AICN COMICS STM: Q&@ with AGENTS OF ATLAS' Jeff Parker & CLONE SAGA's Tom DeFalco! Bug writes THE TINGLER! + Tons of PREVIEWS!!!
What’s SHOOT THE MESSENGER?
Well, AICN COMICS: SHOOT THE MESSENGER is your weekly one stop shop for comic book -EWS. What’s comic book –EWS? Well, it’s our hodge podge of everything not reviews here at AICN Comics. Sure you can find out the @$$Holes’ critical opinions of your favorite books every Wednesday at AICN Comics. But here, you’ll find special reports such as previews, interviews, special features, and occasionally news gathered here from our online brethren at Newsarama, CBR, Wizard, etc. Sure those guys are the best at reporting news as it breaks. Click on the links for the original stories. This column cuts the crap to run down all the vital information for those of you who don’t follow it as it comes in, and serves it all up with that special ingredient of @$$y goodness.
Bug gabs with AGENTS OF ATLAS' Jeff Parker
Hey folks, Ambush Bug here with another Q&@. If you’re a reader of our weekly AICN Comics Reviews column, you know that we love us some Jeff Parker. Mr. Parker has gained the reputation of churning out great action mixed with rich characterization and a wealthy knowledge and respect of the history of the Marvel Universe. Parker’s ongoing series AGENTS OF ATLAS has been entertaining on a monthly basis for a while now. I had a chance to chat with Mr. Parker about all things ATLAS. Check it out…
JEFF PARKER (JP): Well, our top face-smasher Namora just decided to cross the line, break some taboos, and get it on with her cousin The Sub-Mariner. And team leader Jimmy Woo is also eager to see an old flame, which is going to bring a world of hurt down on the Atlas Empire now that she calls herself THE JADE CLAW and runs the organization THE GREAT WALL.
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): So what's new happening with AGENTS OF ATLAS these days?
BUG: You seem to be among the writers at Marvel who really respect the rich history of the universe and continuity of its characters. Do you consider yourself a Marvel Zombie and what does that term mean to you?
JP: Not really, because there's a lot of stuff that I'm disrespecting that I artfully misdirect readers away from. But I do embrace a lot of things other creators might find silly, because that stuff might also in fact, be Awesome. And if the history makes sense, I try my best to work with it.
I've never gotten the Marvel Zombie thing, or people who only read DC. It's like if you were in a Barnes and Noble and there were prose readers sneering at each other across the aisles, with one proclaiming he only reads HarperCollins books and another sniping that Random House is best.
BUG: Is there a general rule or mode of thinking you put yourself into while writing an AGENTS OF ATLAS book that differs from your other work?
JP: Yes. I first remind myself that we're a multi-genre book, and that we can do Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Crime- or all of them if we want. And then I try to project back to me in college when I was purely a comics reader, and think "what does that guy want to read?" The answer is usually "something he hasn't seen before" or at least, "hasn't seen all the time."
BUG: The artist role on AGENTS OF ATLAS has been fluctuating. Have you guys settled on a single artist for the series or are you going to keep things varied?
JP: When the book was approved, so was this crazy schedule where we often double-ship in a month. So we've had to work with multiple artists with me writing ahead to make those deadlines. So far though, we've been able to pair artists appropriately with the types of stories, so I think it's worked well. And we've had nothing but heavy-hitters like Gabriel Hardman, Carlo Pagulayan, and upcoming an arc by Dan Panosian. With stellar covers too, from Leinil Yu, Adi Granov, and Dave Johnson coming up. I understand it can be disconcerting, but I get a kick out of seeing how different artists interpret the Agents. Everyone seems to really get into it.
BUG: In the original WHAT IF? issue that featured the Agents, 3-D Man was a member. Any chance of him showing up in the new series?
JP: Ha, we'll bring Captain America back to life first. Oh wait...
BUG: One of the cooler characters in the series is the Human Robot. He seems to be developing some irregular characteristics lately and has a somewhat weird fixation with the Sea Queen. What's in store for the enigmatic robot?
JP: M-11 gets a lot of focus in that Jade Claw story I mentioned, which I think will make his supporters happy. It's hard to tell what he thinks, but it's clear that he thinks of Namora as special because she pulled his rusting body out of the water years ago- and he was able to return the favor. In many ways, he's my favorite of the team.
BUG: What do you find most difficult about writing AGENTS OF ATLAS?
JP: I think we've set it apart as an atypical book that defies expectations, so I sometimes have the fear that I'm not going to live up to the uniqueness established, and turn in a typical action story. But usually every time I get worried about that, something neat occurs to me. What helps the most is that most of our plots are determined by the characters themselves, they're not reactionary.
BUG: You've been pretty good at giving every member equal face time in the series. Do you have a favorite team member?
JP: I mentioned how much I like M-11, but then again...I really, really like writing Venus too. She's so sweet despite being formerly a creature that lured sailors to their deaths, that I revel in how different she is from most superheroes.
BUG: What can we expect to see in AGENTS OF ATLAS in the coming months?
JP: One thing I'm looking forward to is a look into the history of the Menacer Robot series that M-11 comes from, as well as a lot more of our dragon advisor MR. LAO, such as how he once battled a Genie. I get a twisted glee when I write him manipulating the lives of the Agents. Also, in issue 8 the agents run afoul of THE HULK.
BUG: Thanks, Mr. Parker, for taking the time to answer these questions.
JP: Thanks again Mark!
Check out Jeff Parker’s AGENTS OF ATLAS, monthly from Marvel Comics.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for over eight years. Check out his short comic book fiction here and here published in MUSCLES & FIGHTS 3 and MUSCLES & FRIGHTS on his ComicSpace page. Bug was interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics. Look for more comics from Bug in 2009 from Bluewater Productions, including the just-announced sequel to THE TINGLER for their VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS series available in July’s previews and on the shelves September 30th.
