Posts Tagged ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

When Diversity is a Gimmick

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Last week’s blog was focused on respecting diversity in comics. Diversity does plenty of good for the medium and the market as it creates an opportunity to broaden the audience and explore the boundaries of material offered.

But too often what is masked as an attempt at diversity is actually just a marketing gimmick, dependent on the buzz created by knee jerk reactions to  dramatic changes in major characters that have long been ingrained in our popular culture.

It has become a disappointing  and predictable common practice by publishers to boost sales figures by implementing any of the following strategies:

Kill the character.

Have the character get married.

Expose the character as gay.

Change the gender of the character.

Change the race of the character.

Any one of these options is a guarantee that airtime on The View will follow!

It won’t be long before Whoopi Goldberg will be waving a comic book featuring a traditional white male character that has returned from the dead as an, African- American lesbian about to get married to her same-sex partner!

This is not really a respectful implementation of diversity. This is merely pathetic evidence that the character has become so old and stale that the editors are willing to try anything to spice it up to get attention. It also broadens the corporations ability to protect the trademark, like when Stan Lee quickly generated a She-Hulk and a Spider-Woman after the suggestion that anyone could otherwise easily swipe the characters from Marvel.

Creating diversity in a product line in this manner is like mass producing Santa or plastic Jesus figures of all ethnicity just to appeal to all common denominators possible. It is a confirmation that the character in question is so ingrained in the public consciousness based on its most rudimentary properties that nothing else really matters other than the costume and the powers of that character.

So why change it?

Stan Lee once described Spider-Man’s success as being attributed to the fact that behind the costume Spidey could be any race and that allowed him to appeal to readers of all ethnicities because they could easily imagine themselves as him.

It is possible that idea of  the mask on so many superheroes has allowed whole cultures be able to relate to them, establishing the “modern mythologies” that the trademark owners of superheroes are so proud of?  If that’s the case, the audience has been responsible for diversity in comics through their own imagination.

The success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a great example. People don’t relate to them by race. They can’t. They are turtles! Individually they appeal to people by the color of their mask, their weapons and their personalities. That’s all! Ask anybody who their favorite turtle is and most will say, “the red one,” or “the purple one” and so on. Almost anyone can identify with a Ninja Turtle because they are essentially animals that we don’t usually identify by race or gender.

Someday it will be realized by the public that disrupting the foundation of iconic characters in the name of diversity is merely a marketing ploy that dilutes the property and minimizes its cultural impact.

Implementing diversity would be better served by developing new characters created by diverse talents that appreciate the differences of those characters first hand and are willing to target a specific audience. It all goes back to respect. Respect the talent. Respect the audience. Create great, diverse works and the gimmicks won’t be needed.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Black History Month: Reggie Byers – Comic Book Publishing Pioneer

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Reggie Byers Victory Productions

We are not always aware of when we are witnessing history being made. Such is the case of comic book creator  Reggie Byers who has the distinction of being one of the first African Americans to own a comic book publishing company.

Byers did not realize that in 1985 when he self published SHURIKEN #1 under his Victory Productions imprint that he was a pioneer. His intent to satisfy his personal urge to publish comics would establish him as a groundbreaker for black comic creators in this specialized arena of popular culture dominated by white men.

Click to read Crescent

CO2 Comics’ relationship with Reggie Byers, whose comic CRESCENT is a proudly presented feature on our site,  extends back over three decades to 1982 when he first knocked on the door of our former comic book publishing house Comico in  Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Comico at the time was a fledgeling company publishing black and white comic books in the Direct Market composed completely by young men who had met in high school and college, all unified by friendship and a desire to make comic books.

Reggie  had graduated from Norristown Area High School in 1981, a year after my younger brother, Tom. My father also taught there. They would often tell me about his creative exploits and love for comics so, though I had never met him, I was well aware of his talents and was excited to finally meet him. His arrival at Comico was fortuitous for us all and he was immediately welcomed into our ranks.

