Feb 27, 2012

She Is Screaming in the Shower: FELL Review

She Is Screaming in the Shower is a column written by Robert Leichsenring for The Comics Cube! Click here for the archives!

A HeartFELLt Review
by Robert Leichsenring

Hello again. I'm back and this time with a slightly different topic. Let’s call it "cheap shots."

I would like to introduce you to FELL, a crime book by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith with a $1.99 price tag on each issue. Interested? No? I don't care, you're still going to hear about it.

FELL is a project of my dearest Warren Ellis, and is a dense but cheap comic that can be enjoyed as single issues without a demanding overall metaplot. The series received Eisner nominations for Best New Series and Best Continuing Series, for those of you who actually care about this.

Detective Richard Fell is a good cop. Maybe too good. So his superiors send him from "over the bridge" to the fictional city of Snowtown. Snowtown is one nasty bitch of a town. The people have given up, crime is everywhere, and the police is understaffed and stuck with a boss who would make Arkham inmates feel a bit uncomfortable. Oh, and he only has three and a half detectives.

Detective Fell is thrown into this town and confronted with the worst human nature can offer. Murder, abuse, corruption, and worst of all, a city with no hope for tomorrow. A city with citizens who have no compassion for each other, no respect for others or themselves. To be honest, I think what we fear most in a human is not someone doing a bad thing because he is enraged or madly in love or just plain crazy. The people that just don't give a f$#k — that's really scary. People doing bad things because they do not care anymore. People that have lost their connection to humanity.

Richard Fell is a very unusual hero, not afraid of doing the dirty work and bending or breaking the law for something he believes is right. His only tools are a sharp mind (as sharp as it gets, actually), a Sherlock Holmes–like observational skill, a camera that he takes everywhere, and of course, a gun. I know that we have seen a lot of characters like this, but Fell feels different as there is a felt line that is not really defined but you know it's there. He might be breaking the law, but never to do harm (he seems to be the only one to ever get hurt, except for the dead guys). He goes out of his way quite some extent to help people, and you know he does it because he cares. That’s the simple truth about Richard Fell. He cares.

Every issue contains a standalone story which can be read on its own, but of course we have development with Richard Fell as it becomes clearer with each issue that he is going to stay for good and that he has no intention of leaving Snowtown's problems lying around on the street. We have Mayko, a bar owner, who is slowly closing in on Fell and the reason why he has been sent to Snowtown and why he cannot go back over the Bridge. Mayko is one of the few people in Snowtown still in her right mind, which you will learn means nothing in this city. If you search for a romantic side plot you have to go look somewhere else. FELL is a no-nonsense series without any warm fluffy feelings appearing in your guts (or anywhere else).

Okay let's talk about the art, shall we?

Ben Templesmith, man, I love this guy. You probably know him from 30 DAYS OF NIGHT or the DEAD SPACE comic. This man is blowing me away every time I open a book he penciled. His style is a natural fit for this crime story with bits of noir and elements of horror (if you tell me that you are not freaked out by the nun, I will call you a liar and tell your mother). TEMPLESMITH is using his very unique style to create an atmosphere of danger and threat combined with a feeling of helplessness. The only "real" characters seem to be Fell himself and Mayko. The usual sketchiness of Templesmith's drawings brings a lot of life and a certain vibe to Snowtown and fills it with dark corners, abandoned warehouses, and a nun with a Nixon mask. And don't be fooled by the first look. He can crank up the detail without you even noticing or changing his style. The man is awesome.

Ellis uses the 3 rows with 3 panels each and so is giving us, the customer, a good balance between art and plot and gives Templesmith a lot of space to indulge in his drawings and do what he does best. TEMPLESMITH is on top of his game in FELL and author and artist build a very intriguing comic book for the $1.99. Check out the extras in the back: letters, scripts and so on.

BUT!! (yes there is a but) Unfortunately, FELL is on hiatus since 2008 thanks to a crash of ELLIS' computer with all the finished scripts on it. There are 9 issues out right now and it has been announced that FELL will return, but no one knows when (kinda like DESOLATION JONES ... it ain't dead but it ain't breathing either).