And here’s part one of a three part interview with Tom DeFalco regarding SPIDER-MAN:THE CLONE SAGA by one of our newest @$$Holes, Mr. Matt Adler. Take it away, Matt!
Hi folks, Matt Adler here. On June 27th, I got the chance to interview one of the legends of the comic industry, “Titanic” Tom DeFalco, about his recently announced project, SPIDER-MAN: THE CLONE SAGA, along with co-writer Howard Mackie and artist Todd Nauck, which will update the story that up-ended the Spider-Man universe for a new generation, and provide a brand new, never before seen ending.
But the conversation, which lasted 3 hours, became about much more than that, and runs the length and breadth of a career that has spanned almost 40 years and has seen the comic industry at its highest heights and its lowest lows. The interview is so massive that we have opted to break it up into 3 installments, to better serve your reading pleasure and attention spans. We now present Part 1 of the Tom DeFalco interview, in which Tom speaks of how the project came to be, why “clone” isn’t a dirty word, his theory of comics, why editors have more fun than the editor-in-chief, and much more Hoo-Hah! So without further ado….
MATT ADLER (MA): To start off Tom, can you tell us how you got into this project?
TOM DEFALCO (TD): I got in kicking and screaming! (laughter) I joke that there are forces at Marvel that went out of their way to kill this project and I know that for a fact because one of them was me!
I came in later, but Howard and Ralph [Macchio, senior editor] have been chit-chatting for a while, checking in with each other every so often. I know how that is, because I often give Ralph a call just to shoot the breeze with him and assorted other people. Marc DeMatteis and I often discuss cooking recipes with each other given that we’re both freelancers sitting at home. (laughter)
Anyway, at one point, Howard was going through his old files and he found his old notebook which had the starting discussions on the Clone Saga. It basically had a rough idea of the original story. And during the course of chatting with Ralph, he mentioned that he had it, and Ralph said something like “Oh really, I’d love to see that.” And at some point Ralph spoke to Joe Quesada who apparently also expressed an interest in seeing it. And Howard said “Really? Why are you are guys interested?” And they said, “Well you know, it’s a historical document, and who knows, maybe we should put together a limited series or something.” Now, the person who said, “Maybe we should put together a limited series,” I’m not sure who that was. Could’ve been Ralph, could’ve been Joe. And you know, Howard hasn’t done comic book work in a while, certainly not for Marvel, so he thought “Hey, this could be fun!”
And somehow or another, my name came into it, and Howard said, “You know what, how about me and Tom work on this thing together?” And Ralph said “Hey, that’d be great!” You know, kind of getting the old gang back together. The next thing I know, I’m getting a call from either Howard or Ralph saying “Hey what would you think if we redid the Clone Saga?” And I said, “What are you guys, nuts?!” And they said “No, no, no… come on, this could be fun!”
Now this could be my own perception, or not, but I feel I have an image problem. Because for the last 12 years, all I’ve done for Marvel is SPIDER-GIRL, pretty much. And I think that a number of people in the industry believe that I can only do things that have webs in it. So I said, “Come on, for years I’ve been trying to convince people that SPIDER-GIRL is not about the Clone Saga,”… and Spider-Girl really isn’t about the Clone Saga, although lately we’ve been doing some clone stuff (laughs), but for about 12 years we had very little to do with it.
MA: You couldn’t even use the word “clone” for a while, right?
TD: It’s not that we couldn’t use it, it’s just that I always chose not to. To be honest, I’ve never gotten any restrictions. I know that the fans perceive that some sort of edict went down that you couldn’t mention Ben Reilly, or you couldn’t use Kaine, or you couldn’t mention clones, or something like that, but that’s never been the case.
You know, all along with SPIDER-GIRL, I have been aiming at a mass market audience. So I made certain decisions with the idea that if you’re familiar with Spider-Man lore, you will know that when we talk about Ben Reilly, that he was the clone, and you’ll know the whole Clone Saga stuff, and if you’re unfamiliar with it, you’ll just think that this is an uncle, so that it would work for both the mass market and the fan market. So I’ve always been walking a tightrope trying to appeal to both markets.
Anyway, I’ve always had a theory of comics which is that you always move forward. You don’t do those kinds of stories where you are trying to straighten out past continuity. The closest thing I had to that was Lyja in the Fantastic Four. And that was an idea that had actually come from Gruenwald and Macchio.
But most of the time when I take over a series, I get on from the point where it is, and then I go forward, and I spend time creating new supervillains, and new this, new that, and just always going forward. The biggest complaint with me whenever I take over a series is “Where are the classic villains?” You know, everybody gets on a book, and there’s always a couple of villains, where they come right on and do their “classic stories.” Me, I come on a book and I’m there trying to add to the legend. (laughter) Which is an old fashioned way of looking at things…but I guess I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy!
MA: Nothing wrong with that!
TD: Maybe nothing wrong with that…but try to convince editors you can still be vibrant! Anyway, they kept telling me about this Clone Saga thing, and I said “Guys, come on, why go back into the past?” And Howard had some very persuasive arguments, and then started to talk to me about the story, and the next thing I know, I got suckered into it because the more he talked, the more fun it looked like it would be. And the challenge of doing a story that could bridge 3 creative gaps really appeals to me.
MA: What creative gaps are those?
TD: Ok, here are the 3 gaps. Taking on an assignment like this is a total no-win situation, because you’ve got 3 types of people: people who read the original and loved the Clone Saga, people who read the original and hate the Clone Saga, and then you’ve got people who haven’t read it. And among the people who haven’t read it, you’ve got 2 more groups: those who haven’t read it but have already decided they hate it, and those who haven’t read it but are interested.
MA: Or are at least curious.
TD: Right. So you’ve probably got actually 5 different audiences.
