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By Christopher Butcher

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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Setting the Book Trade on Fire? � DC�s acquisition of Humanoids and Rebellion US publishing rights

In a series of surprising moves (with more forthcoming, be sure of it) DC Comics made public it�s latest acquisition�the publishing rights of British publisher Rebellion�s entire output. Spanning the popular JUDGE DREDD franchise as well as numerous original graphic novels from name British creators like Mark Millar, Garth Ennis, and a good number more. This follows a similar deal to repackage and republish material from French publishers Humanoids a few months back.

I actually wrote quite a bit about Humanoids and DC�s CMX imprint a few months back, but this was before I was a part of the �blogosphere� so I�m not sure how many people actually saw it. Feel free to go read http://comics.212.net/2004_02_01_archive.shtml#107681278657899982 and get up to speed on my thoughts on the matter.

Long story short: DC is in the business of making money again. The one thing that commentators on both of the press releases for these acquisitions have played up is how this is all intended to strengthen DC�s place in the bookstore market. But the press-releases themselves are very, very quiet on �bookstore� plans for these titles:

"The Rebellion catalog expands the already diverse offerings of DC's publishing output, and much of it is done by writers and artists beloved by our readership, so we're delighted to be able to connect them to these great stories. The wonderful work done on 2000 AD over the years was one of the important bridges that led to the so-called 'British Invasion' of American comics, so it feels like these titles were always meant to be with our line." � Paul Levitz, President & Publisher of DC Comics.

It�s worth noting that Tokyoop�s recent announcement at doing big ads on PUBLISHER�S WEEKLY and their suite of Television advertisements is remarkable particularly because of the lack of same from Marvel and DC. We�ll get to why this is important in a moment.

No offence intended to the creators or staff involved in either the Humanoids or Rebellion titles, but where exactly is the audience for these books? Who is clamoring for innovative and groundbreaking hardcore science-fiction in the bookstores, in the comic stores, in the movie theatres? Given the dire state of science fiction writing at the moment (go read anything Warren Ellis has written on the subject over the past few years, he�s tried to stay very plugged into the �scene�) I can�t imagine who they think is going to buy all of these books� Well, maybe I can. But you would think that DC who has tried to crack the bookstores with Science Fiction trade paperbacks before (most notably their STAR TREK license and the "SEVEN SUNS" graphic novel from bestselling sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson) would have made a go of it already, if they could. Do they believe the market to be that much more hospitible now to expensive, large, full-colour graphic novels for adults because cheap kids manga is doing well? For their sakes, I hope so...

The first wave of HUMANOIDS titles were just solicited and it seems to be a rather inauspicious beginning to the line. The first three trade paperbacks and a new issue of Metal Hurlant are promoted, except they�re given a mere two page spread with no interior art preview, and even that does not occur until twenty seven pages into the DC section, and solicited from Wildstorm. Apparently this new line of titles is not as important as the Firestorm Action Figure, the Catwoman movie statue, something called �Bloodhound #1� or John Byrne�s Doom Patrol. Like I said, not what you would call a terribly auspicious beginning to your new line of Important Graphic Novels. Of course, if these are intended for the book trade then where they appear in a Direct Market catalogue isn�t all that important, right?

Right?

Three months since the announcement and I�ve seen little-to-no press for the Humanoids titles (other than �Hey! They�re coming out!�), and DC�s marketing department is notoriously overworked and understaffed as it is without adding whole new lines of unfamiliar product to the mix. 3 new trade paperbacks and a floppy anthology dumped on the market with little fanfare and very little support, and I have to wonder what I would think of this if I were Rebellion right about now.

Probably �Well, it�s better than printing 80 page $18 graphic novels in Britain and getting murdered both ways on the shipping,� and as a fan of several of their titles who refuses to buy them for more than double what a comparably priced trade would cost from a North American publisher, I�d have to agree. But then, I don�t think I�m the one that these books SHOULD be marketed to� Particularly if their appearance in North America is limited to �Hey fanboy, another graphic novel for you to buy from the people who brought you PREACHER!�

Good luck to all involved though, really...

- Christopher

Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 4/29/2004 07:24:00 PM
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TOO MUCH IS NEVER ENOUGH

Lots of manga news over the last little while, and I imagine it will only get even thicker with manga news as the release racks and the sales figures get thicker with manga as well� To that end, we�ve received 48 new manga titles at The Beguiling since Monday.

No, really.

Here�s the list:
    Ai Yori Aoshi v3, Arm of Kannon v1, Battle Angel Alita v3, BT�X v3, Chronicles of the Cursed Sword v?, City Hunter v5, Crescent Moon v1, Cyborg 009 v5, Demon Diary v7, DOLL HC, Dragon Hunter v6, Eerie Queerie v2, Escaflowne, Vision of v6, Excel Saga v6, Fairies Landing v3, Fake v7, Girl Got Game v3, GTO v18, Gundam Seed Astray v1, Hot Gimmick v4, Jing: King of Bandits v6, Kare Kano v2, Kill Me, Kiss Me v2, Lament of the Lamb v1, Lupin III v13, Mahromatic v1, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed v1, Model v1, Nausicaa v3, Negima! v1, Neon Genesis Evangelion v2, Peach Girl Change of Heart v8, Pet Shop of Horrors v6, Pita Ten v3, Please Save My Earth v4, Psychic Academy v2, Ranma 1/2 v10, Saiyuki v2, Sgt. Frog v2, Short Program v2, Snow Drop v3, Suikoden v1, Tokyo Babylon v1, Tokyo Mew Mew v7, Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicle v1, Vampire Game v6, Wild Act v6, XXXHolic v1.
That�s not including magazine-format stuff or �amerimanga� either.

Now, granted, most comic specialty shops will be getting some of this material spread out over several weeks, but that�s a hell of a lot of books. It makes me kinda giddy, almost. There�s some actual quality stuff in that list too, NAUSICAA, the new-format EVANGELION, GTO, KARE KANO, and great/silly romance books like Hot Gimmick and Snow Drop, and even Please Save My Earth. Earlier this month we got BUDDHA Volume 3, and we�ll get volume 4 and the new PHOENIX next month as well� Really, it�s a great time to broaden your horizons.

I�ve got a little extra time today so I�ll be reviewing comics from the past couple of weeks too, there�ve been a lot of quality releases that I totally fucked up on mentioning because I missed Previews Review� :(

Keep watching the skies�

- Christopher

at 4/29/2004 05:58:00 PM
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Publisher's Weekly Talks About Viz Manga Distribution

I got an interesting forward in my inbox this morning, about Viz's manga distribution in the United States (insofar as it relates to non-hobby retailers). I share it with you (comments follow).

    S&S Distribution Goes Manga; Manga Goes TV
    by Calvin Reid, PW NewsLine -- 4/29/2004

    Manga, the Japanese form of comics, gets its biggest kind of publisher validation to-date as manga giant Viz switches from PGW to S&S for distribution. Viz becomes the first large-scale manga program to be associated with a major NY house.

    Publishing roughly 200 titles per year, Viz had been with PGW since 1991, but Seiji Horibuchi, president and CEO of Viz, said "the timing was right to make this move." Manga has grown by leaps and bounds--the market has at least doubled over the last two years.

    S&S will handle fulfillment, but Viz will use its own sales reps as well as its independent sales reps. Joe D'Onofrio, senior v-p, supply chain for S&S, said the company was "pleased to enter the expanding market for manga," emphasizing that S&S's expertise in nontraditional book outlets would help bring the category to a broader range of consumers.

    In other manga news: Tokyopop is planning a series of television commercials to be aired between May and September to promote several new titles. John Powers, Tokyopop v-p of marketing, says that the manga publisher has commissioned a series of 30-second television spots that will appear on MTV, the Cartoon Network, Spike TV, G4TV (the interactive gaming network) and TechTV beginning May 10. Powers said the spots will feature Tokyopop's Join The Manga Revolution theme, the campaign slogan it uses in print advertising. "We've been focused on our core fans in print publications and at conventions," said Powers, "Now we want to break out of our fan base and expose the general audience to manga."

I have to start off by saying that I'm not entirely certain of all of the details, so treat the following as supposition.

First things first: S&S distribution is Simon & Shuster, the publishing arm of the Viacom entertainment network. To say that it is very prestigious to be associated with them in the publishing world would be an understatement. While nothing may have been specifically wrong with their bookstore distribution previously, this is undoubtedly a positive move for Viz to make due to the much larger array of resources now available to them.