So folks, if you like a good crime story, or Templesmith's art, get going and buy this, or borrow it from a friend or whatnot. Hopefully we will have new issues coming by 2012 to follow Detective Fell on his more than stony way through Snowtown. Don't forget to get your protective Snowtown tag or else you might not enjoy the ride.

Signing out

Robert "Nemo" Leichsenring

Feb 25, 2012

CB Cebulski to Visit the Philippines and Look for Talent

Wow, the news just keeps coming in. CB Cebulski, Marvel's VP for Creator and Content Development, is coming to the Philippines.

You aspiring artists may get a chance to get your portfolios reviewed!

For more information check out National Book Store's Facebook page.

Good luck!

Feb 23, 2012

Matt's Mentionables: The DC Reboot

Matt's Mentionables is a column written by Matt for The Comics Cube! See his archives here.

The DC Reboot
by Matt

Contrary to some, my expectations of the DC universal reboot did not hedge on a list of esoteric erotica or general confusion about characters. There were many things I didn’t like about the reboot, but those areas have been well covered by others. I wanted to, for a shocker, point out where I’ve seen as some surprising successes over the past 6 months.

I am continuing to read Green Lantern titles and my lone way to get my Booster Gold fix, but none of those books make my cut. All of the titles that follow are ones I wasn’t reading before the reboot, so I guess DC has something to be, mildly, proud of about their efforts. None of these titles are among those canceled in the recent DC announcement, so I might be on to something.


There may be 15 different titles featuring Batman out there, and I may confuse several of them (like DARK KNIGHT/DETECTIVE COMICS/BATMAN/BATMAN AND ROBIN), but by issue 5, I’ve managed to sort out which ones I am enjoying and which ones I just don’t get. For me, BATMAN — you know, the one with the story right now about Owls (which in the comic sadly travel in courts, not parliaments) is the best. I enjoy the story mixture of detective work and action. The issues make great use of Gotham as a plot element/character, something essential to who Batman is to me. Tight storytelling and art that enhances the story rather than makes up for it makes Batman a success.


Aquaman is frequently the chum bucket of DC books. A guppy in a shiver of sharks. The Flying Dutchmen of superheroes, wandering the seas of obscurity until he loses a hand or grows a beard. Enough with the bad sea metaphors, this book is actually enjoyable and understands that Aquaman belongs to the sea, is connected to it, and is conflicted by his upbringing. I like that this take on Aquaman acknowledges that Arthur is torn between being on land (i.e., where everything else happens in the DC universe) and belonging to the water (where his powers matter). You can see it in the mild frustration he has with people not knowing why he’s around and what he’s doing.


Clearly not an A-list hero and not a comic aimed at the 10–12 age group, but Resurrection Man is a great introduction to character not many people are going to know or have a deep familiarity with. I certainly didn’t know much more than the basics about Mitch Shelley (I didn’t know his name, for instance), but the short intro and the comic's ability to show and tell drew me in. The story holds my attention and I am willing to read more, surely the praise DC is looking for, right? The character also presents a creativity challenge for writers and artists: every time Mitch dies, they’ve got to come up with something new.


While I may have harbored a secret liking of Aquaman, I never really cared for the JL Angst edition I always thought of when people mentioned the Teen Titans. But, given the chance to not be dragged down by years of confusing continuity (see LEGION OF SUPERHEROES if you want that), I gave TEEN TITANS a shot. I have been pleasantly surprised by the story thus far. I like the idea of introducing some characters I know with plenty I don’t. Even if they are a little goofy and have big, purple boxing gloves. Frankly, I’m also enjoying the speed at which the Teen Titans are being assembled (more so than the Justice League). Tim has a clear plan in mind, is acting like a Bruce-lite know-it-all, and there is enough conflict and confusion to create a clear sense of urgency.


I have always been a sucker for Greek myths and legends. They serve as a stark reminder about why continuity and logic shouldn’t matter in a good story. The aspect of Wonder Woman I always liked was the potential for it to use Greek myths to tell stories and move along the character growth of Diana. You get rampaging gods, an angry Hera (always a plus in my book), and a serious, kickass female lead. What’s not to like? It also has an art style that works with the motifs of the themes to enhance the story. I look forward to seeing how Zeus’s 435th illegitimate child comes along and how Diana deals with the (persistent) Amazon fallout.