MA: At least!
TD: At least! And I thought, if we could do a story that could appeal to all of those groups, do something where the people who loved it, they’ll remember why they loved it, and the people who hated it, maybe this can help change their minds. You know, I always like to do a story that is uplifting, that makes you go “Hoo-Hah!”
MA: I always wondered where you got that phrase, “Hoo-Hah”, from. Was it from “Scent of a Woman” where Pacino goes “Hoo-ah!”?
TD: No, I got that probably from a Warner Bros. or Disney cartoon; I think somebody got thrown off a cliff, and says something like that all the way down. (laughter) But yeah, “Hoo-hah” has always been my way of describing the kind of action I like to do.
MA: You should trademark it!
TD: Well, at one point I did; I trademarked it to come out with a line called “Hoo-Hah Comics”, and that’s still a possibility, someday I’ll become nuts and decide I want to be a publisher.
MA: That’s a whole other set of headaches, right?
TD: Well, you know…people, for various reasons, often ask me if I’d ever want to go back to staff work. And I kind of got into staff work kind of by accident. It was supposed to be a temporary thing that was going to last about 6 months at Marvel Comics, and instead lasted about 20 years. And I’ve said this many times; I love editing. I love the editing process, I love the give and take between the editor and the writer and the penciller and the inker and the letterer and the colorist, because I think that every phase of comics has one goal, which is to tell the story. And I just love the process.
Anyway, naturally as I moved up the ladder at Marvel, again by accident…
MA: How did that actually happen?
TD: Well, you know, I was an editor there, and at a certain point I was promoted to executive editor. And I was told at the time that, as executive editor, I would still have the Spider-Man titles, still edit that, and I would just help Shooter with other stuff. And I thought “Yeah, ok.” And then almost immediately found out that I had to give up the Spider-Man titles.
MA: Because there was just too much other work?
TD: Yeah. And I was going to now “supervise” other editors. And I thought, “Um…this isn’t quite what I signed up for.” But because we were going to do a whole line of Star Comics, and I am…I don’t how to put it. I am a flirt. I love every aspect of this medium. I love the idea of doing comics for young kids. I love all the different kinds of comics. One of the things I’m thrilled about now is that I recently got a chance to do a Western, Kid Colt, and I am soon going to do a sword and sorcery thing for Marvel.
MA: Can you say what it is?
TD: Yeah, I’m doing the Black Knight, during the days of King Arthur, and Ron Frenz is drawing.
TD: I’d say the pages are gorgeous, but I don’t want to belittle them.
MA: You know, I have to say, I always liked the medieval Black Knight a lot more than the modern day one; just the way he was sort of a Scarlet Pimpernel type of character, right?
TD: Yeah, and we’re giving you insights into what happened before the first Stan Lee/Joe Maneely story. This is kind of like the “true origin of the Black Knight.” And it’ll be full of fun and games and that sort of stuff. And it gives me a chance to get a little poetic in my captions and do things that are actually closer to the kind of things I like to do when I’m not doing comics. I love doing SPIDER-GIRL, it’s just that SPIDER-GIRL is a specific kind of thing aimed at a specific kind of audience. And it’s good to do other things.
People forget, when I came in the industry, we were supposed to be able to do everything. You’d do a horror story, you’d do a war story, you’d do a vampire story, and then the editor would call you and say “Waitaminute, that might be a vampire war story. Lemme get back to you.” (laughter)
MA: Have you seen what Marvel is doing these days, where they do other genres, like they have the “Marvel Noir” books, but they do them in a superhero context? It’s almost like they’re admitting that there’s a section of readers that just won’t pick up a book unless it’s a superhero thing.
TD: Well, comic books are very expensive these days.
MA: Did you happen to see those comments by a Marvel executive at an investor conference that caused some controversy? When asked why Marvel’s prices were increasing, he said they wanted to see the extent to which the demand for their comics was “inelastic”, and some people interpreted that as saying they want to see how far they can push it.
TD: Well, I can tell you that my philosophy was you build your publishing program like a pyramid. At your base, you have your most popular books at your entry-level price. Then you move up and have a fancier product at a slightly higher price, and then you slowly move up the pyramid till you get to your most expensive price which in my day was the Masterworks, and today is the Omnibus.
MA: What do you think of the Omnibuses?
TD: I think they are wonderful! I look at that and I say to myself, man, I used to think I was so smart, but I never came up with something as cool as this! I thought the Masterworks were our crowning achievement, but it never occurred to me to put ALL of the Steve Ditko stuff in one book! It’s fabulous!
In our day, we were dealing with film, or black and white stats, or all sorts of other crazy, antiquated technology. So we were hampered as to the actual size we could get things to. The new generation, where it’s all digital film, you can blow it up to the size of a wall, and it’ll still work. I’m so jealous!
MA: And that’s probably one of the things that makes you want to get back into the game, right?
TD: Like I said, I love editing, and would be severely tempted if anyone offered me an editing job. But I would never, never, never want to go back and be an editor-in-chief again.
MA: What one book would you most want to edit?
TD: I haven’t thought about it that far. It’s not like I have any plans. And I don’t believe that anyone will ever offer me an editing job…because they’ll always be afraid that I want their job.
MA: I think I remember Tom Brevoort saying that being offered the Editor-in-Chief job is a no-win situation, because either you take it and you now have this job that’s a huge hassle, or you refuse it, and the guy who does eventually take it will know that you were in a position to get his job, and he’s going to see you as a threat.
TD: Perhaps…unless the guy who gets it looks at the guy who refused it and says “Boy, he’s smarter than I am! I gotta keep him around!”
