Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cheese Country

I might do some updating as the day goes on, but tonight we're headed to Wisconsin. My brother-in-law (and Cownt co-creator) Dave is getting married on Saturday. I've been trying to update this every day, but there won't be entries for Friday and Saturday and maybe Sunday too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

"Buy My Stuff" Confirmed

Just got back from the Source and I was right about the comics with "Completely Cold" in 'em. So run! Go! Buy! Collect Them All!

I like the image IDW put on the header. Wasn't expecting that and it's cool that it ties in with the story.

Guess I'm Reading IRON MAN

I'm heading out to the Source in a minute for my comics, but in the meantime, Newsarama just ran an article that makes me realize there will be Iron Man comics in my future. Daniel Knauf, creator of Carnivale, is going to be writing the series after Ellis's run is over.

According to the article, Knauf's six-issue storyline "will feature a string of high-visibility assassinations, prompting an intense investigation by Tony Stark, as the killer appears to be employing the armor and weapons of Iron Man. Stark is shocked and horrified by the truth he uncovers, as a far deeper game of death and deceit is being played – with Stark himself as one of the pawns." That normally wouldn't grab my attention except that I remember too well the intricate plots of Carnivale and it looks like Knauf is going to bring some of that to Iron Man. I wonder if he can really do it well in only six issues, but if he builds characters as strong as he did in Carnivale, it'll still be worthwhile reading.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Minnesota FallCon

I wasn't gonna start talking about this until next week, but Grant Gould went and shared this flyer on his Live Journal and got me all excited about it. I'm pretty sure Grant designed it; Adam Hughes is obviously the artist.

I love FallCon!

Quote du Jour

This is kind of a no-brainer, but it's still something that I struggle with, so I appreciate reminders.

"...don't worry about grabbing reader's attention. If you're not entertained, then chances are, neither will they."
--Steve Niles

Monday, September 26, 2005

Buy My Stuff: "Completely Cold." Take Two.

Okay, I've got it figured out for sure this time. Maybe.

My medieval spooky story should be in the back of these comics coming out on Wednesday:

Shadowplay #1
Shaun of the Dead #3
Angel: The Curse #4

The Times They Are A-Changin'


I'm enjoying where DC is going lately with their Universe. They've made their iconic characters more human lately than they've ever been. They've shown some of their characters doing some pretty despicable stuff in order to do that and a lot of folks aren't pleased about it, but if you can make me give a fart about Wonder Woman, you're doing something right.

And it's not just her; it's Superman and Zatanna and Booster Gold, for cryin' out loud.

In a recent interview, Mark Waid revealed Where All This Is Going and it makes me even more excited: "The good new is, and I guarantee you this, when we’re on the other side of the CRISIS, those days (of grim and gritty '80s-like stories) are GONE. Just gone. We’re sick to death of heroes who are not heroes, we’re sick to death of darkness. Not that there’s no room, not that Batman should act like Adam West, but that won’t be the overall feeling. After all this stuff, after everything shakes down, we’re done with heroes being dicks. No more 'we screwed each other and now we must pay the consequences.' No, 'we’re super-heroes and that’s what we do.' Batman’s broken. Through no ONE person’s fault, but he’s a dick now. And we’ve been told we can fix that."

You make me like Wonder Woman, Superman, and Zatanna and now you tell me I'm gonna like Batman too? Somebody pinch me.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Re-Commitment: PopThought and The Great Curve

I haven't contributed to either PopThought or The Great Curve in ages. A couple of months ago I started really focusing on my novel and it's taken time away from these places. And rightfully so, but I love the Conan column I'm doing at PopThought and the Great Curve is a lot of fun too.

The Great Curve has been difficult to update because it's more talk about comics and I don't want to steal from Comic World News to contribute to the Curve. Posts that I've made over there might have made interesting CWN Newsletter articles, for example, and I always struggle with what to write in the CWN Newsletter. The Curve's head honcho Alex Segura has suggested that I write about comics-related TV shows. He reads my LiveJournal where I do a lot of that already and I don't feel so guilty about cross-posting thoughts between LJ and the Curve.