Reggie’s assignments increased as work became available while the company grew and eventually began to produce color comics. He started out as a self proclaimed gofer, then editor of Primer, our new talent showcase,  and eventually, because of his mastery of the Japanese Anime style, he became a penciler on ROBOTECH The Next Generation.

Reggie Byers and a new shipment

Reggie had watched Comico grow from the ground up and had learned the ins-and-outs of the business along with us all. The money he made from penciling ROBOTECH became his seed money for his personal enterprise and in 1985 he launched his independent comic company VICTORY PRODUCTIONS featuring the adventures of his own character SHURIKEN, a female martial artist named Kyoko Shidara who became a freelance bodyguard after discovering that she had been working as  bodyguard for a criminal organization.

Shuriken 1 by Reggie Byers

SHURIKEN was an immediate success in the Direct Market where it enjoyed the support of all the distributors prompting a second printing that elevated sales to over 20,000 units, an amazing circulation for a black and white comic book. These numbers were assuredly influenced by the success of Eastman and Laird’s TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and supported by the thriving speculator market at the time. Also significant was  Reggie’s growing popularity as penciler of the wildly successful ROBOTECH series which also included the talents of  other African Americans, Mike Leeke, Dave Johnson and MACROSS production assistant,  Aaron Keaton who were also school friends of Comico founders.

The Victory line

Reggie immediately invested his profits from SHURIKEN sales into other titles created by his close friends, Chris Etheredge and Robert Durham, expanding the Victory line to include KOMODO AND THE DEFIANTS by Etheredge, along with PHASE 1 and SHRIKE, both by Durham.

Victory Productions stood out in the Independent comic market as a company driven by three African American comic creators producing a broadly inclusive product line that featured a team of black superheroes, an Asian ninja, a Native American warrior and an anthropomorphic ensemble.

Questioning the significance of Reggie Byers’ role as possibly the first successful black comics publisher I was not surprised that Reggie had previously not considered his role as such because the creative group that we had all surrounded ourselves with at the time was so focused on creating great comics that race was never an issue. The fact that it has taken any of us thirty years to recognize his contribution is less of an embarrassment and more a tribute to the respect we all had for each other as friends, colleagues and comic creators.

I sought confirmation instead from prominent historian of African Americans in comic books, Professor William H. Foster lll who sited the example of Orrin Evans who published a single issue of ALL NEGRO COMICS in 1947 before being locked out of the industry by the big companies at the time.

Professor Foster said that the mid ’80s offered an opportunity for many independent comic publishers, a number of which were African American but because of poor listing of dates and management of records it is hard to confirm with accuracy who came first. He said with fair certainty that Reggie Byers would easily be considered in the top five candidates though because of his large sales figures on the early issues of SHURIKEN he is probably the most significant African American comic book publisher of that independent era which preceded a 1990’s boom in African American publishers.

Reggie, himself, confirms that he had been solicited for guidance by BROTHERMAN publisher Dawud Anyabwile, who in 1989 known as David Sims launched his family owned company  Big City Comics that is often recognized as having ignited the contemporary Black Comics/Superhero movement that became exemplified later by the success of Milestone Comics.

Rob Durham, Chris Etheredge, Steve Williams and Reggie Byers

Victory lasted only two and a half years before becoming one of the many victims of the comic glut and eventual crash of the market that also was partially responsible for the bankruptcy of Comico. SHURIKEN was absorbed by Malibu Comics after Reggie did a brief run of BLADES OF SHURIKEN for them. Malibu eventually sold to Marvel and now Shuriken occasionally is featured as a mutant character in their broad stable of superheroes.

Reggie went on to develop characters for other ventures such as JAM QUACKY for JQ Productions in the ’90s and CRESCENT which he self published before giving CO2 Comics the opportunity to present it here on our site.

Currently he is  focused on empowering young people. With that mission in mind over the last 20 years Reggie and his wife, Dionne have developed their most influential property THE KIDZ OF THE KING featuring ten multicultural angels disguised as teenage superheroes who lift up the Word of God and battle against the demonic forces that attack the children of the world.  It has been produced in comic book form and as an animated feature. Reggie is also working on a graphic novel depicting the story of Jesus Christ based on the four Gospels in the Bible.

