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Review: The Sandman Universe #1

With a flourish of alliterative narration from Lucien the Librarian, the return to the Dreaming commences in The Sandman Universe #1, a one-shot with a story credit to original Sandman creator Neil Gaiman that sets up four separate books set in this universe. Each creative team gets an opportunity to set up their stories in this comic. Gaiman, Si Spurrier, and Bilquis Evely use the fluid and ever changing nature of The Dreaming to visit the settings of the other Sandman Universe titles in a more urban fantasy and mythology driven version of all those intriguing fake trailers shown in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double feature. However, The Sandman Universe #1 also has an overarching narrative and final page cliffhanger and isn’t just a sampler platter.

There is Spurrier and  Evely’s The Dreaming that focuses on supporting characters of The Sandman and their hunt for Daniel, the Dream of the Endless as his realm cracks and shatters. It also acts as the framing story of Sandman Universe with Matthew the Raven traveling between physical, spiritual, and dream dimensions in his quest to find Daniel. There is also Kat Howard and Tom Fowler’s reimagining of Books of Magic featuring the boy wizard Tim Hunter and his mysterious teacher Rose, Nalo Hopkinson and Domo Stanton’s House of Whispers that introduces the New Orleans Voodoo religion to The Dreaming and has a young African-American lesbian couple as protagonists, and finally, Dan Watters, Max Fiumara, and Sebastian Fiumara‘s tortuous and twisting take on Lucifer, who must suffer to find his son and not be a absentee father like Yahweh. The framing story and three interludes have a strong narrative continuity thanks to the consistent, yet versatile colors of Mat Lopes and Simon Bowland’s Eisner-worthy letters as he takes over for the legendary Todd Klein.

Spurrier and Evely’s story that is set in The Dreaming has big ideas, humor, tragedy, and even horror as they reintroduce familiar denizens like Lucien the Librarian and Cain and Abel and introduce a new character in Dora, a female monster who can jump between dreams. Her agility is evident when Evely draws her multiple times in one panel, and Spurrier makes her a fast talker. She also has a dark side and isn’t a fan of the realm of the Dreaming because Morpheus lied to her a long time ago. The heavily inked flashback is some of Evely’s best work, gave me chills, and is the only time any members of the Endless speak in Sandman Universe. Like telling the story of a dream to a friend after the night you’ve had it, The Dreaming is all about setting chaos to order, but this seems like a tall order even though the epic quest format is pretty conventional.

After being unable to jump into the waking world via the food-laden dream of a woman with esophageal cancer, Matthew enters it via the dreams of Tim Hunter. While Bilquis Evely’s work is well-rendered and exquisite like a novel that is a masterpiece of both craft and plot, Tom Fowler’s work is messier, yet still highly detailed. Warts and all, t’s perfect for the story of an adolescent wizard, who suffers the second worst nightmare of any teen on the first day of high school. Kat Howard’s plot for this short glimpse into Hunter’s world is more Agatha Christie than JK Rowling, and it looks like Hunter will have to fend for himself for the most part even though she does give him a friend in Ellie.

Following Books of Magic, Matthew jumps into New Orleans and into a queer love story between Latoya and Maggie. However, Nalo Hopkinson and Domo Stanton immediately throw them into world of conflict between gods and goddesses, boundaries between worlds, and magical items. The Louisiana Voodoo goddess Erzulie is introduced in this story and is quite the mystery. Hopkinson and Stanton craft a true urban fantasy story as the life of a family and two young lovers intersects with forces beyond their control. There’s a lushness and beauty to Stanton’s art, and he and colorist Mat Lopes create a wonderful effect that turns the bayou into a scrying mirror.

The last story that Matthew wanders into before reaching the “end” of his quest for Daniel is Lucifer’s, and it’s told in horror tinged, nine panel grid severity by Dan Watters, Max Fiumara, and Sebastian Fiumara. The Fiumaras strip away the David Bowie Lucifer that left his kingdom to open a club in L.A. and play piano and strip him down to something more malevolent with images that evoke more contempt than sympathy for the devils like starving ravens. Lucifer is on a journey again, but it’s not a fun field trip and more of a bloody vision quest. Along the way, Watters, Fiumara, and Fiumara riff off Lucifer’s first appearance in The Sandman where Morpheus defeats him in battle using the embodiment of hope. But hope might not win this time…

With carefully crafted artwork, writing that is both intelligent and down to Earth, and stories that have a distinct feel yet are connected through the wonderful device that is the Dreaming, The Sandman Universe #1 is a fantastic return of comics’ greatest creations as its creator, Neil Gaiman, hands off the torch to other skilled creators just like Morpheus did to Daniel over two decades in the first volume of Sandman. It’s a wonderful blurring of lines between reality and fiction.

