- Posted by Johanna on February 22, 2014 at 10:14 am
- Category: Superhero Reviews
The A+Xseries is a great concept — an anthology with stand-alone stories that team up an X-Men character with an Avengers member. Because it’s mostly one-offs, different creators can contribute, and the variety of story types are more diverse than you usually see have been included. Plus, the character choices can be wacky, as here, in A+X #17, “Iron Man + Broo” by Jeff Loveness and Paco Diaz, with a super-intelligent alien kid excited about interning with grumpy Tony Stark.
Unfortunately, while each issue used to have two stories, now, one of them is a standard superhero action seralization, “Captain America + Cyclops” by Gerry Duggan, David Yardin, Cam Smith, and Terry Pallot. I don’t care much for it, so the series has become much less of a must-read for me (since half of it I ignore).
Anyway, I enjoyed the first story, and here’s a page with gags that show why. Particularly the Thor crack. Superhero comics should have more humor, since they’re inherently ludicrous, and the light-hearted ones are my favorite. It shouldn’t surprise me that this was funny, since writer Jeff Loveness works for the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show.
- Posted by Johanna on February 22, 2014 at 9:44 am
- Category: Movies/TV
The Jimmy Stewart Show is one of those forgotten oddities that I can thank the Warner Archive for rediscovering. The half-hour domestic sitcom ran from 1971-1972, and this set contains all 24 episodes.
Jimmy Stewart is an actor that it takes some maturity to appreciate, since he’s not flashy in his performance, but he’s always worth the attention. I enjoy seeing him wherever he appears — from a young man in a Thin Man movie to romantic rival in The Philadelphia Story or Hitchcock lead in Vertigo or anchor of a holiday classic in It’s a Wonderful Life — although the period societal and generation gap references here took some getting used to.
The audience for this is likely those looking for good, old-fashioned, family-safe television just like they watched when they were kids. It’s not many shows these days where you’ll see a father saying grace with his family around the dinner table. On the other hand, Stewart talking to the camera at the beginning of each episode, to introduce the characters and premises, is reminiscent of the modern fake-docu-comedy style. Particularly when he does it from the studio or holding a script. The pacing here, though, is remarkably subdued. This was made long before short scenes and quick cuts and abbreviated attention spans became the norm. The show doesn’t produce laughs so much as quiet smiles.
Stewart is a college professor, which accounts for the “changing times” references as he interacts with his students. (Very odd to hear the older Mr. Stewart talking about a young woman needing to put on a bra.) The woman playing Stewart’s wife, Julie Adams, is almost 20 years younger than Stewart, and it shows. Combined with the long-ago tendency to patronizing gender and family relations, sometimes their interaction seems more like father/daughter than couple, although affection for each other is thoughtfully written into the episodes.
The family structure is also a bit odd — Stewart and wife have an eight-year-old, and Stewart’s oldest son does too. So there are two little boys running around, one of whom is actually uncle to the other. (And why did Stewart have two kids 20 years apart?) The elder son Peter (James Daly) and his wife Wendy (Ellen Geer) wind up having to move in with dad when their house burns down in the first episode, to allow for more family togetherness.
Still, Stewart rides a bike and plays accordion and wears a cowboy hat and does other charming on-screen things, while trying to cope with everyone wanting the bathroom or taking his child fishing or encountering a pushy co-ed or trying to lay down the law at the dinner table. Every so often, there’s a distinct sign of different times, such as when the professors, old men in sport coats, go to lunch at a nearby joint where they play chess, smoke cigars, and drink beer. Or when visitors smoke in the guest room, or parking tickets cost $4.
Another fun thing is spotting the occasional guest star, including both early appearances from people who’d later be more famous (Kate Jackson) and those from the glory days of Hollywood (Cesar Romero, Vincent Price). (The studio provided a review copy.)
- Posted by Johanna on February 21, 2014 at 2:29 pm
- Category: Comic News
Loki has been a breakout character from Marvel’s Avengers movie (thanks to Tom Hiddleston’s dynamic performance), so it’s no surprise that Marvel launched a comic focused on him earlier this month, Loki: Agent of Asgard. (And note the title evokes Marvel’s other ongoing media property, the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
However, because they’re based in Norse mythology, Loki, his brother Thor, and their dad Odin (among other characters) are free for anyone to use. You can’t copy Marvel’s specific character design or anything they’ve added to the character, but the core elements are available… and Loki has a lot of recent audience awareness.
Which may be why Boom! Studios just launched their own Loki comic, Loki: Ragnarok And Roll, billed as “a heavy metal twist on Norse mythology” by Eric Esquivel and Jerry Gaylord.
