Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

‘Captain America’ Cries the Red, White and Blues

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Anyone out there who has remotely cared about how comic creators have been screwed out of even the tiniest morsel of the tremendous profits  generated by Hollywood’s superhero bonanza had to let out a huge guffaw after reading a recent Variety  interview with Chris Evans, who will star as Captain America throughout a contracted six film run for Marvel Entertainment. His commitment is now half completed with this past weekend’s blockbuster release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The star spangled actor seems fairly constrained when talking about the trials and tribulations of portraying the famed First Avenger, careful not to raise the ire of Marvel studio execs but can’t help himself from peaking the nerves of their stingy bean counters with a little help from Avenger cast ring leader, Robert Downey, Jr.

Evans says Marvel will often send him pictures of “Captain America” action figures that are molded after his likeness, but that he doesn’t profit from the merchandising. “I see my nephew wearing underwear with my face on it,” says Evans. “I’m like ‘what’s going on?’ But for some reason, (no money comes) my way.” Adds Downey: “Nobody gets anything from the toys, and nobody ever will.” Then he promises: “I’m working on it.”

What if?

It’s a hoot seeing these mega-stars crying over the money they are not making especially after they all made such a big scene about renegotiating their contacts going into Avengers 2 after the original Avengers film grossed over $1.5 billion world-wide, ranking it number three in all-time box office sales. Adding fuel to the fire was the huge discrepancy of pay between stars. Downey made $50 million for his role as Iron Man while other Avengers  made as little as $200,000 for their silver-screen super-heroics generating comments like, “On what planet is that fair!”

True to form, Marvel continues to “strong-arm and bully” the talent, wether it is an aging comic book creator or a celebrated Hollywood actor, with threats of law suits and dismissal of service held against detractors. Marvel considers talent to be expendable so long as they control the Intellectual Property of their vast library which they protect with the might of Odin to the point that even Disney power suits stand clear.

As each new Marvel film exceeds expectations and rings up record revenue it becomes more apparent that Marvel is as mythic as its heroes and villains when it comes to sheer greed. Soon their brand will be synonymous with companies like Walmart and McDonalds whose employees require government assistance to survive because they are paid and treated so poorly.

Maybe the high profile whining of celebrities like Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr, Scarlet Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and others will bring attention to Marvel’s unscrupulously tight fisted business ethics. Maybe the stars and the public will finally gain sympathy for the Kirby family who do not see one red cent from all of the characters that Jack Kirby co-created, without which none of these actors would have a role to play or complain about in the first place.

Unions in Hollywood are powerful, they have the ability to freeze the industry. Should the writers and actors become sympathetic to the plight of comic creators and their heirs, some justice could still come to those that have been denied fair compensation for their contribution to both the Marvel and DC Universes for decades. Maybe the courts will finally recognize the injustices that they’ve been catering to as they suckled the teats of big business.

Let’s root for the Marvel films to be so successful that  the stars can’t stand watching the vast amounts of money that is sure to elude them. Put them in the shoes of Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Steve Ditko, Jerry Siegle, Joe Shuster and a long parade of other comic creators that worked for a lousy page rate under the shackles of a work-for-hire agreement and never saw royalties when their creations became films, toys or underwear.

The stars representing beloved heroes will put an unmistakable face on the unfair practices of Marvel and DC that a comic creator hunched over a drawing board or typewriter never could. Maybe then the world will appreciate the injustices that many of us have known about for decades and some things will change in the comics industry.

A perturbed Chris Evans is a great start. His character, Captain America, represents the American Dream and has stood for all that is fair and good in this country since his creation by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon in 1941.

It is only right that Captain America should now lead this charge against the corporate greed and bullying that grips our nation, exemplified by Marvel, the self proclaimed builders of our modern mythology. There is more than a man behind that shield he carries, there is the heart of a nation that cannot be taken away. It is time we all stand behind that red, white and blue shield together to defend what we know  is morally right. It is time for a battle cry! America, Assemble!

