"Gotham" EP Hints at Azrael's Arrival, Mr. Freeze & Hugo Strange's Alliance
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“Seeing lots of ‘that’s how it is in this business,’ stuff in regards to the day’s news. It really isn’t, and it certainly shouldn’t be. To be a little more direct: the way DC treats a lot of their freelancers is absolutely abhorrent. When it happened to me on SUPERGIRL, I didn’t say much, because I didn’t want to dwell on the negative. But when you see it happen to so many good people, and the damage it does to their careers, their incomes, etc… it’s just not okay. I don’t understand the need for it, & I wish it were otherwise. I love DC, love the characters, & I know I did some of my best work there. And I’m VERY happy for my friends who have been successful there. But I would tell any creator — especially newer, younger ones — to be extremely careful in doing business there.”
– Nick Spencer, who was abruptly removed from Supergirl in 2010, reacting to Monday’s news that DC Comics had replaced newly announced writers Robert Venditti and Jim Zubkavich on Constantine and Birds of Prey, respectively, before their first issues had debuted
With the launch of Comic Book Resources’ new monthly feature with DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase arrives announcements of a slew of creative changes, including confirmation that Jim Starlin is the new writer of Stormwatch.
Best known for his work on Marvel’s cosmic titles, Starlin has been teasing since early December that he would take the reins on an existing DC series beginning in April. Yvel Guichet joins him as artist. Other creative shifts in April include:
• Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes will write the newly launching Constantine, taking over Robert Venditti with Issue 2. “Robert came to us with a fantastic pitch for Constantine,” Harras told CBR. “We really loved what Robert’s doing — he’s working on Demon Knights now, and he’s also working on another project for us that I really can’t go into which is a big deal for us. But at the end of the day, Robert and Dan [DiDio] and I spoke, and Constantine was, for him, one book too many. It was the one thing that we had to go, “If we want you to focus on this one project, maybe we should make a change on Constantine.”
Business | Marvel parent The Walt Disney Co., which just purchased Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, reportedly has begun an internal cost-cutting review that could include layoffs in its studio and other divisions. The cutbacks are believed to focus on jobs that are no longer needed because of technological advancements and redundancies created by the acquisition of Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009 and Lucasfilm in 2012. Disney has made a series of staff cutbacks over the past couple of years, beginning in January 2011 with 200 jobs in its interactive division; Marvel trimmed about a dozen positions in October 2011. [Yahoo! Finance]
Publishing | Robert Stanley Martin takes a new look at Jim Shooter’s tenure as editor-in-chief of Marvel. [The Hooded Utilitarian]
Seemingly in response to blowback from Thursday’s surprise announcement that one-time Vertigo flagship Hellblazer will be canceled and resurrected in the New 52 as Constantine, DC Comics has released a statement from Co-Publisher Dan DiDio expressing pride in the nearly 25-year-old series.
“We’re supremely proud of Vertigo’s Hellblazer, one of the most critically-acclaimed series we’ve published,” DiDio said. “Issue #300 concludes this chapter of Constantine’s epic, smoke-filled story in style and with the energy, talent and creativity fans have come to expect from Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini. And no one should worry that John is going to hang-up his trenchcoat — he lives on in March, in the pages of the all-new DC Comics New 52 ongoing series, Constantine, by writer Robert Venditti and artist Renato Guedes.”
If the statement was meant to soothe fans of Hellblazer, the only remaining title from Vertigo’s 1993 launch, it didn’t work. One commenter on the DC Comics blog insisted that, without the comic’s trademark vulgarity, nudity and adult themes, “it cannot possibly be the same.” Another referred to the upcoming Constantine as “basically Hellblazer-lite.” Still another fan offered his take on DiDio’s comments, summarizing, “We are very proud of Hellblazer so we are cancelling it. This logic is perfectly sound!” (At our sibling blog Comics Should Be Good, Sonia Harris offers her own thoughts on the announcement, and ideas for making Constantine for financially lucrative.)
