Archive for the ‘CO2 Comics’ Category

Who Cares that Comic Creators Get Credit?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

As comic characters continue to roll out of the pages of comic books and into other forms of media, especially television and film, we are discovering a greater interest in who created what. This piqued curiosity is surely the bi-product of heated battles that were fought on behalf of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as well as the recent settlement regarding the characters created or co-created by Jack Kirby for Marvel.

It is a sad fact of comic book history that creators have most often been taken advantage of by the publishing houses that retain the rights to characters that they created. Many had long careers but were only rewarded by meager, hard earned page rates. They saw no royalties or benefits and in the early years little, if any, credit for their work. Most never even saw the return of their original art. Too many have passed on or continue to live in obscurity, without healthcare and certainly no compensation from their creations which have spawned a multi-billion dollar industry.

To be fair, some progress has been made, and in recent years attentive creators and their families have been able to establish some undisclosed agreements that have satisfied both sides. These accounts, however,  are few and far between.

The foremost concern for many creators is not money but rather an acknowledgment of their creative contribution in the form of credit on the screen. This has been demonstrated most recently by a Facebook post from the daughter of the late illustrator, Al Plastino, the co-creator of Supergirl a character that will soon be the focus of a new television series.

She writes:

“Facebook friends, we need you help.

Please help us get Al the credit he is due and all the creators who have died recently and will not see their characters come to life on television or in the movies. They never received any pensions, or health insurance, nothing at all. How disappointing that DC has waited until these gentlemen have passed away to begin producing programs like Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Legion of Super Heroes,.Not looking for royalties. Just an acknowledgement of all the work these men put into building the DC brand. All the guys who have drawn or created characters when they were at the height of their popularity. Many nights I saw my father working in his studio to meet deadlines from the editor. At one point, Dad was handling 5 different strips for DC and United Media. Go to the DC website or their facebook page and let the syndicate know. You can do so much more for Al than any lawyer could. You helped Al get the Superman/Kennedy art into the Kennedy library where it was supposed to have been for the last 50 years and for that I am eternally grateful.

go to http://www.dcentertainment.com/#contact

MaryAnn Plastino Charles”

Why is a fleeting credit so important to creators or their families? Why should we care?  Few of us even notice, or stick around for the credits to roll at the end of a film. Those of us that do, understand that the greatest reward to a creator is to be recognized for his or her contribution to our culture. A simple acknowledgement goes a long way.

Think of the closing scenes of the Wizard of Oz when Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion get their awards. A diploma, a testimonial and a medallion were all it took to make the respective characters each feel fulfilled. The tokens were material acknowledgement of who they were and what they accomplished. This is the value of credit to a comic creator especially one that has created a character that has become iconic. It is the fulfillment of their destiny as a comic book creator, to experience immortality vicariously through their creation.

But our society has become desensitized to these simple but important details. Too many of us want to cut to the chase and just consume. There is a sense of entitlement that is too quick to dismiss the value of the effort those involved in creating our entertainment. This is ironic because now, more than ever before, all that information is easily at our fingertips.

A quick Wikipedia search will tell you all you need to know about who created nearly any character with links to biographies of the respective creators.

Supergirl, She was created by writer Otto Binder and designed by artist Al Plastino in 1959.”

The modern Flash, “starred Barry Allen as the Flash and the series assumed the numbering of the original Flash Comics with issue #105 (March 1959) written by John Broome and drawn by Carmine Infantino

Green Arrow, Created by Morton Weisinger and designed by George Papp, he first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in November 1941.”

The Legion of Super-Heroes, “The team first appears in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), and was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.”

With all of this information so readily available why is it so difficult to ask that they be credited on the screen? Some could argue that so many creators have influenced the current stories being told that the effort becomes daunting. This, however, becomes more of a reason to signal out appropriate credits.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for example, does a nice job of crediting Jack Kirby and Stan Lee for the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. but what about characters like Deathlock created by Rich Buckler and Doug Moench, Quake created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Gabriele Dell’Otto or Mockingbird first written by Gerry Conway and pencilled by Barry Smith? This is just a short list of the many characters that have appeared or are expected to appear in this ongoing series that has proven pivotal to the development of the MCU.

