"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Last week, DC Comics released an eight-page “The Omega Men” story by writer Tom King and artist Barnaby Bagenda, leading into the June-debuting ongoing series. In the story, as promoted since solicitation text was released in March, Kyle Rayner — formerly DC’s primary Green Lantern and most recently the sole White Lantern — appears to be murdered on camera.
ROBOT 6 reached out to writer Ron Marz, who created Kyle Rayner with artist Daryl Banks, for his reaction on the apparent death of the character, who debuted in 1994’s Green Lantern #48:
Auctions | A page of original artwork from 1971’s Asterix and the Laurel Wreath sold at auction Sunday for more than $158,000, with proceeds going to benefit the families of those killed in the attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s offices. The art included a special dedication by Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo, who came out of retirement in the days after the attack to draw tributes to the victims. The auction house Christie’s waived its commission for Sunday’s sale. [BBC News]
Political cartoons | Ecuadorean cartoonist Xavier Bonilla, who has been sued, threatened and reprimanded by his own government because of his political cartoons, revealed last week that he has also received threats from an Ecuadorean member of ISIS over a cartoon making fun of the extremist group. While he ultimately decided the threat wasn’t credible, Bonilla said, “It has to be understood within this climate of hostility and harassment that’s been created within the country. It’s gotten to the point where even humor is being persecuted and oppressed by the president.” Reporter Jim Wyss also looks at some other cases of government suppression of political cartoons in Latin America [Miami Herald]
In the past, I enjoyed checking out a periodic arc of Adventures of Superman, the DC Digital First series that ended in April 2014. What appealed to me most about the series was the rotating creative teams on these arcs, including writers like Tim Seeley, Christos Gage, Peter Milligan, as well as artists such as Mike Norton, Jock, Gabriel Rodriguez. In other words, the anthology element to the series consistently entertained me.
More recently, the anthology appeal of the the DC Digital First line really amped up in recent weeks for me. To be specific, on Nov. 27 writer Corinna Bechko, writer/artist Gabriel Hardman and colorist Jordan Boyd launched “Dig for Fire”–a three-part story starting in Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #16. Then this past Friday (Dec. 5), I was caught by surprise to learn that writer Ron Marz, artist Cully Hamner and colorist Rico Renzi teamed on a three-part Legends of the Dark Knight #80 story, “Nevermore”.
To help celebrate what would’ve been Jack Kirby’s 98th birthday, Shmaltz Brewery in Clifton Park, New York, will debut a limited-edition King Kirby Ale as part of an Aug. 28 fundraiser to benefit The Hero Initiative. A limited number of cases will be available for purchase at the event.
Approached by local artists about holding an event, the brewery went a step further and created the exclusive ale (available as both pale and dark), which features a label designed by Paul Harding. “I tried to capture Kirby from an angle that few have seen before,” the Clifton Park artist said in a statement, “in a way that people can actually look up to him and get a sense of his artistic power.”
Legal | Mohammad Hassan Khalid was sentenced last week in Philadelphia to five years in prison for his part in a failed 2009 plan to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who drew the head of the Prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog. Khalid, now 20, was a teenager and an honors student when he became involved with Colleen LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” who in January was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her part in the plot. Prosecutors pointed to the fact that Khalid also translated violent jihad videos into English, which may have helped recruit new terrorists, but they also asked for leniency because he cooperated with them after his arrest. The defense claimed he was simply a vulnerable, awkward teenager who has since been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Khalid, who had been offered a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University but was arrested before graduating from high school, will get credit for the three years he has already served in prison. [Reuters]
Creators | Author Marc Tyler Nobleman tells Michael Cavna about his crusade to gain recognition for Bill Finger as one of the co-creators of Batman — including a push to have Google honor him with a Google Doodle on his birthday: “As it currently stands, even the mighty Christopher Nolan could not legally credit Bill as co-creator. However, prior to The Dark Knight, I asked DC if they could use non-subjective language to acknowledge Bill. I proposed: ‘Batman was first called “the Dark Knight” in Batman #1, in 1940, in a story written by Bill Finger.’ DC publications already regularly credit Bill for that story, and the movie’s title doesn’t even include the word ‘Batman’ — it is wholly a phrase coined by Bill Finger. Alas, they said no.” [Comic Riffs]