The most interesting part of this release is actually a throw-away line, "S&S will handle fulfillment, but Viz will use its own sales reps as well as its independent sales reps." While distributed through PGW (and specific to my relationship with their bookstore distibution, PGC or Publisher's Group Canada) it was PGW's reps doing the work getting the material into stores (for the most part), and also doing fulfillment. This appears to be a radical shift for the company as they're going to be the ones selling their books again and getting someone else to do fulfillment. In the hobby market (or 'direct market', which most comic retail outlets participate exclusively in), Viz went in exactly the opposite direction last year by naming Diamond as their sole distributor to the hobby market and cutting down their direct market sales force considerably.

What might this mean for the Direct Market...? Simply, that there is another outlet for Viz product than Diamond. An outlet with a lot of prestige and power behind it, with different sales terms (either better or worse depending on your retail philosophy), and with a dedicated, informed, and intelligent sales force behind it. It means that an enterprising retailer could open up an account with Simon & Schuster (presuming they don't already have one) and benefit from options, something that at every turn and with every "exclusivity" contract is being denied to them.

Without editorializing too much, Tokyopop's recent move to "Diamond Exclusivity" has been a complete mess by all accounts. The Tokyopop executive in charge of the decision went on sick leave the day after the announcement and has remained away for 3 weeks. Diamond is apparently being difficult about returning calls. They're being unclear about what sub-distribution might mean for the hundred-plus independent distributors that Tokyopop used to deal with directly. Diamond has made no promises about becoming competitive with bookstores for product arrival dates (for example: We got about 28 new titles from Tokyopop on yesterday from an independent distributor of Tokyopop. Bookstores put the product out at the same time. Diamond accounts will receive this product next Wednesday at the absolute earliest.) Essentially, it's a bit of a cock-up and by having options removed, the only person suffering in this arrangement (until Tokyopop learns what "aggregate sales" mean) is the Direct Market retailer. And that means you suffer, as choice and competition almost always benefit the consumer.

This is a shift in thinking for Viz, and a step away from the rapid consolodation that has marred the direct market for the last several years. While there are probably contractual obligations in place that prevent Viz sales associates from going after Diamond's customers to get their books through S&S, those will only last until the end of exclusivity contract...

Is this a light at the end of the damaging exclusivity tunnel, or just an outside option for the particularly aggressive manga retailer? Either way it seems to be a positive step forward and I feel a lot better about the comic book "industry" this morning than I have in a long while.

- Christopher

at 4/29/2004 11:49:00 AM
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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Best of the Internet: Gregory Crewdson



From http://www.broadartfoundation.org/collection/crewdson.html: "Gregory Crewdson�s carefully staged photographs concentrate on a tension between domesticity and nature. In his most recent series photographed in Massachusetts, the artist employed a large production crew to create eerie special effects reminiscent of horror/sci-fi movies. The characters in his elaborate constructions act subconsciously, as if under the spell of a foreign entity. Their unusual actions suggest a mysterious narrative involving supernatural contact. Crewdson has acknowledged Steven Spielberg�s film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as a primary influence. In that movie, an average American man is emotionally and psychically changed after contact with a UFO. Like the character in the film, Crewdson�s subjects perform eccentric, ritual-like acts."



My friend Jason introduced me to Crewdson's photography, and it really does 'twig' something special in me. I think the most important thing is that it's beautiful, and people who bring beauty into the world, particularly through visual art, have a special place in my heart. I espescially appreciate how ambitious he is, and how fully-realized his vision seems... Acquiring budgets big enough for small films to take one beautiful, perfect photograph. There's something just... I dunno, I hesitate to get too artsy but it's just so pure. I love that about his work. Anyway, don't just view his stuff on the internet, there are books of his work available and there are so many details and so much quality of light in his work that just doesn't translate at 540 pixels wide... Totally worth your time and money.

Image Gallery http://www.artnet.com/ag/fineartthumbnails.asp?aid=4589

Great! Image Gallery: http://www.partobject.com/crewdson/gcsla.html

- Christopher

Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2004 at 4/28/2004 11:02:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Press Release: Very Cool Art Show

If you're in New York this week, why not stop by and check out one of the more interesting art openings I've heard of in a while. It features work by people I like (and whose work I like) and what the fuck, you're too good to hit up CBGB's on Wednesday for an event? Quit reading Heidi's reports and pretending you were there, we all know you're faking...

--
    Murderers and Prophets: The Flaming Fire Illustrated Bible Gallery Show
    CBGB's Gallery, 313 Bowery, New York City
    Wednesday, April 28 - Friday, May 21st
    Opening event: Wednesday, April 28, 6 pm

    Featuring art by Danny Hellman, Dame Darcy, Brian Dewan, Marc Crisafulli, Jeff Roysdon, Sharon Furgason, John Terhorst, Lauren Weinstein, Farel Dalrymple, Esao Andrews, Abby Denson, Dave Lapp, Thomas Zimmerman, Bob Horner, Jared Whitham, Richard O'Connor, Seze Devres, Rusty Mathis, John Mathias, Cynthia Mitchell, Tom and Simon Bloor, Asha Schechter, and more.

    This free event will include live interpretive music.

    It's the first solo gallery show for The Flaming Fire Illustrated Bible (http://www.flamingfire.com/bible.html), an ongoing internet project to create the largest illustrated King James Bible in the world, with a picture for each of the 36,665 verses. There will be a live performance of four chapters, presented with a slide show and original music from innovative artists. The current artist/musician combinations are:

    * Esao Andrew's Story of the Flying Goat (Daniel 8) - Music by Jack Martin of the Dimestore Dance Band Ensemble, reading by Gabe Soria
    * Brian Dewan's Mystery Chapter - Music by Brian Dewan
    * Farel Dalrymple's Book of Jude - Music by Laura Ortman
    * Cynthia Mitchell and Richard O'Connor's Sacrifice of Jephthah's Daughter (Judges 11) - Music by Patrick Hambrecht, reading by Moira MacDonald

    The Flaming Fire Illustrated Bible Project was named "Best Freaky Collaborative Art Project of 2003" by the Village Voice and has received recent raves in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Sun, Lincoln Journal-Star and the Comics Journal for its momentous undertaking - developing the largest artistic interpretation of the King James Bible ever created. When completed, this online project will boast 36,665 works of art from celebrated artists and ordinary people from myriad cultures and countries. Current contributors include celebrated artists like Tony Millionaire, Dame Darcy, Danny Hellman, Bob Sikoryak, Tom Hart, Jim Pinkoski, Lauren Weinstein, Eric Reynolds, John Mathias, Richard O'Connor, Ken Habarta, Theo Edmands, Camilla Ha, Patrick Smith, Andrea Stevenson, Muwen Pan, and many others. Illustrations from the Bible Project will be on display. In addition, Bible-drawing stations will provide art supplies and verses so that attendees can contribute their own illustrations to the project.

    Anyone can upload their art to the project at: http://www.flamingfire.com/bible.html. We have illustrations so far from amazing painters, cartoonists, senior citizens, prisoners, small children - all manner of professional and folk artists from all over the country.

    ESAO ANDREWS designs a popular line of decks for Baker skateboards and contributes regularly to Meathaus comics. http://www.esao.net

    JACK MARTIN has been called "one of the finest guitar players" by BB gun magazine for his nimble, Django Reinhardt-style playing. "Dime Store Dance Band is where Jack Martin works out his swinging eastern thing - and he has the chops to make it far more than a muso's dilettantism." - Time Out NY

    BRIAN DEWAN is a musician and craftsman who designs his own instruments. He also makes the beloved "I Can See" filmstrips, recently seen on the Sundance channel and at the Brooklyn Museum.

    FAREL DALRYMPLE is the artist and writer of "Pop Gun War," a highly acclaimed graphic novel published by Dark Horse Comics.

    CYNTHIA MITCHELL is a painter who lives in Brooklyn.

    RICHARD O'CONNOR is an animator who lives in Brooklyn.

    PATRICK HAMBRECHT is the mastermind of the Flaming Fire Illustrated Bible Project. He plays psychedelic electronic music in the band Flaming Fire, publishes the webzine Godmagazine.org, and draws. http://www.flamingfire.com/bible.html

    Hope you can make it out Wednesday. If you miss the opening, CB's Gallery is open free of charge daily noon-6 pm.
--

- Christopher

Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 at 4/27/2004 02:18:00 AM
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Monday, April 26, 2004

Help for the Helpless

My favorite advice columnist, Alcoholic Cartoon Cat Ray Smuckles, has updated his column with plenty of advice to swingers, slackers, and suckaz everywhere at http://www.achewood.com/raysplace.php. Watch him lay down science like this:
    I am thinking of buying an inflatable sofa or a giant beanbag for my main TV-watching location (I cannot afford a proper sofa) - any advice on which to choose?
    Cheers, Dave


    Dude, I don�t have any advice on buying a damn sofa. Come on.
- Christopher

Posted Monday, April 26, 2004 at 4/26/2004 10:36:00 PM
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Sunday, April 25, 2004

Wisdom!

http://forums.delphiforums.com/chipz/messages?msg=119.6

"Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the situation Micah finds himself in, but fighting to save something that you created (this version of Stormwatch anyways) that's going to be cancelled, that you don't own, seems kind of weird. I view the idea of doing work-for-hire as a means to raise your profile and make some cash. If your WFH title is struggling on the verge of cancellation, then it's not helping your career at that point and you should either take a WFH job that will raise your profile or do it yourself (and own it), or better yet do both simultaneously and pull people in to your creator stuff using the WFH." - Chip Zdarsky

- Christopher

Posted Sunday, April 25, 2004 at 4/25/2004 01:24:00 AM
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Saturday, April 24, 2004

Link Blogging: The Best of the Internet

I've decided to start 'linkblogging' the best of the internet. Comics, commentary, websites, whatever, but generally within the purview of 'about comics'. I do this because I think that everyone needs more good and interesting things in their lives.