Story: Neil Gaiman, Si Spurrier, Kat Howard, Nalo Hopkinson, Dan Watters
Art: Bilquis Evely, Tom Fowler, Domo Stanton, Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara
Colors: Mat Lopes Letters: Simon Bowland 

Story: 8.5 Art: 9 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Vertigo provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Sandman Special #1

SandmanSpecialCoverBetween the Sandman with the gas mask and gun and the Gothic, critically acclaimed one, there was the red and yellow superhero suit wearing Sandman created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1974. In a pair of stories, DC Comics creators both old and new show the imaginative potential of this superhero and his unwilling, monstrous assistants Brute and Glob. First, Dan Jurgens, Jon Bogdanove, and Madpencil tell a heartwarming story with a great twist ending about a young boy whose vivid dreams of monsters and superheroes threaten to break out of the dream world and into reality. Then, there is Steve Orlando, Rick Leonardi, Dan Green, and Steve Buccelato’s slightly wilder tale of the now adult Jed Walker, a supporting character in Sandman, battling his childhood nightmares with a cameo from basically the Grim Reaper. The comic is rounded out by a collection of two page “Strange Stories of the DNA Project” from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World stories.

What initially drew me to The Sandman Special was Jon Bogdanove’s uncanny ability to make his art look like Jack Kirby’s while using modern techniques like photo collages to show the surrealness of the young boy’s dream world.  I wish DC Comics put him on more projects. There is weight to Sandman’s throws and punches, and Madpencil cooks up an old school color palette straight out of the 1970s, like a smooth orange take on the classic Kirby krackle. Even though it has banter, punching, a sick team-up move from Sandman and Brute, and a tentacle monster that gets handily defeated, Jurgens and Bogdanove’s story is more metafictional than a straight up superhero adventure ending in a final panel that may make you cry.

Sandmaninterior

Through action and a couple heart rending Jurgens monologues towards the end, The Sandman Special looks at the important of embracing our fears and weaknesses through the dream monsters and then facing and defeating them as symbolized by the young boy’s superhero, who is an amalgamation of Kirby’s takes on Thor, Orion, and a little bit of Captain America. The battle between Sandman and the young boy’s nightmare monsters is also a wonderful tribute to Jack Kirby’s career where he would switch from drawing superheroes to monsters and vice versa from his first work at DC and Marvel in the early 1940s to his later work in the 1970s and 1980s. And sometimes monsters could be heroes, like the ever loving blue eyed Thing, which is why it’s nice to see Bogdanove homage Fantastic Four #1 in one of his panels and have the monster that Sandman fights talk and have feelings.

Unlike the lead story, which quickly establishes Sandman’s kooky status quo with a double page spread, Orlando, Leonardi, and Green rely on previous knowledge of the character of Jed Walker and his grandfather Ezra from Kirby’s Sandman. I vaguely remember Jed from the “Game of You” arc from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, but luckily the story kicks up a notch when Sandman, Brute, and Glob end up fighting the angel of death in cowboy form Psychopomp on train while looking for a dream about Jed’s grandfather to scare away his now adult nightmares.

Orlando doesn’t really establish Jed as a character except his constant nightmares and that he left his unwelcoming hometown and only returned for his grandfather’s funeral so the big emotional moment isn’t as powerful as it could be. But he does make a human connection to Jed’s nightmares, which are about the fact that he didn’t spend enough time with his grandfather while he was alive. On a more fun note, the banter between Sandman, Brute, and Glob keeps the story from getting too doom and gloom as they sneak and mess around with Psychopomp. Also, I liked that Dan Green used a grittier, inking style for Jed in the “real world” and his feelings of guilt and a cleaner one for Sandman and his more traditional punching and magic whistle blowing heroism. The design for Psychopomp is also a perfect bridge from Jack Kirby’s Sandman to Neil Gaiman’s.

The second story leans too much on previous reader knowledge, but Sandman Special is a fantastic tribute to the well-designed (Both Madpencil and Steve Buccelato make that red and yellow costume pop), filled to the brim with imagination Sandman of the 1970s. It also shows the literal power of dreams to craft limitless opportunities for storytelling

Story: Dan Jurgens, Steve Orlando Art: Jon Bogdanove, Rick Leonardi with Dan Green
Colors: Madpencil, Steve Buccelato

Story: 7.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Bug The Adventures of Forager #1

The DC’s Young Animal enters the realm of Jack Kirby and his New Gods in Bug: The Adventures of Forager #1. Forager is a Bug aka the bottom of the bottom of New Genesis’ caste system, but he’s saved the universe, met Batman, and might be a New God himself. However, Bug #1 is less cosmic space epic than twisted dream logic in comic book form as storytellers Lee Allred and Mike Allred and colorist Laura Allred immediately question the nature of Forager’s reality as he dies and comes back to life multiple times, encounters the Jack Kirby Sandman (Laura Allred nails his garish red and yellow costume.), and talks to a teddy bear about Albert Camus.

