Category Archives: Features

The Secret Origin of Hosni Mubarak?

A short time after it was announced Friday that President Hosni Mubarak was stepping down after a 30-year reign of dictatorship over the people of Egypt, there I was, on the crapper (the two events were unrelated — I wasn’t celebrating the possible advent of democracy in the Middle Eastern country with a visit to the loo). I was thumbing through the pages of the latest issue of Ultimate Spider-Man (#153, to be precise), and I was struck by the incedible timing of a sequence in the opening prologue.

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Sublime and Demand

The Monolith was a short-lived series from DC Comics, set in its shared super-hero universe, about a troubled young woman who ends up befriending a golem that was created in the 1930s to serve as a defender of the Brooklyn neighbourhood by those who conjured it. Published in 2004-2005, it only lasted 12 issues. It was written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (who continue to work regularly for DC, penning such titles as Jonah Hex and Freedom Fighters), and the regular artist was Phil Winslade.

Six years after the title’s demise, someone has launched a campaign to bring it back — at least in reprinted form. Dana Moreshead, a fan and friend to Winslade, has established a Facebook group called “Monolith needs a trade (please)!” In the past week, it’s grown from about a dozen members to more than four times that number. It’s still a small group, but it’s attracted the attention (and participation) of several comics professionals — including those involved in the creation of The Monolith.

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Take This Job and Retcon It

Hi there, come on into my office. I’m Ed, your 1970s DC Comics Career Counsellor. I know it’s a tough ol’ world out there and you’re anxious to land yourself a nice, cushy job. Well, I’m here to advise you on the opportunities that exists and the pitfalls you ought to avoid. I see you’ve filled out the questionnaire, and I understand you’re willing to relocate. Good, good, that kind of flexibility will no doubt be key to landing a new job in this economy.

Now, let me check my handy Catalog O’ Jobs. I know, I know… it looks like a copy of The Brave & the Bold #141, a comic book published in 1978 by DC Comics, but don’t worry, that’s not the case. I mean, hey, if it were, I’d have to be crazy… and I mean Arkham Asyklum crazy.

Now, speaking of Arkham Asylum, it’s good that you’re willing to relocate, because some job openings recently came up in Gotham City.

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Koslowski’s Lament

3 Geeks, copyright Rich KoslowskiAn independent comics creator in the United States who won a copyright-infringement judgment against a Canadian businessman last year says the court order has proven to be worthless because the man who used his art without permission — and continues to do so — simply chooses to ignore it.

Eye on Comics reported last year about the case of 3 Geeks creator Rich Koslowski, who brought a successful court action against Hogan Scott Courrier, the owner and operator of Geeks Galore Computer Center in Marmora, Ont. Koslowski’s lawyer proved that the Geeks Galore business used a 3 Geeks image created by Koslowski on websites, business cards and other business-related material without authorization.

In a Sept. 9, 2009, decision, Judge Michael Kelen wrote in a summary-judgment decision: “The Defendant has offered no explanation or response to Plaintiff’s allegations except the outright denials of any wrongdoing in the statement of defence … Based on the evidence, the Court is satisfied that the Defendant has reproduced the Plaintiff’s copyrighted images, ‘THE3GEEKS,’ and that there is no genuine issue for trial.”

In a court order, Kelen barred Courrier from further copying 3 Geeks images and ordered him to turn over all materials with the infringing image on them to Koslowski or to destroy them. The judge also ordered Courrier to pay damages and court costs.

But none of that has happened, and Koslowski is fuming.

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For Sale: The Ruins of Comico

Comico: The Comic Company was something of a publishing force in the comic-book market in the 1980s. Though perhaps little more than footnote in industry history now, it was noteworthy for the talent and properties it fostered. Perhaps best known as the home of the Robotech licence at the time, it was also noteworthy as the original home of Matt Wagner’s Mage and Grendel, as well as Bill Willingham’s The Elementals. Among its editing talent are two of the most respected figures in comics today: Bob Schreck, formerly of Dark Horse, DC and IDW; and Dark Horse’s Diana Schutz.

I was browsing the original comic art auctions on eBay the other day, and I happened upon an unusual listing dealing specifically with Comico’s history.

