Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
The villains of Gotham City have proved to be some of the most colorful and imaginative characters in superhero fiction, and now a New York art gallery is looking to enshrine the rogues on its walls.
One-Shot Gallery, located inside St. Marks Comics, is hosting an exhibit titled “Great Villains of Gotham: A Cowardly & Superstitious Lot,” which “aims to give these devils their due” in a stunning collection of fine art pieces by modern artists. The show includes James White’s “Starkade: Rogues,” above, in addition to work by HR-FM, Veronica Fish, Blake Wheeler and others. A surprising name in the mix is comics writer John Rozum, who created two cut paper collages that will be on display. The show opens Saturday, and continues throughout February.
Here’s a preview of what you can expect:
Saturday was the birthday of actress Elsa Lanchester, so to celebrate, John Rozum posted an amazing gallery of art inspired by her most famous role, the Bride of Frankenstein. A ton of comics artists are included and you can see many of them below the break. Be sure to visit Rozum’s site for even more, including additional pieces by Mike Mignola, Kevin Nowlan and Bruce Timm, as well as art by Basil Gogos, William Stout, and Mike McKone. Continue Reading »
“Way back when I was writing The X-Files comic book series I had planned to include a story in which Mulder and Scully attended the retirement party of Gordon Cole, the FBI Regional Bureau Chief played by David Lynch in Twin Peaks. This would have also included cameos by other FBI agents from Twin Peaks including Albert Rosenfield and Denise Bryson, the character played by David Duchovny. Unfortunately, The X-Files comic was brought to an end before I got to this story.”
“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.
John Rozum lets readers take an in-depth look at his process in a recent post on his experiment at writing a comic script using the Marvel Method. For those unfamiliar with the term, the Marvel Method is the approach developed by Stan Lee during the early days of Marvel in which Lee would provide brief outlines of the events in a comic book issue (as opposed to a full script), let the artist draw the whole thing, and then come back and add dialogue over the finished panels. The advantages of that format include letting the artist have a lot of creative input, while also requiring less time from the writer (meaning that someone like Lee could write a ton of books at the same time).
This past weekend saw the opening of Gallery 1988: Melrose‘s “Memes” show, celebrating the gallery’s eighth year by having 100 artists pay tribute to “the Internet’s greatest creations.” One of those artists is Xombi writer John Rozum, who, in addition to writing scary comics, is also a talented maker of cut-paper art. For his meme, he recreated in collage form the painting that went around a year or so ago by an unknown artist that featured Batman fighting a shark with a lightsaber. And since he included a word balloon suggesting a larger group of events, I’m going to go ahead and stand by that statement that this is a Rozum story.
Another post for the process junkies; this time about writing. On his blog, John Rozum answers a reader’s question about trimming fat and killing darlings in comics scripts. It’s one of the basic rules of writing, but Rozum relates it specifically to the pre-determined page counts of single-issue comics stories.
Generally, if it’s an action oriented comic book, I will cut out some of the action. My feeling is that with over 75 years of super hero comics behind us, everyone reading them has seen two people in garish outfits hitting each other frequently enough that they can fill in the blanks and get the sense that a hefty battle is being waged even if I cut out a page of someone getting beaten with a parking meter or having a bus thrown at them. This seems like something easier to do away with and without the same impact that cutting a scene that strengthens the bond between two characters through their interaction over dinner.
Cutting action pages out of an action comic is an interesting choice, but Rozum is clear about his personal priorities in story construction. ” I usually put the characters first and plot serves as a supporting function to develop the characters,” he writes, “whether that’s something long term like Xombi, or even a 2-issue Batman story.” The implication is that writers should identify their own priorities in storytelling and make edits accordingly.
Rozum also talks about what happens when he does have to cut character moments and when outside forces like suddenly reduced page counts and truncated series get in the way of his original plans. There are lots of real-life examples from Xombi, Midnight Mass, and The X-Files and also stuff about how much freedom artists should have in developing pacing. Even though there’s a lot there, it’s not a long post. Very worth the time of new writers.
