Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

I'll be heading into New York City this week to participate in Marvel's 75th Anniversary celebration at the New York Comic Con.  For those of you who'll be attending, my schedule is below.

Friday

Marvel 75th Anniversary:
Crafting the Marvel Event
Time: 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. EDT
Room: 1A18
Sit down with Executive Editor Tom Brevoort for an inside look into how a major Marvel event is constructed, from the perspective of writers, artists, and editors. Hear first-hand accounts about the creative collaborations that brought you Marvel’s biggest stories! Panelists include Brian Michael Bendis (ALL-NEW X-MEN), Kurt Busiek (AVENGERS), Tom DeFalco (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), J.M. DeMatteis (CAPTAIN AMERICA), Al Milgrom (WEST COAST AVENGERS), Fabian Nicieza (X-MEN), and Jim Starlin (INFINITY GAUNTLET).

Marvel 75th Anniversary:
Friendly Neighborhood Marvel
Time: 3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. EDT
Room: 1A18
Join Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada as he sits down with creators of past and present to shine the spotlight on Marvel’s street-level characters. This panel will include Spider-Man and Daredevil creators, as well as writers and artists who have contributed to the mythos of heroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil, Moon Knight, Luke Cage, and more! Panelists include Mark Bagley (ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN), Gerry Conway (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), Tom DeFalco (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), J.M. DeMatteis (SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN), Ralph Macchio (DAREDEVIL), Doug Moench (MOON KNIGHT), and Ann Nocenti (DAREDEVIL).

From 4:00 pm—5:30 pm I'll be part of the Marvel 75th Anniversary Signing in the Galleria of the Javits Center.  It's a cornucopia of Marvel creators, past and present, including Mark Bagley, Brian Bendis, Kurt Busiek, Chris Claremont, Gerry Conway, Peter David, Danny Fingeroth, Ron Garney, Klaus Janson, Ralph Macchio, Todd McFarlane, Doug Moench, Don McGregor, Ann Nocenti, Grek Pak, Jimmy Palmiotti, Dan Slott, Len Wein and many more.

Saturday

Signing at the Marvel Booth (booth #1354) from 3-4pm


And that's it.  Hope to see you there!

182 comments:

  1. Wow, Gerry Conway again? Al MIlgrom and Jim Starlin, two natives of Motown. Man, you just can't get away from Detroit can you? make sure you tell everyone to come here.

    Don't forget to spread word for a new Stan Lee Surfer project, and try to get Marvel to put out a new ongoing Spider-man: The Lost Years and the alternate reality sitcom-ish Cap and Bernie book.

    Or have fun... if you can't think of anything better to do.


    Jack

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  2. I wish tickets were more freely available.

    My comic book dealer said he would set some aside for me, but demand was high and I've been there before. So, I thought I'd let some younger fans have first crack. They went fast. Rick

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    1. NYCC started out big, Rick...and has been getting bigger and bigger every year. I was there a few years ago and found the crowds so overwhelming that I practically ran out the door. That said, I'm looking forward to the Marvel celebration and seeing some old friends.

      Sorry you won't be there.

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    2. If I had known you were going to be there, I would have gotten the tickets and thrown the young brats overboard. :)

      I see the first issue of Trinity of Sin is coming out next week. Perhaps we will then learn the answer to a great mystery: how does the current iteration of The Question eat? I can think of one way, which involves a rubber tube, but I don't see it happening in a main street comic.

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    3. I didn't know myself till a couple of weeks ago, Rick. I had no plans to attend, then Marvel called about the 75th Anniversary celebration and I thought it sounded like fun.

      Hope we get to meet up another time,

      As for the Question: I know your...question is tongue-in-cheek, but we do get an kinda/sorta answer to that in the first issue. Now you're intrigued, aren't you?

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    4. I have to say that the last time I went I found too much that was non-comic related. Too much of a media event.

      As to the Question, I must confess I am. If it isn't hoses, than I guess I still don't have an explanation for what he carries in all those pockets.

      I'm also curious if the Question will try to claim to PS that he never really tried to kill him but that he was simply trying to open a door for him to enter that other dimension.

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    5. Many, if not most, cons these days are media events and comics can get lost in the shuffle. There are folks who would rather meet the guy who plays Superman than read an issue of Superman. But that's just the way it is. And we hope that the people drawn in by the movies and TV shows will get curious and pick up a comic book along the way.

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    6. If you don't mind me adding my two cents...

      Sadly however, picking up those comics does not seem to be the case. Honestly I wouldn't mind it quite as much if comic shows organized a little better. Often times they will keep comic pros and media celebs parted, but what about the people selling stuff? Why can't the people selling comics be near the creators, and people selling stuff be somewhere else/ Why should I have to go through a a forest of dealers just to find a guy who may or may not have back issues I need, especially since that can be so easily remedied.

      The nature of comic shows is getting grating though. Dave Dorman's wife recently said that they may not be be attending shows because it wasn't cost effective, the nature of specifically cosplay, was causing too many issues. Honestly it is grating on comic fans too. If it weren't for you (Dematteis), Waid, and Conway, I probably wouldn't have shown up at Motor City this year. Of course if creators stop showing, so do comic fans, and that seems fine, but with no comic fans, there go a lot of dealers.

      Detroit Fanfare found an interesting solution. They started out being solely comics in 2010, but had to add some media people. The solution was more or less ghettoizing the media folk. I didn't even see any of them.

      Of course what is really weird is our phrasing here, comics are technically media.

      Jack

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    7. Great point, Jack. We certainly ARE media...and we're the media that's taking over the world (at least in the form of movies and television).

      I really don't get the cosplay controversy. Yes, the aisles get clogged up sometimes when people are busy posing, but, for the most part, it's good clean fun. Well, except for those risqué costumes...some of which aren't suitable for young eyes.

      As for the "media guests" vs. "comic book guests" issue: that's one of the reasons I really like the Baltimore con: it's comics creators and comics fans, period. (Not that I don't enjoy a good Shatner sighting.)

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    8. well, you are asking a difficult question about cosplay. Honestly, in and of itself, I have no real problem with it. People are free to do what they want. However with it becoming the increasing focus it can get irritating with how jam packed it is. People are also free to shop the day ofter Thanksgiving, that doesn't mean that I'll be within a country mile of a department store on Black Friday. It is all about cost benefits, the fact is with all of those people clogging things up and taking up parking the question is if the show is worth it. With you, Conway, and Waid this year the show was worth the hassle. Next year it may not be.

      However, that doesn't mean that everyone has that same view. I think much of the problem with comic fans towards cosplayer does have a similar view, albeit less calm. Much of the anger comes from the fact that many of them are not comic fans, so they aren't supporting that part of the show. I also think that also fuels the fact that we all sort of see the end of comics coming and it is sort of annoying if not unintentionally hurtful to be reminded of that when -when it is still called a COMIC con.

      The fact is I have been going to comic shows for a while, and I have seen people dress up almost every time, but I think that the shift in attention, especially with non-fans, is grating. But remember, that is not necessarily my view.

      And of course you have to inject the fact that it fuels the idea that comics are doing great the people as a whole have when it seems to be anything but.

      Cosplayers seem to largely be a lightning rod for a lot of comic related frustration. Is that fair? No, not really, but something is going to fill that space, because the rage is essentially impotent.

      Jack

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    9. Oh yeah, no disrespect to Claremont, by not adding him to the list. He had already been here, so it just probably wouldn't have motivated me to go, same as Sienkiewicz. I'm a fan, and I talked to both again, but since I had already done it there would just be less motivation to actually go.


      Jack

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    10. I don't have anything to add to that, Jack. VERY well said!

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    11. Maybe I do want to add one thing re: your comment about the "end of comics coming." The entire time I've been in the business (with the inflated boom time of the 90's being the only exception) people have been talking about the end of comics, how it's all going away...and soon.
      But we're still here. Have things changed? Sure. Will they continue to change? Absolutely. But come back in ten years, or twenty, and comic books will still be around; in new and interesting forms, sure, but they'll be here.

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    12. It is certainly true that comic book fans have a habit of being alarmist. This is absolutely true, I have an issue of Creepy from the late 70s saying comics could not last since the two most avant garde (or some such idea) were Howard the Duck and the Spirit, and one was a parody of an existing property and the other a reprint series.

      The most important thing that I can say is that I don't want it to happen.

      All of that being said, I think that there are certain issues that should be addressed. Comics do seem to have trouble attracting new people now more than ever, it is largely an addict based system. A system that has ever climbing prices, they are actually reaching $5.00 a comic.

      There is also a problem in the love of giant events, that are agitating many fans, along with the changes being made to the comics specifically to appease people who don't read the comics. The fact is that in such mediums there is always a battle between editorial and creative, and from a fan perspective it seems editorial is having a large role.

      The big I also think that the belief that digital will ave comics will save comics is a bit of blue-skying. There is very real possibility that it could be the death nail. If no one is left when it goes fully digital there is no point. There is also the fact that many are already digital and physical and digital sales don't seem to be that big. Many fans will just say "I'm done," others will simply see it as a 'sign' they should stop. There are also many people who buy comics the day that they come out but don't read them until much later. Those people will not download them that day I guarantee.