However, Venditti, best known for his work on The Surrogates and the newly revived X-O Manowar, assured his Twitter followers that, “I have a TREMENDOUS amount of respect for Constantine and the creators who made him who he is. I’m taking this very seriously.” Asked whether the New 52 version of John Constantine will still be bisexual, he replied, “Keeping everything under wraps right now, but the goal is to keep Constantine recognizable. Don’t fix what ain’t broke! “
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.
I don’t know quite why, considering I’ve been feeling cynical and disinterested in the DC Universe over the past couple of weeks, but I find myself tempted by both Flash Annual #1 and Justice League International Annual #1 (both DC Comics; $4.99) this week; something even more surprising considering I haven’t been following the JLI series past trying out the first issue. And yet, if I had $15 this week, I suspect I’d be using a chunk of it for that. I’d also grab Joe Hill and Gabriel Hernandez’ Locke & Key: Grindhouse (IDW Publishing, $3.99), because, well, Locke & Key is a very, very good comic book.
If I had $30, I may find myself picking up the first collection of Peter Panzerfaust (Vol. 1: The Great Escape; Image Comics; $14.99) because I like the high concept behind it even if I managed to miss the single issues. People who did pick it up in singles: Is it the kind of thing I’d like, do you think?
Should I find the money and ability to splurge, I find myself surprisingly drawn to Dark Horse’s Star Wars Omnibus: Clone Wars Vol. 1 ($24.99); I blame people in my Twitter feed talking about Star Wars Celebration last week, and my thinking, “I haven’t really kept up with Star Wars in ages” in response. Does that count as peer pressure?
Passings | Dave Thorne, sometimes called the father of Hawaiian cartooning, has died at the age of 82. His most recent strip was Thorney’s Zoo, which ran in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Mark Evanier has a personal appreciation of Thorne and his love of Hawaii. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]
Creators | Carl Barks once wrote, “Ninety-nine readers out of 100 think Walt Disney writes and draws all those movies and comic books between stints with his hammer and saw building Disneyland,” but for much of his career he was happy to remain anonymous and avoid the hassles that come with fame. Jim Korkis writes the fascinating story of how two fans got through the Disney wall of anonymity — and Barks’ own reticence — to figure out who Barks was and bring him into contact with his admirers. [USA Today]
Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Kevin Church, writer of The Rack, Signs and Meanings, the new Monkeybrain series Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom and many other comics.
To see what Kevin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Organizations | Following the abrupt closing on Monday of the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art’s decade-old New York City location, President Ellen S. Abramowitz promises, “MoCCA is not dead. Some reporters assumed we were going to a virtual gallery, but that is not the case. There will be a new physical space.” She tells The Comics Journal that the new space, expected to be announced at the end of the month, will be an improvement over the old one, which occupied 975 square feet on the fourth floor of a SoHo building. [TCJ.com]
Publishing | ICv2 provides more evidence of an increasingly robust direct market with the news that eight comics, driven by Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men and DC’s New 52, sold more than 100,000 copies in June, tying the number in November 2011. Those two months had the most titles over 100,000 since January 2008, when nine passed that milestone. In addition, three graphic novels sold more than 10,000 copies in June and and two sold more than 20,000. [ICv2]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is artist Ivan Anaya, one of the winners of the winner of the Skullkickers Tavern Tales Contest. He’ll join the other winner, writer Aubrey Sitterson, on a story for Skullkickers #18.
To see what Ivan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Valiant Entertainment released a Ninjak teaser earlier this week, and now here’s the payoff: The ninja spy is indeed returning, in September’s X-O Manowar #5 — and as you can see, he’ll be going sword-to-lightning-sword with Aric of Dacia.
Here’s the quick summary from the press release:
X-O Manowar has landed on Earth – and now the world’s most lethal intelligence agent has a new target. But who is the operative known as Ninjak? And who – or what – has marked Aric of Dacia for death by his blade? Find out when the all-new, all-ruthless Ninjak makes his shocking debut – and cuts his way to the forefront of the Valiant Universe!
