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Archive for April, 2008
Video Interview with Michael Avon Oeming at NYCC
This year at the NYCC I did a couple spot interviews in Artists Alley for Complex Magazine. The first installment, which is up now, was with the fantastic artist and writer Michael Avon Oeming. Watch the vid here and keep an eye out for more episodes.
I wasn’t the only video host for Complex that weekend. Adult film star and anime-lover Justine Joli also took her turn, and you can see her view from the con floor here.Posted by Tim Leong on April 29th, 2008 filed in Conventions, Blog, Videos |
ISSUE EXCERPT: Grant Morrison Interview on Final Crisis
GRANT MORRISON: With Morrison and JG Jones on for DC’s tent pole, expectations are high. That’s why Morrison’s making sure this is the quintessential Crisis.
How editorially rigid is Final Crisis? Are you still able to make it your own?
There’s been no intrusive editorial input of any kind into the story content of Final Crisis. It feels very much my own and JG’s. I agreed to incorporate a couple of suggestions for specific story beats Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns asked for and rejected some other things which didn’t seem to fit what we had planned.
As far as connections with the rest of the DC Universe, I’ve been working quite closely with Geoff to expand some of the strands of Final Crisis into stuff he’s been doing or has planned. As an example, I introduced the idea of the “Alpha Lanterns” into issue 1 of Final Crisis, then Geoff went back and worked them neatly into the fabric of the jaw-dropping work he’s doing on the Green Lantern book. Same goes for Greg Rucka and the “Crime Bible” and “Question” storylines, which feed into Final Crisis and bring to a conclusion some of the ideas we’ve been developing since 52. We’re also prepping a couple of satellite series and books that will work in their own right, while adding color, detail and background to the ongoing Final Crisis storyline. Otherwise, JG and I are doing our own thing, and there aren’t too many tie-in books this time around.
Crisis also ties up a lot of threads from my own work going back through 52 to Seven Soldiers, JLA in the ’90s, and beyond. So yes, I’d say it’s a “personal” project more than it’s a corporate trademark workout, but, you know, I’ve always felt it was possible to do both simultaneously.
Was Final Crisis always part of the DC plan? If so, how long ago did you start outlining it? What’s that preparation process like?
I first heard the name “Final Crisis” at San Francisco WonderCon, early 2006. Dan DiDio knew I wanted to delve deeper into the mythology of Jack Kirby’s New Gods as I’d adapted it for my Seven Soldiers series, so we talked about doing a big project that would put the New Gods back on the map. As I recall, Jim Lee was originally slated to draw it, but he ended up becoming too heavily involved in design and concept work for the DCU online multiplayer game. I wrote the outline and the first Final Crisis script in the summer of 2006, around the same time as the launch of 52. JG Jones was assigned to the project near 52’s conclusion, and I couldn’t have been happier. I love working with him, and he’s done some of his best-ever work for the opening issue. The first three pages of Final Crisis #1 are worth the cover price alone. And then there are 29 more! With another 180 more pages after that!
There’s a lot of rumors and speculation about Final Crisis on the Internet — do you pay attention to it? Does it force you to adapt anything you’re doing?
No. Firstly, because I don’t think enough information has been released about Final Crisis yet for any of the speculation to be relevant to the work I’ve done.
And secondly, the Internet audience makes up a very tiny percentage of the readership of a given comic book; what the online audience wants from comic books is not necessarily what the majority of our readers is looking for and, as much as I’ve always appreciated fan enthusiasm, I would never make any artistic or commercial decision based on fan opinion.
Some outspoken readers think Infinite Crisis and Countdown don’t live up to the hype — does that add pressure to you?
Some outspoken readers think the world is flat, or hollow, or made of belly button fluff. Opinions like these neither add to nor subtract from my overall pressure.
Anyone young enough or dumb enough to still get mad when pop culture products don’t live up to their hype really needs to toughen up if they intend to spend the rest of their lives in a capitalist society of spectacle.
Final Crisis hasn’t really had any hype yet, so I don’t have anything to live up to so far, fortunately. I think people will enjoy the book, hype or no hype.