      Digital also has a big lie people believe about it, that it will be cheaper. Only Image has a difference in price and that is 50 cents. The real price of comics has nothing to do with producing a physical copy, but rather the salaries of writers, artists, inkers, editors, receptionists, janitors, the rent etc. Music even supports this since if you buy enough songs to fill an album it will be about the same in price as a physical CD... if not more. The fact is that $5.00 is a lot to pay for something that you can't hold, especially considering that the number of words is shrinking every year so you are done with it very quickly.

      Also, people steal music digitally, why wouldn't people do it with comics? And being a smaller industry than music every hit would be heavier. People say physical comics will be like vinyl, but again is it large enough to support that? And don't forget the industry is dependent on Marvel and DC, Small press books all together don't move enough product to support keeping stores open.

      I think that comics have been on borrowed time since Disney bought Marvel though. Marvel and DC want to make comics as long as possible, however I doubt Disney or Werner Brothers really care, they just want the characters for movies, TV, and video games. It doesn't help that they treat it like any genre that is popular, and over saturate it. At some point it will be too much and people will get sick of it.

      The fact is that I think that comics CAN be saved. I don't think that they will be though.

      Jack

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    13. Piracy is already a problem, Jack. Just search for your favorite current comic book online and see how many places you can illegally download it.

      That said, I think there are lots of people out there who love the movies and TV shows who would never, in a million years, walk into a comic book shop. I think those are the folks who would happily download an issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA to their iPad. If I was Marvel or DC, I'd make sure every movie or TV show had a prominent notices saying, "If you liked this movie, go to (whatever link) and download the comics that inspired it!" Or some such thing.

      Of course—as someone said to me at the convention—there's often a big gap between what's on the screen and what's on the page and that, too, has to be addressed.

      Re: prices. I find that most digital albums are STILL consistently cheaper than buying CDs. And for digital to really take off, there has to be an attractive price point.

      As for events: I was on a panel about Big Events at NYCC and asked the audience how they felt about them. The response—in that room, at least—was surprisingly positive. People seem to enjoy them. But maybe the fact that they were attending a panel about Big Events predisposed them to be positive. The short version: If the fans didn't buy Big Events, the companies wouldn't do them. Joe Quesada said that very thing at another panel I was on.

      ALL media is changing rapidly. The ground beneath our feet is forever shifting. Television is not what it was five years ago—just ask the folks watching shows on Hulu, on their iPads, on Roku and Amazon—and comics are going to have to evolve to survive in the new environment.
      Survive how? I don't know. My work is making up stories and that's hard enough!

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    14. First I'd like to address the idea of events. Most fans I talk to aren't fond of them, however it isn't the events so much as the fact that they take up every book. It has more to do with good runs being interrupted.

      As for prices, the change has already been shown, its 50 cents. Marvel and DC don't have a p[rice difference, but Image does, its 50 cents. As far as the CD thing goes, I just bought a CD for $23.00, that has 37 songs on it, which I would been charged 99 cents each digitally.

      But there are a whole host of problems that came along with digitization, no the least of which is artists no longer going into create an album as much as a song. Nothing in life is without tradeoffs. What will comics be?

      As for people not wanting to walk into a comic shop, bookstores across the country carry trades that are laid out for all to see when a movie comes out, and they don't seem to be picked up.

      This all leads me to the larger point, which I wanted to mention earlier, but I was running late. People don't read anymore, at least by in large. Digital or hard copy, they don't. That is in all honesty the biggest challenge. That is also the rel reason why Borders tanked, not online delivery.

      Then of course there is something that I have brought up here before, and that is most people don't respect comics, there is only the illusion of it. People love Dark Knight, but they don't think that comics can have powerful stories, they think that someone came in and made a comic respectable.

      As for what companies do and don't do, the fact is that you are selling to addicts. The problem with the logic of Big Events paying off is that, while I gave up on them a long time ago, when you make it a necessity to know what is going on, many fans feel a need to, and they get pissed off about it. However, it does bring things together and draw attention to somethings, and some are legitimately good, Infinity Gauntlet is still great. But it is essentially a snake eating its own tale in my eyes.

      The addict thing also comes in if say you really like a character that doesn't get much play, and you hate a run, but you know it will be AT LEAST 5 years until anyone use them again if this flops. Comics are a very strange medium in this way.

      Piracy: Thanks for bringing this to my attention, good to know that I won't have to BUY that issue of Trinity of Sin this week.

      I believe the future of comics will be print to digital digital to online in continuity animation to nothingness.

      I don't want this to happen, just remember that.Honestly I think part of the impending doom is comic companies not facing many of these issues.

      I do think that you should keep this in mind, in comic shops the legitimate view is that Marvel and DC are trying to sink comics intentionally, and that they or rather there owners want to get rid of them entirely. That is the honest to God truth of what people believe. That is probably something the industry should take note of. And also you guys should ask this question, how much do you guys in creative really know about the long term plans of the people in the business sector of the offices?

      Jack

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    15. I'm going to toss this out there to anyone else in Creationpointland who'd like to chime in. I'll just address two quick things:

      1) If you don't think Amazon and other online retailers didn't kill Borders and other bookstores, think again. That's the fundamental reason. The literacy level out there is much higher than you indicate.

      2) Anyone who thinks Marvel and DC are intentionally trying to kill comics has gone off the rails. This is a business filled with people who are passionate about the form, who love it with all their hearts (and I'm not just talking about the creators). Someone doesn't like the product, fine, but to suggest that the companies are trying to kill comics is beyond absurd.

      That's it from me. I'm out. Anyone else have thoughts...?

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    16. Just came across an article about reading levels in America today.
      Seems we have declined, but there's reason to hope:

      http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-decline-of-the-american-book-lover/283222/

      As for Amazon and brick and mortar book stores, here's an article that looks at it from an unexpected perspective:

      http://www.mhpbooks.com/trending-toward-the-truth-poll-shows-internet-retail-relies-on-brick-and-mortar-bookstores/

      And now I really am out. I'm still recovering from NYCC...which, they say, is now as big as the San Diego Con. It sure felt that way!

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    17. And finally: Looking over my first response, I see that it came out sounding harsh, which is not how I intended it. Sincere apologies.

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    18. Eh, it happens. You human and your emotions. However, I do think that maybe I should explain myself more.

      1) I don't deny that Amazon was the final death nail in Borders (including in a forgotten way), but Amazon has existed in the minds eye for about twenty years and has been popular for about 15, and it took a decade to take out the giant chain. The fact is that Amazon sells more than books, they also sell in high volume, of toys, home decor and clothing, and all of those stores seem to be doing fine. If the demand had been high enough Borders would have hurt sure, but not crippled by Amazon, and don't forget Borders had a website and delivery too.

      And I don't people not reading is a intentional choice (okay for some it is) actually quite the opposite, I know many people who wish that they read more. The fact is humans evolved to get info fast, and it is faster to watch something, and easier to get caught up in many things. If you buy a book with every intent of reading it, and you have a tough day at work and you say, decide to stream a TV show you can get caught up, and then the book reading is forgotten.

      2) I personally don't agree with the belief Marvel and DC are sinking comics any more than I believe LBJ was involved in Kennedy's death. You would have to be pretty malevolent or disconnected from employees to do that, however the idea is out there, and I do wish top defend those who say it. I think that it is less "off the rails" as emotion driven logic jumping, in this case anger and agitation, and while I do see the logic they are jumping I also see where they come from.

      Comic are jumping to $5.00, creators are even angry about this, Scott Snyder has tried to talk DC out of making Batman $5.00. Keep in mind that a mere four years ago comics were $3.00, I could walk into a comic shop with a twenty and come out with six new issues and some change, when it hits five I'll walk out with four. A lot of books are going to be dropped. Even stranger is that Marvel and DC are jumping $0.25 and $0.50 increases, something that Dark Horse and Image did, and they have far less resources to compensate. Not to mention the original increases to $4.00 were basically charging us for a free digital download, something that the now extinct $3.00 Marvel books did not have.

      There is also the business element I eluded to. Movies and TV are becoming a bigger market. And my guess is that more and more resources are behind this each day, and it is the reason for DC's relocation to the west coast. Comics seem to be getting less and less attention,l even by some of there own industry, and it isn't help that there are some, not all but some, in the indie world who cash out as soon as a work of theirs get optioned by Hollywood. The money and attention is s going to Hollywood.

      continued...

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    19. With Marvel seemingly ending the F.F. during a really good run, to seemingly just not give the sure to bomb movie coming out next year and publicity. Along with intentionally not showing characters Fox has movie rights too on merchandise in the comic world, like a lot of 75th anniversary art... it doesn't help.

      This just adds to the fact that it seems that outside of writers, artists,editors, and those who actually make comics, everyone is overlooking we comic readers. Comics are both hot and anything but right now.

      Then there is the fact that comic shows are constantly taken over by not comics, it is far more than just sharing with other media, the shows in San Diego and New York make it seem that comics are an after thought.

