Posts Tagged ‘Steve Gerber’

Remembering Roger Slifer

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

It always hits home when a comic creator passes away for those of us that share a kinship of caring for how words and pictures tangled on a page can create a memorable story or message. The announcement of Roger Slifer’s death, however,  pained us in a different way because of how he battled to survive the tragic hit-and run-accident that critically changed his life in 2012. He was an inspiration of hope through his work creating adventurous heroes throughout his career in comics and animation and through his life as an advocate for creators rights with a tenacity for achievement  against the odds. He was,  like many of the heroes he wrote about, someone we wanted to root for and did. His story, sadly,  did not end the way many of us hoped. Roger deserves to be remembered  by more than the few brief lines that have accompanied the news announcements of his passing and there is no one better to share those thoughts than his very close friend and conspirator, David Anthony Kraft who has graciously offered them:

Roger Slifer left and David Anthony Kraft right in the process of hitchhiking west to an early San Diego Comic Con using a sign drafted by Marie Severin. Photo by Dan Hagen.

Roger Slifer and I started at Marvel the same day. It wasn’t a case of love at first sight — we  didn’t like the looks of each other. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Brought on staff as a letterer and production assistant, Roger soon rose through the ranks, helping Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Steve Gerber and others with scripting or plotting during deadline crises, which were all too common back then. In the process, he taught himself to become an accomplished writer, and went on to write and edit for Marvel and DC, later becoming the first Direct Sales distribution manager for DC (another example of his ability to rise to a challenge in virtually any area).
At Marvel, Rog wrote single-issue stories for many of the major characters, and co-wrote “The Defenders” with me until other obligations left him no time. He became adept as a colorist and saved many a deadline. At DC he wrote “The Omega Men” and co-created the breakout character, Lobo. Later, he edited “World’s Finest Comics” and others for them. Still later, he became a writer, story editor and producer in animation, playing a key role on “Jem and the Holograms,” “G. I. Joe,” “My Little Pony,” “Conan,” and many another, including “Yu-Gi-Oh.”
Those are his credits, the things that can be known from his work. But his other qualities need to be known. The wit. Keen. The unique viewpoint and willingness to go his own way. Unique. The commitment and the unyielding character. Vexing sometimes, to be sure, but sincere.
We were young and in terms of being willing to quit dream jobs at Marvel and DC at the drop of a hat over perceived injustices, maybe foolish. In latter days, we shared a joke between us that we often quit a job before we applied for it or were actually hired. Which is to say, Roger was a man of principles. Without either of us knowing what the other had done, we both turned down offers to take over the scripting of “Howard the Duck” when our friend Steve Gerber was rudely parted from his creation. That’s one behind-the-scenes example of so many that Slifer’s friends and peers will remember about Roger taking a stand at personal cost to his career.
Much later, Roger called me about two story editor positions open in animation that were ideal for him. He worried that if he applied for one, he might be turned down but would have been  accepted for the other. Which one? he agonized. I kiddingly told him to apply for both and, when he got neither, he wouldn’t feel as bad. It should not have come as a surprise that he did exactly that…and got BOTH jobs!  But as anyone who’s worked in television knows, overseeing a season’s worth of scripts in a couple months is a miracle on one show. It’s impossible to do two separate shows at the same time. Yet Roger wanted to do it, and talked me into joining him as his “secret weapon.” If things went well, and the producers were pleased, he would reveal my participation and attempt to get me screen credit. After a grueling time of tag-team work, in which I’d write or re-write until I dropped, then wake him to take over where I left off, nights, weekends and every waking moment, somehow scripts for all the episodes of G. I. Joe: Extreme and Street Fighter were finished. The point? Without my once ever reminding him or saying a word, Roger did not, like most, say what was convenient when he needed help and then later have a selective memory or forget. True to his word, when the shows aired, there it was onscreen, the credit he had promised to fight for on my behalf. He was like that.

It will be three years in July since Marv Wolfman called to share the terrible news that Roger was struck down by a hit-and-run driver. We were all rooting for him, he gave it his best, but Rog never really recovered.  It’s the one challenge he couldn’t surmount.  Roger Slifer made lasting contributions to comics and animation for which he will be remembered.


But there’s so much more. Roger was a good and lifelong friend. Those of us privileged to know him personally will always remember and miss him for his many other fine qualities. His passing leaves a big hole where a good friend used to be.

David Anthony Kraft

First Hand History From Those That Passed

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

With the recent release of  Volume 3 of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection www.comicsinterview.com it is hard not to acknowledge the number of great comic creators, fans and industry observers who graced the pages that are no longer with us.  It is a sad truth that, thirty-plus years since the first issue of COMICS INTERVIEW was originally published, many of the great subjects of those interviews have passed away, taking with them their unique perspective of the comics industry and their direct involvement in it.

For this reason and for the inevitable fact  the list of deceased will grow, COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection becomes an extremely valuable facet of the history of comic books because it captures the insights of those that are gone and preserves them for generations of comic enthusiasts to come.

COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection amasses comics history directly from the mouths of those that lived it.  Many of the interviewees were there from the beginning. Some, like writer Gaylord Dubois born in 1899, were alive before the first comic book was printed!  COMICS INTERVIEW relays their perspective first hand like no other history book of this industry can or ever will.