How will your execution of Final Crisis be different from Infinite Crisis?
We don’t have as many panels, for a start. Different pictures, and, although I’ll be using a lot of the same words, they’ll definitely be in a different order.
I don’t know. I can’t really compete with Infinite Crisis, and I’m not trying to. In the last few years, Geoff Johns has become the best mainstream superhero writer at DC and possibly anywhere else – and there’s no way I could hope to match the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink majesty of something like Infinite, which really consolidated the entire DCU between its covers. I want to create a very different, more claustrophobic mood.
Final Crisis has its own flavor that’s as different from Infinite as that book was from Identity Crisis before it. I suppose there’s more of a slow build and a sense of looming horror and dread in Final Crisis, as befits the title. It’s a bad dream, death metal vision of the DCU that starts small and builds to the ultimate confrontation between good and evil. And it introduces a lot of new characters and concepts, so it’s different in that respect. But we have all the usual shocking hero sacrifices, rebirths and colliding worlds you could hope for in a story like this, so hopefully it will also work as a big, epic finale to the trilogy that began with Identity Crisis.
You’ve done several big event books for DC. What’s the hardest part about writing them?
Trying not to disturb continuity too much, particularly in cases where said continuity is best described as a car wreck. Back in 2006, I requested a moratorium on the New Gods so that I could build up some foreboding and create anticipation for their return in a new form … instead, the characters were passed around like hepatitis B to practically every writer at DC to toy with as they pleased, which, to be honest, makes it very difficult for me to reintroduce them with any sense of novelty, mystery or grandeur. So in cases like this, where fellow creators have overlooked my carefully established additions to DC continuity or ignored my pleas to hold certain characters in reserve, my intention is to follow the through-line I’ve established in my own work so that there’s at least some long-term consistency.
Have you learned any tricks while writing previous event books that have made doing Final Crisis easier?
Each story is its own challenge. Final Crisis isn’t like DC One Million – my previous crossover – at all. Back then, my editor made me write 64 plots – one for every book in the DC Universe at that time – even though I didn’t want to. Final Crisis is more focused, more intense and much easier to write than One Million was.
How have you evolved as a writer? How different would it have been like to write Final Crisis 10 or 20 years ago?
Final Crisis couldn’t have happened 10 or 20 years ago. It’s very much a response to post-Sept. 11 comics and, in a wider sense, to the jittery, grandiose, end-of-empire fears that haunt Western civilization right now. It’s dark, shocking and sensational in a way that I wouldn’t have felt appropriate in the past, but I’d like to think it also offers some tiny ray of light in these traumatized and paranoid times.
Do you have a competitive side? Is there a conscious push for Crisis to outsell Marvel’s Secret Invasion?Posted by Tim Leong on April 29th, 2008 filed in Blog, In this Issue | 4 Comments »
I don’t care if we outsell them, although there’s a good chance that we will. But creatively, and for sheer full-on superhero majesty, Final Crisis will leave Secret Invasion gasping in the dust. Everybody knows that!
Issue 2 Now Available Online
Hey all, I wanted to let you know you can now purchase ISSUE 2 of Comic Foundry on our site. I wanted to give retailers a chance to move their issues first, but it’s been a few weeks now. So, if you’re dying to get the latest issue, the wait is over! Just click to the left!Posted by Tim Leong on April 29th, 2008 filed in Blog | 2 Comments »
ISSUE EXCERPT: Brian Bendis Interview About Secret Invasion
BRIAN BENDIS: He waited nearly four years to tell the Skrull sneak-attack. Now, armed with artist Leinil Yu, Bendis is ready to fire.
So how did this whole Skrull invasion idea get started?
I think after House of M, I finished Avengers Disassembled and was thinking, “Hey, the Skrull invasion is now the worst-case scenario for the Avengers and the X-Men. I think I’m going to do that next summer.” Joe [Quesada, editor in chief] and Dan [Buckley, publisher] look at me and go, “Well that’s a whole thing!” So I go, “Oh, OK, we’ll do a whole thing.”
How is Secret Invasion different from House of M?
