Warner Bros. Takes Over DC Comics Publishing – What Does It All Mean?

Sumo = Me

The publishing world, through untrained eyes (mine), looks like a murky mangrove swamp of interconnected companies printing paper products for the masses.  It’s astonishingly confusing, at least to me, and right now I can honestly say that I’m unclear as to what the exact duties of a “publisher” are.

I know what a publishing house does (maybe): it’s a place, company, that buys books from authors, edits them, and puts up all the money for advertising, and distribution and such and, if the book performs well financially, takes the majority of the profit.  Right?  Ok, so then what the heck does this mean?

“Warner Bros. Consumer Products has taken over global licensed publishing responsibilities from its sister division, DC Comics…  The move includes all formats licensed to third-party publishers; DC’s New York office will continue to publish and handle global subsidiary rights for its core comic books and graphic novels.”

This excerpt was taken from an article written by the undoubtedly dashing Karen Raugust at Publishers Weekly (you can read the full article here) and I’m going to try to break it down.  It seems that basically, Warner Bros, which owns DC Comics, is taking over their publishing rights for certain products –

“encompasses children’s formats such as storybooks, novelizations, chapter books, readers, coloring, activity and sticker books, how-to-draw titles, educational books, and partworks, as well as licensed formats for adults, such as script books, novels, and art books. The roster of properties includes MAD Magazine and Vertigo Comics as well as the vast universe of DC Comics characters. DC publishes more than 80 comic and graphic novel titles per month and 1,000 issues per year…”

Intriguing to be sure, especially that bit about “includes all formats licensed to third party publishers.”   Yet we have this bit right afterwards  –

“DC Comics’ existing publishing licensees will remain in place. Many, including Bendon, Penguin, and HarperCollins, publish books tied to both DC Comics’ and Warner Bros.’ properties. “We have many shared licensees, and there are a lot of synergies to be gained,” Rupert said. “This will give us a lot of opportunity to grow.””

I dread the word synergy unless I’m talking about teams in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.  It gets thrown around as space filler adding a pseudo-positive spin to whatever’s being discussed by simply being indefinable.  Alright, so if Warner Bros. and DC Comics have many shared licensees (companies that have purchased the rights to publish material from both of these companies) does that mean Warner Bros. will see a lot of the profit because it’s taken over publishing practices.  Will this result in a loss of revenue for DC at all?  Will the companies that bought licenses from DC now have to go through the WB?

Looks like I need to get into the lab to brush up on my business and publishing knowledge.  If anyone can shed any light on this issue, suggest books to read, or anything I would greatly appreciate any illumination that blasts away my all-too-apparent ignorance.  I feel like this is a huge event that seems to have gone relatively unnoticed… Am I wrong?

#Newcomics – March 30th, 2011

I would just like to apologize beforehand.  Sometimes I write really well, at least I think so, and sometimes I write really poorly.  Today is one of those days where I find myself doing the latter.  If you loathe unrealized reviews and synopses that seem to meander without ever really telling you anything READ NO FURTHER!  Today is just one of those days.

But it was a great day for comics and not only did I spend a paltry $30.91 on comics but most of them were awesome and a few really surprised me.  Sure some were subpar, but as a whole my #Newcomics were great.  So what did I get?

Doesn't Zabu look terrified here? Weird.

The Incredible Hulks #625
I think that Dale Eaglesham has it in him to draw a great Hulk book, but he needs to really fine tune his pencils.  Some panels that rely heavily on a sense of movement have characters hanging in the air instead of careening to the ground ready to smash.  The movement lines are there but the bodies don’t convey any motion.

That being said I like Eaglesham’s Hulk anatomy and the page where the Green Goliath rides into battle wearing the carapaces of Miek’s insect minions, looking like some savage insectoid samurai, was simply stunning.  Unfortunately even in such a great page the awesomeness of the Hulk is downplayed by the more eye-catching red tendrils of the creepy worm beast he’s riding.

Also for whatever reason the facial anatomy of the Hulk is a bit too perfect in a few panels and he just looks creepy.  I wasn’t too impressed with this little story line.  I don’t know if it’s because I don’t really enjoy the remnants of Planet Sakaar or what but I’m looking forward to Hulk going toe to toe with Betty in the next issue.  The cover looks amazing!
Rating: 2/5

The All-New Avengers

Age of X Universe #1
Alright, so none of the characters included in this Age of X offshoot have any personality besides the Hulk and Sue Storm, something I hope the next issue will hit us with when they’re in the thick of battle with the muties.

The leader of this band of Avengers and the narrator, Captain America, or whoever he might be, comes off about as appealing as cardboard while tormented souls like Banner grab the spotlight.  What this tale does well though is set a stage for the Age of X arc, revealing a little more of the world that Magneto and his fellow mutants are fighting in.  That was great but Mr. Spurrier, why did you have to beat down two of my favorite mutants, Maggot and Marrow?  Is this some sort of personal vendetta?  What did I ever do to you?