      Many of Marvel and DC's decisions seem questionable, not so much the creative ones, but rather the business ones. But they also make perfect sense Marvel and Dc are businesses, more important Warner Brothers and Disney are businesses, and movies, TV, and video games are more profitable, they will go where the money is.and I think that is somewhat reflective, I think Disney cares far more about the Disney brand than actual comics.

      While I don't agree with the idea, it is out there, and probably more prevalent than anyone in the industry thinks. Especially given we all know that writers and artists, the ones we are most likely to see, wouldn't be in favor of this. And remember we see it through the eyes of comic retailers, many of who we have relationships with, losing business while media claims comics are bigger than ever, perception is everything and emotions run high in a lot of people.

      I admittedly have no answers for how to fix this though. Except of course cashing in the media at large's misconception of comics to get add sales and lower prices.

      Jack

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    20. Of course in the interest of fairness, we fans are hardly blameless.

      Most of us have tried to get people interested in comics at some point, but just gave up. That is hardly good. When Constantine comes out, my guess is very few Hellblazer fans will be even asking if people want to borrow there comics.

      The addict mentality is a problem too. I am perfectly guilty of buying comics out of love for a character, even if I think it sucks. This isn't good if you want to gauge good ideas and bad ideas.

      We also have a long history of complaining, so I'm sure it is hard what is legitimate issues and what is just a vocal minority (though those seem to get quite a bit of attention, Spider-Woman anyone? or chick Thor?), especially with that addict mentality not showing our problems where it counts, in the wallet.

      And we do hide our comic love. Comics being hot is new, and most of us are in a mindset that most people don't read comics, so we are self-trained to talk about them at the store or with other readers, because we know people won't be interested. Or at least they didn't used to have any reason to care.

      JAck

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    21. You've said so much here...and so eloquently...that, again, I'm going to up this up to other voices, sit back and enjoy the show.

      One thing I do want to address is your last point about our old "the public looks down on comics" mentality. We've all lived with that for so long that it is indeed shocking to realize that comics are no longer the fringe, they're the mainstream. They are what's driving popular entertainment. But that, of course, brings up the New Paradox: If these characters are so popular, why aren't comic book sales rising into the stratosphere. I was talking to folks over the weekend at NYCC and we agreed that there were only two occasions when mass media affected comics sales: the 60's Batman TV show and the first Tim Burton Batman movie.

      By all rights, AVENGERS should be selling a million copies a month. Why isn't it?

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  3. Fierce. Rick, here.

    (1) About those conventions, there is an old expression in the advertising business which deserves repetition: There's no such thing as bad publicity. While the NY Comicon experience is not to my taste anymore, it attracts news, which attracts people, who buy comics or comics-related merchandise, which helps keep the industry going. Let the girls wear their sexy cosplay outfits. It helps bring in the boys who buy the books, and gets the girls to keep coming.

    (2) I think a major problem which the industry has not properly addressed is lack of product access. Of course there are stores, but comics were (and to some extent, are) an impulse buy. That's one reason why covers tend to be so graphic--hook the customer. The average person isn't going to just get in his/her car and go the comic shop, or even Barnes and Noble, to hunt down a copy of the Avengers after seeing the movie. But, they might buy one if it were sold on racks at the movie theater. Then, they may go the comics store and buy more. Similarly, why aren't they for sale in Game Stop, or other places where kids go? The movies and games can be blockbusters, but there isn't, apparently, any effort by Disney and T-Warner to tie the access of high profit product (the movie) to lower profit product (the comic) to encourage sales. They ought to throw their weight around.

    (3) The image of comics remains too geeky. My 16 old son is a prime candidate for comics and has been for some time. But, he's got no interest. On the other hand, he's read all the Game of Thrones books 3 times. They have lots of sex, violence and amoral conduct mixed in with the fantasy. The comic movies don't go far enough in that direction to change the image, and without the image change, I don't think you will get the youth to follow. Don't forget that a big reason the Golden Age WW was such a big hit was the subtle sado-masochistic scenery (e.g, WW tied up in a chair, and every other way). Times have moved on; a little more overt visual activity is needed.

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    1. I agree totally about accessibility, Rick. Imagine if you walked into the lobby of your movie theater after seeing CAPTAIN AMERICA and saw a stack of CAP comics for sale.

      As for the geeky point...I don't agree. The Marvel movies are the biggest movies in the world, generating billions of dollars, drawing in millions and millions of people. (The audience for these movies is surely bigger than the audience for GAME OF THRONES, however popular that might be.) Nerd culture, as many have said, IS the culture now. There may be folks who view comics as too geeky, but I think a good part of that perception has evaporated as these movies has exploded across the world.

      Anyway, that's my two cents. As I often say before I start a writing workshop: "Everything I say is true, except when it's not"!

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    2. I didn't say that comics were geeky, I said they have an image of being geeky. Some people won't read them because they do not appear to be cool, and they are too thick-headed to experiment.

      "Geekiness" also operates at different levels: my son really liked Guardians of the Galaxy, but I can't get him to try the comic books. Not even my Phantom Stranger issues (he just plain broke his father's heart).

      By the way, the viewership for Game of Thrones is huge. From Fansided:

      "This year, Game of Thrones became the biggest show in HBO history in terms of total viewership. The number has increased since, and the latest count stands at 18.6 million viewers across all platforms."

      My son wouldn't even count. He reads the books.

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    3. Interesting that your son loves the movies and won't read the comics. I suspect there are many more like him out there...which would explain why comic book sales are generally flat while the movies rake in the Big Bucks.
      If we can just get your son to read PHANTOM STRANGER, the entire balance of power will surely shift. : )

      I know GAME OF THRONES has a large audience—I'm a loyal viewer. I was just saying that the Marvel movies has an even larger, global audience.

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  4. Nerd culture is prevalent in society today. Comic books will always be around. There is nothing to replace the tactile sensation of leafing through a comic book, appreciating the artwork, reading and rereading your favorite stories time and time again whether in individual issues or collections. I find the individual issues less unwieldy than the collections and prefer those. Also, I'm impatient and want to know what is happening as soon as possible. I have five children and three of them are avid comics readers as well. I don't see comic books ever going away.
    As for conventions; the larger ones hold zero interest for me. I attend Motor City Comic Con which has a nice balance and encourages independent comics and Cinema Wasteland which focuses exclusively on films from the drive in era.
    And, finally, DC and Marvel aren't trying to ruin anything. It's just us older readers wanting nothing to change. Remember, when our favorite books came into creation there were older comic readers who probably felt like we do now. They just didn't have the internet.

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    1. Great points, Douglas. The one thing I quibble with is the attraction of "leafing through a comic book." You feel that way, I certainly feel that way, but I think there's a generation coming up now that is very comfortable with the digital world and won't have the deep connection we have to a physical book or comic.

      I often think of the great line in STAR TREK II where Spock presents Kirk with a book as a birthday present. "I know," he says, "of your fondness for antiques."

      Thanks for checking in, Douglas. Very much appreciated!

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    2. One more thing: I totally agree about the monster-sized comic cons. I'm someone who has a limited tolerance for massive crowds and prefer a more intimate experience where I can really connect with fans one-to-one.
      NYCC is a great thing for the industry—long may it run—but, once I got home, I needed a few days to recover. It was overwhelming.

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  5. Well, I'm doing my part for the physical form of comic books. I have successfully infected my oldest son and my two daughters who are all voracious readers. I am working on my grandchildren right now to make sure that the lineage continues. :)

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    1. And the gods of comics smile upon you for it!

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  6. Any chance of more Abadazad or Brooklyn Dreams from Dover Books?

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    1. Hi, Jeff. Right now the only project coming out of Dover is MERCY, but we're talking, in general terms, about a few others.

      ABADAZAD, sadly, is tied up with Disney. BROOKLYN DREAMS is over at IDW (I hope you saw the beautiful hardcover they did a couple of years ago). As for doing more BD...I don't foresee it, but I wouldn't mind doing something equally autobiographical with a similar tone and style.

      Did you ever see the story I did with Mike Cavallaro for OCCUPY COMICS?
      It had a very BD feeling to it. I suspect you'd enjoy it.

      Hope all's well with you and yours!

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  7. I was going to read ABADAZAD, but it sounds unfinished and that would just irritate me. I had enough problems with being hooked on SOJOURN from the Cross Gen days.

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    1. It is unfinished, Douglas—but I hope that the three book we did for Hyperion Books for Children are each satisfying in and of themselves. The first two are available at dirt cheap prices on Amazon, if you're interested.

      Even in its unfinished form, ZAD remains one of my two or three favorites among all the projects I've done.

      Delete
  8. Okay, you sold me. I put them on my Amazon wish list.

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  9. I wonder what would happen if more adult themes were found in main-stream comics. For example, what if Billy Batson became Cap'n Marvel, had sex, and then retained the memories of it when he became Billy Batson again? I think he would be seriously messed up, and that might lead to some interesting story lines. And while I confess to not reading many comics over the past few years, surely superheroines have been groped or harrassed (I'm not counting Watchmen on this point because it operated at a different level). Why hasn't a level of extra fear crept into women's heroic activities? Do hero's act more protective of women because they know this kind of foul conduct can occur? Do they give A-holes a little extra beating when they catch this sort? Just some thoughts.