The first three volumes of this collection reveal the words of over thirty industry insiders and observers that will never be heard again. The list is inspiring and saddening because these people were all, at some point, the heartbeat of the industry and left a legacy that continues to grow and inspire the medium today and well into the future.

Jack Abel – 1927-1996 – Artist

Alfred Bester – 1913-1987 – Writer

Dave Cockrum – 1943-2006 – Artist

Joe Colquhoun – 1924-1987 – Writer

Robert Culp – 1930-2010 – Fan on Screen

Arnold Drake – 1921-1997 – Writer

Gaylord Dubois – 1899-1993 – Writer

Jules Engle – 1909-2003 – Artist

Gardner Fox – 1911-1986 – Writer

Frank Frazetta – 1928-2010 – Artist

Steve Gerber – 1947-2008 – Writer

Dick Giordano – 1932-2010 – Artist

Dick Goldwater – 1936-2007 – Archie Publisher

Archie Goodwin – 1937-1998 – Writer/Editor

Jerry Grandenetti – 1926-2010 – Artist

Jack “Jaxon” Jackson – 1941-2006 – Writer/Artist

Carol Kalish – 1955-1991 – Marvel Sales Director

Bob Kane – 1915-1998 – Artist

Jack Kirby – 1917-1994 – Artist

Roy Krenkel – 1918-1983 – Artist

Joe Kubert – 1926-2012 – Artist

Jerry Robinson – 1922-2011 – Artist

Fred Rogers – 1928-2003 – Fan on Screen

Phil LaSorda – 1960-2008 – Comico Publisher

Carl Macek – 1951-2010 – ROBOTECH Producer

T. M. Maple – 1956-1994 – Fan Incognito

Joe Rosen – 1920-2009 – Letterer

George Roussos – 1915-2000- Artist

Adrienne Roy – 1953-2010 – Colorist

Don Thompson – 1935-1994 – CBG Editor

Kim Thompson – 1956-2013 – Fantagraphics Publisher

William Woolfolk – 1917-2003 – Writer

Those that have passed are now memorialized in a photo album on facebook that can be seen here and will be updated when needed and as each new volume is released so be sure to “like” the COMICS INTERVIEW page.

It is no mistake that the promotional graphic we chose this Holiday Season was of the Three Wise Men bearing the first three volumes of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection. To us the books contain the wisdom of many, regarding the comics industry, and represent the foundation that the entire medium of comic art is built on.

If you love comics and value the rich history of the medium  then be sure to add David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection and other great CO2 Comics graphic albums to your bookshelf today.

Gerry Giovinco



Just in Time for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Santa has something special for that growing number of fans out there that are building their complete set of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection.

VOLUME THREE is ON SALE NOW!!

VOLUME THREE, like the two volumes, before is packed with over 650 pages if incredible interviews from members of all aspects of the comics community! Though every interview is an amazing slice of comics history, who could pass on reading interviews these included industry giants: Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta, Archie Goodwin, Walt &Louise Simonson, Frank Miller, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, Steve Gerber,  and many more!

Remember, It is never too late to jump on the bandwagon and start your collection of any CO2 Comics product from David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection to any of our great graphic novels and t-shirts because they are all available on-demand any day of the year!

For your convenience, here is a complete list of all available product:

COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection Volume 1 by David Anthony Kraft – 680 pages

Paperback  Edition – $34.99

Hard Cover Edition – $54.99

Comics_Interview_Volume_2_Standard_cover

COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection Volume 2 by David Anthony Kraft – 688 pages

Paperback  Edition – $34.99

Hard Cover Edition – $54.99

COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection Volume 3 by David Anthony Kraft – 656 pages

Paperback  Edition – $34.99

Hard Cover Edition – $54.99

“The Greatest Collection of Interviews in the History of Comic Books!” these are the first three volumes of an eleven volume set that compiles the entire 150 issue run of David Anthony Kraft’s celebrated Comics Interview Magazine. Featuring interviews with nearly one hundred comic book professionals and fans, many of which are legends in the industry, this volume has 680 black-and-white pages of incredible photos, illustrations and text that will dazzle your eyes and remind you, page after page, why comics are special to you. A must-have reference work for every comics library, collector and researcher COMICS INTERVIEW accesses the heart and soul of the comics industry which has given the world 70 years of comic book art, literature, and tradition.

If you love comics — you will love COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection!

All volumes are available in both Premier and Standard editions featuring your choice of  Classic or traditional  COMICS INTERVIEW  logos!

Doggie Style – The Complete Dog Boy by Steve Lafler – 488 pages

Paperback  Edition – $29.99

Hard Cover Edition – $49.99

Imagine an enthusiastic, ambitious young artist of the 1980s who happens to have an enormous golden retriever head on a human body. Given to flights of fancy and the odd meditation on the truly mundane, this Dog Boy searches for meaning, all too often via a six pack of Rainer Ale pounders!

Steve Lafler sat down from 1882 to 1988 and drew nearly 500 pages of Dog Boy. Most of the time, he drew with no script, and in fact looked to emptying his mind before putting pencil to bristol board.

The entire results are collected here in in the 488 page omnibus, DOGGIE STYLE The Complete DOG BOY! Now you can pay witness to the genius that flowed from Steve’s streaming consciousness as he created one of the most truly independent comic works of all time!

