Happy Yuri Gargarin Day!

April 12, 2011 by

If you’ve been to Google.com today, you might have noticed the space-themed header. In case you’re not already aware, today marks the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gargarin of the former U.S.S.R. becoming the first human in space.

For a while when I was a kid, I loved space and almost everything about it. Like a lot of unrealistic kids, I had a phase where I wanted to be an astronaut. But Yuri fucking did it, becoming a national hero in the Soviet Union. Dude had a stamp and everything. The U.S. was less of a fan of him at the time, because the Space Race had become another way of showing our dicks were bigger than our Cold War adversary’s. But we got to the moon first, so we still kinda won. And the late Gargarin deserves a ton of respect, especially when you read about how dangerous the Soviet space program really was. That’s a link to a recent article on Cracked.com, one of the best comedy sites on the Internet, but behind the comedy is a boatload of info that shows how scary as shit it must have been for Yuri to risk his life to be such a pioneer.

So what does any of this have to do with comic books? Maybe a little more than you think. Yuri’s trip came a short six months before the release of Fantastic Four #1, a comic issue that helped revolutionize the industry. The FF’s origin, of course, features a trip to space that gives the quartet unexpected powers. Unfortunately, I can’t find specifics about just when the book started developing (not surprising, considering the legal battle about who’s idea it even was — see the Kirby lawsuit battles). But it seems probable to me that, at least among laymen if not even experts, there were still considerable questions about what kind of effects (short- and long-term) space travel would have. The FF’s origin story probably didn’t seem as ridiculous at the time, whereas today, various creative teams have tried to re-tool it slightly to make sense with what we now know about space travel; for instance, the Ultimate line changed the FF’s trip to the Negative Zone.

Furthermore, I feel like the widespread public interest in the Space Race had to have had something to do with FF becoming an unexpected hit. And the book’s success made it the cornerstone of Marvel’s early lineup of books, and encouraged Marvel to try other teams books, such as The Avengers and X-Men. But biggest of all, according to the book Comic Book Century, the comic’s success revitalized Jack Kirby’s waning creative energy and persuaded Stan Lee, who had been thinking about leaving the industry, to stay in comics. And the rest, as they say, is history.

A lot changed 50 years ago, but think about this comic book angle: If not for Yuri Gargarin, the Space Race might not have kicked to another level. If not for the Space Race interest, Fantastic Four could have been a flop. If not for FF‘s success, we might have lost Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and thus, maybe Marvel itself.

So from the kid in me who dreamed of space, and from the adult who still loves the creative escape of a good comic, Happy Yuri Gargarin Day.

And the Eisner nominations go to …

April 7, 2011 by

people you’ve mostly never heard of.

The 2011 Eisner Awards, which celebrate the best in comics, were released today. The winners will be announced July 22 at Comic-Con International.

A common theme of the nominees? Not much in the way of big names. If you’re looking for the works of Bendis or Johns or almost any other top creators from Marvel or DC, you won’t find them listed in the above link. Not that this is terribly uncommon for the Eisners — they’re often filled with more independents than they are best-sellers. But still, just three nominations for Marvel. DC did better with 14 total, but just five of those from DCU.

Image and IDW each got 12 noms, as IDW continues to rise in both sales and critical acclaim. Dark Horse came in not far behind with nine. So Marvel and DC might lead in sales, but a lot of companies are sharing recognition this year.

So readers, any thoughts on the nominees?

Eat ‘n Tweet

April 6, 2011 by

Introducing Eat More Comics: the Twitter page!

http://twitter.com/#!/eatmorecomics

Check it out for regular Tweets about comics and comic news. Some of those tweets might even become the basis for future posts!

Straight Shooter

March 31, 2011 by

When I say, “name a Marvel editor-in-chief,” certain people may immediately come to mind. Stan Lee, no doubt. Joe Quesada. Roy Thomas.

