Tag Archives: DC

C2E2 2013 summary

Burt Ward at C2E2 2013
Burt Ward, at the 60s Batman TV show panel.

I’ve finished attending yet another C2E2 comic-con in Chicago. Here’s a summary of my experiences at this year’s show:

The line this year to get in was long as usual. For some reason, I didn’t see a ton of costumes while in line, though two guys near me were dressed as (in their words) “Batman cosplaying as Superman” and “Spider-Man cosplaying as Captain America.” The Batman/Superman guy had apparently heard of the Composite Superman when I mentioned to him that minor villain.

Of course, once in the show there were a lot more costumes; among the others:

  • The X-Men
  • Quail-Man (from the 90s Nickelodeon cartoon “Doug”)
  • A headless woman in a wedding dress (complete with fake blood)
  • Some warriors in costumes made entirely out of old beer cans and beer carton boxes
  • Captain Marvel (the Marvel/Carol Danvers version)
  • The Scarlet Witch
  • Starro
  • Captain Marvel (the “real” one, though given DC’s current treatment of “Shazam,” I’d argue otherwise…)
  • Black Adam
  • Captain America
  • Aquaman
  • Cable
  • Iron Fist
  • Green Arrow
  • Superman
  • The main cast of the TV “Young Justice” cartoon
  • A man dressed as Black Canary
  • Jesus Christ (two of them!)
  • Multiple people dressed as the Doctor from Doctor Who, including the modern version of the Doctor (lots of bow ties at the show), as well as the Fifth Doctor (whose actor was appearing at C2E2).

The only panel I really got to attend was seeing part of the 60s Batman TV show panel. Burt Ward and Julie Newmar were there, describing their experiences on the show to the audience. However, Adam West due to an injury wasn’t able to attend. I also tried to go to the Marvel panel, but I got turned away; the panel room was completely full. So full they also had to turn away others that were still waiting in line…

While I didn’t get to see Svengoolie, I did get to see some writers/artists in Artists’ Alley. I spoke with Thom Zahler (of “Love and Capes“), who I asked a few questions about his most recent trade paperback, “What to Expect.” While I’m not a “brony,” I also asked a few questions about his work on the current “My Little Pony” comic. I also congratulated him on his recent engagement announcement.

Another artist I got to see was Joe Staton, a long-time artist who drew one of my favorite superhero stories, the origin of the Justice Society in 1977′s “DC Special” #29. However, I left my copy of such at home, so instead I bought from him a recent Archie trade paperback that he’d drawn (which he also signed).

I also met Yale Stewart, the writer/artist of the webcomic “JL8,” about the Justice Leaguers as grade-schoolers. I asked him about the name change for his strip; originally it was called “Little League,” but changed due to the baseball organization’s protesting.

Finally, I bought the usual comic-con knick-knacks, including a bobblehead of Darth Vader. I did buy some comics as well, including: the first black-and-white reprint volume of the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” manga run;  a few issues of “Aw Yeah” comics (an independent effort from the creators of “Tiny Titans”); and a volume of the indie series “Princeless” (praised on the blog Comics Worth Reading). However, I haven’t bought as big a pile of comics as usual. Reasons why include: having filled in many of my desired back issues or not finding what I wanted; a switch to buying mostly digital comics; and that C2E2 for some reason seems to have way fewer DC trade paperbacks for sale versus Marvel material.

Speaking of DC/Marvel, DC didn’t have a booth at this year’s show, for unexplained reasons (DC apparently refuses to state why). I’ve seen some suggest the cost of renting floor space at McCormick Place as why the no-show. (Bleeding Cool suggests a lack of a booth might also be to either save on set-up and take-down costs or to avoid people asking too many questions about DC’s embarrassing spate of recent decisions.) However, if said rumors are true, it’d sound quite odd for one of the two dominant comic companies to skip one of the midwest’s biggest comic-cons. DC did still hold panels at least, but that’s not fully the same as actual floor space, which Marvel’s booth took up plenty of (and prominently featured near the entrance). Since marketing’s a reason for comic creators appearing at comic-cons, and since DC supposedly wants to promote the “New 52″ and all its current New 52-ness (Superman/Wonder Woman pairings, Clark Kent “fighting the power” as a blogger, and all), not having a floor booth at a major midwestern show sounds odd from a marketing standpoint. With a major Superman movie due out in a few months that parent company Time-Warner’s hanging all its future movie hopes on, I’m not sure any cost-savings (even at McCormick Place prices) is worthwhile. Meanwhile, Marvel definitely hyped up “Iron Man 3″ at its booth, and even offered promotional material tying into “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which isn’t due until 2015.

