INTO THE MYSTERY: Remembering DWAYNE MCDUFFIE

“You writers live too much out of the world.”
— Carol Reed’s THIRD MAN.

I just heard about Mr. McDuffie’s passing.

We had exchanged emails, a couple weeks ago, about doing an interview.

I wanted to discuss his work and discuss how DC Editorial had hampered his comic book work on JLA (as well as Marvel on FF), and the success of his animation work, and his future plans.

Life being life and we all being immortal, I had put off following up on the interview until we had more time.

Needless to say, time and tide continues to surprise us all.

A towering individual, not only in terms of height (he was 6’7″) but in terms of talent, and enthusiasm, he will be greatly missed by me and many.

I think in a medium that is ever less inclusive, that is going backwards rather than forwards (how DC and Marvel treated him is part and parcel of people who consider themselves liberal but are not, holding ever more egregious lines of pride and prejudice), he was a rare voice against the inherent prejudice, tokenism, and marginalization of people and more the presentation of people.

He had this outrageous idea that these tales of modern myth, could support more than the single token, and tokenized, character of color and instead provide a multiplicity of characters of color. In a medium that still follows to great degree the Disney model of segregation and marginalization, he wanted the myths and the mythmakers… to be better than that.

And to this end he made fantastic inroads into redefining the myths we feed our kids through shows like STATIC SHOCK and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, and with the latter expanding the scope/expectations of American televised animation. JLU is very much a cartoon that appeals to adults who grew up on these characters, as well as kids, and offers a storyline with scope. And remains a watershed work.

It is therefore sad, and inexplicable that with such a pedigree, the editorial department of DC and Marvel, refused to grant his comic work the same license and freedom as his Animation work, and all readers are the poorer for that… sabotage. DC’s actions seemingly more about getting the Milestone characters, completely under thumb, to no doubt like other multi-cultural friendly properties, such as ZUDA, be misused, marginalized and ultimately taken off the table, and buried from the sight of day.

I love all these keepers of a 50s status quo, of the white way, particularly at DC Comics Publishing wing, who come out now in the wake of his passing to praise McDuffie’s work, when they did nothing but their best to butcher his work while alive. Hypocrisy. Be honest now, in your heart of hearts, be honest. You stink just a little of hypocrisy.

Save your pretty lies, and if true sorrow feel, show it in your actions, and not in your primping words.

You did wrong by him in life, do right by him in death, and in so doing, do right by yourself.

Grow.

Learn the contours of your own prejudice and your own culpability, so you can get past it. Be more open to characters and creators of color. use well the Milestone characters, and support diversity in your mainstream books. Stop trying to erase the good creators have done with characters of color, with Marvel it’s them tearing down all the great work Christopher Priest did (instead of making his BLACK PANTHER and CREW work available again, and better yet getting him back on BLACK PANTHER, Marvel seems committed to killing or marginalizing every strong male Black Character they have), with DC it’s them going back to the 50s in terms of all their mainstream characters.

Don’t wait till someone’s demise, to realize you’ve stunted not only their growth, but by doing so your growth, and my growth, and everyone’s. When new visions are sabotaged, the medium suffers. And the medium has suffered with the interference in Duffie’s comic book work.

But in the face of that, one ever to go forward, to shine lights, rather than curse darknesses, Dwayne McDuffie continued to tell stories. His recent CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS, being the best of the DC Animated Adaptations, and his Animated ABSOLUTE SUPERMAN on my list to see.

So Animation and comics has lost a great ambassador, proponent and crafter for these four colored adventures, but more it has lost a fighter against ignorance, and intolerance and stupidity and stereotyping, in a medium filled with too many people, too many editors and writers and decision makers, who live and die only by these inanities.

But for this one fighter lost, McDuffie’s work has served to introduce many to these fields of wonders and whimsy, and hopefully to inspire new mythmakers and new myths.

My best to him and his, as he precedes us into the Mystery.

I’m going to direct you to this recent 2 pt podcast interview with Christopher Priest, coutesy of the guys at Dollcast, as it touches a bit on Milestone, and is just an invaulable insight into a medium, that while little read, becomes ever more influential to other mediums.

Here’s PART I.

and

Here’s PART II

And once you listen to that feel free to go here for a listing of books written by Dwayne McDuffie.

Jason Aaron vs. Alan Moore vs DC Comics vs the History of Comics


I think most people are aware of this brouhaha.