NOTE: Content intended for MATURE readers.

Heaven and the Dead City by Raine Szramski – 64 pages

Paperback  Edition – $14.99

Hard Cover Edition – $24.99

There is nothing alive anymore in the Dead City – or is there? Two cities: one dead… …the other, vibrant and alive. But for Palus, the supposedly enlightened city of Zivvon was dead in a different way. Their intolerance of earth magick in favor of the intangible church-sanctioned magic of heaven weighed heavily on him. After all, Palus had been born a witch. Two cities: one beautiful and flourishing… …the other, not quite as dead as it would seem. Yaira knows this as well as anyone. It wasn’t safe to linger within the walls of Tac. Her mother had made that mistake and paid the price for it. Her father had warned her – Get in, get what we need and get out! But Yaira had inherited her mother’s curiosity. And now something in the Dead City was growing curious of her.

Ménage à BUGHOUSE by Steve Lafler – 408 pages

Paperback  Edition – $24.99

Hard Cover Edition – $39.99

Ménage à BUGHOUSE collects the funky jazz noir BUGHOUSE trilogy by Steve Lafler in one volume.

Tenor saxophone maestro, Jimmy Watts, leads his talented band of bugs from the swing era into the uncharted maelstrom of Bop. And as he and his band mates claw their way to the top of the jazz world, they must fight the temptation to be consumed by addiction to a substance known as “Bug Juice”.

NON by Chris Kalnick – 52 pages

Paperback Only – $14.99

This collection of the comic strip NON, The Transcendental Extraterrestrial by Chris Kalnick will tickle your soul. NON’s unique perspective of our humanity is a window through which we gain profound insight through the sheer simplicity of his observations. This little alien is a teacher and his thoughts are inspiring. NON’s epilog, A Sensory Neuron’s Quandary, will redefine life’s purpose for those seeking a pointed answer.

52 pages of powerfully, humorous, light-hearted introspection that is beautifully drawn by Kalnick will satisfy your need to be one with the universe but will have you begging for more NON adventures.

The Adventures of ROMA by John Workman – 98 pages

Paperback  Edition – $19.99

Hard Cover Edition – $29.99

This 98 page graphic novel is created by John Workman, whose extensive experience in the comic book field is evident in every panel. Workman introduces us to ROMA, a woman of mystery…even to herself… as she finds life, death , love, and perhaps mankind’s final redemption in this fantasy/science fiction graphic novel. ROMA is the story of a girl who is so much more than merely super-human!

Beautiful art, compelling story and haunting questions make ROMA irresistible.

The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese by Don Lomax – 108 pages

Paperback  Edition – $19.99

Hard Cover Edition – $29.99

The Heavy Adventures of CAPTAIN OBESE. Originally published by WARP GRAPHICS in the late 1980s. The comic has always been near and dear to Don’s heart since looking at CAPTAIN OBESE for him is like looking in a mirror. The comic collected some flack from the whining politically correct crowd back when it was first published but who other than a morbidly obese artist should depict a morbidly obese super hero? That was back in the days when everybody was thin. Today? CAPTAIN OBESE is the norm.

T-Shirts – $19.99 each

COMICS INTERVIEW T-Shirts featuring retro and Platinum COMICS INTERVIEW Logos.

Death Fatigue T’s- The syndrome that is gripping the readers of comic books all across the nation. Is there no end to the carnage that is being brought upon our favorite heroes by the editorial staffs of the biggest publishers in the comic industry?

Super Death Fatigue

Bat Death Fatigue


Cap Death Fatigue

Spider Death Fatigue

Now is your chance to put together your wish list for Santa or get that special gift for the comic fan or historian in your life.

Gerry Giovinco



David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection TWO THOUSAND Pages and Counting!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

First Three Volumes of Eleven Volume Set
on Sale NOW!

CO2 Comics has embarked on a massive endeavor to compile the entire 150 issue run of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW magazine that is regarded as the greatest collection of interviews in the history of comics.

To date, 42 issues, comprised of over 2,000 pages, have been meticulously scanned, cleaned, formatted and printed in the handsome, first three volumes of the planned eleven volume set. Volume four is currently in production.

Each printed volume packed with nearly 700 black and white pages of art, photos and interviews is available in either paperback or hard cover versions of two special editions:

The Premier Edition features, on its full color cover,  a customized version of the original COMICS INTERVIEW logo which utilized stylized characters from famous comic book titles. This logo appeared only on the first 24 issues of the magazine and is loved by many for it’s homage to comic book icons.

The Standard Edition alternatively features a similarly customized version of the traditional Comics Interview logo that graced the cover of the remaining 126 issues and may be the one that is endeared to the hearts of many fans, especially those that enjoyed its Pac Man font.

The four distinct versions of the printed package give fans of the magazine an opportunity to complete their collection of the set in a consistent manner that suits their personal tastes and will ultimately be an extraordinary addition to their library.

The importance of this collection to comic fans and historians can not be overstated.

Originally published from 1983 to 1995, COMICS INTERVIEW gave voice to the comics industry at a pivotal time in its history. The magazine was able to provide insightful interviews with writers, artists and editors that were active in the earliest days of the industry as well as the young creators whose careers since continue to shape the industry today.

Page by page, volume by volume, David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is an accurate, candid, and authoritative  perspective of the history of comics that comes directly from the mouths of the people that lived it.