Gerry Giovinco



Hollywood Hell

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

It is Oscar Season in Hollywood. Congratulations in advance to all the losers! I’m not talking about all those folks that were lucky enough or talented enough to be nominated but those that will never even be invited to ceremonies or get a sniff of the knobby trophy.

I’m talking about all of the dedicated artists without which most of the films we see would never be made. The men and women that create, design, animate, sculpt,  draw and paint relentlessly to produce a reality in two and three dimensions that ultimately comes alive on film. The people that make a measly paycheck compared to the actors, directors, and producers that rake in millions. The saps whose microscopic credit flies by on the screen so fast it is nothing but a blur.

Congratulations to you all and thank you for another incredible year of cinema that would have been shit without you!

Sounds rough, I know, but any one who describes themselves as an artist of any sort knows that they, with few exceptions, wear a permanent “Kick Me” sign especially when it comes time to being valued and paid for their work. This is not just in Hollywood but in all creative fields including comic books.

These days, comic books and Hollywood work in tandem to create incredible films and, for the most part, it is the people that created the comics in the first place that see the least revenue from the giant blockbusters they inspire.

To be sure there is a line of creators seeking compensation for their contributions outside the Marvel/Disney and DC/Warner Bros. offices. In many cases settlements are made secretly, behind closed doors, in an attempt to shore up any floodgates ready to burst.

These agreements are band aids on a wound that never heals because though it may satisfy the immediate creator in question it casts an illusion of harmony that deludes other creators into a false sense of security in their professional dealings, giving the corporate gatekeepers the upper hand.

It is this overwhelming attitude that disregards the value of creators that makes them vulnerable to predators in the industry and in society itself.

This is why people  like Shia LaBeof feels it is his it is his right to plagiarize source material at will and mock the convention of copyright ownership. Comic artist Dan Clowes is a victim whose work and career has been violated, yet it is Labeouf that is defensive like a rapist dismissing an accuser.

It is this creative disregard that allows artists at the top of the food chain, like Spike Lee, to scoff at designer Juan Luis Garcia and respond with malice when Garcia sought to be paid for work that had been stolen from him by an unscrupulous ad agency hired by the filmmaker.

Juan Luis Garcia has disappeared, a mere hiccup to a respected independent filmmaker that had an opportunity to publicly respect the value of the work of another artist that was just trying to make a living. Spike Lee chose to bury him instead, more concerned with protecting his own bottom line than the integrity of the arts.

It is this pervasive sentiment that opens the Kirby heirs to criticism for seeking compensation for their father’s contribution in creating the multibillion dollar Marvel Universe.

The professional hell that artists experience everyday may not always compare to the injustices in Hollywood but it is prevalent every time someone asks that work be done for free or well below market value because it will “offer exposure” instead, every time time an artist is asked to do work on speculation, never to be paid, and every time they do work-for-hire and see no residuals from an unexpected success.

The world is a difficult place for any profession these days. Everyone from the plumber to the baker is struggling to make ends meet while the moguls at the top get rich off of their hard work. Artists are often dismissed because at least they have the joy of “doing what they love.” That is no excuse for fair compensation for the work that they do.

Next time you watch a film pumped out by Hollywood, take the time to sit through the credits and absorb the enormous amount of people that it took to make that single movie. Imagine how many of them are artists with great aspirations and who are now wondering where their next paycheck is coming from. Learn to appreciate and value their work and creativity because these are the folks in the trenches of Hollywood Hell and the film you enjoyed would not exist without them.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



The Comic Company: Licensed to Thrill

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

A number of comic book companies today fill their product line-ups with licensed properties. IDW, Boom, Darkhorse and Ape are among the most significant publishers outside of Marvel and DC who have found value in acquiring licensed properties from other media outlets.