Above all, Mike Allred channels the pure energy of the King of Comics’ pencils in Bug #1 with Forager bounding, punching, and vaulting his way through the issue. His poses are athletic and pop off the page as Forager is in constant discomfort and trying to come to grips with the reality around him. When the enigmatic enemies of the comic show up in the last third, Allred gets playful with his layouts arranging them in spirals as Forager dips and dodges. Most of the comic takes place in Forager’s dream, but there is something very solid about his art. Solid doesn’t mean though as Allred uses pop art spirals to make superheroes punching each other fresh again before he and Lee Allred joke about how tacky they are. This also connects to Sandman’s ability to make dreams “real”. (But what is reality.)  However, Allred uses some forced perspective tricks early on that remind me of his work on the underrated Vertigo series Art Ops, and his use of archetypical imagery like dominoes and creepy insects contribute to the surreal feel of the comic before the not-so-Goth Dream King shows up.

However, Bug #1 isn’t just a showcase for great art and colors. Lee and Mike Allred have a very playful writing style with puns, wordplay, and slapdash references to literature, DC Comics, and Jack Kirby lore. The protagonist of the comic may be a corpse, but Bug #1 is loaded with some quirky humor like Forager making fun of the overseriousness of the New God Metron or thinking about milking a camel when the teddy bear mentions Albert Camus. Even though they mention the restrictiveness of New Genesis culture and the nature of free will and existence, the Allreds don’t take themselves too seriously throughout Bug #1. I mean there’s a reference to Brute and Glob, er, Pinky and the Brain buried in here somewhere.

Even though it’s a lot like digging through fragments of someone else’s dream, Bug: The Adventures of Forager #1 is an excellent tribute to Jack Kirby’s vibrant imagination by the talented family trio of Lee Allred, Mike Allred, and Laura Allred. Mike Allred’s figures bounce off the page, yet have a human beauty to them, and there is something primal, almost Pixar-esque about his and Lee Allred’s plotting as Forager/Bug tries to make sense of his place in the world. Is he an insect servant of Highfather, an adventurer, a god, or just a dead guy? The next five issues should hopefully unravel this colorful existential crisis.

Story: Lee Allred and Mike Allred Art: Mike Allred Colors: Laura Allred
Story: 8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Young Animal provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Entertainment Earth Spotlight: Amazing Spider-Man Marvel Legends Figures Wave 7

The Amazing Spider-Man Marvel Legends Action Figures Wave 7 bring back generations of Spider-Man in an awesome 6-inch scale action figure form. Each figure includes awesome accessories and amazing detail, plus a build-a-figure piece which you can build Sandman with. The case features. 1 Green Goblin, 1 Shocker, 1 Spider UK, 1 All New Spider-Man 2099, 1 Ms. Marvel, 1 Jackal, and 2 Symbiote Spider-Man.

A case costs $159.99 and is out early 2017.

amazing-spider-man-marvel-legends-figures-wave-7

 

 

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Around the Tubes

avengers__1Doctor Strange is opening up this weekend! Who’s heading out to go see it? While you decide whether or not you will, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

CBR – DC Comics TV Series Generate $1 Billion a Year in Revenue – That’s some serious change.

Comics Alliance – ‘Deadpool 2’ Just Lost Composer Junkie XL – Well that’s one more person to hire.

CBR – FBI Offers $10K Reward For Info on Missing Comic Artist Norman Lee – If anyone has information.

ICv2 – Paramount Options Rob Liefeld’s ‘Avengelyne’ – This should be interesting. Expect more Liefeld movies with Deadpool being a hit.

Newsarama – New Line’s SANDMAN Screenwriter Drops Out… Because He Thinks It Should Be On TV – Tell us what you really think.

The Beat – Comics publisher Double Take is shutting down at the end of the month – That’s a shame. Especially after their NYCC showing.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Avengers #1

Talking Comics – Death of X #3

Comic Vine – The Unworthy Thor #1

David Goyer v Comics: Rise of the Anti-Hero

unnamed(1)This is a bit of a correction to my earlier piece about Zack Snyder. Not that I think I was inaccurate in anything I said there, but I do think it was a bit unfair of me to put all the problems with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (pronounced buvvis-doge, I think?) on the shoulders of the director. The auteur theory of film criticism is a deeply flawed one, after all. And in addition to having a director who really doesn’t seem to understand the comic books he professes to love, the film also has David Goyer as its screenwriter.