Always humble, Reggie gushed at the idea that he played such a significant role in the history of African Americans in regards to comic books and popular culture.

It is a common notion that it is hard to gain respect in your own back yard, but not in our neighborhood. We at CO2 Comics have always been proud to be associated with him as a comic creator and delighted to have known him as a friend for all of these years.

We hope that now he will be acknowledged by fans critics and historians alike for the recognition he deserves for his significant role not just in the African American community but in the creative community of the comics industry.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Happy New Year, 2014!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Goodbye 2013! All of the triskaidekaphobics can now come out of the closet and take a breath of fresh air. It’s time to move on.

Like any year, 2013 had its ups and downs with plenty of good and bad to go around.

I had high hopes for a magical year  when writing this blog to usher in the New Year twelve months ago, the manifestation of which is evident on the CO2 Comics site and in the product we’ve produced.

Besides my 52 weekly blog posts that tackled everything from creator’s rights to trademark infringement and a month-long, scathing review of the PBS broadcast of Superheroes: the Never Ending Battle,

we were delighted to introduce exciting new comic features that are available  to view for FREE everyday along with thousands of pages of other comics that have been archived here at CO2 Comics over the last four-and-a-half years:

Cid and Francis by Mike Sgier continued our commitment to diversity with its unique style of art and whimsical fantasy set in a world of elves and elemental spirits.

Two short stories, The Gold Mask and Revenge as well as the serialization of The Adventures of ROMA all by the legendary  John Workman.

15 year-old Indigo Anderson captured our attention with her youthful talent exhibited in her short feature North and South.

Most recently added has been Dreamcraft, a science fiction thriller by Craig Rippon, Sam Custodio and Bill Anderson that is sure to have you hanging on every page.

We also had the good fortune of releasing four new books in print:

Volume two of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW  The Complete Collection.

Three graphic albums, Doggie Style by Steve Lafler, The Adventures of ROMA by John Workman and NON by Chris Kalnick.

All of which are available with the rest of our printed product that we conveniently  cataloged on this Wish List.

Purchase them exclusively at these two links:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/co2comics

http://www.amazon.com/shops/co2comics

Comico's 1st Color Books

Robotech/Macross #1 cover, Comico 1984

We look ahead to another exciting year with wonderful new projects and publications to be announced with a firm swell of appreciation of our accomplished past as Bill Cucinotta and I will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of our first full-color comic books. 1984 was a significant milestone for us when, still as publishing partners at Comico, we released the historic first issues of Matt Wagner’s Mage the Hero Discovered, Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt’s Evangeline and Bill Willingham’s Elementals. That defining year was rounded out by the publication of MACROSS which would eventually become ROBOTECH!

As staunch supporters of independent comics we also have to give a tip of the hat to another thirty-year anniversary as Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird celebrate their 1984 creation of the phenomenally successful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and proved to us all that while publishing comics is hard work, anything is possible when you follow your dreams. Thanks guys!

We can only hope that 2014 will be as dynamic for comics and for us as 1984 was. We know from experience that all we can do is give it our best shot and we will!

You are all welcome  along for the ride!

Happy and Prosperous New Year from our entire CO2 Comics Family!

Gerry Giovinco



SUPERHEROES™: The Never Ending Bullshit – Truth, Justice and Corporate Greed Part 1

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

TRUTH: The PBS documentary, Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle flashed onto the screen revealing in it’s title the first and, in my opinion, major obscured truth of the series. How do you accurately tell the history of superheroes without disclosing that the word Superheroes is jointly trademarked by Marvel and DC? This information is not mentioned at all during the entire three hour series and is not even noted in the credits.

The concept of superheroes is then immediately defined as modern American mythology, American gods, American pioneers and an American art form. If It is so American why does the series focuses almost entirely on the properties of only Marvel and DC excluding a huge array of other publishers (mostly American) that have produced superhero comics over the last 75 years? This would be like doing a documentary of the history of the automobile in America and only focusing on product made by  Ford and General Motors.