It’s a completely different animal. It’s a completely different genre of comic book. House of M was very self-contained and other than Scarlet Witch’s appearances in other books, there was no buildup. … Secret Invasion has had a slow-roll buildup for years and revealing itself last year to the audience — that makes it a completely different type of story. One’s almost a fantasia and one is an alien invasion. Even that, as a premise, is completely different.
You’ve said the Invasion stuff goes way back to the first arc in New Avengers. Did you know then that it would be Skrulls, specifically?
Yeah, that was approved by issue 3. I’m in a very unique position with my long Marvel contract to attempt long-form narrative that I know can pay off. … I’m at Marvel for the foreseeable future, so it’s a real attempt to deliver something special. I can do that while other freelancers can’t, just because the nature of the business. … But what’s cool is that House of M, Civil War and all these other things that started cooking only fed the Skrull thing in the right direction. … I was pumped because it was perfect.
So you had this initial pitch all the way back in 2005?
I’d say earlier — even 2004. Whenever I started New Avengers. The biggest difference in the tone of the piece since then is the addition of Civil War and the fact that there are two Avengers books. But all of that only accentuates what the Skrulls have been planning. … The Skrulls are helping along any maniacal doing, because their jobs are to literally help fuck things up as much as possible and do as much damage to the powered people as you can possibly do before any physical invasion. So if a civil war was brewing, that could only help the Skrull thing. … There will be one character revealed who has been a primo secret Skrull agent in the Avengers, and I was thinking of them and watching this stuff go on around them. It’s really easy for me to get into that head and go, “Okay, how can I help fuck this up even more?”
How did you go about figuring out who you wanted to be a Skrull?
You get in the mind-set of the characters and who will be named in the story, like a Skrull War Tactian. And we actually show that in New Avengers, and we see exactly how they were picked. And say why. Why is this character the best person? I think you see that in issue 40.
So you figured out, if you were to invade a planet, you’d need these types of people.
Well, it’s more than that. The one thing that bothered me a bit about the Skrulls is that they have this amazing shape-shifting ability and they come at you with ray guns and space ships. No. The psyche of a shape-shifter is completely different than ours. … They would look at us, not with contempt, but they wouldn’t understand us at all. And nor would we understand them. So you can also see how shape-shifting, for certain sects of Skrulls, would be a very religious experience, and for some, a more extremist religious experience. Some Skrulls would be conveying their version of a Jihad on us. So you have to write them that way, as if they’re real characters. … Think about how you would look at someone with a standardized identity and how you feel about them if you could change your identity. Would you admire them? Would you be disgusted by them? You could be both.
Is this something you considered in terms of a political connection?
Here’s what’s important: Not all Skrulls think alike. You and I would have different takes on things, even in comics. Why would all Skrulls think and feel the same thing? Give them personalities, give the motivation, give them a mindset that is clear so they can have opposing viewpoints. You’ll see in the story the reason the Skrulls are attacking now versus Skrulls after the Kree-Skrull war is that there were different people in power. Based on that, develop a religion and mind-set that isn’t generic to all Skrulls. Let’s make sects, let’s make religions. For the Skrulls, there are, like, 15 worlds. Let’s not make them all … Jewish. That’s dumb.
Do ever you look at your board or other Internet forums and see who thinks who is going to be a Skrull?
I haven’t read it all. And this sounds braggy, but it’s impossible to read it all. Here’s the thing, we’ve known about this for a while and to reveal the Skrull thing was very scary, because [people could] go, “Whatever!” and not have any reaction and you’re still committed to doing this thing for another year. Having everyone get crazy on the Internet and start looking for clues and stuff was a huge relief. Huge! Every once in a while someone forwards me the craziest fucking thing. “This whole Marvel Universe is actually living in a jar in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.” That kind of thing. Which I think is the plot to Final Crisis, but I’m not sure.
Who knew in the beginning about the Skrulls?