But for those late to the game Alan Moore, was interviewed, as is wont to happen, and was asked about DC’s plan to do new stories in the WATCHMEN universe that he and Dave Gibbons created nearly 3 decades ago. Moore’s response was typical Alan Moore, both erudite and acidic and a bit tongue in cheek. Satire and epiphany are strengths not just of Moore’s writing, but his speaking.

Deconstruction is the term you typically hear in regards to Moore. But epiphany is more accurate. SWAMP THING and WATCHMEN and MIRACLE-MAN are often lumped under the lazy man’s term of deconstruction.

They are not.

Moore takes old tropes, and he twists it till you see it, in that rarest of ways, in a brand new light, until you get a moment of… clarity of purpose, not just about the character you’re reading about, but in some crazy way, you get a clarity of purpose about yourself.

Epiphany.

That’s what Moore does at his best, he gives you moments of epiphany.

And that Epiphany is in that interview he does with Adi Tantimedh.

Moore started his career with comedy, true comic strips, I would say he has forgotten more about humor than most people will ever know, except I don’t think he’s forgotten anything. So with this in mind, in the interview he responded to DC’s claim to be putting top-flight talent on these new Watchmen stories. He responded the way pretty much anyone would… with a bit of incredulity. But more than that with a valid question of, “if this talent is so top-flight, why don’t they create their own tales” (paraphrasing there), rather than try and retread Moore and Gibbon’s 25 year old tale.

I have to say, I think that’s a pretty valid question. You can read his post in Rich Johnston’s very nice summation of the issue here!

But when you do read it, you’re going to see it’s pretty typical Moore. And given his problematic history with DC, that they’ve treated him not exactly the greatest, for someone who has pretty much defined that company in the 80s, and his shadow, seemingly continues to define that company; it’s an understandable distrust/dislike he avows.

It’s hard to say, what building blocks if removed causes the house of cards to come tumbling down, but I would say for DC, that building block is named Alan Moore.

Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING, its success created Vertigo, buried the comics code, sanctified the idea of DCs hiring of British Talent, and his WATCHMEN would give birth to this idea of comic books as BOOKS. As Graphic Novels, as something worthy of true literary consideration. So arguably if Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING fails, then the idea of the British invasion fails with it, and you don’t get Neil Gaiman or Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis or Mark Millar or Garth Ennis, and DCs revitalization of the late 80s… is stillborn.

So even by the most jaded eye, what DC owes Alan Moore, cannot be overstated, or easily repaid. And even by the most jaded eye, DC has done a piss-poor job paying it.

So all that backmatter goes into Moore’s comments on DC ‘revisiting’ WATCHMEN.

And like stated Moore’s questioning of putting ‘Top-Tier’ talent on their WATCHMEN cash grab (let’s call it what it is) sounds like him quite rightly questioning what the hell that ‘catch-phrase’ means. Seemingly it’s a veiled attempt to placate users, that see messing with Moore’s opus may be a bit of heresy, by saying “we don’t have the original creators, but we’ll have top-tier talent”. To which, if it was my legendary property, I would have the same question Moore has, namely… “if they are such Top-Tier talent they surely have their own legendary story to work on. Don’t they?”

That’s the gist of Moore’s statement.

At no point does he mention any creator.

Yet Jason Aaron, gets so incensed, he states “Fuck You Alan Moore” and goes on a tirade. His tirade you can find at the link above. It is quite inexplicable. Since as pointed out, without Alan Moore you don’t get a Vertigo, which means you don’t get someone picking up Aaron’s THE OTHER SIDE, which means you probably don’t get Jason Aaron as a comic writer.

“F**k you Alan Moore”? seriously? Something in that article incensed anyone that much? Typically the only thing that gets people riled up that much, about an article their name is not in, is their conscience. They feel for whatever reason… the article is an attack on them. Seemingly they see a truth unspoken, except in their hearts. What truth Jason Aaron saw, what doubt or slight it called to mind, I don’t know. But whatever it was, I didn’t see it in the Moore article I read.


“Alan’s fight with DC Comics led to DC being much nicer to comic creators so as not to have a repeat performance. Their creator ownership/creator participant contract for certain titles, including Scalped, was a direct result of that. Indeed, Vertigo itself as a imprint owes more to Alan than any other creator. Without Alan, there wouldn’t be a Scalped – at least, not published by DC.