Feb 22, 2012

David Finch is Coming to Manila

Well, local Cubers, it's official. David Finch, artist of, among other things, BATMAN REBORN, AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED, and CYBERFORCE is coming to Manila. The event will be sponsored jointly by Fully Booked and Comic Odyssey, and there'll be book signings, talks, and art competitions galore. Here's the official press release.

EVENT TITLE: The Dark Knight Reborn: Fully Booked Presents David Finch
EVENT DATE: March 11-13, 2012
VENUES: Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street, Fully Booked Katipunan, College of St. Benilde (CSB), and the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Diliman

Canadian-born comic artist and writer David Finch is in possession of a career that is both noteworthy and diverse—to say the least. Before bagging his current stint as an artist exclusive to powerhouse comic publisher DC Comics, he started out with Top Cow Productions, ably taking the reins from comic industry stalwart and Image Comics creator Marc Silvestri on the Cyberforce series.

Finch went on to work on a number of other projects, including Ultimate X-Men, The New Avengers, and Moon Knight, working with such greats as Brian Michael Bendis and Charlie Huston. Crossovers such as Marvel and Image’s Witchblade/Elektra, among others, are also part of his repertoire. Finch has also dabbled in album art creation, working on nu metal act Disturbed’s third studio album Indestructible. He is also credited with creating the concept art of the film adaptation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen.

Finch’s latest—but not the first time—work aptly involves the comic character first featured in DC’s Detective Comics series: the Batman, re-launched as part of DC’s New 52.
Finch would specialize in inking Batman’s Dark Knight persona, creating art that would inspire one of the best Batman film adaptations to date: The Dark Knight (2008), which features Christian Bale as The Dark Knight and what many consider the late Heath Ledger’s most powerful and memorable role as the Joker. It is with much anticipation that Dark Knight aficionados await the next Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, which is slated for release in July of this year; again helmed by Christopher Nolan with Bale reprising his role.

Finch is currently working on the second volume of the Dark Knight story arc (to be released in September 2012), which begun with Dark Knight Vol. 1: Golden Dawn, which he inked and penned (with Grant Morrison). Finch’s remarkable attention to detail is evident in both his writing and art, and reveals much of the Caper Crusader’s dark side; a testimony to his brilliance as one of the finest comics writer/artists of this generation. This March 11-13, David Finch will be visiting Manila for the first time. Fully Booked is holding a series of events, entitled “The Dark Knight Reborn” for Batman aficionados of all ages.

On March 11 (Sunday) there will be a Book Signing at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street at 3:00 p.m. On March 12 (Monday), Finch will be giving a talk with a Q&A portion, which will be followed by a Book Signing at the College of St. Benilde at 1:00-4:00 p.m. On March 13 (Tuesday), he will do the same at U.P. Diliman from 1:00-3:30 p.m., which will be followed by a Book Signing at Fully Booked Katipunan at 4:00 p.m. For Book Signing mechanics and guidelines visit http://www.fullybookedonline.com/davidfinch.

David Finch will also be part of a panel of judges for the Batman Art Contest, which is comprised of three age categories: Bat-Mite (ages 4 to 10), The Robin Round (ages 11 to 15), and Caped Crusader (ages 16 and above). Winners of the Bat-Mite category will win Batman merchandise, while winners of the Robin Round and Caped Crusader categories will get to dine with David Finch.

The deadline of submission of entries for all categories to Fully Booked’s Metro Manila branches is on March 1, 2012 (Thursday). While the deadline of submission for Fully Booked’s provincial branches is on February 23, 2012 (Thursday). For complete contest mechanics, visit http://www.fullybookedonline.com/davidfinch, or see posters for details. This event is brought to you in part by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., DC Comics, and Bonifacio Global City.

*Updates will be posted on the Fully Booked website (www.fullybookedonline.com/davidfinch), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/fullybooked), blog (lucylovesfullybooked.blogspot.com/), and Twitter account (twitter.com/_fullybooked)—use the hashtag #DavidFinchInManila for Batman trivia and for special updates. (—GRT)

I'll try my best to be there to cover the event, but I wish all of you joining the art contests the best of luck!

Enjoy, Cubers!