After seeing what Khoi Pham did on The Incredible Hercules and Chaos War the work he’s done here is unacceptable.  Maybe he was burnt out from doing such an awesome job on those titles that he didn’t have enough for this book.  Maybe he just wasn’t feeling inspired, but whatever the case he can do better.  I’ve seen it.  HOWEVER he did end up drawing one of the straight up creepiest Sabretooths I’ve ever seen.  Honestly, Creed’s a train wreck.  I couldn’t look away.

The Spider-Man tale was a little better, if shorter, simply because it worked with what we already know about the character, didn’t try to throw us any curveballs, and added to our knowledge of the Age of X universe.
Rating: 3/5

Avengers #11
I will say one thing, John Romita Jr. knows how to pull off epic.  Each page in this issue is it’s own spread, harkening back to such earth-shattering events as Superman’s fatal clash with Doomsday way back when.  It adds a gravitas that’s enhanced by Uatu’s solemn monologue.  What’s most important?  It doesn’t feel like a gimmick.  While I didn’t like Bendis’ first Avengers arc I’m really digging this one.
Rating: 4/5

Cyclops One-Shot

Cyclops One-Shot
There have been some depressing Cyclops tales churned out by Marvel in the past but this one-shot, by Lee Black and Dean Haspiel, shrugs off the shackles that burdened its sad predecessors and gets one thing very right: fun.  It’s such a simple word, so small and unassuming, but it’s just what Cyclops needs and just what Black and Haspiel deliver.

Black reminds us that Cyclops was a kid once, but even then he was a wet blanket, and that’s half the fun here. With beautiful colors by Jose Villarubia, Cyclops is thrust into a vibrant world of capes and clowns as he does battle with the Circus of Crime.  Of course he’s got Sun Tzu’s The Art of War with him (When doesn’t he?) but the ancient war text snippets add a bit of misplaced seriousness to the levity on the page that meshes well with Haspiel’s pencils and the light-hearted tone of the issue.

The fights with the Circus are well realized and I caught myself smirking at some of the details, like the Clown passing a little glass after Cyclops blasts him with his crimson force beam. Dean Haspiel does a wonderful job keeping the art uncluttered, focusing on details when necessary, but giving Villarubia enough space to ply his wonderful color magic to his pencils.  If you’re on the fence as to whether or not you want to purchase this book, just get it, you’ll be glad you did.
Rating: 4/5

Dead End for Elvis?

Proof: Endangered #4
I’ve gotta say that Proof surprised me this week.  It was a decent issue, and brings quite a few things to a head to be resolved next month, but I’m wondering what hold Death has over Grecian and Rossmo’s characters?  Someone dies here, maybe, but I won’t ruin the surprise.

What I really wanted to talk about is the two character biographies at the back of the book.  Colonel Dachshund and Mi-Chen-Po are spotlighted and I’ve gotta say I’m a sucker for that sort of stuff.

When an author and artist go out of their way to expand the backstory of their universe… it just makes me happy.  I love to know how much thought goes into the characters and world their characters live in and with so many great personalities waiting to be fleshed out in Proof this is a big step in the right direction.  Keep it up guys!

I also picked up Scalped #47, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #8, Black Panther The Man Without Fear #516, and Ultimate X #4.  Of those I really enjoyed Scalped, some of Guy Gardner’s lantern constructs in Emerald Warriors were awesome to behold, Black Panther needs to get his shit together and take down Vlad, and Ultimate X needs to come out more regularly because I like Blob’s son.  For some reason, after only being in one issue, he’s the character I like most.

PEACE!

Weekly Want List – March 30th, 2011

AWWWW YEAH!

I’ve set myself a budget but comics are exempt from my penny pinching… MWAHAHA!  Luckily this week we don’t have too much madness going on so I won’t feel bad for spending the money.  I’m really excited for Scalped and where Emerald Warriors will take my favorite ring slinger.

DC Comics
Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #8 – What can I say?  I want Guy to tear Hal to pieces and I’ll pay to see it happen.  Will it?  Probably not but here’s to hoping.

Image
Proof: Endangered #4 – I like John Prufrock.  I like mythical creatures.  I like John Prufrock, a sasquatch, kicking mythical creatures’ asses in the middle of busy cities.  Yeeaaahhh boiiii!

Marvel Comics
Avengers #11 – I never got to read any of the original Infinity Gauntlet series when it was hitting store shelves way back when so I consider this my Infinity Gauntlet right here and now.  Heroes unite, crush that stupid Hood guy.

Black Panther: Man Without Fear #516 – Holy crud I have been enjoying this series.  The pencils, inks, and colors fit the tone of the story so darn well it’s mind-blowing.  Does Daredevil ever need to come back?

