Posts Tagged ‘x-men’

‘Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe’ – A Kit With Instructions

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Tonight ABC television airs a special, ‘Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe’ that is being promoted as an exclusive look inside the world of Marvel Studios.

Marvel’s website succinctly describes the world premiere primetime event:

“Marvel Studios has pioneered and broken box-office records around the world, creating a cinematic universe unlike any other in pop culture history through its blockbuster films. Beginning with “Iron Man” in 2008 and continuing today through “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on ABC and the theatrical release of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” this April, the Marvel Cinematic Universe presents audiences with some of the most groundbreaking and dynamic storytelling that brings an unprecedented vision to the world of entertainment.

In this exclusive primetime documentary special, audiences will be taken further into the Marvel Cinematic Universe than ever before, offering viewers a front row seat to the inception of Marvel Studios, the record-breaking films, the cultural phenomenon, and further expansion of the universe by Marvel Television.

Marvel’s first television special documents the exciting story behind Marvel Studios and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, featuring exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from all of the Marvel films, the Marvel One-Shots and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Viewers will walk a clear path through this amazing and nuanced universe, featuring sneak peeks at the future of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on ABC, new footage from Marvel Studios’ upcoming theatrical releases, “Captain America: The Winter Solider” and “Guardians of The Galaxy,” and a sneak peek at the upcoming Marvel’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.’”

Curiously, they never mention the words “comics” or “comic books” once in their own promotion of this marketing extravaganza.

Seriously?

Fortunately early clips from the documentary shown on other sites quote Marvel Comics’ Editor-In-Chief, Axel Alonso saying,

“What Marvel Studios has done is very similar to what Marvel Comics did back in the day. They’ve built individual stories to stand on their own two feet, then they found a way to take those stories and weave them into a larger narrative.”

Thank you… I think.

Marvel Studios needs to pinch themselves, wake up and come to the stark (pun intended) realization that they are not creating anything. They are ADAPTING!

They are assembling this cinematic universe of theirs from a kit whose instructions were clearly established over a 73 year history by a ton of creative individuals whose professional careers were dedicated to making comic books!

Forget IRON MAN in 2008, let’s start with CAPTAIN AMERICA in 1941 and see where the Marvel Universe would be without their First Avenger that was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

That’s right, the same Jack Kirby whose name pops up when you also mention the creation of, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. all of which  he collaborated on with some guy named Stan Lee throughout the 1960′s.

Stan Lee? Yeah, he was Editor-in-Cheif back in the day” and was probably the guy most responsible for finding a way to weave those stories into a “larger narrative” since he was sitting behind the big desk at the time, directing traffic and providing the final scripting on all of those comics.

Let’s not even get started on the Guardians of the Galaxy whose long list of creator contributors include the names of folks like Arnold Drake, Gene Colan, Steve Englehart, Steve Gan,  Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen just to name a few.

By the way, there is one Guardian that has been lurking around the Marvel Universe since 1960. Yup! Groot made his first appearance in TALES TO ASTONISH #13 and is credited to – guess who? Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby along with a fella named Dick Ayers who also contributed to the creation of Iron Man.

Don’t be surprised if that alien shown in the T.A.H.I.T.I. episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. turns out to be Groot regenerating in that giant test tube. He is, after all, an alien plant species that was once held captive by S.H.I.E.L.D., became member of Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos and was later selected by the Kree to join the Guardians of the Galaxy to battle Ultron and the Phalanx where he sacrificed his life only to be brought back from the dead by Rocket Raccoon who managed to regrow him  by planting  one of his branches.

Nah!  That shit only happens in comic books.

Marvel Studios is working with a gold mine of material even after licensing out huge properties like Spider-man, X-Men and The Fantastic Four. Thanks to work-for-hire conditions in the comics industry the bulk of that material was produced for a  mere page rate and most of those creators that originally built that universe will never see a thin dime in royalties delivered to them or their heirs, especially not those of the late Jack Kirby whose creative genius is associated with most of this current crop of film and television that the Marvel Universe is built on.

Maybe, like Groot, there is hope that a seed, a branch or a twig could be planted and justice could grow from a bad deal that has been declared dead.