It is important for the world to know that the genre of superheroes did not just come from the fertile minds of a few. The genre is the result of the exceptional talents of a huge number of individuals whose work has been woven into a fabric of an expansive and growing mythology that has become entrenched in our popular culture.

For those of us that care, it is our responsibility to ensure that these creators and their efforts are not forgotten. It is the fans, collectors, historians, teachers and practitioners of the medium who will ultimately maintain the database of information that preserves the integrity of the history of what these comic book creators have accomplished. Hopefully our enthusiasm will be infectious enough that others will take notice and a greater appreciation of those unsung heroes will flourish.

Share if you care.

Gerry Giovinco

Thursday Weekly Update | Bughouse

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

New page of BUGHOUSE by Steve Lafler now available.

Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal


NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.


Vocal Minority vs Silent Minority in Comics

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

The so-called “vocal minority” in comics has been getting a lot of attention lately due to reactions generated by Raphael Albuquerque’s request to pull his controversial variant cover for Batgirl #41 and  Image co-founder Eric Larson’s criticism of the newly designed Wonder Woman costume.

To be clear, the term “vocal minority” today’s current comic speak for  the voice of feminists and their supporters who rally against sexual exploitation and violence against women in comics.

In the case of Albuquerque’s cover, the artist responded to threats of violence made towards critics of the cover. He respected and agreed with the concerns of the “vocal minority” that felt the image strongly implied rape and was not consistent with the current direction of the current Batgirl story line. DC honored his request and replaced the cover with a more appropriate variant.

Regarding, Erik Larsen,  well, he just had a meltdown. He  lambasted the big two on twitter for “placating a vocal minority at the expense of the paying audience by making more practical women outfits.”

Janelle Asselin did a nice piece on the subject that should be read at Comics Alliance. Her conclusion that the comics industry is changing and fans and pros that have perpetuated a sexualized  and violent comic market for decades need to realize that the industry is not just about them any more should be applauded for the sole purpose of pointing out that for too long the industry has been dictated by a  “silent minority.”

This group’s  intentions for publishing comic books over the last few decades is a lot different than what had gone before.

Many of the iconic comic characters that we enjoy today were created at a time when it was necessary to appeal to the widest audience possible. For this reason and later for the approval of the Comics Code Authority, comic publishers went out of their way to create wholesome, unoffensive characters with broad appeal. I was just good business for the market at the time.

The costumes worn by superheroes were designed to emulate the exotic and powerful costumes of circus entertainers that inspired the imaginations of the young and old alike. The capes, tights and body suits  came from strongmen, acrobats, aerialists and dancers because it was their costumes that the public equated with what was powerful  and  fantastic.

They were simple and much more innocent times.

The characters became powerful trademarks recognizable by people around the world. They were licensed and merchandised to promote tons of product all on the strength of the characters recognizability and good will.

The image of superhero on a product stood for “Truth Justice, and the American Way.”

This all changed in the late 1980′s and 1990′s. Comic book sales became relegated strictly to comic shops and the Comic Code lost its authority. A new crowd took over the reigns at the publishing houses. Comics were no longer being made for the largest audience. They were being made to appeal to a finite group of like-minded, adult, male fans and creators who wanted their comics mature, violent and sexual. This “silent minority” assumed the market and would control it entirely today if it were not for the success of Manga in American bookstores and the purchase of Marvel by Disney.

Manga with its attention to wide subject matter, strong character relationships and dominant female characters attracted women readers and eventually drove them into the comic shops shaking up the boys club that proliferates there.

Disney, with their solid focus on branding has capitalized on their merchandising machine and made Marvel characters household names like never before. The appeal of the superhero has not been this great since World War ll.

But DC continues to tarnish their established trademarks from the inside-out finding new ways to offend and alienate a wider market that includes women that respect themselves and a youth market that is not ready for stories about sex, rape, extreme violence and vulgar language.

The new fans are not discovering what they expect when they walk into comic shops because comic books have changed.

Our culture assumes that superheroes are for everyone. We like to consider them our modern mythology. Like it or not, this is what they have become. When they are used as a tool for exclusion, misogyny, or racism it should be expected that a discussion will occur. One that should remain peaceful and dignified. Anyone that invokes the use of violence to prove their point should not be tolerated.

Let’s be civilized.