The idea is simple and is a marketing tool used by scores of merchandising companies in nearly every industry. Find an intellectual property with high visibility. Purchase the rights to make an exclusive product featuring the property. Benefit from the sales generated by the customer recognition of the popular property.

Badda Boom, Badda Bing!

Licensing and merchandising is nothing new. Saint Paul built Christianity on its basic premises by marketing the popular teachings of Jesus as a new religious product.

Merry Christmas,” two thousand and ten years later!

Comic books have used it since the beginnings of the industry. The first comic books featured licensed syndicated newspapers comics that were reprinted in color.

It shouldn’t have been a big deal in 1983 when Comico licensed the rights from Harmony Gold to publish the English adaption of the popular Japanese animated series MACROSS. But it was and it became an even bigger deal that put Comico on the map as a major player in the comic industry.

Robotech/Macross #1 cover, Comico 1984

At the time, and please correct me if I’m wrong, Comico was the first independent comic company to enter into a licensing deal other than one that was of a creator owned property. Only Marvel and DC had a lock on that side of the market and, to the best of my knowledge, no one else was even considering it.

Comico’s deal was innocent enough. It was built on the enthusiasm of Carl Macek for his project that he was working on with Harmony Gold and the Comico crew’s collective interest in Anime. Comico enthusiastically became the first American licensee of MACROSS.

At the same time DC acquired the rights from Revell to publish ROBOTECH, based on a line of toys designed around assorted transforming robot molds that Revell had purchased from a toy company in Japan. When the first issue was published by DC it was clear that a number of the robots in ROBOTECH were from the MACROSS series and many of the other robots were from other series that Harmony Gold also held the rights to.

Needless to say there was lot of wrangling going on but Carl Macek and Harmony Gold held the trump card. They had an entire animated series that could be adapted to TV in the American market. As Stan Lee would say, “‘Nuff said!”

Revell and Harmony Gold worked together to build the ROBOTECH franchise that took America by storm. Harmony Gold proved their honor by awarding Comico the rights to the comic book resting it from DC since we had the original deal for the actual story.

Comico's 1st Color Books

Comico had already established its ability to produce quality product with its first color offerings, MAGE, EVANGELINE, ELEMENTALS and MACROSS. Our production and success of the ROBOTECH comics helped the marketing team behind ROBOTECH to attract more licensees and before long the ROBOTECH logo was everywhere.

Others took notice and soon we were being contacted others, most notably Hannah Barbera who was looking for a publisher for Thundarr the Barbarian. Our interest, however, was in one of their long dormant properties, Jonny Quest.

Jonny had been off their radar for so long that the people we were dealing with thought that it was a Filmation property and were surprised to discover it in their own archives.

Jonny Quest was a huge success for Comico and other properties were soon to follow. Space Ghost, Gumby, and Starblazers were all big hits. We also set our sights on Max Headroom and though we did initially acquire the property and began marketing it, creative differences arose between the editorial staff, creative team and the owners of the property, Chrysalis Records. Max Headroom never became a Comico comic book.

Other comic companies picked up where Comico left off, finding success in licensed properties. Others found even greater success in licensing their own properties following in the insanely successful footsteps of Eastman and Laird’s nearly immortal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Now, more than ever before, with the advent of digital content and the internet, we have to closely examine what is the true value of the comics that we make. Is it the comics themselves or is it the intellectual property they are derived from?

We all would love to make money selling our comics and I can tell you from experience that you certainly can but folks, the real money is in the properties themselves.

Disney and Warner Brothers both know this and are in the process of redefining the IP of Marvel and DC for success in the long haul while producers throughout Hollywood are rummaging through comic properties regularly looking for the next Mutant Turtle.

The Internet is the comic creator’s opportunity to develop and establish rights to a property while reaching an audience that is global. Protect your assets, invest your skills and let the best properties sell themselves. This is the greatest time ever to be a comic creator. Take advantage of it!

