Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occasional Competent Studio?

Bleeding Cool pointed readers to a blog by someone who used to run day-to-day operations at Platinum Studios. He goes on about a fictional (read: not that fictional) Goldmine Studios, owned (to its detriment) by a silver-spooned idiot who throws money at any problem or desire.

The stories are much less salacious and about a much smaller "mover/shaker" in the comic book industry than Valerie D'Orazio's DC memoirs, but are so much less veiled as to make up for those shortcomings. It is a riveting and hilarious window into the worst kept secret that a particular studio was terribly mismanaged by its owner, despite having some well-intentioned employees trying to make it a success despite him.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review The Reviewer

After being bothered by it for years, both by sites I contributed to and sites I merely visited, I've been giving great consideration towards "reviewing the reviewer".

I'd likely hit most of the major sites that contribute comic book reviews (and possibly other popular forms of entertainment) to dissect how common it is that the "reviews" are over 50% recap, rather than critique.

My question to the eight people still reading this with any regularity: would you be interested in seeing such an examination?

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Hype Machine...Comes Through?

I've enjoyed a good deal of Mark Millar's work, but his incessant hyping of it makes me less and less likely to try his new projects. The slowness with which they eek out is a deterrent, too, but it's really his endlessly hyping up his own abilities, successes and spinning of his shortcomings as wins that push me away.

But damn if it doesn't work for him.

I don't know how it happened, but somehow I've found up on e-mail alerts from The Hollywood Reporter throughout the day about any entertainment developments. Two of them today have included news about Hollywood Mark Millar:

Universal in Negotiations to Pick Up 'War Heroes' Comic Book Project (Exclusive)


'X-Men' Director Matthew Vaughn Developing Mark Millar Comics 'The Secret Service,' 'Superior'

Though, it is interesting to note, that the second THR article asserts that Vaughn co-created The Secret Service property, which makes this appear more like Millar is a hired hand in the process with Vaughn than the full-fledged creative force that he more often sells himself as. The appearance of this point, coupled with the article mentioning that Vaughn wants to get back more control from start-to-finish of his projects, seems to suggest that he may have played a large role in formulating the key points that the project launches from and then handed it off to Millar to flesh it out.

Regardless, success for comic book projects in other media still brings at least a modicum of attention back to the medium that was its source...and if War Heroes is a success, I'll be thrilled for the payday it might bring to Tony F___ing Harris, stand-up guy and outspoken workers' rights fella on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

George Perez: Out Of Steam?

According to Newsarama, that's exactly what editor Matt Idelson implied by saying, "sometimes there's enough gas in the tank and sometimes there's not," at NYCC this past weekend.

There are many different ways to try to politely explain why a legendary creator is quickly jumping off a title. Even if the above quote is accurate, it isn't the smartest thing to announce to the world. The likelihood that it will be taken negatively is far too high.

You frame it better than that.

"As excited as he was to be writing Superman, he had a yearning to get back to full pencils on an upcoming project that we can't yet announce."

Something similar to that winds up true and is much hard to spin into a negative or have taken the wrong way. I know that, if I were Perez, I wouldn't appreciate the way the move was communicated, as it paints me as being clearly unable to last beyond (or maybe even UP to) six issues.

I'm confident that Idelson didn't dream the statement could be misconstrued as a negative commentary on Perez's ability to follow through on such an assignment, but, when you're at a convention that is essentially a four day press conference, you really have to be more conscious of controlling the message than that.

Here's hoping a more detailed and flowery explanation for the change up is forthcoming.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Superman & #OWS

I was reviewing tweets with the hashtag #ows and I was reminded that Grant Morrison has described his Superman in Action Comics as being a man of the people who is striking against corporations. Seems like a perfect match for Occupy Wall Street.

In the first issue of DC's relaunch of Action Comics, Superman bursts into the penthouse of the biggest corporate "rat" and attempts to force a confession out of him regarding all the laws he has broken. He does this with cops chasing HIM down, telling him to stop.

(spoken by Superman in continuation from above; panel cropped to focus on dialogue)

He resorts to dropping the guy off the balcony to scare him (with the corporate "rat" never in danger, as Superman will save him) and gets his confession. The crimes?

Corporate crimes. White collar crimes. Hurting the American people in the ways they get hurt in real life, not the way comic book super-heroes do it. And this isn't intended to be a one-off.

