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1. SDCC ’14: Careers in Creativity

 

Industry people discussing roles open in creativity.

Industry people discussing roles open in creativity.

By: Nick Eskey

In today’s world, with the level of connectivity we all share, and all the available options for entertainment, there is a greater need to stand out from the competition. To achieve this, there’s a greater need for creativity. Creative jobs exist in all different avenues, whether it be comics, movies, television, or that brand-new-fangled thing called the “internet.” Dawn Rivera, Evan Spiridellis, Brook Keesling, Andy Cochrane, Scott Campbell, and Kim Makey, all individuals who in some way are connected to creative roles. They all represent their various industries at this year’s Creative Careers in Entertainment panel.

Back in the earlier days of the internet, Evan Spiridellis and his brother began to create animated flash videos, and got wide recognition. In 1999, the brothers founded Jib Jab Studios, around a time when they felt the internet looked promising for storytelling. But when they weren’t seeing much in terms of revenue, they eventually realized, “interweb cartoons are BAD business.” At the suggestion of Evan’s brother, in 2007 the pair started Jib Jan Ecards. Their ecards allowed customers to customize them, to the point of placing their faces in the animation. “The beauty of the internet is that you can do whatever you want. There’s more room for creativity,” said Evan. And two years ago, Jib Jab launched what they felt would be the equivalent of “Sesame Street” if launched today. “Storybots is fun, safe, and with teacher approved apps such as storybooks… Storybots’ mission is to fuse art, technology, and fun to further entertainment.”

Dawn Rivera, talent development and outreach for Disney Animation, discussed the Disney legacy and mindset. “Disney believes  in making compelling stories, appealing characters, and believable worlds.” Right now, Disney is working on a new movie called Big Hero 6. It will be their first Marvel inspired film since their acquisition. If interested in Disney, they have their own school of animation.

Sitting somewhere between the level of Jib Jab and Disney, Cartoon Network Studios is always on the lookout for new talent. Brook Keesling, talent development for Cartoon Network Studios’ art program, talked of the various in house cartoons that they currently have in production, such as Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Uncle Grandpa. They all are from artists that work directly for the studio. “I’m always looking at work from students, all the way to professionals.” Aside from cartoonists, Brook also spoke of how they are always looking for storyboard artists. “They’re the ones that actually do the writing.” If you’re interested in working for Cartoon Network, look up “Cartoon Network Next Generation.”

Kim Mackey, head of recruitment for Dreamworks, talked on how the studio is always looking to grow their business, not just from the movie side of things, but also in publishing, television, and graphic design.

In videogames, such as World of Warcraft and Starcraft, Blizzard Entertainment is known for their large scale environments and their high attention to detail. Artistic recruitment lead Scott Campbell described all of the different cogs that go into their designs. Aside from the game art itself, there is also the 2D and 3D visual elements, concept art, and props that fully flesh out their games. “We rely on our cinematic artists, creative developers, texture artists, environment artists, character artists, and prop artists for the visuals of our games.” If interested in positions in Blizzard, check “Jobs.Blizzard.com.”

And the largest in my opinion in this creative pool, is one word: Mirada. Guillermo Del Toro, filmmaker and effects artist, founded the studio. What do they do specifically? Andy Cochrane, interactive and new media director, as well as FX supervisor, joked about how hard it is to describe what Mirada exactly does. “We do so much. It really depends on who we are working with or what we are working on… We’ve described a few times as ‘Guillermo Del Toro’s imaginarium.’” Mirada can range from anywhere between animators, to visual effects artists, to audio mixers. Guillermo Del Toro founded Mirada because from what he feels, “There are two people in story telling; one’s on the front of the ship looking forward, and those on the back… looking at how far they are moving away from where they came from.” Mirada is part of those who are on the forefront of where story telling is going.

From all these industries, we can see how large of a scale there are for creative individuals. If you are someone who wants a job in artistic work, research what companies are out there, and what openings they might have that match what you’re looking for.

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2. Interview: Celebrate Twin Peaks with Kenneth and Ross

By Alexander Jones

Twin Peaks fans have been eagerly awaiting the Twin Peaks: The Complete Mystery DVD since it was announced. During the panel for the show on Saturday night, some mysteries about the show were revealed, such as both the Fire Walk With Me and the deleted scenes from the original show. Meaning, that this is as close as we are going to get to everything about the show ever shot on one single DVD collection. With the added bonus of a visual HD restoration to the package–speaking of the packaging, this includes a wonderful package featuring the ominous face of Laura Palmer in the flesh or more like wrapped in plastic. Take a look at the following interview conducted with CBS General Manager Kenneth B. Ross, along with actress Kimmy Robertson chiming in towards the end in order to get the primer on what to expect for the new DVD box set. TwinPeaks_EM_BRD_3D_Oslv

During that call at the panel you mentioned that you acquired a full 88 minutes worth of footage, and that you also scored it and restored it. So how long did it take between the team getting the new footage, and then getting it ready for the showing on Tuesday?

Ross: David and his team are the ones that did it. I really don’t recall exactly how long the work took because I was so immersed with all the details of working it out, and France was involved and it was CBS, and it was David Lynch, and it was MK2, and this had been going on for years literally. The physical post-production work took about 8-9 months to deliver the elements.

After all this time, this television show has really become iconic, and it has influenced so many other pieces of media from comic books–to other television series. Do you have any idea on what has sparked the new interest on the show? At the panel beforehand there was a good amount of people in attendance.

Ross: I think that you know in the entertainment business, and I think I said I touched on this on the panel so I apologize if I was repeating this, but I there’s a word called ‘classic’ some people say ‘cult’ some people say ‘classic’ some say ‘evergreen’ you know the Sound of Music is still loved today. I was involved in putting the I Love Lucy Christmas special on CBS last Christmas, and it got the highest rating in the time setting. You know a show that was fifty plus years old because people still love Lucy. Kimmy: I watched it. twin-peaks TP_EP02.023Ross: People love I Love Lucy. This is one of those properties, and there are not a lot of them, but a bunch of them where the love, never the flame, never the fire, never and so what it’s about is it’s showing it in a way that it has never been experienced before which is what we are trying to do–in terms of technology to make the experience as satisfying as possible picture, audio, etc. By showing more than you’ve ever seen before–new high definition scenes, deleted scenes from the series, lastly what the fans have been clamoring for for nearly 20 years–the Fire Walk With Me deleted scenes. Then you have the entire fan base to them. I read a tweet that Brian showed me that made me as happy as I can be when we walked into this room, because I had said all along you come to Comic-Con. I have been a comic collector since I have been a kid. Comic-Con for me was I live in New York, I used to go to to the McAlpin Hotel, I am talking about 40 years ago and buy comic books that were in baggies you know with my friends and that’s what Comic-Con was you know. There was no show business, no Hollywood, no actors, none of that, and now I don’t have to tell you guys what it is; but I knew that this property Twin Peaks was like a pillar of Comic-Con and the Comic-Con community. Just like Star Trek for example. People here would go wild and love it, and the tweet was; I heard Marvel announced something blah blah blah, Twin Peaks is coming out at Comic-Con and this is amazing. That is sort of my answer to your question, it is sort of as relevant as it has ever been. TwinPeaks_EM_BRD_3D_Beauty_Grey I actually think it’s more relevant than it has ever been because there is so much media drawing from it.

Ross: As you say, think about the shows where the creators you know, I mean David Chase has said that inspires him and on and on and on think about the shows that wouldn’t exist today if not for Twin Peaks having come out and changed the landscape of television.

Kimmy Robertson: I heard Mark Burnett on the radio yesterday or the day before saying Survivor– that he got the guts to do that because of Twin Peaks. Survivor! Mark Burnett!

Ross: Another CBS show!

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3. SDCC 14: Marvel Turns 75 and Daredevil Celebrates 50, Neither Shows Their Age

By David Nieves
One of Marvel’s top cheeses…no not Mickey, the other one Joe Quesada, got together with two of the company’s best architects; Mark Waid and Dan Slott to remind everyone that this Comic-Con is also Marvel’s 75th anniversary. This panel was officially titled “Marvel Comics’ 75th & Daredevil’s 50th” because the guy who titles panels for Marvel was on vacation.

MAR75THMAG-COV-f0b65-30ff9

Waid started by talking about the origins of Marvel Comics and the story of Martin Goodman. Inspired by the success of Action Comics a year before, Goodman published Marvel Comics 1 with Stan Lee as an editor at the time. After the decline of superheroes, Goodman continued to venture into lots of different genres. Quesada asked if it was fair to say Goodman was an “advantageous” publisher?