Listen, I don’t want to in any way negate the achievements of the current editors-in-chief out there; it is a hard job. People don’t know how hard the job is. I think everybody thinks it’s a job where you get to sit around all day long and read the comics with your feet up on the desk. And if that was the job, that would be great. I just think that when I say “I’d never want to be an Editor-in-Chief again,” I’m sure that Dan DiDio and Joe Quesada are nodding their head, saying “Yep, yep. We know where he’s coming from!” But like I said, I do not for a second believe that anyone will offer me an editing job, and that’s probably the best thing for me and for them, because, y’know…I don’t know if I could take the pay cut!
MA: Ok. So, in regards to Marvel approaching you about the Clone Saga project…what was the proposed division of labor? Was it one guy is going to plot, and one is going to script, or was it collaborate on both, or…?
TD: Well, originally Howard said “Come on, we’ll collaborate, we’ll work together.” And during the old days in the Spider-Man office, everybody used to sit in a room and we used to throw ideas around. And that is the most fun I’ve ever had as a writer. And I thought “Ok, we’ll make it up as we go along.” And that’s kind of what Howard and I have done. The way we work is that one of us will sit down, and do a very rough scratch draft of what the next issue will be and then it comes back to the other guy who fills in more details, and makes changes, and it just keeps going back and forth, and we keep futzing with it back and forth until we both like what’s there.
MA: So do you each add bits of dialogue…?
TD: Well, we’re doing this Marvel-style [first plot, then pencils, then script]. So occasionally we put in pieces of dialogue so that you have an idea, but very rarely does that dialogue actually show up. We both approach this from the fact that comics are a visual medium, and we figure out the visual bits, and then kind of off to the side we explain whatever dialogue or whatever information needs to be conveyed by a certain scene.
MA: Have you gotten a complete issue from Todd yet to dialogue?
TD: Not yet. We’re still getting pages in for the first issue. In the meantime, we’ve got the first 3 plots, and we’re working on the draft for the 4th.
MA: Ah. So in other words, once all the plots are done, then you move to the actual dialogue.
TD: Well, we’ll probably do it somewhere along the way. I think the first issue goes on sale in, what, September?
MA: Right, it’s still kind of a ways away.
TD: Yeah, so…y’know, Howard and I are the kind of guys that believe that the books have to come out on a regular basis. And we will be up on top of everything. And I shouldn’t just say Howard and I; Howard, Todd, and I.
MA: Right, right. And he’s a professional…he did, what, 50 issues of YOUNG JUSTICE straight, I think?
TD: Oh yeah. Todd is older than his years. (laughter) And it’s good that we have a responsible adult on the team. Which is Todd. (laughter)
MA: Now, what’s been yours and Howard’s reaction to the pages as they come in?
TD: I think some of them already appeared on the net…y’know, it’s terrific stuff! Are you kidding me?! We’re hoping that Todd doesn’t get offered one of the regular Spider-Man books before this is done! Or when they do offer him one of the regular ones, they’ll schedule it for after this is over!
MA: Well, he’s already made all the headlines with his Obama issue.
TD: And rightly so! Listen, Todd Nauck does great stuff! Anybody wants to see the proof, pick up THE AMERICAN DREAM limited series.
MA: Or his work with you on Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man.
MA: Now, had you seen his work before you first teamed with him on AMERICAN DREAM?
TD: I’d seen bits and pieces over the years. And before AMERICAN DREAM, we just started talking and realized that we were right in tune with the kind of comics we liked and the kind of fun stuff that we wanted to project.
MA: Have you read his creator-owned series WILDGUARD?
TD: Yeah, I think it’s terrific! Todd, Howard, and I – and a number of us, certainly Ron Frenz and Pat Olliffe, the whole crew, we believe that comics should be ultimately uplifting and something that takes you away from the traumas of the day. A lot of comics are just too dark. And today, the world is just too dark, grim, and depressing, and I don’t want to pay my money to get depressed. Just turn on the TV, or just wait till the bills come in! I have more than enough to depress me. So I look to comics as a way to lighten the load, not add to the load.
MA: You know, Todd’s first work on Spider-Man was right after the Clone Saga ended, filling in for Mike Wieringo on SENSATONAL SPIDER-MAN. So he’s sort of come full circle.
TD: Might be full circle for all of us, in various degrees. (laughter) Who knows what the future brings?
MA: That’s it for today, folks. Be sure to join us back here next time for Part 2 of the Tom DeFalco interview.
Welcome back to another whirl on the Spinner Rack to the Future using an inordinate amount of nuclear power to whisk you away to TWO DAYS into the future! We start out this week with a full preview of a sequential short by Hudson Phillips and Brandon Earnhart. It can also be found here.
ALL THESE DAYS UNDONE
Writer: Hudson Phillips
Art: Brandon Earnhart
Release Date: You can check the full story out now below!
This was a very cool read. Thanks Hudson and Brandon for making it possible and turning my attention it!
THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF HP LOVECRAFT #3
Writer: Mac Carter
Art: Tony Salmons
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: This Wednesday!
Do not displease the Sleeping God…check out THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF HP LOVECRAFT #3 this Wednesday!
SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON #5
Writer:James Rosinson & Greg Rucka
Art: Pete Woods
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: This Wednesday!
Check out what Supes has been up to in SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON #5 this Wednesday!
STAR TREK: CREW #5
Story & art:John Byrne
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: This Wednesday!
Boldly go to your comic book store this Wednesday and buy STAR TREK: CREW #5!
THE DARKNESS #78
Writer: Phil Hester
Art: Nelson Blake II
Publisher: Top Cow
Release Date: This Wednesday!
THE DARKNESS #78 falls this Wednesday!
JIM BUTCHER’S THE DRESDEN FILES: STORM FRONT VOL 2 #1
Adapted by Mark Powers
Art by Adrian Syaf
Publisher: The Dabel Brothers
Release Date: July 22nd!
THE DRESDEN FILES: STORM FRONT V2 #1 flies into shops July 22nd.