Superheroes are just a small part of the ever growing comics industry. There is plenty of room for comics and graphic novels to be created to appeal to every minority group out there no matter how silent or vocal they are. But we will all be best served if the publishers, creators and fans encourage the creation of new characters to drive those stories so the old characters can retain the ideals intended by their original creators.

You see, I am a member of another minority. One that remembers when comics were fun colorful and exciting. The good guy always won. The women were beautiful and their clothes stayed on. I don’t remember cringing at violence because it was never extreme and I never worried about being offended by reading a story about my favorite character. I would like to see those characters that I grew up with, remain the pure icons that they were. But it is already too late. If I want to read those comics I have to pick up an omnibus collection.

Alan Moore did it right when he created the Watchmen. He gave us something new for a more mature audience without corrupting  classic characters.

And then he wrote The Killing Joke where Batgirl was stripped, mutilated, and permanently disabled which has now led us to the furor over Albuquerque’s cover.

Where is Yvonne Craig when we need her?

Gerry Giovinco

Monday Weekly Update | ROMA

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

New page of The Adventures of ROMA
by John Workman, now available.

ROMA Update

Click here to read this comic NOW!

Thursday Weekly Update | Bughouse

Friday, March 20th, 2015

New page of BUGHOUSE by Steve Lafler now available.

BUGHOUSE Update

Click Here to read this comic NOW!

Read the 3 Part STEVE LAFLER INTERVIEW
posted on The Comics Journal


NOW AVAILABLE,

Purchase a copy of the EL VOCHO

graphic novel, now on sale

At LULU Here.


What Color is Spider-Man?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Ask any person, regardless of age, race, gender or socio-economic status what color is Spider-Man and they will tell you that he is red and blue. On a rare occasion, someone who saw Spider-Man 3 or who read Spider-Man comics in the late 80′s may act smart and suggest that he is black and white.

Nobody will tell you that his skin color is black, white or brown.

Trust me. To most of the world Spider-Man is merely red and blue. Case closed.

That is the beauty of Spider-Man and most superheroes. People do not relate to them by the color of their skin. They relate to the color of their costume. Spidey especially, as Stan Lee once speculated,  because his costume covers his entire body.

This is most easily observed by watching kids in playgrounds all across the country roleplaying as their favorite superhero. Or by watching adults wear the swag of their favorite characters. They don’t make character choices based on race but they do based on their favorite costume and its color along with the uniqueness of the character’s super power.

Just ask who their favorite Ninja Turtle or Power Ranger is and hear a staccato of colors blurted out. Red, blue, orange and purple for the turtles and red, green, blue, black, white, pink and yellow for the rangers.

Superheroes are characters that fulfill our fantasies and we all can equally imagine having their powers, abilities, attributes, costumes and adventures.

Who has never dreamt of flying like Superman? Did it really matter what race, gender or build you have? I doubt it.

So why do people get all bugged out when it is suggested that a black actor might play Spider-Man in a film? We haven’t seen enough white actors play the role?

We forget that films are merely adaptations of the comics and while we can hope that they stay as true as possible to the source material we know that is rarely the case. We all have very personal interpretations of the source material and would probably make our film completely different.

The only truly authentic version of Spidey as “he was meant to be” can still be found in a copy of some edition of the stories created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. If you need a fix of the original, go pick it up but you may be surprised how different it is from the many other incarnations of the character that we have all been exposed to since 1962.

Spider-Man has changed with the times, the market and our culture.

It is time that we realize that we live in a multicultural society. If we imagine that our superheroes are some new type of mythology, then we have to expect that they will be a reflection of the diverse society we live in. A reflection of our cumulative imagination. We should all be able to imagine ourselves as the character no matter what color we are.

Unfortunately, the choice to change a character’s race has more to do with marketing than creativity. If it didn’t we would see a much more diverse selection of directors and producers. I would love to see a Spider-Man story told from the perspective of an non-white director that truly reflected their personal experience of the character. I would love to know what’s different about the way a black, Hispanic  or Asian child in an urban setting imagines Spider-Man compared to  how I imagined him as a white kid in the suburbs.

I bet we might be surprised to discover that Spider-Man will still be an amazing red and blue no matter who wears the suit.