Impossible Things No. 2, by Ling and Locke. Adapted from a song by Looper.



My friend Bryan O'Malley has a friend named L0cke, who is sort of my friend too. O'Malley and L0cke are both very talented comic creators, and it turns out that L0cke's girlfriend Ling is as well. In a supreme bit of romanticism, L0cke and Ling decided to do a comic together about romanticism, an adaptation of a song by a band named Looper, a side project by one of the blokes from Belle and Sebastian. I've always been fascinated by the idea of capturing the images that music generates in your head in comic form, narrative or not, for the world to see. It's a very unique way of interpreting music, and sharing your interpretation with the rest of the world. L0cke and Ling present a wonderful and unique interpretation of the song, and it's really quite a beautiful little comic. Romance in a medium that doesn't often see it. Comics 'poetry' that isn't complete garbage. It's quite lovely, really. Please go check it out for yourself, by clicking the image above or here: http://006.tenkuu.net/i-t2/index.html.

- Christopher

Posted Saturday, April 24, 2004 at 4/24/2004 10:27:00 PM
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Thursday, April 22, 2004

I will never be one of the boys



My friend Ramon does a great online comic called "Butternut Squash" that I don't think I've ever plugged. It's very Toronto, and it's very close to completely finding it's 'voice' too. Go check it out so you can say you used to read it 'back in the day'.

http://www.butternutsquash.net.

- Christopher

Posted Thursday, April 22, 2004 at 4/22/2004 02:36:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Previews Review Update

Previews Review has been updated with the new JUNE monthly review. At http://www.previewsreview.com.

- Chris

Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2004 at 4/20/2004 04:06:00 AM
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Saturday, April 17, 2004

Gushing

From This Monday's PREVIEWS REVIEW for books shipping in June:

APR04 0356 EX MACHINA #1 (MR) $2.95
By Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris

Well goddamn, it looks like I may be completely in love with one of Brian K. Vaughn�s books.

I couldn�t get into Y THE LAST MAN at all. I tried, I did, and I just don�t enjoy it. Similarly RUNAWAYS and MYSTIQUE feel sort of half-formed and� is uncompelling a word? The only reason I was even curious about this new series is that I think Tony Harris is turning into one of the most interesting and versatile artists working in mainstream comics today. When Vaughn offered retailers a chance to preview the entire first issue, I bit (being a retailer) and have just finished reading an unfinished (but essentially complete) preview of the first issue.

It�s excellent.

It starts in the middle of the �real world� in 1999, and just twigs a little something so that things go in a very different direction. Using advanced technology and superhero realism in the same way that many contemporary authors use �magic realism�, EX MACHINA becomes immensely compelling historical fiction of the history of our day-to-day lives. It�s political commentary with a shocking amount of immediacy, something I honestly couldn�t see DC ever publishing (but then it is coming out isn�t it?). It names names, it uses contemporary language in a realistic and engaging way, it uses contemporary storytelling in a practically-unseen way in comics, it�s beautifully drawn, and it�s RELEVANT. It�s a superhero book that is relevant. Let that roll around in your head for a moment.

EX MACHINA is beautifully drawn, Tony Harris is turning out fantastic work here and every aspect of the creative team is working in perfect concert to turn out something fantastic and engaging. A remarkably strong first issue, I really hope that this marks a paradigm shift, a difference in the way that not only superhero comics have to be, but in how DC allows them to be published. For all of you disappointed STORMWATCH and WILDCATS fans, this is the new book to add to your pull list. I don�t think EX MACHINA could have happened without those two books swipes at the contemporary political process and corporate and political culture, but at the same time it�s also a remarkable leap forward and a must-buy.

Congratulations to all involved on creating something new.

--

Coming Monday to http://www.previewsreview.com

Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 at 4/17/2004 08:28:00 PM
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Cultural Mores

Being of a certain age (26), I can't help but look at the developments of different ideas in videogames and videogame culture and compare them to what happens in the comics industry. I happened upon a thought this morning, that Video Games are much closer to the comics industry than they are to the film industry, as typically both grew out of a distinct one-on-one relationship between the 'product' and the 'end user'. Video Games are what Comics would be like if there were any money in it, with all that that implies.

There was a really interesting article from Torontonian Jim Munroe in eye weekly this week about emulation of and hacking into video games.

    "In 2000 ... Toronto artist Myfanwy Ashmore hacked a Super Mario Bros. ROM. She removed all the monsters, all the gold, and made it so that all you could really do was go for a walk." - Jim Munroe
A ROM is a file you download to your computer that contains all of the information from an old video game. You play these ROMS using Emulators, which emulate an old video game system. Download a Super Nintendo Entertainment System emulator, and play all of the old SNES games you love. However, once the game information was removed from the little cartridges and put onto your computer, it became incredibly easy to start changing the mechanics of the game, first making the games easier or harder (infinite men, more bad guys), and then conceptual changes like those mentioned above, that make an artistic statement about the nature of the experience. Sounds pretty cool right?

    "Less admirable is [Nintendo's] recently successful patent No. 6,672,963 that gives them the power to sue any emulator creators. The first cease-and-desist letter went out to Canadian mobile developer Crimson Fire on March 12." - Jim Munroe
Well, of course. A company created these games (legally, realistically it is between 5 and 100 individuals working in concert that create most games) and so the 'creator' has the right to decide how and where these games are used and enjoyed. Don't they?

    "When collective experiences are the basis for what makes nostalgia work, it seems strange that individual companies claim that they should be the only ones to profit from it. Shouldn't there be a statute of limitations on intellectual property when something becomes entrenched in culture? We all talk about it, we all think about it, we all project and invest our feelings into it -- it's no longer simply the work of a company." - Jim Munroe
This is a familiar argument to anyone watching the comics industry, as it's the one that members of groups like HEAT or whatever that Barry Allen FLASH group ends up being called, to validate their demands for changes to the comics they read. These stories, technically copyright 2004 by DC, are part of their shared heritage now, part of their cultural voice, and they should get a say in how they enjoy them. Typical of comics though, the fans miss the point by demanding that new works cater to them where the Video Game Culture just decides to go out and do what they'd like to see done. But the argument is the same: At some point, these experiences you ask us to invest in become ours as much as yours.

It's a very interesting argument, and I'm not Entirely Sure where I fall on it. On the one hand, I support creators rights fully and completely, but then I have significantly less sympathy or respect when the 'legal' creator of the works isn't the same as the person who actually came up with the ideas and made them happen. Moreso when it's been 20, 30, 40 years or more since the works were created, when they have become a part of our cultural identity. It's at points like these that Capital "A" Art actually intersects in a meaningful way with the largely-commercial Video Game and Comics cultures, and the point at which the difference between ideas and execution are brought into sharpest relief.

At any rate, I recommend reading the article if your a comics commentator and despite it being about video games because I do believe there's something there.

- Christopher

at 4/17/2004 06:17:00 PM
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Thursday, April 15, 2004

Fantagraphics August 2004 Solicitations: JAMIE HERNANDEZ OVERSIZE HARDCOVER

Fantagraphics has just e-mailed me their solicitations for their August 2004 shipping material, including the new-format Comics Journal, a new comic from Marc Bell, and the big Jamie Hernandez hardcover LOCAS (the counterpart to last year's PALOMAR by Jamie's brother Gilbert). Lots of great books, read all about it below:

NEW BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

LOCAS: A LOVE & ROCKETS BOOK by Jaime Hernandez
780-page 8�" x 11" B&W hard graphic novel o $49.95; Higher in Canada o ISBN 1-56097-611-X


One of the most humane, graceful and imaginatively inexhaustible artists in American popular culture, Jaime Hernandez has created in Locas one of the great American novels of the last 25 years, graphic or otherwise. Spanning a quarter-century, Locas tells the story of Maggie Chascarrillo, a bisexual, Mexican-American woman attempting to define herself in a community rife with class, race and gender issues. Maggie's story begins in the early-1980s Southern California rock scene, when it was shifting from the excesses of glitter rock to the gritty basics of punk and new wave. She quickly befriends Hopey Glass, a feisty anti-authoritarian punkette who quickly becomes Maggie's on-again, off-again lover and a constant presence in her life throughout the book. Maggie evolves from an angry young punk into a mature woman, encountering cruelties large and small and resigning herself to dashed hopes, shattered illusions, and even death with ironic acceptance over her 20 year story arc. This book contains ALL the Maggie stories from the first Love & Rockets series.