DARK X-MEN #1
Story & Art: Various
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: This Wednesday!
I can’t wait for DARK DARKHAWK….
How bout DARK BLACK PANTHER?
That’ll be cool, right?
DARK X-MEN #1 darkly drops on Wednesday!
Ambush Bug tingles in anticipation
at the release of his new comic;
VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS
Greetings Faithful Talkbackers. Ambush Bug here. Being a reviewer on AICN for so long (over 8 years, but who's counting...OK, I am), you get accused of being a lot of things. A hater. A shameless fanboy. A plant. A disgruntled has-been writer striking back at the industry. You name it, I've been called it. But I think the worst thing you can call someone is insincere. Hopefully by this time, you've read a few of my comic book reviews. I try not to pull punches and as our @$$Hole motto states, we shoot from the hip, off the cuff, and speak from the heart about comics, not to make ourselves look better, but to push the industry we love forward and upward. You may not agree with what I say about comics and the industry that spawns them, but at least you know I try to be as honest and genuine as I possibly can in my reviews.
One of the swipes that critics often receive in response to a review is "I'd like to see if you could do any better." Well, last year I had an opportunity to put that to the test and I tried my hand with my own comic book effort and I figured I'd take this time to commandeer the Opinions Are Like @$$Holes soapbox and talk to you guys about how it came to be. Consider this an inside look at how my new two issue miniseries, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLER, was put together. (Interspersed in this article are never before seen early preview pages, for your clicking enjoyment!)
One of the coolest aspects of AICN Comics for me is the Indie Jones section. I don't consider myself an indie guy, but when the original Indie Jones aka Lizzybeth decided to move on to greener pastures and leave AICN Comics about five years ago, I felt that the independent voice in comics was too important not to be heard on AICN, so I kept the section going. To this day, my inbox is filled with indie submissions and I've made some great friends and had countless conversations with folks outside of the Big Two publishers pertaining to all things comics. This is where the genuine spirit of comics resides. These people are passionate, dedicated, and driven to write, draw, color, and letter their fingers to the bone in order to get their stories to print. I’ve never met a more hard working bunch.
One such writer I met was Martin Fisher. Martin wrote a book called RISERS (available in trade from Alterna Comics) that I found to be a thought-provoking, emotional, and unique look at the zombie genre, so I wrote a favorable review of the book. Martin was extremely thankful and offered to send me more issues of his series which I enjoyed equally and reviewed as such. When it came time to collect RISERS in trade, Martin asked if I'd like to write the Foreword for it. I had never done anything like that before, but was happy to do so for such a cool comic. Since writing that Foreword, I have shared hundreds of emails with Martin, first about comics, then about making them, and finally about collaborating on a few projects. For the last year, Martin and I have been writing two comics projects together. I am totally jazzed about them and once they are further along, I'll definitely share them with you guys.
Last winter, Martin got wind of an independent publisher who had just attained the rights to a bunch of Roger Corman and Vincent Price films. By happenstance, the company I was working for had shut down and I found myself unemployed for a while. Martin landed a job writing a story for ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS and introduced me to Darren G. Davis, publisher of Bluewater Comics. Darren seemed to be a great chap, open to new ideas and insightful about the comic book industry. We had a conversation about his new VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS and ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS lines and the films of those two fantastic entertainers. Noting my enthusiasm about a few films in particular, Darren encouraged me to write up a pitch for a few of them.
Writing a pitch was something I'd never done before, but after a few stabs at it, I came up with a few. Luckily, Darren liked all of them. VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLER will be the first of three projects I have coming out from Bluewater Comics in the upcoming year, the other two being a four-part miniseries prequel of sorts to the Carradine-tastic DEATHSPORT for Bluewater's ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS line and a one-shot focusing on WITCHFINDER GENERAL for VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS.
As many of AICN's readers know, William Castle's original movie THE TINGLER mixed a rubber monster with a grip of steel, an LSD trip, and a gimmick which involved vibrating movie theater seats to make one of the coolest cult classic films ever. Needless to say, it was a daunting task to write a sequel for the film. Instead of doing a remake, I decided to push the story forward and continue where it let off, following Vincent Price's character Dr. Warren Miles and giving him a new purpose to pursue his investigation into the terrifying origins of the Tingler. The result was a two part miniseries taking Dr. Miles and his crew of assistants out of the city and into the darkest jungles in search of a tribe of natives that worships the Tingler.
I'm very proud of VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLER and hope you guys at AICN will give it a try. In the coming weeks leading up to the release of the book in late September, I'll be popping back onto the soapbox that is Opinions Are Like @$$Holes and in our Comic Book Evolution feature, talking about my experiences putting together the script, collaborating with an editor and an artist for the first time, and taking you on a step by step journey through the process of a comic from conceiving the idea to the final printed page.
There are many, many different stories of how a comic comes together, I wanted to share mine with you guys. This isn't a letter of resignation. I'll still be reviewing comics for as long as I buy them. The need to talk about comics on AICN is too great to leave. And I won't be reviewing any of my own comics in our regular AICN Comics Wednesday reviews page (although I'd love to hear what some of the other @-Holes think of the book). THE TINGLER and the next few projects I have coming out later this year have opened my eyes to new aspects of the industry and awoken creative parts of me that have laid dormant for a long while. I hope you guys give these comics a chance and who knows, maybe you'll even like it.
VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLER #1 is in July's Previews (Order code: JUL09 0737) and will be released September 30th, 2009 (with the second issue released just in time for Halloween on October 28th). Be sure to tell you're comic shop you're interested in checking them out.
Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
Ad by Prof. Challenger
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): So what's new happening with AGENTS OF ATLAS these days?
ALL THESE DAYS UNDONE Writer: Hudson Phillips Art: Brandon Earnhart Release Date: You can check the full story out now below!
