"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Comics | David Harper examines why Marvel and DC remain important — “indispensable,” even — despite the ascendance of creator-owned comics. “Opposite to what it was before where you’d form yourself in your own comics and then graduate to the big companies, now the big companies are going to form you in order to graduate you to your own comics,” Marcos Martin explains. “That’s why I think Marvel and DC are indispensable. They’re great. That means there is an industry. We need that industry in order to bring creators and form them so they can at one point put together their own stories.” [Sktchd]
To my mind, there can never be enough all-ages comics. By all-ages, I mean comics that resonate and entertain folks of, well, all ages, not just children. So I was intrigued to learn that writer Dave Scheidt and artist Jess Smart Smiley launched a Kickstarter campaign for an all-ages horror/comedy collection of three stories, Spooky Sleepover.
Scheidt and Smiley were more than happy to explain their love of all-ages storytelling.
Conventions | Clem Bastow notes a disconnect at Oz Comic-Con in Melbourne, Australia, where women were a slight majority in the audience but were severely underrepresented as guests; DC artist Nicola Scott was the only woman in the comics contingent. Organizer Rand Ratinac said it was purely a matter of availability: “We offered for literally dozens if not hundreds of different guests, we always do, because you’re dealing with people whose schedules they sometimes can’t lock in until a month before the event. This time, of the people that we wanted, there were just a lot of guys that were available. Next year, it could be a whole bunch of girls; it all just depends who can come.” But Scott points out that there are simply fewer women in superhero comics than in the other sectors of the industry and superhero creators are what brings the audience in the door. [The Guardian]
It’s a good time to be Art Baltazar and Franco. The success of the original Tiny Titans series (2008-12) earned them an Eisner Award, and led to the tiny-fication of features as diverse as Hellboy, Battlestar Galactica and Captain Action. Back at DC, their follow-up Superman Family Adventures only lasted 12 issues, and their New 52 Green Team series (drawn by Ig Guara and aimed at the regular superhero audience) went for only eight. In that regard, wile a six-issue miniseries might seem like an even shorter commitment, I like to think it’s another chance for the duo to show their stuff.
Aw yeah! In my household, the best news from DC’s June solicitations is the six-issue Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse miniseries. I showed the cover to my 5-year-old and she was crestfallen to learn it didn’t come out for another three months. At least she can fill the time reading the other paperbacks (and Superman Family Adventures) and watching Frozen on an endless loop.
I may also have to get the Li’l Gotham figures, although at $13 a pop they are pretty pricey. Perhaps just Batman and Robin.
Oh, there’s more? What could it be …?
LET’S GO PLACES
The solicitation for Futures End #6 — advertising Ray Palmer, Frankenstein and Amethyst’s trip into the Phantom Zone — makes me irrationally optimistic about the series generally. I think the New 52 needs this series (or something like it) to present a coherent shared universe, because for the past two and a half years it’s been a clash of disparate styles and an array of changes without much to pull it all together. If Futures End can manage a good-sized, eclectic cast, and convince readers they’re all able to function in the same basic environment, that’ll go a long way towards giving the superhero books common ground.
“We sit at home and make comics and we don’t really see the impact until we go to a comic show or we get letters. I get letters just about every day. I either get a letter or a tweet. I get physical letters mailed to my P.O. Box still, which is cool. That’s how you know you’re doing it — you’re doing it right — because when I’m at home, I am making comics and throwing out the garbage. But when we’re at a convention, we’re like rock stars. [Laughs] And if we get recognized at the grocery store or a comic book shop, that’s pretty cool too.”
— Art Baltazar, about introducing children to reading through comics, in an interview with CBR about the return of Tiny Titans
Longtime collaborators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani have been on a roll recently, partnering their Aw Yeah Comics store with Alter Ego Comics, tackling Itty Bitty Hellboy at Dark Horse, which will also collect their Aw Yeah Comics series, and bringing the “Li’l” treatment to several Dynamite Entertainment titles.