That’s probably the definition of advantageous, Joe. We’ll let it slide because you had that phenomenal run on just about everything.

Waid then talked about Lee being burnt out in the comic book business. That’s when his wife, Joanie, advised him to take one last shot, but to do it the way he wanted to do it. Along side the godfather of comic book art, Jack Kirby, this last try would become Fantastic Four and the rest is make my Marvel history.

Waid brought up the question of first reading Marvel experience to the panelists. Quesada talked about it being the anti-drug issues of Amazing Spider-Man 96-97.  “I never did drugs, but I got addicted to comics. Which may have cost me more money in the long run,” said Quesada.

Quesada talked about the difference between Marvel and DC characters. He feels that DC Comics tend to be lots of Clark Kent is a mask while Superman is the real identity. He credited Stan Lee with switching that around and making guys like Matt Murdock and Peter Parker what the story was about. He related it more to real life; in it being that we all have to put on masks to be someone else instead of them disguising who we really are.

The group turned the attention to Daredevil and discussed the work of character co-creator Bill Everett. He noted the character was one of the few to come fully formed, except for the costume. Quesada joked about the original color scheme being “court jester-ish.’ Quesada talked about his work on the character:  “there’s something beautifully heroic and tragic about the character, and the fact that his powers, while they were somewhat super, you could also probably just explain them away with a person who can hone their own human abilities to utter perfection, if you really wanted to explain them that way. Something about that I really gravitated towards.” He praised the all-star list of creators that have had runs with the character like Frank Miller, Kevin Smith, Bendis, and Brubaker.

Just by mentioning his name, Waid had us all voluntarily clapping for his current Daredevil artist Chris Samnee. He joked about how they’re never leaving the book. Personally, I hope they never do leave the book because Samnee is the best artist of his generation. But I also think that if Waid was ever made king of some land, he’d have a giant drawing of himself by Samnee hanging over the fire place of his presidential moon palace.

Slott then talked about what he loves about Daredevil, “everything about him is really messed-up.” Even joked about Waid’s Daredevil being happy but still messed-up.

The fan Q&A started.
First up was the subject of how the movies have affected the comic books. Waid talked about how he meets many female fans that came to comics through the 90′s X-Men cartoons. He credited Quesada with never pushing the books to be like the movies and realizing that the comics are what drive everything.

The group was asked what they’d be like if they met Steve Ditko. Slot was the only one who ever met him, he did so while working a job at the Marvel office. His face when he answered the question probably looked a lot like the face of excitement he had when actually meeting Ditko.

Netflix Daredevil details were asked, specifically if Power Man and Iron Fist would be partners. While it’s still too early to talk about anything, Quesada did say the plan is to lead to a Defenders series.

Another fan asked if Slott would do something similar to what JMS did on Amazing Spider-Man 36 with the new World Trade Center opening. Slott said he’d be afraid of doing it but thought it was a great idea.

The legacy of Jim Steranko was brought up to the panelists. Waid talked about not knowing of anyone else that had more influence in comics with that small a body of work.” Quesada chimed in saying that, in person,  the man lives up to the legend. At this point I realized I missed the Steranko panel, D’oh!

Q&A closed with the final question being about if Marvel was making the Daredevil series to combat the negative reaction given to the 2003 Ben Affleck film. Quesada sharply intervened saying, “Marvel didn’t make that movie. This is our take on Marvel’s making Daredevil. That’s the only way we’re looking at it.”

The three thanked the crowd for their passion and devotion to the house of ideas and the panel closed. But I’d just like to say Dan Slott is the nicest guy in comics and he can kill however many Spider-people he wants to.

 

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4. SDCC 14: Marvel “Next Big Thing” is Actually Pretty Big

By David Nieves

One of Marvel’s last SDCC panels came with several announcements on Sunday afternoon. Nick Lowe introduced the panel which consisted of fellow editor Mike Marts, writer Mark Waid, Gerry Duggan, Sam Humphries, and Charles Soule and editor Jordan D. White. Dan Slott was ” just talking to someone on the side.” Why not have him join.

To open, several recent announcements about new Sam Wilson Cap, Iron Man, and Thor were hyped again. In addition to these a new Deathlok series will be coming. We can all thank AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D for getting this title as the fan response seemed to demand it according to the panel. The Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier series is going to feature the creative teams of Ales Kot and Marco Rudy, look for it this October.

Soule then jumped into Death of Wolverine. Well, it’s about the Death of Wolverine,” Soule quickly fired. “He’s lost his healing factor and doesn’t bounce back the way he used to. That’s all the setup you need to have.” Each issue will have a distinct genre in it, like Bond, western, maybe even sci-fi.

After the series we’ll see Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy issues 1 and 7 will be written by Soule with various writers and artists doing the in between issues. Gerry Duggan and Scott Kolins will be doing a special called Death of Wolverine: Captain America & Deadpool with the de-powered Steve Rogers. If you still have your Captain America Annual 8, go back and read it because there will be a lot of call outs in it.

Then a new series was announced Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program. It’ll be five issues written by Soule with the art of Salvador Larroca. Look for it in November. No other details were given.WEAPONX01COVC

Ryan Stegman will join Soule on Inhuman. The series will continue to explore those turned into Inhumans and the people that want to use them. “One of the fun things about Inhuman is that we get to make up new superheroes.” Soule would go on to explain a particular character that reads things to make them real and when the town found this out they blinded him so now his powers are activated by reading braille.

The panel shifted to their other event Original Sin. Original Sin Annual 1 with Woodrow McCord will be written by Jason Latour. In Original Sin 5 we learned about the history of Nick Fury now we learn about the man who hired him to go all space protecting assassin.

Thanos will come to Legendary Star-Lord #4; it will be an Original Sin tie-in that deals with some unfinished business.

Cyclops new creative team will be John Layman and Javier Garron. Greg will be back in the X-Universe but his novel is forcing him to take some time out of other projects.

Mark Waid will have yet another book. S.H.I.E.L.D launches in December. The book will have rotating artists and be in-continuity while bringing characters from the TV show over to comics. Fitz!  “This is SHIELD the TV show but with an unlimited budget,” Waid said. Pacheco, Alan Davis, and Chris Sprouse are just a few of the artist scheduled to be on the book. It appears as though the series will read like television in that each issue is the one-and-done structure.SHIELD_1_Deodato

Gerry Duggan and Mark Bagley are the creative team of Hulk as of August’s issue 5. Waid chimed in whispering to Duggan “tough act to follow.” The series promises a lot of Hulk on Hulk action with Bagley turning in some incredible pages according to Duggan.

Then came the fan Q&A.

The first fan asked about getting more female creators.
Lowe: “More women would make me very happy, too. Believe me, our door is always open to it.”

Another fan asked how long Wolverine will stay dead?
Soule; “This is the perfect time to tell everybody the ending. Don’t worry about it, Lowe. So on the second to last page, Wolverine has won the day, we’re all so happy, he’s gonna make it out. And on the last page, Jubilee pops out and bites him. He dies, and he comes back as a Vampire. So he died so it counts.” A fabulous answer!

Q: Why no X-Men panel this year?

Apparently it was just a victim of circumstance, but there are big plans for the X-books in the coming year, but Lowe did comment on a recent controversy.

Lowe: “And I wanted to say, there have been rumors that we’re cancelling or sabotaging the X-Men and Fantastic Four – we’re not. We don’t put leading creators on titles we want to ‘sabotage’.”

The last fan asked Slott about plans for Silk, long term.
Slott: “Long, serious plans for Silk, and you will see her in the Spider-Verse.”

With that the panel came to an end.

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5. SDCC 2014: Watchtower Saturday

 

Movie Wars: Saturday Edition

*YAWN*

DC wins, barely.  They showed the new Wonder Woman costume, and what sounds like an awesome trailer.

Marvel?  More cast for “Antman”, the announcement of “GotG 2″, and a teaser peek for “Age of Ultron”.

DC didn’t announce anything from other movies (as rumored by Nikki FinkeHere’s her analysis of CCI so far). Could be DCE still hasn’t quite figured out the production schedule, especially for what follows SvB.

Marvel didn’t discuss anything past Ant-Man.  So, “Untitled” is “unknown”.  Might there be something announced at NYCC?

Marvel did win the TV battle, with the possible appearance of Mockingbird on Agents of SHIELD.  Although Ra’s al Ghul will appear in the next season of Arrow.

Guess I’ll go see Scarlett Johansson star in a superhero movie instead… (with Morgan Freeman!)