And David Goyer doesn’t understand superheroes. Which I understand is kind of a bold statement, given that David Goyer is responsible for making the modern era of superhero movies possible.

But bear with me.

Background

As I said above, Goyer is the most prolific screenwriter of the modern era of superhero films. He wrote all three of the Blade movies (and directed the last one) in the late 90s, before the modern superhero boom, and their success allowed projects like Singer‘s X-Men movies and Raimi‘s Spider-Man movies to go forward and prove that the public’s appetite for costumed heroes hadn’t been killed off by Joel Schumacher. And before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born, Goyer was writing Batman Begins and the Dark Knight, which at the time were seen as the future of the genre.

On the other hand, few people think of the scripts as the major virtues of any of these projects. Now a largely forgotten franchise with only one decent entry, almost nothing in the Blade movies made sense and the movies largely thrived on Wesley Snipes‘ presence and a cheerfully gonzo approach to gore. The Nolan Batman films are called Nolan films for a reason, and there’s a whole cottage industry of Youtube videos and articles pointing out the logical problems in the Joker’s plan in Dark Knight or how there’s no way Batman faking his death in Rises would have worked.

But if there’s one thing these films have in common, they all feature dark anti-heroes. But most superheroes aren’t dark anti-heroes, which might explain why, for all that Goyer’s career has been founded on superheroes, he doesn’t particularly understand the characters or like the people who like them very much:

Goyer: I have a theory about She-Hulk. Which was created by a man, right? And at the time in particular I think 95% of comic book readers were men and certainly almost all of the comic book writers were men. So the Hulk was this classic male power fantasy. It’s like, most of the people reading comic books were these people like me who were just these little kids getting the shit kicked out of them every day… And so then they created She-Huk, right? Who was still smart… I think She-Hulk is the chick that you could fuck if you were Hulk, you know what I’m saying? … She-Hulk was the extension of the male power fantasy. So it’s like if I’m going to be this geek who becomes the Hulk then let’s create a giant green porn star that only the Hulk could fuck.

As many people before me have said, this betrays not just a creepy attitude to sexuality, but a fundamental misconception of both the character’s backstory (She-Hulk and the Hulk have never been romantically linked, because they are first cousins) and thematic import. To quote the Mary Sue, “since her introduction, She-Hulk has been a woman of agency and strength, one who quickly took control of her mutation to become a hero and who has never let herself be held back by sexist double-standards and the expectations of others who can’t handle her power, intelligence and sexual confidence.”

But What About Superman?

Thankfully, however, David Goyer hasn’t been approached to write a She-Hulk movie or TV show (seriously, the character would work wonders as a legal/comedy/action show, what are you waiting for Marvel?). The problem is that he doesn’t understand Superman either and he’s the guy that DC and Warner Brothers approached to write Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman:

“And it occurred to me that it’s one thing if you have super powers to say I’m going to be a good Samaritan and help people. But it’s another entirely, and in fact a little presumptuous to just put on a costume and call yourself Superman, and say I’m going to appoint myself the saviour of mankind.” (source)

If you have a problem with someone putting on a costume and trying to save the world, you probably shouldn’t be writing a movie about the character who created an entire genre around doing just that. And the problem is that, in addition to not liking the basic concept of superheroics, Goyer goes on to explain that he doesn’t get Superman’s  character specifically:

“And so this story was why does he become Superman? And we decided early on that’s not a choice he makes, but a choice that’s imposed on him.”

“The movie is about him deciding am I going to be human, or Kryptonian, to pick which lineage to follow. We wanted to give him this Sophie’s Choice of you can be human, or you can have your Kryptonian world back, but you can’t have both. If you have your Kryptonian world, humanity is going to suffer. He has to decide which world he wants to plant his feet in.”

“The whole raison d’etre of the movie is that choice. It’s nature versus nurture. And that’s why he puts on the glasses and becomes officially Clark Kent at the end of the movie.” (source)

There are a huge number of problems with this. First of all, it’s a terrible writing move for your characters to not make choices but have choices happen to them. It’s lazy Campbellian Chosen One handwaving and it makes your protagonist horribly passive when making choices is what makes them interesting.