However, they’re not finished yet: Aureliani announced over the weekend on Twitter, “Big news out of DC comics and @dandidio1 says so: can you say: Tiny Titans?,” followed by, “Yes! It’s true! New Tiny Titans coming soon!” Although there’s been no official announcement, DC Comics Co-Published Dan DiDio re-tweeted the second message.
The Eisner Award-winning all-ages series, which ran for 50 issues from April 2008 to May 2012, depicts the lighthearted adventures of child versions of DC heroes (primarily the Teen Titans) at Sidekick City Elementary, where Deathstroke is principal and Darkseid is the lunch lady.
There’s no word yet on when, or in what format, fans should expect the return of Tiny Titans.
Legal | Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Saba’aneh was released from an Israeli prison on Monday, as scheduled. Saba’aneh, who was originally held without charges and eventually sentenced to five months for “contacts with a hostile organization,” drew several cartoons while he was in prison and plans to do a show of his prison drawings, focusing on Palestinian prisoners who, he says, are in prison “just because they are Palestinians.” [PRI’s The World]
Manga | In a major coup for a manga publisher, Digital Manga (which, contrary to its name, also published print manga) announced at Anime Expo that it has signed a deal with Tezuka Productions to publish all of Osamu Tezuka’s works in North America. While the details aren’t entirely clear, it sounds like Digital is working on some new licenses and will have digital rights to books released here in print by other publishers. [Anime News Network]
This should lift the spirits of readers still mourning the end of DC Comics’ Tiny Titans: Cool Toy Review and Fwoosh have the first looks at Mattel’s Comic-Con International-exclusive boxed set featuring five figures — Robin, Raven, Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy — based on the character designs from the Eisner Award-winning series by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani. As you can see from the image above, the package is actually a Sidekick City Elementary bus driven by principal Slade Wilson and bearing the slogan “Convention or Bust.” On the back is a comic strip by Baltazar and Aureliani depicting the five pint-sized heroes, including a cosplaying Beast Boy, at the convention.
Check out more images below, and at Cool Toy Review and Fwoosh. The set will be available at the Mattel booth at Comic-Con for $20, and at MattyCollector.com later.
I often look at fan art and wish that it was from a real comic. But sometimes — rarely — the artist goes right ahead and makes a real comic out of his fan art. That’s what Yale Stewart’s done with Little League, his webcomic featuring the grammar-school adventures of the Justice League of America.
There are obvious similarities to Tiny Titans, but Stewart’s has a slightly different tone from that series. Like Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani’s wonderful comic for kids, Little League is cute and funny and occasionally references events in the regular DC Universe (like the current storyline in which some of the heroes get new costumes in order to appear grown-up). The differences have to do with format and probably with the characters themselves.
I’m not ashamed to tell you that when I read that DC Comics was canceling Art Baltazar and Franco’s Tiny Titans series, I collapsed to my knees, raised my eyes to the heavens and let out a long, low “Nooo!” I would have torn out my hair, if I had any hair to tear out, and I did try to rend my garments. However, I quickly discovered that either I am too weak to rend garments, or my garments were simply too well-made to be easily rend-able.
Tiny Titans quite gradually had become my favorite comic book-format comic; I picked up the first issue out of a mixture of curiosity and cynical disbelief that you could do a mass-appeal kids comic based on DC’s Titans franchise (after all, DC seems to have had trouble doing a narrow-appeal grown-up comic based on the franchise over the decades, if you see how many times its been canceled, relaunched and given new directions and new creators since Marv Wolfman stopped writing it). But I never dropped it, as Baltazar and Franco had decided to do an old-school (like, John Stanley old-school) gag comic featuring kid characters for kid readers, and do it in Baltazar’s own super-cute style, and fill it full of DC trivia and ephemera.
The silver lining of its cancellation was the announcement of Superman Family Adventures, which uses a name most recently used by DC for their Showcase Presents collections combining stories from Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. The new comic was to be by the exact same creative team, which preview art suggested would be told in a similar style. Well, the first issue hit the stands yesterday, and I have some thoughts about it.