Feb 20, 2012

She Is Screaming in the Shower: Superheroes: An Origin Story

She Is Screaming in the Shower is a column written by Robert Leichsenring for The Comics Cube! Click here for the archives!

Superheroes: An Origin Story
by Robert Leichsenring

Welcome back folks, the few that are still educated in the high art of reading. For those who are not: there will be pictures!

It´s time for another round. And today´s topic is ... can you guess it? Of course you can. SUPERHEROES! ... seriously, what else am I talking about?

Let me take a closer look for you on the attraction of the superhero, the myth behind it, and maybe, if we have time, a glimpse for the future.

Where did they come from? How is it that we now have a near infinite range of  superheroes? Are they just a product of the times they were created in? See, the superhero is not an invention of the 30s and 40s of the 20th century. Their history goes far back to the dawn of mankind.

As we know today, the comic medium as part of the sequential art is very old. As old as our first paintings, depicting cave men on the hunt, found in caves all over the world.

This is the beginning.

Feb 17, 2012

Reviews: Kal

Over a year ago, I said that I really wanted to read KAL, an Elseworlds tale by Dave Gibbons and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez that answers the question, "What if Kal-El's rocket landed in Medieval England?"

I was finally able to read it, and wow.

This, dear Cubers, is just what art does to a book. Atrocious art can make the greatest plot and script unreadable. Great art, however, can elevate a serviceable story, and that's basically what happens here. There's not much to the actual narrative other than transposing Superman and his supporting cast (mainly Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen) into the medieval setting, and it's Gibbons' characterization that really makes the story pop — the type of subtle characterization that is executed masterfully here by the Maestro himself, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. (By the way, can I just call him JLGL from now on? His name is long, and that includes just his last name, and since my nephew has a friend named "Jose Luis," it feels weird to type that too. Okay? JLGL it is.) JLGL is adept at depicting any sort of facial expression or gesture, from Kal blushing with a knowing smile to Loisse being smitten by him to Kal tearing down castle gates. It's great, dynamic stuff, and even if the story doesn't actually say anything that substantial, it's a fun read simply because Gibbons has Garcia-Lopez do a lot with the premise. Who wouldn't want to see Superman lead an attack on a castle?

Mastery of the craft is evident in the entire book, from the cover alone making it look like a prized artifact from the era (how I wish they'd gone the full hardcover treatment with this — if any concept just demanded that treatment, it'd be this). The fonts used as well as the narrative balloons being depicted as scrolls really give a sense of "Middle Ages" to this story. I don't want to spoil anything from the book itself, so I'm going to show you this house ad for it. It's rare that an ad will actually indicate how good the book is, but this one does.

And wait till you get to the ending. That's just one rather awesome brain-tickler.

I'm quite surprised DC hasn't come out with a collection of Elseworlds tales yet. You'd think it'd be easy, since 90% of them feature either Batman or Superman, so grouping them wouldn't be a problem. I'd definitely put this one as the first story in a Superman collection. It may honestly be one of my top 5 Elseworlds stories that ended up being a done-in-one. I wouldn't say that storywise, there's more to it than your traditional Elseworlds story, but again, that's just how good the art is: it takes a by-the-numbers plot and pushes the quality up several notches on the strength of JLGL's storytelling.

Good read for Superman fans, great read for JLGL fans!

Feb 16, 2012

Dan Didio and Jim Lee Make Some Idiotic Statements

I want to comment on a couple of things that Dan Didio and Jim Lee have said in these BEFORE WATCHMEN press releases.

Here, they say:
Comic books are perhaps the largest and longest running form of collaborative fiction. Collaborative storytelling is what keeps these fictional universes current and relevant.

And here, Lee says:
One of the key characteristics of the comic book medium is that it is not brought to life by just one voice. These universes are developed and evolved by multiple creative voices, over multiple generations. The influx of new stories is essential to keeping the universes relevant, current, and alive. Watchmen is a cornerstone of both DC Comics’ publishing history and its future. As a publisher, we’d be remiss not to expand upon and explore these characters and their stories. We’re committed to being an industry leader, which means making bold creative moves.

Come on, Jim, who're you trying to bullshit? Even if WATCHMEN weren't a bestselling comic for the last twenty-five years, are you telling me that you would actually continue with "collaborative storytelling" with the following properties if you owned them?

