has previews from several other FCBD titles, including Oni’s Yo Gabba Gabba and Bad Medicine titles, and Viz’s Voltron Force, among others, so head over there if you want to check them out early.
Update: Apparently I misread the initial post and thought Jim Lee was drawing the new Geoff Johns story, but based on Brian Hibbs’ response in the comments section below, that may or may not be the case. I’ve updated the post above.
Internet | Sandman co-creator Neil Gaiman joined with Trent Reznor, Aziz Ansari, OK Go and 14 other members of the creative community in signing an open letter to Congress against the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. “We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend. These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services – artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result,” the letter states.
Warren Ellis and Fantagraphics have also come out against the bill, while Peter David, who is against the bill in its current form, takes aim at those who “endorsed the piracy, supported the piracy, enabled the piracy, felt their own actions weren’t piracy, and now refuse to accept the consequences of their own actions.” ComicsAlliance has posted an editorial against the bill and rounded up webcomic reactions to the blackout. [NeilGaiman.com]
Publishing | Jennifer de Guzman announced that, after 10 years, she has left her position as editor-in-chief of SLG Publishing: “My decade SLG was, I suspect, like no other decade anyone has spent working anywhere. I had great co-workers and got to work with fantastic creators, all of whom I will miss very much. (Though because this is comics and a community like no other, we will always stay in contact.)” [Possible Impossibilities]
Retailing | Chris Powell, current general manager and chief relationship officer for Texas-based comic chain Lone Star Comics, has accepted the newly created position of executive director of business development for Diamond Comic Distributors. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board member will start his new position in March. [ICv2]
During the promotional push for DC Comics’ “New 52″ relaunch, executives stressed steps were being taken to prevent late-shipping titles. We’ve already seen evidence of that commitment in the use of fill-in artists and some creative assists, but now it looks as if one of its titles is missing a beat — and it’s the biggest title the company has.
Justice League #5 was scheduled for release Jan. 18, according to the Previews catalog as well as the publisher’s own website, but recent information from Diamond Comic Distributors suggests it won’t make that date.
Although a late title clearly isn’t unheard of, this one is intriguing for two reasons: first, because it’s the flagship of DC’s “New 52,” and second, because the creators involved, writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee, are also company executives who, at least indirectly, oversee the line editors whose responsibility it is to make sure books ship on time. It’s important to note the reason for the lateness can’t be connected to Johns or Lee; the blame could fall on any step of the production chain.
DC Comics has unveiled Jim Lee’s T-shirt design for Free Comic Book Day 2012 featuring the current lineup of the Justice League. The image is an homage to a classic Justice League of America illustration by José Luis García-López, which you can see below.
The T-shirts will be available for order in January’s Previews catalog, with proceeds benefiting promotional efforts for FCBD.
“Should Batman kill the Joker?” is a perennial favorite among superhero fan conversation topics, always leading to a variety of different answers. A Golden Age appearance aside, Batman’s bosses at DC Comics have always answered the question the same way, however: Hell no.
Part of the reason for that is practical. You don’t kill off a popular, money-making character (well, you can now and then if it will make more money, but then you have to bring the character back to life somehow). Part of it is smart franchise management. If Batman kills off his enemies, then he runs out of guys to fight awfully quickly. There’s a reason Spider-Man has such a big and colorful rogue’s gallery to fill movies, cartoon and toy lines with, while The Punisher doesn’t. But a big part of it has to do with Batman’s characterization. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to not kill a mass-murderer you find yourself in deadly combat with on a bi-monthly basis, and sure, it makes even less sense to go out of your way to save the life of said mass-murderer as Batman regularly does for The Joker and his other foes, but then, dressing up as a bat to fight crime doesn’t make much sense either—Batman’s weird, and that’s what makes him so appealing. Of course his moral code is weird too.
The red, un-crossable line Batman has drawn between beating someone within an inch of their life and actually killing them is one shared by most superheroes. The hero pushed to the limit finally getting the villain at their mercy at the climax and forced to decide whether or not to end the villain’s life of evil once and for all is a staple of super-comics.
And it hasn’t changed all that much in the years since, say, “The Trial of The Flash.” Particularly in the DC Universe (The Marvel heroes embraced killing foes en masse during 2008′s Secret Invasion, in which they went to war with the alien Skrulls).
One of the more interesting projects to pop up on Kickstarter lately is Rub the Blood, “an Art Comix tabloid that explores the lasting influence (for better or worse) of the Early 90′s Collector Boom comics of Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, etc. on today’s most fringe underground cartoonists.”
Co-edited by Pat Aulisio and Ian Harker, the project fittingly draws its name from a 1990s cover gimmick and features contributions from a variety of art comix pros. In addition to Aulisio and Harker, contributors include Josh Bayer, William Cardini, Victor Cayro, PB Kain, Keenan Marshall Keller, Peter Lazarski, Benjamin Marra, Jim Rugg, Thomas Toye and Mickey Z. Rub the Blood will debut at the 2011 Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Fest.
Aulisio and Harker were kind enough to share a few thoughts and details about the project and its inspiration with me; my thanks for their time.
JK: Where did the idea originate to put this anthology together?
Ian: It’s been something we’ve kicked around in various shapes and forms for a few years now. The joke was that one day Rob Liefeld will be just as adored among the art comix crowd as Fletcher Hanks is now.
The early 1990s era of the founding artists of Image and their lead-up work at Marvel brought a monumental change in the industry. Now a group of fans are banding together to pay tribute to the early 90′s comic book and the works of Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane and others. The thing is, they’re not the type of fans you’d expect.