Alan generally does these kind of interviews in a very self deprecatory, ironic to[n]e. It’s the way he talks. I gave an example of that at the beginning of the interview, because I know how his words can be taken if read in a different manner. Try watching the video, then reading the piece again in that voice. When Alan is talking about the comics industry having no top flight talent – he’s including himself in that analysis. And I don’t think he’s blaming any creator for his problems, or the problems of a retro-looking industry, he’s blaming the companies.”— from BLEEDING COOL

Jason Aaron would perhaps be better served, by thinking clearly, and perhaps thoroughly, before he speaks, or types. Better yet, perhaps burying the hatchet with Alan Moore and apologizing would not be a bad thing for him to consider.

Being loud and outraged is easy. Being stand-up when you’re wrong is hard.

But it would win Aaron points in many people’s books, and I think even in his own.

I think Aaron, if he judges it quietly and well, must see he went off for no good reason, seeing an enemy where no enemy was. Aaron has proved he can be loud and think he’s right, unfortunately we all can do that (even Alan Moore who has had his own share of tirades); but can he be loud and admit when he’s been wrong?

I like Aaron as a writer. I thought his THE OTHER SIDE was great. I haven’t followed anything past the first trade on SCALPED, but have heard good things about it. And have caught his Marvel work sporadically.

He’s a good writer.

But I think you have to come to the plate with more than good, before you call down the thunder on someone who has done a lot better than good. Has done a lot better than great.

I’ve never particularly been a fan of the British invasion. I think people tend to forget that long before Moore or his ilk, writers like Doug Moench (hugely underrated writer) and Chris Claremont and Kraft and Giffen and Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber and Jim Shooter and Denny Oneil and JM DeMatteis were teaching the medium how to be better.

So I say the following, not being an Anglophile or British Invasion bandwagon rider, not being a particular fan of many British Writers. I say the following, being very glad we have great American writers like Brubaker, and Fraction and Hickman and Christos Gage, and Priest (get back to writing!) and Geof Johns and Greg Rucka and Joss Whedon and Johnathan Hickman and Robert Kirkman and… yes, Jason Aaron…, being very glad of all the aforementioned writers… I say: Alan Moore has been called the best writer in comics for one simple, undeniable reason… he is.

He has the work to back it up. Not everything he does is a home-run. His Avatar work… not a fan. But Moore’s missteps are few and far between, and his successes… will stand the test of time.

So bottom line, you don’t call out Stan Lee, until you’ve done what he’s done. And you don’t call out Alan Moore, until you’ve done, what he’s done.

So for one professional to go off like a crazy fan-boy to another professional, does nothing but put your own professionalism in doubt. If you thought he was slighting you personally, drop the man an email or give him a call, and get a clarification. But make sure you have reason to rant, before calling out an elder statesman of your medium.

It’s just common sense.

Perhaps not so common.

The return of UNDER THE RADAR Vol2 Issue 2! Part 1 of 2!

“Must we start every sup, with who we love and who we don’t?” —Peter O’Toole in the LION IN WINTER


Okay it’s that time again. My recommendation for comic books/graphic novels to preorder now for January 2011 arrival.

If while going though the below list you see any titles that you want to purchase current or backissues of go

here.

But first, what is UNDER THE RADAR?

UNDER THE RADAR was an experiment I started a while ago that I was quite proud of. Basically a very cool PDF I launched out to comic book retailers and fans to highlight titles you would otherwise miss, or get lost in the deluge from bigger publishers flooding the market.

It was fun, and very intensive, and very time consuming, so when time became an issue it fell by the wayside.

But I notice my old UNDER THE RADAR posts get a lot of hits, and even though a lot of people are doing preview podcasts (audio/radio-like programs dedicated to recommending items to preorder), those can be quite time consuming, when what most people are looking for is a quickly viewed list of recommended items they might otherwise miss.

So with that in mind, UNDER THE RADAR is back, but in a FAR simpler format. No PDF, no long diatribes. just a monthly listing of new titles to preorder or be on the lookout for.

Okay without further ado, this is a list of titles you can preorder this month through your local retailer for January 2011 arrival.


Marvel

No letters pages, no back matter, ads breaking up the story.

All these odd decisions from Marvel give no incentive to buy marvel issues monthly. Seemingly, they don’t care enough to give you a something beyond what you would get in the trade paperback, a real sense of a Stan Lee dialog, or sense of a monthly behind the scenes look at the creative process, so generally I say eff em. I’m talking about the publishing policies and policy makers of Marvel, not generally the creators, (as marvel has some great creators, but perhaps in service of not the greatest decision makers) but rather the lackluster way the creations are fed to you.