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    1. I think the adultification (if there is such a word) of mainstream super hero comics is what started our audience shrinking in the first place. The Lee-Kirby generation knew how to write stories that both kids and adults could enjoy without embarrassment, the following generations (and I include myself) consciously skewed older and I think we lost a lot of younger readers along the way.

      That said, an intelligent, tastefully-done story about sexual harrassment is a
      fascinating idea.

      Delete
  10. I'm not sure how eloquent it was, I spelled their wrong and used seemingly twice in one sentence. I really hope that my editor doesn't see this. But that is what I get for writing it just before bed.

    If Abadazad is in the Disney realm and Disney owns Marvel, couldn't that be a publishing avenue?

    As for why comics aren't selling, well I don't think there is any one answer, or at least one that it easy to see.

    The "too geeky" thing as some traction, but I'm not sure how much. There are plenty of people claiming to be comic fans that aren't or more importantly to the conversation, all them selves geeks, but don't read comics. So the idea of not wanting "the lifestyle" may be true for many, but not as much as we think. I think it is somewhat akin to weekend warrior hippies. An d the Game of Thrones books were mentioned, and I am not sure that historically reading fantasy novels are considered all that less geeky.

    As for heading too much into adult territory. As far as I know the common age of comic readers started being teens in the 70s. And I can't imagine that adult things would scare them off, if anything it would make them more more interested. So I guess the point is that audiences also started skewed older. What's more those E.C. books had some heavy things in them, and I don't just mean gore, and kids ate those up. Same for the Spirit too, actually.

    I do think that a large part of it is comics exist in a strange region. People almost always assume that the original of something is better than the adaptation. Comics seem to be the opposite, I really think people assume that Movies are being great from trash source. Dark Knight is a perfect example. The comic it was based off of by Englehart was both smaller, and I believe smarter and more mature (though not in a way to leave young folks behind you'll be glad to know) than the mega blockbuster that is so beloved.

    Another interesting point, is I do know people who will on occasion pick up a comic either at the book store in in a comic shop, but there may be long breaks. So there may be something about comics that makes casual readers not show up as well in the records. Trades for instance may be counted differently.

    There was also mention of tech evolving, but societies change too.

    Jack

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    1. ABADAZAD is lost in a tangle of...well. it's a tangle. I've tried the Marvel route, but it was a dead end.

      Interesting point about people assuming the movies are better than the source material. If that's true, that's a tough hurdle to get over.

      Delete
    2. I do honestly believe that is at least part of the issue if not the lions share. However, like every other possible reason, it is hard to prove, and yes that is a tough hurdle, probably the toughest possible. It doesn't help that the two that are always recommended are Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns, so if they don't sit as highly with you as it did with others then what's the point of trying anything else? I mean they say this is the best. Also I think it was David on this site that said if you talked about movies the same way, someone who never saw one would think The Godfather and Citizen Kane were the only ones worth watching. A very good point indeed. I think much of that is just being too used to talking to other fans.

      The sociological issues are often over looked and maybe shouldn't be. Fo instance, you mentioned a generation growing up without a connection to physical books and comics, what if a generation is also growing up with reading as a back burner place in their minds? Sad? Yeah, but possible or at least worth thinking about.



      Jack

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    3. I truly hope that we don't have a generation that's growing up with reading as a "back burner," Jack. That's not just sad, that's scary. And absolutely worth thinking about.

      Delete
    4. It certainly isn't ideal. But there is a scary aspect to digitization people don't think about. Technology fails, it does. So if ech fails hard enough when we have gone long enough without hard copies, there goes the whole of our culture. Society could be a zombie Krypton, everything we were gone but our bodies still walking.

      Back in the 90s even if you weren't a kid or have any, you were probably at least aware of a few kid book series. Mostly because they sold in a variety of places. It seems however that has been popped up to teenagers, whats more older teenagers.

      The fact is that everything in life has a payoff. Is reading as we know it going to be one? I really hope not, but it could happen.

      Google is already affecting memory in people who lived in a world without it, and ipads are causing kids to develop fine motor skills later. It is hard to predict such prices to be paid

      I sometimes wonder what will become of kids imaginations as a whole, not just in relation to reading.

      Jack

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    5. On a practical level, Jack, it comes down to parents: I read to both my kids, pretty much every day. They both grew up to be readers. My mother was a voracious reader and I'm sure that contributed to my own love of books.

      There was an article in WIRED a few years back about the changes in memory as the result of our cyber-culture. It was fascinating. Once upon a time we could all remember lots of phone numbers...and people who had to do that are still capable of it. Younger people, who could always depend on the press of a button? Not so much. And that's just the tip of it.

      Delete
    6. There was also a study done in the least 90s/early 2000s, that said the more time open spend online, the more isolation that they suffer.

      As for the reading aspect, yes parenting is a big part of it, but if the child is capable of finding good work and acquiring info well without it, then it is questionable how much the parent will push it, then you also have to way it against how much society as a whole affects them.

      Predicting societal trend is complicated though. It is very easy to see how something gets someplace afterwards, but before hand is more difficult. It is possible that as time progresses forward, people will get better at juggling all of these things.


      Jack

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  11. Rick here. Thought I would combine a few things.

    For the selling of comics at the movies, I was envisioning a special edition. For $10, a reader gets a new (and top quality) story which is a spin-off of the movie, some reprints of the movie character, and some other story or two which includes the character but showcases different heroes (all of which are in color). Since a basic book is about $3, and reprints can't be too expensive, it ought to make money, attract fans to add it to their collections, and hopefully, encourage non-readers to give it a try.

    "I think the adultification (if there is such a word) of mainstream super hero comics is what started our audience shrinking in the first place." I don't think I agree. I think what did it is that movies became more explicit. Once that occurred, the comics had to follow suit because comics do compete with other media for attention. If memory serves me, the industry went through a circulation bust in the late 1960's (thereby allowing the rise of books like GL/GA). Offering more adult fare may have preserved it. What also mattered were price increases.

    If you're looking for a way to get at sexual harassment, how about a gender shifting hero/heroine who gets to reflect on all aspects of the difference? In non-superhero form, "She-Man" is a boring accountant. But, when he gets superpowers, he does so in a woman's body with the mind of a man (e.g., "Tootsie" in spandex). The hero can also learn what superheroines privately think of various heroes, what kind of costumes are tough to fight in or repair/replace, who has "the hots" for whom and what they do about it ("What's wrong with wearing a push-up bra if I'm going to team up with Cap'n Terrific?"). That sort of thing.

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    1. Can't get specific, Rick, but your "She Man" idea is close to something in development on...well, I can't say yet which book, but I'll let you know when it's ready to come out!

      I think your movie theater idea is a great one. I'd love to see Marvel and/or DC try something like that.

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    2. Feel free to pass it along. Marvel should be able to pull it off with the Avengers 2 movie.

      Delete
    3. I suspect it's the Hollywood folks, not the New York publishing folks, who make those kinds of decision; but, if I ever have the chance...!

      Delete
  12. There are a lot of titles out there that are skewed younger. The new Little Nemo from IDW comes to mind. I don't count all the ones based on cartoons because that seems over simplified. I would also think that Marvel's Amazing X-Men reminds me so much of the Byrne/Claremont run of X-Men and seems to be more kid friendly even with Canada being turned into a nation of cannibalistic Wendigos. Kids are crazy about cannibalistic Wendigoes!

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    1. I've seen some of the art from IDW's LITTLE NEMO, Douglas, and it looks fantastic. And, speaking of IDW and kid-friendly comics, this month I'm getting started on THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF AUGUSTA WIND—a sequel to the series I did a year or so back with artist Vassilis Gogtzilas. Very excited about returning to Augusta's world. (Sorry—couldn't resist the plug.)

      Delete
  13. I read the Evanier book on Kirby, and you were right. It's very good. The writing was light, the anecdotes were entertaining and informative, and the whole package was nicely balanced with illustrations.

    My appreciation for Kirby's work has also increased considerably. Looking back, I think one of the aspects of his artwork which I didn't like is that too much of it had a rushed, jumbled look. With his kind of drawing pace, I now know why. Evanier's inclusion of some of Kirby's other work, however, and his cover shot of "The Guys in the Foxhole", in particular, was an eye-opener. It reminded me of Wally Wood's EC work on "Front Line Combat", but a little moodier. I consider that to be some of the best artwork ever (along with a lot of other EC Wood art).

    Even while Evanier noted some of Kirby's weaknesses, one aspect of the book which did bother me is that some of it seems a little too awe-struck of Kirby. Specifically, I find it hard to believe that Kirby could spend 16 years in partnership with Simon, but Simon did as little as Evanier seems to suggest. Simon and Kirby did not part on bad terms, as Kirby did with Marvel. And, when the opportunity later presented itself, they worked together again. If Simon were contributing that little, I can't imagine Kirby wanting to work with him again so willingly.

    By the way, Evanier also needed a better editor. Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, not 1940.