And of course, Jim Shooter. One of the most famous and controversial editors Marvel has had. Some of the company’s most successful comic book runs occurred during his tenure, including Walt Simonson’s Thor, Claremont’s X-Men, Frank Miller’s Daredevil and John Byrne’s Fantastic Four (huh, interesting how three out of four of those guys wrote AND pencilled their own comics). He created the New Universe (still fondly remembered by many and “remixed” in Warren Ellis’ “newuniversal”) and the Epic imprint for creator-owned work. He also wrote Marvel’s most famous crossover of all, Secret Wars. And let’s not forget about his early days at DC, where he created several famous Legion of Superheroes and Superman characters… including Duo Damsel and the Parasite!

Anyway, now you can read about Jim’s career– both the good and the bad– at his blog. Did you know that an artist error made Hank Pym a wife beater? Or that Jim wrote and sold his first comic script during his summer vacation at age 13? It would explain why he based certain Legionnaires off of his classmates.

There’s all sorts of interesting facts in Jim’s posts. The best part of all, however, is that it gives us a more personal look at Jim’s life in comics, like when he first met Stan Lee. While most of Jim’s entries have been about his time at Marvel and early DC career so far, I have little doubt we’ll be hearing about Valiant Comics and his most recent Legion of Superheroes run soon. So definitely keep your eyes peeled.

Deadpool fights Fear Itself… ninja style

March 28, 2011 by

Wow, I can’t believed I overlooked this. So you probably know that Marvel’s upcoming “Fear Itself” story is gonna have a lot of tie-ins. One of them, unsurprisingly, is “Fear Itself: Deadpool.” You know who’s writing it?

Chris Hastings. A.k.a. the creator of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, one of the funniest ninja doctor comics around (and we all know how many of THOSE are out there). Hastings’ interview about the mini that strongly implies that the Merc With A Mouth may be one of the Worthy, a.k.a. one of the Marvel characters capable of wielding the power of one of the eight new Mjolnir-like hammers introduced in “Fear Itself.” If not, we know he’ll at least be using SOME kind of magical hammer!

Whether or not you’re interested in “Fear Itself,” I highly recommend you give “Fear Itself: Deadpool” a try. The only thing you need to fear from that comic is busting a gut from laughter. And if that happens, don’t worry, there are hospitals for that.

Also, you owe it to yourself to check out The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. It’s awesome, hilarious and FREE. Head over to the archives and start catching up. Once you’re done, head over to the home page to read the current issue. That’s web navigation made easy, kids!

Superman movie news

March 27, 2011 by

The LA Times is reporting today that the part of Lois Lane has been cast in the new Superman movie project … and it’s Amy Adams.

Adams becomes the fourth member of the cast, joining Henry Cavill, who dons the red and blue as Superman, and Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, the somewhat surprising choices to to play Ma and Pa Kent. Zack Snyder, of 300 and Watchmen fame, will direct, with David S. Goyer (co-writer of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and former comic book co-writer of JSA) handling the script. Christopher Nolan is a producer.

Adams has become a favorite of mine, from her delightful role in Enchanted to her grittier performances in Sunshine Cleaning and especially her Oscar-nominated role in The Fighter. She’s shown excellent range, and her beauty certainly doesn’t hurt. I love the casting choice here.

What do you think, readers?

Good books’ bad flaws

March 27, 2011 by

Comic book writing isn’t an exact science. You can be one of the best in the business and still suffer from annoying tendencies every now and then. Even among my favorite books, I’ve noticed some recurring weaknesses. How big of a deal those weaknesses are tend to be relative to each reader. For instance, I grew to absolutely hate Brian Michael Bendis’ writing because of his incredibly slow pacing, redundancies, simplistic characterizations, and over-reliance on certain characters and on deus ex machinas. But judging from Bendis’ enduring popularity, others view those as mere speedbumps in otherwise good storytelling. Meanwhile, Peter David’s tendency to sometimes needlessly inject sex into stories can probably disrupt his writing for some, but with the exception of his old Captain Marvel title (where the random sex really did go overboard sometimes), it hasn’t interfered with his stories for me.

So here is a look at some flaws I’ve noticed popping up. Finding a weakness in a weak book is easy, but these are all ones in titles that are nevertheless mostly enjoyable. Most of these are more on the minor side, but some threaten to become bigger and more disruptive if not reined in.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read Marvel Comics free online… at Starbucks

March 24, 2011 by

If you’ve been on the fence over joining Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited because of the yearly subscription fee ($4.99 a month nowadays), then head on over to Starbucks start April 23 to access it for free via the Starbucks Digital Network.