So even though Marvel floods the market with well over a hundred titles a month, their policies make it very easy to dismiss most of them from purchase consideration. The exceptions for this month?

$4.99 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500

Written by MATT FRACTION Art & 50/50 Covers by SALVADOR LARROCA Variant Covers by MARKO DJURDJEVIC, JOE QUESADA & JOHN ROMITA JR. GIANT-SIZED ANNIVERSARY ISSUE! Three generations of Starks face their ultimate foe, seventy-some years in the future while, in the present, Spider-Man joins Iron Man as he tries to fill in the blanks of his missing memory. What if amnesia was a weapon? What if the smartest man in the land had ten nightmares that all came true? Who is the son of Tony Stark? What’s inside of the rings? The future starts now, for the Marvel Universe’s favorite futurist. The Eisner-award-winning series makes a four-hundred-something-issue leap and raises a glass of non-alcoholic champale in salute to Ol’ Shell-head! By Matt Fraction (THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN, CASANOVA) and Salvador Larroca (UNCANNY X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR), with special guests Howard X, Y and Z! 104 PGS./Rated A …$4.99

100 pgs for $5. Not great, but I do like what Matt Fraction is doing with this book. Hopefully it isn’t full of reprints to pad out the page count, but figure the odds of that. A lukewarm recommendation.

* Marvel had a couple interesting trades, but their pricing is outrageous. For 4 and 5 issues of content they are trying to charge $20 to $30 for a collected edition, trade, or hc. Which basically boils down to them trying to charge you between $4 and $6 per issue collected. To that I say, hell no. A trade should, with rare eceptions, be no more than $2 per issue collected. So if you are only collecting 4 issues you’re only going to get $8 from me. And if it costs more than that you get nothing from me.

So Marvel trades get nothing from me this month.

*I’m interested in Matt Fraction’s THOR but not interested enough to pay $4 an issue, they can keep it.

$1.95 (save $1.04) THUNDERBOLTS #152
Written by JEFF PARKER Penciled by KEV WALKER Cover by GREG LAND The T-Bolts leap into HULK’s “Scorched Earth”! At the request of Steve Rogers, Luke Cage must take his hardened team to deal with a doomsday scenario unleashed in the pages of HULK! And now that the squad is a man short, Cage finally uses his power to recruit another prisoner to duty–and his pick will shock you! Will the Thunderbolts accept this new member as a part of their force? Or will this heavy duty wild card destroy the balance of power? Find out in the series that Newsarama.com’s Best Shots calls “The Avengers title that not enough people are raving about…it’s one of the best of the bunch.” 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99 (preview artwork is available)

The reason I’m picking up this title is it has potential, it has Luke Cage:Power Man (They need to go back to calling him that), Jeff Parker is a good writer, storyline sounds like a good jumping on point, and the price is $2.99. So to keep me picking it up monthly they’ll need to add letterpages or backmatter, or I’ll be hopping off of it relatively soon.

$2.99 BLACK PANTHER MAN WITHOUT FEAR #514

Written by DAVID LISS Penciled by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA Cover by SIMONE BIANCHI Luke Cage guest stars as T’Challa’s new adventure in NYC continues! The former King of Wakanda has sworn to protect the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and while battling the mob is one thing, how does he stop a killer targeting innocent people? It’s a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, as T’Challa hunts ruthless new crime lord Vlad the Impaler, while Vlad concocts a desperate and bloody scheme to entrap the mysterious new vigilante that’s ruining his plans. T’Challa learns what it really means to be a man without fear, courtesy of award-winning thriller novelist David Liss and the pulp-tastic art of Francesco Francavilla! 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

I think without argument Christopher Priest’s take on the Black Panther was the essential take, and Marvel’s use of this character since, has been in the shadow of that great run. And good writers not withstanding, Hudlin and Mayberry, I think it suffers from idiotic editorial decisions. Petty decisions intent, for whatever reason, on dismantling a great character. A female Black Panther? Really? That was someone’s stab at a good idea? Just indicative of the sabotaging type editorial decisions that have plagued this character.

The post-Priest series suffering from gimmics rather than gusto.

However with T’Challa back in the suit, if only in the DAREDEVIL title, I’m hoping this will be a good jumping on point. I’d love to see an entertaining, respectful run with this character. I’m unfamiliar with David Liss, but he has sense enough to toss Luke Cage:Power Man in here, and that means I’m willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, and willing to support, until they prove otherwise.