Cyclops #1: I’m not sure about this book, but ol’ one-eye is my favorite X-Man… these stories are usually hit or miss so I’m hoping this has something for a diehard Scott Summers fan.

Ultimate Comics X #4: Art Adams you make me weep.  Your pencils are so pretty but it takes you 13x longer than the average comic book artist to do a book.  Will it be worth the wait?

Vertigo
Scalped #47 – Things on the rez just keep getting more and more fucked up.  What the hell is Catcher up to and what does it mean for Dash…  Gosh I love this book.  Thank you Mr. Aaron!

And that’s it for this week.  PEACE!

Weekly Want List – March 23rd, 2011

Salaak needs to get his mean green on.

I don’t know why I haven’t been keeping up with this post at the very least, it’s so darn easy!  But here we are and this week there’s certainly a few I’m looking forward to.

DC Comics
Green Lantern #64 – From the cover this issue looks to be a drop down punch fest but I’m not really sure what’s gonna happen on the pages.  I was excited about the prospect of Salaak taking on Hal but so far this series has been a bit disappointing.

Green Lantern Corps #58 – I really enjoy the Corps series and this issue should be no exception.  Plus it’s Kyle vs. John?  Definitely gettin’ it.

Image Comics
Marineman #4 – If you can see beyond this book’s slothful start there’s some fun things brewing on the horizon.  And I really like Churchill’s art so that definitely helps!

RED HULK SMASH

Marvel Comics
Hulk #31 – The adventures of “Thunderbolt” Ross as the Red Hulk have been brilliant thus far.  I’m a believer!

New Mutants #23 – As the Age of X rolls on I’m more and more excited to see Basilisk tear the bad guys, or any guys, a new one.  This alternate dimension Cyclops is freaking awesome.

Ultimate Comics: Doom #4 – What could possibly have caused Reed to snap?  Also, Invisible Girl has become an epic bad ass and I want to see Ben Grimm use his new Wonder Man powers!

Uncanny X-Men #534 – I will always get this book regardless of how well it’s written or pencilled.  I just need it!

X-Men #9 – Bachalo on pencils means this is a purchase.  Doesn’t hurt that the book is fun and Spider-Man’s always a welcome addition to the X-Team.

Skybound
Invincible #78 – Invincible stuff is wonderful.  I will keep reading as long as it keep coming.  Huh… not much to write today.

Vertigo
Fables #103 – With the Dark Man looming ever present at the walls of Sanctuary and the Fables creating their own super hero squad, how can you not pick this up?  Probably the most consistently awesome book out today.

Avatar
Alan Moore’s Neonomicon #4
– There’s only so much you can say about this, it’s awesome but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.  It needs to be read and I’m going to do it!

That’s it team.  Let’s do it.  New comics tomorrow!

“Continued on” Narration Box in DC’s Superman Comic

Supes by Leinil Francis Yu

This is the paper that I submitted in my grad school application as an example of a single-authored academic paper.

I wrote it outside of college (GASP!) and I got all of my research from the MSU Special Collections library.  It deals with DC’s editorial practices during their first 30 years gleaned from looking at over 500 Superman comics.  This is something I was incredibly interested in and I’m hoping that if anyone digs on incredibly geeky comic book minutae they’ll give it a read and let me know what they think.  Also underneath the paper I’ve added some photos of actual comic pages for reference that might make this whole thing a little easier to understand.

The Use of the “Continued on” Narration Box in DC’s Superman Comic Continue reading “Continued on” Narration Box in DC’s Superman Comic

Post-Grad School Acceptance Stuff pt. 2

Alright, so now that I’m back to making this magic happen we’ve got part dos of Post-Grad School Acceptance Stuff, which just so happens to be the most important stuff of all!

4. A Personal Statement
Man oh man, this was by FAR the most difficult part of the MSU application for me.  Honestly, you really need to put some serious thought into your Personal Statement.  Why?  Because that’s you making your case for why the Graduate Committee should pick you!  In the case of my program, here were the requirements –

“The Graduate Committee wants to know: Why do you want to pursue this degree at MSU? What interests, qualifications, and, most importantly, professional goals of yours will be served by completion of this degree? How do you see the program at MSU specifically helping you to meet those goals?”

Wootah!  It might not sound like too much but my personal statement was 950 words or so and it took me weeks to fine tune into a perfectly tailored testament to my abilities, my conviction, and my dedication.  I’ve got a link to it here –  Personal Statement.  I don’t want to break this thing down too much but definitely take a look at it, it helped me get accepted.