Secondly, choosing between his human and Kryptonian nature is antithetical to what it means to be Superman. Our hero is an immigrant refugee who rather than be turned away (Action Comics #1 came out only 14 years after the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924) is welcomed into America’s heartland and is raised to be a good person by the Kents – which is why he chooses to become Superman and save people. But at the same time, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, adapting the Moses story (not the Christ story, Goyer!) have Superman discover and embrace his alien heritage – hence the Kryptonian baby blanket turning into his iconic cape – without rejecting his adopted culture either. Rather than bowing to the dictates of nativism or assimilation, Superman combines both cultures together: the Last Son of Krypton standing for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

And finally, let’s talk about the neck-snapping, because man is Goyer defensive about the neck-snapping:

“The way I work, the way Chris works, is you do what’s right for the story. That exists entirely separately from what fans should or shouldn’t think of that character. You have to do what’s right for the story. In that instance, this was a Superman who had only been Superman for like, a week. He wasn’t Superman as we think of him in the DC Comics…or even in a world that conceived of Superman existing,” Goyer said. “He’d only flown for the first time a few days before that. He’d never fought anyone that had super powers before. And so he’s going up against a guy who’s not only super-powered, but has been training since birth to use those super powers, who exists as a superhuman killing machine, who has stated, ‘I will never stop until I destroy all of humanity.”

“If you take Superman out of it, what’s the right way to tell that story?” he continued. “I think the right way to tell that story is if you take this powered alien who says, ‘You can have your race back, but you have to kill your adopted race,’ the moral, horrible situation to be in is to actually be forced to kill, not wanting to, the only other person from your race. Take Superman aside, I think that’s the right way to tell that story.” (source)

To start with a seemingly minor point: Zod isn’t someone “training since birth to use those super powers,” because in Goyer’s own screenplay, Zod only got those powers when he came to Earth. (And then for some reason decided to terraform the planet so that the Kryptonians he’s genetically driven to protect would become weaker, but that’s beside the point.) Superman is the one who’s been training his whole life to use them because he’s the only Kryptonian who grew up on Earth. Which means he should be the one controlling the fight through his better understanding of his superpowers, which would hopefully avoid both the neck-snapping and the destruction of Metropolis (which is what people had more of a problem with).

But I want to circle around to something Goyer said, about Zod posing the choice of “you have to kill your adopted race” or let humanity die. The only reason that killing Zod equates to killing all of Krypton is because Goyer has Superman use his heat-vision to obliterate the “Genesis” ship that was carrying thousands of Kryptonian embryos, making Zod the last. And he doesn’t do it accidentally – Zod tells him what the ship is carrying and Superman says “Krypton had its chance.” And this is is the action of the supposed hero, of whom Goyer said:

“I think the movie is going to be the right movie for the times. I’m happy that movie is coming out in the summer, because I think it’s the kind of movie that the world needs right now.” (source)

unnamedNow He’s Gone Too Far

So imagine my surprise when it turns out that, back in 1986, David Goyer turned out to not understand Captain America. As this is my patch, allow me to preach for a moment:

“While reading Captain America, I find myself more interested in the villain and their exploits than in Cap himself. The basic problem stems from the fact that Cap isn’t a very interesting character. He’s a living symbol and aside from the problems of character development in a symbol, the fact that he is a symbol of the American dream creates a number of story problems.”

I’m beginning to see the underlying reason why David Goyer has a problem writing about Superman –  first, he gets distracted by surface issues (like red capes and blue tights) and misses the important character details. Here, the important detail is that it’s Steve Rogers who is the character, and his historical grounding makes him interesting. Second and more importantly, he fundamentally doesn’t grok ideological superheroes, and as a result sees story hooks as story problems:

“First of all, the America that created Cap in the ’40s no longer exists. To make matters worse, Cap was in suspended animation for the better part of two decades. What kind of effect does this have on a man? His “world” is gone. To the children of the 60s, the concept of a living symbol of democracy to boost war morale must have seemed totally outdated.”

Captain America being a Man Out of Time isn’t a story problem, it’s a great source of dramatic tension that Marvel has been using to fuel the comic ever since Lee and Kirby hauled Rogers out of the ice in 1964. And it works in two ways – first, it gives Cap a personal flaw that transforms him from the flawless Golden Age archetype into a properly angsty, interior Marvel-style character. Second, because Cap is an ideological hero, the contrast between his past and the new era automatically acts as a mirror with which we can examine the vices and virtues of both periods:

“Secondly, the Captain probably only appeals to part of the nation today. Most likely, he’s more popular with the conservative side, so his popularity is on the upswing now. but what about the people who resent what he represents? There must be people out there who are even insulted by his uniform. Some people see our country as an atrophied giant whose secretive diplomacy is thinly veiled behind a smile and a handshake. Our government isn’t nearly as upfront or virtuous as our elected officials would have us believe. What exactly does Cap represent? Everything that’s good in America? Does the Captain endorse every president that’s elected? Would he ever speak out against a candidate? Does the Captain acknowledge that there is corruption in the government?”