This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened in comics; there are multiple Hercules versions, for example. (And I welcome more examples in the comments.) I can imagine, though, that some people at Marvel/Disney — a company known for taking public domain works and trying to make them their own — don’t like the idea that another publisher is cashing in on “their” character. Yet why not? If there are different stories to tell and different approaches to take (clearly the case here), let’s have more versions!
- Posted by Johanna on February 21, 2014 at 1:53 pm
- Category: Comic News
ACTION LAB’S ZOMBIE TRAMP GOES IN HOUSE!
The popular Danger Zone series becomes Action Lab Entertainment’s first company funded series.
Dan Mendoza’s grindhouse revenge series, Zombie Tramp, started it’s undead rise as a critically acclaimed independent title that recently saw new life at Action Lab Entertainment’s mature readers Danger Zone imprint.
The Story follows Janey Bell, Hollywood’s most popular high-priced call girl, who through the machinations of her transvestite madam and a crooked LAPD sheriff was bitten by a zombie and imbued with strange new powers, has been called an instant classic.
Now with two fan favorite volumes of the creator-owned work nearly complete, Action Lab: Danger Zone is proud to announce that starting with a special introductory Free Comic Book Day issue, Zombie Tramp will be going to the next level as the first Action Lab funded series. Zombie Tramp will also become the companies second ongoing monthly series, joining Jeremy Dale’s smash hit all ages fantasy series, Skyward.
Action Lab, which primarily works with creator owned and creator-generated material, will be financing the production of Zombie Tramp, and relaunching the series with the May FCBD issue, and brand new number one of the ongoing series to follow that up starting in July.
Series creator Dan Mendoza will continue to write the series, while being joined by co-writer and editor, Jason Martin (Night of the 80’s Undead, Super Real), and future superstar artist TMChu. As we find our titular zombie-powered former call girl on the road, learning her budding abilities thanks to the newly acquired “book of the dead”. Janey starts out in Sin City, taking on the local sex trade and the elusive mastermind who controls Las Vegas from the shadows. The series will feature covers and interiors by talented newcomer TMChu, including nude variant covers, and variant covers by series creator Dan Mendoza.
I’ll ignore the typos (please, people, learn to use “its” properly), missing hyphens and apostrophes, and mismatched verbs, and I’ll avoid pointing out that even the covers that aren’t “nude variants” aren’t something I’m comfortable running on this site. (Seriously, the FCBD issue cover isn’t family-friendly, which I thought they were supposed to be.) My bigger point is this: Why would we care who’s paying for what, so long as the creators are receiving adequate compensation?
This only makes me think, “oh, so the rest of your books are all self-funded?” which may or may not be true, but the question is raised by the existence of this press release. I’m sure we’re supposed to see this as a statement of faith in the title — and who wouldn’t see commercial potential in a comic that combines hookers and zombies? — but it’s the kind of backhanded praise that inadvertently makes the rest of the publisher’s line look worse (because clearly, the publisher didn’t have enough faith in them to fund them, only this one). I suppose there’s an argument to be made that customers want to know this kind of thing, since a self-funded series is marginally more likely to run out of money and quit appearing on shelves, but the same could be argued for small publishers.
Ultimately, it comes back to the question: What does a publisher offer to a comic creator? If they’re not providing some kind of funding, more marketing than a creator can do on her own, and other business services, why are they a better choice than going it alone?
- Posted by Johanna on February 20, 2014 at 8:58 pm
- Category: Animation
This is an intriguing release strategy — Warner put out this week on home video Beware the Batman, their new CGI Batman cartoon. The Season 1, Part 1 set includes 13 episodes, two of which have not yet aired on Cartoon Network. (There’s some question when, or if, the show will be returning.)
If you want DVD, that is available through the usual outlets (including Amazon, as shown here). However, if you want Blu-ray, that is only available through the Warner Archive online store. Both versions have the same list price, $19.95, although the DVD version is usually discounted from that. And as we’ve previously discussed, selling directly means the studio keeps more of the money for themselves, without distribution costs.
I was lucky enough to get a review copy, so I’ll be checking out the show for the first time soon. I’m looking forward to seeing Katana as a major cast member.
I hadn’t before noticed the logo, where the words “Beware the” make up the holes in the B, which is pretty clever. Also, we’re promised that the show “dives deep into the Batman mythos to bring some of the more outre members of the world’s greatest rogues gallery including Professor Pyg, Lady Shiva, Humpty Dumpty, Anarky, and Magpie.” So it should be interesting to see lesser-used characters, too.