Amazingly relevant to current issues that affect the industry, every volume is a necessary source of vital information for anyone who wants a complete understanding of the comics industry as a whole.

The first three volumes alone present interviews with about 230 individuals that all made a mark on the history of comics. Without slighting the contributions of any, here is just a short list of some of the influential subjects:

Terry Austin, Howard Chaykin, Gerry Conway, Jack Davis, Dick Giordano, Joe Kubert, Stan Lee, Wendy & Richard Pini, Jim Shooter, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, Karen Berger, John Byrne, Colleen Doran, Steve Gerber, Dave Gibbons, Bill Willingham, Scott McCloud, Stephen Bissette, Bob Burden, Frank Frazetta, Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Jerry Robinson, Frank Miller, Walt & Louise Simonson, and many, many more!

An accurate list of the interviews contained in each volume can be found in the book previews on the CO2 Comics Storefront on LULU and AMAZON where you can easily purchase your copy of each volume today! Buy one or buy all three and you will be anxious to complete the whole set as each new volume is released.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is a massive and beautiful centerpiece intended for any comics library. Accumulated one volume at a time or in convenient bundles, it continues the tradition of anticipation and fulfillment that is experienced by every comic collector. If you love comics, now is the time to begin your own collection of the greatest interviews in the history of comics. Order your copies today!

Gerry Giovinco



Is Stan Lee the Key to a Kirby Family Victory?

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

On May 15, nine Justices will decide wether the Supreme Court will preside over the Kirby family’s battle to regain copyrights from Marvel and Disney of works co-created by their father, Jack Kirby between the years of 1958 and 1963.

According to the Copyright Act of 1976 the Kirby Estate has the right to request termination of these works provided that the works were not executed as “works for hire,” a term normally associated with work created by an employee of a company.

To date, lower courts have ruled that the works, which include seminal characters that represent the foundation of Marvel’s entire universe, were created at the expense of the corporation and thus are considered work for hire.

Convincing the highest court in the land to both hear the case and to rule in favor of the Kirby Estate may require a miracle of epic proportions equivalent to the great feats of the  many superheroes derived from Jack Kirby’s fertile imagination.

The most unlikely and unwitting hero of this legal drama, however, might actually be Stan Lee who stood as Kirby’s collaborator on all of these creations with the exception of Captain America who Jack created with Joe Simon in 1941.

The idea that Stan the Man, Marvel’s biggest cheerleader, could possibly help the Kirby case may seem ludicrous at first but it was by his hand that a cosmic ball could possibly have been set in motion. His formulation of the so-called “Marvel Method” of producing comics where he would suggest an idea to the artist who would then visually plot an entire story that Stan would later script  the dialogue for could undo the work for hire strategy at its root.

This method of creating comics was new and unique to Marvel and was far from consistent with industry practice at the time where a full script would be handed in by the writer for the penciler to follow. Writers were paid to write. Pencilers were paid to draw.

Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko

It is well documented that Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, the earliest participants with Lee of this industry bucking practice, were unhappy that Lee was paid full writing fees and they only received standard penciling fees for their work. They both felt that they should be paid and credited for their share of the writing since they were essentially plotting the entire story, a standard duty of the writer.  Their dissatisfaction with the inequities of the practice ultimately led them both to leave Marvel in protest.

Jack’s duties as a penciler were above and beyond what was considered industry standard at the time. As one of the most prolific pencilers of the era he easily deserved at least the standard page rate he was paid for traditional penciling that did not require the visual plotting unaided by a script. He should have been paid more for the extra work required by the “Marvel Method” but he was not.

If Jack Kirby was not paid for his contribution to the writing of the stories, even though it was rendered visually, how can his contribution be considered work for hire?

Stan Lee has very publicly and proudly described the Marvel Method for decades as part of their formula for success. Lee certainly was not paid less for the work load of the writing chores that he passed to the penciler.

Stan Lee is also a poster child for negotiating a Marvel settlement for his role in creating the Marvel Universe. If Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are equally responsible for creating most of the successful characters at Marvel, how can it be justified that Lee can file a suit that results in a reported $10 million settlement back in 2005 long before the company was sold to Disney for $4.6 billion in 2009? Will the Supreme Court recognize the injustice of one co creator being compensated while the other is not?

Marvel, itself, has obvious doubts about the work for hire relationship it pretends to command over its creators. Lee’s  is not the only settlement they have negotiated going back as far as Joe Simon for Captain America, Steve Gerber for Howard the Duck and a growing list of creators that are settling quietly as the Marvel cinematic universe now grows into a global phenomenon.

No other creator has been signaled out and treated as significant a threat to Marvel as Jack Kirby. He alone was subjected to restrictive contracts regarding his existing work for the company. He alone was forced to sign restrictive agreements just for  the return of his own original art. If Marvel was so sure of its work for hire relationship with him why were they so contentious with him late in his career before his death? Why did they fear Jack Kirby?

The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to finally and fairly define the work for hire relationship as it pertains to the comic book industry regarding properties that were created in the Silver Age and are now becoming eligible for . Hopefully they will realize that properties that were created for meager wages at a time when comic book sales were weakened by a federal witch hunt are now worth an obscene amount of money that could have never been anticipated by the original creators.