The documentary  does mention that at one time, just two years after the publication of the first appearance of Superman, there were as many as two dozen publishers putting out 150 comics based on superheroes though only Timely (Marvel), Quality and Fox were named and all of the characters shown are currently owned by Marvel or DC. There is then a fifty year gap until the next publisher of superhero comics is mentioned and that is Image formed by a renegade group of Marvel artists.

One character highlighted as having dominated Superman in the market notably because his alter ego is the young boy, Billy Batson, was Captain Marvel.  There was no insight, however that “The Big Red Cheese” had been published by Fawcett and that DC had won a trademark infringement suit against Fawcett claiming that Captain Marvel was too much like Superman and shut him down. No insight that Marvel hijacked the trademark  before DC could license the rights to the property in 1972 before finally purchasing it entirely in 1991. No dirt to tarnish the super clean image of Superheroes. No dirt to tarnish Marvel and DC.

Superheroes are part of the fabric of our lives as Americans. The concept of superheroes is referred to every day by average people. The idea of being the best, having unique ability, and a desire to conquer obstacles is fundamental to the American Dream. Superman may have defined the concept but it is our culture that has embraced it. We deserve the whole truth.

It is a mistake to reduce a documentary about superheroes to a promotional piece for two major corporations whose only real interest in the characters is their bottom line. I would have expected more from PBS. I would liked to have seen more about all the different perspective of superheroes from different cultures and different media.

Where were the superheroes from books, cartoons and video games that are not from the big two?

Where were other Golden Age superheroes Blue Bolt, Captain Courageous, Captain Future, Doc Savage, Fantoman, Fighting American, Mandrake the Magician, The Spirit, Spy Smasher?

Where were Mighty Mouse, Underdog, Super Chicken, Blue Falcon, Space Ghost, the Mighty Heroes, the Incredibles?

Where were superheroes from other comic books? No T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, DNAgents, Elementals, Justice Machine, Zot!, Badger, the Tick, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Where were the other female Superheroes besides Wonder Woman, such as Black Cat, Miss Espionage, Moon Girl, Sheena Queen of the Jungle?

There is a seemingly endless list of alternative characters that could at least have been referred to but were not. I assume because it would not have been in the best interest of the holders of the Superhero trademark, Marvel and DC.

“Truth Justice and the American Way” is the byline that has become synonymous with superheroes yet the truth in Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle has been distorted by omission. That which did not glorify Marvel and DC was swept under the rug and the few foibles that were presented, necessary to humanize the corporations, were quickly acknowledged, rectified and dismissed like the resolution of a 1960’s sitcom according to this documentary.

Just as the series distorts Truth it also turns a blind eye to Justice especially regarding creators rights. Next week I will shed my opinion on that in part two of SUPERHEROES™: The Never Ending Bullshit – Truth, Justice and Corporate Greed

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Heavy Metal, Ninja Turtles and The Tales of ISHMAR

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

The American comics scene was turned on its head in April of 1977 when a glossy full-color comics magazine called Heavy Metal hit the stands featuring European comic art from Enki Bilal, Philippe Caza, Guido Crepax, Philippe Druillet, Jean-Claude Forest, Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) and Milo Manara.

Heavy Metal’s content, which was initially translated stories that had been previously published in the French magazine Métal Hurlant, focused on a more adult presentation of fantasy/science fiction and erotica that liberated American comic readers whose exposure to comics was generally limited to publications that were heavily censored by the Comics Code Authority.

By 1979 under the guidance of Ted White and John Workman, Heavy Metal began including more work by American artists including Arthur Suydam, Dan Steffan, Howard Cruse and Bernie Wrightson.

Read ATTILA THE FROG here

The July 1979 issue featured a five page strip that would be the first professional work  ever published by current CO2 Comics contributor Don Lomax. His story, Attila the Frog, edited by long time Heavy Metal editor Julie Simmons was a black and white action extravaganza that would be Don’s first and last piece ever published by the magazine but launched a comic career that now spans over three decades.

