Peter's Comic Book Ramblings

Friday, October 24, 2008


...B. Clay Moore:

"What is so hard to figure out about Final Crisis again? I wonder what readers would say to Animal Man or Swamp Thing if they debuted today."


WASSUP 2008!

This is too funny not to share. Reconnecting with an old friend, a little gathering of high-school friends tomorrow, and now this video - it's like nostalgia weekend over here.


Thursday, October 16, 2008


Phillip Duncan, Editor of Superheroes-R-Us, sends along an addition for the Justice League #1 cover homage post. Here's the image by Parr & Kevin for a comic called either Halloween Man or Dig Those Cats...:


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Mark Millar. On his Fantastic Four run with artist Bryan Hitch:

IGN Comics: How long are you and Bryan looking to work on Fantastic Four? Could you see yourself staying on board if Bryan shifts to other projects? Also, when is this arc expected to begin?

Millar: It kicks off in January and we're on until December. This book is out every month and we've been stockpiling all year to make sure there are no problems. We'd have a fill in before we'd have a delay. I am ****ing sick of late comics. Seriously, I stipulated this and everyone was in agreement. It's a monthly book.

Is it?

FF #554 (shipped 2/13/08) on time
FF #555 (shipped 3/12/08) on time
FF #556 (shipped 4/09/08) on time
FF #557 (shipped 5/21/08) 1 week late
FF #558 (shipped 6/25/08) 2 weeks late
FF #559 (shipped 8/13/08) 5 weeks late
FF #560 (shipped 9/24/08) 6 weeks late
FF #561 (scheduled to ship 9/10/08) 5 weeks late so far

'Sick of late comics' hmmmm?


Friday, October 10, 2008


...Keith Giffen:

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not railing against the use of rough language. Some of my favorite films, books, etc. traffic pretty extensively in it, but in a Batman, or, for that matter, any mainstream superhero comic? What were they thinking!?


Again. Find those responsible and show them the door.

- Unfortunate Confluence of Words, Oct. 10, 2008


Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Devil's Due CEO J.P. Bickett confirmed for CBR News that his company is not purchasing "Mouse Guard" publisher Archaia Studios Press -- but someone else is, and ASP's creator contract is changing as well.

This is from a recent article on Comic Book Resources. But from what I can see, it omits the information that Kunoichi, Inc., a company formed by DDP’s Josh Blaylock, is also owned by DDP CEO PJ Bickett.

Also, in a recent Beat post, ASP writer A. David Lewis is asked:

Q. But is it fair to say that you are negotiating? In other words you don’t have to go to the new DDP/ASP?

To which he replies:

A: Yes, that is ENTIRELY fair to say. And that’s what I wanted to stress: Mark/ASP/DDP has said plainly that we are welcome to take our properties elsewhere and without debate.

If DDP isn't part of the equation, if there is a separation of "church and state", why is it confusing for everyone to tell the difference? And I find it hard to believe that Lewis is privy to what Mark and company have said to all the other ASP creators who are in the middle of renegotiating.

I'd love to see wording on an actual contract myself.


From Blog@Newsarama:

Despite reports circulating yesterday, Archaia Studios Press is being acquired by Chicago-based Kunoichi Inc., and not Devil’s Due Publishing.

More here.

From Mark Smylie in the link above:
… we are indeed shifting from a more traditional publishing contract to something that can be better described as a media rights contract; this is in part a reflection both of the overall direction of the comics industry, for better or for worse — every company or individual investor that had talked to us about an acquisition expressed the same sentiment, that our IP approach would have to change to match our competitors — and Archaia’s interest in working with its creators on broader and more long term IP development. Despite the changes, we have tried to put in place as many guarantees of creator control and protection as we can; at root, we’re still all about trying to find creators who have a specific vision they want to pursue and letting them do that in a way which hopefully profits both them and the company. I’m signing Artesia to the company under the same contract as everyone else and am remaining on board as the managing editor, so I wanted to make sure that creators had as much final say over their properties as possible. We’re still in the process of finalizing a few individual creator contracts, but it’s looking like most of our previously published titles will be moving forward as part of Archaia’s new publishing schedule. We strongly believe that the new contract is competitive with industry standards and has a high degree of creator control that can these days only be beat by self-publishing.

While the debate on taking or leaving projects as they wish continues, it's the contract changing - the very thing that brought many creators to ASP in the first place - that's at the core of this. I have more than a few creators who have said they will not be signing the new contract. And three are having troubles with negotiations. Definitely there's been a fundamental change of ASP's mission statement which I assume is better from a company view. It remains to be seen what it means from a creator's view.

