INTERVIEW: DiDio & Lee on "Dark Knight 3," Vertigo's Future & DC's Evolving Readership
David Lloyd and U.K. comics mainstay Bambos Georgiou are launching a digital anthology comic called Aces Weekly, and have released a large and impressive list of future contributors to the U.K. comics blog Down The Tubes. The press release continues:
Roger Langridge is the latest creator to say he is no longer going to work for Marvel or DC Comics because of concerns about the way they treat creators.
The subject came up last week, when Langridge, the writer of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, the Muppets comics (originally created for BOOM! Studios and now being republished by Marvel) and John Carter: A Princess of Mars, was interviewed on The Orbiting Pod podcast. After chatting about his newest comics Snarked! and Popeye (which IDW Publishing has just expanded from a four-issue miniseries to an ongoing series), he added this:
I’m very happy to be cultivating a working relationship with people like BOOM! and IDW at the moment when Marvel and DC are turning out to be quite problematic from an ethical point of view to continue working with.
I think it’s down to everybody’s individual conscience, but I think those of us who have options—and I do have options, I’ve got a working relationship with a couple of different publishers, I’ve got illustration to fall back on, I’m not beholden to Marvel and DC for my bread and butter, so it seems to me that if you do have the option you should maybe think hard about what you are doing and who you are doing it for. I was writing the last issue of John Carter when the news came that Marvel had won a lawsuit against the heirs of Jack Kirby, and Steve Bissette wrote a very impassioned post about the ethics of working for Marvel under those circumstances, and pretty much then I figured I should finish the script I was writing and move on, and it’s not like Marvel needs me. It’s no skin off their nose if I don’t accept anything else from them in the future.
On his blog, Langridge clarifies that he made the decision last summer, at a time when he wasn’t doing any Marvel or DC work, so he’s not so much quitting as deciding not to go back. His statements come less than a month after iZombie and Superman writer Chris Roberson made headlines with his announcement that he’s ending his relationship with DC because of its treatment of creators and their heirs.
If you are a fan of all-ages comics, odds are pretty good you enjoyed a fair share of comics involving Ty Templeton. So it did not surprise me when Marvel launched a new Ultimate Spider-Man comic (based on the new Disney XD series that premiered recently) and tapped Templeton and Dan Slott to co-write and draw a story for the first issue (which came out last week). Templeton will also be teaming with Slott on Avenging Spider-Man 8 (set for release on June 20). That just scratches the surface of what Templeton is working on–or as he put it in this email interview: “There’s always something else going on.” I’m hard-pressed to pick which of his new upcoming projects I am most enthused about, but the prospect of seeing him work as a live talkshow/webcast host nears the top of the list. Also, I am overjoyed to know that Templeton (a great creator with a wealth of knowledge and experience) is passing along that love of storytelling by teaching folks. Over the years, I have always relished interviewing Templeton and cannot believe this marks the first time we have done an interview for Robot 6.
Tim O’Shea: Did you contact Marvel, or did they contact you for this new Ultimate Spider-Man series?
Ty Templeton: They contacted me, but I’ve done a few things for the Spider-Man office here and there, so they were already in touch with me. I did a small chapter for an issue of Amazing about eight months ago, and a couple of one-page Spider-Man stories for Age of Heroes, and things like that.
World of Strange currently sells some pretty rad shirts from a variety of comic artists, including Fred Hembeck, Peter Bagge, Bob Burden and Rick Veitch, and now they’ve added three new shirts from Steve Bissette (Tyrant, Swamp Thing). You have your choice of the above Tyrant design or two different zombie shirts, and Bissette promises there’s a fourth design on the way.
Publishing | Four months in, the DC Comics relaunch seems to be a success. The most recent sales figures show Justice League #1 selling more than 360,000 copies since August, and Batman #1 and Action Comics #1 selling more than 250,000. By contrast, Marvel’s strongest seller was Ultimate Spider-Man #160, which was in the 160,000-copy neighborhood. These figures seem to reflect sales in the direct market only; it would be interesting to see how many digital copies have been sold. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Awards | Nominations are open for this year’s Eagle Awards. [Eagle Awards]
Retailing | San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs shares the top-selling graphic novels in his store for 2011, by units and by dollars. [Savage Critics]
Retailing | Christopher Butcher looks back on the events of the past year in the comics store he manages, Toronto’s The Beguiling. [The Beguiling blog]
You knew we were going to get to this series sooner or later, right?
Wimbledon Green creator Seth has joined in the call to boycott Marvel following the recent court ruling that Jack Kirby’s heirs have no claim to the characters he co-created for the publisher, saying, “I hope it catches fire and spreads. The corporation badly needs to be shamed into doing the right thing.”