Remember, that without those comic books, none of these films and television shows will have ever existed and neither will have all the industry that is built around licensing and merchandising them, creating tons jobs that help support our economy.

What entertainment would we be enjoying this summer without Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and the rest of those comic book creators?

Without them there is no Marvel Universe to assemble.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Joe Simon Deserves More Than a Concession

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Marvel superheroes are anticipating a big summer on the silver screen with four blockbusters waiting in the wings. Captain America, Spider-Man, X-Men and The Guardians of the Galaxy are all ready to prove that their real superpowers are their ability to generate billions of dollars worldwide from ticket sales and merchandising.

With all that cash soon to be whirling around, It was a wonderful feeling to discover from  Bill Mantlo’s brother Mike, that Marvel had come to an agreement that would compensate Bill fairly for his part in co-creating Rocket Raccoon, the expected breakout star of the Guardians of the Galaxy film due in August. It is a bitter sweet victory since Bill now resides in a nursing home a victim of permanent brain damage sustained by a terrible accident in 1992.

Marvel’s settlement with Bill Mantlo, though undisclosed, appears to be one that is quite satisfactory to his family and is indicative of other agreements that seem to be quietly negotiated with other creators whose characters were created as work-for hire and are now being featured in this wave of popular films. Creators appear to be receiving some type of small ongoing royalties from profits generated by their work.

For those of us that grew up worshiping Marvel and the creators that brought so much excitement into our lives,  it is a dream come true to see Marvel attempting to treat the creators fairly and compensate them for their contribution.

Unfortunately the realization of this dream is just a mirage.

In less than a month Captain America: The Winter Soldier will burst into theaters and the granddaughter of Cap’s co-creator, Joe Simon, celebrated it’s impending release with a lovely tribute intended to remember her grandfather’s most significant contribution to the world of comics.

Megan Margulies http://meganmargulies.com/ writes about how her grandfather, who passed away in 2011 shortly after Captain America the First Avenger was released, was always so proud of his creation. She subtly points out that he had reached a settlement with Marvel in 2003 that relinquished all of his rights to the character for a an amount of money so small it left the most meaningful part of the agreement being that his name and the name of co-creator Jack Kirby was required to be displayed during the opening credits of any Captain America movie.

She describes seeing his credit on the film as a great source of pride for her and Joe’s extended family as they all represented him at the LA premier of the film.

As much as anyone can appreciate being recognized for our accomplishments we all know that pride is wonderful but, at the end of the day, that and a cup of coffee ain’t getting anyone anywhere.

Dig a little deeper and read Megan’s 2013 Fourth of July tribute to her grandfather and you realize that, in her own poetic way, she wants the world to know that this man that co-created one of the greatest superheroes of all time lived a very modest life until his death at 98.

He lived in a small messy apartment that he shared with mice and a squeaky armchair. His most prominent piece of furniture was his ink splattered drawing board. The family found it necessary to sell off most of his art, a piece of which her fiancé bought for her from auction in remembrance of her grandfather.

This humble and loved man was proud of his creation but he and his family never had and never will benefit from the incredible wealth that Captain America is able to generate.

So, in my opinion, Megan’s tribute reads like an eloquent concession speech given by someone who has lost a great battle.  She took the high road and showed tremendous sportsmanship, choosing to focus on Joe Simon’s legacy rather than the ugly details.

Megan has taken the same road as the Kirby family who have finally lost a bitter war with Marvel over their father’s stake in not just Captain America but many of the characters in the Marvel Universe.

The Kirby’s, in defeat, have similarly focused on preserving Jack’s legacy by actively promoting a positive image of his contribution to comics, and managing a wonderful Kirby4Heroes campaign to aid the Hero Initiative.

It fascinates me that Marvel can pick and choose those that they are willing to compensate in an effort to manipulate public opinion while those that have been most responsible for their vast wealth are perpetually denied.

To me, it is a crime to march a creator’s family on to a stage to promote a film whose movie premier alone probably cost more than the settlement that Joe Simon received.  It is a travesty that the actors portraying the characters make more for one film than Joe Simon and Jack Kirby made in their lifetimes. It’s a shame that the profits generated from these films could support a small country yet the heirs of these creators find themselves selling prints on etsy, surely not for the fun of it.