    Rick

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    1. I'm sure Mark knows when Pearl Harbor was attacked, Rick. Sometimes mistakes like that creep in and they have nothing to do with the original manuscript. Or they're typos that the proofreader missed.

      I don't really know who did what in the Simon-Kirby partnership, I just know that Kirby in tandem with both Stan and Joe was brilliant and Kirby alone was brilliant. In fact, no matter what Jack was up to...even on his worst day...he was the one comic book creator I would call a legitimate genius.

      Delete
    2. I probably should have said "better final copy editor" or whoever checks the final proofs these days before printing. I'm sure Evanier knows, too.

      Let me also elevate the praise on the book from very good to excellent. I probably wasn't as generous as I should have been. Many years ago, I read Steranko's books, so I had a sense of what had happened over the years and it wasn't completely new terrain. That probably cut down my enthusiasm.

      I did find the legal stuff really interesting (of course). The law firm who negotiated for Marvel with Kirby sounds like the typical "old school" asshole you run into on occasion at big NY law firms. They got the result they deserved.

      Delete
    3. I'm delighted the Kirby-Marvel legal battle was resolved in what seems (from the outside looking in) like a great victory for the Kirby family. In the end, that was what Jack wanted more than anything: for his family to be cared for.

      Mark Evanier has a more in-depth and detailed version of this book in the works, he's been talking about it for years. I, for one, can't wait to see it.
      But I think I'll have to!

      Delete
  14. Replies
    1. It's great, isn't it? Really gives you a sense of not just Kirby the genius, but Kirby the man, working his ass off to provide for his family.

      Delete
  15. I like the story about how, in the Summer, he would take his board out on the fire escape to draw. I can just see him out there, cigar in place, furiously making magnificent, otherwordly art. He is still my favorite artist.

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  16. You know, not to complain about a lifelong dream, but it's almost getting so I don't have the TIME to keep up with all the great comic book TV shows these days. AoS has really upped its game, FLASH is the most 'comic-booky' of all the shows so far (in the best possible way), and ARROW is fantastic as always. And pretty soon we'll have DAREDEVIL on Netflix...

    It's a weird world when today's biggest hits would have been in the cancellation range twenty years ago, and yet there's no denying that comic book ideas are making more money and having more cultural impact than ever (in a different way).

    --David

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    1. If I could travel back in time, David, and tell my twelve year old self that I'd be able to turn on the television on a Tuesday night and watch FLASH and AGENTS OF SHIELD back to back, Little Me would faint! SHIELD has been solid so far and, although we're only two episodes in, I'm enjoying FLASH very much.

      And CONSTANTINE is still waiting in the wings! (But I wouldn't let my Younger Self watch that one!)

      Delete
  17. There's a rumor out there that PS will make an appearance because of a video clip showing a man in a fedora. There's also a rumor that the Spectre will be in one of the early episodes (and, I am sure everyone has seen the Dr. Fate helmet).

    I confess to being an Arrow addict. Who'd have thought a knock-off of Batman with trick arrows could be that good? Rick

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  18. I haven't seen ARROW, Rick, but I've heard terrific things about it. I should dive into the first season: I think it's on Netflix.

    Because of my obvious love for the spooky corners of the DCU, I'm very excited about CONSTANTINE. And if the bring in the Stranger...all the better. Fingers crossed.

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    1. If you are excited about Constantine, then prepare for to be the first to receive this phrase, you should check out Hellbalzer. Of course Mr. Dematteis, you probably wouldn't be interested... it's a comic book.


      As for the whole gender polotics thing, there was a Mike W. Barr comic from the Ultraverse called Mantra, where an ancient warrior having been reincarnated many times is for the first time in a woman, a divorced mom. If I remember correctly.



      Jack

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    2. I've also heard that this Constantine character often appears in another comic book called JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK. Sounds interesting!

      Mantra sounds similar to another character Mike Barr had in CAMELOT 3000: a knight reincarnated as a woman. I see a theme here!

      Delete
    3. Fair enough, JLD is handling John Constantine in an interesting way... but you write that, Id imagine that you would have some idea about it. Last time you were asked here however, you said that you hadn't read any, or at leas much, Hellblazer.


      Jack

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    4. I thought your HELLBLAZER comment was tongue-in-cheek, Jack, so I responded in kind with my JLD comment.

      Still haven't read much HELLBLAZER, but I've read my share of Ray Fawkes' CONSTANTINE book and it's terrific.

      Delete
    5. Hellblazer is a very different animal. The Vertigo treatment gives much more leeway. The lack of need to have it fit in with other elements, and be mainstream is what made John the fan favorite he is. The complexity of the character and his self-loathing worked very well.

      What's more it was always a writer's book.

      I'd say to definitely at least give it a chance, it could only do good for John in your mind.

      Even Constantine's origins were more complex and grey, which may seem strange since the new origin involves John accidentally killing his parents with magic, but the Vertigo one is much more... it's just much more. It is hard to elaborate without spoiling,


      Jack

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    6. Of course the goal of that was not to say anything negative about Fawkes' run,rather just to praise Hellblazer.


      Jack

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    7. Totally got that, Jack. No worries!

      Delete
    8. Then the real question is, why aren't you out getting Hellblazer comics right now?


      Jack

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    9. Well, among other things, I'm teaching a four day writing workshop starting tonight!

      Delete
    10. ...that's a pretty flimsy excuse.


      Jack

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    11. Rick here.

      I remember Camelot 3000. I think that was the first time I saw a mainstream comic have a (sort of) lesbian relationship (if one counts reincarnation of a man into a woman). Very different; broke new ground.

      Delete
    12. CAMELOT 3000 was an amazing book: great writing from Mike Barr and the Brian Bolland art was just spectacular.

      Delete
    13. Sounds like I should read Camelot 3000, And you should read Hellblazer.

      So here is an example of the difference:

      Constantine (if I remember): John plays with magic and burns down his killing his parents.

      Hellblazer: John's mother and his twin brother die during his birth. His father resents him and blames him for the death of his wife. John often sees a "golden boy in his youth." He both loves and hates this child for being better than he. It is his brother who would have been a great magician/

      Of course, though I do really like the series, there are much more hardcore fans. They could give you all the finer points. This is just one such example.

      Also, John: much bigger prick in Hellblazer.

      Jack

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    14. I think that a lot of people would be tempted to place John Constantine in the "deconstruction" camp, but I disagree. To me that whole deconstruction vibe was problematic because it ws less about characters and stories, and more about proving a point, and eventually a race to see who could create the least heroic hero.in the bleakest world. While Hellblazer is certainly not the most optimistic book, and John's charm being in how much of a prick he is, he is a character first. People love the character, quite a bit of effort and skill has been put into crafting him.


      Jack

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    15. Can't promise anything...but maybe one of these days I'll get around to checking it out.

      Delete
  19. I have the opposite problem with all the new stuff coming out on television. It seems like we know about it so far in advance that by the time it finally gets here I feel underwhelmed. Now, I do love the new SHIELD show and have been watching it since the first episode, but I still haven't watched The Flash. My wife is fond of ARROW, but I think that primarily comes from him being shirtless a lot. At least that's what she mentions when discussing the show. I want to be excited about the IRON FIST as he is one of my favorite characters, but I'm so worried they are going to ruin it. We will have to wait and see.

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    1. Well, Marvel's done pretty well by their characters in the cinematic universe, Douglas, so I think they'll treat these new Netflix shows with equal respect.

      You should definitely check out FLASH: Geoff Johns, one of the most celebrated writers of the Flash comic book, co-wrote the first two episodes.

      Delete
  20. Given our discussion here about kids, comics and adaptations, I decided to cross-examine my 16 year old why he wouldn't read them. I offer the following as a partial, shortened version for your sad bemusement. A second comment follows afterward:

    "Why don't you read comics?"
    "They're boring"
    "How do you know if you don't try reading them?"
    "Because they seem boring"
    "In other words, you're prejudiced."
    "Yea...well."
    "If we were discussing blacks, you'd be quite properly revolted by prejudice. Why is prejudice against reading comics okay when you wouldn't do it with people?"
    "Dad, you're giving me a headache."
    "You like comic book movies right?" --"Yea"
    "You think TV adaptations of comics are okay, right?"--"Yea."
    "So why not the comics themselves?"
    "They aren't as deep."
    "How do you know if you haven't tried them?"
    "Daaaaaaaaaaad..."

    ReplyDelete
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    1. As the ancient Jewish sages often observed: "Oy!"

      Delete
    2. Called it.


      Jack

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    3. I really tried to bring him up right...good schools, opportunities...open-mindedness...but what's a father to do? Maybe he'll come to his senses when he's older. Rick

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    4. You might just have to send him to Comic Book Reform School. : )

      Delete
  21. Which brings me to the point which my son was basically making: the average 16 year old doesn't think that reading comics is cool. The movies are cool. TV is sort of cool. Comics, as he oh-so uncharmingly said, were so "1960's" (Maybe I should buy a walker and hit him with it).