Don Lomax’s absence from Heavy Metal is not for lack of trying. Don has submitted several great stories to HM over the years that have met with rejection and never found a home anywhere else until now.

Having reached the conclusion of Captain Obese, CO2 Comics is proud to announce that we will continue to be presenting an anthology of works by Don Lomax! That’s right, Don’s new feature, Tales 0f ISHMAR is none other than The Tales of Incredible Stories Heavy Metal Actually Rejected!

This amazing collection of short stories will be serialized a page a week every Tuesday filling the tremendous void left by Don’s oversized hero Captain Obese. To kick off the series in spectacular fashion, however, we are presenting the story that started it all for Don. The story that actually did see print in Heavy Metal, Attila the Frog can be seen right here on CO2 Comics!

Now call me a conspiracy theorist or just plain crazy but as I looked back on Don’s first story it became apparent that those illustrious five pages may have had greater cultural impact than one could imagine because as I googled for images of Attila the Frog , I discovered a character by the same name that first appeared in a 1987 television episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

What are the odds that Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird who would have been 17 and 25 when Attila the Frog was first published in Heavy Metal might have been influenced by a horde of sword wielding amphibians led by Attila the Frog when they created TMNT five years later in 1984.

What are the odds that a character by the exact name, Attila the Frog, shows up in the TMNT animated series three years later. Probably just a coincidence until you consider that Kevin Eastman would ultimately, in 1992, purchase Heavy Metal Magazine, which he cites as having introduced him to Richard Corben, “his second greatest influence” as a comic artist after Jack Kirby.

Maybe Don Lomax’s well armed, barbarian frog just faded into obscurity or maybe it actually plunged deep into the collective consciousness and influenced a cultural phenomenon. I like to think that as artists we all have the power to influence others with our ideas and our creations. The impact may not always be as obvious or as coincidental as what I just outlined, but that is the true value of our work. The impact it has on society.

We know that Don’s work has sure had an impact on CO2 Comics and we are glad to be able to present it to our readers. Please enjoy Don Lomax’s Attila the Frog and Tales ISHMAR. Soak in each short story and imagine what Heavy Metal missed out on. If you haven’t had a chance to read The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese now is your chance to read it online or purchase your very own copy of the hardback or paperback edition of the graphic novel.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Comic Art, Trash or Treasure?

Monday, May 21st, 2012

You sure wouldn’t know that the world is in an economic crisis by looking at the prices that have been paid recently for original art. Both Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses, who’s  recent auctions collectively tallied $266,591,000, established record sale prices for pieces of art including the most expensive work ever sold at auction, Edvard Munch’sThe Scream’ which garnered a whopping $120 million!


Fans of comic art began to scream themselves when Roy Lichtenstein’s painting, ‘Sleeping Girl,’ sold for $45 million, a record price for any of his works. Lichtenstein is often criticized by comic art enthusiasts for not having credited the long list of comic artists whose work he used as subject matter for his paintings. Comparisons of ‘Sleeping Girl’  and the Tony Abruzzo panel which it is derived from, as well as dozens of other comparisons,  can be seen here. David Barsalou deconstructs Lichtenstein with a vengeance and it is well worth following his crusade on the internet and in his facebook group.

The good news is that, though comic art has been generally viewed by the fine art community as “low brow” and is still not in a position to command the kind of money that Munch or Lichtenstein’s pieces do, original comic art is beginning to command some very respectable prices. It has long been known that there is value in collecting comic books. The highest price paid so far for Action Comics #1 being $2.16 million. The same comic book is estimated to be currently worth about $4.3 million.


Original comic art, on the other hand, is now gaining in value as well. The most expensive piece of comic art ever sold is reportedly a full page panel by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson from ‘The Dark Knight Returns.’ The piece sold to an anonymous collector for $448,125 as part of Heritage Auctions’  Vintage Comics and Comic Art Auction in 2011.