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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July 6, 2009, 6:37 a.m. CST
Eat my juicy cunt you comic book reading faggots. Just joshin. But please feel free to eat my cunt juice.
July 6, 2009, 6:39 a.m. CST
We need more reviews of Frank Millers Classic All star batman. It DEMANDS reviewing! My cunt is still dripping wet. Not from any all star batman reviews from this site, because there's barely any. Not enough to get my cunt juicy anyway.
July 6, 2009, 7:21 a.m. CST
July 6, 2009, 7:50 a.m. CST
I could go all night, baby.
July 6, 2009, 8 a.m. CST
July 6, 2009, 8:01 a.m. CST
Yukkity yuk yuk yuk.
July 6, 2009, 8:02 a.m. CST
by Gatsbys West Egg Omlet
July 6, 2009, 8:03 a.m. CST
by Gatsbys West Egg Omlet
July 6, 2009, 8:05 a.m. CST
by Gatsbys West Egg Omlet
on the Iron Man imdb talks.
July 6, 2009, 8:08 a.m. CST
I will actually have money in my pocket after wednesday to buy pizza rolls and jolt cola. Well shit I need to buy that like $6 Savage Dragon crap they pooped out last week still.
July 6, 2009, 8:09 a.m. CST
by Gatsbys West Egg Omlet
Dark Dark Beast.
July 6, 2009, 8:11 a.m. CST
I had been collecting comics since 1969,cut it out cold turkey a while,when most of them jumped to $3.99,just could'nt afford it anymore.And Final Crisis did'nt help any
July 6, 2009, 8:18 a.m. CST
That shitty, too-clean-cut 'Ultimate Spider-man' style crap you find in almost all Marvel these days - you need to go to one-off trades or indies for old-school style quality
July 6, 2009, 8:33 a.m. CST
Why not just call it VaJayJay Comics?
July 6, 2009, 8:55 a.m. CST
I've quit except for Morrison's Batman and Robin. Anything else I really want I'm waiting for the trade. They priced me out, in the sense that I no longer see any value for my dollar. I've got some disposable income, but 3.99 is just ridiculous for the slight amount of story most comics offer (nowadays).
July 6, 2009, 9:28 a.m. CST
I mean, Larson used his cartoon character to endorse a presidential candidate and HE WAS SERIOUS ABOUT IT. Good god. Then after the Teleprompter won, Larson crapped out a few more covers including one showing Obama punching Osama in the face. Wow, Muslim-on-Muslim violence - can't beat that. Larson blew his rep and his cred with his creepy-Obama-fanboy obsession. The only comics I buy now are manga. Especially Full Metal Alchemist. Kicks ass and is worth the price.
July 6, 2009, 9:31 a.m. CST
just kidding, i buy the trades instead.
July 6, 2009, 9:58 a.m. CST
July 6, 2009, 10 a.m. CST
Stop smoking ads, and say no to drug ads. They don't even say what they are talking about. Especially that one with the snails and the salt which is just kind of gross to look at and is a double page spread a lot of the times. Fucking annoying. I hate those Above the Influence and Truth crap, plus they are probably funded by Marlboro.
July 6, 2009, 10:01 a.m. CST
July 6, 2009, 10:49 a.m. CST
by Nucking Futs
Yes, comics are too expensive now. Most of the titles I like to read have jumped to $4, but there are still some quality comics, stories, and art in some $2.99 books. What I don't like is the fact that every single Avengers book is $4 now, along with Hulk, Wolverine, and all the new GI Joe books. At least Green Lantern and Captain America are still $2.99 but how long will that last? I'm sure with Blackest Night and Reborn, they'll jack the mini series price up to $3.99, and they'll think that us consumers will just get used to paying an extra buck for our titles.
July 6, 2009, 10:51 a.m. CST
by Nucking Futs
The new GI Joe books save the ads for the last few pages, but for $4, you are getting just 22 pages of story and art.
July 6, 2009, 10:55 a.m. CST
compared to what they've done to Spider-man in recent years.
July 6, 2009, 11:02 a.m. CST
They are all four bucks. The industry is just seeing how much they can bleed out of the remaining fans and serious collectors while giving you a more inferior product then there was when the prices were reasonable. I seriously think it's because after all this time they have failed to attract newer readers.
July 6, 2009, 11:17 a.m. CST
of quality. The way they are written and drawn today are terrible stuff. Don't buy one unless they are cheap off a comic site or wait for a trade for the entire storyline (which they draw out). No wonder sales are small.
July 6, 2009, 11:24 a.m. CST
two-thirds of the way through.
July 6, 2009, 11:52 a.m. CST
because they're too over-produced.<br><br>There's no reason to use such expensive paper stock, or have a team of 40 people working on an issue. Simplify the production process -- issues are missing their deadlines because the artwork is over-worked; simple linework merits detailed coloring - or, complex linework needs simple coloring..but unbelieveably complex pencils, layered with unbelieveably complex coloring equals a time-consuming, expensive, indecipherable mess.
July 6, 2009, 12:37 p.m. CST
But comics are like a drug to me,There was a lot I hated giving up (Walking Dead,Captain America,X-Factor....)But if I go in a comic book store I,m like a junkie,I end up dropping a shitload of money.The one thing good to come out of it,is that I am back to reading novels which I pick up at thrif stores ,e-bay,and fleamarkets for little of nothing and they last longer than a good crap.I do miss comics and will more than likly start buying lots on e-bay.
July 6, 2009, 12:46 p.m. CST
Remember when comics took like, four guys to make? I don't need my comics to look airbrushed. Particularly when there's only about three pages of story happening.
July 6, 2009, 1:46 p.m. CST
would someone explain the ending? i don't get it.
