Marvel Ousts Alonso, Promotes New EIC

It’s been reported that Marvel has ousted Alonso. They’ve promoted C.B. Cebulksi who, refreshingly, seems to tweet mostly about creativity and art and not politics.

Marvel Entertainment, the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment company, announced today that C.B. Cebulski has been promoted to Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief effective November 17, 2017. Former Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso has mutually parted ways with the company. The announcement was made by Dan Buckley, President, Marvel Entertainment.

In his new role, Mr. Cebulski will oversee all day-to-day editorial and creative aspects of Marvel’s publishing division. This includes driving the overall editorial creative vision, shaping the larger story direction of the Marvel Comics line-up, and bringing to Marvel the world’s best and brightest writers and artists. Additionally, Mr. Cebulski will be furthering Marvel’s efforts to expand the publishing division internationally.

Now I hope that the international efforts don’t mean further efforts to stagnate or pause the classic characters for movies… which was made easy by replacing them with SJW knock-off versions in the last couple years. Legacy has been a failure, as it didn’t create any real change in the company from what’s destroyed it. It just let the same people back in and used a gimmick holo-cover type thing to try to get it going.

I’d recommend CB clean house. Drop everything and start from scratch, rebuild Marvel from the ground up. Cut anyone who uses autoblockers and treats fans like garbage on Twitter, and cut the most vitriolic political shills as well. Bring in fresh faces, do something new.  I’d even maybe call it Rebirth.

On the creative side – expand creator owned content. Don’t just make an Icon imprint for like your pet 1-2 to do their thing with no promotion. Encourage creativity and newness. You’re not going to be able to live off of Stan Lee’s creations in the print form alone for another 50 years. It’s already been milked dry.

I’d even considering bringing back CrossGen.

If you like good creative action adventure, you’ll probably enjoy my novel For Steam And Country, which will make a great comic some day in addition to a novel series.  Check it out here.  

 

Indie Comics Is Where It’s At

With all the troubles Marvel is having, even after their supposed “relaunch”, and while DC is certainly producing high quality art… it just doesn’t have  the emotional stakes. Part of this is because of the way the big two are set up with their comics — to keep their characters the same: iconic and unchanging in order to produce films and television and try to capitalize off of residual sales from that. It leads to stagnation, no matter the creative team.  And it’s unavoidable when you have characters who can’t change, or if they do, it gets reset so they’re back again.

I’ve turned my comic reading to other sources. As those who read the blog regularly know, I pick up almost every Valiant book, of which the storytelling has varied pretty significantly depending on who’s writing it, but the art has been top notch all the way through. I’m sill very much enjoying X-O Manowar,  which I think is the best comic released in years. Reading that got me looking at Matt Kindt’s other work, and i found a treasure trove  of beautiful indie stories.

Mind MGMT is the one that blew me away. It’s about the government running a secret psi program of people with different abilities. They’re erasing memories, keeping us and each other pacified, leaving coded messages everywhere. It’s a head trip in a head trip, and super gripping all the way through.

Dept H is a murder mystery in an underwater science base. There’s some crazy stuff and I really still don’t know exactly where it’s going. I keep looking for volume 3 to come out, but it’s got a ton of potential and cool characters.

3 Story – This is a tragedy about a giant. I love the pun title and I couldn’t put it down.

The Tooth –  A twist on the superhero. This goes into the ridiculous realm which I’ve had a lot of fun with. It also got me looking at Cullen Bunn’s work, as he  wrote this story while Kindt drew it. His stuff comes next.

Cullenn Bunn is doing the relaunch of the Tick, which I picked up for fun, family friendly entertainment to share with my kid. He provided that. But he also does horror books which are really creepy. I don’t usually like horror but this is more an action/adventure style horror so it works for me. I’m a bit nervous about some seeming anti-Christian themes in his books, but of what i’ve read it hasn’t gone too far, and I haven’t found it offensive. It may just be the horror tropes and getting into that dark spiritual realm that necessarily has that feel. I hope I don’t get to a point where I see anything too far but I’m enjoying what I’ve read. These are not family friendly below:

Darkark – this is currently on #2. Satan made an ark along with God and the task is to save the supernatural spirit realm. I don’t have a link to this!

6th Gun – Weird west. I don’t know how I missed this originally as weird west is something I usually grab off the shelves immediately as I see it. I read the first volume and it’s dark horror fun with six-shooters. Loving it so far.

