“The health of the industry is based upon having good stories and good characters, and a wide customer base. If bringing some of these characters back to the fold in a meaningful way adds to that, then it just strengthens our industry. [...] “Good stories that entertain are something that we all should applaud on any level. Whether we’re doing it directly at Image Comics, or at our competition, it helps keep our industry that we love alive. I will sit back and be as interested as anyone else.”
– Todd McFarlane, who was embroiled in a nearly decade-long legal battle with Neil Gaiman over the rights to the characters they co-created in Spawn #9, responding to the announcement last week that the writer will introduce Angela into the Marvel Universe this summer. McFarlane also confirmed to Newsarama that as part of the 2012 resolution to their lawsuit, Gaiman owns the rights to Angela outright.
In “By the Numbers,” ROBOT 6 takes a look back at the events of the past five days … in numbers.
With Thursday’s announcement that Neil Gaiman is returning to the Marvel Universe and bringing with him Angela, the character at the center of his eight-year legal battle with Todd McFarlane, we’re left to wonder about the whereabouts of Marvelman. We also look at the surprise departures at DC Comics, and what the right price is when you name your own.
Few were more excited by this morning’s announcement that Neil Gaiman will introduce Angela into the Marvel Universe than Kearstin Fay Nicholson, who referred to it on the Comic Book Resources Facebook page as the “greatest news I’ve heard all day.” That’s because the Chicago-based cosplayer won The Superhero Costuming Forum‘s 2012 Most Epic Female Costume Contest for her take on the Spawn character — and deservedly so.
You can see for yourself below, and on Nicholson’s photo gallery.
Beyond a vague description of it as “a very silly children’s book,” we’ve been given scant details about Fortunately, the Milk, the upcoming collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Skottie Young (for the U.S. edition) and Chris Riddell (for the U.K. version). But at long last, the author has broken his silence in a video introduction from SFX.
“It’s the silliest, strangest, most ridiculous book I’ve ever written. And I’m damned proud of it,” Gaiman says. “It’s called Fortunately, the Milk. It’s the story of a father who goes out to bring back milk for his children and, at least according to him, on the way is kidnapped by aliens, kidnapped again by pirates, rescued by a stegosaurus in a hot-air balloon. He has a nearly fatal encounter with a volcano god, there’s a ridiculous amount of time travel. There are ponies. There are vampires, or possibly one-pires, there are interstellar dinosaur police, and there’s a happy ending. And fortunately for everybody, there’s milk. Can a container of milk save the universe?”
Officially announced in July as part of the author’s five-book deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books, Fortunately, the Milk will be released Sept. 17 in the United States, and in October (from Bloomsbury) in the United Kingdom. Watch the video below, and check out Skottie Young’s cover for the U.S. edition.
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 buy the leading contender for best ongoing series this year, Saga #10 (Image, $2.99). I loved the last issue focusing on the Will, but I’m excited at the prospect this one teases of Izabel returning – although in a red-tinged, seemingly evil demeanor. After that I’d get another creator-owned gem with Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle #2 (Dark Horse, $3.99). I love the latitude Dark Horse is giving Francavilla in the design packaging here – that cover is something special — and luckily, the insides have the promise of being even better given what happened last issue. Third and last in my $15 haul this week would be Dark Horse Presents #21 (Dark Horse, $7.99). Criminally underrated and consciously mind-blowing, this issue promises three new serials debuting plus a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Paul Chadwick about alien saucers. Why isn’t this a top-selling book?
If I had $30, I’d make it a Dark Horse trifecta with Conan the Barbarian #13 (Dark Horse, $3.50). How does Brian Wood do it, finding such great artists that no one else knows about like Mirko Colak? This time, Conan tries to conquer the desert. Then I’d do a Marvel trifecta: Avengers #6 (Marvel, $3.99), Nova #1 (Marvel, $3.99) and Thor: God of Thunder #5 (Marvel, $3.99). Avengers has seemingly the origin of my formerly most favorite D-list hero in the Marvel Universe, Captain Universe – until she upgraded to the A-list as an Avenger. Then Nova has a spirited, seemingly kid-friendly romp by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Then Thor … Thor. This thoroughly dark and mythic story has made Jason Aaron’s beard even more ominous than before.
If I could splurge, I’d get Alter-Ego #115 (TwoMorrows, $8.95). Normally a magazine about comics, in this issue they collect some lost gems – namely the stereoscopic comics (3-D!) – of the 1950s. 3-D glasses included, this issue contains work by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan (!!), George Tuska and more. Truly a highlight of the week.