Here’s the updated movie scorecard:

Movie schedule:
5/1/2015 The Avengers: Age of Ultron Marvel
6/19/2015 The Fantastic Four Fox
6/19/2015 Inside Out Pixar
7/17/2015 Ant-Man Marvel
11/25/2015 The Good Dinosaur Pixar
3/4/2016 Untitled Disney Animation Disney
May 2016 Batman v Superman DCE
5/6/2016 Captain America 3 Marvel
5/27/2016 X-Men: Apocalypse Fox
6/17/2016 Finding Dory Pixar
July 2016 Shazam DCE
7/8/2016 Doctor Strange Marvel
11/11/2016 Sinister Six Sony
11/23/2016 Untitled Disney Animation Disney
Xmas 2016 Sandman DCE
3/3/2017 Untitled Wolverine Fox
May 2017 Justice League DCE
5/5/2017 Untitled Marvel
6/16/2017 Untitled Pixar Animation Pixar
July 2017 Wonder Woman DCE
7/7/2017 Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 Disney
7/14/2017 The Fantastic Four 2 Fox
7/28/2017 Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Marvel
11/3/2017 Untitled Marvel
11/22/2017 Untitled Pixar Animation Pixar
Xmas 2017 Flash and Green Lantern team-up DCE
3/9/2018 Untitled Disney Animation Disney
May 2018 Man Of Steel 2 DCE
5/4/2018 Untitled Marvel
6/15/2018 Untitled Pixar Animation Pixar
7/6/2018 Untitled Marvel
7/13/2018 Untitled Fox / Marvel
11/2/2018 Untitled Marvel
11/21/2018 Untitled Disney Animation Disney
5/3/2019 Untitled Marvel

*Peter Potter?

He is best known for playing Harry Potter – who could use an invisibility cloak every time he wanted to go unnoticed.
And it seems Daniel Radcliffe has come up with his own way to mingle with the masses as he demonstrated at Comic-Con at the weekend.
The 25-year-old donned a full Spider-Man suit as he walked around the showroom floor at the pop-culture convention… even stopping for pictures with oblivious fans.

* Zombie Walk Turns Critical as Car Hits Bystander

Officials said the victim was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. She’s expected to recover.

Two other people were also left with minor injuries.

The car’s driver has been cited, but he will not be criminally charged.

The incident remains under investigation.

This is not the first time something like this has happened.

Here in New York City, there are hundreds of police officers stationed along parade routes.  Sometimes, the parade will be stopped for traffic to cross.  How many of San Diego’s finest are on patrol downtown during Comic-Con?

A struggling animator asks questions during the Family Guy panel.

 * Bleeding Cool shows the actual cease-and-desist letter from CCI to Salt Lake Comic Con.

I’ll let our legal eagle analyze this, but I always thought it was the hyphen that made the name.  There are a lot of “comic con” events out there, one run by a corporation which could easily fight CCI in court.

Here are the trademarks CCI owns/owned.  Myself, I look forward to the San Francisco Comic-Con.

* GoBankingRates.com calculates the cost of attending Comic-Con,

but makes too many mistakes to be link-worthy.  ($740 for airfare?)  Their total: $1,615.  Note that this does not include shopping, but does include cosplay.

And that’s it?!?

Okay… let’s see what the news services offer:

The Associated Press and AP Images

Getty Images

Reuters

Al Jazeera America

European Press Agency

Comic-Con 2014 preview night in San Diego

(The source page.)

Want to filter out the celebrity photos?  Add “atmosphere” to the search.

Okay, that’s it for Saturday.  I’ll be back tomorrow to wrap up the news feed, and then there are some specific posts.

 

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6. SDCC 14: #comicsbeat Still happy about the tiny Guardians of the Galaxy cosplayers that won Best Group at @marvel Cosplay contest! #sdcc


via Instagram http://ift.tt/1tQzK8N

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7. SDCC ’14: Ronan Farrow, Chuck Nice and Lea Delaria on sexual harassment at cons???


MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow got comedians Chuck Nice and Lea Dearia on his show to talk about Geeks for CONsent and their campaign to get more signage and a clearer harassment policy at the SDCC. Their take on it was the usual talk show bold face talking points surrounded by awkward laughing. The Geeks for CONsent weren’t impressed.

I think all the messaging can be argued here but what GfC DID do is put up harassment policies in bathrooms, including some in men’s rooms.they are also collecting stories of con harassment here.

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8. SDCC ’14: Wayward Pines World Premiere and Sorta Q & A

 

By Victor Van Scoit

waywardWhen it comes to world premieres at San Diego Comic Con I usually abide by the adage of expect the worst and hope for the best.  Should the result lie somewhere above middle in that spectrum, then it usually means the pilot has enough interesting questions that warrants following up with watching the next episode. Wayward Pines does just that with its great cast, quirks, and dark humor.

Wayward Pines is based on the novel Pines by Blake Crouch and with its suspenseful premise one can understand why M. Night Shyamalan was tapped to direct. The show follows secret service agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) after he awakens from a car crash and finds himself in Wayward Pines, Idaho. Quickly thereafter we’re introduced to characters who meant to put Ethan at ease, while doing the complete opposite for both Ethan and the viewer. The nods to Twin Peaks are definitely there, especially with Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo) and her over eager niceness and Sheriff Pope (Terrence Howard) with his musings on rum raisin ice cream. They serve to keep Ethan from his task of searching for two federal agents who have gone missing. It only gets crazier when he finds agent Kate Hewson (Carla Cugino) only to not have her recognize him. I swear to you that spoilers these are not. The rest of the episode is a venture into dark humor, more characters with hidden agendas, and the family that wonders where Ethan could be. The show ends with a a couple great reveals about the town of Wayward Pines and how it may work, which promises that as the show continues the audience will get answers quickly and not more questions.

Shyamalan confirmed that unlike the books the mystery would be revealed by mid season because the world is just as interesting and allows for tons of creative opportunities for the characters to play in. Shyamalan agreed with the moderator that there is definitely some Twin Peaks inspiration at work in the direction style, and that to him David Lynch was like God when it came to this style of work. That was as deep as the answers got when it came to the Q & A portion. Every actor, when asked about their characters and what the audience could expect from them, was cagey in their responses and careful not to say too much  or rather hardly anything of all. I supposed that’s par for the course when you’re working on anything with M. Night Shyamalan. Such as it was you could pick up that the actors were excited for the project and the hidden agendas of their characters.

The Wayward Pines pilot offered much for those who still have a cherry pie sized hole in their heart for Twin Peaks, and also for those who never heard of the David Lynch darling. The pilot showed enough promise that one hopes the rest of the mini-series can deliver on it.

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9. SDCC ’14: Why Saga Continues To Be The Best

by Zachary Clemente

There’s something special about Image’s book Saga. You know it, I know it, the people who voted for the Eisner awards know it – heck, my mom knows it! On Saturday of SDCC ’14, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson sat down with co-creators Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples to discuss their out-of-control success of a book, winner of four Eisner awards the day previous.

It was clear that Stephenson, who also edits Saga, had a set of specific questions that he knew would be interesting topics to discuss – keeping the panel at a good pace and setting an example for the sort of questions would illicit responses beyond a yes, no, or “I can’t talk about that”. He started off asking about how the book’s production has changed in the past 18 months or so, after they wrapped their first 6 issues.

Vaughan picked this up, saying that he’s learned that his job as writer has been to get out of Staples’ way as the artist. Interesting, this is exactly the approach writer Matt Fraction has with artist David Aja, to much success. Jokingly, they said that the amount of work Staples now does is much higher while Vaughan “has just gotten lazier – that’s the evolution!” In truth, however, as they’ve becoming more comfortable and confident working with each other, Vaughan has been able to really step back to showcase Staples’ ability to visualize the narrative in such a marvelous fashion.

Stephenson got them to discuss their approach to the covers of the book and the work their design and lettering collaborator, Fonographiks (aka Steven Finch). Both Staples and Vaughan are huge fans of the aesthetic of Kubrick’s 2001 and therefore found appeal with a clean style born out of a modern and minimalist approach – a character or two on top of a single color as a constant motif. For the title logo itself, they found it extremely important for it to be subdued, wanting to steer clear of the loud logos many readers are used to seeing. Instead, they wanted the logo to have an inviting and warm sensibility, welcoming readers to pick up the issues. Vaughan went on to discuss the importance of having the comics say “Chapter” instead of “Issue” on the cover and how having full control over every aspect of the book’s design was so liberating as situations like “when an ad for a goddamn Snickers bar comes in and ruins your dramatic scene” just aren’t a reality at Image.