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/03/like-coffee-with-your-comics-marvel-joins-starbucks-digital-network/

Looks like I’ll be heading to Starbucks a lot more often! I kind of wonder how this’ll change the coffee shop’s culture. Probably not in any significant way, but maybe we’ll see more folks getting together and talking comics over coffee (while READING said comics online). Starbucks could become a trendy place to meet and make friends with fellow fans!

Comic creators I’d like to see on Marvel titles

February 12, 2011 by

So last week, we brought up T-Voort’s “Talk to the Hat” column on Newsarama and his question at the end, “I’d like to hear from the readers what regular title they think would benefit from a change of creative team, and why.” (a question without a period? I can’t believe it either!) I thought I’d take a slightly different approach and just mention creative teams I would like to see tackle certain Marvel characters.

-Grant Morrison and J.H. Williams III on Doctor Strange: if you’ve been reading IGN, then you’re probably going, “this creative team sounds familiar!” Honestly, the two are a natural fit together. Morrison’s trippy, multi-layered, even mind-expanding writing works perfectly with J.H. Williams’ mind-blowing visuals and his ability to draw in multiple styles. Who better to tackle Doctor Strange and the many strange and wondrous worlds he visits? Morrison and Williams also have a whole lot of star power that can lure readers to the character, who doesn’t always get the attention he deserves.

-Joss Whedon on Astonishing Spider-Man: anyone who’s read Whedon’s work knows he has a knack for writing quippy dialogue. Whedon’s inclusion of Spider-Man during the last issue of Astonishing X-Men works as an excellent audition for the creator, who proved he can write a Spider-Man that’s incredibly funny and true to the character.

-Greg Rucka [and Ed Brubaker] on Daredevil: one of my favorite arcs on Brubaker’s Daredevil run was “Cruel and Unusual,” where he teamed up with Gotham Central writing partner Greg Rucka to tell a fascinating story about a man willingly taking the rap for a crime he didn’t commit. Rucka’s arrival brought a breath of fresh air to a comic fans had been calling too downbeat and depressing. I read he wrote most of the dialogue for the supporting cast and it showed; Dakota North’s charm and wit, in particular, never shined brighter than they did under Rucka’s pen. To see Rucka and Brubaker bring more of that Gotham Central magic to Daredevil would lead to some smart, well-written comics. I wouldn’t even mind seeing Rucka tackle Daredevil solo, just to see what he might bring to the character.

-Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev on Moon Knight: oh wait. Already happening :)

-Jonathan Hickman on X-Men: after he finishes his Fantastic Four run, of course ;) Hickman loves science, big ideas and mythology building, all of which perfectly suit Marvel’s Merry Mutants. I’d love to see his ideas on what a mutant should be in the 21st century. Had he broken into the biz earlier, he would have been a great follow-up to Morrison’s New X-Men…

-Paul Cornell on anything: just to see what would happen :) He’s doing some terrific work for DC right now and if he decides to try his hand at some Marvel work as well once his DC exclusive’s expired, I’d love to see it!

-Sean McKeever or Geoff Johns on Runaways: I know, Geoff’s probably DC exclusive these days, being its Chief Creative Officer and all. But we can dream, right? Anyway, McKeever and Johns have shown that they both know how to write teenagers, including teenage superheroes Even though Runaways may not be as superhero-y as Teen Titans (a title both Johns and McKeever wrote, go figure), it’d be a pretty small adjustment for either creator.

Priest on Black Panther: who says you can’t go home again?

Mark Waid on a Captain America sister title: if Spider-Man can star in a bunch of titles every month, then so can Captain America. Brubaker’s obviously got plenty more Cap stories to tell, so bringing Waid back to the character in a new title seems like a pretty ideal solution. I’ve read Waid’s got some ideas for the character, and I’m sure fans of his earlier Cap runs would love to see what else he can bring to the Star-Spangled Avenger.

That’s all for now. Who’d you like to see? My fellow bloggers-in-crime are more than welcome to post their own list separately, or if they comment below, I’ll add ‘em to mine.