The operative word for Mattel’s San Diego exclusives this year would be “cute,” if the three DC Comics items they posted on their MattyCollector site today are any indication. As you can see above, they’ll be offering a set of Tiny Titans collectible figures with a display base. And if that’s not enough of a cute overload for you, click below to see the Death figure and the Polly Pocket Comics Villains set, featuring a trio of Bat villains, labeled “A” for “Adorable.”
They also announced some Masters of the Universe and Ghostbusters exclusives as well, so click on over if you want to check those out.
Along with the rest of the “Silver” comic books coming on Free Comic Book Day next year, DC Comics announced the DC Nation 2012 Free Comic Book Day Super Sampler, which will feature comics based on their animated series Green Lantern, Young Justice and a new series called Superman Family Adventures. Today on the Source, DC announced the creative team for that book–the Tiny Titans team of Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani are working on the monthly Superman Family Adventures, which kicks off next May.
“I have been sitting on the edge of my seat, biting my tongue about Superman Family Adventures since Thursday, July 21 at approximately 4 p.m., when Art and Franco came to see me at SDCC and showed me the proposal for this series,” said series editor Kristy Quinn. “Whew. Now, at least, you’re all stuck waiting with me—I was getting lonely sitting at my desk with all this cool stuff I couldn’t share!”
Update: Issue #50 of Tiny Titans will be the final issue, as noted in today’s solicitations. Baltazar and Aureliani have been the creative team on Tiny Titans since DC started publishing it in 2008.
Here’s a quick review of DC’s Red Lantern Corps concept, introduced by Geoff Johns and company in 2007: Long ago, The Guardians of the Universe created an android army to police all of an existence, but a glitch in their programming caused them to commit genocide in “Sector 666,” killing all of the billions who lived there save five. These five formed a terrorist cell, and eventually one of them, named Atrocitus, killed the other four and used the power of his anger and need for revenge to form the Red Lantern Corps.
They wield the red energy of rage, and becoming a Red Lantern involves expelling all of the blood in the body, replacing the beating heart with the ring itself, and then pumping a sort of gory, acidic, liquid energy through the veins, which is often spit and vomited out as a weapon.
If you’ve only a passing familiarity with Green Lantern comics, the Red Lanterns are the characters you see puking blood on the covers.
So, perfect for little kids, right?
One might not think so, but artist Art Baltazar seems to have developed a knack for turning some of the modern DC Universe’s least all-ages concept into kid-friendly gold, as he demonstrates monthly in his Tiny Titans comic (Wherein Dr. Light is a science teacher, Deathstroke a elementary school principal and all the minor Titans characters brutally murdered in the pages of Teen Titans live in perfect harmony).
Baltazar gets his drawing hands on Red Lantern Dex-Starr, The Red Lantern who is also a house cat, in Super Hero Splash Down, one of the DC Super-Pets line of heavily-illustrated prose books for younger readers (Each are about 50 pages long, consist of three chapters, and have big, comic book sound effects embedded in the paragraphs, making for fun books to read aloud).
Conventions | Although final figures aren’t yet available, WonderCon organizers confirm attendance likely surpassed the 39,000 fans who came to last year’s convention. [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | On his always-interesting new blog, Jim Shooter reminisces about the genesis of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: “We went through a number of ideas for names for the toy line and series. Mattel’s focus group tests indicated that kids reacted positively to the words ‘wars’ and ‘secret.’ Okay.” [Jim Shooter]
Publishing | Longtime print broker Chikara Entertainment, which also offered book packaging and consulting services, has closed. [ICv2.com]
Retailing | Sarah Cohen provides a snapshot of South Florida comic stores struggling amid a weak economy and a changing marketplace. Some retailers have changed their strategies by diversifying their merchandise, holding events and reaching out to customers via the Internet. Others, however, prefer to do business the way they always have. “Making events and using social networking is pushy,” says Jorge Perez, owner of A&M Comics and Books in Miami. “It might help business, but then you would be on the computer all day doing stuff like that.” A&M, the oldest comic store in Florida one of the oldest in the nation, has seen business drop by about 40 percent since 2008. [Miami Herald]