As for PopThought, there's no cure but for me to get reorganized so that I can get back to updating the Conan column for every week. No shortcuts on that one.

(I was gonna make links all throughout this entry, but everything's already linked up under "Find Me" on the sidebar there. And I'm lazy.)

On the plus side, I'm 30% finished with the first draft of my novel.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Fan Letter Followup

I asked the guy who sent me the letter where he got a copy of Shaun of the Dead #3. He's got a subscription, which means that he gets it before it hits the comics shops. Pretty cool.

Maybe that means that the issue'll be out next week.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

First Fan Letter?

Okay, "fan" is too strong a word. "Appreciator" is more accurate, but I like the sound of "fan" better.

Apparently, there are copies of Shaun of the Dead #3 out there, because someone just sent me a message saying that he read "Completely Cold" and enjoyed it. In his words: "You tell some good tales!!!" And he wanted to know where he could find more of my stuff, which was nice to hear. It's also nice that this isn't a person I've talked with a lot before, much less have a relationship with.

The Evil Diamond Empire Keepin' the Little Guy Down

I've been going back and forth on the issue of Diamond's new policy about what comics they'll distribute. My knee-jerk reaction was to be concerned for my friends in the small press biz, and I still am. But there's a sentence in the Newsarama article about it that makes a lot of sense to me.

As proponents of the idea have said, the move will force smaller publishers and independent self-publishers out of a marketing plan that amounts to nothing other than “list it in Previews.”
That's not an entirely accurate statement. The typical small-press marketing plan also includes sending out press releases to comics news sites and spamming every comics messageboard they know about. And that's been shown to have a very limited impact. Small-press guys need to get smarter about marketing. So do DC and Marvel, for that matter, but that's a discussion for another day.

Ed Cunard has conveniently collected a lot of the discussion about this in a Low Road entry and there are a couple of points that I found especially interesting. The first was from a poster on the Newsarama board who wrote that marketing and promotion is "a lot of work, work that takes time away from actually making comics. (Small publishers) may not be able to afford it."

This is exactly why I don't want to get into small-press publishing as anything more serious than a hobby. I'm not a business guy. I'm certainly not a marketing and promotions guy. I love to write and that's what I want to spend my time doing. Creators who choose to also put on the Publishing Hat need to make sure that they know what they're getting into and have the skills to do it right. Take some classes at least. DC and Marvel can afford not to market very well because they've already got enough customers to let them coast. Small-press guys don't.

I love this quote by Damon Hurd that Ed includes in his post:

What i'm wondering is, if Diamond is saying you need to make $600 on a book or we won't distribute it, is that really so harsh?

I mean we decided to stop self-publishing Temporary once our orders hit the 700 mark with issue #4. 700 copies of our $2.95 book equals $826, which is above the 40% benchmark, but too low for us to continue. especially considering the print costs are $1400 (including fees and shipping) and we spend roughly $300 in promotion for each issue.

Why would a self-publisher really want to keep losing roughly $1000 on every issue they put out?

That's a question I'd love to hear answered, or at least debated.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I Think I Have This Figured Out

Okay, so "Completely Cold" is in neither Land of the Dead #1 nor Jon Sable #4. Someone else's story is, but I'm pretty sure I know why.

Apparently "Completely Cold" is running in all the IDW books that were solicited for September, not that actually come out this month. Jon Sable, for example, was supposed to be a July book, so it has a the first half of a story that ran in all the other July books. Land of the Dead was solicited for August, so it's got the second half of that story.

So, looking at IDW's solicitations for September, I think I can compile a fairly accurate list of the books that'll have "Completely Cold" in the back:

Shadowplay #1
Metal Gear: Sons of Liberty #0
The Keep #1
Land of the Dead #2
Night Mary #3
CSI: NY -- Bloody Murder #3
Jon Sable, Freelance: Bloodtrail #3
Shaun of the Dead #3
Angel: The Curse #4

Hopefully at least one of those will ship on time or at least before FallCon. Since Three Days the Devil Danced isn't going to be ready by then, I'd like to have something new on my table to show.