From Marvels ICON Line

$3.99 CASANOVA GULA #1 (OF 4)

Written by MATT FRACTION Art & Cover by FABIO MOON CASANOVA is back. Or is he? Actually Casanova is gone. Gone from space, gone from time. The burning question WHEN IS CASANOVA QUINN hangs over the entire world as E.M.P.I.R.E. and W.A.S.T.E. alike race toward the horrible, inevitable, answer…The second staggering volume of CASANOVA starts here by the Eisner-laden team of Matt Fraction (THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN, THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN) and Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, SUGARSHOCK) taking over art duties. Never before collected! Never before reprinted! Never before understood! In gorgeous full 4-D psychocolor! Worth a million in prizes! Change your shorts, change your life, change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy! Guaranteed!* *not actually guaranteed 40 PGS./Mature Content …$3.99


No ads breaking up the story, and loads of backmatter, and additional pages. So it’s me getting more bang for my buck, plus it’s Matt Fraction’s CASANOVA.

$14.99 CASANOVA TP LUXURIA VOL 1

Written by MATT FRACTION Penciled by FABIO MOON & GABRIEL BA Cover by GABRIEL BA Meet Casanova Quinn: prodigal son of a law-and-order family hell-bent on keeping the world safe and sound, now blackmailed into betraying his father and the international law enforcement organization he controls. LUXURIA collects the first volume of CASANOVA as its titular star transforms from devil-may-care thrill-seeker into the most dangerous man in the world. What happens when the ultimate player gets played? Find out in this genre-bending sci-spy epic. Gorgeously re-colored and re-lettered by hand, this staggering psychedelic spy-fi epic is collected for the first time as it was meant to be made. By the Eisner award-winning team of Matt Fraction (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN), Gabriel Ba (UMBRELLA ACADEMY, BPRD: 1947), and Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, SUGARSHOCK). With all-new, all-different, never-before-seen bonus material! Collecting CASANOVA: LUXURIA #1-4112 PGS./Mature …$24.99 152 PGS./Mature …$14.99

And speaking of CASANOVA we also have the CASANOVA trade. At $15 and being a collection of bigger ICON issues, the price point is a doable exception.

$3.50 INCOGNITO BAD INFLUENCES #4

BY ED BRUBAKER AND SEAN PHILIPS WITH COLORS BY VAL STAPLES Zack Overkill has plunged into the super-criminal underworld on a deadly mission that’s made him question everything. Now he’s come face-to-face with his target, and things just got a hell of a lot worse. And so with every issue, our Professor of Pulp Culture, Jess Nevines is back with another great essay on forgotten pulp history, available only in the single issues of INCOGNITO. INCOGNITO, BAD INFLUENCES #4 -32 PGS/Mature Content/Np Ads … $3.50

It’s always good to see the CRIMINAL team of Brubaker and Philips releasing another issue.

Uhh, yeah and that’s all for Marvel.


DC

All the negatives I said for Marvel, goes for DC as well. Which makes it easy to disregard most of the 100 or so books they put out every month. It’s stupid, confusing, greedy, and ultimately just off-putting to have 20 different Bat Titles. You should have just 2. BATMAN, and one 100page anthology called BATMAN FAMILY. Boom, job done. And until they do this it makes it very easy for me to buy none of their titles. Thanks. :).

The exceptions?

$2.99 POWER GIRL #20

Written by JUDD WINICK Art and cover by SAMI BASRI Racing headlong into the adventure and turmoil of GENERATION LOST, Power Girl is hot on the trail of Max Lord – seeking answers and looking for payback. But a trip to Project Cadmus leaves her with a bit more than she can handle, and monstrously outnumbered. On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

The one big difference between Marvel and DC is in terms of art. For the most part Marvel has frigging kick ass artists and cover design, and no doubt this is due to two of the companies driving forces, Quesada and Bendis, being great artists in their own right. DC to be kind, with a few exceptions (such as the great and innovative art of Perez or Quietly), underwhelms. DC’s covers and interiors are typically a bland, uninteresting house style; and in a medium that lives and dies on art, that’s not a good thing.

And when they do get a decent artist, like Simone Bianchi, seemingly the suits are too inane or cheap to keep them, and Marvel ends up offering the artist a better deal.

Which brings us to Sam Basri.

I touched on this in the last UNDER THE RADAR, Sam Basri is one of the few absolutely amazing artists that DC has working for them. His sense of cover design on the POWER GIRL series has been blowing me away. They really are works of art by themselves, and is one of the main reasons I’m picking up this series in individual issues rather than waiting for the trade. He really is one of DCs best artists, and the company really needs to realize this and pay him accordingly, or they’ll find him working for their competition in no time. :) .