Last month former Static Shock writer John Rozum revealed his side of why he left the New 52 series after only a handful of issues. His reasons came down to creative differences with his editor and with artist Scott McDaniel–or, as Rozum said on his blog, “From the first issue on, I was essentially benched by Harvey Richards and artist/writer Scott McDaniel.”
Now McDaniel has posted his side of the story on his website, noting, “I have remained SILENT because I fear no good thing comes from this type of public display. However, John chose to bring this into the public square. He has forced me to speak openly about our experience together on Static Shock, to correct the public record before his grotesquely distorted account matures in people’s minds as the truth of what happened here.”
McDaniel’s post is lengthy, as he gives some context around the book’s origins, the pressure of following in the footsteps of Dwayne McDuffie and the original Milestone book and how a poll on CBR about the New 52 books from last summer indicated the potential challenges the book might have in the marketplace. He then shares his side of how the collaboration started and when it soured, going into detail on some of the plot points Rozum called out in his original posts on the subject.
As I said, it’s lengthy and a lot to digest, so I’ll refrain from cutting any more of it up to post here and encourage you to read it on its own. My takeaway from all this is that sometimes people just don’t work well together, even talented creators like Rozum and McDaniel. Hopefully both of them will have a better experience on their next projects (which I look forward to seeing). I do agree with Rozum’s previous statement about the potential for Static Shock to be a breakout comic for DC, so hopefully this doesn’t sour the publisher on revisiting the character.
When Danny Donovan shared some thoughts about what went wrong with Static Shock, he ended up inspiring John Rozum to reveal his own insights into the recently canceled series. In the comments to Donovan’s post, Rozum writes:
I went into Static Shock with a lot of high hopes. Among them was showing that Static wasn’t simply an A-list character, but one of the most powerful in the DCnU. I really wanted this series to be fun and exciting and to bring the same degree of creativity to it that I put into Xombi balanced with making Virgil’s personal life at least as engaging as his superhero life. I also saw Static Shock as an excellent gateway through which to pull the rest of the Milestone characters into the DCnU.
I quickly learned that none of these plans were going to see fruition. I wound up being shunted to the sidelines as the writer while Scott McDaniel’s “high concept” criminal syndicate made up of Power Rangers and a big monosyllabic thug took center stage and Harvey’s ideas of the 2 Sharon’s and slicing off Static’s arm were implemented as desperate means of trying to draw attention to the book.
I tried my best to keep it from being a total turd, but as I said, I was completely sidelined. My main contributions were the Pale Man character, Guillotina, naming the school after Dwayne McDuffie, and including Hardware, along with random lines of dialogue. I decided it was unethical to stick with a title that a) I thought was garbage b) that people were buying because of my involvement, due to Xombi, when really I had nothing to do with it c) because I wasn’t being utilized on the title.
Frankly, Static deserved a lot better.
DC Comics has selected Marc Bernardin as the new writer of Static Shock, replacing John Rozum, who announced his departure from the relaunched title last month.
Bernardin, a former senior editor for Entertainment Weekly who co-wrote The Highwaymen and The Authority for DC, will join current artist/co-writer Scott McDaniel with March’s Issue 7.
“As a Black comic book fan and as a father of Black children, it’s really important that people see themselves reflected in a media they like,” Bernardin tells BET.com. “I remember growing up and looking at the Cosby Show for the first time and getting to look at people who were like me and doing things like I did, people who were my age going to college and studying for exams. I think for a long time, a Black kid picking up a comic book never got the chance to see himself, so I think that characters like Static are incredibly important.”
Static Shock #2, by Rozum, McDaniel and Andy Owens, was released last week.
As DC Comics, retailers and fans prepare for another round of New 52 titles next week, here’s a collection of the latest news and such …
• DC’s Bob Wayne told CBR’s Kiel Phegley that they planned to extend certain sales incentives to retailers through December, and this week DC released more details on what exactly that means — additional discounts for qualifying retailers on certain books, returnability on many titles and variant covers for several books, including the fourth issues of Justice League, Batman, Action Comics, Flash and Green Lantern.