This really makes me wonder if Goyer ever actually read these comics, because literally every point here was answered in the pages of Captain America. Captain America isn’t a conservative, and in fact sides with the same youth who questioned America’s government in the 1960s. What makes Captain America a radical figure is that he represents America’s ideals and not its government.

As for speaking out against a candidate and acknowledging corruption in government, take the case of Richard Nixon, who in the Marvel Universe ran a smear campaign against Captain America and when the Watergate scandal threatened to unseat him from power tried to overthrow the government of the United States via giant Kirby flying saucer. Captain America stopped his coup and pursued him into the Oval Office to deliver him to justice, where Nixon took his own life rather than answer for his crimes. (For more on this, you’ll have to wait for an upcoming People’s History of the Marvel Universe…)

But as with Superman, David Goyer seems to have a problem with characters who think they’re better than he is, even if that’s not the case:

“On another level, one has to wonder what type of man would have the audacity to proclaim himself a living symbol of America. Was he elected by the common people? Is he a tool of propaganda, invested by the government to promote democracy? Does the Captain unquestioningly accept whatever the current American policy is or does he formulate opinions on his own? What would happen if someone convinced Captain America that socialism was a better way of life? Now, granted, as an Avenger, he’s been sanctioned by the government and given official status as a protector of the peace. Do you honestly expect us to believe that the government would enlist a masked crusader without even knowing his true identity?”

Again, this is basic origin-story stuff. Steve Rogers didn’t proclaim himself anything – he signed up for a dangerous super-science experiment because it was the only way for him to fight fascism. (Which answers the question about his “true identity” – Rogers’ military service is a matter of public record!) and when the experiment worked, the U.S government gave him his costume, his shield, and his rank so that he could be a symbol to boost civilian morale during WWII:

Inline image 2And yes, Captain America makes his own judgement about public policy – which is why he brought down three SHIELD helicarriers in the Potomac River rather than let HYDRA destroy our constitutional rights to due process, and why he’s going to go mano-a-mano with Iron Man in the upcoming movie.

And as for socialism…well, you already know my opinion about that.

Conclusion

So why go on this long rant? Because I love comic books and comic book movies, and I think they can be more than mindless popcorn-fodder and certainly more than the depressing and immoral mess that Goyer has given us.

And because David Goyer is Hollywood’s go-to man for most of these movies, his influence can harm an entire genre. Hence why it was problematic that David Goyer was the man who got the call to adapt Constantine for TV despite not wanting to have Constantine be bi. And why I am deeply depressed that, of all writers working today, David Goyer is the one adapting Sandman

Fashion Spotlight: Free Buffet, Bloodlust, and An Amazing Sand Castle

Ript Apparel has three new designs today. Free Buffet, Bloodlust, and An Amazing Sand Castle from Legendary Phoenix, cumix47, and Obvian will be for sale on June 5, 2015 only!

Free Buffet by Legendary Phoenix

Free Buffet

Bloodlust by cumix47

Bloodlust

An Amazing Sand Castle by Obvian

An Amazing Sand Castle

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Matchett’s Musings: Creating Sparks Part 2

Creating Sparks Part 2: The Basics and Getting the Green Light

I remember in English class something my teacher said something to me which I feel is very true. ‘The moment you write something and consider it brilliant is when you should stop.’ In essence what she meant was ‘don’t get your head up your own ass too much.’ Indeed you see it all the time in comics, movies, music or any other industry you can think of. You see people struggle and fight for their spot, producing amazing work but then they get their big break. They become a sure-fire hit, they get told their work is genius and after a while that stops being true. The fire, the motivation to really deliver is gone because no matter what you do, people will buy it.

The reason I’m saying that is I never really think you stop learning to write, especially in comics. Literally every work, every project I learn something new. Sometimes it’s something small, sometimes it improves the quality of my scripts a great deal. However when I started out, after creating Sparks which was closely followed by a concept called The Immortals (more on that later) I had no idea how to put together a comic script. I wasn’t even sure how to structure prose properly and so I completed a lot of stories that went pretty much like this.

Turning to the audience, Glenn gives them a big smile.

Glenn: Hello audience!

Audience: Hello Glenn!

Taking a bow, Glenn proceeds to bask in the audience applause.