Robert Venditti will continue to script the series, but Batman R.I.P. penciller Lee Garbett will take over as artist, replacing Cary Nord, who illustrated the first arc. Comic Book Resources talks with Vendetti about Ninjak’s return to the Valiant Universe.
The teaser image (below) will be the cover of X-O Manowar #5, and the image above is the interlocking variant covers by Patrick Zircher. Philip Tan will also do a pullbox-exclusive variant cover.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we detail what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. Our special guest today is David Harper, associate editor over at the recently redesigned Multiversity Comics.
To see what David and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Free Comic Book Day | In anticipation of Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle interviews Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics, who came up with the idea in the first place, inspired by “free scoop” days at ice cream shops. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Free Comic Book Day | John Jackson Miller traces the 10-year history of Free Comic Book Day. [The Comics Chronicles]
Conventions | ReedPop Group Vice President Lance Fensterman takes stock of this year’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo and sees plenty of growth, both in attendees (42,000 this year) and exhibitors. It looks like the show will continue: “We feel like we got the answer we needed. We made maybe a little bit of money, which is fine. Year 3 is when we expect to start to see some positive cash flow, but even more so we felt that the community embraced the event and the turnout and the ticket sales reflect that—and that is just what we needed to see.” [ICv2]
Valiant will release its comics digitally the same day as print, beginning today with X-O Manowar #1, written by Robert Venditti and illustrated by Cary Nord. (Here’s a preview.) The other relaunch titles are Harbinger #1, due out on June 6; Bloodshot #1, on July 11; and Archer & Armstrong #1, on Aug. 8.
ComiXology will also carry digital editions of three classic storylines:
The Valiant relaunch has been one of the most-hyped comics events of the season, and with good reason. Founded by former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter, Valiant was the No. 3 comics publisher in the United States in the 1990s. Its line featured a strong set of characters in an interconnected universe, all fleshed out by a creative team headed by Shooter and former Marvel hands Barry Windsor-Smith and Bob Layton. Valiant Entertainment, which purchased the rights to the Valiant comics in 2007, is relaunching four of the original titles with updated characters and story lines, and plans are in the works for at least two more.
Venditti and the Valiant staff outlined their plans for the four relaunch titles at the Valiant panel at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, and at that time, Publisher Fred Pierce said the 1990s comics would be available in digital format and eventually in print as well. More digital editions of the older titles, including Archer & Armstrong, Rai, Ninjak, Shadowman, Eternal Warrior and Quantum & Woody, are in the works.
Legal | The Arizona legislature passed a sweeping bill last week that would make it a crime to communicate via electronic means speech that is intended to “annoy,” “offend,” “harass” or “terrify.” While the law was intended to update the state’s telephone harassment laws to encompass the Internet, it’s not limited to one-to-one communications and thus, as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund notes, could criminalize “all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying.” Media Coalition, a trade association that includes the CBLDF among its members, has sent a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer urging her to veto the bill. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Media Coalition]
Passings | Rex Babin, editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has died of cancer. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Nate Powell seems to be on some sort of a streak; his artwork for the civil rights story The Silence of Our Friends is winning deserved accolades, he is currently drawing and coloring an issue of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth, and he has just announced a new project that will bring his work to an entirely new audience: He will be drawing the graphic novel adaptation of Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero. For those who don’t have a tween-ager in the house, Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The New Olympians is the Twilight of the middle-grade set (in terms of popularity, not sparkliness), a series of novels that update the Greek gods in witty ways. The Lost Hero is the first volume in Riordan’s spinoff series The Heroes of Olympus. Robert Venditti will be scripting the graphic novel, which makes me think it will have some adult appeal as well, but we’ll have to wait until fall 2014 to find out.
Meanwhile, drop by Powell’s blog to see all the stages of one of his Sweet Tooth pages, from thumbnails to colors.