Rub The Blood is a unique anthology put together by Secret Prison editor Ian Harker and Yeah Dude Comics‘ Pat Aulisio, pulling together some of the most esoteric of Art Comix vets as well as more well-known creators like Jim Rugg (Afrodisiac) and Benjamin Marra (Night Business). The book’s title is a not-so-subtle homage to an early 1990s cover promotion for Rob Liefeld’s Bloodstrike #1 where the blood depicted on the cover had the feel of velvet. Rub The Blood will debut at the 2011 Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Fest in early December, and will presumably be available at subsequent conventions.
I intended to post this last week as the project was soliciting donations via Kickstarter, but by the time this post came up they’d already reached their $1,000 goal — with only 16 backers. It shows that although not everyone in comics remembers this era’s artwork fondly, those that do really do. Although they’ve reached their goal, you can still donate to increase the print run and be a part of this revival. Check out the Kickstarter site to donate and see the video, which includes a 90s era WWF background music track.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Mad Magazine feature “Spy vs. Spy,” and to celebrate, the magazine created a blank “Spy vs. Spy” toy and asked various artists to customize it. They’ve been sharing them over on their blog since around the time of the San Diego Comic Con, and in New York this weekend they’re unveiling one by DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee.
You can find more of them on the Mad blog The Idiotical, or in person at the New York Comic Con.
I found Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Scott Williams’ Justice League #1, the inaugural effort in DC’s “New 52″ effort, to be thunderously disappointing. Listening to three months of sustained, daily hype has a way of raising expectations, I guess, and as cynical as I remained about so many aspects of DC’s relaunch, and despite the fact that I took each new tidbit of information with a grain of salt, that much exposure to positive PR still managed to raise my expectations rather high. Particularly for this book, since it was the flagship one, and the one being written by the publisher’s chief creative officer and drawn by its co-publisher.
But the quality of the comic book just didn’t really meet those high expectations.
There are a variety of reasons for this, but one of the most obvious, and one I saw cited most often in the slew of reviews and reactions I’ve since seen online, is that it fails to meet even the most basic, vague promise of its own cover: It’s not a Justice League comic, as the logo says, and it doesn’t features the characters pictured on the front. Two of them star in the book, and two more cameo, but it read more like The Brave and The Bold featuring Batman and Green Lantern…albeit a theoretical version of The Brave and The Bold, perhaps written by Brian Michael Bendis for an eventual trade collection of the first six-issue arc, as DC’s various Brave and the Bold books almost always tell a complete story with a beginning, middle and end in each and every single issue.
Retailers | Little Island Comics — “the first kids comic book store in North America–maybe even the world” — opens its doors today in Toronto. The store is owned and operated by The Beguiling, and is located around the corner from the flagship store. The store will hold an official grand opening in a few weeks. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | DC Comics co-publisher and Justice League artist Jim Lee discusses his work on DC’s flagship title, which came out in digital form last Wednesday, the same day it hit comic shops. “It’s also setting records digitally. I can’t give numbers, but on the first day it set a record for us,” Lee tells Heidi MacDonald.
That leads Tom Spurgeon to throw a flag on the play: “… it looks like DC won’t be releasing its New 52 digital numbers but will feel confident in making claims on their behalf. It also looks like comics sites will then repeat this claim as news, perhaps qualified by source or as a claim but still putting that information out there. This should stop. I think DC has a really dubious history with using the hidden portions of their numbers to PR advantage — call it the ‘I have a girlfriend in Canada’ of sales analysis. My take is that this practice has intensified slightly ever since the numbers have become smaller and therefore more crucial. When in the 1990s sales on mainstream comics dipped to the point where people questioned the profitability of certain issues of certain titles, perhaps leading to a line of analysis about mainstream publishers making books at a loss for market share advantages or to knock other comics from the limited stand space, we were sometimes assured that there were sales elsewhere we didn’t know about that pushed certain comics over this projected threshold.” [Salon, The Comics Reporter]
I’m pretty sure every other DC-Comics blogger in the known universe will be doing this, but for me it is an imperative: from now through the end of the month, this space will give short, probably reactionary, and likely ill-considered reviews of all 52 new titles. Not surprisingly, then, this week is all Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1.
* * *
I liked Flashpoint #1 pretty well. I thought it was a promising start to a story that — in a daring departure for a big event — could stand on its own without universe-altering ramifications.
Of course, that was in early May, a lifetime ago.
While Flashpoint #5 finishes that story, it does so in a way that feels maddeningly hollow. Not the epilogue, mind you — that sequence just manages to avoid mawkishness, and is a well-done counterpoint to the end of issue #1. No, my problem with issue #5 (and to a lesser extent with the miniseries generally) is the way in which writer Geoff Johns apparently just decides he needs to wrap things up.
SPOILERS FOLLOW for Flashpoint #5, and later for Justice League #1 …
As we learned hours before its official debut, Justice League #1 has sold out – at the distributor level, at least — leading DC Comics this afternoon to unveil a familiar image for the second printing. It’s the Jim Lee-drawn promotional image that leaked out in June (before Wonder Woman was put back in her traditional shorts), sparking widespread speculation about the identity of the team’s 15th member. The image has since appeared in the banner for DC’s official blog, and in marketing materials for the September relaunch.
It’s understandable that the publisher would want to repurpose the image; it’s Lee artwork ready and waiting to be placed in a digital file and sent to the printer. But shoe-horning the horizontal illustration into the vertical space leads Firestorm and Green Arrow to be obscured by the UPC symbol and DC logo, respectively, and poor Mera to have her head chopped in half. Granted, she’s endured harsher treatments over the years …