Though a question on many a-reader’s tongue, Stephenson asked Vaughan on his stance of killing off characters in way that has gotten his work compared to the likes of George R.R. Martin or Joss Whedon.

Do I feel bad about murdering people? – Brian K. Vaughan

Vaughan first picked up the question reminding us that characters in fiction not ever dying is a recent phenomenon, as large corporations are built on top of legacies of beloved characters and the enduring support they get from fans allows them to continue – those characters just can’t die. He then goes into how Saga is kind of a way for him address anxiousness of life, fictional or otherwise, stating that “we read this stuff to prepare us for the worst.”

We’re all going to die terribly, so read our comic book! – Brian K. Vaughan

Staples and Vaughan were keen to remind the audience that Saga is fully and truly all about Hazel and though she is just a child now, she will grow and while her parents, arguably the current protagonists, are very important now – they may not be later. With that, they revealed the cover art for the first hardcover, collecting what Vaughan and Staples consider to be the first chapter of the series – issues 1-18 or trade volumes 1-3.

sagaHC

The cover, with a very prominent close-up of Hazel breastfeeding from Alana is a clear response to the backlash the book received when the first cover was revealed – showing the young couple with child to Alana’s breast. They had this to say on the subject:

Just doubling-down on our breastfeeding stance, aren’t we? – Fiona Staples

Some stores won’t even rack the first volume because the breast-feeding is controversial, but…fuck them. – Brian K. Vaughan

The panel was then opened up to Q&A from the audience. Most questions pertained to the plot, the possibilities of merchandise such as shirts, toys, plush dolls, and the alike – most of which were given expected answers of uncertainty. There will not be another run of the Lying Cat shirts, but they are not opposed to high-quality merchandise.

Additionally, when asked about their feelings of the possibility of an adaptation into another medium such as film or television Brian explained, not for the first time, that though he has worked in both other industries, he finds comics to be the vastly superior medium – though would not be opposed if they received an offer they just couldn’t say no to. Staples eagerly suggested, when queried, that the best game adaptation would be a Dungeons & Dragons styled tabletop roleplaying game to much applause.

One attendee brought up a point that’s been stewing in at least my head, which is the apparent and thorough multiculturalism represented in Saga. Vaughan honestly answered that it’s something he has to be keenly cognizant of as, when first writing the book, it took him a while to realize that “white” didn’t have to be the default. Apparently, when designing Alana, he told Staples that she shouldn’t be a red-head as “there are a glut of red-heads right now.” When she responded with “you know, she doesn’t have to be white,” he let out a defeated and embarrassed “oh…right.”

Another attendee brought up the page in issue 14, where lying cat devastated a whole readership in one day.

2013saga

While they approached this page like any other, Vaughan used this to discuss how, as a child, he found the iconic Slave Leia costume featured in Star Wars not sexy, but subjugated. His distaste for it is apparent with his wish to attempt to portray more realistic situations when war affects civilian life. I personally find this a fantastic stance on the subject and deeply appreciate that he’s coming from this sort of perspective.

Why do the robot people have dicks and stuff? – The next Attendee

The person asking this question did preface it with the fact that it was less touching. It did, however launch the duo into a discussion of soft sci-fi and how Saga is a romantic drama, wrapped in the trappings of a space epic.

Lastly, it was revealed that one of the main reasons that much of the technology in this book isn’t necessary metal spaceships and laser guns is because Staples doesn’t really enjoy drawing any of that – so Vaughan had to compensate, all for the better.

Overall, this was a Saga fan’s dream come true. Vaughan and Staples were receptive, amiable and inviting. They clearly have a spectacular rapport that’s equal parts professional and loving – they’ve put everything and more they have into this book and it clearly shows. As a fan, I’m loving it and as someone deeply invested in seeing comics grow and evolve, I’m in for the long haul. Thanks to Eric Stephenson for moderating with a charming ease, keeping the flow casual and friendly.

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10. The Beat Podcasts! – SDCC ’14 Day 4: Geof Darrow and Kinokuniya

logo-pod-more-to-come-1400.pngLive from San Diego Comic Con, it’s More To Come! Publishers Weekly’s podcast of comics news, interviews and discussion with Calvin Reid, Kate Fitzsimons and The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In part four of More To Come’s San Diego Comic-Con special podcast, Calvin Reid interviews comic artist and writer Geof Darrow about creating Shaolin Cowboy and The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. Then, he speaks with Terence Irvins, graphic novel buyer at Japan-based bookstore chain Kinokuniya about their upcoming big push into the American comics market

Listen to this episode in streaming here, download it direct here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the Publishers Weekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

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11. SDCC ’14: Giant Monsters Win the Masquerade

photo (5)Just a few hours after Legendary Pictures’ CEO Thomas Tull announced that Mothra, King Ghidorah and Rodan will appear in the Godzilla sequel, attendees at the 40th annual Comic-Con Masquerade saw the four monsters destroy a city live on stage –

and win the competition’s Best in Show.

Cosplay plays several different roles at Comic Con, from bonding the community together to connecting individuals to creative power within the entertainment they enjoy. In fact, the intrepid Masquerade Coordinator Martin Jaquish opened the event by noting that the Masquerade helps to fulfill San Diego Comic-Con’s nonprofit mission by promoting creative enterprise among the Con’s attendees.

That spirit of creativity is ultimately what appears to have secured the victory for the four women who created the winning costumes in “Giant Monsters All Out Attack” — Lisa Truong, Lynleigh Sato, Wendy Colon, and Cindy Purchase. As should be evident in the admittedly fuzzy picture above,  the costumes were not literal recreations of the four monsters’ film design, and their mode of wreaking havoc was more akin to a chaste burlesque than wanton carnage. However, it is precisely this blend of playfulness and novelty that made their designs stand out.

There were a number of other winners and honorable mentions, both as determined by the judges and as selected by the Masquerade’s sponsors. For example, DC’s winning selection had a Scarecrow-venomed Batman fighting Ray Harryhausen skeletons, and other winners included lifesize (more or less) Game of Thrones dragons, a paean to the transformational power of fandom sung to the tune of “Be a Man,” and, of course, MODOK. Technique mixed with surprise were the core values of the night, and an extra splash of fun seemed only to help.

For those who would like to know more about the Masquerade or see video of the entries, Martin Jaquish along with John Ruff will be hosting the Comic-Con Masquerade Replay starting at 2:30pm today (Sunday) in Room 8.

We’ll be talking more about the Masquerade from various perspectives in days to come, but the jury’s still out on whether I’ll follow the recommendation of several people on line to show up next year as The Governor.

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12. SDCC ’14: The Business of Geek Fashion

By Hannah Lodge

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As the popularity of geek culture and comic book movies surges, retailers have seen a significant increase in the demand for stylish, tailored geek clothing. That demand is responsible for the niche market of cosplay-centric, fandom-inspired fashion retailers, who compete to score the best licensing deals for their customer base.

“When I got into this business, girls fashion was one-size-fits-all baby-doll t-shirts. No one in the industry understood the power of marketing to the female geek,” said Ed Labay, a buyer for Hot Topic who has been in the industry for 17 years. Labay and other panelists at San Diego Comic Con’s The Business of Geek Fashion agreed that the last decade has seen a significant change in the way retailers approach geek clothing.

“15 years ago, it was all unisex,” said Mike Kochis from ThinkGeek. “Now we have a larger ladies assortment than men.”

The panelists also discussed the challenges of obtaining licenses and the slippery slope of running “inspired” clothing items without a licensing deal. Victoria Schmidt from Gold Bubble Clothing (established less than a year ago) said her company found success in going after smaller license deals with cult followings, like The Last Unicorn.

She said they had also launched some items that evoke the imagery of a particular fandom without ever mentioning it or stepping on a trademark, citing her company’s Bloodstripe leggings (which, she didn’t mention but buyers can deduce, bear a strong resemblance to Han Solo from Star Wars).

Schmidt’s fellow panelists disagreed with the approach, indicating the only safe way to handle the products was to obtain a licensing deal.

“It’s a slippery slope from fandom into bootleg,” Kochis said.

Panelists also agreed there had been an increased demand recently for menswear. Cameron Parker, head of marketing for Black Milk Clothing, which came to the scene five years ago and has made a name for itself by popularizing geek leggings, said they have recently been introducing options for men, like NFL-style jerseys and boyfriend-cut tees.

Samantha Terry from WeLoveFine said she’d been seeing men purchasing the women’s clothing due to lack of options.

“At anime expo I saw a lot of guys buying our leggings and tunic tanks,” she said. “There’s not much variety in men’s geek fashion.”