BLAB! Vol. 15 Edited by Monte Beauchamp
120-page (54 in color) 10" x 10" graphic album o $19.95; Higher in Canada o ISBN 1-56097-613-6


Conceived, edited and designed by five-time New York Festival of Advertising award-winner Monte Beauchamp, BLAB! has been an annual coffee-table showcase of fine art, illustration and comix for over a decade. Pop Art virtuoso Lou Brooks delivers the front and back covers, while Juxtapoz magazine favorite Christian Northeast does the insides covers. Also: Sue Coe takes a look at the so-called Bird-Flu, Matti Hagelberg's tale of an undead President of Finland; Jeffrey Steele's story about the Black Dahlia; Peter Kuper's four-page, full-color, Little Nemo-inspired fantasy; plus, more from Blab! regular Gary "Teacher's Pet" Baseman.This volume also includes Beauchamp's long-awaited piece on Kilroy (of "was here" fame), originally slated for Vol. 14.

DECADENCE: 300 YEARS OF JAPANESE FETISH ART by Davis Bromwell
(RESOLICITED)
96-page color and B&W 8 �" x 11" hardcover o $24.95; $39.95 in Canada o ISBN 1-56097-565-2
MATURE READERS


This is a lush coffee table art book comprising a survey of Ukiyo-e poster art, which was a genre of Japanese wood block prints of the ancient Edo period (1600-1867) that continue to inspire and inform creators of Japanese manga and anime. Decadence focuses on shunga prints, or Japanese erotica. Shunga was designed to titillate, depicting a range of traditional themes such as exotic Asian beauties in intimate, pin-up poses and dramatic couplings with fierce warriors wielding enormous "swords," macabre supernatural lovers, and bestial animals and monsters. Proving the universality of fetishism and sexual fantasies, this erotic guide serves to bridge the ancient and the modern, providing a glimpse into by-gone pleasures and pleasure districts, as well as their influences on contemporary Japanese popular culture and erotic literature.

FRED THE CLOWN by Roger Langridge
192-page 6" x 8 1/4" B&W graphic novel o $16.95; Higher in Canada o ISBN 1-56097-610-1


The signature creation of New Zealand cartoonist Roger Langridge, Fred the Clown is the thinking man's idiot. Fred has an eye for the ladies, as well as several other organs, but the only part of themselves they're willing to share with him is a carefully placed kneecap. Fred the Clown's misadventures are a curious balance of bleakness and joyful absurdism; the universe may dump on Fred from a great height, but he never gives up. Underlying it all is Langridge's own meticulous brush style. According to another New Zealand cartoonist, Hicksville creator Dylan Horrocks, "If Samuel Beckett had teamed up with the Goons and learned to draw like Tex Avery, the result would have been something very like the comics of Roger Langridge."

NEW COMICS AND MAGAZINES

COMICS JOURNAL #262 (Cover by Alex Toth)
192-page (64 in color) 8 �" x 11" squarebound magazine about comics o
enamel-coated stock o $9.95; $15.95 in Canada o UPC 0-74470-74114-5-8
NEW FORMAT!! NEW FORMAT!! NEW FORMAT!! NEW FORMAT!!


In its 28th year as the pre-eminent magazine of comics journalism and criticism, The Comics Journal is re-vamping its format with more color, more pages, better paper, higher quality printing, and a fresh, new design. Content is also being rejuvenated with expanded news and commentary sections, the inclusion of a comics section, and wider and more contemporaneous coverage of current comics publishing. This issue's cover feature is Alex Toth, with an examination of his life and work by Bob Levin, critical essays, an interview, and 30 pages of rare comics from one of Toth's most fertile creative periods in the 1950s, in both black-and-white and color. Our pre-election 2004 political coverage includes interviews with Steve Bell, the controversial editorial cartoonist for British newspaper The Guardian and recent winner of the British Press Awards' coveted Gong for "Cartoonist of the Year," and Steve Brodner, one of America's the most preeminent illustrators and political satirists, whose work has appeared in periodicals from The New Yorker to Rolling Stone to The Atlantic Monthly to Harper's magazine. Reviews of the most noteworthy current comics and graphic novels and our columns on every facet of comics from manga to European comics to mini-comics and even (gasp!) mainstream comics round out the issue.

LOVE AND ROCKETS #11 by Los Bros Hernandez
32-page B&W cardstock covers o $4.50; $7.20 in Canada o MATURE READERS


After the end of the Maggie "Devil Dog/Frogmouth" epic in #10, Jaime starts off a cycle of short, self-contained yarns spotlighting various members of his cast. In the lead story, Ray has a sinking feeling in his gut and he doesn't know what it is - could it be his best friend Doyle's homosexuality? Could it be the return of his ex-girlfiend Maggie? Could it be that people are talking but he doesn't know what they're talking about? Meanwhile, in "Down at Elmo's," Hopey's job as a bartender in a seedy neighborhood puts her in contact with locals. On the Gilbert side of things, World War II erupts in "Julio's Day": Julio's brother joins the fight overseas, their sister Sofia remains bedridden since the funeral for her husband and two sons... and Julio's boyfriend says goodbye. Plus some surprises!

WORN TUFF ELBOW by Marc Bell
40-page B&W comic o $4.95; $7.95 in Canada o MATURE READERS


From Marc Bell (the creator of the graphic novel Shrimpy and Paul from Highwater Books) comes the debut issue of Worn Tuff Elbow. This issue includes the first installment of "Wilder Hobson's Theatre Absurd-o", introducing and reintroducing such characters as Monsieur Moustache, Miss Polly, Mr. Socks, Bingo Bango Man and Wilder Hobson (our protagonist) himself. Other self contained shorter works will round out the issue including a short tale of a "sensitive sausage". Chegg-er-oot. Marc Bell lives in Vancouver, BC where he divides his time between his comics strips and and his painted cardboard constructions, drawings and collages. He has been featured in a dozen gallery exhibitions, appears weekly in The Montreal Mirror and The Halifax Coast and monthly in Vice Magazine. He has also produced over 50 self-published booklets, and his work has been included in such book publications as The Ganzfeld and Kramers Ergot. Bell's work combines surreal cartoony dream logic with psychological acuity and has been favorably compared by TIME magazine to that other surreal comics masterpiece, Jim Woodring's Frank. As full of stuff as it is full of energy, Bell's work has been described as "A riddle wrapped in a conundrum further wrapped in salty bacon" (LA Weekly).

NEW PRINTINGS

HEY, WAIT... by Jason (2ND PRINTING)
68 pages o 7" x 10" B&W graphic novel o $12.95; Higher in Canada o MATURE READERS o ISBN 1-56097-463-X


This superbly evocative graphic novella by the award-winning Norwegian cartoonist Jason (his first appearance in the English language) starts off as a melancholy childhood memoir and then, with a shocking twist midway through, becomes the summary of lives lived, wasted, and lost. Like Art Spiegelman did with Maus, Jason utilizes anthropomorphic stylizations to reach deeper, more general truths, and to create elegantly minimalist panels whose emotional depth-charge comes as an even greater shock. Last Jason sentence: This edition's cover been re-designed to match Jason's previous books THE IRON WAGON and TELL ME SOMETHING, with their elegantly minimal color palette, classy uncoated stock, and flaps.

LOVE & ROCKETS VOL. II #3 by Los Bros Hernandez (2nd PRINTING)
32-pages on deluxe paper, cardstock covers o $3.95; $5.95 Canada o MATURE READERS


This must have issue of Love & Rockets is back in print after a short absence. This ish is chock-full of great stories: in Gilbert's "Julio's Day," Julio gets a break from the horrors of childhood and focuses on his sister Sofia's horrors; Maggie and the Frog Mouth go sunbathing; and a chapter of Mario and Gilbert's action thriller "Me for the Unknown." Viva Los Bros. Hernandez!

--

More pictures coming later!

- Christopher

Posted Thursday, April 15, 2004 at 4/15/2004 01:57:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Positivity, ain't what it's cracked up to be...