Many of the creators who are still  alive and struggling in the twilight of their lives could benefit immensely from any fair compensation that relates to the current value of their creations. For those that have passed away, like Jack Kirby, it would be comforting to their families if their lives in today’s economy could be eased by that which they should rightly inherit.

If you enjoyed comics because you believed that the heroes fought for what was right, now is the time to hope and pray that the Supreme Court will insure that justice is served for those that created the heroes we enjoyed. Collectively support Jack Kirby’s family with well wishes and maybe a miracle will happen.

This can be a great comic book story where justice triumphs once again. If the Supreme Court decides to hear this case it is a sure bet that Marvel will beg the Kirby Estate to reach a settlement, hopefully with an agreement similar the one that Prince just received from Warner Brothers Records, where the work remains in current hands but compensation and control are renegotiated. It would be a win-win situation for all sides especially for the fans who all want this story to have a happy ending befitting of the greatest superheroes of all time. A story of epic proportions that would make both Jack Kirby and Stan Lee proud.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Warning: Comics May Cause Amnesia

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Warning: Comics May Cause Amnesia

There seems to be plenty of evidence that comics may cause amnesia.

Apparently anyone who reads, collects, buys, sells, or creates comics is prone to complete memory loss especially regarding the subject of creator rights. people associated with comics in any way shape or form are in desperate need of an old-fashioned FLASHBACK!

How can this be? It has long been assumed that comic enthusiasts excel at the ability to retain the most trivial detail regarding their favorite characters, story arcs and comic creators. They are able to recognize fine nuances in artwork that identify pencilers and inkers, idiosyncrasies in writing that denote authors, and can distinguish the differences between lettering and coloring styles and techniques.

The true comic fan can recite, verbatim, from their favorite comics, panel by panel page by page issue by issue. Yet, regarding the long fought battle over  of creators rights,  the brains of most people associated with comics today are a clean slate.

This explains why artists continue to work for page rates that are the same as or less than they were thirty years ago. This explains why creators are willing to continue to be exploited by work-for-hire contracts with little or no expectation of royalties.
This explains why contracts for digital content are as archaic as those that sucked the souls from creators and robbed them blind since the dawn of the comics industry.

Comics are like rufies, you know, the date rape drug. They must be because they make comic creators forget how they have been screwed, over and over again by the corporate publishers that demand complete control over all Intellectual Property and are unwilling to share all but the tiniest crumbs left by the billions of dollars of profit that is generated by the hard labor of those that create it.

Some are immune to this peculiar neurological allergen. They stand out as rebels and spin their craft in the far reaches of the marketplace: small press, self publishing, web comics and commission work. They carry the torch for a war still fought but rarely noticed; a fight for principle and fairness. They remember the victims of the scrupulous publishers. They remember those that fought: the few that won and the many that lost.

This rag-tag band of comic rebels have their supporters: enlightened fans that sing their praise and defend their stance but in total they are a rare breed that struggles to perpetually rekindle the flame of an apparently, easily forgettable fight.

Thank goodness for history books. If not for them many a war would be left forgotten. Fortunately, the chronicles of this battle for creators rights was recorded directly from the mouths of those that first led the charge. Their words were captured for perpetuity in the pages of a magazine in the form of interviews.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW was the voice of comics industry from 1983 to 1995. It was the forum where everyone and anyone associated with comics was able to speak their mind. The matter of creators rights was at the forefront of many of those discussions as a heated affront to the unjust norms of the industry was erupting in the form of the first wave of independent publishers who, along with the formation of the Direct Market, created an alternative venue for comic creators to reach their audience and own their work.

Steve Gerber

Page after page of COMICS INTERVIEW emboldened the movement, inspiring, and engaging the ranks of comic creators and fans alike who were able to empathize with each other. Readers were able to experience and appreciate the perspective of creator rights pioneers like Steve Gerber who threw his mantle down in the first issue, establishing a code of honor that would endure for the full 150 issue run of the magazine.

Fortunately, COMICS INTERVIEW is not destined to be a faded memory, lost to the world in the forgotten long boxes of aging comic enthusiasts of a bygone era. It is being digitally restored and collected in its entirety by CO2 Comics who are packaging the massive collection in an eleven volume set. Each volume contains over 600 pages of riveting history of the comic book industry. Currently the first two volumes are available featuring the first 28 issues of the magazine. Volume three is currently in production.

Many of the subjects whose interviews grace the pages had careers that dated back to the dawn of the industry itself, while others continue to work in the industry today. This portal to a window in time at the center of the history of comic books makes David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection an invaluable historical treasure. It is in fact the greatest collection of interviews in the history of comic books.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is the perfect cure for any amnesia regarding creators rights in the comic industry. It is a history book that uniquely depicts a war as it was happening and directly told by the participants and witnesses themselves.

It is a history book that belongs in the library of anyone with any interest in understanding the comic industry today as it is as relevant now as as it ever has been.

It is a history book that belongs in every school or public library for its intimate perspective of an industry that has had a dynamic impact on the popular culture of the world as we know it today.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is the ultimate FLASHBACK to remind us that the war over creators rights is not, and can never be, over.

Never forget. Never give up.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco


Self-Publishing is a Virtue

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Self-publishing is often perceived with a certain disdain that I always struggle to understand especially when it concerns publishing comics. Self-publishers are usually viewed as purveyors of “Vanity Press” or unrefined rebels, void of editorial and quality control, rather than the enlightened, creative entrepreneurs that they often are.