Around this time I also sent a full letter of ideas forward to Marvel. I posted it all the way to New York and even put in the legal form the big 2 make you sign anytime you want to submit work/ideas to them. Looking back it was so unprofessional and so deluded of me that the entire submission may have been done out in crayon with cute little backwards letters.

There are plenty of books on how to write comics or to write period. The likes of Stan Lee, Peter David, Brian Bendis, Stephen King, etc have all crafted books on how to write.

I’ll admit right now that I have read none of those. I certainly encourage others who would likely benefit greatly from it but I never did. I just learned through buying a lot of comics.

That might sound strange but one of the wonders of the modern age of comics is how much effort put into collected editions. With some of these collections you get an assortment of DVD/Blu-Ray type special features. You get sketches, pin-up art and sometimes you get scripts. Full comic scripts from the best in the industry and how I learned to put together scripts was by reading other scripts.

I also found a number of other writers putting their scripts online, what then has followed is some trial and error. I’ve included some stuff, ditched other things and tried my best to find my own way to do it. I learned the difference between full script and ‘Marvel style’, how to structure a page and some interesting things I never would have realized.

I found that there was no real ‘wrong’ way to do it. Every writer laid out their full scripts differently and I came across quite a variety of styles. I would probably call my own mostly a blend of Neil Gaiman, Ed Brubaker, J. Michael Staczynski and a little of myself.

Being an editor with GrayHaven I have the pleasure of reading literally hundreds of scripts for anthologies and I pick up interesting things here also. Little hints and tips I use to adjust my own style. If there is anyone out there looking to write comics or wants to learn how to do it better (we can all improve) I would highly suggest reading scripts from peers or pro’s. It’s astonishing what you can pick up. Often times whenever I green light a pitch for a GrayHaven anthology I sometimes get the writer going ‘This is great…now what do I do?’ I then send them some strong scripts I have received over the years.

I would like in particular like to mention GrayHaven vets Ray Goldfield, Doug Hahner, Sean Leonard and Jason Snyder who have great instincts when it comes to scripting. There are many others who I’ve found helpful but those guys are top-notch.

Something I really liked from Neil Gaiman’s scripts was the informal manner he wrote in. In her introduction to Absolute Sandman Vol. 3, Jill Thompson wrote how much of a pleasure it was to read Gaiman’s scripts because of this. I thought I would do the same and I do attempt to do so on a regular basis.

Now obviously it’ll depend on the artist and publisher. The majority of the latter I have worked with enjoyed it but others consider it a distraction. When it comes to your publisher, if they ask you to write the comic script standing on your head and reciting ‘Old McDonald’ then you must do so but…more on this later.

So I started to write comic scripts because mainly, I learn by doing. I first wrote a Booster Gold one I published on Facebook for fun. I was loving the comic series at the time and thought ‘Well, why not?’

I also wrote a script for artist Aaron Bir for his then website Sequential Stutter. I tried to find the story and can’t which is a shame because it was the first comic I had published anywhere.

Then came the beginnings of GrayHaven comics. I’ve told the story over and over so I’ll keep it as brief as possible. Good friend and fellow Jinxworld poster Andrew Goletz asked a bunch of us if we wanted to do a comic anthology for fun. It turned into Vol. 1 ‘The Thing With Feathers’.

I could probably (and will likely) craft an entire article on where I get the idea for some of my GrayHaven shorts but my first actual printed comic work was in there. The feeling I got when I heard that first book, saw my name on the back (which I still miss) is something I will never forget. I also got to work on with artist Brent Peeples who went on to much bigger and better things with Images Last Of The Greats and other work for IDW, Zenescope, Valiant, Dynamite. I loved working with Brent and hope that one day, our paths cross again.

Vol. 1 of The Gathering was a big hit commercially and critically. It wasn’t perfect but people liked the potential and what it offered. A publisher was willing to let unknown creators throw themselves out there, for better or worse. Having learned over the years that breaking in was very difficult to those who could only write and not draw, it was great to see somewhere that offered that.

I helped out GrayHaven the only way I could in the early days which was financially and with any advice Andrew was willing to take from me. Time passed, more volumes got released and we even had some great pro’s like Gail Simone and Sterling Gates help us out.

Soon we had over 8 volumes with more on the way. New volumes were being announced, I’d sent pitches and Andrew approved them along with another opportunity. Due to my initial support he granted me a one shot. It was quite something as back then, the only solo work GrayHaven had approved was Doug Hahner and Donal Delay’s My Geek Family which had earned it through winning a contest.