Labay said Hot Topic stocks both – and in some cases the results of buyers’ demands still surprises them.

“We sold almost as much male product for Twilight as we did female,” he said.

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13. SDCC ’14: Fantagraphics to Collect Liz Suburbia’s ‘Sacred Heart’ as Graphic Novel

More news through from San Diego, as Fantagraphics have announced that they’ll be collecting the webcomic ‘Sacred Heart’, by Liz Suburbia, as a one-shot graphic novel in 2015.

sacredheart

The publication of this collection is pretty interesting, as Suburbia will be completely redrawing the story for the book – which presumably would also give her a chance to tweak the storytelling as she sees fit, perhaps.

Sacred Heart is a story about a town where all the adults have gone missing, leaving their kids to pick up society and run in as best they can. Whereas in most cases this would lead to anarchy and crossbows and yelling, in Sacred Heart the story shows that society can more or less keep on functioning even through a dire situation like this. Sure, some aspects of the world collapse and don’t return, and there’s a constant question of whether things can be sustained – but for the most part, the kids are managing to do a half-decent job of things.

Sacred Heart will be released in Summer 2015. You can find the webcomic, still open, right here. 

 

 

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14. SDCC ’14 Art of Videogames Panel

Dark Horse leads the way in transporting videogames into the comic world.

Dark Horse leads the way in transporting videogames into the comic world.

By: Nick Eskey

Art has gone hand in hand with videogames almost since the beginning. Oh yes, the earliest games were either text-based adventures, or pixilated jumbles; Not really “artistic.” But the boxes they were packaged in were usually masterpieces of fantasies. It wasn’t that developers didn’t feel games were worthy of art as part of their game play, but the technology wasn’t there. Now, with high density pixel displays and fast processors, we find ourselves capable of things never thought possible with gaming. We’ve seen some of the best games ever released in the last few years. Typically they involve large, detailed worlds and characters that people can’t help but explore.

Various artists and designers that were part of huge titles like Tomb Raider, Halo, Mass Effect, Witcher, Plants Vs. Zombies, and The Last of Us were present at San Diego Comic Con to discuss the art of the games. “We are seeing fans want to explore more of the world, more of the characters that they were introduced to.” This has led to a good number of games getting their own comic book adaption. Not necessarily retelling the game itself, but “following storylines or characters that no one had thought of before.” Both The Last of Us and Tomb Raider have comics that are set to come out sometime within the year, both being published by Dark Horse. With Tomb Raider, we are promised to follow Lara Croft after the videogame finding out more of what she is.

The Witcher will also be seeing a comic, again by Dark Horse, entitled “House of Glass.” “The series will be a standalone story. It will add to the Witcher universe, and will introduce new characters and show monsters from the Witcher 3 game.” Other games like Halo and Mass Effect will be seeing comics too. Halo: The Next 72 Hours will take place after the 4th game, following the events that happen with Master chief. For Mass Effect, it will follow the main antagonist from the last DLC from Mass Effect 3. “It’s going to be a last adventure to go on with the characters of the original Mass Effect.”

Aside from comics, there’s other mediums like art books that show the full breadth of artistry that goes into game development. “Most often we only see three quarters of the artwork that goes into a game being used. There’s also the evolution of characters… That’s why art books are so great. They give a sneak peek into what didn’t make it in… what changed.”

With comics though, publishers and artists are very concerned with not letting the fans down. Because of this, even though they are different mediums, publishers try to make sure that the artists from the games are the ones that will also be the writers for the comics. This allows the stories and characters to be as connected as possible. “Sometimes it doesn’t work [though], especially when telling a side story. It then becomes a sand box experience. Here it becomes important to work with and trust a creative team.”

Videogames have become a platform for new forms of art, and they have taken a while to get to this point. Now that fans are eager to immerse themselves more in the worlds they introduce, their presence in comics and graphic novels will grow more and more, fleshing out worlds that perhaps even their writers didn’t know would come to be.

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15. Beyond the Page: Writing in the Digital Age

By

These authors talk about technology, and how it's influenced their work.

These authors talk about technology, and how it’s influenced their work.

: Nick Eskey

Ever since the creation of the printing press, authors finally had an avenue to get their works out into the world. But it wasn’t until the creation of moving pictures that authors had another venue for their work aside from their printed forms. A book had the chance to find itself on the big screen, creating new revenues and reaching audiences that may have never read their work. It changed the possibilities again.

The advent of the digital age has yet again added possibilities, as these authors discussed during Beyond the Page panel this year at Comic-Con. James Frey (Endgame), Chris Weitz (The Young World), James Dashner (Maze Runner & The Rule of Thoughts), Andrew Kaplan (Homeland), Fred Van Lente (Make Comics Like Pros), James Silvani (Draw-a-sauras), and Melissa De La Cruz (Ring and the Crown) all shared how technology had affected their work. James Frey remembered when the first iPad was introduced. “I was awed. Thought it would great to have this thing that allowed people to watch movies and surf the web on the go.” Since then, he wanted to use everything he could to promote his work. “Now we have twitter feeds, youtube feeds… All these tools for the toolbox let’s me reach and tell more to readers.”

Not too long ago, industries that dealt with physical mediums like books or comics had “thoughts of doom and gloom,” as James Dashner said. “They thought technology would replace them. But now the book industry has more readers than ever.” He also pointed out that with ebooks, readers have the option to get enhanced experiences that never have been available to them before.

In regards to ebooks, Melissa De La Cruz did agree that she’s seen printed books affected. But other things like social media has offered a surprising support to the printed realm. “I’ve seen websites like Tumblr have helped to spark paper book groups… There’s even groups out there that share recipes based on their favorite books.”

Technology can even work hand-in-hand with books to create a larger, more immersive experience. James Frey himself said how he’s currently working on a series that will span 3 books, 35 novellas, and a video game that will be made by Google. “The books themselves will be the core,” he said. “And in each book there will be puzzles that will lead to real world prizes.” But if you’re not interested in the extras, they are not necessary to understand the books. “They will be just another option.”

But with all the options now at authors disposal, it can become confusing on how to use them properly. “With social media and tech, you have to be careful to not make them a gimmick,” said Fred Van Lente. “It’s a fine line. If you enjoy doing it, I think it’s what [would] keep it from being a gimmick. If you are told to, or feel like you have to, then it becomes one.” And as James Frey added, “Books are entirely self contained. The extras are optional, and for you to enjoy if you want to.”

Ultimately, books are what they are. Authors can take their books and morph them into more using today’s tech. But there’s still a balance that should be kept when using them. Because after all, as one panelist said, “It’s a book, and ultimately you have to live and die as a book.”

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16. SDCC 14: #comicsbeat Someone lost their tail in the toilet. #sdcc #sdcc2014


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17. SDCC 14: #comicsbeat The year the shoe broke. Does anyone have duct tape? Srsly. Calling all cosplayers. #sdcc #sdcc2014


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18. The Beat Podcasts! – SDCC ’14 Day 2: Don Rosa, Eleanor Davis, Lucy Knisley & Archie Comics

logo-pod-more-to-come-1400.pngLive from San Diego Comic Con, it’s More To Come! Publishers Weekly’s podcast of comics news, interviews and discussion with Calvin Reid, Kate Fitzsimons and The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In part two of More To Come’s San Diego Comic-Con special, Calvin Reid talks to Don Rosa about Scrooge McDuck, European fans and Carl Barks; Eleanor Davis on her new book How to Be Happy; and Lucy Knisley about her new book An Age of License. Meanwhile, Heidi MacDonald interviews Archie Comics President Mike Pellerito and sr. v-p Alex Segura about Life With Archie, dead Archie and zombie Archie. All this and more from Publishers Weekly’s More To Come!

Listen to this episode in streaming here, download it direct here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the PublishersWeekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

 

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19. Grant Morrison’s Trippy Map of DC’s Multiverse

Grant Morrison’s got some structure in mind for his upcoming  Multiversity series and now we have a map to prove.  As you might expect, the map has a serious New Age feel to it.  Heaven and Hell show up in the ring around the multiverse along with Heaven and Hell in the “Sphere of the Gods.”  The “Monitor Sphere” surrounds the Sphere of the Gods.  Is that as in The Monitor and the Anti-Monitor (who’s recently turned up again)?  An excellent question.  The Rock of Eternity sits below the “House of Heroes”  in the center.

Entertainment Weekly has the announcement.