Alterna Comics is another interesting group. They are  making REALLY CHEAP (not low quality) comics. You can buy most their titles for $1-2 but only a few shops carry them. They are also on comixology. I’ve read LIlith Dark and Adam Wreck  of their titles, and i”ve ordered a whole  bunch more. I’m not sure how their business model is going but I love this kind of thing, and i love they’re using newsprint to be able to get things out to us and not charge us $5 a book because of print costs. I highly recommend checking out your catalogue and having your local comic shop order from them so they can expand their reach: https://www.alternacomics.com/  very little risk at the price point!

And on the cutting edge front:

 

I want to talk a kickstarter project by Brant Fowler. I’ve been mentioning it on social media, but yesterday it finally funded. It’s about a teenage pyro girl. The art looks really solid and I’m excited to get to read this story. It’s really cute that he works with his girlfriend who does colors on the book too. I  like that kinda thing. Matt Kindt’s wife also colors Dept H, so he’s in good company.The kickstarter link is:

 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brantfowler/the-last-ember-1-teenager-by-day-fire-goddess-by-n

Brant is a great guy who I’ve watched stick by comics for years, and we used to do comic reviews at ComicRelated.com.  If you want to be on the front lines of getting new indie projects going, supporting Brant’s kickstarter is the way to go. He is the next generation of great indie work and I’d love to see this get to the point where it turns heads at the bigger companies. I’ve backed this myself. Hurry though, it’s the last day to do so!

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll let you know what else I find.

If you like good indie action adventure stories, you’ll love  For Steam And Country, the hottest new steampunk novel series of 2017. You can buy it here. 

Ninja-K #1

 

The premise of this book is a relaunch (not retcon or reboot as it seems to follow the continuity and actually care about what Kindt delivered, actually referencing it in the script – which there’s a portion of in the Pre-Order edition I read), is someone’s going around killing all of the prior Ninja operatives still living. This is a 40 page book, and there’s a lot of interesting ideas, and issues with the writing in general, which i’ll get to in detail.

Conceptually, having a Ninja program with an A-K is pretty interesting. I don’t know if this was established in continuity before, but it makes sense and the history is interesting.  The problem is, leading the book with 8 pages of the history of the program and not just getting right into our characters we’re supposed to care about is a weird way to open a comic. The pages look like pin-ups as someone voices over talking about it, we eventually learn is Ninja-D about 4 pages in.  It cuts eventually to him as an old man and Ninja-K talking, where he asks Ninja-K if this was useful to him. It suffers from a “show don’t tell” aspect of comics in that it delivered us far too much backstory. I get Ninja-D needed to be established as someone important, and the history was important as well, but the lengthiness of it poses an issue.

Especially as it goes into a scene of Ninja-K going over in his head Ninja-D’s “rules of the trade” while he’s in battle in China, rescuing a kid from people we don’t learn much about. It’s a throwaway intro to show us the gadgets, his prowess, his abilities and establish we have a bonafide Ninja. This creates a problem as we already had 8 pages of establishing background, so we’re a full 16 pages in before an actual story starts. Now these pages were a bit more fun and enjoyable to read, but didn’t really grip beyond a generic fight.

After all this intro we are TOLD (not shown) Ninja-D has been killed. Ninja-K already knows and is gonna investigate. Very little tension.  Now this could have been way more interesting easily by having Ninja-D talk to Ninja-K on a call about the rules, training, history, while Ninja-K was fighting. Maybe even a flashback side-by-side comparison sequence to get that history in. The line goes dead after some gurgling, Ninja-K panics and flies back to see what’s going on.  An intro could have been done in half the pages that way and been much more exciting.

We cut to pause for a few pages of relationship drama – which is actually fairly good. I liked where it went on that angle, where Ninja-K is sleeping with Livewire (another valiant hero) which I’m going to assume was established prior to this. She’s not happy with the shallow level of their relationship and it kinda blows up. Solid few pages here.

That leads to the only SJW virtue signaling moment of the book. Ninja K after having the fight goes down, starts talking to himself in a line that added nothing and would have been easy to edited out and not play social justice politics with.  “You can seduce targets of any age or gender in twenty four languages if you’re being paid to do so…”

Okay, it’s weird enough someone talks to themselves (should have been dialogue box probably), but in the mental commentary we’re really worrying about “any age and gender?” It just made me roll my eyes as that line reads like it was out of Teen Vogue, not a super bad ass British agent.  It could be shortened to “You can seduce any targets if you’re being paid to do so…” and would have come across far more natural without the rather pointless signaling. This stuff isn’t brave or interesting in comics anymore, it’s just annoying and throws people out of the story. And the more I look at it, it’s got pedophillia implications I am really hoping are unindented and just missed by editorial.