I was over the moon and my mind exploded with possibilities. I went back to the idea that came first, I went back to Sparks. I pitched it to Andrew who liked it but wanted one change, he wanted it to be set in Britain and not the US because back then in the days of 2011 when this all happened it wasn’t all that common. Nowadays we have quite brilliant crime dramas set in the UK like Sherlock, Luthor and Broadchurch but at the time it was a great idea so I was all for it!

He then asked me who I wanted to draw the story and I gave him a list of 4-5 names, the first of which in an interesting twist was Kell Smith. However Andrew went above and beyond to a secure an artist (here thereafter referred to as artist A) who was immensely talented and seemed to be on the cusp of real success.

It was all set! The car was there, the key was in the ignition and it was all a go. I had only one problem. I had an enemy I wasn’t fully aware of. An enemy that had operated in the shadows for years but it seemed that now, just when things were taking off for me they were about to become my archenemies and a frequent pain in my rear.

Sherlock Holmes has Moriarty

Batman has the Joker

Even the Powerpuff Girls have Mojo Jojo

It turns out that Glenn Matchett’s enemy was named ‘impatience’ and we were about to get very well acquainted.

Next: Artist A, Artist B and Kell Smith

Got any comments, suggestions or questions? Let me know! Also follow me on Twitter @glenn_matchett

Rumor of DC’s Movie Line-up. Take it With a Grain of Salt.

Justice League RevampThe rumor mill was churning today, with news being passed along like a bad game of telephone. A report today came out from Nikki Finke, former Deadline honcho, claims to list DC‘s upcoming movies through 2018.

May 2016 – Batman v Superman
July 2016 – Shazam
Xmas 2016 – Sandman
May 2017 – Justice League
July 2017 – Wonder Woman
Xmas 2017 – Flash and Green Lantern team-up
May 2018 – Man Of Steel 2

 

 

 

 

There had been talk of a Metal Men and Suicide Squad movie for sometime in 2016 but that project fell off the schedule.

Finke claims to late start to Batman V Superman is due to DC attempting to get this all settled down.

There’s numerous reasons I expect this all to be bullshit and click bait. One is, it ignores projects we’ve been told are being worked on, like the Justice League Dark film. The second big reason I don’t believe this is the history. It was about this time last year that it was rumored Cable, X-Force, Deadpool, Aquaman, the Flash, and Wonder Woman were all being announced as movies at SDCC 2013. We all know how that turned out.

While I’m sure DC is putting a plan together, I’ll believe this when I hear it directly from DC.

Vertigo Reveals Details Surrounding Neil Gaiman’s Highly Anticipated Return to The Sandman

Its been 10 years since writer Neil Gaiman weaved tales from the beloved Sandman universe. This October 30th, Gaiman returns to the realm of the Endless for an eagerly anticipated tale that will bring readers back to one of the most critically-acclaimed comic book series ever. The Sandman: Overture will unite Gaiman with artist J.H. Williams III and reveal a previously untold story in The Sandman mythos. This new story will explore Morpheus’ world before he was captured.

One of the most popular, groundbreaking, bestselling and award-winning comic books of the last twenty-five years, Gaiman’s The Sandman stands tall as one of the few graphic novel series ever to be on the The New York Times Best Seller list and lauded by critics the world over for its transformative storytelling in the comic book industry. The series has been translated into nine different languages and sold over 7 million copies.

The Sandman features literature’s Endless family—Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, Destruction, Destiny and Dream. The critically acclaimed Vertigo fantasy series transformed the landscape of comics, helping usher in an era of more compelling and sophisticated storytelling. Combining mythology and literature in an epic story, it is one of the most popular, groundbreaking, bestselling and award-winning comic books of the last twenty-five years. It has garnered nineteen Eisner and six Harvey Awards and is the only comic book to win the World Fantasy Award.

The Sandman: Overture #1 will be an oversized issue and will showcase J.H. Williams III’s talent with a spectacular interior gatefold. The series will be published bi-monthly and each issue will feature stunning covers by Williams and original series cover artist Dave McKean and will be published on the same day digitally.

Also bi-monthly and alternating with the main Overture series, Vertigo will publish The Sandman: Overture Special Edition. These deluxe issues will include original scripts by Gaiman, additional concept art and sketches by Williams, Q&As with the creative team and more, starting in November.

More details about the series – including artwork – will be revealed at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Gaiman, Williams and McKean are special guests of the convention, during which Vertigo will host a 25th Anniversary all-star panel featuring Gaiman, Williams and artists Dave McKean and Sam Kieth. Gaiman will also be spotlighted at his own standalone panel. Additionally, the cover of the San Diego 2013 Souvenir Book features all-new Sandman art by Dave McKean, which will also be featured on an official convention T-Shirt.

SNDM_Promo

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