I intended to pull a sort of late April Fools Joke / Fuck You this week at Previews Reviews, but I just couldn't fake it hard enough. Below is what WOULD have been this week's Previews Review, if I could've forced myself to finish. In the end, I'm glad I went the other way, there are just a fuckload of good books out this week actually worth the promotion. Oh, and a note to readers: This is how easy it is to lie and say positive things about utter fucking trash to get quoted on the backs of books. There's your grain of salt...

- Christopher

Previews Review: Shipping This Week 04/14/04
By Christopher Butcher

Hi there! Welcome to PreviewsReview.com�s Shipping This Week list!

Here are our recommendations for all of the great titles shipping this week!

FEB040239 ACTION COMICS #814 2.50

Christopher: This is the first of the �revamped� Superman books, featuring the immense talents of Chuck Austen and Ivan Reis. For those of you clamoring for a return to ACTION COMICS, by gum, you�ve got it! This first issue features plenty of the old blue-and-red, as Superman stops a robbery, saves some people, and even socks old granite-gums square in the kisser! By golly, it�s been a heckuva long time since Superman was this bold and energetic, and Chuck Austen has brought the same magic he displayed over on his Marvel books to ACTION. I predict big things for this title!

DEC031300 AGE OF BRONZE #19 3.50

AGE OF BRONZE is one of those series I can�t really get into in the monthly format, as it�s a very dense read that always leaves you hanging. This is the last issue in the �Sacrifices� story-arc of the Eisner-Award Winning Eric Shanower�s meticulous and compelling re-telling of the Trojan War. I�m saving my money for the second trade paperback collection coming this spring. It�s an inspiring work of graphic fiction, a hidden gem in this industry.

FEB042170 ANGEL OF THE WOODS GN 8.99

Angel of the woods is a British graphic novel, self-published by a new company �Boychild Productions�. They have a really stylish and well-designed website at http://www.boychildproductions.co.uk/index_new.html, and the ANGEL OF THE WOODS book gives me a real Humanoids/Eurocomics vibe, though with a decidedly English tone to the art. Looks like it�ll be worth a flip at the comic store.

FEB040251 AQUAMAN #17 2.50

I haven�t really been reading Aquaman, even though I do generally like the work of writer Will Pfeifer. But with that sell-out issue a few months back and those fantastic new covers by Alan Davis, this book has been on FIRE lately! Maybe I�ll have to give it a flip at the store�!

FEB042177 AQUARIAN AGE JUVENILE ORION GN #1 (C: 3) 9.99

Based on the anime of the same name, this manga graphic novel from ADV features a bunch of cute boys in fetish gear posing and looking directly at the �camera�, with really nice art. I know, I know, that�s kind of a manga stereotype, but this book really is a cut above artistically!

FEB040223 BATGIRL FISTS OF FURY TP 14.95

A new collection of the thrilling revamp of BATGIRL! I gotta say, the new character design is really sharp, and I�m happy that DC is publishing more comics with female protagonists to really reach out to the untapped female readership.

JAN040039 BERSERK VOL 3 TP (MR) (C: 2 & 3) 13.95

This ultra-violent manga from Dark Horse has captured the hearts of many a manga and anime fan with it�s detailed, visceral artwork and over-the-top story! As an added bonus, these trade paperbacks contain all new stories that weren�t adapted into the anime, making them perfect buys for anime fanatics! Hey Beserk fans, make sure to get the WHOLE story!

FEB040301 BITE CLUB #1 (OF 6) (MR) 2.95

After the unfortunate cancellation of AMERICAN CENTURY last year, I think we were all kind of worried that Howard Chaykin might be leaving comics for good�again! Not so, as last month�s racy original graphic novel MIGHTY LOVE and this new six-issue Vertigo mini-series have shown us! Using a puntacular title, Chaykin explores the unexplored world of vampires and a vampiric family that must come together when their father is killed! Part SIX FEET UNDER, part DRACULA, and dead sexy! Check it out!

JAN041286 BLACK FOREST GN 9.95

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN really opened up the industry to historical fiction (and historical science-fiction), and while the results of this newfound creative and financial viability have been pretty awesome, THE BLACK FOREST looks like a series expertly equipped to take advantage of the situation. Last year, Mike Oeming (Powers) and Neil Vokes put together a great little period piece last year, a graphic novella called PARLIAMENT OF JUSTICE. THE BLACK FOREST is from the same artist, is similarly beautiful, and according to the five page preview I�ve read looks to be an exciting little romp. Nazis, Frankenstein, and a book that starts and ends in a go. Sounds excellent.

FEB041573 CAPTAIN AMERICA #25 2.99

Okay, okay, I have to admit, I�m not really a fan of overly-political comic books or Chris Bachalo�s weird new art style, but even then I think that this latest Captain America has been super. Tying together the world of modern art, the desparate situation of political detainees in Guantanemo Bay, and Fidel Castro, CAPTAIN AMERICA is an over-the-top explosion of red white and blue action! If you�re more of a fan of �thinking man�s comics�, check this one out!

SEP032283 CATS DONT EXIST GN (MR) 12.95

I think that the publisher of this book, Fantagraphics, expresses the merits of this book better than I ever could! Take it away, Gary!

�Deceptively minimalistic, Cats Don�t Exist collects a handful of comic stories and individual drawings that will nudge the lucky reader gently into a dissonant universe. Included in this collection are the title story, �Cats Don�t Exist,� which introduces us to a world where cats replace aliens as the boogeyman of the human psyche; �To Our Dear Enemies,� a thank you note to the censors for infusing boring old sex with intrigue; and �Guilt as an Aphrodisiac,� wherein the author discusses his lust for rat witches and expresses his desire to snore shamelessly. Jis� work is an evolution in psychedelia, with a visionary sense of absurdity and humanity that will render you incapable of wiping that silly smirk off your face.�

Cool!

FEB042729 CERES CELESTIAL LEGEND VOL 7 TP (C: 3) 9.95

The seventh volume in the series by super-popular graphic novel creator Yu Watase! Ceres is about a vicious family of super-powered people, and it externalizes the oedipal complex, Lolita complex, and teenage angst in a palpable�and visually exciting�way! Perfect for readers of all ages!

NOV030034 CHOSEN #2 (Of 3) (MR) 2.99

The second issue in Mark Millar�s ULTIMATE JESUS! Although Mark has encountered these themes in many instances previously, I think it�s his transgressive work here that�s really going to be a career-defining moment for him. Aided by some gorgeous art, CHOSEN with it�s themes of individualism and destiny is going to be the next V FOR VENDETTA, mark my words!

FEB041355 COMMON GROUNDS #4 (Of 6) 2.99

This latest issue of the real-world-superheroes mini-series COMMON GROUNDS features the same great Dan Jergens art on the lead story, but it also features a back up story with art by Industry Sensation CARLOS PACHECO! COMMON GROUNDS is a real small-press-creator-sells-his-ideas-to-Top-Cow-done-right story, and it�s worth your support!

JAN042520 CSI DEMON HOUSE #2 (OF 5) (MR) 3.99

You know, a lot of people ask why there aren�t more tie-ins to famous movie, tv, and cartoon properties, and IDW are the only guys smart-enough to answer that question! These guys are bringing in a whole new crowd of readers from the last place you�d look�people who watch TV! Kudos to IDW for going where no one else had gone, and for turning out such high-quality products!

JAN041328 DARKNESS VOL 2 #9 2.99

You know, allow me to geek out for a sec, but DARN it was cool to get Dave THE PITT Keown back on a regular book again! DARKNESS has NEVER looked as good as it has under Keown�s long-absent pencil, and it got just the shot-in-the-arm the book needed to rise to prominence again! Unfortunately, this issue doesn�t feature art by Keown, but I�m sure that newcomers Eric Basaldua and Matt Milla will pick up the gauntlet that Dave threw down! NICED!

FEB042714 DEAD AT 17 BLOOD OF SAINTS #1 (Of 4) (MR) 2.95

I�ve been hearing a lot about this indy mini-series, with it�s great production values and high-quality art work! This new first issue is the perfect jumping-on point for new readers, but if you�re one of those people who can�t stand reading a story unless you know EVERYTHING that�s come before, check out the first DEAD @ 17 trade paperback, coming this spring!

DEC031315 DODGES BULLETS GN 9.95

Jay Faerber, a very nice guy whose work I�ve emjoyed, is doing a little bit of crime genre work in the original graphic novella DODGE�S BULLETS, from Image comics. I�ve been impressed with Image�s recent semi-prestige format titles like BRIT and CLOUDFALL, and these new formats have been a great way of getting three issue mini-series up front and all at once in a very affordable format. But enough about format, DODGE�S BULLETS is about a private eye with the unlikely name of Webster Dodge taking cases in between his band�s gigs. The five-page preview at the Image Comics website is quite solid, with accomplished art that reminds me of Charlie Adlard-with-character (though the preview could use some grey tones), and a very clever script. Should be a good read!