Passings | Tulsa, Oklahoma, cartoonist Larry Pendleton, who created the syndicated single-panel cartoon Graphic Nature, has died at the age of 59. [Tulsa World]
Crime | Federal prosecutors are seeking a lengthy prison term for Colleen LaRose, who was convicted, along with two other people, in a foiled 2009 plot to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. LaRose, who goes by the online name “Jihad Jane,” could face a life sentence, but as she assisted U.S. authorities with several terrorism investigations, they are merely asking that she spend “decades” behind bars. LaRose’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday; her co-conspirator, Mohammad Hasan Khalid, will be sentenced on Tuesday. [The Guardian]
Creators | Neil Gaiman, who maintains a highly visible presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr — he has 1.8 million followers on Twitter alone — is taking a six-month “sabbatical” from social media to focus on his writing. “I feel that I’m getting too dependent on phones, on Twitter,” said Gaiman, who began blogging in 2001. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. That instant ability to find things out, to share. I want to see what happens when I take some time off.” [The Guardian]
DC Comics has revealed the new lineup for its digital-first series Adventures of Superman that includes a two-part story by Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis and Eisner-winning artist Jock. The announcement of their collaboration, titled “The Sound of One Hand Clapping,” provides context for the page Jock tweeted last week (at right), featuring the Man of Steel and the Joker, the latter depicted in styles from different eras, artists and media.
Other creators in the January lineup are B. Clay Moore and Gabriel Rodriguez with the three-part “Exposed,” Fabian Nicieza and Phil Hester with “The Coming of … Sugar & Spike,” and Ron Marz and Evan “Doc” Shaner with the three-part “Only Child.”
The son of filmmaker John Landis, Max Landis made a splash last year with Chronicle, the found-footage sci-fi movie directed by Josh Trank (and based on a story by both of them). Since then, he’s become widely known for his 17-minute rant about, and recreation of, the death and return of Superman, and a much longer video in which he explains his elaborate idea for a reboot of the storyline that DC had reportedly considered for a weekly series he’d have co-written by Greg Pak. (Landis says because of his schedule and changes at DC regarding a weekly title, the project never went anywhere.)
The new Adventures of Superman lineup debuts Jan. 6 with Moore and Rodriguez’s “Exposed”; Landis and Jock’s “The Sound of One Hand Clapping” follows that storyline on Jan. 27.
Writer, and Comic Book Resources columnist, Ron Marz (Silver Surfer, Green Lantern, Witchblade) has kicked off his fourth annual Comics for Tots auction on eBay. The first round of items, which can be found here, includes original art by Stjepan Sejik, Scott Kollins, and Darryl Banks, as well as a Joker action figure. Marz announced the sale Wednesday on Twitter, and he says more items are on the way. Once shipping costs are paid, all the money will be donated to Toys for Tots.
Last year’s Comics for Tots event raised $2,300. “We purchased and donated multiple loads of toys for the local Toys for Tots effort, everything from action figures to dolls, board games to sports equipment, books to iPods,” he wrote. “This is all possible because of you. We were able to make Christmas brighter for some children in need.”
I’ve always been interested in the intersection between comics and sports. The stereotypical comics-reading nerd isn’t much of an athletics buff, but there are many, many people who enjoy both. Even those who don’t can recognize that comics and sports seem to scratch similar itches for their fans by offering bottomless rabbit holes of involvement. Final Four brackets and fantasy football leagues require and celebrate the same kind of obsessive knowledge that comics fans enjoy sharing and discussing.
Ron Marz is a great example of a combination comics/sports aficionado: His Twitter stream is just as likely to discuss the Mets as Metropolis, and he’s even written a sports comic, The Protectors, created by Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije and drawn by Bart Sears.
It was also Marz who pointed me toward the NFL Heroes posters below, also drawn by Sears, featuring “rocket-armed quarterback” Jay Cutler, “defensive dominator” Julius Peppers, and “legendary linebacker” Brian Urlacher. They’re available from Idonije’s Athleta Comics.
While talking about the financial difficulty of hitting a lot of big conventions during the year, a group of comics writers came up with a potential new way to make creator appearances more frequent and cost-effective.
