Sunday, February 25, 2007

News from the New York ComiCon

Obviously i didn't go, but i've been reading some of the news online.

DC is going to do a new Captain Carrot & his Amazing Zoo Crew series. This is one i loved as a kid. It was a funny book starring a bunch of "funny animal" style characters (think Looney Toons) that lightly spoofed superhero comics. It's been years since i looked at them (i'm 99% sure the whole run is still in my collection), but i fondly remember them. It was one of the series that i had a subscription to back in the day (1982).

The good news is that the original artist, Scott Shaw! (he always adds the exclamation point), is drawing it. The bad news is...Well, just read this excerpt from Newsarama's story.

>NRAMA: Is the comic going to pick up where that [recent] Teen Titans story left off -- with Little Cheese dead, Alley-Kat-Abra in jail for his murder and the new character American Eagle joining the team?

BM: Well, we don't pick up exactly where that story left off, but we have kept the continuity intact. I was tempted to ignore it though. Scott told me that a lot of fans were outraged at the idea that Alley-Kat-Abra was a murderer. [snip] But I figured if we're updating these characters, why not have stories that deal with contemporary themes like heroes turning bad.

So yes, Alley is still in prison, Little Cheese is still dead, and American Eagle is the newest member of the Zoo Crew. But other developments have occurred that hinder the group's ability to function. President Mallard Fillmore has resigned from office because the press discovered that he bribed Felina Furr (A.K.A. Alley-Kat-Abra) to give up the Zoo Crew's secrets. The new administration is hostile toward capes, so the Zoo Crew is forced to operate more covertly [snip]

There's also a war brewing in the United Species of America between land and sea animals. It's a war of words until a little goldfish girl dies from exposure to toxic waste and amphibian terrorists begin blowing things up.<

WTF?! This is a HUMOR comic! And a fairly silly one, at that! Why would anyone want to put terrorists and all that rot in it? I really hope that this bit of news is some kind of elaborate joke that i just don't get. That am dumbfounded.

The interview continues.

>NRAMA: Terrorists? This is one intense funny animal comic.

BM: Captain Carrot's world is definitely a darker place than it was in the '80s, but not so dark that we won't be able to have some laughs.

NRAMA: So you would still describe the title as a "humor" comic?

BM: Yes, absolutely, but I hope adult readers won't dismiss it for that reason.<

You hope adult readers won't reject it for being humorous, but you apparently hope adult readers will embrace it for being dark? Well, (if this story is accurate) this adult reader is going to reject it not because it's humorous, but because it's dark. Holy frikkin crap, people--a Captain Carrot book with terrorists!!! Why should i need to explain why that is a bad idea? Could someone please explain to me why DC would think it was a good one? Or why any reader would be turned on by it???

Okay, on to some non-insane news, still from DC.

They claim that 52 will have a definite ending, and not just spill over into their next weekly series. I'm hopeful, but i'll wait for the fat lady to sing on that one.

>Asked about All Star Squadron trades, Bob Wayne seemed to suggest that, based on audience response, they think they can do some large Showcase collections of the material.<

This is one of the other comics to which i had a subscription back in the day. I believe i have all, or nearly all, of the 60 issues in my collection. So, i won't be buying a Showcase collection, but maybe some new folks will read them and see how cool this series was.

>It was then announced by Didio and Simone that Norton will be the regular artist on All-New Atom after signing his exclusive.<

That's awesome. Norton did great work on his recent issues. He has a strong style and can apparently work on a monthly schedule.

Here's a nice bit from a panel on increasing female readership.

>Wendy Pini [writer/artist of the long-running Elfquest series] feels it is really tough to bust the misconception that women shy away from high drama, violence, issues of the day, and confrontation. Women can enjoy that and eat it up. On Elfquest, the worse they put the characters through, the more their female readers seemed to enjoy it. As long as the conflict is meaningful and has a reason for being, women are not just accepting of it, but excited to see how it turns out. "Girls don't just like cotton candy or foo-foo or fluff", as evidenced by the darkness of Sandman that still appeals greatly to women. Audry Taylor chimed in to share that women have the biggest problem with books that show women as doormats, rather than strong female leads.<

More publishers are starting to distribute in electronic format.

>Top Cow VP Filip Sablik revealed that Top Cow is partnering with videogame/entertainment online giant to offer online versions of their comic books for full cover price ($2.99). According to Sablik, the issues will be offered online at the same time that they are offered in stores and be in PDF format. Also yesterday, Marvel's Dan Buckley indicated an online initiative is in the plans at the publishing giant as well, although it is apparently not as far along as Top Cow's.<

I question the prudence of charging full price, but i applaud more distribution methods. I've bought some comics in PDF format from, and been happy with them. The comics on that site are usually 1.99 for a standard-length issue. Slave Labor Graphics has been doing this for, oh, a year i guess, and recently launched to focus on digital versions of their comics, for as little as 69 cents apiece. There's also, which is mostly IDW's Devil's Due Publishing's comics, for 99 cents each.

The folks who are really ahead of the curve on digital comic books, though, are FlashBack. Their comics are produced specifically with the digital format in mind. The "pages" are formatted like a computer screen, so you don't need to scroll up or down to read a whole page, as you do with traditional comics ported into PDF or CBR formats. You read a page, hit , and read the next, with each page filling the whole screen. And they're free.