    Part of the solution to increasing sales is accessibility. But, I think another part was pointed out in the movie "Thank You for Smoking." Movie stars smoked in the movies, so, smoking was "cool." People smoked. Celebrities did those "Got Milk" commercials, and sales went up. World War II represented a peak in comic sales. And who read them?Not just kids. GI's, war hero's; they passed them around to other GI's. So, get "cool people" to talk about reading comics in public media (talk shows, web, etc.) and distribute the media. If enough cool people do so, more people will try them, and then, there may again be a boom.

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    1. Good points, Rick. Thanks for you insights.

      Delete
  22. I'll probably watch all of the Netflix shows. I just hope they avoid that God Awful white Iron Fist costume. And I'll check out The Flash this weekend. I'm still a fan of the original show.

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    1. The old FLASH series was a lot of fun. The actor who played the Flash on that show is a regular on the new series.

      Delete
  23. The first thing I read was a comic book. I have been reading them since the age of three. I read them to my children, they read comic books. They do what they learn at an early age. OF the five kids three are regular readers and the other two will read them if they are put in front of them. One of them would rather spend his money on guitars and the other one is absorbed in defeating Dark Souls 2. On a side note, those two would rather spend their time playing Magic The Gathering. That does have nice artwork and words so, I'm counting that.

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    1. Clearly you have earned your place in Comic Book Valhalla!

      Delete
  24. I imagine you have thoughts about the cancellation of FF.

    From what I can surmise, the problem isn't sales (which I think are about 35,000) so much as a fight over movie rights and the like.

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    1. I don't know anything about it beyond what's been in the comic book press.
      I suspect it's just a cancellation in preparation for a big reboot to stimulate sales. This is Marvel's Founding Book, the whole MU was built on the FF, I can't see them canceling it just because of a movie rights problem. That wouldn't affect the comics in any way. But, as I said, I don't know anything about it!

      Delete
  25. Also, one thing that should be mentioned, is that in the late 90s and early 2000s manga took off. MAny people who would have read American comics, started reading this instead, (partially) because it's always cooler when it happens in another country.

    Jack

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    1. Reminds me of when my son was young: We got all the Marvel and DC stuff for free...but he was totally captivated by Manga. That's what he loved more than anything.

      Delete
  26. Rick here.

    I read Trinity of Sin, #1, and just thought I'd briefly comment.

    It has got to be hard to write a first issue of anything, particularly if it uses established characters. Since first issues attract new readers, you can't saddle them with their lack of knowledge of the past or they won't stay with it. But, you can't insult older readers by ignoring the past. On that basis, I liked it and want to see where it goes.

    Poor Dr. Thirteen. He's gone from a happily married and respected paranormal detective in Star Spangled Comics to a widowed, reformed alcoholic whose best friends were Judas and a transgendered angel. I guess that last name suits him.

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    1. You're right on the money, Rick. Truth is, the PS and PANDORA books were hardly big sellers and so we have to work on the assumption that lots of people will be picking up ToS who really don't now much about them. So the trick is to introduce and explain the characters while, at the same time, presenting them in the context of a new, and hopefully interesting, story. A tricky balance.

      The story, as it's been evolving, gets pretty epic as it goes along. And I'm especially enjoying the Question.

      As for Thirteen: Don't count him out just yet.

      Delete
  27. From a writing perspective, the three mini-stories in one reminded me of the early Silver Age Justice League stories (pre-issue 60). It's a classic set-up device which works pretty well.

    JM, to you or anyone who reads this, my 16 year old son finally agreed to read a comic. Can anyone recommend something to convince him they are not old-fashioned and shallow? It ought to be self-contained (no long history of the character needed to understand the story), and a regular issue, because I don't think he will give something long like "The Dark Knight Returns" a chance. Half naked women would probably be a good selling point, but not essential. Heavy action is not a great selling point. Thanks. This may be my only shot at teenager enlightenment.

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    1. I wasn't thinking about that (consciously, at least), but you're absolutely right. It is similar to the old JL split-the-team device.

      As for a comic for your son...I've got to think about that. Anyone else out there in CreationPointLand have any ideas for Rick?

      Delete
  28. Got the new Trinity of Sin as well as the complete run of BLOOD from the fifty cent bin at my local comic shop. I read Trinity, but need to read it again. It's on my list to review on my blog. BLOOD is giving me a weird MOONSHADOW vibe, which is good. I have read the first one so far.

    As for a comic recommendation for a 16 year old;
    HELLBOY
    INVINCIBLE
    SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER MAN
    The new MOON KNIGHT stories are one and dones that work pretty well.
    The new GHOST RIDER
    those are for a start.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the recommendations, Douglas!

      I think you'll see, as you go along, that BLOOD is very different from MOONSHADOW. In fact, it's wildly different from just about everything else I've ever written. Hope you enjoy the rest of the journey.

      Delete
  29. Hmmm, this whole recommendation thing is difficult. I mean we know we are fighting prejudices here, but I'll give it a whirl.

    First I'll get the ones obvious to this site: Moonshadow, Batman: Going Sane, the late 80s Dr. Fate, and Kraven's Last Hunt. Given whose site this is, we should get those out of the way immediately.

    Now, if you want to go away from superhero stuff:

    -A Contract With God. Hardly an original story (or stories), but it does have depth. Eisner crafted a very human story. I also think that "Last Day in Vietnam" is underrated.
    -Criminal. All of Ed Brubaker's crime stories are genuinely well crafted ones, on par with a good many movies, and I think actually surpasses many from the last few years.
    -Fatale. Another great Brubaker one, that actually just wrapped up. An interesting horror/ supernatural thriller.
    -Man-Thing. A comic that I actually have a teenage connection too. Especially "The laughing Dead." A nice two issue story.
    The Mysterious Traveller by Moonstone had some good one and dones.

    Now, if you want to stick to the mask and cape crowd...
    -X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. The basis for X-men 2, which is a lot smarter, and more interesting than the film... which I liked.
    - Jim Starlin's Warlock. If he liked Guardians of the GAlaxy, this is where it all began.
    -Silver Surfer Requiem. A very interestiong look at life and death.
    -Almost any story in the first 100-150 issues (minus the ones tied to big events) in Legends of the Dark Knight. A nice cut above, with an attempt to do self contained stories and always brought a high degree of skill, even great writers tried harder here.
    -Astro City tends to be well thought and accessible.
    -Daredevil: Born Again.
    -Starman.

    Of course, we are burying the lead, which is that I was right about why people don't read comics. Hope the lists help

    Jack

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    1. My own work aside, Jack: good recommendations.

      Rick, let me enthusiastically second A CONTRACT WITH GOD. One of the greatest graphic novels ever done, by one of the greatest creators ever to work in our medium. That said. I'm not sure if the subject matter would appeal to a teenager.

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    2. A Contract With God... That was a huge knowledge gap for me. I'm sure I've seen that cover before, but even knowing it was one of Eisner's works (I like him in general, but I'm a newbie when it comes to his stuff), this is the first time I learn something about it. I just googled and added it to my cart.
      What should I expect, J.M.?

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    3. A heartfelt, realistic gn about the struggles of people in New York City tenements in the 1930's. Rich, human stories, perfectly told.

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    4. And that description does NOT do it justice!

      Delete
  30. Wait, I just remembered a recommendation.

    Daredevil 192.

    JAck

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  31. Jack, while I agree with all of your recommendations, especially, Moonshadow, I question whether they will fulfill the parameters set forth in the initial post. Sadly, I don't think a 16 year old will be enamored of most of your excellent choices with the exception of the Brubaker stories. I would also like to withdraw my choice of Invincible as it may be too convoluted for the amount of issues that are already out there. But that is my opinion. The 16 year old in question could throw us all for a loop and pick something none of us would have thought of.

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    Replies
    1. Well, I can see your point, however these are all comics that I either would have (and in many cases in fact did) read at ages 16-17. So, not having any kids, let alone around that age, I just don't know.

      I did say in a post after what Dematteis posted, I was really more thinking about the statement where it was said the kid viewed them as "less deep." But like I said, with the exception of the Brubaker recommendations and Starman, and maybe 1 or two others, I did read these as a teenager. I think that it comes down to the individual kid. So I'll leave my list up and let the father pick.

      While I'm not sure I agree with the belief that almost none of them would be good for a 16 year old (especiallysince God Love Man Kills, LOTDK, and Man-thing, and Warlock were written in the era when teens were the target audience), I do concede that teenagers are not my expertise And thank you for your response, and insight. But, I think we can all agree that Hellboy is good for people of any age.

      Jack

      Delete
  32. Rick here.

    Quite a list, and I do appreciate the effort. While I have never heard of some of them, others I already have (like a signed first edition of a "Contract With God", and the whole Warlock series)(Oh, but I did like Hellboy and some of the ones I recognize from years ago)(Yet another Starman revamp?)

    My concern is that the list is pretty ambitious. I figure I have about 20 minutes to grab his attention, and if I succeed, about 20 minutes more to keep it on track. I'm also not sure what my local dealer has in stock. What's easy to get into, current, imaginative (he does like Game of Thrones), and if possible, a little titillating. He's only 16, and not very worldly (but smart, when he was 15 he decided that summer to study the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire on his own).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A signed first edition of CONTRACT WITH GOD? Impressive!