Hey, I know the economy sucks and the market is in tremendous flux but guess what? That is exactly how it was when Mickey and Superman showed up both borne on the backs of failure and surrounded by the Great Depression. Their strength was the brilliance of their property which still shines today.

Comic properties can have tremendous economic power and there is plenty of proof. Don’t be discouraged if you are a creator or a fan. The future for comics is bright.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Vol 1

CO2 Comics is going into 2011 as optimistic as anybody! The content of our site is growing steadily and our readership is expanding rapidly. We have published our first book, David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Volume 1 and have new products on the horizon.

But our biggest achievement is the honor That Bill and I have of posting the great comics that have been trusted to our site by creators that we love and respect so that all of our valued readers can enjoy them.

Thank you everyone for this opportunity to do what we enjoy most.

Making comics because I want to.

Gerry Giovinco

The Comic Company:
Duckwork

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

 

Enter at your own risk

 
An ominous, orange glow cast its pall across South Philadelphia in the spring of 1981. It was a sign plastered with fluorescent tempera paint on a thirteenth floor window of the ARCO Building on Broad and Spruce streets, home of most of the classes taught at PCA, Philadelphia College of Art which is now known as the University of the Arts, one of the most respected art colleges in the country.
 

Room with a view

 
The letters that read “DUCKWORK” could be seen as far south as Veterans Stadium where the Phillies had won the World Series just months before and marched past PCA in their triumphant parade that rocked the City of Brotherly Love.

Behind the window was the office of a motley group of art students banded together to publish a “student” newspaper by the same name.
 

John "Bondo" Rondeau settles in front of a huge print that we had "aquired" from a show at PCA that featured a famous cartoonist alumnus, Anrnold Roth, who ironically had been expelled from the school when he was a student.

 
DUCKWORK, though tacitly supported by the school, was never a school newspaper. It was a publication commandeered by an assembly of comic art enthusiasts led by myself that defiantly produced comics in an educational environment that, at the time, considered the medium to be kitsch and derivative.
 

DUCKWORK Covers 1 & 2, Cover #1 illustrated by Bill "Fostex" Foster, #2 by Gerry Giovinco with inks by Bill Anderson

 
Our pseudo-fraternity proclaimed each of us as DUCKS and, as a proud rogue clan, we wreaked havoc on the school with our publication and our mischievous pranks some of which might have us arrested if done today.
 

Bill Bryan who is now at CBR Woodworking where thay make incredible furniture for offices and corporate spaces among other things. http://www.cbrwoodworking.com/index.html


 

Evan Nurse was a Jr. Duck who attended a cartooning class on weekends at PCA for young students. Evan's senior prank at Sharon hill H.S. was to join the girls Lacross team. They let him play but they made him wear the kilt. He is now an AV instructor at an area High School.

 
PCA had very little sense of community at the time. Because of this, our little group managed to control Student Council and Arts Council giving us the opportunity to allocate funds and office space for our ventures. The DUCKS ruled!
 

DUCKWORK Covers 3 & 4, both illustrated by Gerry Giovinco

 
DUCKWORK quickly became a magnet for cartoonists especially after it became known that I was attempting to start a comic book company named Comico with two friends of mine from high school, Phil LaSorda and Vince Argondezzi.
 

DUCKWORK Covers 5 & 6, #5 illustrated by Bill "Cooch" Cucinotta, #6 by Matt wagner

 
Bill Cucinotta, my partner here at CO2 Comics, knew of me and Comico from Creation Conventions and was enthusiastically involved with DUCKWORK from the start.

Nick-named Cooch, his loyalty and ability to get the job done whenever needed along with his knowledge of the direct market derived from his experience working retail at Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt, Philly’s premier comic shop made him invaluable. It would later make him the most logical choice to fill the void left by Vince Argondezzi’s abrupt departure from Comico’s initial partnership well before our first book Comico Primer would be published.
 