$2.99 SPIRIT #10

Written by DAVID HINE Art by MORITAT Cover by LADRONN Roscoe Kalashnikov was sure he could get away with murder – and in a town as corrupt as Central City, maybe he could. But if that’s so, why do his victim’s words still haunt him? She said something about “the spirit of justice” and now, around every corner, Roscoe is seeing a flash of trench coat and the briefest glimpse of a masked man… On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

David Hine on a SPIRIT comic? I’m intrigued. David Hine is a really good writer.

$2.99 THUNDER AGENTS #3

Written by NICK SPENCER Art by CAFU & BIT and HOWARD CHAYKIN Cover by CHRIS SPROUSE The new hit series by Nick Spencer (ACTION COMICS, Morning Glories) and CAFU continues! Think the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are a messed-up team? Wait until you learn the secrets of the evil organization known as Spider! This issue promises twists, turns and a sequence illustrated by the legendary Howard Chaykin! On sale JANUARY 12 * 32 pg, FC $2.99 US

I’m hearing good things about this Nick Spenser, so this issue may be worth a look.

$2.99 LOONEY TUNES #194

Written by BILL MATHENY Art by DAVID ALVAREZ Cover by SCOTT GROSS Beaky Buzzard is hungry. He thinks he’s found a nice meal in Daffy Duck, but the wacky bird has another suggestion: Bugs Bunny. So just who will be feeding the hungry buzzard family? A hint: It won’t be the ever-cool Bugs! Poor Beaky doesn’t stand a chance… On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

$2.99 TINY TITANS #36

Written by ART BALTAZAR & FRANCO Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR Titans to the center of the Earth! Terra uses her powers to take the “hot” Titans on the journey of a lifetime. And if Terra is involved, you know Beast Boy isn’t far behind! Don’t forget the sunscreen and the bottled water, and watch out for the Sea Trap of Doom! On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I’ve started looking for books that I can give to younger readers. The above seem to fit the bill.

$2.99 ACTION COMICS #897

Written by PAUL CORNELL Art by PETE WOODS Cover by DAVID FINCH & BATT The last place Lex Luthor expected his quest for the Black Lantern energy to take him was Arkham Asylum – specifically to the cell of The Joker! What clues about Lex’s quest could The Joker have to offer, and why on Earth would Lex trust him? Get ready for a one-of-a-kind confrontation between comics’ two greatest villains, as brought to you by the twisted minds of Paul Cornell and Pete Woods! On sale JANUARY 26 * 32 pg, FC $2.99 US

$2.99 STEEL #1

Written by STEVE LYONS Art by SEAN CHEN Cover by ALEX GARNER John Henry Irons is a normal human being who managed to overcome all odds and become a hero who Superman considers a peer and colleague. What kind of determination drives a man to reach such heights? Find out here as a battered and bruised Steel defiantly stands as the only thing between Metallo and the destruction of Metropolis! Doctor Who novelist Steve Lyons and artist Sean Chen (ACTION COMICS, SALVATION RUN) deliver a story that shows why Steel is a true DC Universe icon! ONE-SHOT * On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Great solicitation. Plus I really like the character of Steel.

*I’ve heard good things about Lemire’s SUPERBOY, but I’ve seen the art, and it just doesn’t work for me. May try it later in trade.

$2.99 SUPERGIRL #60

Written by NICK SPENCER Art by BERNARD CHANG Cover by AMY REEDER & RICHARD FRIEND SUPERGIRL welcomes aboard writer Nick Spencer (JIMMY OLSEN, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, Morning Glories) and artist Bernard Chang (WONDER WOMAN, SUPERMAN) for a Girl of Steel story unlike any other! Someone is trying to kill the young heroes of the DC Universe! Who is this villain, and how can Supergirl stop him? Maybe her friends can help – namely, Batgirl, Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, Static and…Robin?! Buckle up, folks, because this one puts the pedal to the metal on page one and doesn’t let up for a second! On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Two things are getting me to give this a try, Nick Spenser and Static.

$2.99 HOUSE OF MYSTERY #33

Written by MATTHEW STURGES Art by WERTHER DELL’EDERA and DAVID LLOYD Cover by ESAO ANDREWS Since the Pair of the Conception first chased Fig Keele into the House of Mystery, Fig has never known who they were or what they wanted from her. Now, Fig solves a mystery that’s been lingering since the very beginning. Featuring a tale illustrated by David Lloyd (V FOR VENDETTA)! On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US MATURE READERS

Probably not the best place to jump in, but I’m intrigued, and have been meaning to pick this up.