• Wired’s GeekDad talks to Tony Bedard about the relaunched Blue Beetle series, which is due in shops next Wednesday. Bedard notes that the new series will be “less convoluted” than the last one in terms of Beetle’s origin, noting that this time around it isn’t tied to Infinite Crisis. He also notes Ted Kord won’t figure into the new series: “I loved the Ted Kord Blue Beetle as much as anyone. But he doesn’t figure into this new Blue Beetle series at all. My mission right now is to make 15 year-old El Paso high school student Jaime Reyes into the best character and the best Blue Beetle imaginable. And I have really good material to work with there. As anyone who read the last series or caught his appearances on Brave & The Bold will tell you, Jaime is a character teens and twenty-somethings can really latch onto. He has a terrific supporting cast and I’m building a ‘rogues gallery’ for him that will knock your socks off. None of this means that Ted Kord never existed. It’s just that before we go back and rehash the past, we are going to build a solid future for DC, and Jaime Reyes is the future.”
DC Comics continues its promotional assault in the press to push “The New 52″ to a mainstream audience, with the theme this week, apparently, being diversity. At least four stories this week — three of which were posted Wednesday — tackled the subject and put the spotlight on Static Shock, Batwing and more. Here are some of the highlights:
• The Huffington Post previewed the first issue of Judd Winick and Ben Oliver’s Batwing yesterday, the same day it arrived in shops. Winick spoke to Bryan Young about the origins of Africa’s Batman: “… if you consider that we’re coming from a starting place that this is a Batman who lost his parents to AIDS and was a boy soldier. That’s square one for us. In the first couple of pages Batwing is talking about the fact that one of the things Batman has to do is instill fear. And Batwing points out that he’s not really sure that a man dressed up as a bat is really going to scare the average criminal in Africa. Batman just tells him that ‘you’re just going to have to sell it.’ And that’s the point, it’s a different world.” An unabridged version of the interview can be found at Big Shiny Robot.
As the current, primary custodian of the Milestone Universe, this has to be a bittersweet time for John Rozum. On the bitter side, it’s disappointing to have to say good-bye to Xombi, both for Rozum and his readers. It was a well-loved series and, like the first volume, done too soon. But on his blog Rozum mentions a couple of things that make the cancellation easier to swallow. First, there’s a collection of all six issues coming, but Rozum’s also announced that in November he’ll start a series of annotation posts “giving some behind the scenes looks at what inspired … the material, what references there might be, and some other general process stuff that I think won’t take away from the reading experience.” And just to make sure he doesn’t miss anything, he’s also taking reader questions.
But as we say good-bye to Xombi, Rozum’s also looking forward to the release of Static Shock. He’s been posting a series of villain peeks and promises something Static-related every day between now and the Sept. 7 debut. If you’re a Milestone fan, Rozum’s blog is the place to be right now.
Somehow I missed that Scott McDaniel got the jump on the trailers for individual titles in DC Comics’ September relaunch with this teaser for Static Shock #1, which of course stars the Milestone superhero created by Dwayne McDuffie and John Paul Leon.
The brilliant, slightly awkward high school student Virgil Hawkins transforms into the cocky electromagnetic hero Static!
A mysterious tragedy forces the Hawkins family to relocate from Dakota to New York City! Virgil embarks upon new adventures in a new high school and a new internship at S.T.A.R. Labs!
As Static, he dons a new uniform and establishes a new secret headquarters! But is he ready to take on the new villains who lurk in New York City’s underworld?
Written by McDaniel and John Rozum, and illustrated by McDaniel, Jonathan Glapion and LeBeau Underwood, Static Shock #1 arrives in stores on Sept. 7.
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Elisabeth Forsythe, marketing manager for online comic shop Things From Another World and frequent contributor to The Blog From Another World.
To see what Elisabeth and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, read on.