In the past week Heritage auctioned two more significant pieces that collected big bucks. Contradicting the earlier report Heritage claims that a Jack Kirby, Joe Sinnott original from Fantastic Four #55 featuring a half page splash of the Silver Surfer and signed by scripter Stan Lee achieved the highest price paid for a page of panel art selling for $155,350, roughly one third the value of the Batman piece.

Another work of original comic art that proved its muster was the first ever drawing of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird that fetched $71,700.

Forbes recently ran an article on their site that lists good reasons for investing in comic art  but neglects the obvious: Supply and Demand.

Though it may seem that there are tons of original comic art proliferating in the market, and there are, how many show significant images of major characters drawn by masters of the industry or are pages from historic works? Not as many as you might think and now that a lot of art is created digitally, the chances of hard copy future original art surfacing for sale are dwindling.

The idea that there are over seventy years worth of original art numbering in the millions of pages trafficking around the collectors market is false. Most comic art that was created prior to the mid sixties was simply destroyed by the publishers, considered by them as nothing more than waste once the printable films were made.

Flo Steinberg

Flo Steinberg, secretary at Marvel during the early years of the ‘House of Ideas,’ was quoted in David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW #17 saying, “We used to throw it out …when the pile got too full…it was like ‘old wood’ to us.” Likewise, there are stories of Neal Adams dashing across the office at DC to rescue original art that was about to be destroyed in a paper slicer! Any art that survived that slaughter was generally given away as gifts or just managed to filter its way out of the office as random souvenirs. The scary part is that most of the artists just accepted this practice as the norm!

By the late sixties when fandom started to prove that there was a secondary market for the art through the establishment of comic conventions and comic shops, artists began to demand that their art be returned. This was a tricky process since several people generally worked on any given issue. The art would be split up among the writer, penciler, inker, and even the letterer. Colorists usually would get back the color guides that they made for the color separator.  Because of this practice entire issues are nearly impossible to acquire.

By the 1980’s the independent movement gave creators many more rights and more creators were responsible for their work in its entirety but still, usually, would sell off pages at conventions, one at a time,  to support themselves economically.

Today more and more comics are being created digitally and hard copy originals don’t even exist. The work and creative talent  that goes into creating a comics page is once again being trivialized as an unfortunate part of the process. Instead of ‘old wood’ it is now just a collection of magnetic data hogging up a hard drive, facing obsolescence with the next wave of new technology.

The printed version may remain as the only collectable hard copy of future comic works and even that is challenged by digital delivery of comics. The art of making comics is finally being recognized as something of value yet its new found respect is threatened with its own potentionally temporary creative process.

Criticize Lichtenstein as much as you’d like, but his copy of a single panel, swiped from a forgotten romance comic, will exist for a long, long time and will only become more valuable while the original line drawing it was lifted from has probably been trashed for fifty years. How can we come expect the art world, or anybody,  to respect comics as more than source material for pop art parodies when we continue to allow the originals it to be disposable.

Is comic art trash or treasure? As comic artists, we need to decide for ourselves.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Betrayed

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Has the comic book been betrayed by the Earth’s mightiest heroes? It’s a sad question to pose after probably the most geek filled comic book extravaganza the world has ever seen with the opening of The Avengers movie and Free Comic Book Day all happening in the same weekend. Comic book fans worldwide have been celebrating universally like never before, gathering at the multiplex and local comic shops in droves, dressed in their favorite comic book swag and costumes.

Free Comic Book Day itself has become a huge annual event, now in its tenth year it attracts over a million people to comic shops more than double the number from just five years ago. Comic fans and potential comic readers can’t resist the offer of free comics and continue to make this promotion a growing tradition. This is a good opportunity to point out that comics here at CO2 Comics are free to read EVERY day so if you are sill wallowing in all the free comics you acquired this weekend, just remember the buzz does not have to wear off!