Jimmy Palmiotti started the conversation by noting that when most creators attend a convention, they do so on their own dime. And for writers it’s especially tough, as they’re unable to sell artwork to recoup costs. Ron Marz noted that even when the table is free, he still loses money unless the convention at least pays for travel and hotel expenses, while Steve Niles added that recovery time after conventions is also a factor. Time spent at a show (or being sick after a show) is time not spent on creating comics.
None of these creators prefers to stay home and miss meeting readers and other industry people, so Niles shared how, because he wasn’t able to attend Comic-Con International this year, he Skyped into a panel and had a good experience. “I wish we could do this at stores to meet fans,” he wrote. And then the conversation took off.
Who’s your Green Lantern writer?
If you started reading the series in the ‘60s, odds are it was John Broome. He didn’t write every Green Lantern story of Hal Jordan’s first decade, but he was there for the character’s introduction (in September-October 1959’s Showcase #22), and he lasted until March 1970’s Green Lantern #75.
If you joined the Corps in the the ‘70s, your Green Lantern writer was Denny O’Neil, who had already written a few GL stories before getting the regular gig with the landmark Issue 76. He guided the feature through some rocky patches — including the book’s cancellation, its time as a backup feature in The Flash and its 1976 relaunch — before finally taking a bow with June 1980’s Issue 129.
The ‘80s saw a parade of writers, including Marv Wolfman, Mike Barr, Len Wein and Steve Englehart (and in GL’s time as an Action Comics Weekly feature, Jim Owsley/Christopher Priest and Peter David). Each made his own contribution, be it Hal’s exile from Earth, John Stewart’s star turn, the Guardians’ sabbatical, or the enigmatic Lord Malvolio. The early ‘90s belonged to the neo-Silver Age stylings of Gerard Jones, and the balance of the decade was all Ron Marz and Kyle Rayner. Starting in 2000, Judd Winick took on Kyle for three years, then Ben Raab wrote a few issues, and Marz came back for one last crack at his creation.
And since then, it’s been all Geoff Johns.
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Following up on Kevin’s post from last week on holiday-related sales, here area few more comic-related deals for Cyber Monday — plus a few that extend into the month of December:
• Fantagraphics will hold a 30 percent off sale on almost 100 items on their site Monday, where you can also get their exclusive minicomics.
• Dark Horse Digital is offering comics fans 50 percent off their entire order ($15 minimum) for 24 hours on Monday, if you use the code “dhdcyber” when you check out.
• The Devastator kicks off a round of holiday deals tomorrow on their site. “Subscriptions, single issues, art prints and other goodies will be bundled up for Christmastime Consumerism.” They’ll have deals tomorrow through Dec. 15.
• Writer Ron Marz once again has kicked off his annual “Comics for Tots” drive, where you can buy comics autographed by Ron and others, and he’ll use the money to buy toys for Toys for Tots.
• Any books purchased from the Cartoon Books store through Dec. 19 will be autographed by Jeff Smith. If you haven’t read RASL, you can pick up all four volumes of it for $50, plus they’ve got some cool Bone hoodies available.
Amazon made a splash last month with the publication of Blackburn Burrow, a digital comic that it’s distributing for free via its Amazon Studios, a crowdsourcing project for movie scripts. Written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Matthew Dow Smith, the comic originated as an Amazon Studios screenplay and was produced by 12 Gauge Comics. Not only was the first issue free, but Amazon actually paid people to read it: Anyone who read the first issue and filled out a short survey got a $5 Amazon gift card.
Well, Issue 2 is now out, and while Amazon may not pay you to read it, it’s still free on Graphicly or via the Kindle store, and you’re still welcome to share your thoughts via a survey. You may not get five bucks, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing you have made the eventual movie that will be produced from this marginally better.
Issue 3 will be out in November.
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where today we welcome special guest Ron Marz. Marz has written everything from Green Lantern to Witchblade, and you can currently find him working on comics like Artifacts, Prophecy, Blackburn Burrow and The Ride: Southern Gothic. He also writes the column Shelf Life for Comic Book Resources and can be found on Twitter.
To see what Ron and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.