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Creation Conundrum

The Canadian channel that carries Batman: The Brave and the Bold seems to boast an erratic schedule for the show is far behind when it comes airing newer episodes. As a result, I watch episodes of the show online, as I quite enjoy the campiness and the spotlight on the diverse and weird array of characters in the DC stable. Recently, I was watching an episode in which I had a particular interest: “The Mask of Matches Malone!” The reason I was so interested in this Batman/Birds of Prey episode (which has yet to air in the U.S.) was that it was penned by long-time Birds of Prey comic scribe Gail Simone.

The concept and execution were a lot of fun, and aside from a somewhat forced and pained musical number, I enjoyed it a great deal. But the aspect of the episode that I found most intriguing was a nugget of information that flashed on the screen through the credits:

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Letter Bugs – Kurt Busiek Loves Marvel’s ‘Hoohah

The world of comic books is made up of two separate but equally important groups: the people who work in comics and the fans who read them. Sometimes, members of the latter group cross over and end up working in the industry. And occasionally, in the letter columns of back issues, one can find fan letters written by these readers-turned-pros. These are their stories. (Apologies to Law & Order.)

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Boys on the Outside

There’s no denying that the world of comic books — from the audience to the retail sector to those who create them and work in the industry — is dominated by men. For years, many of both genders have wondered how to attract more women to the medium, both as readers and creators. Canadian comics retailer Calum Johnston has considered the issue as well, and his Halifax, Nova Scotia, store is trying something this week to give girls and women a chance to comfortably explore its wares and ask about comics.

Strange Adventures in Halifax will host its first-ever Ladies Night on Thursday, Jan. 28. Owner Calum Johnston said it’s a chance for women who are interested in comics but might have felt intimidated or awkward about venturing into a comic-book shop, but it’s also an event for fangirls to gush about comics without guys. Johnston said there won’t even be any male staff members at the event.

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More 2009 Glass Eye Awards – Creators

OK, we’ve doled out the Glass Eyes for the best comics and original graphic novel of 2009 (click here to see those awards), so now it’s time to turn our attention to the people who craft those works. We only have another four more Glass Eyes to award, to the best writer, artist, colorist and cover artist of the year.

Caveat time: Readers should bear in mind these picks are just personal preferences. There’s no way for one person to read all the industry has to offer in a given year, even if writing about comics is one’s job (which it ain’t in this case). Furthermore, these choices are based in part on what I remember as the strongest work of the past year, and my memory isn’t perfect. Finally, some may notice a bit of disconnect between the picks for the best creators and the works mentioned in the first part of the 2009 Glass Eye Awards. That’s because the picks for the top creators are based somewhat on creators who offered consistently good work through the year.

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2009 Glass Eye Awards – Comics

Welcome to our coverage of the Glass Eye Awards, celebrating the best in comics from 2009 (or, at least the best ones I’d read and enjoyed over the course of the year, as far as my limited memory serves, so your mileage may vary). Oh, look who’s coming down the red carpet to attend the award ceremony! It’s Mickey Mouse, proud new owner of Marvel Comics. Mickey, who are you wearing? North Face? Makes sense… the sky’s dumping a couple of feet of snow on us at the moment.

Oh, it seems the awards are about to begin, so we’d best take our seats. In this first part of the 2009 Glass Eye Awards, we’ll look at the best comics and original graphic novels of the year. The second part, which is forthcoming, will look at the comics professionals who had the best year, from the standpoint of consistent creative success as opposed to sales success.

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3 Geeks v. Geeks Galore

3 Geeks, copyright Rich KoslowskiWhen it comes to stories about comic-book copyright infringement, one usually imagines Marvel Entertainment or DC Comics cracking down on unauthorized use of iconic super-hero characters. But in a Toronto court recently, an independent comics creator and self-publisher took on another small businessman. The 3 Geeks creator Rich Koslowski has won a summary-judgment motion in Canadian federal court, upholding his 3 Geeks copyright. The case arises from an Ontario computer-consultation business and its use of a 3 Geeks image, created by Koslowski, promotional materials.

Koslowski filed a legal action against Hogan Scott Courrier, the owner and operator of Geeks Galore Computer Center in Marmora, Ont., in September 2008, alleging that Courrier “displayed the Infringing Image as depicted at para. 9 of the Plaintiff’s affidavit on the Defendant’s internet homepage, other websites, invoices, business cards, and shirts worn by sales staff” at least since 2006, federal court Judge Michael Kelen wrote in his Sept. 9 decision on the motion.