      Have you thought of going for the obvious and giving him WATCHMEN?

      Delete
    2. He would never read it. First, it's way too long. Second, it's most effective if someone knows comics and how their mythology works. Besides, he found the movie boring. I need something which will "hit him between the eyes."

      If memory serves me, the First Edition included a limited run of about 250 signature copies for an extra $50-$100. I knew it would be something special, so I bought it that way. I still think it should have been better if produced in 8.5 x 11 inch format, however, to better appreciate the illustrations.

      Delete
    3. You were a wise man to pick up that First Edition!

      Delete
  33. Doug, I agree.

    What would really interest him is something which taught him about the real world or elevated him out of it.

    It's a shame that comics don't make adult level stories like in the old EC Comics anymore where a great piece of graphic literature could be had in 6-7 pages. That would probably also boost sales. Rick

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    Replies
    1. If it's "real world" you're looking for, might I (perhaps selfishly) suggest BROOKLYN DREAMS? It's all about the Teenager Search, so it might be right up his alley.

      Delete
    2. I can give it a whirl (I hear the author's a pretty good writer). But, that would be a bonus.

      I need something addictive. Your collection is a limited run.

      Delete
    3. What about another obvious one: Gaiman's SANDMAN?

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    4. Might be a little too cerebral, but I'll see if my dealer has a collection.

      Doesn't anyone write a bright shiny penny of a book anymore like American Flagg?

      Delete
    5. If he doesn't mind a talking head book, Starman9, where Ted explains to Jack what dealing with the Ragdoll was like. It is quite engrossing, despite nonof the things being shown.

      Jack (not Knight)

      Delete
  34. Brooklyn Dreams is a great read and might be a good one. I considered Watchmen, but we're talking about a modern 16 year old and I worried that the movie might taint his opinion of the comic book. I made sure my teenagers read the comic before we saw the movie. And I am Man-Things number one fan, but none of my children show the slightest interest in it.

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    1. Yeah, MAN-THING—however brilliant the Gerber run—might be a tough sell. Thanks, Douglas!

      Delete
    2. I'd recommend anniversary issues from the days when that was a thing. That's a pretty quick way to get a handle on an era, and more often than not, they were really good.

      Just off the top of my head, some of my personal favorites are AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 200, SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN 200, and FANTASTIC FOUR 236.

      (And trust me, JMD, I did not forget ASM 400, another personal favorite. But it's also symptomatic of the way anniversary issues--and comics--were changing. It's hard to just pick it up and enjoy on its own merits without knowing much about the Clone Saga.)

      --David


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    3. I agree about AMAZING #400, David. You can get the emotional gist from reading it as a stand-alone, but the plot around the core story would confuse a new reader.

      Thanks for your suggestions!

      Delete
    4. You want proof America has lost it's way? These kids just can't appreciate a good old fashioned muck-monster. God help us all.


      Jack

      Delete
  35. At least Swamp Thing is doing well in his own book and Justice League Dark.

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    Replies
    1. I'm sitting at my desk putting words in Swampy's mouth at this moment, Douglas...so, yes, he is indeed alive and well.

      Delete
  36. Be honest Dematteis. Now that you've written him, John Constantine is one of you favorite characters, isn't he?


    Jack

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    1. I'm very fond of John. But I'm equally fond of Zatanna. And Deadman. And Swamp Thing. And Nightmare Nurse. And...

      Well, let's just say I love writing JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK.

      Delete
    2. Come on, none of those people are as big of a prick as John... maybe Deadman. Swamp Thing is also a bit self righteous.

      Are you telling me it isn't liberating to write a hero who is the furthest from a heart of gold that you can get?

      Jack

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    3. ...just a literary orgy... :)

      Rick

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    4. No more liberating than writing any other character I enjoy, Jack. I lock into their minds and hearts and off we go.

      Speaking of John C: the CONSTANTINE TV series kicks off tomorrow night. Very curious to see how it is.

      Delete
    5. hmmm. I'm hoping for the best, but I'm afraid the network suits will end up giving him a heart of gold, with just a gruff exterior. The lack of smoking is also a bit disconcerting. I will however try to be optimistic. They say Hellblazer informs on it, so the question is which will win, the fans who put it together or the suits that try to "make it work."

      If DC makes John likeable and a non-smoker I am out wit that though.... spread the word around tje offices.


      Jack

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    6. One interesting thing about John Constantine is that the guy currently writing him in JLD said on his website, " In many ways, he reminds me of the young John Lennon: a hard, acid-tongued British tough guy, whose spiked outer shell hides a very vulnerable core." In another story he wrote he showed that his younger self compared Christ to Lennon. So, the real question is, does this guy just view everyone in shades of John Lennon?


      Jack

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    7. I spoke to someone at DC who saw the first episode and said it was quite good, so I'm optimistic.

      Delete
    8. I agree with the Constantine-Lennon connection, but the Lennon-Christ thing sounds like something a seventeen year old would say. : )

      Delete
    9. Shame, I was really hopi9ng that you just viewed everyone you met as some form of John Lennon.

      Philip K. Dick - Lenon in India

      Bill Clintomn - Lennon in the early days of the Beatles

      Kirby - Lennon on acid.

      Hitler - - Lennon I don't know... driving a bus.


      Jack

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    10. It must have been the spelling which threw JM off.
      Rick

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    11. I think that the real question is, now that the show has premeired, what is your view on television's take on the newest member to the stable of characters you have written.


      Jack

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    12. I'd like to reserve judgement till I see more episodes. Pilots are rarely reflective of the show to follow. (And, from what I've heard, this particular pilot led to some major changes.) I will say that I thought the lead actor was letter perfect as Constantine and that I see great potential in the series. Which means, yes, I'll keep watching.

      Delete
    13. Fair enough, personally a a fan of Hellblazer (though admittedly, my run is not complete, and there are far bigger ones) I was pleasantly surprised, because as you said the character was done so well. In the end, with comic adaptions that has to be what fans put above everything else. It is the reason why we buy comics every month, and it is the only thing you can't explain away as a need fot adaption. What's more, I was afraid that they were going to give him a heart of gold.

      The lack of smoking, or at least visible smoking, still irks me, like a lot, but after watching this I think that the show can be very good and very true as long as the creators win out over the network suits.

      Also, I like that with the story they chose and how they adapted it, they may have been trying to make people think that this was going to be a mystical Doctor Who, only to sedate the fans that would be agitated by it, pull the rug out from anyone who wasn't familiar with the character and thought just that.

      sorry for bending your virtual ear like that.

      Now speaking of your so called Messiah John Lennon, wait no.. that's not right, anyway.... How is tjhis for a cover of his work:


      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5JUBjnOm-o


      Jack

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    14. I agree, Jack: If you've nailed the central character, and they certainly have, that's a huge triumph. What also amazed me is how much he physically looks like the comic book Constantine.

      Great cover of a great song, by the way!

      Delete
    15. Yeah, Layne Staley truly was a talent. I think if he had been born earlier he would have been a great blues singer. Heroin really screwed us out of real talent. What is with bluesy singers and heroin anyway, remember that's what got Janis too.

      As for Constantine, he was such a prick, and that is perfect. I wouldn't mind (maybe even encourage) if they didn't adapt many at all and did just mostly new stories. They already set it up in the U.S. instead of England.

      It all comes down to Creator/fans vs. suits, and it looks like the previous at least has a good head start.

      Jack

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    16. Is it me, or are the response areas getting more and more filled up these days?


      Jack

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    17. One interesting thing about the episode, which might be one of those changes, is when he is in the bar he is putting out a cigarette, but you can't see it. I wonder if it was edited out on orders from NBC.

      Seriously, John really should be smoking.

      Jack

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    18. I'm looking forward to the other supernatural characters from the DCU showing up. Dr. Fate's helmet was a great tease.

      Delete
    19. They are getting filled. But I'm also not posting as much so each post gets more comments.

      Delete
    20. There was also lots of cigarette lighter clicking.

      Delete
  37. http://instantrimshot.com/

    Jack

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  38. Haven't seen in, but on the smoking controversy, I understand NBC's reasoning. It took Hollywood far too long to acknowledge its own role in making cigarettes attractive to teens, and how many people lost their lives? Even Christopher Reeve's Superman--the paragon of innocence and virtue--was in a film that was pushing Marlboro cigarettes at every opportunity (with a chain smoking Lois Lane, no less!).

    Kind of weird to think about now, but hey, these were the days when our parents encouraged to burn off our spare time on rusty playground sets with jagged metal protrusions!

    --David

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    1. Coming from a guy who grew up in a time when kids were encouraged to suck on candy cigarettes, I hear you , David. That said, I think it all depends on how they handle the smoking. I seem to recall that, in the comic book, Constantine got cancer as a result of his smoking (Jack—correct me if I'm wrong). To have John smoking and have there be some kind of consequence could be a powerful story.

      Delete
    2. It's definitely a slippery slope--if you can't depict smoking of any kind, then you can't address it meaningfully, either.