However, given my dislike of the “New 52,” I guess I can’t say I’m too disappointed. Despite being a fan of DC’s characters, most of what I was interested in at this year’s show were from smaller-press companies, Marvel, or independents…

Overall, I had fun at this year’s show, even if I only went down for one day. Staying overnight in Chicago instead of going straight back to Milwaukee, however, lessened feeling “rushed” like I did last year.

Finally, here’s the photos I took of this year’s show:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mechanikat/sets/72157633373465090/with/8690559456/

Diversity issues and Black writers at Marvel and DC

staticRecently, there’s been much discussion online about the diversity problems facing the “mainstream” (read: DC and Marvel) comic industry. Particularly for African-Americans, the odds of working for DC or Marvel at all are apparently nearly nil. Out of their 70+-year-long histories, Marvel and DC have hired only about two dozen writers for an ongoing series (“ongoing” defined as two or more issues), per this Google Docs spreadsheet.

Among reasons for a lack of diversity at the “Big Two” I’ve seen cited: the limited-circle nature of the superhero comics industry (“hiring who you know” and all that); the same historical racism issues present in other American entertainment industries (movies, television, etc.); the general head-in-the-sand nature of Marvel and DC that’s led to their other problems (lack of diversity of genres/product, pricing, availability, etc.); and so forth.

I’d also add to the above problems with attracting any fresh, original talent (of any race, gender, etc.) in general: why should a writer contribute one’s best ideas for Marvel/DC (and see Marvel/DC own them lock, stock, and barrel) when they can publish them themselves at Image, etc.? Given the success of independent comics like  “The Walking Dead,” as well as various successful webcomics, etc., I can see why even the Wall Street Journal (the nation’s top business newspaper) has pointed this out.  (So did The Comics Beat, in case there’s any future issues re: the Journal link.) It also doesn’t help when DC itself is driving off some of their veteran talent recently (the high turnover rate on the Superman books, etc.).

Overall, if one’s not married to superheroes (which “mainstream” usually gets cited as being), there’s plenty of other comic companies (and independent comics/webcomics) for minority cartoonists to write/draw for. There’s also the fact that with the changing demographics of the United States (i.e. more ethnic minorities, openly LGBT folk, etc.), it’ll be quite foolish for any business, especially in the entertainment industry, to ignore said issues in the long run. This just makes Marvel and DC’s lack of truly fixing their broken business model even more problematic for them in the future.

Others online have written in recent weeks/months about Marvel and DC’s diversity issues:

  • An article by Hannibal Tabu about Marvel/DC not hiring Black writers.
  • Joseph Hughes‘ article on Comics Alliance about Marvel/DC diversity.
  • The Comics Beat also has an article.
  • An article from last fall by Comics Alliance, which mentions Kevin Keller’s success as a positive aspect of diversity driving sales.

 

RIP Hostess (and Hostess comic book ads)

Batgirl and Twinkies
A panel from a typical 70s Hostess ad, starring Batgirl.

The news has made the blog rounds over the past several days, but it looks like the Hostess company (makers of Wonder Bread, Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Ding-Dongs, etc.) is shutting down, claiming they can’t afford to meet the demands of their striking workers (despite indications otherwise). Hostess’ woes sound like a combination of anti-labor attitudes by Hostess’ management, inept management, plus an inability to deal with the changing nature of snack foods in recent years (both in terms of healthier snack foods and in less old-fashioned/different styled junk foods). Still, while there’s a likelihood of someone buying the “Twinkie” name at least, their snack items as we know them will surely be missed, even if I haven’t eaten a Twinkie or Zinger in quite awhile. (Their bread I probably will miss, as I’d been buying whole-grain white Butternut bread, which is apparently made by Hostess…)

More on topic for the blog, for years, various comic book companies would produce memorable if quirky one-page ads for Hostess snacks, particularly their fruit pies and Twinkies. Such ads appeared in Marvel and DC’s books, plus other companies as well, including Archie and now-defunct Harvey (home of Richie Rich and Casper the Friendly Ghost). The ads often saw, say, Batman or Aquaman stop crime by tossing Hostess fruit pies in the villains’ paths.