What's a better symbol for #OWS right now? He is bigger than a corporate IP, but has embodied truth, justice and the AMERICAN WAY, which are all in jeopardy now and being fought for by the folks in every #OCCUPY movements.

I know it will never happen, but how cool would it be to see a large number of protesters sporting the S shield?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Shazam Returns? Wither Batman: Earth One? (UPDATE)

Update: Well, no sooner did I post this than stumbled upon better coverage of the convention that demonstrated that BATMAN: EARTH ONE is, indeed, still coming and Amazon has it for pre-order.

Original article:
If you check The Source, Captain Marvel is coming back.

The team doing it? Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. It starts as a backup feature in Justice League, but this is the same team that was supposed to have completed the Batman: Earth One by now, with no word of its completion or scheduled publication coming out.

Honestly, if I had to pick one, I'd go with the CURSE OF SHAZAM project (even if the "curse" part has me a bit worried), despite my strong interest in the Batman: Earth One OGN.

DC has been remarkably quiet about the previously planned OGNs, as far as I can see.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Green Lantern At Less Than 1/3 Cover Price

You'll find it for just that price (pops up automatically for me, but some may need the discount code of GREEN to be put in on the final checkout page).

I've been beating this drum for awhile, but the online deal site,, has had several DC relaunch titles for postal subscriptions at less than one-third the cover price.

Snail mail subscriptions are always cheaper, but never before have they regularly beaten even the discount that retailers get in buying the book through Diamond.

If you couple this with the returnability commitment that DC keeps expanding out for additional months, it might seem to indicate that the publishing strategy on the physical side is to increase circulation so that ad buys will be more attractive and/or increase the pool of potential digital subscribers.

Six or so DC titles offered up at a dangerously low price (not quite a loss, necessarily, given DC cutting out retail and distribution, but having to pay lower class mail rates) upping the circulation and putting them in direct contact with the customer in a way that retailers won't be as alerted to as Marvel's "free digital copy for every comic" idea seems like it is good for the reader and possibly the publisher, but not anyone in between.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why Automated "Related" Links Are Bad

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

That Old Captain America/Wizard Magazine Controversy

Warning: nothing new to see here. If you want timely observations, you'll need to check back at a later date (or, some would suggest, peruse a better site). This here be history.

I was looking over site stats and saw that Johanna over at Comics Worth Reading had linked to my article about the declining popularity of Newsarama. She mentioned how their doing away with forums irritated her for a reason other than what I was pointing out in my post: links to old 'Rama articles were now dead, since the forums had been wiped from existence.

After thanking her for the link in her comments section, it hit me: one of the few original articles I had done for Newsarama (not counting convention coverage) may have been lost to the ages. Googling it confirmed that it was one of the things that had all traces deleted off the 'Rama website. What a kick square to the nuts.

While I was able to dig up the original Word doc I sent for publishing, I'll never be able to locate the conversation it generated and the give and take. I know from my notes that it was the first interview Drew Seldin had given on the subject, even if it was one of the last to get posted on the sites. For instance, Rich Johnston had a brief bit published about it in his Lying in the Gutters over at CBR, but I had talked to him before that call took place, which is partially evidenced by the message not being quite so well-formed from Wizard yet. There are some similarities in answer, but the longer form of our discussion revealed some stumbling blocks.

As I conducted the whole interview on my own (from tracking down Seldin, to developing the questions and recording the phone conversation), never received any compensation and now the article is no longer even published on Newarama, I'm going to repost it here for posterity's sake.

Oh...and for the record? Drew Seldin was a pleasure to talk to. He's a great guy who had nothing to do with the decisions Wizard made, just was in the unenviable position of having to deal with the aftermath.

Original article (with "Newarama" now edited out) follows after the break.

(full article...)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Whither "Samaritan X"?

I was just talking with some friends online and, after discussing the news about Archie with their Red Circle characters, we wound up on the topic of JMS.

It's my opinion that, with the possible exception of Superman: Earth One, JMS-at-DC has been an unmitigated disaster. Everything has been stops and starts for him, with very little apparent critical or commercial expense to come along with him being such a hyped signing.

One of the hyped announcements regarding his DC work was Samaritan X, announced in March 2010 to fairly wide discussion, as it was an apparent attempt to add a hospital drama to the DC Universe that was, at the same time, somehow creator-owned. When JMS did his whole bowing out from monthly comics thing, he announced that Superman: Earth One was the top priority, followed by Samaritan X (in November 2010).