July 6, 2009, 2:01 p.m. CST
Congratulations on your work there, sir. Glad to see you've jumped into the pool and are now producing comics of your own. If you end up out on the Left Coast for this year's SDCC, let me know. The first beer's on me! ~Grant Chastain
July 6, 2009, 2:24 p.m. CST
July 6, 2009, 2:56 p.m. CST
The price and value for money is a big reason why Manga outsells DC and Marvel combined.
July 6, 2009, 3:14 p.m. CST
Better be better then the actual Ambush Bug series that DC left us hanging with. Bad idea for me to pick that up, especially since I am not a fan of DC.
July 6, 2009, 4:16 p.m. CST
1) Over-produced. I mean, painted covers are nice, but once you've seen one...<br><br>2) No enticement to buy the book. When is the last time you saw a comic cover from DC/Marvel that said anything about the story inside, or had any kind of hook that made you want to pick up the book? Comic covers have become little more than a rendering contest. Who can uber-illustrate these characters in various reposes? Hells bells, when is the last time you saw a comic book cover with an actual word balloon on it?<br><br>3) Distribution. Even if a company gets the comic produced/distributed on time, there's no guarantee that it's going to make it to the outlets. The Diamond monopoly can sit on it's thumbs and wiggle all day long, and there's not a friggin' thing anyone can do about it. If I were a large comic book company, I'd be looking damn hard at a different way to get my books to market.<br><br>4) Distribution (part II). For most of it's history, comics were distributed to the mass public at large. However, those outlets (Mom and Pop stores, 7-Elevens, grocery stores, etc.)are no longer available. Comics are singularly distributed to comic book stores. Period. That means sales are completely dependent on destination shoppers. No impulse purchases -- which means that a generation of potential buyers is being missed simply because they never come in contact with the product. They don't know comics exist, in any meaningful terms.<br><br>5)Too much product. There are too many versions of the same thing. God help you if you're trying to actually start reading comics cold turkey. There's no clear way to break into the medium -- everything is cross-titled, variant covered, epic-arched to the point of incomprehensibility. Creating all of those titles costs a lot of money -- money that would be better-spent improving a more narrowly focused lineup.<br><br>6) Audience appeal. There are, of course, exceptions, but comic books as a whole have inserted unbelievable violence and gore as a substitute for well-crafted stories, in a poor attempt to be "adult-oriented". There is little character development or real tension that comes from the writing itself. If the comic companies are going to appeal to a wider audience (and they need to do that to survive), they're going to have to write stories that appeal to a broader audience. That doesn't mean that have to "dumb-down". It just means they have to write stories with more interest instead of more blood.<br><br>The easiest path is the one that leads to more complexity, and the comic book industry has sprinted down that path like the Flash. It's easy to become complicated and over-done. It's hard work to keep it simple (but good). And the comic book companies have definitely taken the easy route.
July 6, 2009, 4:27 p.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
I am trying to wean myself from the many borderline comics I buy, because they are seriously not worth $4. It's just so hard. <p> X-Factor: Bad: All the stupid, horrid future stuff. I was seriously going to quit until Shatterstar appeared, and YES! David is rekindling the S-Star/Rictor romance, so they've got my money for a bit longer. <p> Magazines give HUGE discounts to subscribers...comics...not so much.
July 6, 2009, 4:33 p.m. CST
Actually has a comic rack.
July 6, 2009, 4:48 p.m. CST
You are fucking retarded to waste another penny on comics. Go find a free program, Cdisplay.com....and then go to your favorite bit torrent sites, type in your favorite and go nuts with the downloading. And don't give me the indignant shit about it being illegal, we all do it.
July 6, 2009, 5:50 p.m. CST
Great points. I have always been a fan of simplicity over undo complexity...be it a comic, a movie or a sentence. <p> To me a lot of these comics are doing what Nietzsche said about poets, "intentionally making there puddles muddy so they look deep."
July 6, 2009, 6:51 p.m. CST
Question: why can't you find (child appropriate - I wouldn't even give a kid a Batman comic these days) comic books in non-comic book stores these days? I can find awful Archie comics at the grocery, but that's it.
July 6, 2009, 8:30 p.m. CST
by Nucking Futs
I haven't read any X-Factor recently. The only X books I've been keeping up with in the slightest are Cable and X Force. So, Shatterstar and Rictor are both gay? When did this all happen??
July 7, 2009, 12:27 a.m. CST
Rictor is bisexual. This is something that has been hinted at for years. He's had stuff going on with Boom Boom, Wolfsbane, and & (I think) Monet (once.) However, it's also been suggested even in X-Force (iirc) that he and Shatter might have been a bit more than just friends. Peter David got closer to saying it outright early in his current X-Factor run and confirmed it just last issue (#45) with the Shatterstar/Rictor kiss.
July 7, 2009, 12:49 a.m. CST
since they came out with the BRAND NEW DAY garbage I'm done.<P>Thanks MARVEL, for saving me a shitload of money. If more people give up on you, you'll need to go to $5.00 or $6.00 to make up for losing loyal customers.
July 7, 2009, 6 a.m. CST
by Grippy Longstocking
...tape each issue of Atlas to this lifesize replica vagina that I got in Reno, so that I can simultaneously read and fuck it.
July 7, 2009, 6:13 a.m. CST
by Grippy Longstocking
I agree completely with Zod. Why waste money on books you might not even like? Download the overpriced shit that you are addicted to. Spend that Big 2 cash on indies and shit. Really support the industry. And before someone says "well why not just walk into a shop and steal the comics?" Fuck you. You are an idiot. It's called Piracy, not theft. It's not theft if nothing tangible is stolen. If anything you'll wind up spending more money than before, just on better books that you'll be happier owning.
July 7, 2009, 7:51 a.m. CST
by Buzz Maverik
I've been lucky enough to get to read 'em. They're funny, well paced, modern but true to the source, with great characterization and some nice vintage-B-horror beats.