Quit trying to make it sound like "the comic book medium" is the same as the "mainstream superhero comic book industry." The "comic book medium" is far more diverse than your narrowminded statements would have people believe. People actually go into bookstores to see these other comics, while getting lost in your deluge of Batman and Superman trades.

In other words, why  don't you just cut the crap and say "We're doing this because we need more money"? I mean, we get it. We really, really get it.

"One of the key characteristics of the comic book medium is that it is not brought to life by just one voice." Sure, Jim. Except when it is actually one voice.

Feb 14, 2012

Until the End of the World: The Love Story of Jesse and Tulip

I don't talk about it much, but if I you pointed a gun at my head, attached me to a polygraph, and asked me to name the comic that means the most to me in the sense of just loving the characters and the narrative, my immediate answer would be Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's PREACHER.

There are many reasons to love this series, such as the compelling hook (Reverend Jesse Custer is off to find God, who has abandoned humanity), the balance of violence and humor (the Irish vampire Cassidy is both the series' most tragic and hilarious character), the shouldn't-work-but-it-does atmosphere of a Western in a modern-day setting with some magic and myth thrown in for good measure, and, most of all for me, the fact that the characters just feel real and connect with you on an emotional level, as I wrote here.

As a part of that last point, today, Valentine's Day 2012, I'd like to focus on my favorite couple in all of comic books, the stars of PREACHER, Reverend Jesse Custer and Tulip O'Hare.

There are spoilers in the next few paragraphs, but they won't go past the second volume of PREACHER.

Feb 9, 2012

Reviews: Shazam: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal

So I got this book a couple of months ago, and I just finished reading it.

SHAZAM: THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE WORLD'S MIGHTIEST MORTAL, written and designed by Chip Kidd with photographs by Geoff Spear, is a chronicle of Captain Marvel–related artifacts from the 1940s–1950s, when Captain Marvel was the most popular superhero on the planet. Regular readers know how big a fan I am of the Big Red Cheese, constantly reminding everyone that this was the one superhero more popular than Superman in the Golden Age. (See my Captain Marvel vs. Superman article)

This is going to be a quick review, since, well, there isn't a story to review, but I would easily call this book essential reading for (1) fans of Captain Marvel and Fawcett Comics and (2) those who truly wish to study comic book history. It's one thing to be told how big Captain Marvel was in the day; it's a whole different thing to see it. From Shazam-related toss bags to mailers sent to potential advertisers to bootleg trading cards from Cuba, the whole production isn't just a time capsule to see how big Captain Marvel and company were; it's a time capsule to see how big comics were at all!

Excerpt from one of the mailers sent to advertisers.
I'm sure the numbers are inflated, but the point stands.

I only have one other book by Chip Kidd, which is MYTHOLOGY: THE DC COMICS ART OF ALEX ROSS, and from there I already saw the kind of design work he was capable of. He brings those skills here, taking Spear's photographs of Harry Matesky's collection and laying them out in the most visually captivating way. In the simplest sense of the word, looking at these old things is fun because Kidd designed it in the most fun way.

In addition to all that, there's some really fun analysis by Kidd in the book. He contrasts Mac Raboy's realist art on Captain Marvel Jr. with C.C. Beck's minimalist style (noting in the process that Raboy could have been a fine artist but decided to do comics for money — how times have changed), lists some key differences between Superman and Captain Marvel, has a whole section on Fawcett's "Batman" (e.g., their second bestselling character), and more.

As an added bonus for every fan of comics, there's a full story in there from CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES #1, which is admittedly unrefined and shows some of the early obstacles they had in establishing the full tone and models for Captain Marvel and company. But there's a dynamism to it that makes it still fun to read — not surprising when you note the fact that it was done by that all-around duo of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, creators of Captain America, among others.

SHAZAM: THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE WORLD'S MIGHTIEST MORTAL is a treasure trove for fans and historians everywhere. In a time when the innocence and optimism that Captain Marvel represented is increasingly becoming as undervalued as the Captain is himself, this book is a good reminder of the past, and hopefully, a beacon to the future.

(That's my fancy way of saying that Geoff Johns and Gary Frank better get their Captain Marvel backup in JUSTICE LEAGUE right.)