5. At Least Two Writing Samples
The graduate committee was looking for one writing sample, of anything and one example of a single-authored academic style paper.  I had been writing non-stop for Marvel.com as a freelancer so providing one sample, especially one that was actual professional writing was easy.  The academic paper though?  That was FRICKIN hard!  I hadn’t written something scholarly in nearly two years and I knew none of my college papers would
cut it so I had to write something completely new, something completely different.  Luckily, I had something in mind.

I used one of my Unlimited Highlights for the first sample, this blog as the second, and my paper DC Editorial Research Paper as the third.  I wrote the research paper on my own and honestly, I think it’s crap.  I think the ideas are rock solid but I forgot how to write a research paper.   I spent a lot of time underground in the MSU Special Collections looking at old issues of Superman and other DC comics so if anyone cares, I think I’m going to actually copy and paste my paper into an all new post if you don’t want to download it.  That way it gets published and I get something else to talk about 🙂

What’s really important here though, is submitting things that are pertinent.  I must sound like a broken record but if you are gearing everything to your desired field of study you’ll look that much more committed.  Everything I submitted dealt with comic books.  I think that was one of the strengths of my application.

6. Three Letters of Recommendation
Letters of rec are absolutely pivotal to your acceptance into grad school.  They give the graduate committee evidence of your abilities as reported by professionals, and that’s huge.  This is what MSU requires –

“Three letters of recommendation from professionals in a position to evaluate your potential for graduate study. At least one letter, ideally two, should come from former faculty members (or instructors) who can address your qualifications for academic course work at the graduate level and also your skills as a professional writer, or as a potential teacher if you are applying for the MA in CSLP. (If you have taken rhetoric or professional writing courses, it is most helpful to have letters from your instructors in those courses.)”

When I asked my advisor why I got into the program he told me that the college was a great fit for my interests and one of my letters of rec was amazing.  I have to thank Kelly Roman for that.  Luckily I’m good friends with one of my former professors so that helped to take care of my professor quota, and my last letter came from my freelancing boss over at Marvel.com.  Honestly, I think those were perfect.  Hopefully you guys have something similar.  Work those contacts!

So that’s the end of my two-part series on my grad school application materials.  Hopefully this gives some of you an idea of what it takes to apply.  Obviously some schools might have more or less rigorous apps but if you’re prepared it won’t matter what they throw at you.  Good luck!

Comic Books and St. Patrick’s Day

The Marquis

Unless St. Patty’s is on a Wednesday this probably isn’t a topic that you see all that often, however I just have a quick story to share before I’m off to go get silly with my girlfriend in East Lansing.

Alright so back in the day, I think it was 2007, I was a sophomore at Michigan State University and it was Saint Patrick’s day, a time when most students get up earlier than they have for class all year and pound beer all day long.

Really we should call it Dionysus’ Day…  Anyway, so as I was saying I was a sophomore and at 8 a.m. this is what my roommate Nick and I were doing –

Drinking in our frigid dorm room at 8 a.m.

Typical MSU student shenanigans.  I think we had over 100 bottles and cans of beer in our mini fridge and a growler full of some thick madness that we finished , obviously with help, throughout the day.  Actually, here’s a photograph of the majority of the alcoholics that joined in the boozing –

The gang's almost all here, just missing Karen and Jeremy I think...

Right so why do I bring up any of this?  What does this have to do with comics?  Well it was on this fateful day, St. Patty’s 2007, that I met Guy Davis artist extraordinaire for the first time.  And I was fucking wasted.  If you don’t know who Guy Davis is then get with the program!  Artist for B.P.R.D.?  Modern monster master?  Guy had an amazing run on the Sandman Mystery Theatre and is by far and away one of the most consistently awesome artists pumping out comics today!

The local comic book shop had him in for a signing, on this day of all days, and so in hopes that I could get some of my stuff autographed and meet one of my idols I attempted to sober up for half an hour after drinking for about 3 and headed out to the comic book shop, leaving my friends to booze without me.  I think that may have been the longest walk of my life.

But man was it worth it!  I think.  Details are hazy but from what I can remember I didn’t make a total fool of myself.  I purchased a copy of The Marquis which is one of the few graphic novels that I still read over and over, got it signed, and got about 5 or 6 issues of B.P.R.D. signed.  He was the first creator I ever met and I think that we had a small conversation about Hellboy, the Bureau, and drinking in general.

Since then I’ve run into Guy at maybe 3-4 other cons (Detroit Fanfare, and the MSU Comics Forum among others) and each time I tell him about our little meeting on St. Patrick’s Day.  Luckily, or unluckily I suppose, he doesn’t remember that fateful day which is probably a good thing and I hope I’ve made a better impression since then.  He made an impression on me though, even through my drunken stupor.  He’s professional, courteous, and seems to enjoy conversing with fans.  He’s always a blast to talk to and I can’t wait to see him again, I want a Judge Death sketch!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day all!  Booze huge and stay safe!