CigarJoeDesigns

it is a huge mistake to read Megan Margulies tribute to her grandfather and get so overwhelmed by the tremendous respect and pride that she has for what Joe Simon accomplished that we fail to remember that he and his family are victims of an unscrupulous corporation that will deny fair and reasonable compensation to the families of their greatest creators.

Marvel, you had us going there for a second, but compensating creators needs to be more than a PR stunt. Make it a retroactive and significant part of your corporate strategy and then we will all be impressed. Until then, enjoy watching creators die in poverty while your execs and shareholders get fat at their expense.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



There’s a Brave New World on Bergen Street

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Imagine walking into a comic shop and not seeing any comic books published by Marvel or DC. The shelves are void of Spider-Man, X-Men, Superman, Bat Man and Wonder Woman. With few exceptions, there are no superheroes, no men and women in tights and capes with bulging muscles and exploitive, break-back poses. The shelves are not overwhelmed with reboots of the same characters that we have been reading for the last seventy-five years. Seriously, how many times can you read a retelling Superman’s origin story before it gets old?

Imagine, instead, that what you find is shelf after shelf of unique and amazing comics that are created by an array of talented artists and writers that is always expanding. Comics are arranged by subject matter, social interest, artist and writer. There are comics for everybody; children, teens, adults, men and women, alike. Entire families can walk into the shop and discover comics that interest each member individually as they peruse the inviting corners of an elegantly and respectfully designed shrine of the comics medium, finding surprises at every turn.

Welcome to Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn, New York where co-owner, Tom Adams recently announced that the store will stop shelving most titles from Marvel and DC. Adams explained on Twitter that the decision, “Will enable us to better serve our customers. Strength of self contained, creator controlled comics will let us move away from double shipping, editorially driven, artist-swapping, inconsistent, tied into events/gimmicks comics. Trying to keep this a going concern/think long term.”

Bergen Street Comics will celebrate their fifth anniversary this spring. In their relatively short history they have firmly established themselves as a supporter of independent comics publishers and have hosted many creator signings and art shows including CO2 Comic’s own Steve Lafler as he toured promoting his graphic album Ménage à Bughouse.

Steve Lafler at Bergen Street Comics

Bergen Street Comics demonstrated their commitment to Independent publishers that night when they, on extremely short notice, opened their doors to Steve when his scheduled engagement at MoCCA was suddenly canceled due to unforeseen circumstances. Their graciousness and hospitality exceeded our expectations and established an impressive standard of customer service that we will never forget.

The atmosphere at Bergen Street Comics will capture the attention of anyone the moment they walk through the door. This is a place that celebrates the comic medium as an art form. Framed, original comic art hangs on the rugged brick walls, displayed like fine art in a gallery. The fixtures, furniture and shelving all presented with a classic taste that invites their customers to respect and value the comics that they are about to buy.

It is not surprising that they would make this bold decision to no longer shelve Marvel and DC titles. Bergen Street Comics is a boutique that specializes in a gourmet product. They are the Starbucks of comic shops, refusing to sell a common blend of coffee that can be bought on any corner, watered down and stale from having sat in the pot too long.

People want to experience quality, variety and atmosphere. They want a special experience that they feel entitled to and they want to share that experience with others. Great comics deserve the opportunity to be presented this way, as a rich and robust medium that will tickle the taste-buds of the imagination leaving the reader wanting for more.

A store like Bergen Street Comics can offer some hope for comics in print, especially those that are produced with a particular aesthetic that extends to the entire package. Printed books can offer a viscerally tactile experience that cannot be equally matched digitally. Independent publishers that recognize this understand the power of producing a boutique worthy product and will be energized as more stores adopt the model that Bergen Street Comics has.

This is not the end of superhero comic books. There will always be a place where bland or bitter coffee is available for those with a less discerning tastes. But, Bergen Street Comics has demonstrated that finally it is time for a little Frappuccino with our comics in this brave, new world where superheroes no longer have to dominate the local comic shop.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

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


Comics, Everyone?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Click to see the full version

Sometimes you come across some amazing stuff on facebook like this photo that popped up and blew me away .