Here’s a site that lists what I assume are all of the Hostess ads in question:

http://www.tomheroes.com/Comic%20Ads/hostess%20ads/hostess_ads.htm

On the side of animation, the producers of “Dexter’s Laboratory” apparently also remembered these comic ads, as they produced this nostalgic bumper (featuring the series’ resident superhero Major Glory and “Justice Fruit Pies”):

 

Anthony’s trade paperback picks for October 2012

Kevin KellerHere’s trade paperbacks of interest coming out in October 2012.

DC

  • Showcase Presents: World’s Finest, vol. 4, on sale Nov. 21, $20

Archie

  • Kevin Keller: Welcome to Riverdale, on sale Oct. 31, $12

IDW

  • Archie: Best of Dan DeCarlo, vol. 4, on sale Oct. 30, $25 (hardcover)

Boom Studios

  • It’s Tokyo, Charlie Brown!, on sale Nov. 6, $14

Comic strips

All comic strip compilation information from Amazon.com.

  • AAAA! A FoxTrot Assortment for Young Readers, on sale Oct. 2, $10
  • BONK! A Mutts Treasury, on sale Oct. 9, $20

Comments

Boom Studios releases this month a “Peanuts” special paperback featuring the gang going to Japan to play in a special baseball game (which I’m sure will go completely well for “Chuck”).

This month’s “Showcase” is “World’s Finest” volume 4, which is now reaching the late 60s’ books…

Kevin Keller is now receiving a second trade paperback, which (by my guess) is collecting the first several issues of his solo series. Over at IDW, legendary Archie artist Dan DeCarlo is also receiving a fourth hardcover volume collecting highlights of his work.

The onomatopoeically-named comic strip compilations this month features a selection of FoxTrot strips (presumably ones not referencing some now-dated pop culture element), plus another “Mutts” treasury.

 

Comics review: Life With Archie #1, Tiny Titans #31, Super Hero Squad #8, Darkwing Duck #3

From time to time, I’ll be writing reviews of recently-read comics. I should note there’s plenty of spoilers below.

Life With Archie #1Life With Archie #1
Written by: Michael Uslan
Art by: Norm Breyfogle

“Life With Archie” is a continuation of the “Archie Marries Betty/Veronica” alternate-futures storyline from last year, and is being published as a magazine-sized comic telling two tales per issue—one in a future where Archie’s married to Veronica, and another where he’s married to Betty. The magazine’s name was taken from the old “Life With Archie” comic series, which was a title used to tell more dramatic-toned stories with the Archie gang.

The title is certainly appropriate here, as both stories have a more serious, dramatic tone to them (and is downright bleak in a few parts). Presumably, being adults have given the gang a lot more responsibilities; additionally, not being frozen in time as teenagers forces them to confront and actually resolve the usual recurring Archie themes. For instance, in both stories, we see Moose and Midge finally break up, due to Moose’s trademark short temper. Both stories show Moose seeking anger management help, but Moose gets much more prominence in the Veronica story, where he not only decides to start using his rarely-seen real name (“Marmaduke”; surprised Reggie didn’t make a crack about the comic strip of the same name), but decides to run for mayor of Riverdale.

On the more melodramatic side, the Betty story features the two biggest “downers”: Miss Grundy in one future having some sort of unnamed-but-life-endangering ailment (presumably cancer) and Mr. Lodge in both futures. Veronica’s father is portrayed as a much more ruthless businessman than he usually is in the regular comics, with the Betty-future version offering to bribe Archie into divorcing Betty to go back to Veronica and the Veronica-future buying up most of the businesses in Riverdale. The Betty-future Mr. Lodge seems a bit out of character, but I suppose future issues will show more of Lodge’s actions and motivations.