Update: I'm going to grey these out as they're released.

Interview: Speakeasy Founder Adam Fortier


I've been digging several Speakeasy comics lately, so I got ahold of founder Adam Fortier and axed him some questions. Results are here.

New Collaboration: Iain Gill


I'm working on a story right now for Grafika that I'm pretty excited about. Don't wanna say too much about it except that it's related to Three Days the Devil Danced, but the reason I'm so thrilled is because I get to work with a new Grafika member named Iain Gill who's stuff I really, really like.

This is a sample of his work. It's not from our story, but ain't it cool?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dance With It

Alex Ness has an excellent interview with Grant Morrison over on PopThought.com. It's all good, but my favorite part is where Morrison defends the current level of popular acceptance of the comics medium and talks about why that hasn't translated into sales.

He presents the most reasonable argument on the subject that I've heard so far and if he's right, then the importance of a project like Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith's Fell suddenly becomes clear. Of course, getting prices down is only part of the problem though. Format and availability also need to be addressed.

AN: Is your use of metaphor the means in which comics will finally climb the gate and enter "accepted mediums"?

GM: Comics don't need to climb the gate and enter anything. We're having more fun outside in the sun.

As I said, metaphor occurs naturally in ANY story. The fact that Tolkien's Ring can easily stand in for the Bomb, or for Addiction, or for any number of things - which it can - doesn't seem to hamper people's enjoyment of the elephant fights in The Lord of the Rings, so metaphorical content shouldn't be looked upon as anything highbrow or unusual. I tend to see it everywhere, but that's just how I'm wired up. I don't know about you, but I can't look at Godzilla without seeing the atom bomb over Nagasaki, the screaming, hyper-enthusiastic shopgirls of Shibuya, Tokyo, and the devastating smile of the goddess Amaterasu, among other things, all piled on top of one another and representing the very same something.

Metaphor's there to be read or applied if you want to enrich your experience of art. It can just as easily be ignored if all you want to do is watch the action and look at the weird, cool pictures. The same is true of my comics, or anyone else's. There's subtext everywhere, but you don't have to bother with it if it's not your thing. Just dance to the beat of the story, and if you don't 'understand' everything, well, good. It'll stand you in good stead for the real world - a place filled with people and events you will NEVER entirely understand. You don't have to understand an experience in order to have it. You will, in fact, DIE not understanding most of what goes on in the world and why. Don't sweat it. Dance with it.

AN: By showing how the medium can be so multifaceted won't otherwise comic virgins be forced to admit that the medium is valid? And why, after your Doom Patrol run and books like Maus and Wilderness, is that still a valid question?

GM: Well, the way I see it, Alex, images, ideas and characters derived from comic books now cover just about every available surface in the civilized world. X-Men cereal! The Incredibles pajamas! Sky High! What more proof do comics fans need that the rest of the world has - at least for a moment - stopped laughing at all the crazy shit we're into?

Will we remain unsatisfied until every newborn babe has a Spider-Man logo tattooed on his head? Aren't Marvel and DC characters on the sides of buses enough evidence that the whole world has fallen under the spell of comics? Does every man, woman, and child have to swear allegiance to Captain America's shield before we finally accept that comics are already valid ? How much more validation do summathese goddamn fanboys need, for crying out loud!!

Everybody I've ever met thinks it must be great to do what I do for a living and I've met lots of people, including lots of famous ones. They all think comics are great. What more can I say ? They're not too sure about the more obsessive, stereotypical 'fan' type, but then obsessive fans of anything can seem be a little disconcerting whether they are fans of old skool hip-hop, football or Gwen Stefani. Otherwise, as far as I can see, just about every-bloody-body loves the idea of comics and superheroes. They would buy shitloads more of the actual books if the format, pricing and availability changed, but messages like that take a long time to get through to the brains of the big companies. Sell comics at cinema concession stands, for instance, and the sales would skyrocket shockingly overnight. Or rack them next to the week's new CD and DVD releases in Virgin megastores and pop shops. Manga size. They'd shift millions like they used to. All of this will probably still happen in one way or another before 2010.