Marvel Entertainment could not have picked a better weekend to launch The Avengers movie, especially with all the comic book love in the air generated by Free Comic Book Day. The Avengers could have been released in the dead of winter and still been a mega hit. A bona fide blockbuster, The Avengers will be the Titanic of all superhero movies and may even give that sunken barge a run for its money. Though I might be giving them too much credit for something that could have been a wonderful coincidence, it was sure nice of Marvel to remember its roots and tie into the comic fans’ big day and make it tremendously more special before they throw them to the curb.

I know I sound like an insufferable old bore but as much as I love super heroes, I realize that I loved the medium of comics even more. For me, comics are a  visual medium of incredible creative freedom and opportunity. It is one of the few mediums where the reader can relate directly to the literal and visual expression of a lone creator without the influence of  a long list of production personnel, editors, actors, etc. Comic books, graphic novels, comic strips, all mean a lot to me just for this reason and I would love for more people to be aware of these wonders of the medium. I would love to see comics everywhere, read by everyone.

So why wouldn’t I expect this Avengers movie to be a huge vehicle to promote comics? Isn’t Marvel in the business of selling comics? Surely they would seize the moment. Right?

Nope.

I was just in my local Walmart, you know, America’s Store. It’s being reconfigured, fittingly for this blog post, into a Super Walmart and right in the middle of the store is a huge cardboard Marvel kiosk featuring Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America leaping across a city skyline. Marvel Mania! On the display was every Marvel video you could imagine, Spider-Man, X-Men, Woverine, Electra, you name it! There were cartoon videos, even the old Bill Bixby Hulk videos, a video candy store of everything Marvel.

Then it hit me. There was Marvel merchandise in every department.  The toy aisle was loaded with Marvel action figures. There were Marvel hats, shirts, pants, shoes, even underwear. Marvel PEZ dispensers, floor mats for cars, posters, greeting cards, fabric and more only began to round out the list of everything that could bear a Marvel logo in Walmart.  Everything except… comic books.

What?! Comic books aren’t good enough for Walmart?! Marvel doesn’t have enough clout to get comic books or graphic novels into Walmart?! Do comic book shops have some exclusive deal that I’m unaware of to prevent comics from being sold at Walmart?!

Outside of comic shops apparently, Marvel doesn’t even think comics are worth giving away. Here’s a website that has a long list of all the premiums that Marvel is using to promote the movie from action figures, to cups and cars but you never find a comic book used as a promotional item. Why? How can comics be such a great medium to have spawned all of these great characters only to be shunned by a company that built its empire by exploiting this magnificent sequential art of words and pictures?

I have a theory. Marvel fears the comic book. Marvel views comics as a threat because they are too easy to make and distribute. They know from experience. Comics abound on the internet, nearly anyone can publish and sell online. Anyone can create the next big comic book sensation. Just as Marvel dethroned DC in the sixties with their ragtag reinvention of the superhero, toppling juggernauts like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, even the mighty Avengers are vulnerable to a new character birthed in the pages of a mild mannered comic book. I’m sure the powers at Marvel and Disney see different shades of green every time they hear the name Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, four megastars that climbed out of a sewer in the slum of a black and white independent comic book.

When I was researching the use of superhero parodies in the porn industry for my blog post Seduction of the Ignorant I discovered that that industry is struggling to stay afloat, beaten by easy access to porn on the internet, cheap homemade porn their most threatening competition. Porn producers have turned to expensive, special effect laden parody productions that are harder for the average Dick and Jane to make in their bedroom studio.

Marvel Entertainment is doing the same thing. They are focussing now on marketing their IP through blockbuster films budgeted in the mega millions. They have corralled the hardcore comic book fan into a niche market that can barely support sales figures that would have been an embarrassment thirty years ago. They have willfully created an atmosphere that has forced competition to meet suppressed quotas to even be considered for distribution into this niche market.

DC has taken full advantage of this abandonment of the comic market by Marvel with their onslaught of the New 52. They too are actively boxing out the little guys by flooding their IP into the comic market but they realize that comic books have the same power they always had and they are redesigning their universe and working out the bugs without risking millions on a film that could flop at the box office.