And if the above isn’t enough, on top of all of that is a subplot about what happened to Riverdale’s former-teen genius, Dilton Doiley, who in both futures is reported missing after exploring the existence of parallel universes. Said universes are shown in a splash page showing panels of the more oddball stories of Archie’s past, including the Little Archie adventure stories, the Golden Age comics’ stories, and the Archie superheas isro stories (“Pureheart the Powerful,” etc.). The Little Archie tales have been shown as canonical in the regular comics as flashbacks, which is also the case here, as Archie (in one future) runs into a now-adult character from those tales.

One fault of the magazine format is that Archie apparently wants to target both older readers (with the stories’ tone) and their usual younger audience, and handled it in a peculiar way. The magazine’s cover features pictures of several current teen pop stars, while the interior features a few quizzes asking readers which stars they’d like to see play the Archie cast in a hypothetical Archie movie. Being past my teen years, I have no idea who half of the teen pop stars listed are, but find the idea of Stephen Colbert playing Mr. Lodge amusing.

Finally, I keep mentioning the comic’s magazine format for good reason: I’m still wondering how to store issues of this. I’ll probably have to store them with the also-oversized trade paperbacks I own.

Overall, I look forward to seeing where this new magazine-sized comic goes in its next issue.

Darkwing Duck #3Darkwing Duck #3
Written by: Ian Brill
Art by: James Silvani

Issue #3 continues the four-part opening storyline of this series, with the identity of who’s behind Quackwerks finally revealed. I admit I was surprised to see who was behind the company, but this issue featured plenty of other surprises as well. One was a brief cameo of Gadget from fellow Disney cartoon “Rescue Rangers.” Another surprise was an explanation for Quackerjack (Darkwing’s Joker-like clown nemesis) being more aggressive than he was in the TV series.

Also surprising me was seeing the word “crappy” used in a Disney comic, of all places. While it’s a relatively mild term, I’m surprised to see it get past the editors and make it into print, given Disney’s emphasis on a family-friendly image with their animated productions.

I’m looking forward to seeing the fourth issue in this series and how the storyline is wrapped up.

Super Hero Squad #8
Written by: Todd Dezago
Art by: Leonel Castellani and Dario Brizuela (first story); Marcelo Dichiara (second and third stories)

The first story in this issue sees a superpowered “fractal” cause old X-Men villain the Blob to transfer his power (of being, well, a blob) to the heroes, causing them to become blob-like. The second story features a tour of the heroes’ SHIELD headquarters, while the third one features Falcon and Reptil accompany Wolverine on a camping trip.

While not bad, there’s much to note about this issue. Next issue looks more interesting, as She-Hulk and a few other female heroes show up.

Tiny Titans #31Tiny Titans #31
Written by: Art Baltazar and Franco
Art by: Art Baltazar

This month’s issue features a birthday party at Superman’s Fortress of Solitude for Match, the modern Superboy’s Bizarro clone. Supergirl, Superboy, and the Super-Pets all show up for the fun, as does Lex Luthor and a few other Superman villains. The usual wacky (but amusing) “Tiny Titans” hijinks ensue.

The adult characters get some of the best lines, including how the various Brainiacs describe themselves to the Titans, and Superman’s and Lex’s interactions with each other at the Fortress.

As usual, some of the jokes are more amusing if you’ve read (or read about) the mainstream DC Comics they’re referring to, though the last story is based on the Christopher Reeve Superman movies’ versions of Jor-El (complete with white hair and beard), the Phantom Zone (in all its LP album cover-like glory) and the igloo-like Fortress of Solitude.

Comic reviews: Tiny Titans #24, Brave and the Bold #14, Super Friends #24

Thought this might make for a useful addition to the blog—instead of just reading the suggested comics (in all those “Anthony’s picks” posts of mine), may as well make mini-reviews of them, so (yes, SPOILERS):

Tiny Titans #24
Written by:Art Baltazar, Franco (guest co-writer: Geoff Johns)
Art by: Art Baltazar

In this issue, we see Superboy (the modern clone, Conner Kent version) show up to hang out for awhile with the Titans, picking up Krypto along the way and introducing to the others his Bizarro “brother”, Match. Hijinks ensue, even moreso when Speedy picks up a bunch of multicolored power rings from a pawn shop.