For the record, I have always considered myself a self-publisher though I have spent a lot of time publishing the works of others. I self-published my first comics in high school. Those comics were printed on a mimeograph machine and distributed from class-to-class and sold for a nickel apiece.

In college, where I met my long time publishing partner Bill Cucinotta, we published a student newspaper, DUCKWORK , with a bunch of like-minded friends that all had an interest in comics.  We were doing our own thing and doing it collectively so I still considered what “we” published as self-published.

Few people remember or realize that Comico began as a self-publishing venture. Our earliest projects all featured comics that we created ourselves.  AZ, Skrog, and Slaughterman were each works of the individual Comico partners, Phil LaSorda, Bill Cucinotta, and myself. Primer was intended an introductory product for our personal projects but became our first vehicle to present the works of others, most notably our former DUCKWORK pal, Matt Wagner, and his signature work Grendel.

It was only fitting that when Bill and I began publishing on the web as CO2 Comics the first features we launched were our earlier works Skrog and Slaughterman . We were self-publishers again!

Because we do enjoy publishing others, we set up CO2 Comics as a cooperative venture where we work closely with creators to present their work on our site. When we do publish works in print we consider the creators our partners and insure that they receive the lion’s share of net profits from sales of their books.

I don’t ever want to lose my perception of being a self-publisher because I consider it a virtue and a right. Cat Yronwode, esteemed comics critic, and editor once questioned our rights to publish what was admittedly amateurish material. Her comment in the Comics Buyer’s Guide sent me into a tizzy back in 1983 because I am so adamant about a creator’s right to have control over their work which is my primary  endorsement for self-publishing. I argued that as Americans we should have the right to publish whatever we want and that the market will determine our fate.

Self-publishing, in fact has integral responsibility for the birth of our nation. Forefather, Ben Franklin, was a self-publisher and champion of freedom of speech. He used his press, his writings and his publishing skills to inspire and encourage the American Revolution. He valued those rights and so should we as comic creators.

This is the sense of independence that comic creators needed when it became obvious that the big comic publishers were taking advantage of them. By the late seventies when people started demanding rights for Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster followed by champions for Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby it became obvious that alternative publishing was necessary in the comics industry

For us, like many others, self-publishing was the answer.  Thanks to the nature of the Direct Market in the comics industry at the time, self-publishers could easily get their foot in the door. A lot of good and bad publishers proliferated but what became clear was that comics could be more than just superheroes and the opportunity for diversity in the medium exploded.  Self-publishing opened the door for creative opportunity that may not have existed otherwise.

The new generation of comic creators with this expanded view of the medium quickly moved to the world wide web and launched a self publishing assault  that proved anything is possible when creating comics. Stick figures capably replaced the anatomically exaggerated superheroes as dominant reading material on the web.

Now, with digital advancements in printing and distribution, the opportunity to self-publish is as accessible and affordable than ever before leaving the greatest challenge to be that of being discovered by an audience.

More than ever, self-publishing is the doorway to creative freedom. As creators, now is the time to encourage each other to embrace the opportunity to swelf-publish, to control your intellectual property and not be victimized by unscrupulous publishers who continue to exploit the antiquated work-for-hire business model.

This is our goal at CO2 Comics. We recognize that not every creator wants the burden of all the details that self-publishing requires wether it be on the web or in print. We want CO2 Comics to be a safe haven for projects to be published while creators retain ownership and control over their property.

More importantly we intend that creators are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve and would warrant as a self-publisher because we know personally what a virtue self-publishing is.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco


Making Comics is Risky Business: Part 4

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Over the years the business risk of making comics has shifted as has been outlined in the previous three installments of Making Comics is Risky Business.

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3

As promised in this last article on the subject we will now take a closer look at the risky business of speculation and why crowd funding is the future for comics publishing.

When Phil Seuling developed the concept of the Direct Market in the late 1970’s he predicated it on the existence of comic book specialty shops that were springing up across the country, most of which depended on sales of collectible back-issues, the value of which were marked up considerably on many depending upon their rarity and conditions.

Though back-issues at the time were still generally affordable, they established a precedent for what would constitute speculative value. Premiere issues, popular creators, significant events and, of course, mint condition comics became sought after commodities by comic collectors who became the backbone customers of the Direct Market.

As the rising prices of collectible comics became a recognized investment, collectors began to buy multiple issues of their favorite comics, one to read and others to  squirrel away in mylar bags, preserving their mint condition and hopefully driving up their potential value.

The customers became speculators and took over the position of financial risk takers in the comic market. Professional speculators bought specific issues in quantity, artificially driving up demand and inflating aftermarket retail figures.

Retailers and publishers took advantage of the speculator market and a secondary market of collectible supplies like bags, boards and boxes sprang up.

Independent publishers benefitted greatly from the speculative nature of the market during the 1980’s as collectors feared missing the next “Holy Grail” guaranteeing that at least premiere issues of almost any title could receive respectable sales figures.

As Independent publishers began to proliferate in the market presenting themselves as serious competition for Marvel and DC, the Big Two, in defense of their reign, launched an all-out assault of first issues featuring popular characters and creators. Focusing on the speculative nature of the market they employed novelty devises like mini-series, variant covers, crossovers and events to successfully flood the competition out of the market.