Gerry Giovinco

Monday Weekly Update | ROMA

Monday, March 16th, 2015

New page of The Adventures of ROMA
by John Workman, now available.

Click here to read this comic NOW!

Playing Monopoly with Comic Books

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Who hasn’t played Monopoly? The idea is simple. All the players start out with the same amount of cash and start rolling the dice. They travel around the board buying, selling and renting real estate until one player ends up with all the cash. Game over.

Unless you play with comic books.

Since 1996 there has been one winner in Comic Book Monopoly and that is Diamond Comic Distributors. They have controlled the distribution of comic books in North America from that point on. This game of Monopoly never ends and the players just continue to go round and round the board dictated by the rules established by the one-time winner.

The players each have worn game tokens of writers, artists, publishers, retailers, and consumers. The distributor token has been retired. It is now the Bank and it controls the game.

It is ironic that the Direct Market for the distribution of comic books, which cultivated an environment that was conducive of the growth of independent comics focused on diversity in the medium could be channeled through only a single source.

Some may view this system as a fine filter for a delicate, well-oiled machine while others will view it as a stranglehold on an industry bloated with growth potential.

In an era when everyone is concerned about something like net neutrality which supports a fair and even flow of digital distribution through the many lanes of digital delivery, it seems inconceivable that comic books should have only one lane of distribution dictated by one distributor.

Mimi Cruz, manager of Night Flight Comics in Salt Lake City, Utah expresses the frustration of a retailer with just one distribution option in this post by Rich Johnston titled How Diamond Makes a Retailer Want to Weep.

There was a time when Diamond was not the only distributor and retailers had options. Distributors had to compete with each other and provide better and faster service to satisfy their customers or loose them to their rivals. Distributors took chances on new titles and experimented with options that would expand the growth of the industry. It was a healthy competitive market that unfortunately crashed collectively in the 1990′s for a myriad of reasons including a glut perpetuated by publishers and speculators as well as the assignment of exclusive distribution rights.

Diamond purchased  it’s last remaining competitor, Bud Plant, in 1996 and seized control of the board, establishing their monopoly of distribution to the entire comics market in North America. A monopoly that did not go unnoticed.

In 2000, Diamond dodged antitrust allegations brought on by the U.S. Department of Justice on the basis that they did not have a monopoly on the distribution of books. Because comic books can be considered a form of books, in general, Diamond has a standing “Get out of Jail Free” card and is allowed to control the comic book market.

This game of Comic Book Monopoly potentially hurts everyone in comics but especially those seeking creative independence. there was a time when it was possible to find a distributor to take a chance on an unproven title. Their opinion would often encourage others distributors to take a chance too. This has no chance of happening with Diamond where an independent publisher’s only opportunity  is to meet the sales requirement or else!

Brick-and-mortar retailers worry about sales lost to the internet but, thanks to the monopolistic distribution of Diamond, the internet is the only open resource for what is new and different from small independent publishers.

Part of what is fun and exciting about collecting comics is discovering the next new refreshing comic book. The thrill of the hunt no longer exists on the pages of Previews, Diamond’s monthly distribution catalog where all comics are a proven commodity meeting required standards. It exists only on the internet where brazen new comic publishers pepper the landscape with exciting print on demand comic books that are delivered strait to the readers door or downloads that can be read instantly on mobile devices.

The survival of the local comic shop is going to depend on their ability to step off the Diamond’s Monopoly game board and engage with other wholesalers or independent publishers that will enable them to expand the horizons of the industry. Introducing new options will force Diamond to raise their game and improve their performance for retailers. Until then Diamond’s only incentive is to continue to collect cash every time someone passes go.

It’s time to roll a new set of dice.

The comics market, like all markets, is a risky business of which I have written a extensive four-part series, Making Comics is Risky Business,  that can be jumped to using the following links.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Gerry Giovinco

Comico/Robotech Crew to Reunite at Camden Comic Con This Weekend

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The second annual Camden Comic Con will be held this Saturday, March 7, 2015 at the Rutgers Camden Athetics and Fitness Center! If you need directions you can find them here.

This is a FREE convention that you can’t miss especially if you live in the Greater Philadelphia, Tri-State, Delaware Valley area.