As usual for Tiny Titans, a funny issue, particularly when the power rings show up (and Green Lantern’s brief cameo gave a particularly amusing line). One of the comic’s traits seems to be making fleeting (and sometimes mocking) references to whatever’s going on in the not-kid-friendly “main” comics, with a much lighter (and amusing) take.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #14
Written by: Landry Walker
Art by: Eric Jones

This month’s issue sees Bats team up with Plastic Man (in the cold “opener” pages) as they fight the Scarecrow (with mention of some of Bats’ more obscure skills). Then on to the main story, where the Huntress tries to keep getting Batman’s attention while they fight the villain of the tale, Mr. Camera (an obscure Golden Age Batman villain). At one point, Batman realizes he’s been wrong, about both his treatment of Huntress *and* the case in question.

While there’s still plenty of wackiness, it’s nice to see characterization touched on. One reference is dropped to Batman and Huntress’ pre-Crisis relationship (as father and daughter on Earth-2) with the “practically family” line.

Super Friends #24
Written by: Sholly Fisch
Art by: Dario Brizuela

This month’s issue sees an all-mad scientist convention (headlined by Lex Luthor, natch), where various villains try to use their prowess/inventions/skills to destroy or capture the Super Friends (who wind up crashing the “party”).

The fun part of this issue was seeing the various DC Universe criminal geniuses of all types show up, from the obvious ones (Luthor, Gorilla Grodd) to more obscure ones (the Ultra-Humanite, the Floronic Man, Dr. Cyber). Amusing bits: the Sivana kids fighting over a ray gun like, well, kids; Grodd and Monsieur Mallah giving the Ultra-Humanite the cold shoulder (as a “gorilla wannabe”); the villains discussing what to do with the captured heroes (and their “solution”).

Interesting to see this series use various obscure parts of Silver Age DC; the villain geniuses I can identify showing up at the convention:

- Lex Luthor
- Poison Ivy
- Professor Ivo (built Amazo, the android with all the JLA’s powers)
- Professor T.O. Morrow (another JLA foe, obsessed with the future and future-tech)
- Hugo Strange (early Batman foe)
- The Floronic Man (uses plant-based abilities/attacks, foe of the Atom)
- The Fox, the Vulture and the Shark (Batman foes)
- Amos Fortune (early JLA foe, obsessed with luck)
- Gorilla Grodd
- The Thinker (Golden Age Flash foe)
- Dr. Light (uses light-based weapons)
- Dr. Cyber (obscure Wonder Woman foe)
- Dr. Tyme (ditto old Doom Patrol villain apparently)
- Dr. Poison (ditto again)
- The Brain (not the world domination-desiring lab mouse, despite ironically this comic’s theme) and Monsieur Mallah (both old Doom Patrol enemies; they’re a brain in a Dalek-like body and a hyper-evolved French-accented talking ape respectively)
- The Ultra-Humanite (the *first* supervillain in American superhero comics, foe of the Golden Age Superman and the JSA)
- Hector Hammond (Green Lantern foe)
- Mr. Mind (the “World’s Wickedest Worm”, a foe of Capt. Marvel)
- Dr. Sivana (the “World’s Maddest Scientist”, Capt. Marvel’s main foe)
- Dr. Sivana’s also-evil-genius children, Georgia and Sivana Jr. (the “World’s Wickedest Girl and Boy”, foes of Mary Marvel and Capt. Marvel Jr. respectively)
- Mister Atom (an evil atomic-powered robot, foe of Capt. Marvel)
- Prof. Hugo (old Martian Manhunter villain apparently, per Google; thought he looked vaguely familiar)

Happy New Year… except for Peter Parker’s marriage

Happy arbitrary measure of the passage of time, all.

In the comic strip world, looks like 2009 is starting off with dubious baggage from 2008. Marvel is forcing their “Brand New Day” strip onto the Spider-Man comic strip, albeit without involving deals with the devil.

No real reason for the change, except to sync the strip’s setting with their idiotic comic book storyline. Why Marvel thinks undoing their marriage (when it’s just going to be re-done again at some point in the future) is a good idea and not a short-sighted, very-short-term sales stunt, I don’t know. There’s also the dubious notion of forcing a current comic book storyline onto the newspaper comic strip, which usually been independent of the comic books.

I guess it’s all part of the general desperation that DC and Marvel’s superhero comics have noawadays, or trying to deal with the fact that their characters are (money-making-wise) more valuable and widely seen in television programs and movies than in their original comic books.