Neil Gaiman has debuted Skottie Young’s cover for the U.S. edition of their upcoming children’s book Fortunately, the Milk. Officially announced in July as part of the author’s five-book deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books, it’s described as “an ode to the pleasure and wonders of storytelling itself.”
Dave McKean was at one point set to illustrate Fortunately, the Milk, which Gaiman referred to in 2011 as “a very silly children’s book” that “was meant to be about the length of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, but it’s actually about four or five times as long.”
Gaiman has published 13 novels and picture books through HarperCollins Children’s Books, including the Newbery-winning The Graveyard Book. Fortunately, the Milk is scheduled for release Sept. 17.
In what’s undoubtedly one of the strangest pairings in recent memory, South by Southwest is bringing together acclaimed author Neil Gaiman and Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre for a featured session at the 2013 SWSW Interactive Festival. Weird, right?
To be fair, Lorre is a veteran television-comedy writer and producer who’s other creations include Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg and The Big Bang Theory. So he’s now slouch, even you don’t care for his shows — or if you know him better for his bizarre public feud with actor Charlie Sheen. Still, he’s probably not the first person you’d think of the subject of a Gaiman interview.
Held March 9 in Dell Hall of the Long Center in Austin, Texas, “Chuck Lorre: In Conversation with Neil Gaiman” will focus on the challenges of running three of the most successful series on TV and the story Lorre’s legendary, and occasionally controversial, end-show-vanity cards. A curated selection of those cards was published last fall in a hardcover coffee-table book called What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Bitter (the proceeds of which go to Lorre’s Dharma-Grace Foundation, which supports the Venice Family Clinic).
Comics have become ideal source material in Hollywood’s eternal search for the next blockbuster. But in the numerous attempts to transform comic-book heroes into movie stars, some have, inevitably, failed in the making. I don’t mean failed as in bad, but rather adaptations that were announced only to be canceled before moving into production. For today’s “Six by 6,” I look at six instances of movies that spiraled into an early grave, and commiserate over what could’ve been.
1. George Miller’s Justice League: In 2007, Warner Bros. was hard at work developing a a feature based on DC Comics’ top superhero team. In September 2007, the studio announced the hiring of director George Miller of Mad Max and Happy Feet fame, and pushed to get the film finished before the writers’ strike. The proposed budget clocked in at $220 million, with set already being constructed by early 2008 in Australia. Producers even went so far as casting Armie Hammer as Batman, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Common as Green Lantern and Adam Brody as the Flash, before the project was abruptly shelved. After the creation of DC Entertainment in 2009, this Justice League movie was permanently canned in favor of a new approach. I would love to have witnessed a movie like this. Miller is an excellent, and mind-bendingly diverse, director, and much of the movie would have relied on the strength of the script.
Neil Gaiman and Robert Kirkman are among The Hollywood Reporter’s 25 most powerful authors in Hollywood, appearing alongside the likes of J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and George R.R. Martin.
At No. 6, Kirkman is recognized not only for the success of AMC’s adaptation of The Walking Dead but for a “banner year for the veteran comic-book writer and Image Comics partner” that includes overseeing his Skybound imprint and publishing Thief of Thieves, which is also being developed by the cable network.
Gaiman, co-creator of The Sandman, clocked in at No. 23 on the strength of his prose work — The Graveyard Book and American Gods are being developed for film and television, respectively — and the adaptations of Coraline and Stardust.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announced this morning that the Gaiman Foundation, a nonprofit corporation established earlier this year by Neil Gaiman, has donated $60,000 for the organization’s education program. The author, who recently retired after more than a decade on the CBLDF board of directors, was described as instrumental in establishing the group’s educational initiatives.
“Part of the CBLDF’s purpose is educational,” Gaiman said in a statement, “and in dealing with the ongoing emergencies of arrested comics readers and comic store staff, corporate attacks on creators, rescuing people who had run afoul of law enforcement bodies who want to limit their freedom to read and the like, it was too easy for that part of the remit to come in last. From my perspective, educating readers, creators, retailers and publishers is the most important thing we can do, because it gives us long term change.”
According to the CBLDF, the Gaiman Foundation gift will help fund such initiatives as the Kids Right to Read Project and Banned Books Week, as well as new resources like the book Manga: Introduction, Challenges and Best Practices, and publications for parents and educators about using graphic novels.