Feb 6, 2012

Interview: PRINCELESS Writer, Jeremy Whitley

Our guest today, ladies and gentlemen, is Mr. Jeremy Whitley, writer of PRINCELESS. PRINCELESS is the story of a young black princess named Adrienne, who get stuck in a tower by her parents so that she can be saved by a prince who will then be heir to the throne. But Adrienne has a strong, independent streak, and she refuses to play damsel in distress. So she decides to take matters (and her dragon) into her own hands.

Here's my review of the first issue. For the interview, it's after the jump.

Feb 5, 2012

Before Watchmen: Kurt Busiek Addresses a Strawman, Mark Waid Rebuts JMS

Around 15 or 17 years ago, before Brian Bendis and Geoff Johns came along and writers became the stars of the comic book industry, there was very little question that two of the three biggest writers in comics were Kurt Busiek (ASTRO CITY, AVENGERS) and Mark Waid (THE FLASH, KINGDOM COME). I'm confident in saying that if they had done BEFORE WATCHMEN back then, these two would have been two of the first people DC asked to do it. (Grant Morrison is the other one.) Seriously, you guys must remember these game-changers, right?

In the last couple of days, they've commented on some statements made in the wake of BEFORE WATCHMEN, and I think they're good points — points that deserve to be posted in an article itself and not left to a Facebook status and comment boxes.

First, here's Kurt Busiek addressing the strawman argument of "Alan Moore uses other people's characters but doesn't like when people use his":

A thought, after seeing reactions to BEFORE WATCHMEN: It seems to me that anyone who thinks LOST GIRLS is merely a sequel to PETER PAN et al in the way that BEFORE WATCHMEN will be a prequel is really missing something. There's a difference between "build and transform and make something new" and "right, that went well, let's have more of that." DC's got good people working on BEFORE. But I suspect if someone did something as transformative as LOST GIRLS or LEAGUE with WATCHMEN we'd be going into a wildly, phenomenally different area.

I'd like to add to that the following. Moore is often ironic in his quotes. This is lost on a lot of readers for the obvious reason: it's not easily communicated in the written word. But you can hear it whenever you listen to him. It's so easy to say, for example, that his "I want no money from the movies they make of my work" is a self-righteous, arrogant stance, but all you have to do is hear him say it to know that he's being ironic. Here's a collection of mp3 interviews and I suggest you listen to them to actually get a feel for his usual tone. Even Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool says it here, after creators and fans alike reacted to Moore's controversial "The comics industry has no top flight talent" statement two years ago:
Alan generally does these kind of interviews in a very self deprecatory, ironic toe. 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.

Furthermore, declining money is not a self-righteous, arrogant stance, and anyone who thinks that actually reveals more about themselves than about the creator in question. I can speak from personal experience here: I have turned down generous offers, because (1) I can afford to, and (2) I didn't really want to deal with the people making those offers. And after everything you've read about the case, why would Moore keep wanting to deal with DC? For all the debating, all the posturing on all sides, I do believe it really comes down to that one simple thing: Alan Moore doesn't want anything to do with DC Comics.

Okay, that's done. Now, the most vocal of these creators on BEFORE WATCHMEN is J. Michael Straczynski, of whom, as you know, I'm not a big fan. JMS will apparently, in his DOCTOR MANHATTAN series, answer the oh-so-important question of "Why was Jon so absentminded as to walk into the Intrinsic Field chamber when he is so particular about time, because he's the Clock King for some reason?", and I don't know why he's doing all the talking, really. In any case, JMS wrote a long rant on his Facebook defending his choice to do BEFORE WATCHMEN. As is typical of Joe, no action of his is questionable and all the fault is on Alan Moore, and so he effectively gives a view of history where he can't possibly take any blame. Here's Comics Alliance discussing it.

And here's Mark Waid, a guy who was there, commenting on it:
To be fair:

I find it absolutely impossible to believe that DC, at any point, offered Alan “anything he wanted” as financial compensation, much less “complete creative freedom.” I’m sure they offered him boatloads of cash and I’m sure they offered him “creative freedom within reason,” but JMS is overstating in order to make a better case for his side. Also, in trying to “balance” the comparisons, JMS forgot to add the qualifier, “Let’s also say that, without getting into whether I was right to believe so or just crazy, I believed to my absolute core that the company who was trying to woo me back to Babylon 5 was a corporation who had (in my opinion) already screwed me repeatedly and who I could never in a million years bring myself to trust to deal fairly and morally with me despite contractual language in my favor.”