Comics as an artform has done all right by me and my mates over the years, and, as far as I can see, everybody else is pretty cool with the idea that comics still get made. The people who can't stop whining about how the books are crap and all the writers are rubbish compared to 'real' writers, and all the artists aren't as good or as fast or as tall as they used to be, or whatever, are self-confessed comics fans, sadly. There's always a small hard core of 'Fans' who tend to despise, denigrate and insult comic books and their creators more than any other segment of the population would even imagine doing...

...in that good old-fashioned, ironic kind of way.

Read More Here.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Buy My Stuff: "Completely Cold"

This month is supposed to be Michael May month in IDW's prose back-up stories. They're publishing my short story "Completely Cold." I'm not sure if they'll run it in all their books or just the horror ones, but George Romero's Land Of The Dead #1 comes out on Wednesday and I'm betting it's in there.

Jon Sable: Freelance -- Bloodtrail #4 is also coming out, but I'm less certain that it'll have the back-up story. We'll see.

Review: THE GIFT OF NOTHING


I also recently reviewed a picture book by Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell.

The All-New, All-Different PULL LIST!

I’ve got to do something a little different with the Pull List quick reviews at Comic World News. Up until now, it’s been a forum for me to discuss single-issue comics that are either sent to me or that I’ve put on the pull list at my local store. Good, bad, and in-between, I’ve talked about them all. Lately though, I can’t bring myself to talk about books that don’t deserve talking about. I feel like talking about Good Comics.

So, I’m changing the focus of Pull List for the foreseeable future and making it a weekly list of recommendations. Stuff that should be on your pull list. It may be an indie comic that needs more attention, or it may be a mainstream title that you’ve written off just because it’s part of an Event, but it’ll all be stuff that deserves to be read.

The last couple of weeks have reflected this change.

Pull List 9-8-05:
The Dreamland Chronicles #1-3
Villains United #5
Seven Soldiers: Guardian #4
Y: The Last Man #37
Vampirella: Blood Lust #1-2
Witchblade #89
Sea of Red #4
Fell #1

Pull List 9-14-05:
JLA #118
Fables #41
Ferro City #2
X-Men #175
Rocketo #2

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More Mail

Stopped by the post office today and picked up a couple of more packages.

One was a bunch of Devil's Due comics that had mistakenly been sent to Caleb Gerard, the former EiC of Comic World News. He was nice enough to forward them on to me. There's some Darkstalkers, some Mega City 909, some Hack/Slash, some Mu, and plenty of G.I. Joe. I don't know if I'm gonna review the G.I. Joe 'cause that's not usually my bag, but I'll read it and if it jumps out at me I'll write something up.

Also got a package with the first three issues of The Dreamland Chronicles. It's all CGI art and I'm not sure that's my bag either, but I'll do my best to go into it with an open mind.

Mailbag

A couple of nice surprises in the mailbox over the weekend. First was a copy of the Blink Twice The Moon! Sketchbook. I've sort of fallen in love with Blink Twice books and occasional CWN critic Immelda Alty was nice enough to send me one of these limited edition babies all the way from England.

I also got my MoCCA (Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) membership card and goodies. I don't remember actually joining MoCCA, but it's certainly something that I might've done had I thought about it (even though the museum is in New York), so maybe I did and just don't remember. Anyway, it's a cool organization and I'm glad I'm a member.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Quote du Jour

I'd love to someday be in the position where I need to remember this quote, so I'm putting it here for posterity. I don't know if it's a true story or not or even if Alan Moore ever shared it (as was related to me), but that's beside the point.

"Apparently, someone asked Raymond Chandler once what he thought of Hollywood ruining all of his books. And he took them into his study and pointed up to the shelf where they all were, and he said, 'Look, they're there. They're fine. They're okay.'"

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