The Gaiman Foundation was founded to “to grant gifts to selected charitable and educational organizations that have demonstrated dedication and excellence in their respective missions.” Or, in the words of Gaiman’s daughter Holly, who serves as administrator and secretary: “The Gaiman Foundation was founded in order to Do Good. The initial way it Does Good is by financially supporting organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.”
Comics | Ohio drivers moved a little closer to getting their Superman specialty license plate Wednesday as the proposal was outlined for a state Senate committee. The bill, which already passed the state House, is on track to go to the full Senate for a vote before the end of the year. The Siegel & Shuster Society launched the campaign for the plates in July 2011 to honor the 75th anniversary of the Man of Steel in 2013; the character, which debuted in 1938, was created six years earlier in Cleveland by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The original plan for the plates to include the slogan “Birthplace of Superman,” that met with objections from Warner Bros., which insisted he was born on Krypton. The legend will now read, “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” [Plain Dealer]
Manga | Tony Yao summarizes a recent article from The Nikkei Shimbun that analyzes the readership of Shonen Jump, which is 50 percent female despite the magazine being targeted to boys (“shonen” means “boy” in Japanese). They break down the popularity of series by gender and discuss how the female audience affects editorial decisions. [Manga Therapy]
Happy Veterans Day and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and other things we’ve been perusing of late. Today our special guest is Brady Sullivan, the writer of Death Springs, a free weekly webcomic with artist JC Grande (Image’s Johnny Monster). He also has several print projects currently out or hitting the shelves soon, including the recently released action/satire Revolution Aisle 9.
To see what Brady and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Epic artist P. Craig Russell has become well known for his collaborations with author Neil Gaiman over the past couple of decades, and in recent years he’s adapted several of the author’s short stories and prose novels into comics form. But now for his next hat trick, he’s enlisted a Magnificent
Seven Nine-esque group of artists to illustrate individual chapters for his adaptation of Gaiman’s celebrated 2008 children’s fantasy novel The Graveyard Book, announced in June.
As Russell told Comic Book Resources in a weekend interview, he’s writing the script and doing the layouts for the 352-page book, with a murderer’s row of artists coming in behind him to illustrate it. Joining Russell is Michael Golden, David LaFuente, Jill Thompson, Kevin Nowlan, Tony Harris, Galen Showman and Scott Hampton. Russell said Hampton’s contribution will be about 100 pages, and that Nowlan is drawing the first story.
Aiming to cut the fat from the bloated pop-culture extravaganzas, a new creator-branded model for comic conventions is drawing fans to a more curated and unique experience.
For decades, comic conventions have been building up (or “diversifying,” if you prefer) to include television shows, movies, video games, board games, toys, novels, scantily clad models, and new-media companies that used speech balloons in their marketing campaign that one time. Basically they’ve become magnets for any project with an air of geekery, regardless of the lack of any sequential art or cartooning. A number of cons can feel more like a pop-up strip mall in their efforts to be everything for as many people as possible. And con-goers feel it. You really haven’t had the full convention experience if you don’t hear someone grumble how the con used to be about the comics, man. It’s a chorus that seems to attract more voices each year.
Perhaps in response to the growing Grumble Choir, a number of event organizers have been testing more focused conventions branded under a single creator or identity. These conventions bring in vendors, guests and exhibitors that more directly reflect the name on the banners, resulting in a more authentic and cohesive experience. While it’s splicing a niche market to a niche within a niche, it’s also creating a more irresistible ticket item for people within that sub-niche. And those fans coming to see the name they recognize are probably super-fans eager to experience, sample and buy more at a deeper level than the more scattershot crowd under the general geek umbrella.
Conventions | MorrisonCon and the Las Vegas Comic Expo aren’t the only comic conventions this weekend (more on them shortly): There’s also Wizard World Ohio Comic Con in Columbus, and Asbury Park Comic Con in New Jersey. Last year, Wizard took over Mid-Ohio Con and turned it into Wizard World Ohio Comic Con, and on the eve of this year’s event, the local alternative weekly looks at how the event has changed and what to expect. Meanwhile, Saturday’s Asbury Park Comic Con gets back to basics: “The problem that I have with the big comic conventions is that they’ve turned into pop culture conventions and it’s anything goes —anything from video games to wrestlers and bands, stuff that has nothing or very little to do with comics. What we want to do is bring it back to what brought us all together — our passion for comics,” says co-founder Cliff Galbraith. The event, which is being held in a rock club/bowling alley, features such comics guests as Larry Hama, Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Dean Haspiel, Seth Kushner and Reilly Brown. [The Other Paper, Asbury Park Press]