Multiversity-map_1400x1074

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20. SDCC 14: Aspen Comics Another “Aloha”

By David Nieves
Aspen Comics beat their own drum through the walls of Hall 9 today at SDCC. Panelsts included EIC Vince Hernandez, Beth Sotelo, Siya Oum, Jordan Gunderson, Giuseppe Cafaro, T.G Roberts, J.T Krul, Josh Reed, and Scott Lobdell. Festivities were led as usual by Frank Mastromro and Peter Steigerwald, kicking off with the traditional thunderous “aloha”.

While the company didn’t have a ton of new announcements, the panel went through much of their current offerings. *Damsels in Excess* was up first, written by Vince the book has exclusive SDCC covers that will be available through their online store in limited quantities. The Siya cover is the gorgeous and we’ll post the file in a bit.

That led into Siya talking about her book *Lola xoxo*. Her upcoming plans include a spinoff volume called “Wasteland Madam”. Afterwards an official volume 2 will be released but not solid dates were given for either book.

Peter Steigerwald’s long awaited Zoo hunters was once again teased. In Peter fashion once again “it’ll be out soon”.

Last years hit *Jirni* came back with a new volume. Writer J.T Krul promises more danger and excitement with a Conan like story in the upcoming final acts of the chapter. The collected edition for volume 1 will be available soon.

*Seven to Die* is the new Aspen novel by T.G Roberts. Her pitch for the story was a tale about a huge universe but focusing on the adventure of a girl exploring her new found mystic items.

Fathom has a Halloween comic called *Fathom: Adventures of Ernie*. A coloring book for kids, Aspen is attempting to reach out beyond their young adult audience. Like the family they are he group chimed in saying, “Vince is still trying to solve the puzzles inside.”

Soulfire and Fathom will have big plans soon to be announced for next year. But they are putting out Marvel style source books for both the properties. The books are to get readers of their newer properties who don’t pick up the flagship line an enticing blueprint of their properties.

Another one of the more popular 10 -for-10 books, *Legend of the Shadow Clan* will get a brand new volume. No new updates were given on the EA Iris movie.

Dellec volume 2 will come to retail this year. Once again Vince and Frank will be working together on the book. Shrugged also has plans to return but neither has a solid launch date.

A big announcement about the entire Aspen library will be made next month but today a deal was finalized with the digital publisher Madefire. More details need to be discussed but it looks like the entire Aspen library will get a fancy digital tratment. A Fathom mobile game is in the works. Aspen just signed a deal with a development firm to flesh out some new video games based on Aspen’s properties.

The lively audience Q&A closed their panel. Among some of the topics discussed were the company’s view of female characters. All of the panelist seemed to agree that it’s what they’re mostly known for to most people and sometimes that hurts sales among male readers. In Peter’s view male or female a good story is a good story.
One thing that we brought up was with the return of NBC’s *Heroes* would we see new digital transmedia material from the publisher or possibly bring back some of the old material. It’s a possibility but they would have to have talks with the network first.

NOTE: come back later as we’ll post all the stuff shown today later this afternoon as soon as we get it.

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21. Kieron Gillen, Marguerite Bennett, Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans on ‘Angela’ #1

Angela, the character created by Neil Gaiman in another lifetime as part of the Spawn universe, will be receiving her own ongoing series later this year from the creative team of Kieron Gillen, Marguerite Bennett, Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans.

Angela_Asgards_Assasin_Hans_Variant

I don’t know how we reached this point either, but that’s a packed lineup of creators up there. Jimenez is superstar enough, and his presence bodes well for the project. Gillen and Bennett will co-write the series, with Hans working on a back-up strip which’ll appear in each issue. That looks like her work on the cover as well.

The book will follow the character – revealed to be Thor and Loki’s sister in an Original Sin miniseries which either has or hasn’t started yet – as she decides to head off and make a name for herself in the Marvel Universe, primarily through the method of slashing people up and presumably growling at them a whole lot.

An ongoing series, the book will be edited by Wil Moss, and start in November.

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22. SDCC ’14: Mighty Avengers Relaunches with Captain America in the Lead

Did you know that Falcon is Captain America now? Just thought it worth mentioning ahead of time, so this article doesn’t confuse you. He’ll be the lead in a relaunch for Mighty Avengers in November, you see, with Al Ewing and Luke Ross on as the creative team for the series.

Captain_America_and_the_Mighty_Avengers_Luke_Ross_Cover

 

The team, as you can see, seem largely to have remained intact. Monica Rambeau is up there, along with Blue Marvel, White Tiger, and I think Luke Cage with rocket feet.

You’ll also see Spider-Man trying to catch up with them in the image – having annoyed all of them back when he was inadvertently ‘superior’, one of the first storylines will see him attempt to rejoin the team, to the particular dismay of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.

Sam Wilson will be the lead role in the book now, as he assembles the team once more specifically for himself to lead. Starting in November, Captain America & The Mighty Avengers will be an ongoing series.

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23. SDCC ’14: Scott McCloud’s Big Flashy Solo Panel

Photo by Henry Barajas.

Scott McCloud charming the crowd while he figured out some technical difficulties.

Thursday was a good day if you’re a fan of the Scott McCloud. McCloud and his adoring family rushed from his insightful panel with Gene Luen Yang. The rooms couldn’t have been farther apart, and the technical difficulties didn’t help. Luckily, his daughters Winter, Sky and wife Ivy accompanied him in the thick of things.

The comics theorist revealed the cover art Jaime Hernandez drew for his upcoming book “The American Comics” that will release on Tuesday, Oct. 7. McCloud asked that the audience refrain from taking pictures of pages from his upcoming book The Sculptor. He teased some intriguing pages that we won’t see again until (forever from now) Feb. 3 2015. The book is a 500 page love story about a sculptor named David Smith (no relation to actual American Abstract Expressionist sculptor and painter) that made it big at a young age, but the fame and fortune didn’t last long. He makes a deal with death so he can create anything he could phantom, but he will only have 200 days to live. With nothing to lose, Smith accepts the deal. But Smith didn’t anticipate meeting the love of his life.

McCloud wanted to dispel the rumor that has been floating around how long he’s actually been working on this book. McCloud said he came up with this idea in high school. “I couldn’t get the idea out of my head because it became a real story,” McCloud said. He heard that someone says he has been working on this book for 30 years or something ridiculous, but this book has been in the process for only five.

McCloud and his family read excerpts from the book. It was reenactments were dramatic enough to get some gasps and complete silence from the end of the reading. It was cruel for them to flaunt this powerful scene, and left the room begging for more. The characters are inspired by actual people in McCloud’s life. McCloud discussed the character’s desire and how important it is to the story. “I’m trying to find desires and a path that hasn’t been seen before,” McCloud said. “It takes it the edge of reason and beyond.”

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The panel was starting to come to a conclusion, but McCloud took a few questions because of the late start. Someone asked “The Smartest Man in Comics” what the future has in store for the medium. He said he predicts that there will be an increase of female comic book creators. McCloud said the cross-legged manga generation that spent a lot of time at Borders have since went on to art school.

“Is it possible that 10 years from now the industry will be female majority? I think so,” McCloud said.

McCloud is hosting the fourth annual two-day comic book workshop on theory and practice on Saturday, Aug. 16 and Sunday, Aug. 17 at the The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, 16926 Saticoy St. Van Nuys, CA. Click here to sign up.

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24. Unassuming Barber Shop: Batman Country, Part Two

ubs

In case you missed the first portion of this special two-parter, it was revealed that Batman has conquered America and has established his black Bat-capital in a cave in Branson, Missouri.

That is not entirely true, but I do hope something of the story in the Bald Knobbers (cringey name aside) rang true for Batman fans. The vigilante story is old and real in America.

But is it enough to explain Batman’s popularity? We know many possible fictive sources for Batman – detective stories, operas, and movies – but what about other real ones?

There are a few possibilities. Both Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the co-creators of Batman, probably attended the 1939 New York World’s Fair. One of the Fair’s regular attractions was the skydiving “Bat-man”:

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There were many “Bat-Men” who jumped all over the country. They were so popular that Major Malcolm Wheeler Nicholson (who basically invented comic books), urged America to “consider the possibility of bat-man troops!” in a 1941 article.

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But this might just be distraction, like billowing smoke from a Bat-capsule. We don’t really go to air shows that much anymore, after all. Is it Batman’s design motif? The vampire bat doesn’t even crack the top 25 of National Geographic Kids’ most popular animals. Certainly the car and Kevlar help, but you can’t last 75 years with just a black cape and pointy ears.

Batman’s creators might help provide answers. You probably know Batman’s artistic origin already, but the general public may not, so we have to keep repeating it. Bob Kane was a fledgling New York artist supposedly jealous of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the two creators of Superman. Kane pleaded to editor Vin Sullivan, who gave him a weekend to create a new superhero.