JAN042334 DRAGONLANCE THE LEGEND OF HUMA #3 2.95

You know, a lot of people ask why there aren�t more tie-ins to famous movie, tv, and cartoon properties, and DB Pro are the only guys smart-enough to answer that question! These guys are bringing in a whole new crowd of readers from the last place you�d look�people who read fantasy novels! Kudos to DB Pro for going where no one else had gone, and for turning out such high-quality products!

DEC032372 DUEL MASTERS #4 2.95

You know, a lot of people ask why there aren�t more tie-ins to famous movie, tv, and cartoon properties, and Dreamwave are the only guys smart-enough to answer that question! These guys are bringing in a whole new crowd of readers from the last place you�d look�people who buy collectible card games! Kudos to Dreamwave for going where no one else had gone, and for turning out such high-quality products!

FEB041570 ELEKTRA #35 2.99

The final, triumphant issue of Marvel�s most recent re-launch of Elektra. I just don�t know what went wrong. With a huge marketing campaign (Elektra brand perfume!) and big names like Brian Bendis and Chuck Austen on the series, ELEKTRA should have been a #1 property! But, I guess it�s true, only the good DO die young and Robert Rodi has the honour of burying this property. I will be eagerly anticipating Marvel�s next re-launch of ELEKTRA, and I hope it is handled with as much skill, talent, and respect for Frank Miller�s creation next-time around!

FEB041592 EMMA FROST #10 2.99

Another successful X-Men spinoff book means only one thing: Another comic for me to buy! From Greg Horn�s HOT covers to an revolving door of talented artists, one thing�s for certain: MAKE MINE THE WHITE QUEEN!

FEB040304 FABLES #24 (MR) 2.50

This fan-favorite book is doing so well in both the monthly issues AND in trade paperback format that DC has hired writer Bill Willingham to branch out and start writing even more titles! It�s getting to the point now where I have to make a difficult decision, WHICH IS MY FAVORITE BILL WILLINGHAM COMIC? Robin, Sandman Presents, Fables? They�re all so good and it�s just so hard to choose!

FEB040255 FALLEN ANGEL #10 (MR) 2.95

I heard the sad news that Captain Marvel is about to be cancelled again, but what I haven�t heard is any buzz surrounding Peter David�s other AWESOME book, FALLEN ANGEL! FALLEN ANGEL is bad girls done soooo good! Look for the first trade paperback of this series coming soon!

++

Sorry! Go check out http://www.previewsreview.com for the real weekly review.

Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2004 at 4/13/2004 12:59:00 PM
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PreviewsReview.com Updated

It's a great gal-darned week for comics, and we cover the majority of it over at Previews Review. Oh, and FYI: the thing I mention in the new review that I'm going to post here will go up tommorow. Sorry, I forgot it at work...

- Christopher

at 4/13/2004 12:22:00 AM
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Friday, April 09, 2004

ICON IMPRINT LAUNCHES THIS JULY WITH KABUKI, POWERS!

"Marvel Comics announces the launch of ICON, a new publishing imprint that
will produce projects utilizing properties outside of the Marvel Universe. "

"ICON will launch with two titles fans are already familiar with: Brian
Bendis' "Powers" and David Mack's "Kabuki." "

"Dan Buckley, Publisher, said, "We had been considering this kind of imprint
for a while before talking to Brian and David. But once we did, everything
fell into place. Starting with Brian and David on Power's and Kabuki really
sets the standard for the whole line." "


Actually Dan, it's POWERS, not Power's.

My, that's certainly an auspicious beginning...

- Christopher

Posted Friday, April 09, 2004 at 4/09/2004 01:04:00 PM
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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Response to Cooke V. Millar, From Fanboy Rampage

Fanboy Rampage is having a discussion about this thread at Millarworld. What follows is my response, which is too long for the commenting system...

Just to answer a point that seems to have gone unaddressed:

"Well, Harry Potter isn't going to have hardcore sex scenes, but Rowling has said that the books will become darker and more adult as the series progresses. By which I assume she means mortality and loss will grow to play an even bigger part in the series. Harry Potter started out as a character written for young children. Does this mean that J.K. Rowling can't do this?" - Robby Something

I would hope it would be very, very clear to all involved that there is a significant difference between an author telling an extended narrative and exploring different themes between it's beginning and end, and another author coming in after the fact and 40 years later to do something entirely different with the work. There's a pretty obvious ethical difference there. Darwyn believes, rightly or wrongly, that the intent of the original creators of a work should be respected, even in a work for hire situation. Millar, doesn't. I think that speaks clearly to an ethical and philosophical difference.

Darwyn's work, and most of you are missing the point by comparing it to Millar's, at all times respects the aims of the original creations (and not in a "John Byrne's interpretation of the creator's wishes" kind of way either, they really aren't the same). DC NEW FRONTIER is a "mature book", yeah, but there's also no mature-readers label on it either. Any kid could pick it up (just like any kid in the 50's and 60's could pick up any book DC published) and read it and get a rollicking adventure story and that was Darwyn's intention from the start. There are deeper themes there, but they're all subtext. This means that, much like a good piece of crossover fiction, a book can be mature and intelligent without a big CONTENT ADVISORY STICKER on the front. And if it HAS to have that sticker, why does it HAVE to use children's characters to do so?

It just comes down to respect, respect for the artists and authors who created a work, and for their rights and their artistic intentions. You wanna be the big transgressive bad boy who goes around vomitting on classical paintings, fine, but don't try and play both sides of the fence. Don't pretend that you're doing something noble or unique. You're the guy who goes around vomitting on other people's work, period.

Millar has already shown a distinct lack of respect for what we like to call "Likeness Rights", by 'casting' famous people in his books (and then STARTING rumours that the famous people are going to star in the film adaptation!). He's pretty effectively proven he doesn't give two shits about an artist's rights there, and his half-assed-miss-the-point defence of ULTIMATES cements the fact, so fine. He can be the vomitting guy. If from now on, all of you defending him could please do so on those grounds, I'd really appreciate it.

"But he's really SAYING SOMETHING ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART BY VOMITTING ALL OVER CLASSICAL PAINTINGS!" Heh. I'd even accept that defence if someone made it, but I think defending transgressive art on critical grounds might be a bit too much for all involved.

- Christopher

Posted Wednesday, April 07, 2004 at 4/07/2004 10:01:00 PM
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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Relentlessly negative.

It just occurred to me. I think the reason people seem to have the impression that I consider anything I don't like to be a sin against nature, or an affront to good taste, is that I actually bother to qualify negative comments I make. Think about it. There's so much relentless negativity in comics, people shitting on things, whatever. There are very few commentators, critics, whatever, that bother to explain not just that they don't like something, but why they don't like it. The fact that I'll take a paragraph or two to bother explaining why I'm slamming a book or someone's column really does seem like overkill in a collective where "beacause I say so" is about all that's required for intelligent criticism.

Put in contrast to that I really am a total asshole. Hmm.

Of course, maybe I'm deluding myself here and just trying to explain my inherent crankiness. Or, maybe not.

- Christopher

Posted Tuesday, April 06, 2004 at 4/06/2004 03:45:00 AM
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Previews Review Update- Weekly Shipping List and Tradelist

Hi there. Just a quick note to let you know that http://www.previewsreview.com has updated with the weekly shipping list (featuring Osamu Tezkua's BUDDHA VOLUME 3) and Hernan Espinoza's TRADELIST (featuring the prequel to Lone Wolf & Cub, SAMURAI EXECUTIONER VOLUME 1). Lots of good stuff this week, go check it out.

- Christopher

at 4/06/2004 03:27:00 AM
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Front, back, whatever! A hole is just a hole.

- Can I quote you on that?
- Don't give me that honey, you could use a little backdoor action. Besides, this is just a physical sensation that the body was designed to experience. And PS? It's fabulous.

God bless Sex and the City, now on every night, uncensored, here in Canada. I hear that you poor Americans have to watch it edited to hell on TBS. I almost feel sorry for you. :)

- Christopher

at 4/06/2004 01:54:00 AM
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Sunday, April 04, 2004

On LUCIFER #50, coming this May

    Christopher: Taking its cue from the landmark 50th issue of The Sandman (the story �Ramadan�, often called one of the best single issues of the series), Lucifer #50 sees master draughtsman P. Craig Russell brought in on art chores to help tell a stand-alone story of Lucifer and Lilith at the dawn of mankind. I�m a mighty-big fan of Russell, and I tend to be one of those people who think that �Ramadan� really was one of the best Sandman stories, so I have to say I�m mighty intrigued by this one. My only real bit of consternation is that unlike the stand-alone nature of "Ramadan" in Sandman #50, this issue promises �revelations� about the ongoing series and seems to be full of continuity. �The origin of the Silver City! The first meeting of Lucifer and Maizkeen!� and all that. �Ramadan� was just a lovely little idea, you know? Something that, if it wasn�t entirely new it certainly felt that way. This story seems to be about unraveling all of the ideas that someone else already had. I supposed unraveling those ideas is at least a little better than say, re-writing the same story over and over again, but doesn�t it feel just a bit warmed-over to you?