By the way, this comment was left in the comments section of my previous post:

Normally, Devil’s Due Publishing would not comment on unattributed rumors. But, due to the amount of queries we have received about this, we want to set the record straight.

While DDP and Archaia Studios Press had some initial exploratory conversations, DDP is not acquiring ASP. We are continuing to have conversations with Archaia about the possibilities of working together in some capacity, as we are with many other publishers both big and small.

It starts with "This is Brian Warmoth, Marketing Manager of DDP." That same comment showed up in the Beat's recent post on the situation but this time attributed to DDP CEO P.J. Bickett who owns Kunoichi, Inc. the company formed by DDP's Josh Blaylock.

Isn't this sort of like saying "DC isn't buying Marvel. Warner Brothers is buying Marvel"?

To be continued for sure...


While there's debate on whether or not creators are able to keep their properties under the proposed DDP/ASP deal (thanks to Heidi MacDonald's the Beat where the discussion is occurring), I have yet to see specifics being talked about and I have yet to see any talk about the rights for properties. Until now. I followed-up with the person who provided this comment:

This part of your first quote in my own personal experience does not seem to be true: 'refusal to allow creators to take their books elsewhere'. At no point have I been led to believe that I can't take the book somewhere else if I do not wish to sign up with DDP. My negotiations with Archaia have been friendly."

and asked if they wanted to comment on if there was any change to the rights of their project. This is what I received:

At this point in time the contract calls for a full transfer of rights in exchange for a percentage split. There is a term limit in the current contract. If the company fails to take advantage of the rights they do revert back to the creator.

It is a big difference from the original contract to be sure.

From what I understand, that term limit isn't counted in weeks or months but rather in years. The above comment concludes with:

but as far as I know no one is being forced to sign on. I believe that the idea that Archaia would not let someone dissolve their initial contract comes from a miscommunication between Archaia and the creator who suggested the idea.

This notion is echoed by long-time ASP writer A. David Lewis -
the only ASP contributor so far to use their actual name - over in the comments section of the Beat. But I've since received a comment from yet another creator that has been affected by all this, that goes against what Lewis and others are stating:

Amongst the Archaia talent there has been a lot of talk about DDP’s purchase of the company, and the contract they want all of us to sign. The bit about the grant of rights is indeed true, although DDP seems to have a list of titles they want, and a list of titles they can take or leave. As of yet, no one in the take-or-leave category that I’ve talked to have expressed much in the way of feeling strong-armed or bullied by Archaia’s new owners. On the other hand, those of us who are in the “want” category have had an entirely different experience. When I suggested possibly taking my title elsewhere, Archaia did mention possibly holding our book hostage by way of technicalities in the old contract they no longer want to honor. I also know for a fact that I am not the only creator to have been told this.

Really, what depresses me the most about the whole situation is that Archaia *was* a great company, and under the reign of Mark Smylie, a wonderful venture to be a part of. I still have a great deal of respect for Mark as an artist and a person, but the publishing house he built appear to have been swallowed up by the very forces it was meant to counter.

Still no word from ASP or DDP.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Did anyone know that there have been talks going on concerning Devil's Due Publishing buying out Archaia Studio Press?

Me either.

Devil's Due Publishing
made a name for itself over the years mostly due to its licensed properties such as GI Joe, Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms. A wikipedia entry claims it's one of the ten largest comic publishers in the US. What it seemed to lack for the most part was the creator-owned/original property side of things. There have been standouts such as Hack/Slash and Drafted (which is even billed as a DDP Original Series) but I can't say there's been much buzz on a reader level for much else. And one of the criticisms of the company that have been expressed is that they should be developing more original properties to balance the licensed side of things.

So to acquire a publisher like Archaia Studio Press (ASP) would go a long way to covering that angle of creator-owned/original properties.

Except that doesn't seem to be the case. Read on:

The purchase has hit a serious snag. A large number of the ASP creative roster are upset that Devil's Due is refusing to honor their old ASP contracts. Under threat of non-publication, creators are being pressured to sign a new agreement which grants Devil's Due each and every worldwide right, trademark and copyright, of every nature. Since most of Archaia's talent signed to the company precisely to retain control of their books, this has been a major stumbling block. With DDP's unwillingness to honor the spirit of the old contract and refusal to allow creators to take their books elsewhere severe friction has developed between publisher and talent.

