"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Linsay, the singly-named writer for Comics Anonymous, caught up with Howard Chaykin at the London Super Comic Con and had a nice chat about the many projects he is working on right now. We all know Chaykin is doing variant covers for Garth Ennis’s The Shadow, and Dynamite is re-releasing a collected edition of his own The Shadow: Blood and Judgment as a trade paperback, but he has a lot more going on than that:
right now as we speak I am writing a video game which we cannot discuss as although I’m very excited about it as I’ve signed an NDA. I’m about to start the artwork for the sequel to Black Kiss, a genuinely disgusting comic book that I did when I was in my late thirties when I was genuinely disgusting and now that I’m post-disgusting I have decided to re-explore the concept of what it would be like at my age to dabble in my own disgust.
Black Kiss will be published by Image, and Chaykin goes to some lengths to discuss just how disgusting it is, and how it ties in with his love of musical comedy. On top of that, he is working with Matt Fraction on another comic, to be published by Icon, that also has a show-business connection. And he takes a moment to ruminate on his long career in comics:
The high points of my career started in the 80s and ended in the 90s so I’m well passed my prime and perfectly comfortable with the idea that I’ve been coasting on that but never not doing quality work. Just the audience passes you by, the audience has other ideas and other issues. Since that time I’ve done nothing that I’m ashamed of. I did plenty of work I’m ashamed of before that but nothing since. I did some shit stuff because I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. Inadequacy is often its own reward. I did the Star Wars comic in the 70s and if I’d have know It was going to be as big a hit I would have done a better job.”
Legal | A judge denied a motion for acquittal and a new trial in the case of Michael George, the former comic book store owner and convention organizer convicted of killing his wife in 1990, dismissing the defense’s argument that there was insufficient evidence for conviction. George is serving a life sentence. [Detroit Free Press]
Publishing | DC Comics announced last night it will shut down its message board in early March as part of an overhaul of the publisher’s website that will include Facebook-hosted commenting and integrated Twitter feeds. [The Source]
Creators | About 15 people threw eggs at Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks as he spoke on freedom of speech at the University of Karlstad. Vilks has raised the ire of some Muslims with his cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed. Vilks told the audience, “Insults are part of democratic society. If we begin censoring ourselves, it will mean undermining freedom of speech in the long run. I don’t think that the problem is that artists are too provocative but that we are not provocative enough.” None of the eggs hit the cartoonist, and the protestors were removed from the room. [UPI.com]
With the announcement this week that Dynamite Entertainment has acquired the rights to do comic books starring the Shadow, the New Jersey comics company has become the home for a majority of pulp heroes in comics. Although an argument could have been made that DC Comics held that title when it was publishing its now-canceled “First Wave” line, with this latest announcement the Shadow joins other proto-comic heroes like Zorro, the Phantom, Dracula, the Lone Ranger, Sherlock Holmes, Buck Rogers, the Green Hornet and others in Dynamite’s line.
While this isn’t the first time that multiple pulp icons have been under one comic publisher’s roof, it’s by far the most concentrated in some time. Although most weren’t created in comics, pulp characters have a long history bouncing around from numerous publishers over the years. The Shadow, for instance has been published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Archie and even a newspaper strip that’s run off and on through the years — and his pulp brethren can claim similar paths over time.
The notable absences to Dynamite’s de facto pulp line are tied up — or have been until recently — by other publishers. DC’s rights to Doc Savage, the Avenger and Rima The Jungle Girl are currently unknown, while Tarzan resides at Dark Horse, and Moonstone, another pulp-inspired comics publisher, publishes stories about the Spider and the Domino Lady.
But with the potency of Dynamite’s line-up so far, it casts a potentially long shadow (no pun intended) on the comics industry and what’s possible. Imagine a pulp line firing on all cylinders, perhaps even a crossover at some point or even a Justice Society-style team-up.
Update: And today Dynamite announced they’ll be making comics starring another pulp hero, The Spider.
In my debut CTN column, I raved about Justice Inc., a two-part prestige format series DC put out in the late 1980s, written by Andrew Helfer and drawn by Kyle Baker. The book starred a long-forgotten pulp hero known as the Avenger. That comic was actually a spin-off of another comic Helfer and Baker were doing at the time, which was also based off of a pulp hero, although in his case he was far from forgotten. I’m talking, of course, about The Shadow.