Comics, Video Games and Death Metal.....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

State of the Industry 02-15-2012

Comic Books are an amazing medium. They have such versatility and subtlety when done right. The creators (writers, artists, inkers, etc.) have a virtually unlimited pallet with which to mold and shape their story. Comparisons between movies and comic are made all the time due to the nature of visual storytelling. Hell storyboards are essentially long form comics where all the panels are the same shape and size. However, comics are not movies. Even though a great number of films are based off of comics. I hear you saying ‘It can’t be that many.’ Listen really hard and you’ll hear me laughing manically. There are more than you think and some you would never suspect. But that is a topic for another day.
            In the movie biz it is common of for somebody to have a great idea and start to work with others to bring said idea to fruition. That’s how it works in comics as well. Wondering where I’m going with this? Good. Stick around and you’ll understand. In the movie biz it is likewise not unheard of for someone to completely screw another involved party (like a co-creator) out of a decent (or any) share of the profits when it comes time to strike deals with studios. This is where comics are drastically different. As an industry comic creators are a pretty tight group. They look out for one another and communicate with one another unlike any other community of creative individuals in the world. Like I said drastically different from Hollywood....until now.
The only Walking Dead trade worth reading
            I’m sure that you’ve all heard of ‘The Walking Dead’, but if you’ve been living in a cave in the bottom of Mariana Trench allow me to elucidate. The Walking Dead started life as a black and white comic book written by Robert Kirkman, with artwork by Tony Moore. It was FANTASTIC… for 6 issues. Then Moore left the book and a new artist was brought in. I don’t know why Moore left the book, and I also don’t understand why Kirkman brought in an artist with such a drastically different style to replace Moore, but that’s what happened. I also can’t speak to bait and switch tactics on Kirkman’s part or if he just wanted to have the issues cranked out as fast as possible; don’t know, and honestly don’t care. No offense to Charlie Adlard but my eyes would SCREAM in agony every time I looked at the book from issue 7 on. Now the book is nearing issue 100 and is also a major TV show on AMC garnering much praise and making money hand over fist.
            I hear you saying ‘Yay, a comic book becomes an awesome TV that people love and the creators are being well paid for their creation. What’s the problem?’ Well firstly Robert Kirkman is being well paid for his and Tony Moore’s creation. Moore however is getting completely shafted when it comes to a share of the profits from the TV show. Kirkman apparently refuses to give Moore his due as far as a share of the profits. So Moore has now taken the only recourse he has and filed suit against Kirman to get the money that he is rightfully owed. Also Kirkman’s lawyers are apparently going to go after Moore for $17k for court costs. You can do an Internet search to find out the particulars of the case; meanwhile I have more pressing concerns. #PayTonyMoore

Marvel Spotlight #5

            This whole Kirkman vs. Moore thing is part a disturbing trend I have noticed in the comics industry lately; creators getting screwed out of their creations. Another example of this is Gary Friedrich vs. Marvel. This whole situation breaks my heart (YES, I actually do have a heart!). Gary created Ghost Rider way back in 1968 in the pages of Marvel Spotlight #5. Gary went on to write and draw many stories with his character for Marvel. Gary is now in his 60’s. He is trying to make ends meet by selling his own artwork of Ghost Rider at conventions and online. In 2007 Gary filed suit against Marvel, Columbia Pictures, Hasbro and other companies claiming that the rights to the character had reverted back to him in 2001 due to Marvel not registering the first appearance in Spotlight #5 with the Copyright office. Marvel counter sued in 2010 and on Feb 6th of this year the court found in favor of Marvel and enforced Marvel’s demand for Friedrich to pay $17,000 in damages (this is what they claim he has made from the sale of his unauthorized merch). Also Friedrich cannot call himself Ghost Rider’s creator for monetary gain, nor can he sell ANYTHING with GR’s image on it (doesn’t matter if it’s a piece of original artwork or not), and can only sell autographs on officially Marvel licensed GR merchandise. I order to help Gary in this difficult time Steve Niles has started a donation drive. Please check out the page (, spread the word and donate if you can. #GaryGhostRider
            Now I can understand that Marvel wants to protect it’s IP (Intellectual Property; for those wondering) but for fuck sake Marvel, $17,000 from a guy that is barely making ends meet as it is? ‘Cause you know, you don’t have a new Ghost Rider movie coming out THIS FUCKING WEEKEND that is sure to make more than $17K on it’s opening night alone! I suppose that this is what is to be expected now that HIMLER mouse has control. But the sale of original artwork at conventions and online is what makes me worried. A huge part of conventions is artist alley where you can get an original sketch (made just for you) by a talented artist of any character you’d like. Not only do you go home with a piece of artwork that NOBODY else has, but you’re also helping to supplement the income of said artist.
            However if this new decree by Marvel takes precedent then that wonderful part of EVERY convention goes they way of the dodo. This makes me doubly sad because I am and have always been a Marvel Zombie. But now that Disney owns Marvel, I’m torn straight down the middle. I want to continue to enjoy my books and the characters within, but I don’t want to support a company has no sense of honor and decency. I don’t want to see the comics industry become soulless and empty. As fans we need to speak out against garbage like this and let companies know that we will not allow them to ruin the sense of community that this industry was built upon.

Here are some links to check out that pertain to the topics I discussed in this post:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Get Damaged

Corruption, Politics, a Molotov cocktail, and a rouge cop dealing out his own brand of justice. What do all these things add up to? A damn good comic. i.e. Damaged #5 from RadicalPublishing.
Damaged #5 - A damn Good Comic
            This hard boiled story of intrigue, honor, duty, justice, loss and revenge would be perfectly at home on the big screen, standing shoulder to shoulder with the other great cop dramas of our time.
            The story has four main characters. Frank Lincoln and Jack Cassidy, the good guys, are hunting Henry Lincoln (Frank’s Brother) and Isaac Lordsman. Henry and Isaac are doling out Vigilante justice on San Francisco’s criminal underworld until Isaac decides it’s time to go after the scum hiding behind the badge.
            I won’t spoil anything in this issue because it needs to be read to truly get to scope and depth of emotion the characters put forth. David Lapham does an expert job of making each character’s motivation feel real and fully fleshed out. Whether the characters are on the right side of the law or not you can understand why they do what they do and you want them to succeed. Granted, you know that Lordsman is going to far and has crossed a line, but you clearly understand his motivation. It takes a good writer to make the audience feel for the crazed vigilante.
            The other thing about this book that I love is the artwork. Leonard Manco does fantastic job of creating a balance between the gritty crime infested streets of the city and the softer, safer, suburbs. His action is well paced and the eye flow of his pages keep you moving from one page to the next with out pause. I would love the artwork even if this book was in black and white, but the coloring team of Kinsun Loh, Jerry Choo, and Sansan Saw add a brilliant level of depth to the already fantastic pages. Sometimes colors in a book can overwhelm the original artwork, but that’s not the case in this book. The colors complement the line work smoothly and seamlessly.
            Damaged #5 is another solid issue in an already great series. Only one issue left in this mini, and I bet it’s going to be an explosive finish.