If this nugget of information turns out to be the case, I find it hard to imagine that Devil's Due would be dicking around someone like David Petersen and his successful Mouse Guard property. Or maybe that's the reason why DDP is being so aggressive. Or what about Artesia or Killing Pickman? Certainly these aren't as high-profile as Mouse Guard, but they have strong critical following. Is this the reason why there's been a drop-off of projects and severely late shipping books coming out of ASP lately (if they come out at all)?

One of the reasons why I pay attention to ASP is because of their support for creator-owned properties and for their willingness to take chances. I've talked to many, many creators over the years that have had projects with ASP and they speak incredibly well of the company. If you see ASP at a convention, you see a company that puts their creators out there, accessible to the fans and to the comics press in a way that's more about promoting the work than the company. So I can't imagine that the creators are going to be silent for much longer if there is dispute over their work and their rights to their work.

And Devil's Due will receive some major backlash. Especially ironic considering Devil's Due themselves are in a feud right now over Hack/Slash and a licensing dispute over Re-Animator, going so far as to publish three of their issues outside of Diamond and issuing a press release on the matter to spread the word and drum up support.

Let's see what develops.

Requests for comments/confirmations have been sent to all parties. I've received the following so far, both wishing to remain anonymous for obvious reasons:

"I'm not sure what all the other ASP creators are thinking and/or what deals are being made or have been made. It's still touch and go for me with contract negotiations. Don't really want to comment any further than that at this time. Lets wait and see what happens though."

and a revised quote:

"What I can tell you is that your original information is mostly accurate and, going forward, I don't have any intention of signing on under the new DDP/ASP. Truthfully, if there isn't another publisher currently willing to pick up the book right now I'll simply move on to other projects and give this one a whirl again later. However, I don't think everything is as sinister as your initial informant made it out to be, at least not to my knowledge. Not being published isn't a "punishment" of not signing on, nor is it a strong-arm tactic. I haven't heard of anybody who has been kept from breaking their original contract as your initial informant indicates and, in fact, know of two creators actively considering it besides myself, both of whom are known to ASP which has offered them no resistance to date, and two others who have successfully broken contract, one of whom having already signed on elsewhere. ASP/DDP not publishing certain titles and releasing them from contract is simply the result of creators not coming on board with a new regime and deciding to take the book elsewhere. If that is indeed the situation the creator is facing, being kept from release of their original contract, I hope he or she will reach out to everybody else.

The worst part about all this is that a company formed by an independent creator FOR independent creators has pulled a 180 on it's stance regarding a creator's rights to his or her property, as these new contracts would indicate. Comics are a difficult market for a publisher like ASP to stay afloat in however, and I respect the fact that certain decisions have to be made when running a business. Unfortunately, these choices and the new direction for the company under the proposed DDP deal don't jive with a lot of creators, myself included, and that brings us to where we are now."


" This part of your first quote in my own personal experience does not seem to be true.

'refusal to allow creators to take their books elsewhere'

At no point have I been led to believe that I can't take the book somewhere else if I do not wish to sign up with DDP. My negotiations with Archaia have been friendly."

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Have you ever looked through DC's first Who's Who series from 1984-1986? I mean really looked through to see how many great and surprising artists contributed to the encyclopedic entries?

How about Steve Rude on Blue Beetle, Hawgirl and Poison Ivy? Or Art Adams on Cat-man, Invisible Kid II, Punch & Jewelee, and Scarecrow? Matt Wagner on Dr. Mid-nite? Colleen Doran on Element Lad and Krypto? Kyle Baker on Killer Shark and League of Assassins? Charles Vess on Nightmaster? Dave Stevens on Dolphin and Phantom Lady? Jaime Hernandez on Phantom Girl and Shrinking Violet? Eric Shanower on Speedy? Mike Mignola on Wotan? Steve Dillon on Queen Bee? Wendy Pini on Shaggy Man?

And perhaps my favorite, Peter Laird on Turtle Man?

I don't have time to upload these images at the moment. But if you have the Who's Who series do yourself a favor and look through it again. There are some fantastic images in there from many of DC's stable of artists at the time as well as the surprises listed above and more.


Thursday, October 02, 2008


Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Cover Homages! You know 'em, you love 'em. I certainly do. So let's start with an often repeated cover image that is near and dear.

It's the cover that started it all from wunderkind Kevin Maguire. Not sure why this cover took everyone by storm but it definitely stood out on the racks back in '87 and seemed to suggest a whole new feel to the team in general. And Guy Gardner of all people is taking center stage fresh off his resurgence in Crisis, Green Lantern, Legends, etc. He was the disputed star of the book and little did we know what we were in for behind this cover. This group image would quickly become iconic in itself, referencing back to not only the team book, but to the creative team as well.