We're almost at a year since that announcement/update, but we've heard nothing more about the project. Shane Davis, artist of Superman: Earth One, has already been working on the follow-up OGN, so it makes it clear that, if Samaritan X is ANY kind of priority, there should be some movement on it.

From talks about the relaunch, some recounting of events would suggest that JMS was aware the restructuring of DC's main universe was already under way at the time. The OGN was supposed to be set in regular continuity, so it could be that it requires tweaking, that DC is reconsidering the format or it has been scrapped altogether. But you'd have expected it to come up in some way, shape or form by now. Either my Google Fu is weak or it is something completely lacking any updates.

With the relaunch moves and the whole Amazon/Barnes & Noble GN controversy at DC Comics, might this topic get addressed at NYCC?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Why $1 Extra For Digital Is Better For Retailers

Much is being made of the Avenging Spider-Man free digital copy with every print copy. Great for customers, to some extent, but shitty for retailers.


With the extra dollar charged for the JUSTICE LEAGUE copies that have a digital code, the retailer at least knows they're sending their customer to a competing delivery service and is getting their money up front.

With Marvel's plan, the retailer gets a $.50 credit somewhere down the line for every redeemed code.

But how do they track that?

Is it reliant upon the customer filling out a referral field that says they bought the book at BOB'S BIG COMICS? Or is it reliant upon Diamond records having the right batch assigned as being shipped to the right store and that batch matching up with all the proper codes?

And what system could possibly be in place for a retailer to be assured that they're getting the full credit they earned? Seems like it comes down to "hey, trust us, we're Marvel...have we EVER done you wrong?"

Friday, October 07, 2011

Reason #18373 I'm Not A Brevoort Fan

When DC hit with their 20 pages for $2.99 move, Marvel hit with all kinds of spin.

Brevoort indicated DC could make the cut because they didn't need to make a profit directly off publishing, but Marvel needed the $3.99. This despite someone from Marvel corporate already having told shareholders that they initially raised prices on their titles to see how inelastic they were.

The prices went up on their most popular titles first, not the books that were less popular but having hardcore audiences (like his suggestion that the same folks buying DC's Booster Gold at $2.99 would buy it at $3.99).

But what brings us here today is the sentiment expressed first, I believe, by CB Cebulski and echoed by Brevoort: DC's $2.99 move would hurt the talent, because they'd be getting their rate on 20 pages instead of 22.

Brevoort has, also, defended Marvel's raising prices to $3.99, despite the recession concerns of the retailers and their customers.

Yet Marvel has slowly but surely moved more books to 20 pages, while still charging $3.99 for a lot of them.

That's not the real impetus for this post, though. This is...

According to Richard Pace, he's "been told Marvel cut everyone but the top names' page rates and dropped two pages as well."

So, now the high and mighty Marvel gives less work per issue for their contractors to earn from AND pays less per page?

If there was any doubt that their claims to the moral high ground were false and full of spin, let this put an end to it.

Note: my problems with Brevoort started with his lying on behalf of Marvel to claim that refusing to tell retailers about the massive Civil War delays until Monday or Tuesday of the week the latest issue was supposed to hit was done "for the retailers". That was the first incident where my outspokenness resulted in Marvel's ire being directed at Newsarama. I went back and forth at Brevoort as a fan, since my Newsarama work involved no pay at the time and left me feeling that it would be unfair for Marvel to hold my opinion against them (I was not their employee) or for the 'Rama to feel I should bite my tongue on their behalf.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Devil's In The Bleeding Details

Over at, Rich has an early scoop about DC overtaking Marvel in both market and dollar share. He indicates "(t)he only time DC has been ahead of Marvel in any form for decades was last December," but that'd be inaccurate.

DC beat Marvel in both categories in May 2005, October 2005 and May 2006. DC beat Marvel in dollar share in January, February and August 2003.

It doesn't really put a damper on this accomplishment, if it holds up as accurate, but it does shoot down the needlessly overstated hyperbole.

C'mon, Rich, I know you always profess to not be a journalist, but if you're going to go out of your way to say "decades", rather than "in recent years", you gotta put forth just a little more effort at accuracy in reporting.

In all honesty, though, I might have just passed it over without digging anything up, but a few of my remaining readers dropped me a line to point out a few of the above examples, causing me to work back from October 2005 to see if I could come up with any more. Then I realized that the point is already made without spending the rest of the night pouring over and let it go.