Wow, I’m actually quite surprised how many DC comics I recommend this month. I guess their price drop has helped their titles to become more attractive, or at least most justifiable of the expense. Well that’s all for this installment. Catch me tomorrow for part 2 of this, and the remaining titles I recommend. Don’t miss it, as that’s where the good stuff is.

The NY COMICCON 2007 Coverage Pt. 1: The Black (you talking about shaft? Hush your mouth!) Panel

I had a great time at the NY comiccon. I thought with the exception of the rat like maze, laughingly referred to as a line, that it was a well conducted event.

Being my first con, I was definitely a little overwhelmed. The sales floor really was too much for me. Navigating it on Saturday (and I tried), was a herculean task, and I couldn’t find anything.

So I mossied (I couldn’t find it in the dictionary, but you know mosying , that thing cowboys do when they can’t find a horse. It’s kinda like walking :) ) my way down to the panels.

The panels I had researched and knew what I wanted to hit. With one exception I hit pretty much every panel I was interested in, and on Sunday got to touch base with creators and personalities I’m a fan of.

Here’s a pic from the great Marvel Bullpen panel. Lot’s of fun, packed house. Sorry for the blurry pic, but I think you can pretty easily make it out. From left to right it’s Stan (The Man) Lee, Jolting Joe Sinnot, and Gracious Gene Colan!.

Stan was a riot! Panel also included Ralph Macchio and a lady they only referred to as Flo. Fun panel, full of reminisces of Marvel’s glory days. My 2nd favorite panel!

But in this installment wanted to talk about the panel that surprisingly was my favorite of the con. Michael Davis’ The Black Panel NYC.

Now, now… don’t give me that look, it was actually really good. :).

The unfortunate truth is you can’t say Black in this country without some idiot saying, “why it gotta be a Black thing” and the answer is always the same. For the same reason there is an Asian thing, or a Jewish thing, or an Italian thing, and let’s be honest America is a defacto white thing.

And for the absence of a strong sense of identity amidst that defacto standard, prisons are filled, and drugs go into veins. So it is very, very important to have a china town, or a little Italy, to have a language, and a country, and a history, and a culture, and idioms to call your own.

And a lot of that infrastructure is in need of building.

Not just for the good of the minority mind you, but for the good of the majority. It benefits the majority, for the pieces that make up the whole, to be able to bring their own identity, and strength to the table.

So trust me, a Black Panel, A China Town, a Little Italy…. these are good things.

Now quick thoughts on the panel:

Above is a nifty pic of the panel. From left to right you have:
Denys Cowan (You can just make out the tip of his hat, and his shoulder, but have a better pic below), Chuck Creekmur, Cheryl Lynn, Prodigal Sunn, Michael Davis, Reginald Hudlin, and Mark and Mike Davis of Blokhedz. I’ll get into who everyone is, and what they work on)

“I would love to work with (Christopher) Priest. Along with Denys (Cowan) he’s one of the creators I’ve reached out to.”
…Reginald Hudlin, Writer, Filmaker, Comics Pro, President of BET, and Renaissance Man, an excerpt from the absolutely was not to be missed Black Panel that took place at this years NY Comiccon. A panel decisively and brilliantly moderated by Michael Davis.

Because many times even when the panel is great, the questions are idiotic and insipid. As in the Stephen King panel, “well I haven’t read the book Mr. King, but a friend of mine told me….”

So it was great to not see that happen, and that Michael Davis steered the panel with a deft and strong hand. The panel was great, the questions were great, the vibe was stunning. You had a great Asian-Latin-Black lovefest and mutual admiration society going on, which is great and fitting, because Black really does encompass all those people, the mass media’s attempt to fractionalize that truth, aside.

Above is a pic of Prodical Sun, Michael Davis, Reginald Hudlin.

And I want to get further off topic here, Mr. Davis took flak from someone regarding using the term Black for his panel. Isn’t that amazing? You can have a Jewish Anti-Defamation League, or an Asian that, or a Korean this, or an Italian that, but noooooo… you can’t have a Black so and so.

But Luckily he told the guy go jump in the lake. Because honestly I frigging despise the term African American.

“OHHHHH!!” And the crowd gasps!

“No he didn’t just say that!”

“That Negro has lost his mind!”