The team blew up its ranks, spread worldwide and created Justice League Europe. This cover is a mock up of the first one but with the addition of the JLE members. Keeping Guy in the front gives it an added storytelling bit. From the cover alone, there are many characters that could go under the "Who?" file such as Fire and Ice and even Animal Man. But who knew that lightning would soon strike twice. By Kevin Maguire again.

It's Bart Sears' turn at the iconic cover and he uses it to spoof the original by having Metamorpho hold JL 1 in his hands. Deja Vu indeed. This series, if at all possible, was even more irreverent than JLI but just as funny and just as clever. Oh - see Wonder Woman on that cover? Don't get used to her. She doesn't stay with the series too long.

Kevin Maguire returns with a sppof on a spoof. You remember the Great Lake Avengers? They ripped off JL Antarctica. And just to show how crazy this team and issue are, Maguire has them posing backwards with Green Lantern G'Nort being the only one who possibly has a clue with the recurring single word balloon. Brilliant.

It was only a matter of time before yet another Justice League title would hit the stands to capitalize on the success - and you can't launch a JL title in this era without its trademark cover image. Again, Guy Gardner is in the main spot but this time he and his teammates are being pushed aside, stepped in front of or pushed out of frame altogether (although I could never tell if Flash was sleeping or checking out that woman's butt). The best is seeing Batman's face completely hidden by the title logo. Cover art this time goes to Adam Hughes and Chris Sprouse.

Bart Sears homages his first issue cover homage, adding Starro probes to the faces of his team. Notice the issue of JL 1 falling from Metamorpho's hands. And the single word balloon continues but this time with just ellipses.

Kevin Maguire returns in this Armageddon 2001 tie-in featuring a whole slew of mix-match characters to help spoof the summer event. In the place of Guy Gardner in the main spot is the Demon but for the first time, no word balloon.

Mike McKone takes a stab at the familiar group image but puts a spin on it for the inside story. Gardner is back with a one word balloon statement of "What are you looking at?". The familiar cast of characters are featured as well.

This might be stretching it a bit, but Chris Sprouse presents the Extremists - a group of Marvel villain homages - in the classic group pose. I can't tell, but it looks like Maxwell Lord is putting his arms around the two villains on either side of him which hasn't been a recurring "theme" for the cover. But why nitpick?

This is like the moment after the group photo has been taken. Although Maxwell Lord doesn't know it. The group walks out of camera signaling the end of the team, end of the ongoing silliness and end of an era. Kevin Maguire returns to close the book on a great concept.

He's back! Maguire puts the Titans and Team Titans into the classic pose at a time when the Titans were going through some major controversial changes. Maguire would draw a few issues of Team Titans so it only makes sense to put his magic on the covers as well.

FANBOY 3 (May'99)
Kevin Maguire is joined by Sergio Aragones on this comic that shares the love of comic fandom with its readers. The single word balloon returns with Fanboy reciting Guy Gardner's original question. Only Batman and Martian Manhunter are from the original JL 1 cover. The tone is a bit more serious than normal but that just adds to the humor.

Fresh off their JLA Classified storyarc, the creative team of Justice League returns and they haven't lost their touch at all. Maguire bangs out the classic group photo once more with Blue Beetle's comment of "Here we go again". It instantly brings us back to the original series and there's no doubt that the book brings the funny.

Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis take their particular brand of team dynamics over to a different company (Boom!) with all new characters to do whatever the hell they want! This X-Tra Sized Special had a few covers and this one is by Giffen himself spoofing the original cover that made these writers so popular in the first place.

Matt Haley takes a stab at the classic group photo image. It's not quite as dynamic as some of the others (the white background goes a long way on the other shots) but it's definitely an homage with Giffen and DeMatteis once again as writers. I have this in my collection but I have yet to read it. The main character in the "Guy Gardner" spot is the star of the Hero Squared comic. But I forget his name. Captain Valor? Hmmm....

You know you've said all you can say with an image when you put yourself in it. Kevin Maguire is front and center surrounded by those characters that made him popular, those character that he loves and a group photo image that put his mark on comics. Perhaps the finest touch to this image is ... of course... Guy Gardner - who looks ultra-miffed for not being in "his" spot. Bravo.

Hope you enjoyed this little visual trip. If you see other comics with this same group photo set-up as an homage, let me know!



Like I need another reason to love TwoMorrows Publishing. Wonder Woman expert Andy Mangels just made my day. This is scheduled for mid-2009.

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