Kane needed help, so he approached Bill Finger, a former shoe salesman whom he had worked with previously on some Western comics. The result of their new collaboration was Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. Finger wrote the script and Kane drew the action. Kane got the byline. How and why this happened is not fully known. Kane was a hustler and Finger was meek, though there was probably more to it than that. After all, most of this story, if not all of it, was first told by storytellers.

In that first issue, Kane swiped liberally from Henry Vallely and copied poses from “Flash Gordon.” Finger’s first script was probably inspired by pulp stories like “The Black Bat,” movies like “The Bat Whispers,” and a Shadow story. Superman had been crafted over several years and was something really brand-new. Batman was a smoky concoction of vigilante stuff thrown together to create a quick, commercial superhero.

Finger worked on Batman comics, including the first telling of the origin, in complete anonymity for decades. Kane drew only sporadically and wore ascots to parties. Finger is acknowledged by many as being responsible for some of the major chess pieces of the mythos. Kane appeared on The Tonight Show and died rich at 84. Finger died poor and alone at 59. This year, Kane is going to receive a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Kanedraws

As a consequence, fandom has not been kind to Bob Kane. Any mention of him at a Comic-Con panel usually results in some story about him stiffing a dinner bill forty years ago or bragging about supposedly dating Marilyn Monroe. In his autobiography, Kane even waxes breathlessly about fighting a gang as he swung around a lumberyard. Kane also claimed to have drawn the monthly Batman comic for decades when he positively did not. And he didn’t publicly recognize Finger’s contributions to Batman until after Finger was dead.

Still, there is no question that Bob Kane is the co-creator of Batman. He drew the first appearance of the character. For comics – which are words combined with images – that is half the whole world.

Still, Kane (and to some extent DC’s) treatment of Finger is considered by many to be wrong, even criminal. It is well-documented and crusaded upon, as it should be. But I am interested in crime of a different sort here.

Bill Finger’s early days have been mostly lost to time. Born in Colorado in 1914, Finger grew up with his immigrant parents and a sister. His father Louis, according to his World War I draft card, was a “cloak-maker.”

louis

Bob Kane was born Robert Kahn in 1915. When he was born, his parents ran a candy store in New York City. His father later worked for the Daily News as a typesetter.

Both Kane and Finger grew up on the Grand Concourse, a nearly five-mile stretch in the Bronx. They stared up at art deco buildings and gargoyles.

garg

They were not friends as kids. But they both saw bad things. Real things.

Crime in New York City during the twenties and thirties was on an escalating slope. On August 1, 1931, the New York Times ran a table titled “Homicides by Shooting.” In fifteen years, the number of murders in New York City tripled from 108 to 316. By 1939 – Batman’s debut – the rate had reached nearly two murders a day.

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Every day, the papers were a blotter of theft and murder. Gangsters, passerby, and children were robbed and killed in streets and doorways. In April of 1939, the papers reported the tragic story of a brother and sister coming home from the movies to find their parents shot dead on the floor.

NJ

People lived in sadness and fear. It eventually turned to anger. When five children were struck down by stray bullets in the Bronx in 1931, Police Commissioner Mulrooney vowed that “We’re going to meet force with force…If they want war, we’ll give it to them.” Several articles urge the formation of “vigilante committees” to enforce the law themselves.

This is where Batman began.

In late 1937, when Kane was just breaking in and earning around $25 a week. A small article appeared in the November 28, 1937 issue of the Times titled “Woman, 75, Killed in Street.” It read:

Mrs. Augusta Kahn, 75 years old, of 1,160 Grant Avenue, the Bronx, was fatally injured shortly after 5 P.M. yesterday while crossing Broadway at 115th Street. She died on her way to Columbus Hospital . . . Alexander Novinsky, 26 years old, of 6,802 Nineteenth Avenue, Brooklyn. Novinsky was held on a technical charge of homicide.

Bob Kane’s mother was named Augusta Kahn.

But this wasn’t her. It was a different woman. It was someone else – a double somehow– who was very real. Was Kane even aware of the story? Who knows, though someone surely must have noticed it in the paper and told the family. Kane was living with his parents at the time. If he did know of it, it must have provoked a visceral response. Especially because of what would happen next:

Alexander Novinsky, 27 years old . . . arrested Nov. 28, last when an automobile he was driving struck and killed Mrs. Augusta Kahn . . . was discharged yesterday by Magistrate Edgar Bromberger in Homicide Court for lack of evidence tending to show culpability.

The driver who killed the other Augusta Kahn — someone else’s mother — went unpunished. Novinsky walked scot-free. Was it an accident, or something else? The courts ruled that there was not enough evidence to pursue it.

Just as forty unpunished murders provoked a solider to don a mask in the Ozarks, so might crime in the Bronx have inspired a fictional character to do the same. The cowl, the cape, the symbol and all the pulp stories and films that inspired the look of Batman — is a smokescreen. Crime is why it stuck.

I think that much of what we claim to like about Batman is a complete cop-out. The most common explanation of the character’s popularity is his “humanity.” What that usually means is that anyone – if they had enough money, ninja training in Nepal, gadgets, and a sidekick – could be Batman. But none of us really believes that. Batman is not real, even though we constantly act like he is. The only thing real about him is his genesis in crime, whether it is a story in a comic or the story of his creators.

When James Holmes killed twelve people at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012, the press made connections to the killer being inspired by the Joker. Most of this has since been dismissed, but it speaks volumes that this explanation was the first one that made any kind of sense to the general public. Not that Holmes was clearly psychotic and a killer, but that our response to him, at first, involved Batman. When Holmes first appeared in court several days after the shooting, survivors of the massacre showed up to the courtroom wearing Batman t-shirts.

james_holmes_hearing_batman_shirts

The current writer of the monthly Batman comic, Scott Snyder (who also teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College) has a theory about Batman that might help. In Batman #27 (note the number), Snyder (alongside collaborator Greg Capullo on art) has Alfred dramatically assess Bruce Wayne’s mission:

You keep us all around to bear witness, to see that you can do the thing that none of us could do for you. That none of us were there in the alley that night, not Gordon, not me, not anyone in this city. And you’re out to punish us for that every night.

capullobatman27

What Batman has made us watch for seventy-five years – an epoch in pop culture – is a one-man war that most of us don’t know how to fight. Batman isn’t about hope; it’s about fighting back against things bigger than us — crime, characters, and the Batkid’s cancer. It is not a place of light or peace or even nobility. It is a street in a city. Most of us can’t jump around on rooftops. But we can imagine that action — that rebellion — when we wear the black t-shirt. That we can do.

Batman is the most popular superhero in America because we all want to hit something sometimes. This applies to fandom as well. Sometimes it can be fairly vacant — Affleck, nipples — but sometimes it is more important. When Batman character The Spoiler, a teenage girl, was killed in the comics, fans began protesting the lack of a memorial to her in the comics’ Batcave. Marc Tyler Nobleman (with Ty Templeton) produced a book about Finger and led a massive campaign to get a Google Doodle to honor the writer. Filmmaker Kevin Smith (who has built an empire around a Batman podcast) also helps to run The Wayne Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to help stop the sexual traffic of children. Finger documentaries are being funded, Glen Weldon has a cool new book on the horizon, a new Batgirl is making waves, and for the first time, Bill Finger’s name was credited on a Batman comic. That last one has a simple explanation.

What matters is that these endeavors – all of them real – are small vigilante acts done in the name of Batman. It is not the fictional character or the dead men we rally around, it is that central story in Crime Alley. That’s the one that gets us. That’s the one that inspires us to do things, try to help, or just like Batman. That is where the humanity — and popularity — of Batman really lies: in the detective and the crusader, not the pull-ups in a cave.

On November 24 of 1939, just a few months after Batman’s debut, the winners of a kids costume contest were announced in the Times:

costumes
I won’t argue that “The Bat Man” is an infinitely better costume than “cotton picker” or “camera,” but Angelo Carbone didn’t just want to win a free chicken. With the exception of the boxer, all of the other costumes sound parent-selected. Not “The Bat Man.” Angelo saw something in a comic he liked and went for it. He saw something he needed to be.

As I write this in Cleveland, there was a break-in last night at the university I teach at. Three students – all studying – were robbed at gunpoint in the common room of their dorm. A few weeks ago, in the middle of a sunny day, young men walked into my favorite neighborhood bar, The Colony, and shot the owner, Jim Brennan, dead.

Why is Batman so popular? Look around you and read the news.