The new Previews Review arrives Monday at http://www.previewsreview.com

- Christopher

Posted Sunday, April 04, 2004 at 4/04/2004 07:30:00 PM
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Friday, April 02, 2004

DC's First Humanoids Books

I don't know if this is anywhere yet, but uh, yeah.

--

DC COMICS UNVEILS SIX NEW TITLES FROM HUMANOIDS

Some of the world's greatest writers and artists will strike a greater presence at comics shops this summer as DC Comics rolls out the first wave of titles from Humanoids. As Humanoids' English-language publisher, DC presents these titles in a new format, designed to fit on your bookshelf while maintaining the original aspect ratio of the art.

The following titles, all suggested for mature readers, are scheduled to arrive in stores this summer:

THE TECHNOPRIESTS TP
* A 7 3/8" x 10 1/5" 160-page trade paperback
* Written by Alexandro Jodorowsky with art and cover by Zoran Janjetov and Fred Beltran
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of $14.95 U.S.

THE HORDE TP
* A 7 3/8" x 10 1/5" 144-page trade paperback
* Written by Baranko with art and cover by Baranko
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of $17.95 U.S.

TOWNSCAPES TP
* A 7 3/8" x 10 1/5" 176-page trade paperback
* Written by Pierre Christin with art and cover by Enki Bilal
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of $17.95 U.S.

THE METABARONS TP
* A 7 3/8" x 10 1/5" 136-page trade paperback
* Written by Alexandro Jodorowsky with art and cover by Juan Gimenez
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price of $14.95 U.S.

DEICIDE TP
* A 7 3/8" x 10 1/5" 112-page trade paperback
* Written by Carlos Portela with art and cover by Das Pastoras
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price of $14.95 U.S.

THE HOLLOW GROUNDS TP
* A 7 3/8" x 10 1/5" 192-page trade paperback
* Written by Luc Schuiten with art and cover by Fran�ois Schuiten
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price of $19.95 U.S.

Posted Friday, April 02, 2004 at 4/02/2004 06:55:00 PM
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2004, 1974, what's the difference?

I just got a very cool little poster-thing in my inbox, promoting a Toronto comic convention that I'm helping out with. It has a very, very retro vibe to it, which I think is sort of neat (in contrast to most convention advertising, which looks like it was made with desktop publishing software from when I was in highschool...). Anyway, click on the image to see the bigger version.



For more information on the show, head over to http://www.torontocomicon.com.

- Christopher

at 4/02/2004 12:34:00 PM
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Artblog- Three Wonderful New Covers

Three different images from three different eras on three brand new books!

I was lucky enough to get my hands on print copies of two new books by Canadian comics artist Seth, and a look at an image from an upcoming Oni Graphic novel by Daniel Krall. Seth is best known for his comic Palooka-Ville and is releasing two new graphic novelish projects within the next few weeks. Daniel Krall's Follow Me Closely is scheduled for this July.



1920: The first is Bannock, Beans, and Black Tea, the memoirs of Seth's father John Gallant. Growing up dirt poor in Prince Edward Island, Canada, during the Great Depression, this isn't light reading by any stretch, but there are tons and tons of illustrations from Seth and the entire book uses Seth's hand-lettering font, making for a very 'pictoral' read. The book is a remarkable artifact as well, maintaining Drawn & Quarterly's impossibly high standards of production and design. Measuring about 5" x 6", the book is a hard cover (no dustjacket), and features high quality, cream coloured paper with black and dark green ink. Did I mention the metalic paper endsheets? The bound-in bookmark? The original Seth comic that starts the volume? This is such a well produced little book that it borders on fetish object, and would be one of those types of things if the subject matter weren't so weighty. A remarkable tribute by a son to his father.



1957: The second new title from Seth to arrive soon (unless you are from Toronto, in which case it is available now) is Clyde Fans Book One Hardcover Edition. Collecting the first six issues of the Clyde Fans storyline in Palooka-Ville, this 162 page hardcover features a dust jacket (which you can see here) that has an understated metalic sheen. The image printed on the cover is quite striking, though understated (and I won't ruin it for you). The interiors are reprinted directly from the single issues, though the colour seems a bit more intense in this printing (it looks nice actually). The endsheets and general design of the book is the strongest of Seth's graphic novels yet (even better than Bannock), it's just so... thorough, so realized, that you can't help but respect it (even if you don't actually like it).



2004: Just a teaser on this graphic. While Krall is the remarkable artist responsible for last year's chronically underrated graphic novel One Plus One, he's moving into a much more illustrative direction with his work, and if this is any indication of what we'll see in the graphic novel, we're very lucky indeed. Follow Me Closely, Those Footsteps You Hear Might Just Be Your Own...

++

Bannock, Beans, and Black Tea retails for US$19.95 / CDN$24.95. Clyde Fans Book One Hardcover retails for US$19.95 / CDN$26.95. For more information on these two books, visit http://www.drawnandquarterly.com. Follow Me Closely is 104 pages and retails for US$9.95 / CDN$13.95. For more information, keep watching http://www.onipress.com.

- Christopher

at 4/02/2004 02:22:00 AM
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Since everyone liked the DC Collections News

Here's what's coming from Wildstorm and Vertigo (entirely anemic in comparisson), from my inbox Yesterday.

--

WILDSTORM LINES UP NEW TITLES FOR SUMMER

This summer, WildStorm will release new collected editions, including the softcover edition of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN Volume 2 from America's Best Comics. Along with these collections, WildStorm is preparing THE AUTHORITY: HUMAN ON THE INSIDE, an original hardcover graphic novel written by acclaimed screenwriter and novelist John Ridley (Three Kings, U-Turn, Everybody Smokes in Hell) with full-color art by Ben Oliver (Puncture). The new titles are:

THE POSSESSED TP
* A 144-page black and white trade paperback measuring 5" x 7 3/8" collecting THE POSSESSED #1-6
* Written by Geoff Johns & Kris Grimminger with art and cover by Liam Sharp
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of $14.95 U.S.

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN Vol. 2 TP
* A 228-page trade paperback collecting THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN Vol. 2 #1-6
* Written by Alan Moore with art and cover by Kevin O'Neill
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price of $14.95 U.S.

THE AUTHORITY: HUMAN ON THE INSIDE HC
* A 96-page hardcover original graphic novel
* Written by John Ridley with art and cover by Ben Oliver
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in September with a cover price of $24.95 U.S.

**********

VERTIGO PREPARES SUMMER COLLECTED EDITIONS

Some of VERTIGO's hottest creators will be featured in two new collected editions coming this summer, with a classic Grant Morrison project collected for the first time and the latest 100 BULLETS trade paperback.

The titles are:

100 BULLETS: SAMURAI TP
* A 168-page trade paperback collecting 100 BULLETS #43-49
* Written by Brian Azzarello with art by Eduardo Risso and covers Dave Johnson
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of $12.95 U.S.

SEBASTIAN O TP
* An 80-page trade paperback collecting SEBASTIAN 0 #1-3
* Written by Grant Morrison with art and cover by Steve Yeowell
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of $9.95 U.S.

**********

DC ANNOUNCES NEW ELFQUEST AND SPIRIT COLLECTED EDITIONS

Some of comics most respected creators will be spotlighted this summer in new collected editions of both ELFQUEST and THE SPIRIT. The new titles are:

ELFQUEST: THE GRAND QUEST Vol. 4 TP
* A 192-page trade paperback collecting stories from ELFQUEST #11-14
* Written by Wendy & Richard Pini with art by Wendy Pini
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price of $9.95 U.S.

THE SPIRIT ARCHIVES Vol. 14 HC
* A 196-page hardcover reprinting SPIRIT stories from January 5, 1947 to June 29, 1947
* Written by Will Eisner with art by Eisner with an introduction by James Vance
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price of $49.95 U.S.

--

Comments: Wow? I guess that DC will do three issue, 80 page, $9.95 collections when the mood suits them huh? I mean, I'm going to enjoy having a SEBASTIAN O trade paperback on my shelf, but I could swear they just told Warren Ellis that they weren't DOING three issue tpbs anymore...?

Kind of surprised at the second LEAGUE trade paperback, I would have figured a Christmas release (although I imagine this will make a lot of people who were holding out quite happy).

- Christopher

at 4/02/2004 01:35:00 AM
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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Not a hoax! Not an April Fools Joke!