If you are a fan of comics, support your local comic shop, explore the internet for great new comics like the one’s here at CO2 Comics and download those comic apps for your mobile devices. Keep an eye out for the next big sensation to be created in comics and don’t be surprised if it does not come from marvel or DC. Be vigilant comic fans because despite the rise of the superhero in cinema, comic books are still the bastard child of the entertainment industry and even the Avengers betray them.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


How to Get Rich Making Comics

Monday, February 6th, 2012

First and foremost, if your reason for making comics is to get rich quick, get prepared for a big disappointment! Making comics is an art and, like most art forms, there is a long line of practitioners aspiring to emulate the success of a limited few. Those that have attained riches from making comics are a rare breed and thanks to unscrupulous publishing practices that have been the norm of the industry for decades many deserving comic artist have been deprived of fame and fortune.

I remember reading a list of the top ten grossing entertainers in the world sometime during the 1980’s. Two on the list were comic artists, PEANUTS creator Charles Schulz and GARLIELD creator, Jim Davis. They were right up there with entertainment titans, Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby! That was when I first realized the full fiscal potential of making comics. Schulz and Davis were both syndicated comic strip artists proving that there was commercial power to mixing words and pictures on the page.

This type of economic success was not available to comic book creators at the time for one key reason, Work for Hire. Most comic strip artists maintained ownership of their characters but in the comic book industry the publishers owned the characters and creators only received a page rate for their services with no ability to share in the success of the work through royalties.

This all began to change in the 80’s as the industry pushed for creator’s rights and independent publishers sprang up, willing to publish creator owned work. The newly devised Direct Market made it possible for these new publishers to explore the potential of sharing profits with creators. It also made it possible for creators to self publish their work.

1st five Comico Covers

Comico's 1st Color Books

This was our motivation when we created Comico. We knew that the best option for profiting from comics was to work for ourselves rather than be just another cog in the works of industry giants. As this same notion began to proliferate throughout the industry, comic artists did begin to realize the wealth that was possible. Two major examples of the earning potential of comics can be attributed TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird and SPAWN creator Todd McFarlane who all made millions from their creations.

So, if you want to get rich making comics there are a few things to know.

Creating a successful comic or character is like winning the lottery. The odds are so great. It gets even more depressing when you see the long list of incredible talent that are the competition but no one can guess what will strike the nerve of the market. Like the lottery, you cannot win if you do not play, so jump in and create!

Do what you love and love what you do! Many will tell you this is the key to success. Bullshit!

But this will make the struggles a hell of a lot more bearable. Creating comics needs to be your passion. Make them because you want to and love doing it. Create characters that you know and love and need to share with the reader. Your ability to bring those characters to life is what will make them desirable to readers. Passion is infectious when it is executed with skill.

NEVER GIVE  UP THE RIGHTS TO YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY!!! Own your characters, never sell them unless the price is so unimaginably mind-boggling that you can’t say, ” no”. If you do sell your characters, don’t look back, it is time to reap what you have sown.

YOU WILL NEVER GET RICH JUST BY MAKING COMICS! This could change if the digital market takes off but there is just not a big enough comic reading market today to make you filthy, stinking rich. You may get pretty comfortable but not uber-loaded. Creators make the big bucks through licensing and merchandising. The comics are the launch pad for your property, where the character comes to life and proves it has legs but from there it is time to go to market and make movies, toys, pop tarts, you name it. That is where the money is.

What’s that? Your a comic artist not a salesperson? Then get a publisher that will do the work for you or get yourself an agent or a marketing agency. Go find Jerry Maguire and start yelling, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!” Video game developer, David Perry, does a great job explaining the need to merchandise here in one of his lectures.

It’s an awesome read and though it’s about licensing video games, you can easily see how it relates to comics because his point is that characters drive licensing and merchandising more than anything else.

Now you know that, yes, it is possible to get rich making comics but it requires a lot of love, a lot of work, a lot of luck and a lot of wheeling dealing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

See you at the bank!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

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


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