It follows the rest of the book Ninja-K investigating and trying to figure out who killed them, with an explosion at the end.  There’s a lot of telling of the past, speculating on past villains like Dr. Silke (important in the Valiant Universe) and a femme fatale type who I’m going to guess is the major villain when it comes to it (we haven’t seen, we just have explosion).  This is the meat of the story, it’s pretty good, and though it’s almost all talking back and forth, it’s pretty interesting and tense, especially in the last couple of pages.

If they’re going to do 40-page comics, they need to pack more story into it than this, in my opinion. The set up took way too long to get to, in something that without all the exposition, we really could have gotten to in 2-3 pages to kick off the better action adventure.  Page 1: “Ninja-D, my mentor, is dead.” Page 2 “Who could have done this?” Maybe the femme fatale? Page 3: Explosion of the whole house!  Flip and let’s get into the action with the real bad guy.

The exposition didn’t add enough interesting worldbuilding or character (aside from the Livewire interaction) to really justify much existing. The story really only got started in those last couple pages.  If you wanted to layer in some more exposition, could flashback a little after that but on the storytelling level, it’s a bit disappointing.

Character wise, they all kind of talk the same. There’s one British dude who actually sounds British – he’s the guy questioned late in the book, but everyone else sounds pretty American. Same cadences, same verbiage. Everyone talks to themselves at that (shouldn’t have been more than one character doing that, it stands out when it’s multiple), and so the characters come across a little flat too.

Now it sounds like I’m roasting the story, but it’s got some potential. There are interesting concepts, interesting ideas where it could pan out over the next couple issues. With 40-page comics, I’m happy Valiant is trying out pushing the boundaries on that front too as most comics stick to 20 for monthly production.  The end pages was enough of a hook I’ll keep reading, but this story wise was a tough first issue that should have had more meat to it.

On the art front: Tomas Giorello makes it all worthwhile. I can look at the pages and they’re so beautiful I don’t care about anything else. Perhaps they were thinking that, and made this more of a pin-up book for him than anything else, and it worked to some level. His masterful and beautiful art made it a joy to flip through the pages, and almost made me forget the story issues until I went back and thought about it afterward.  I really loved his Femme Fatale late in the book, one of the most beautiful drawings of a woman I’ve seen in a comic in a long time.  I mean wow! No complaints there at all. The coloring is a bit on the darker side, but it works for the book as well.  I hope they can keep up the quality when it rotates artists on this monthly book, as I know there’s no way someone can keep up a 40 pages a month schedule for long.

Overall, the art saved it. An intriguing premise, but the execution really needed some heavy editing, and story wise, I feel we should be well into wherever issue 2 is supposed to be rather than where we’re at.  I’m still on board, but I really hope issue 2 has more meat to the story.

7/10

Comics to Prose Writing Styles

A lot of readers came here this year, but for those unaware of my history, I cut my teeth on writing in comic form. I became serious about  comic script writing in 2010-2011 when I created my webcomic, Flying Sparks, which did pretty well with an audience and lasted 8 issues. Going back and reading those scripts, I progressed as a writer throughout making the comic. Still toying with rereleasing them, though at the very least they need some dialogue updates to be more readable. Here’s one of the old pages:

Which gets me to the main topic point. A  lot of prose writers I see flood their books with dialogue. Most of the plot happens in dialogue, most of the worldbuilding is communicated through it in an attempt not to “infodump” — which if there’s dialogue tags around it, it still can be an infodump!  Characters go off on sprawling speeches.

Now what’s interesting is comics rely on dialogue pretty heavily. Other than the pictures which communicate most of the background and action, dialogue is all you have as a writer. There’s no tertiary description, and very few abilities to communicate character’s thoughts over the course of a comic pamphlet. But there’s a big difference between the way dialogue drives a comic and the way it’s used in prose: brevity is crucial.