      Honestly, I don't give it a second thought most of the time when Wolverine smokes cigars.

      I don't necessarily think NBC made the right call, but I'm sympathetic to corporations trying to act responsibly (until they slaughter MY sacred cows, that is!).

      --David

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    3. I understand, too. And, of course, we're all passing judgement based on one episode. Let's see how they handle it from here on in.

      Delete
    4. Passing judgement may be unfair, but the topic of television and movies is interesting.

      First, yes John did eventually get cancer. In fact it has been called the ultimate anti-smoking story, because while he did become free of it, he had to deal with demons, which most people don't have as an option.

      Superman smoking I'm not sure encourages. The fact is that more peo0ple smoked back then, so one could argue that it is just being reflective of the world around it. Don't forget captain America himself smoked, and lighting a cigarette was the only reason the original Flash got his powers.

      The nature of TV and society is an odd one. You mention making smoking look cool, but taking them out on that means is somewhat hypocritical. Hollywood churns out plenty of Pot comedies, drinking and casual sex are viewed on almost every network, with no talk of the consequence, hell AIDS is a joke a lot of the time, I remember when that was an equivalent to cancer in people's minds. The consequences of these, like alcoholism os STDs are viewed as jokes... which is fine.

      As a casual smoker (very casual, like a pack a month), who knows a lot of people who smoke, it seems very strange to erase it entirely. People smoke. The fact is cigarettes in media don't have to be pro or con, they6 can just be.

      I recently saw an add on TV saying only 9% of teens smoke, well my question is instead of saying let's eliminate it, why can't we just assume that people know the risks and have made their decision. The fact is that when smokers are portrayed in media, it isn't often just there, or to look cool, or even to show risk, it is to demonize them. Let's get something straight, I am not calling smokers an oppressed minority or anything.

      Someone at the comic store (a never been a smoker) told me about a list of things on network TY that are more offensive than John smoking, and I think this is it:

      http://www.hitfix.com/comedy/11-things-on-network-tv-way-more-offensive-than-constantine-smoking

      Now, as for why people want John smoking, well... it started out as just a trait,, but has become sort of a symbol for his anti-social ways and (here is the important part) self-destructive tendencies.

      I think until there is no mention of marijuana (even in a joke), it is somewhat hypocritical, and honestly just political, to completely erase cigarettes.

      It also shows a problem in understanding sometimes, when Marvel got rid of smoking for all of there characters, it just made certain characters seem off. Thing smoking a cigar wasn't missed, but Ben Urich just not having a smoke without any mention of trying to quit was a bit off.

      Also, let's not forget it's on at 10pm, a time viewed as being viewed as for adults. Are teens watching? Sure, some. I do think it is odd to think that there psyches can handle excessive and graphic talk of rape, murder, and molestation (all things that have been jokes on network TV by the way) but not a guy in the background puffing on tobacco.

      Whats more, back to John, I think that if you are only concerned about young people wanting to smoke, well I'd say look at the character. Smoking is the least objectionable thing about John. But non of us are concerned with everyone under the age of 20 becoming a self-serving prick (okay maybe more so), which is strange, since it seems behavior would be more likely adopted. But it shouldn't be a concern, and that is why it isn't

      Jack

      Jack

      Delete
    5. Also, I would imagine that completely getting rid of smoking and treating it as something to be avoided at all costs, would play into something teenagers REALLY love... rebellion.


      Jack

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    6. I think it's the networks erring on the side of caution, Jack—and considering the death and grief smoking has caused in this country, and around the world, I can't fault them for it. (Along with the candy cigarettes, I grew up in a world where the were constant cigarette commercials on television. It was a HUGE deal when the networks finally put an end to that.)

      All that said, I think a great story dealing with the repercussions of John's smoking could be a very powerful thing. And also, given the non-smoking world we live in, where many—if not most—people don't want to be anywhere near cigarettes, an interesting source of character interplay.

      Delete
    7. I'm not advocating bringing back commercials or blatant kid targeted ads (especially since I ALWAYS found Joe Camel really creepy), however I do think that there was a bit of over-correction. I think that there can and should be a middle ground.

      Now, to your other point, being told he had to put out his smoke in a diner or before entering a bar, then calling the person or angry crowd "a wanker," or "Nazi bastards!" now that is very John Constantine. What's more you are scratching on the point that we have a character who is top a certain amount, supposed to be unlikable and not caring about other people's views on him.

      Now enjoy this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yevvHTWFEZ8

      and

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G04Izt-AhjY

      Jack

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    8. I get the sense that a Mad Season song in a CONSTANTINE episode would make you very happy.

      Delete
    9. And I liked the Lisa Marr song. Nice stuff.

      Delete
    10. Not really. I mean I enjoy both, and respect each, however neither Mad Season or Hellblazer crack my top 10 of either medium. That being said, I wouldn't campaign against it either.

      Silver Surfer Movie with Lisa Marr, that might just make me plotz.


      Glad you enjoyed the ever Amazing Ms. Marr. She truly is great. And maybe\r that you dug Mad Season, that was unclear. Either way, have fun.

      Jack

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    11. I enjoyed Mad Season, Jack. Thanks for sharing the music.

      Delete
  39. I think you're right that there's a bit of overcorrection involved on network television, Jack. But, as John Mellencamp says, ain't that America?

    To be honest, our cultural landscape can be oddly schizophrenic. NBC, after all, has no problem dealing heavy doses of the worst humanity has to offer, via shows like LAW AND ORDER and HANNIBAL. I think sometimes they pick a symbolic scapegoat, and I guess smoking's it for now. Like I said, it's an understandable decision, but an odd one when you consider their overall programming scheme.

    --David

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  40. The latest Constantine was much better than the pilot, I thought. Matt Ryan has Constantine completely nailed and the lack of smoking was not even noticed while watching. Zed is a much better companion for him than the woman in the pilot and his journey through America to confront nasty stuff is exactly how he was introduced in Swamp Thing- though he made Swampy do all the work back then.I am pretty fanatical about John and was ready to be very harsh in my assessment but now I'm completely delighted!

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    Replies
    1. I agree, Jeff: Matt Ryan is pretty much a perfect onscreen translation of the comic book Constantine. And I find Zed intriguing. Looking forward to seeing how the series unfolds in the coming weeks...and really looking forward to other DCU supernaturals making appearances. (I really hope they bring in Zatanna.)

      Delete
  41. Apparently the reply button isn't working, anyway...

    I noticed the lack of smoking, part of that however was using old Hellblazer covers for Zed's art.

    Personally, I hope they abandon the idea of a companion. I feel like it might be the network trying to make him seem like a mystic Dr. Who. All in all a good episode though.

    Jack

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    Replies
    1. "A mystic Doctor Who"? I kind of like that idea!

      I enjoyed the Hellblazer art. It was a nice nod.

      But where's Doctor Fate? Where's Zatanna? Where's the Spectre?

      Delete
    2. I liked the Hellblazer art too, it is just hard to forget that he should be smoking with all those images.

      Zatanna goes back into Hellblazer, sop my guess is she's coming... though probably not until season2 if I had to guess. Somehow though, despite the helmet, I don't think Dr. Fate will show up. I do wonder if perhaps Mrs. Strauss will.

      As for mystic Dr. Who... why can't anything just be its own thing anymore.


      Jack

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    3. I was just reacting to the concept, Jack, not necessarily its application to the show. I like the idea of a mystic Doctor Who. (I've become a huge fan of the good Doctor the past few years.)

      Delete
    4. I was a big fan during the Tennett era (this was back when it was first run on Sci-Fi channel), then while I did like Matt Smith, it became more of a catch up show. I would end up missing the episode and having to catch it later. Just life really, not any hate for Matt Smith (although I do prefer Tennett).

      I however have seen none of the current Doctor's episodes. I also have no burning desire to do so. I don't hate the idea and I have heard good things, but the recent mega-success has given me a bit of fatigue of the character. It isn't the mass increase of fans compared to those early days (let alone catching the occasional episode on PBS waaaay back in the day), rather it is how much it has seeped. Things like Constantine now seemingly being steered that way simply because he's English, and one of (if not the utmost) favorite comic character the Silver Surfer being written with heavy inspiration from Dr. Who, I find myself annoyed ever more by the mere idea of the Doctor. A shame really. The hazards of mega success in the 21st century.


      Jack

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    5. The Tenant years are my favorite, too, Jack. (Although I think Matt Smith is a terrific actor.) Haven't seen the new season, either: I'm waiting for it to hit Netflix and Amazon.

      I understand what you're saying about mega-success. Does that mean if I suddenly become the most successful writer in the world, you'll stop reading my work? : )

      Delete
    6. Only if people twist and turn things to fit your style. As long as it is just inspiration and not straight up attempting to recreate.

      JAck

      Delete
  42. Deadman is perfect for TV. In fact, he should have his own series. You've got the weekly adventure—as he jumps into different bodies and gets involved in different lives—and the overarching plot: Who killed Boston Brand?

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  43. Like a spooky Quantum Leap! There's your pitch. The CW should climb all over that.

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