- Posted by Johanna on February 20, 2014 at 8:13 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
Estrada’s experience is somewhat unique, since last year, through his own store and Kickstarter, he brought in $72,000. That’s a lot to do on your own, and I’m sure he worked hard for that. In contrast, he didn’t promote the one book that made it onto ComiXology Submit, because he’d already sold it elsewhere, so the experiences aren’t directly comparable. However, his punchline is that, on the ComiXology platform, he made (in four months) $8.80.
He was attempting to reach new readers, but there are an awful lot of digital comics out there, so I’m not surprised that few readers found his work without a giveaway or “free taste” or promotion of some kind. What I did find surprising is that, after six months, only one of his five submitted titles made it into the store. Three were rejected for art reasons, and one has been approved but hasn’t appeared yet.
Beyond the delay, he lists other concerns with the service:
-You have no control over when it goes live, making a recurring series basically impossible.
-You can’t make any changes once the book goes live.
-You only get paid if/when you’ve earned $100 and reach a quarterly payday.
Kleefeld points out:
Estrada made almost nine times the money just doing his own thing than he did going through “official” channels. It’s a perfect example of how a creator might not really get any more exposure through comiXology than what s/he was doing before. That’s not to say that it shouldn’t be tried; any additional income in the inherently unstable world of independent comic creators is a good thing.
I think it illustrates a much more basic principle, the same one I was talking about with Top Shelf this morning: you are the best salesperson of your work. The job doesn’t stop once you get picked up by Diamond or a retailer or a publisher or ComiXology. You have to sell to the end customer, most of all. Everything else is just a mechanism to allow you to do that.
- Posted by Johanna on February 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm
- Category: Books and Prose
This summer, DK will be publishing Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art, a poster book featuring “the best cover art in Marvel’s long history”. From now until February 25, fans can vote to select which cover will be featured on the back of the book at DK’s website poll. The choices are
- The Infinity Gauntlet #1 by George Perez (July 1991)
- Avengers Vs X-Men #1 by Jim Cheung (June 2012)
- Hawkeye #1 by David Aja (August 2012)
The age discrepancy is a little odd here — should two of the three choices be only two years old? — and there’s a clear distinction between eye-catching design (Hawkeye) and traditional character-packed showdowns (the other two). So I’m voting for Hawkeye, in part because it’s the only one of those I’ve read but more because it looks forward, not back. (The classic The Infinity Gauntlet is in the lead as I write this, though.) I’m anticipating seeing the book itself this summer, with lots more art pieces and notes on why the various covers were selected.
- Posted by Johanna on February 20, 2014 at 4:20 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel News
I’m impressed with what Marvel publishing is doing with their original graphic novel TV tie-ins. The Castle line appears to be doing very well, and it was no surprise to hear that they were doing a Once Upon a Time tie-in, given the fantasy aspects of the show.
The newest announcement, though, is a bit of a departure from the geek-friendly titles. Revenge: The Secret Origin of Emily Thorne will be available on September 3, a 112-page hardcover that follows Emily Thorne (aka Amanda Clarke) on “her first mission of revenge”. Set before the events of the soapy TV show, which focuses on Emily’s attempt to get back at the Graysons, a high-ranking family who framed her father for a crime and caused his death, the graphic novel will show her training in Japan and “infiltrating a high society of excess and intrigue in Geneva, Switzerland. There, she uncovers new secrets about her past while preparing for her future.” Of course, the enemy she finds there will have “surprising … ties to the same people who destroyed her life.”
The graphic novel will be written by TV series writer Ted Sullivan and Erica Schultz with art by Vincenzo Balzano. The cover (shown here) is by Dustin Nguyen and has a Kill Bill feel to it. According to Schultz, the younger Emily will make more mistakes and have to learn lessons that prepare her for the events of the show. Meanwhile, Sullivan is focusing on the superhero comic similarities:
“Emily is a comic book character! She has a secret identity. She poses as a rich socialite who exacts revenge for a childhood tragedy. Even her famous dark “hoodie” is a type of superhero costume. She has all the classic comic book tropes that make her and her adventures a perfect fit for an original graphic novel with Marvel.”
(Way to downplay the variety of stories comics can tell there, Ted.)
I thought, given the selection of this property, that Disney/Marvel might have determined that these books sell well to women (traditionally heavier book buyers than men). However, the slant of this announcement suggests that they’re focusing on the “tough chick learning to fight” aspect that fits in better with stereotypes of the comic market. We’ll have to see what the contents look like when the book arrives this fall, in time for the new TV season.