The photo of a man-child smoking a cigarette at the ripe-old-age of four and reading a Mickey Mouse comic book conjured thoughts of poster children for Dr. Fredrick Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. A chuckle or two later I was envisioning future Marvel and DC editors ensuring that the medium would grow and mature with their personal tastes leaving behind the more innocent subject matter that they enjoyed as children along with the audience it catered to.

This little kid would grow up to be one of the Comic Book Men from Kevin Smith’s new television venture on AMC, completely immersed in the medium, trapped in a twilight zone that only those of us who grew up with similar experiences could appreciate. I mean, there were girls that read comics when we were kids but 99.99% of them were able to shake off their passion for Archie and Lil’ Lulu.  Something about comics always seemed to be a guy-thing and a certain kind of guy, derogatorily identified as geeks.
Of course we know that the stereotype, epitomized by The Forty Year Old Virgin and The Big Bang Theory is not really true.  Guys that like comics just know something that people who don’t read comics do not. The comic medium is very special. It is a door to visual fantasy that has only recently been able to be matched by animation and live action film enhanced by CGI at a tremendous cost to the producers.

Thanks to Manga and more specifically Shojo, more women than ever have been bitten by the comics bug and it is this influx of the feminine touch that is beginning to blow the medium wide open. Web Comics, Indy Comics and even some of the mainstream comics are developing a sensitivity to all audiences. The idea of comics being limited to a narrow scope of genres is quickly becoming past history. We like to think that this broader scope is reflected here at CO2 Comics and we wany our readers take the time to explore our share of all that variety.

I hope that a show like Comic Book Men will make the effort to include more women into the club. The X-Men have women why can’t the Comic Book Men. Team Unicorn in their Katy Perry “Califoria Girls” parody entitled “Geek and Gamer Girls” sure had a lot of fun with the concept of women being included in this new world order of comics for everyone.  Who knows, maybe some day  there will be more comics for kids too, which will be fine by me so long as the little ones don’t light up while they read.

Comics are flammable after all.

Just ask Dr. Wertham.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Life Imitates Comic Art

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Susie Cagle

The Occupy Wall Street Movement is growing to monumental proportions and as it does we are paying witness to more and more conflicts between protestors and police. In Oakland the conflict hit home to those of us in the comic industry when comic artist/journalist Susie Cagle was teargassed  by Oakland Police while covering the protest as a member of the media.

Reading her account in an interview on The Daily Cross Hatch and watching Youtube videos of the conflicts arising there and elsewhere struck a sickening yet familiar chord with me that paralleled a theme used successfully in comics where the hero becomes the villain in the eyes of the public.

Since the terrible 9/11 tragedy of the the World Trade Towers in 2001, police officers along with firemen, first responders and military personnel have all been hailed as heroes. These men and women are real heroes that touch our daily lives and sacrifice their own to protect ours. Memorials, monuments and statues have been erected all across our country in towns big and small, over the last decade, paying tribute to their valor.

These same men and women are now portrayed as the villains in this unfolding drama, shown in armor, wielding weapons and battling the very innocent, unarmed people they have sworn to protect. Suddenly, they are the target of taunting, name calling and general public hatred. Sound familiar?

Spider-man was publicly painted a villain by J. Jonah Jameson, Bat Man upholds the mantle of villain in Dark Knight, The X-Men are hated for their superior mutant powers though they strive to protect the weak. Even the supers in the Incredibles are forced underground because the were presented to the public as a potential threat to society. The list of superheroes painted as villains is long.

The story is always the same. In the end it is the public that becomes the victim as it is left without its champions, its defenders, its heroes. In the comics the hero always overcomes and saves the day.  Unfortunately in real life, that is not always the case.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement has wakened America and the world to the imbalances of the haves and the have nots  but its campaign is in danger of dividing the people along our own social lines of defense.  Those officers are as much a part of the 99% as anybody. None of them are millionaires.  They are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. Let’s not turn on them. Embrace them.  They have proven that they will put their life on the line for the public. They are our heroes.

Villainy wants the public at odds with the police and military. It is a distraction from the real issues of corporate greed and corrupt government. It is a battle that needs to be won and will need our proven heroes in order to succeed.

The heroes in comics are fictional and we all cheer when they come to the rescue. We can’t believe that they were ever forsaken. Let’s learn a lesson from our comic books and keep our focus on the real villains: The one’s with the most to gain at the expense of everyone else.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Identity Crisis

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Super Hero Summer is upon us!