This is Batman Country. That should both empower and terrify us.

 

P.S.

Speaking of detectives: there is one last mystery to bring up.

In the late nineties, a story surfaced out of Boston suggesting that another artist may have created Batman well before Kane and Finger (and not Siegel and Shuster, as I’ve half-suggested before).

Frank D. Foster II was a cartoonist who worked with Al Capp in the thirties. When he couldn’t get regular work, he abandoned comics for a job at what would become the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Supposedly, Foster had samples of a character named “Batman” that he shopped around New York before leaving for Washington — well before 1939. When Foster later saw fully-realized Batman comics in the forties, he was stunned — had they stolen his character? Foster and his family talked to an attorney in 1975, which was also when Siegel and Shuster’s plight was all over the news. After Foster died in 1995, his son Frank continued to ask questions. His website. OriginalBatman.com, reads: “Although there is no hard physical evidence, there is little room for doubt that people at DC saw the drawings. Most likely it was Bob Kane himself who was at DC at the time and claimed credit for creating Batman.”

foster
The problem is that there were no superheroes in 1932. Not til Superman. And these sketches are definitely of a superhero – the bottom face also looks very much like a Bill Everett Sub-mariner (thanks to fellow Beat contributor Jeff Trexler for that). At one point, Foster places the drawing even earlier, in the twenties. None of this is impossible, of course, but if true, then Foster’s Batman would have been the first superhero.

There are other problems of dates and letters, but take a look for yourself. Foster’s 1975 interview with the lawyer provides fascinating insight into how artists worked back then. And how the fallibility of memory complicates everything.

Is there any way to prove that Kane and Finger saw Foster’s drawings? They never mentioned him. Or did they?

In 1960, when Batman was well-established, Bill Finger wrote a script for Batman #135 called “Crimes of the Wheel.” In the story, the Dynamic Duo breaks up a gambling den, sending its leader, a man nicknamed “Big Wheel” to jail. He escapes and puts on a bright costume that is a garish copy of Batman’s. Now a villain with who uses wheel gadgets, he calls himself “The Wheel” (hey, it’s still better than “Bald Knobbers”).

balls

His ridiculous costume looks like a garish version of Batman’s. But he’s a moron and soon gets tossed back in jail. He gets made fun of — by other criminals, by Batman and Robin — for the entire issue. The character’s name who steals Batman’s shtick but fails? Frank Foster.

tec135

Is this pure coincidence or a hidden in-joke?  On his website, Foster’s son says of the original drawings by his dad:

I know he created Batman. It’s the first Batman. It was there, at the same place, at the same time Batman was published. There has to be a connection. The possibility of two men in 5,000 years of history arriving at the same character who’s a hero of the night, with the same name of Batman, at the same time, at the same place on the earth, is zero.

I don’t know what to make of Foster, but I do know that the possibility is never zero when it comes to talking about comics and culture. If we think of Batman as a cape and cowl, then sure, but as the fictional embodiment of our own fear of crime and desire for vengeance? That is more universal than zero. Perhaps more than we’d like to admit.

 

If you’re at Comic-Con, come to “Who Created Batman?” on Fri. from 2:30-3:30 in Room 26AB for a panel with Travis Langley, Tom Andrae, Athena Finger, Marc Tyler Nobleman, Denny O’Neill, Jens Robinson, Arlen Schumer, Michael Uslan, Nicky Wheeler Nicholson, and myself. PW is calling it one of the 14 Best Panels at Comic-Con.

Brad Ricca is the author of Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster – The Creators of Superman, now available in paperback. He also writes for StarWars.com. Visit www.super-boys.com and follow @BradJRicca.

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25. SDCC ’14: Spider-Verse panel Recap

by Alexander Jones

This early in the morning, it’s tough to get comics fans to wake up for anything. Luckily here at San Diego Comic-Con, there was a room full of eager Spidey fans frothing at the mouth to hear more news about the upcoming Spider-Verse event over at Marvel. The event combines every single Spider-Man character (owned by Marvel) into one jam packed story. This saw multiple heroes down at the show decked out in some awesome costumes. There was an Black Cat cosplayer in the room, a Miles Morales Spider-Man, and the original Peter Parker outfit as well.Spider-Man - Spider-Verse variant cover by Skottie Young

The panelists included Dan Slott, writer of the event; Senior Editor Nick Lowe; Daredevil author Mark Waid; Superior Foes of Spider-Man author Nick Spencer; artist Humberto Ramos; and Amazing Spider-Man colorist Edgar Delgado. Nick Lowe solicited much excitement from the crowd who happy to oblige amongst some of the others. He teased that he was going to show some of the fans a video later on in the panel. Mark Waid was attempting to tease that artist Humberto Ramos was only late because he wanted to make a big entrance. This solicited even more applause from an energetic crowd.

We then got another tease at the Spider-Verse tease variant covers by Gabrielle Dell’Otto.

Another comic was shown off at the upcoming The Superior Spider-Man #32 by Slott and author Christos Gage, along with Giuseppe Camuncoli and Adam Kubert teased the Edge of Spider-Verse. Humberto Ramos then showed up to a crowd who didn’t give him any applause at first. The audience then gave him some news after the initial whimper. Lowe explained that they were not going to show us any of the art from Spider-Verse yet.

Slott elaborated on the return of Superior Spidey. He states that Spidey got caught in a time vacuum and ended up stranded in 2099, where the new comic book picks up. The audience was shown some variant Skottie Young covers that are absolutely gorgeous. The focus then naturally shifted over to Spider-Man 2099. Lowe asked the audience if they bought the title from Will Sliney and original creator of the hero; Peter David. The audience once again broke off into massive applause. The editor explained some of the premises behind the issue. Rick Leonardi was mentioned as returning to the book with Issues #4 and #5 coming in October.

Mark Waid then teased Daredevil during Original Sin, which focuses the spotlight on Matt Murdock’s mother. She had abandoned him as a child, and Matt sees her again when she has been on tough times and found her way to prison. She is on her way to Wakanda. The group teased pages from upcoming Daredevil #7. Lowe shared that the group has a terrifying story coming up entitled “Who Are The Purple Children.” Waid states that the happy-go-lucky Daredevil is now starting to lose his cool with this title.

IMG_0844Slott elaborated about the Original Sin storyline crossing into Spider-Man, which features the Spider that bit Peter has also bitten Cindy Moon. She is also known as the Spider-Bride by Ezekiel. Ezekiel served as Spidey’s mentor for a short  time. Ezekiel has been keeping Moon enslaved for a certain amount of time, and her breaking out of imprisonment is going to be a major inciting incident towards Spider-Verse.

Lowe then brought some more attention to The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Author Nick Spencer was talking about how this comic is focusing on some of the C and D-list villains in the Marvel Universe. He teased that that the comic book series may be crawling down to a halt soon. Issue #14 shifts the character focus more towards Overdrive. Spencer noted that at times he only needs to write down a paragraph and then have artist Steve Lieber work out what the page in full is going to look like.

Edge of Spider-Verse #2 by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez was met with much fanfare, as it features the return of Gwen Stacy as an alternate Universe Spider-Man. Edge of Spider-Verse #3 is written by Gerard Way and Jake Wyatt was also met with much acclaim. Lowe stated that he has been trying to find a way to write for Marvel for some time. The musician turned comic artist has a massive following.

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In The Amazing Spider-Man Issue #7, Dan Slott teased a brand new spider-Man that he created for Spider-Verse. The Spider-UK, who has supposedly been on the Captain Britain Corps. The next issue bring in the MC2 Spider-Girl known as Mayday Parker. Slott teased that she may be in for a “rough” time.

Spider-Verse Team-Up was then announced which is a new comic shipping in November. Each issue is being written by a different author. Christos Gage, Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, Dave Williams, and others will be penning the story.

The crowd was even more excited about the brand new Scarlet Spiders tale. The comic is a mini-series written by Mike Costa and drawn by Paco Diaz. The book features Ultimate Jessica Drew, Ben Reilly Spider-Man, and the Scarlet Spider. The cover teased was a variant issue drawn by long-time Ultimate Spider-Man artist Mark Bagley.

The trailer for a multi-media project was teased. Developed by Gameloft, the panel was teasing a video game entitled Spider-Man Unlimited. There are 23 playable Spider-Men in the brand new phone game. Lowe noted that each Spider-Man has different abilities, and there are going to be other villains in the title. The game is set-up like a Temple Run style format.

Whew! That is a lot of Spidey info. Spider-Verse kicks off in Amazing Spider-Man #9 in November.

 

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