Veteran artist and educator Stephen R. Bissette asked fans late last month to stop buying all “Kirby-derived” Marvel products in an effort to pressure the company to better credit the artist and fairly compensate his family for the properties he helped to create. Seth, like Bissette, takes particular issue with Marvel’s characterization of Kirby’s contributions, and the supporting testimony offered by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas and others.
“The corporate lie about Kirby’s role in the creation of all those characters is abhorrent,” Seth writes on his blog. “It’s a bold faced lie. Everyone knows it’s a lie. No one is fooled. Everyone lying for the company should be ashamed. Stan Lee should be ashamed. What the Marvel corporation is doing might be legal but it certainly isn’t right.”
Seth concedes a boycott isn’t a sacrifice on his part — he’s never worked for the publisher and can’t recall the last Marvel product he bought — but encourages others to “refrain from supporting the corporation until some form of justice is brought forth for Mr. Kirby.”
(via The Comics Reporter)
Comics | Flashpoint editor Eddie Berganza talks to USA Today about the midpoint of DC’s big summer event series and how it might tie into the September relaunch: “They’re starting to figure out where these 52 are coming from, and it’s staring them right in the face with Flashpoint. A lot of the concepts, a lot of the ideas, they’re cropping up within the pages. You have a book called Frankenstein in the Flashpoint world, and guess what, we’re doing Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE. You’ll see a couple of other background players start showing up that become more important as we go into September.” [USA Today]
Retailing | Borders Group warned investors on Tuesday against buying any more of the company’s stock as it soon could be worthless. If a federal bankruptcy court approves the $215-million opening bid submitted last week, the bookseller would become a subsidiary of the privately held Direct Brands, owner of the Book of the Month Club and Columbia House, meaning stock will no longer be traded. [The Detroit News]
Saga of the Swamp Thing #34 (1985), page 17. Steve Bissette.
The grid, in one form or another, is such a ubiquity in comics art that it’s hard to think of logic to apply or standard rules to serve as guidelines for breaking out of it. Even when panels of the strangest shapes are used, even when the lines they follow are counter-intuitive and asymmetrical, the basic look of the comics page is a rectangle filled up with smaller pictures that have been neatly arranged to fit inside it like puzzle pieces. Pulling the grid off the page is like pulling the cloth off a table — the space is large, and bare, and it can be daunting to figure out how to go about setting it. The great comics artists have worked in grids, period. One has to go far afield, typically to the medium’s forgotten psychedelicists, names like Greg Irons or Philippe Druillet or Alex Nino, before encountering comics art that attempts to make grid-less pages work as anything more than cheap novelty. Without a grid, the artist is truly alone — no automatic compositional axis to base the page around, no storytelling rhythm in place, and few canonical works to draw inspiration from.
Steve Bissette went “off the grid” at an almost feverish rate in his mid-’80s work with Alan Moore on Swamp Thing. Though Moore’s scripts have drawn (at least) hundreds of times as many praise, Bissette’s artwork isn’t just the aspect of the comics that’s aged best — it’s what makes them work at all. This page is a prime example of why: Moore’s captions are poesy rather than narration, verse and not prose. They swirl around in blatant disregard of the idea that an artist must put direct action of some sort or other on the page, calling up flashes of color and shadowy half-forms instead. Gridding a sequence in which “clusters of insect eggs burn like nebulae, suspended in their unique and vine-wrought cosmos,” and things only go on like that too, would border on the ridiculous. These words are not intended to produce an exact counterpoint in the art. They’re flights of fancy. Bissette understands this, and does the same thing: this page is anything but literal, vague in its depiction of both progression through time and movement through space. Instead, it gives us multiple, somewhat interconnected views into one scene, leaving plenty of space for Moore’s image-rich writing. Rather than simply act as an echo to the words, Bissette finds their purpose and creates a complementary piece of art.
Publishing | D.C. Thomson & Co., publisher of long-running comics like The Beano and The Dandy, is closing a printing plant in Dundee, Scotland, eliminating up to 350 jobs. The facility is used to print magazines and books. The company, which also owns The Evening Telegraph and Sunday Post newspapers, employs more than 2,000 people. [BBC News]
Publishing | Lori Henderson returns to the question of what led to the failure of the CMX manga imprint: “Its parent company, DC didn’t do anything to market that line. Putting a solicitation in Previews is not marketing. DC claimed they would bridge the manga and comic store gap, yet did nothing to help retailers or promote the books to bloggers, bookstores or librarians, their three strongest advocates. You can’t buy or recommend books you don’t know about. While there were other factors that contributed to its ultimate end, the mishandling of the imprint in its first year, and then being completely ignored for the rest was the main factor in its lack of sales.” [Manga Xanadu]