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The Hindsight of Benefits

9-11 Vol. 19-11 Vol. 2We all know where we were and what we were doing eight years ago today. The terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, served as a defining moment, not only for a generation but for the global community. The emotional resonance of the unimaginable tragedy borne of terror rippled throughout the world, and its impact on our culture is a lasting one. Its influence was expressed almost immediately in pop culture, and the medium of comics was no exception.

The most immediate instance of 9/11’s influence on comics came in the form of benefit books. Dark Horse Comics (teaming with Oni Press and Image Comics) published 9-11 Volume One, an anthology of short stories and artwork by a variety of writers and artists, and DC Comics did the same, releasing 9-11 Volume Two (or 9-11 – The World’s Greatest Comic Book Writers & Artists Tell Stories to Remember). Those two trade paperbacks were something of an industry effort, as there was collaboration among several publishers. Marvel struck out on its own, publishing a poster book entitled Heroes, incorporating the destruction of the World Trade Center towers into Amazing Spider-Man #36 and releasing a series of limited series entitled Call of Duty honoring emergency responders. None of these books or comics is available anymore from the publishers or Diamond Comic Distributors. With this article, Eye on Comics takes a look back and discusses such projects with some of those involved.

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Mad Men (of Steel)

There have been any number of stories in the past three decades deconstructing the super-hero genre, and a great deal of them focus on or include a deconstruction of the Superman archetype. If such stories are crafted well, I generally enjoy them, even if the approach isn’t nearly as avant garde today as it was in the 1980s. Now while the notion of such a deconstruction is far from rare, I was surprised to see not one but two new ongoing titles debuting earlier this year, both with their own takes on a corrupt Superman-like figure.

The Mighty by writers Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne and artist Peter Snejbjerg (and later Chris Samnee) debuted Feb. 4. It’s published by DC Comics, but surprisingly enough, it isn’t listed under one of the publisher’s imprints despite the fact that it’s not set in the DC Universe along with its other super-hero characters. Two months later, on April 1, Boom! Studios launched Irredeemable by writer (and its editor-in-chief) Mark Waid and artist Peter Krause after a fairly significant promotional campaign revolving around Mark Waid’s popularity and reputation in the industry. Each title features its own Superman — Alpha One and the Plutonian, respectively — and each one of those characters proves to be malevolent. Each title features protagonists who are trying to uncover the mysteries behind the man of steel and they endeavor to avoid detection by his all-seeing eyes.

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Return of the King

King City Vol. 1 was a major buzz book of 2007 in the comics industry. The graphic novel, published by Tokyopop, wasn’t all that widely seen, but those who read it raved about it. It definitely boosted writer/artist Brandon Graham’s profile in the industry, earning him kudos aplenty and drawing attention to other projects, such as the first issue of his Multiple Warheads, published by Oni Press. Perhaps one of the most widely heard and respected of those voices singing his praises was the late Mike Wieringo, who paid tribute to King City and recommended it on his sketch blog (that’s what got me to take notice of the book).

Unfortunately, King City was one of several original, English-language works that Tokyopop put on the backburner permanently, and creators couldn’t take the properties to other publishers because Tokyopop still held the rights despite the fact it didn’t plan on publishing subsequent volumes or even keeping the existing ones in print. Among other affected books and creators were East Coast Rising and Becky Cloonan, The Abandoned and Ross Campbell, and My Dead Girlfriend and Eric Wight. These are significant creators in the comics industry in the 21st century who all have built-in audiences eager to snap up new works from these artists.

Of course, Tokyopop has changed its tune somewhat, at least when it comes to King City, as a deal was struck to publish Graham’s work through Image Comics. Eye on Comics spoke with Graham, a Tokyopop executive and some of the affected artists to delve into the King City deal and what it might mean for other cancelled Tokyopop books.

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The Cost of Crime-Fighting in San Diego

Earlier this month, Eye on Comics posted an article on how smoothly Comic-Con International San Diego 2009 ran, strictly from a security/safety/crime perspective. As was noted, the San Diego Police Department only recorded two arrests it connected to the premier comics and pop-culture event, and it also reported four lost children were quickly reunited with their families at the convention.

Monica Munoz, media services manager with the San Diego Police Department, had commented that Comic-Con had a contract with the city for policing and traffic-control services, but she was unable at the time to provide information on the value of that contract. She’s since contacted Eye on Comics with the relevant figures.

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