By the mid 1990’s the Direct Market was a bloated mess of over-inflated and over-hyped product that nobody wanted or could any longer afford, crashing the market and even forcing Mighty Marvel into bankruptcy. Diamond stood as the only surviving distributor to a market that was once serviced by over a dozen.

Through it all the emergence of the graphic novel and the success of imported Japanese Manga paved a road into traditional bookstores challenging the Direct Market’s role as sole provider of comics to changing readership. Digital media, however was lurking in the background, poised to change how comics could be delivered to a world wide audience.

Eric Millikin's Art

The development of the web comic, which began with Eric Millikin’s Witches and Stitches as early as 1985, grew through the 1990’s and has flourished in the 2000’s, has changed the rules for creating comics completely and for the first time put the risk fully on the shoulders of the creators as, in most cases, they are the sole publishers and maintain complete autonomy of their works.

Though it requires minimal expense to post comics online, the true cost in publishing web comics is in the time it takes to create the material and cultivate the audience. Monetization of the web comics remains the biggest challenge as web comikers struggle to find ways to profit from their works. Most creators that have managed to bridge that gap have done so by rolling their web content into print product or digital downloads for mobile devices to be sold for retail.

Minimizing their investment risk, these unique independent publishers have taken advantage of today’s technology to put that risk into the hands of the consumer. Using Print on Demand suppliers like Lulu, CreateSpace, Comixpress, Ka-Blam, and others, they no longer need to sit on large quantities of expensive unsold books waiting for sales. Books are printed to order and shipped directly to customers, avoiding the need for distributors and returning a much larger portion of the profit to the publisher who is most often the creator themselves.

Steve Gerber

Finally, creators have found a way to control their properties which have been historically robbed from them by comic publishers for the last seventy years as wonderfully described by the late Steve Gerber in this recently resurfaced article Truth, Justice, & The Corporate Conscience, which I beg you to read and share with every comic creator you know.

The modern comic publisher also has a new tool at their disposal to minimize their risk and further enlist the consumer to share the burden. Crowdfunding through services like Kickstarter , and Indiegogo , capitalize on the strength of social networking and perks offered by campaign developers to essentially pre-sell comic projects.

Comic creators set a goal that represents the investment they will need to produce their project and they request financial support through pledges on these crowdfunding platforms. For various levels of financial support, rewards are offered as incentives. Though these rewards often vary considerably they generally include a printed copy of the project being promoted establishing a new form of marketing and distribution. If the established goal is not met, pledged funds are not collected and rewards are nullified.

Because crowdfunding does such a wonderful job predetermining the success of a project, some observers are viewing the phenomenon as a new form of market research avoiding the need for agents and pitchmen to sell a concept.

So, yes, making comics is risky business as has been proven over the last seventy-five years but it doesn’t have to be as risky as it has been. Now is the time for creators to take advantage of the resources available to them and take control of the direction of the industry so that they, themselves, can enjoy the riches provided by their creations rather than some domineering corporation that views creators merely as cheap disposable labor from which to capitalize on.

Carpe diem!

Gerry Giovinco

I Don’t Know Jack

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

What an honor it has been to have had the opportunity to work with members of the Kirby family over the past couple of years, helping them to maintain the legacy and awareness of Jack Kirby, the undisputed king of comic creators. The wonderful campaign, Kirby4Heroes that was initiated by his youngest granddaughter, Jillian and the personal blog that she allowed us to present on our site last week is a prime example of how the family wishes that Jack is remembered and their own interest in maintaining a continued Kirby presence in the comic community.

As I learn more about Jack Kirby and who he was as a man I wish that I had had more of an opportunity to know him when he was alive.

I was not fortunate enough to have been reading comics when Jack Kirby was in his prime at Marvel. Though I have since had plenty of exposure to his work and have developed a keen appreciation of its value, I was influenced more by comic creators that came after him. They were all, however, students his work giving me the opportunity to realize the importance of studying a true master and developing a unique style.

By the time I became a publisher, Jack Kirby and his battles with Marvel over creator’s rights had become a symbol to me of what should be ethical treatment of creators. He, along with Steve Gerber, stood out as revolutionaries, setting the tone for what would become a movement of independent publishers in the 1980’s of which our former company, Comico, was fortunate to be part of. It was appropriate that the two of them joined forces on DESTROYER DUCK to create one of the first creator owned properties.

Destroyer Duck 1

I believe I was at ComicCon in 1984 when I met Jack and Roz Kirby for the first and only time. I still struggle to believe that it wasn’t a dream but I had the opportunity to have dinner with them as part of a group at a restaurant and was able to have a wonderful personal conversation with them both.  Jack was in his late sixties at the time and I have always been extremely respectful and drawn to seniors and their stories. Even though Jack was and remains a god in the comics industry, he was, more importantly a real, personable, and humble gentleman that was as inviting and encouraging as the World’s Best Grandpa.

It was an incredible evening that I will never forget. We joked and shared a few anecdotes about shop but what I remember most was him telling me a story about how Roz would not let him drive anymore. Jack explained that he would get so distracted thinking about his story ideas while he was driving that he would often find himself lost and having to call home for directions. He said, one day he ended up on some lady’s front lawn with the car staring into her bathroom window. That’s when Roz took the keys. At his side, Roz nodded in confirmation. It was easy to see that she was his protectorate and word around the industry was that she was a dynamic force to be reckoned with. What was obvious was that they were a wonderful, loving couple that respected each other throughout the long years of their marriage.