Well actually I did say it, and I have as firm a grasp on my sanity as I ever had, which of course isn’t saying much.

But for you in the cheap seats, let me say it again so you catch every word: I frigging despise the term, African American.

Why?

Because it’s a very marginalizing, mass media term; that doesn’t encompass the rich vein of people and culture that word is tacked over, but segments them based on national/geo-political boundaries.

An idiotic way to define a people, painting them with a nationalistic brand or brush. And an inaccurate way.

60% (a low #) of what we consider Latin nations, Brazil/Cuba/Venezuela are heavily of African ancestry. So as a person whose blood line runs from Senegal to the islands to the Americas… Black works really well for me, hey I’ll even answer to Pan-African, Nubian, on an especially jovial day perhaps even colored(smile when you say that boy!) but you can take your African American and choke on it.

Because AA is a marginalizing divisive term taken out of the context it was first used in.


“Man that Negro is crazy!” “Pan-African please. :)

So getting back on topic, the fact that it was called the Black Panel, worked for me. And I think it worked for the people who were there.

Because unlike my tirades :) it was all about the creative process, and new projects, new visions, upcoming work, and generally just moving forward.

With Animation projects, comic projects, book projects, publishing ventures it was a really informative panel, bursting with networking goodness.

I should have recorded the panel, and hope someone did, because it was that good.

Here’s a better pic showing Denys Cowan and Chuck Creekmur.

Panelists were:

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Denys Cowan-Writer, Artist, Martial Artist. Very long, very brilliant comic career. Highlights for me being his work on the Question, Black Panther, Batman Blind Justice and his Milestone work, such as Hardware. Now VP of BETs new Animation Studio.

I’ve been a loud detractor of BET, since their sale to Viacom, my issue being how you can honestly call it Black Entertainment when it’s owned by a white company, you may be able to call it blackface, or propagation and fulfillment of black stereotypes but not necessarily Black entertainment.

But with names like Hudlin and Cowan at the helm I’m inclined to actually give the channel another look, and hope it becomes more than a station that panders to stereotypes.

Though I would love to see these men working on their own company rather than a subset of a larger company. Because end of the day as Michael Jackson, and Magic Johnson, and Prince have found working their projects under Sony, end of the day you are generating income for interests outside your community, making Sony’s name at the expense of your own, and end of the day when you stop generating income you will be discarded. As will your work.

That’s always the fear when talented creators of color invest their time, in properties they do not own. But again with Hudlin and Cowan in the game I’m inclined to be positive.

Check out Newsarama’s interview with him here:

http://www.newsarama.com/general/Cowan/DenysInt.html

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Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur- President of WWW.ALLHIPHOP.COM. I admit to being out of the hiphop loop, but the site looks like a fun, easily navigated, and thankfully Flash free site. I’d love to see him partner with creators such as Aaron Mcgruder and Keith Knight, to bring their respective funny endearing, and satire filled cartoons, BOONDOCKS and THE K CHRONICLES, to a hiphop audience.

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Ms. Cheryl Lynn- Unfortunately the only beautiful panelist (no offense guys) was not captured in any closeups. I consider myself pretty schooled on Comic/Cartoon history, but I was mistaken. As Ms. Lynn eloquently informed the audience about a wonderful female cartoonist who worked in the golden age of the medium, of whom I was totally ignorant… Jackie Ormes. She has a great site, and I urge you to do what I did, go to her site and get informed. And also it’s a great resource for cartoonists of color to join, or for finding great cartoonists to work with. http://theormessociety.com/.

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Prodigal Sunn of Wu Tang Clan- Wu Tang Clan is among the most effective musicians to use the comic medium as an expression and extension of the story their music told. And Prodigal with a solo CD about to launch, television work, animation, and film projects on the burner remains one of the busiest and most steadfast supporters of the medium of comics.

I’d love to see Prodigal’s website become Flash Free. ;) [Black people, can't we stop using Flash. :)]

But seriously, what I would like to see is Prodigal’s Wu Tang Clan comics syndicated/reprinted on ALL HIPHOP. Also what would be great is if ALL HIPHOP offered a store where you could purchase the books, of WU TANG CLAN, BOONDOCKS, K-CHRONICLES direct from their site. A win-win situation for everyone.

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Okay all the time I have for this installment. Next installment we’ll cover the last 4 members of NY Comiccon’s THE BLACK PANEL! ([ feel like that should be in big lights, and the name echoing :)]

All in all a fun, fun panel.

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