July 7, 2009, 11:50 a.m. CST
Good times, I think I am the the only person in the world who actually like both Ben Riley and the clone saga. I'm ready for a new spin on it. <p> The Ben Riley Spider-Man costume was awesome and I always hated they killed him off and gave that suit to Spider-Girl.<p> I have always thoug MArvel missed a big oppertunity when they killed off Ben Riley, they could have moved that character to somewhere like Chicago to establish him on his own away from Peter. They could have brought Black Cat over too for romantic interest and given the comic a much more adult tone. Possibly even made it a Max title giving fans a much harder, rougher Spider-Man without tarnishing the Peter Parker character or worrying about years of Spider-Man continuity.
July 7, 2009, 11:57 a.m. CST
Thanks -- unfortunately,I see the same kind of scenario in business all the time. It's a classic case of following the path of least resistance; they (the Big Two) are caught up in paradigms of their own creation -- and they're not looking any further than the next quarter's sales.<br>The comic companies are pandering waaaay too much to the fanboys, and sacrificing their future (and a very viable market) in the process.<br><br>Here's an even bigger problem -- because of the cost of individual issues, a lot of fans just "wait for the trade". Not surprisingly, more retailers are willing to sell the trades because the profit margin makes them worth the shelf space.<br>However, if nobody buys the individual floppies of say, "Underdog Unleashed" because they're "waiting for the trade", the comic companies see "Underdog Unleashed" as a title that isn't selling. Consequently, they're not going to release a trade of "Underdog Unleashed" -- why would they when the floppies didn't sell to begin with?<br><br>And so resorting to trade sales only will eventually make the whole process worse -- because trades are so damn expensive. The Brubaker Captain America Ominbus is $75, for cryin' out loud. Who, except for the fanbase that already exists, is going to shell out that kind of money for a comic book?<br><br>So to me, it seems like the answer lies in making the floppies a better value, with a broader appeal and a better distribution system. But that entails work and creative thinking (and, God forbid, some risk), and the suits at both of the Big Two are never going to look further than beating the last quarter's sales.
July 7, 2009, 12:51 p.m. CST
You guys are embarrassing.
July 7, 2009, 12:52 p.m. CST
but the rest of you out there whining... I spit on you.
July 7, 2009, 1:18 p.m. CST
by Homer Sexual
The only time I ever read Spider-Man was back in the 80's when he was dating Black Cat and fighting the Rose, Hobgoblin, Spot, etc. Those were actually very entertaining issues despite simple, simple art. <p> I am one of those readers who, while not wanting Norman Osborne to be considered a "hero," also cannot stand boring-ass, goody-good heroes, especially Peter Parker ever since he got married. It wasn't even the fact that he got married, just the whole tone and direction since then. <p> I'd totally read a clone book with Black Cat and a harder edge (as long as he doesn't turn into a savage killer. So extreme, these comic characters). <p> Yeah, that whole Rictor-Shatterstar thing was implied waaaaay back in the old 90's X-Force. <p> Joe, if we're lame, so are you...and $4 really is just too expensive. I am now waay over my $100 monthly budget, around like $150.
July 7, 2009, 2:04 p.m. CST
So, FTW. In fact, everybody is probably exempt, except that pirate guy, mostly due to his theiving pirating ways, also, I'm totally team Ninja. <br><br>No, sometimes I just enjoy being declarative and to stir the pot a little...<br><br>Green Lantern's powers make no sense and giant green boxing gloves are lame!<br><br>Mephisto is A devil, not THE Devil!<br><br>Final Crisis made complete sense!<br><br>$4 is a fair price for the entertainment provided within each issue!
July 7, 2009, 4:40 p.m. CST
Good points...BUT! <p> Green Lantern Corps last week had a word balloon on the cover. "THIS IS WHAT IT COSTS!" <p> But it's really the exception that PROVES your rule, because GLC is one of the top 5 mainstream comics being written today.
July 7, 2009, 5:13 p.m. CST
You'll love my review this week then of GLC. I asked bug to format each paragraph in the shape of a boxing glove.
July 7, 2009, 5:21 p.m. CST
I wish you were writing for some of these comic titles instead of the dough-heads they have now. Find a way to make some money with that talent, young padawan.<br><br>Thrillhouse77<br>Here's a great example of a lost opportunity. I just bought the first three issues of Flash Rebirth. I've re-read all three issues several times now and damned if I can figure out what's supposed to be going on. Obviously there's a lot of back-story that's I'm missing, but holey shirts, Batman -- the story shouldn't be COMPLETELY dependent on KNOWING what's gone before. That's just lazy writing...and the artwork sure as hell isn't any help. There's so much excessive lightning and junk in each panel that I can't tell what's supposed to be demonstrated -- which, by the way, is what graphic illustration should do, at the bare minimum.<br>AND, it's taken THREE ISSUES to flow through what really should have been covered in one.
July 7, 2009, 5:27 p.m. CST
with these new whiners. <p> Joe knows I have been whining for at least 2 decades.
July 7, 2009, 5:30 p.m. CST
Of course it depends on your audience. <p> Adults can afford $4. Kids, no way. So if the comic companies want to go after adults, yeah make each issue $4. But if they want kids, they better lower the prices. <p>
July 7, 2009, 5:31 p.m. CST
I am a big fan of William Castle's movies.
July 7, 2009, 5:36 p.m. CST
In my day you had so many word balloons on a cover that sometimes you couldn't even see the main character. AND THAT IS THE WAY WE LIKED IT! <p>
July 8, 2009, 8:11 a.m. CST
Good Luck with the Tingler series. So far my only exposure to Bluewater was the Ray Harryhausen stuff. The Earth vs. the Flying Saucers comic made me want to claw my eyes out. My favorite Harryhausen movie deserved better. At least the art looks better on Tingler than it did on that.
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