Edwin Arocho is now a fine artist and musician living in San Juan, Puerto Rico

 
The list of colorful guys and gals that frequented DUCKWORK’s office is peppered with talented artists that went on to creative careers. I’ve included photos of several DUCKS. It is easy to see that besides comics, we were seemingly, also influenced by the movie Animal House!
 

Danny "Hank" Lange followed his dream and actually learned to play that guitar. He recently did a sound track for an award winning film. Check Dan out here: http://www.myspace.com/buskersblues


 

The fall of 1981 brought a new landscape to PCA. Two older buildings across the street had been purchased by the school and turned into dorms. One of these dorms would quickly become a DUCKWORK annex and be dubbed the SWAMP. The SWAMP was home to new DUCKS, Matt Wagner, Mike Leeke, and Dave Johnson, three guys that each would later play a role in the accomplishments of Comico.

 

Joe Cursio was another Jr. Duck who hung out at DUCKWORK and is now living

 
DUCKWORK was populated by students that lived on campus and commuters who often crashed at the office or the SWAMP. SEPTA strikes were usually great bonding experiences for the commuters of which I was one.
 

Joe "Zig" Zigler rarely showed up with clothes on... Joe is a fun pal that we've managed to lose touch with. Joe, if you are out there, drop us a line!

 
One commuting DUCK who recently has emerged on the web-pages of CO2 Comics with his wife and former PCA alumnus, Tina Garceau, is Joe Williams who has recently posted several great flashbacks about DUCKWORK on his blog at www.willceau.com.
You can read Joe’s 5 part DUCKWORK retrospective here.
 
By the time the spring semester had ended in 1982, a total of six issues of DUCKWORK had been published.

It was the end of my junior year at PCA. Phil Lasorda’s older brother Dennis had just purchased a duplex in Norristown for his Physical Therapy practice. He had offered us the opportunity to run Comico out of the half he was not using.

It was time for this DUCK to sink or swim. I left PCA to pursue a dream. Cooch came along as well. Without its leaders DUCKWORK quicky faded away but Comico was about to become official.

When it came time to take the big leap of faith, Vince chose not to commit and Bill took his seat at the drums. Phil, Cooch and I were now the standing partners of Comico as we began to solicit our first publication.
 
Matt Wagner was a prolific contributer to DUCKWORK and continued to contribute as Comico took off. Matt’s feature Grendel first appeared in Comico Primer #2 and went on to become an iconic character in comics. Comico also published Matt’s Mage the Hero Discovered.
 

Matt Wagner, The Comic Artist Discovered.

 
Mike Leeke was significant as an artist on ROBOTECH and later went on to pencil Bill Willingham’s popular ELEMENTALS.
Mike’s contributation to CO2 Comics. The Amazing Liberteens, can be seen Here.
 

Mike Leeke, who would later become the penciler extraordinare of ROBOTECH and ELEMENTALS is just thrilled that he can hide all of his mechanical pencils and rapidograph pens in his tremendous fro!

 
Dave Johnson was also a penciler on the ROBOTECH series.
 

Dave Johnson, former denizen of the SWAMP and penciler on ROBOTECH The Next Generation for Comico.

 
Joe Williams along with his wife Tina Garceau creates Monkey and Bird which is featured here on CO2 Comics.
 

Joe Williams is now a featured artist here on CO2 Comics with his wife Tina

 
Bill and I have ironically redeveloped our webs. We’ve gone from DUCKWORK to Web Comics with a long history in between.
 

Bill "Cooch" Cucinotta reclines on a cardboard 3-D project that was retired to the hall in front of the DUCKWORK office

Ouch! Gerry Giovinco, is another Duck trapped in a world he never made!

 
NOTE: In 1984, two years after the DUCKWORK crew had disbanded at PCA, Jim Carrey makes his Hollywood debut in an NBC television series titled “The Duck Factory” about a quirky group of animators trying to keep their studio alive. Kinda makes you wonder…


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