There are certain people on certain books we did not want the Skrull secret leaked out to. Me and Tom Brevoort did not want it leaked out at all. That was a big deal. So not a lot of people knew. Me, Tom, Dan and Joe knew. I think Jeph Loeb knew. It was a really small group of people, because Internet leaks are just a nightmare. It’s so fucking hard. Remember when we were kids and Elektra died and you had no fucking idea it was going to happen? It’s so hard to do that now. … I’m really just unbelievably fascinated by people who just spoil everybody else’s shit. … It’s just obnoxious! In this world, creating something and trying to keep that magic is just difficult.
Did you create any red herrings to throw people off?Posted by Tim Leong on April 28th, 2008 filed in Blog, In this Issue |
Yeah, there’s a couple of what me and Tom think are hilarious running gags that I think once we reveal who the real Skrulls are, people will love the gags. There is one fake out that is the funniest thing. It’s never not funny to me. No one else might think it’s funny, but I think it’s hilarious. I wrote in the script I think it’s the funniest thing ever.
New York Comicon, Year 3
In each year of the New York Comicon I’ve had a pretty different experience. The first year I was just covering the show for CF when the traffic went into lockdown mode. Year 2 I was the host of the official video podcast for the show and just wandered with a cameraman and a producer. Both were fun, but they didn’t compare to Year 3 this weekend. We had a great table stationed in Artist’s Alley, where we sold issues 1 and 2 of Comic Foundry Magazine, as well as subscriptions.
Meeting the Readers
Selling books is great and all, but the best part about being behind the table is meeting the people who read the magazine. It was just amazing to meet everyone. I’m sorry if I forgot your names or am yet to reply to your email, but thanks so much for coming by the table. We had people coming up to the booth THANKING us for making the magazine. That’s how much they love it.
Seeing all the bloggers in person
For the first time I got to meet Johanna Draper-Carlson in person. It’s so funny how you always imagine someone looking a certain way in your head. I always envisioned her having red hair. (She doesn’t.) I also saw Kevin Church, Brian Heater and the rest of the Daily Crosshatch crew, Douglas Wolk, Digital Femme, Auggie De Blieck, Neil Alien, Heidi MacDonald and the quite dapper Tom Spurgeon, who I’d never seen in a sports coat before. Spoiler alert: It looked good!
I love having a home base to retreat to at a con, but it also means you get stuck behind the table for most of the show. Luckily we were able to take some shifts and rotate out to the floor every once and a while. I made it a priority to pick up some new stuff this weekend,
Bottomless Belly Button
This is the book I was most excited to pick up. It’s a mammoth book by Dash Shaw and I’m incredibly psyched to dive in.
Amelia Rules! Funny Stories
Amelia Rules! #18
The Baby-Sitters Club: Mary Anne Saves The Day (which I plan to read while listening to Better Than Ezra. Anybody?). Raina did a very cool sketch inside for me, so I’m twice as psyched.
Blue Beetle: Road Trip
Green Lantern Corps: To Be A Lantern
Punisher War Journal Vol. 2 HC
Two superhero costumes really caught my eye. The first was a very portly but very awesome Colossus. The second was a fantastic Static Shock — who even had that metallic disc he flew on. Awesome. Photo help?
1. About 10 different people asked me to autograph their copy of Comic Foundry. It’s happened before and it’s always more weird than flattering, but what’s funny about this weekend is that just about every single person thought I was Matt Fraction. Hmm. I guess it’s because Matt is on our cover and we had a poster version of it behind me…but…I don’t look like Matt Fraction. In the photo he’s got a beard. A big beard. I don’t have a beard. I can’t even grow a beard.
2. G4’s Blair Butler is super-nice and absolutely loves Madman Atomic Comics #3.
3. I think I saw Gareb Schamus walk past the table. He didn’t buy a copy though.
4. Denny O’Neil’s table was across from ours. He didn’t show up and his table was used as a trash receptacle for the weekend.
5. The Information Center at the show had very little information. I asked where I could find a close bathroom and they told me I had to leave the show floor, go down an escalator and then traverse some labyrinth of hallways. I used a bathroom about 50 feet away instead.
6. One more reason to like Tom Spurgeon: He watches Battlestar Galactica.
7. I was accused of stealing the layout of 1) Time Out New York 2) L Magazine. Neither is true. Thanks for playing though!