Just arrived in my inbox:

DC UNVEILS NEW COLLECTED EDITIONS FROM THE ORIGINAL UNIVERSE

This summer DC Comics releases an array of new collected editions
starring the World's Greatest Super-Heroes. The titles feature
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other super-heroes from every corner
of the DCU, and are highlighted by a hardcover collection of the sold-
out "Godfall" storyline from ACTION COMICS, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and
SUPERMAN as well as the first-ever Archive based on material originally
by Charlton Comics.

CATWOMAN: NINE LIVES OF A FELINE FATALE TP
* A 208-page trade paperback collecting stories from BATMAN
#1, 197, 210 and 392, DETECTIVE COMICS #203, SUPERMAN'S GIRL FRIEND
LOIS LANE #70-71, CATWOMAN (first series) #54, BATMAN: GOTHAM
ADVENTURES #4 and CATWOMAN SECRET FILES #1
* Written by Bill Finger, Edmond Hamilton, Leo Dorfman,
Gardner Fox, Frank Robbins, Doug Moench, Devin Grayson, Ty Templeton
and Ed Brubaker; art by Bob Kane, Lew Sayre Schwartz & Charles Paris,
Kurt Schaffenberger, Irv Novick & Joe Giella, Tom Mandrake & Jan
Duursema, Jim Balent, Rick Burchett & Terry Beatty, Michael Avon Oeming
& Mike Manley. Also included is an introduction by Michael Uslan, plus
pin-ups by George P�rez, Adam Hughes, Jim Balent & Joe Jusko and others
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in June with a cover price of
$14.95 U.S.

CATWOMAN: THE MOVIE AND OTHER CAT TALES TP
* A 128-page trade paperback collecting the CATWOMAN: THE
MOVIE comics adaptation, CATWOMAN (first series) #0 and CATWOMAN
(second series) #11 and a special sketchbook section by Jim Lee
* Written by Chuck Austen, Doug Moench, Steven Grant and Ed
Brubaker; art by Tom Derenick & Adam DeKraker, Paul Gulacy & Jimmy
Palmiotti, Jim Balent, Brad Rader, Jim Lee and others
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of
$9.95 U.S.

GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW Vol. 2 TP
* A 200-page trade paperback collecting GREEN LANTERN/GREEN
ARROW #83-87 and 89, plus stories from THE FLASH #217-219 and the
never-before-reprinted back-up story from THE FLASH #226
* Written by Dennis O'Neil with art by Neal Adams, Dick
Giordano and Bernie Wrightson, plus an introduction by Giordano
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of
$12.95 U.S.

ALL STAR COMICS ARCHIVES Vol. 10 HC
* A 216-page hardcover collecting ALL STAR COMICS #44-48
* Written by John Broome with art by Irwin Hasen, Arthur
Peddy, Bob Oksner and Bernard Sachs and an introduction by Roy Thomas
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of
$49.95 U.S.

CRISIS ON MULTIPLE EARTHS Vol. 3 TP
* A 192-page trade paperback collecting JUSTICE LEAGUE OF
AMERICA #91-92, #100-102, #107-108 and #113
* Written by Mike Friedrich and Len Wein with art by Dick
Dillin, Joe Giella, Dick Giordano, Neal Adams and Nick Cardy and an
introduction by Wein
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of
$14.95 U.S.

WONDER WOMAN: DOWN TO EARTH TP
* A 160-page trade paperback collecting WONDER WOMAN #195-200
* Written by Greg Rucka with art by Drew Johnson & Ray Snyder
and Eric Shanower, plus pin-ups by Brian Stelfreeze, Steve Rude,
Stuart Immonen and Eduardo Risso and a new cover by Greg Land
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of
$14.95 U.S.

THE FLASH: BLITZ TP
* A 224-page trade paperback collecting THE FLASH #192-200
* Written by Geoff Johns with art by Scott Kolins, Phil
Winslade, Doug Hazlewood, Al Gordon and Walden Wong
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of
$19.95 U.S.

BATMAN: HUSH Vol. 1 TP
* A 128-page trade paperback collecting BATMAN #608-612 plus
four pages of story added for the hardcover and two pages initially
available exclusively at dccomics.com
* Written by Jeph Loeb with art by Jim Lee & Scott Williams
and an introduction by Loeb
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in July with a cover price of
$12.95 U.S.

SUPERMAN: THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD TP
* A 192-page trade paperback collecting stories from SUPERMAN
#1, 65, 156, 247, and 400 (first series), Look Magazine, MAN OF STEEL
#1, SUPERMAN #18 (second series), and ACTION COMICS #775
* Written by Jerry Siegel, William Woolfolk, Edmond Hamilton,
Elliot S. Maggin, Jim Steranko, John Byrne and Joe Kelly; art by Joe
Shuster, Al Plastino, Curt Swan, George Klein, Murphy Anderson,
Steranko, Byrne, Dick Giordano, Mike Mignola, Karl Kesel, Doug Mahnke,
Lee Bermejo, Tim Bradstreet and others
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price
of $19.95 U.S.

GREEN ARROW: ARCHER'S QUEST TP
* A 176-page trade paperback collecting GREEN ARROW (second
series) #16-21
* Written by Brad Meltzer with art by Phil Hester and Ande
Parks and a cover by Matt Wagner, an introduction by Senator Patrick
Leahy and an afterword by Greg Rucka
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price
of $14.95 U.S.

SUPERMAN: GODFALL HC
* A 128-page hardcover collecting the lead stories from
ACTION COMICS #812-813, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #625-626 and SUPERMAN
#202-203
* Written by Michael Turner and Joe Kelly with art by Talent
Caldwell & Jason Gorder and Turner
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price
of $19.95 U.S.

ACTION HERO ARCHIVES Vol. 1 HC
* A 228-page hardcover collecting stories from SPACE
ADVENTURES #33-42 and CAPTAIN ATOM #78-82, from 1960 through 1966
* Written by Steve Ditko, Joe Gill and David Kaler with art
by Ditko, Rocke Mastroserio and Frank McLaughlin
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price
of $49.95 U.S.

BATMAN: DEATH AND THE MAIDENS TP
* A 224-page trade paperback collecting BATMAN: DEATH AND THE
MAIDENS #1-9 and a story from DETECTIVE COMICS #793
* Written by Greg Rucka with art by Klaus Janson
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price
of $19.95 U.S.

GREEN LANTERN: PASSING THE TORCH TP
* A 128-page trade paperback collecting GREEN LANTERN #156,
#158-161 and GREEN LANTERN SECRET FILES #2
* Written by Judd Winick with art by Dale Eaglesham & Rodney
Ramos and Ariel Olivetti
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price
of $12.95 U.S.

ROBIN: UNMASKED TP
* A 128-page trade paperback collecting ROBIN #121-125
* Written by Bill Willingham with art by Rick Mays, Francisco
Rodriguez de la Fuente, Aaron Sowd and Jason Pearson
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price
of $12.95 U.S.

THE LEGION: FOUNDATIONS TP
* A 200-page trade paperback collecting THE LEGION #25-30 and
THE LEGION SECRET FILES 3003
* Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning with art by Chris
Batista & Chip Wallace, Tony Harris & Tom Feister, Eric Wight, Dave
Cockrum, Paul Rivoche, Leonard Kirk & Robin Riggs, Doug Hazlewood, Al
Milgrom and Lanning.
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price
of $19.95 U.S.

SUPERMAN ADVENTURES Vol. 1: UP, UP AND AWAY! TP
* A 112-page digest collecting SUPERMAN ADVENTURES #16, 19
and 22-24
* Written by Mark Millar with art by Aluir Amancio & Terry
Austin and Mike Manley
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price
of $6.95 U.S.

SUPERMAN ADVENTURES Vol. 2: THE NEVER-ENDING BATTLE TP
* A 112-page digest collecting SUPERMAN ADVENTURES #25-29
* Written by Mark Millar with art by Aluir Amancio & Terry
Austin and Mike Manley
* Scheduled to arrive in stores in August with a cover price
of $6.95 U.S.

Posted Thursday, April 01, 2004 at 4/01/2004 05:44:00 PM
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Way to go, Einstein!

"Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to Jamie Rich. Jamie doesn�t much like the fact that people go work for Marvel or DC."

What a bang on interpretation of Jamie Rich's column. You really nailed that one to the wall, Dave. Thanks for contributing.

Unfortunately, mean old Sean Collins misses the point entirely, by talking endlessly about how what Jamie is advocating is about wanting people to do good work and for the mainstream to aspire to something more than crap. Despite the fact that Jamie says this in the first sentence, clearly, Sean's interpretation is entirely incorrect, and perhaps he should look to Dave's thought-provoking analysis instead? Really Sean, I'm Very Disappointed In You.

- Christopher

at 4/01/2004 12:44:00 AM
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