Highlights from Tom Brevoort’s “Talk to the Hat,” 10/4/11

February 5, 2011 by

This week’s Marvel’s T&A (T for Tom Brevoot, A for Axel Alonso) question and answer feature at Comic Book Resources  becomes Talk to the Hat, as Axel bows out to focus on his new duties as Marvel’s editor-in-chief. Here’s some interesting stuff from T-Voort:

Tom Brevoort: As I’ve said before, I’d love to see both T’Challa and Storm on the Avengers — so maybe that’s something that I’ll get done this week at this retreat! We’ll see!

I’ll second that! Which isn’t to say Storm has to step away from the X-Men; she could always be on both teams, like Wolverine. It’ll also be a good way to ensure neither member of the couple overshadows each other (which was kind of a concern back when the two got married in Black Panther). Even though it wasn’t in main Marvel continuity, Storm has been an Avenger before, over in Marvel Adventures: The Avengers.

We also find out about a very cool idea Tom had for Sue Storm… and how it actually turned out to be something he’d seen back at his earliest days at Marvel!

I’ve long felt that Sue Richards should be the FF’s “field medic.” Using her powers, she could “diagnose” a problem using her abilities to make assorted layers of the epidermis invisible. Using her force-fields honed to a molecule’s thickness, she could create and manipulate with uncanny precision scalpels, as well as clamps and retainers and all the tools one would need in surgery. And so forth. It was a cool bit, using Sue’s powers in a logical yet novel manner, and casting her in a different role. I know I bounced this bit off of Jonathan Hickman when he was taking over the series.

But just last week, I picked up a copy of the Premiere Hardcover collection of the “Resurrection of Galactus” arc. The earliest issues of “FF” I edited were in that volume, picking up from previous editor Bobbie Chase. And I was stunned to discover that, in one of the parallel worlds that the FF visit in the course of that storyline, Sue is a doctor, using her powers in exactly the way I had been talking about. Now, I edited the issue in question — it was one of my first, if not my actual first. But it had completely fallen out of my mind in the intervening years. So it was actually Carlos Pacheco or Rafael Marin or Jeph Loeb who had come up with this bit-of-business that I had been talking up as my brilliant genius for all these months.

Not sure Sue has any medical training, but her dad was a physician. Still, a good idea, even if it’s been used before :P

Finally,

Tom Brevoort: Well, okay, let’s ask this one. There are two schools of thought when it comes to the tenure of writers on our assorted titles. The first is that writers should be contracted for relatively short, finite runs, like Mark Millar in “Wolverine: Enemy of The State,” in which they hit you immediately and all at once with all of their best ideas and don’t outstay their welcome. And the second philosophy is the long-form approach, where somebody like Brian Bendis writes a title like “Daredevil” for as long as it’s interesting to him and successful for us, and that enables the creator to tell stories across far greater swaths of pages and time. So, with all that in mind (and with a certain amount of decorum — there’s no need for name-calling here), I’d like to hear from the readers what regular title they think would benefit from a change of creative team, and why.

Woo. Talk about a potentially explosive question. Obviously Tom means no offense to any of Marvel’s current creative teams, but I can’t help but think it would have been better to ask, “Which creators fans would like to see on a certain Marvel book?” Or even, “Do you prefer longer runs or shorter, finite ones?” which is where it looked like T-Voort was headed. I’m sure we’ll get some interesting answers, though…

(off the top of my head, I can’t think of any Marvel titles that’d benefit from a creator change; maybe it’s because I don’t read as many Marvel titles that I used to, or because the ones that I think would benefit are about to get a change in creative team in a few months).

Anyway, definitely check it out, it’s well worth a read. You’ll also find out what Tom’s favorite title to edit so far (he gives a great answer), the funniest Marvel pitch that’s ever come by his desk (a murder mystery at the Marvel offices!), more hints about the returning CrossGen titles (Sigil and Ruse aren’t the only ones!) and of course, your regular batch of preview art (Alan Davis on a Young Avengers story!).

I leave you with a preview of Alex Maleev and Brian Michael Bendis’ upcoming Moon Knight ongoing series, which hits in May– about time we saw Maleev and Bendis on another Marvel title! And who knows, maybe we’ll turn this into a regular feature on the blog :P


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