In a previous post I listed ten reasons we’re excited about Camden Comic Con 2015. We think they are all great reasons for everyone that enjoys comics to want to come to this show but our favorite reason is number 5.

Andrew C. Murphy, Mike Leeke, Chris Kalnick, Neil Vokes, Rich Rankin, John Workman

“We will be reuniting with long time friends and collaborators! Joining us on the panel is a group of creators that have worked with us at Comico and CO2 Comics including Andrew C. Murphy, and former ROBOTECH crew: Mike Leeke, Chris Kalnick, Neil Vokes and Rich Rankin. Don’t be surprised to also find John Workman and a few other folks that are tentatively planning to be there.”

Comico Mage, Grendel, Elemental, Justice Machine, Ribit, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Gumby, Star Blazers, Robotech

Those of you that remember the glory days of Norristown, PA based, independent  publisher, Comico The Comic Company, best known for great creator-owned titles like Mage, Grendel, Elementals, Justice Machine and Ribit also surely remember our  work producing comics based on licensed properties like Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Gumby, Starblazers and a little fan favorite, ROBOTECH.

Besides making great comics we also had the opportunity to make great friendships and experiences that we will always look back on as some of our best times in life, professionally and personally.

After Comico our lives took us all in many different directions until years later when we would once again pull our talents together digitally on the site of CO2 Comics.

The wonders of the internet allow us to all share our talents but rarely do we have an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company face-to-face. Our Panel at Camden Comic Con will be an opportunity for some of us to come together for the first time in over twenty-five years.

We have  great panel planned with a nice visual trip down memory lane for all the Comico /Robotech fans and a look at what CO2 Comics has been up to in the last six years with a look into what we plan for the unpredictable future.

We hope to see as many of you as possible at the show. Please stop at our panel A Legacy of Independence: From Comico to CO2 Comics http://camdencomiccon.tumblr.com/programming from 11AM – 12:30 PM in Multipurpose Room 2 and visit us at our CO2 Comics booth for an opportunity to meet and support the the creators.

Gerry Giovinco

Sony Offers Marvel an Alternate Universe Spun by Spider-Man

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Just weeks after I speculated that Marvel’s destruction of their known universe and it’s various realities in the upcoming Secret Wars event could lead to a homogenous structure that would fit neatly into the marketing strategy of their parent company, Disney, a new web has been spun.

It has long been rumored and anticipated the at Marvel’s masthead character, Spider-Man would be finally joining the ranks of the uber successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. The hold-up was that Sony owned the exclusive film rights to the character and it would require some heavy negotiation to pull it off. After some industrial hacking, corporate upheaval and a disappointing attempt to reboot the Spider-Man franchise, Sony and Marvel have established a new relationship regarding ol’ Web-Head.

According to the deal, Marvel can now use Spider-Man in future films alongside all of their other famous characters just as he does in the comic books. More interestingly, they are exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into Sony’s Spider-Man films!

What does this mean?

Marvel has been making cinematic history by building a universe that ties the continuity of all of their films, television and Netflix series all together into a neat, orderly package.

Sony, on the other hand has been tinkering with various realities related to Spider-Man that have introduced different origins, relationships, actors and villains to a mixed reaction among audiences.

Long-time fans of Marvel comics know that over the last seventy-five years, there have been a lot of changes made to most of the characters and various generations of readers have personal attachments to “their” universe. Basically, today’s Spider-Man is not your parent’s Spider-Man.

This is a problem for Marvel because, as diligent they are about building a cohesive MCU that will stand the test of time and establish a specific cannon, they will inevitably alienate some portion of their audience who may miss their beloved version of a character.

Sony’s Spider-Man franchise can become their escape valve for alternate universes that will allow these variants to come alive on film with the friendly, neighborhood, web-slinger as the conduit.

A solid, friendly relationship between Marvel and Sony will give audiences an opportunity to explore all of the potential options of the multitude of characters in the Marvel Universe and all of its various realities while also establishing a solid core universe built around the MCU that will dictate the long term marketing strategy of Marvel/Disney.

It is a win-win situation for everyone. Marvel and Sony both have a full roster to work with and fans can have the best of all worlds that will appropriately be linked by an intricate web that only Spidey could weave.

Now, if only 20th Century Fox would wise up and join the party…

Gerry Giovinco


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