None of what I have just said is intended to take sides or to especially bolster Alan’s side or to snipe at JMS…but as someone who was on staff during Watchmen’s original publication and first-hand witness to the many growing problems between Alan and DC, I can tell you that it’s a very thorny, very complex situation in which (IMO) both sides have valid reasons to believe that the other doesn’t always deal fairly or sanely. I bring this up only because I bristle at JMS’s assertion that what he offers is a “more accurate” analysis of the overall mess instead of an equally flawed restacking of the deck.

After someone missed his point, Waid rebutted:

You misunderstand. I said, point-blank, "None of what I have just said is intended to take sides or to especially bolster Alan’s side." I'm not here to comment on the overall "should DC/shouldn't DC" debate. I wrote the post because false, uniformed "equivalencies" get under my skin, and I found JMS' line of reasoning stunningly flawed and canted. That's all. To reiterate, from first-hand experience and observation: I can understand why DC, historically, has had problems dealing with Alan. And I can understand why, historically, Alan has had problems with DC. They both believe to their core that the other has behaved in bad faith at times. And whether or not that belief is true and factual is not the point and has zero bearing on the world today. What matters is how those involved now react in light of their convictions, and distrust of the other party always casts a huge shadow over negotiations. JMS's flawed "apples-to-apples" presumes that all parties trust one another to act in good faith. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that.

Saying either "Alan's just nuts" or "DC deliberately swindled Moore and Gibbons" criminally oversimplifies the situation at hand. It's not that straightforward.

To answer your other questions--yes, absolutely, I too believe in standing by the contracts you sign, always have, always will. But I have learned the hard way--over the past two years in particular, with more than one previously trusted company--that even with the sharpest lawyers on your side, sometimes contracts get exploited in ways no one could ever have logically foreseen, and all the precautionary thought and advice in the world doesn't always cover both parties against unpredicted circumstances...especially with regards to emerging media, which "trade paperbacks" certainly were in 1985, every bit as much as "digital comics" are today--no one in the mid-'80s DC Editorial office ever dreamed any comic would stay in print 25 years.

In fact, digital is a great comparison. I myself, like hundreds of others, signed creator-owned deals ten years ago that included rights-reversion after material goes out of print--at a time when neither I nor the publisher could have foreseen that, in a digital-comics world, the phrase "out of print" as we defined it then has a far different meaning now. Back then, "out of print" essentially meant, "Hey, we, the publisher, have exhausted the market for now and aren't receiving enough orders to make newer printings profitable, so here, take your kid back." Now, by the letter of those contracts, a publisher can throw your book on the web at almost zero cost and certainly at no financial risk in order to maintain the rights in perpetuity without selling even a single copy. Not many creators OR lawyers could have foreseen that world in, say, 1999-2000.

And, finally, no disrespect to Dave at all--a fine man of great morals--but under a 50/50 split, Dave's blessing isn't any more "decisive" a factor than Alan's lack thereof.

What, JMS has a view of history that's self-serving and everything is the opposing party's fault? I'm shocked. Shocked, I say. Absolutely shocked.

Feb 2, 2012

Easter Eggs in Comics: Phoney Bone in DONALD DUCK!

Welcome to another installment of Easter Eggs in Comics! Click here for the archive!

Today's Easter Egg is rather unusual, as it's the first time that an Easter Egg preceded the thing that it is reminiscent of. This comes from the really excellent DONALD DUCK: LOST IN THE ANDES, which I just reviewed earlier this week.

Barks' influence comes through in one of the 10-pagers, specifically the one entitled "Truant Officer Donald," where Donald tries to make the nephews go to school. Huey, Dewey, and Louie are constantly a step ahead of him and take to mocking him, at one point with a snowman:

Look familiar? 'Cause it sure as hell looks like Jeff Smith's Phoney Bone to me!

Got an Easter Egg for the Cube? Email it to comicscube@gmail.com!

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