When I started, I noticed a lot of novice comic writers FLOODED their art with words. They couldn’t quite let the art breathe, speak for itself, but instead did the same infodumping techniques I see in a lot of prose. I wanted to make sure I never did that, and so I shortened a lot of the dialogue in my own work. Learning to communicate through less words made for much better comics that flow better not only so the art stands  out more, but so the pacing of the book works out better as well. I carried this across to prose. Most of my characters don’t talk very often in long paragraphs (except Harkerpal in For Steam And Country, of which it’s a joke within the story how much he talks). It helps me pace the story so it moves along a lot better than I would have without the comic technique.

Back to comics, the dialogue is how you differentiate characters.  Word choices are all the more important because you have to differentiate your characters all the more in comics. This is the onus for a way I edit — where I now do a pass where go through and shift word choices on one character at a time, staying  in that character’s mindset so they talk as they’re supposed to talk and it’s separate and different than the way any other character does. In comics, it helps bring so much clarity to the pages, and it does the same to prose.

Finally, comics have length limits due to art. You really need to stick to 20-24 pages for a pamphlet to conform to modern standards. It means an outline needs to be detailed, tight, with very little margin for error. What this did for me was when I came to prose, I could block out scenes and know almost exactly how many words I’d get, and it keeps my books an intentional and consistent length and pace as well.  This is another nice pacing element that I wouldn’t have learned without writing comics.

Now comics aren’t for everyone, but it’s an interesting exercise as a writer that helped me tremendously. It might be worth a shot just to try the constraints of comic writing  as an exercise. For me, it’s my dream to get back to producing comics on a regular basis. In addition to all of my projects, I’m slowly chipping away there.

For the best of my writing style, check out For Steam And Country, an adventure of a girl who inherits an airship that I could easily rewrite into comic book form. You can buy it here. 

 

My Thoughts On the Brian Michael Bendis Move

I got the first hot take on Periscope this morning, one of my better Periscopes:   https://www.pscp.tv/w/1YpKkWMMWQNKj  Follow me there or I post all of them to YouTube when technology cooperates. Make sure to subscribe and tell your friends:

Big news for comics. And if you want big as in big league, you’ll want to check out the MAGA 2020 and Beyond anthology featuring a ridiculously fun story by me and an intro by Milo Yiannopoulos. It comes out tomorrow but you should pre-order it now. Believe me.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075YF99P4

Comic Review: Batman Dark Prince Charming

Batman Dark Prince Charming comes in a nice hardcover package – a bit small for the hardcover treatment and at a bit of a steep price point at $12.99 for what looks like a thin book. It doesn’t help the book comes shrink-wrapped so if you’re not in the know in having researched it, you are gambling on the quality of the book. Marini being the only creator listed on the front was confusing to me too, as I didn’t know who that was going in. The cover art really doesn’t do the story justice either, with a very un-exciting look of a Batman mid-shot pictured above. Not sure why they went with that as it probably harms the book sales rather than helps it.

Enrico Marini is an Italian artist and writer who does the full duty from start to finish on the comic, as he’s done on several others published through a French press. It’s something we don’t see often in the comics world and so it’s intriguing by itself, but what’s inside is some beauty nearly unparalleled in comics.

His art style is one of my favorites. It’s that hyper-detailed pencil-to-colors look where you don’t get the broad strokes of the ink covering up the original drawings save for where the artist chooses to for the art’s sake. I personally think it makes for a very fresh looking quality. It’s one Tomas Giorello used on the first 3 issues of X-O Manowar, another Italian artist, and I wonder if their styles come from their training over there. Either way, once I saw the art, I was immediately in for this book. Even if the story was non-existent in this book, I would have  probably liked to flip through the panels just to get a glimpse at Marini’s drawings. They’re that good.

Story wise, we have a standard Frank Miller-esque dark Gotham with a Joker who is kidnapping children, a Bruce Wayne who’s getting hit up for a paternity allegation, and a Batman on an obsessive mission to find the Joker and save the day. What I like about this that I don’t see in the current Batman ongoing  — which is where I think the Miller-esque Batman has gone a bit too far – is Batman doesn’t sit around whining about how he’s lonely or how he’s sad and how he doesn’t feel he’s making a difference. He’s being a hyper-driven Detective here by  every means possible, and so it’s more fitting with the character. We get some nice cameos from Killer Croc and Catwoman (who is stunningly drawn).