8. If you ordered a subscription between last Thursday and now — thanks for being patient. Issues will go out tonite. We’ve been bogged down with the con! Sawwwwyy.
9. I did a quick series of video interviews at the show for Complex.com. We talked to a few guys and girls in Artist’s Alley. I tried to keep the energy going and mispronounced Arthur Suydam’s name twice — I’ll link when they go up.
10. My favorite sales pitch of the weekend:
Customer: The design looks really slick
Me: Well, we tried to come up with a design aesthetic that matches my hair.
PS - I have a few hundred emails to get through before I’m back at full-speed, so if I owe you one I’m sorry.Posted by Tim Leong on April 21st, 2008 filed in Conventions, Blog | 8 Comments »
Eva Mendes as Sand Saref in The SpiritMovies, Blog | 1 Comment »
Report from the NYCC
I just got back from the Javits Center. I was there this morning to drop off a bunch of boxes because I have to work the real job today. Yesterday and today they had a cool thing, the Lend-A-Hand program — I don’t know if this is new or not — where if you come in either a car or van there are workers that will help you unload and move the boxes to your booth. This was great for me as I hauled all my stuff in cab from my office. What wasn’t great, however, is that they didn’t have any of the Artists Alley people on their lists. Similarly, none of the tables in Artists Alley were marked. So, I pretty much just guessed where my spot was and am crossing my fingers. (Sorry if I actually put my stuff in your spot, fellow Artist Alley member). In any case, it was good to see so much hustling and bustling on the show floor. People were unpacking, moving boxes, setting up fancy displays that I can’t afford — all I really wanted to do was drive one of those industrial construction golf cart things. They wouldn’t go for it.
Anyway, come find us in Artists Alley this weekend. We’re over theeeeeeerre.Posted by Tim Leong on April 17th, 2008 filed in Conventions, Blog | 1 Comment »
COMIC FOUNDRY AT THE NYCC!
Comic Foundry Magazine will have a table at NYCC! Please stop by to say hi or buy an issue. Or both! We’ll be at table H-19 in Artists Alley. We miiiiiight be listed in the program as “Tim Leong,” but there are certainly worse tragedies in life.
So please, if you’re one of the thousands of people going to the show, come by for a complimentary high-five.
Cya there!Posted by Tim Leong on April 16th, 2008 filed in Conventions, Blog |
Video! Go Inside Deep Six Studios
Here’s the first in a six-part video series that interviews the members of Deep Six, a hip Brooklyn comics collective that includes Dean Haspiel, Simon Fraser, Tim Hamilton, Joan Reilly, Michael Cavallaro and Leland Purvis. For the rest of the videos, check out their home page.Posted by Tim Leong on April 15th, 2008 filed in Blog, Videos |
Snarf! Batman-Inspired Thundercats Marketing
For the release of the new Thundercats DVD (season 2, volume 1), the marketing team took a page from the Batman book and did their own version of the Batsignal. They put the spotlight on the Houses of Parliament and other notable landmarks. Obviously, it’s working to some degree if I’m talking about it now.Posted by Tim Leong on April 15th, 2008 filed in Blog | 2 Comments »
Because we all know it’s Awesome.
Vanishing Son, the best movie in 1994 about Chinese brothers who fight their way to freedom.Posted by Tim Leong on April 15th, 2008 filed in Video Games | 2 Comments »
COMIC FOUNDRY NOMINATED FOR 2008 EISNER AWARD!
The first issue of Comic Foundry Magazine has been nominated for Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism! What an honor! To think this was the issue we initially couldn’t get into Previews. Oh well. All kidding aside, this is just fantastic. And what nice company to be in, no? I love that they continue to recognize online publications. Anyway, I’ll have more thoughts on this later, but this is just great!
Best Comics-Related Periodical/JournalismPosted by Tim Leong on April 14th, 2008 filed in Blog |
Comic Art #9, edited by Todd Hignite (Buenaventura Press)
Comic Foundry, edited by Tim Leong (Comic Foundry)
The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael (www.comicsreporter.com)
Newsarama, produced by Matt Brady and Michael Doran (www.newsarama.com)