I think of this story every time I find myself doubling back looking for a turn that I missed due to my own preoccupation with my next “brilliant” idea. I was also fortunate enough to marry a dynamic, strong-minded, woman that always has my back. So, though I may not possess an ounce of the talent Jack Kirby had, I always felt that I related to him as a person through some sort of kindred spirit.

This is why I get so passionate about creator’s rights. To me it is less about ownership, and who did what. It is about the real people involved. Their personal investment. Their hopes, dreams, and fears. Their families. Their legacy.

As a comic creator and publisher I like to think that the value of our work is substantiated by the history behind it. Each moment in time establishes a benchmark by which each new work is measured. Jack Kirby’s work established a standard for excellence in comics that stands alone for the sheer volume and brilliance of creativity.

Unfortunately, histories often incur atrocities. The worst thing we can do is ignore them or pretend that they never happened. Gross injustices need to be singled out, addressed, and corrected. They need to be never forgotten so that they may not be repeated. Unfortunately the comic book industry was built on an unethical treatment of creators since inception, a system which continues to be recognized as common industry practices even today. The damages will probably never be repaired but the injustices need to be acted upon appropriately and with finality. Jack Kirby’s legacy stands as a monument to those travesties every time his heirs or estate sees no compensation from the billions of dollars that are generated by his creations. Jack Kirby’s legacy is a testimonial as to why those unethical treatments of creators and their creative properties should be permanently changed and not be repeated.

It is so important that we remember the humanity of Jack Kirby and do not get lost in just the brilliance of his creations which is so easy to do. Jack was a man that grew up in the ghetto, he fought for his country, married the love of his life, was a father and a grandfather. He was a kind man. He made something of his life doing what he loved, and fought for what he deserved till he died. Jack lived the American dream and experienced the nightmare of corporate greed.

It is our job to make sure that Jack Kirby and every comic creator that he symbolically represents, is remembered for their accomplishments, their talents, their struggles and their role as a member of the extended comic community. It is our job to carry their torch forward and guarantee ethical treatment of creators and their rightful properties.  It is our job to never forget Jack Kirby.

Gerry Giovinco

BUGHOUSE Graphic Album NOW AVAILABLE

Teaching Comics

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

This week a monumental event took place that should have been heralded among, at least, the comic reading community but discussion about it it seems to have fizzled with the same impact as the inconsequential solar storm.

The good folks at Scholastic streamed a must-see forty minute webcast about the virtues of comics and graphic novels to classrooms around the globe. Cleverly titled Words Are Only Half The Story the presentation hosted by award-winning teacher librarian, Deborah B. Ford featured a casual discussion with popular graphic novel creators, Jeff Smith (Bone), Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet) and Raina Telgemeier (Smile).

Each creator talked about their experiences discovering comics as children, what inspired them to create comics, and talked about their process of creating. Each creator also participated in a type of challenge where they created images for the audience.

The presentation was EXCELLENT! It was entertaining, inspiring, informative, and promoted comics to students and educators in the most positive way imaginable, right in their classrooms! To support the program Scholastic also offered many comic educating resources on their website including a comic builder that allows students to compose their own comics using the Bone, Amulet and Smile characters.

I cannot express how important I believe supporting the education of comics to young readers is for the perpetuation and creative growth of the medium and the global development of visual literacy.

Education is a process of sharing. To me comics were always very share worthy. They are a simple medium that allows a comic creator to share the images in their head directly to the reader.

Long before comics became collectible treasures that are immediately sealed away in archival mylar vaults, they were shared. Back in the day, an average comic book was read by five to six readers as comics were traded and shared with friends before ending up on a pile that would be swept away by Mom.

When I was in high school back in the late 1970’s, I remember traveling from class to class during Vocation Week with a presentation that espoused the virtues of comics. I would use an overhead projector,  my comic collection, and Maurice Horn’s huge book, The World Encyclopedia of Comics, to explain the history of comics and why the medium was so exciting. I always made a point to explain how my vocabulary had been broadened by Steve Gerber’s Howard the Duck scripts and I would always end the presentation with a Frank Thorne image of Red Sonja in her chainmail bikini to win the approval of the guys in macho row who deemed comics to be too geeky for their ilk.

Over the years I’ve done presentations in libraries, schools and camps promoting comics education. At one point, as a Comico publisher I presented scholarships at Joe Kubert’s School of Comic Art. I am always proud to promote the medium and to witness the burning desire to create comics catch a spark in a young creator’s eye.

This is why I would hope that this Scholastic webcast would be embraced and shared throughout the comics community. Sure it is a brilliant marketing strategy, (one that we can all learn from) but it is also a vital tool and mode of inspiration not just to promote Scholastic and their Graphix line of graphic novels but the future of the comics medium.

As I am completing this blog I have just recieved news that Jean Giraud, maybe better known in America as  Moebius has passed away at 73 after a long illness. His international influence as a comic creator was enormous and his loss amplifies the necessity for our vigilant preservation of the history and education of this unique sequential medium.

May he rest in peace.

Gerry Giovinco



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