Other than that, it’s a standard Batman v. Joker fare. Joker is out of control insane, and leaving a trail in some ways to toy with Batman. He acts a bit shocking throughout – this is very dark, close to R-Rated in its  content. I usually don’t like that in a comic, but it fits here decently.  I wouldn’t say the story is mind-blowingly different in any regard to other stories I’ve read, but it IS classic Batman. It feels right, and that’s what’s important.

It is half a story as this is a part 2. So you are committing to $12.99 x 2 to get the full story here. But on the flip side, it’s clear the amount of art quality and time they took toward making this book, I’m all in on it and I’m waiting for more. Marini’s art has me wowed and I’m itching for the conclusion.

9/10

Alt-Hero: Paperbacks Now Availble!

Two days left in the campaign for the final push. It’s been such a tremendous success and I’m honored to be a part of this amazing project, also featuring one of my writing heroes, Chuck Dixon.

We’ve added the paperbacks as an option now so at the very least go out and grab the ebooks for Alt-Hero written by me, and if you want a hard copy, you can get those now too! Further down, there’s an RPG in which I’ll be writing the first adventure campaign. I love RPGs so this’ll be so much fun for me!

Thanks again for all the incredible support and I really look forward to delivering far better superhero content to you than Marvel will ever produce again.

Alt★Hero Volumes I, II, and III

 

Marvel Comics Editor: All Men Are “Part Of The Problem” #ComicsGate

The implication is clear: all men are evil and abusers if only by proxy. Not to mention this is quite the marginalizing of male victims of sexual abuse. It reminds me of the way I saw a lot of posts this last year with you say “I’m not” that’s exactly what a Nazi WOULD say. Being male is the new witch hunt, and it’s not only reflected in these ridiculous tweets, but in their work. If you’re a man reading Marvel Comics, you’ve been told: you are not desired as one of their readers.

This is why we have #ComicsGate and this is why we need Alt-Hero.

A Second Alt-Hero Novel Is A Go!

It’s been part of the stretch goals, but I haven’t wanted to talk about it much until it was a sure thing, but I am now contracted for not one but TWO Alt-Hero novels for this cool project that keeps expanding, keeps getting better, and is fast becoming an intellectual property to be reckoned with by the giants.

This is one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns for a comic in history, and it is a big historical landmark, despite the fact that it’s getting ZERO press from media outlets. That so much could be raised for such a project is absolutely amazing in and of itself.

God has blessed me so much so far on this writing journey, and I’m thankful every day, not just for his love and grace — but for cool friends like Vox Day and Chuck Dixon who have been so supportive along the way. I look forward to bringing you a couple of great books in the near future, and thank you everyone for reading and being here. I’m thankful for you too!

If you haven’t backed yet, check out the project here. And remember to click the ebook option at $5! If you backed the comic you do have to back again (think of it as a stretch goal) to get the pre-order of the book-book.

Alt★Hero Volumes I, II, and III

 

Chuck Dixon To Join Alt-Hero Team!

I’m frankly more excited about this than my own involvement. It’s a stretch goal that needs to be met, but Chuck Dixon has been brought in to write issues 7-9 of Alt-Hero.

If you’re not familiar with comics, Chuck is one of the most prolific and most highly regarded writers in the comic industry. He has written for a smattering of Batman titles as well as the Punisher. His bibliography is too long to list. He also has a great action series of novels that I highly recommend checking out. He’s probably best known for creating the Batman villain, Bane.

I’ve been reading Chuck’s work almost all my life, and this really turns Alt-Hero into something big and reshaping of the professional comic industry. My fondest memory of Chuck’s work is the character of Stephanie Brown — also his creation, who was a struggling superhero Spoiler. Her original story was one of overcoming sins of the father, and pushing forward to create her own destiny despite the odds. A great concept. She was some of the biggest inspiration for my own first foray into comics and my superhero, Meta-Girl. Stephanie went on to become Robin, despite all the legacy heroes telling her no, she couldn’t do it, she wasn’t capable. She fought hard to prove them wrong every step of the way — and eventually became Batgirl. Stephanie’s story a nice metaphor for how the alt-hero process is going in a lot of ways, and we owe it all to Chuck Dixon.

Don’t forget to back. This now is the biggest possible message to send to the comic industry, and it’s gonna be a great product with a lot of fun. If you want my novel, it’s the $5 mark, and Chuck’s will be with the digital content on the comics side. You can make multiple pledges (think of it like add ons for kickstarter) to get the different various works:

Alt★Hero Volumes I, II, and III