There is no shortage of capes at the multi-plex this year. Thor , Green Lantern, X-Men and Captain America all battle it out on the big screen for box office supremacy while, finally making it to the stage on Broadway, Spiderman is surprising pundits as audiences actually fill the seats of the production that  was expected to be a dismal failure.

With all of this high powered super heroics going on I am noticing that critics are having a difficult time being judicious with their opinions.  In general, reviewers seem to be struggling with characters that lack dimension, story lines that are too simplistic and imagery, action and effects that over power the contents of the story.

My favorite critiques usually end with a summation that reads something like, “Full of action and dynamic visuals, weak story and character development. Not completely terrible. If you are a pre-teen boy, you will probably love it.”

This is the heart of what I see as an identity crisis that plagues the comic industry and nearly every franchise that is based on super heroes.

Virtually everyone has lost sight  that the original source material for practically every  major super hero was created for children and young adults at best.

It has been a recent evolution that super hero comics and related subject matter appeal to a more adult audience. This mature audience is one that grew up with an appreciation of the nuances of the original source material and are now capable of suspending disbelief as they watch their favorite characters evolve into more mature and realistic situations and environments.

This audience is a very specific  one and I think we are finding that the average adult audiences may not have the same appreciation for the super hero characters because they are not able to make the jump from characters that they may have appreciated as children now being in these mature situations.

This is obviously something that the studios are struggling with. Who is the target market for these films? Their response seems to be everyone. The critics want it to be everyone.  But when you target everyone you have to realize that there will be a shift away from the original source material that was focused on entertaining young boys.

When my son and I get into animated discussions about the exploits of a super heroes my wife is always quick to chime in that the characters “are not real!”

WE KNOW! But that never stops our enjoyment of the fantasy and the trivia that is associated with these characters.

This is the lesson that I wish producers, critics and audiences would learn. These stories should be fun amazing adventures about colorful characters that possess a strong sense of good verses evil. That is what the original stories were about and they are beloved classics of the medium. Why should they be portrayed any differently.

Trying to make rational, believable stories with these characters is like trying to do that with Santa Claus. Most of us grown-ups know that Santa is not real but we still have a warm place in our heart for all those fantastic stories we believed about him,  his reindeer, and his elves when we were kids. We are sure quick to make sure that our children get a full dose of that same fantasy and it is a tradition that is passed on from generation to generation.

I never thought that Santa’s mythology was too different from that of most super heroes, so why can’t we  be allowed to enjoy our favorite caped crusaders the same way. With pure unadulterated amazement and a willing suspension of disbelief.

My favorite super hero  movie of all time is The INCREDIBLES just for this reason. It is great ‘old-school’ fun, action and adventure that everyone can enjoy for just what it is.

Anyone who knows me will attest that I have always been a big CAPTAIN AMERICA fan and I cannot wait for that film to hit the screen! I have been closely watching the previews and my hopes are so high because from everything I see, they have this one right on the nose.

Simon and Kirby

Might I be disappointed?  Maybe.  But if they make the film anywhere close to the source material that was created by two creative giants of the Golden Age, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, it could set a new standard for how super hero comics should be adapted. My fingers are crossed!

I guess that is my biggest point. If we as comic fans can consider all those great creators from the early days of comics to be geniuses why should we be satisfied when their work is tampered with. You know what? They created that material for kids and they did a hell of a job doing it. The work was great and it still is so please give it to me full strength.

SPIDER-MAN Turn off the Dark learned that lesson the hard way. We all know the story behind the disaster that play was when it veered off into some strange mythological monstrosity. It wasn’t till it returned to the roots of the original source material that the play stood a chance. Now the audiences are coming and guess who is sitting in the seats wide-eyed with amazement and dreams of swinging from that web? Young boys who want to believe in Spider-Man and that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

How cool is that?

Please do not mistake this rant as comics are for kids!!! Comics are a medium of expression like any other medium and should be used to express any idea to any audience and I firmly believe that. There are many great adult themed comics about many different topics including super heroes and quite a few have made some great adult themed films.

This does not mean that we should no longer make comics for kids or that we can’t make super hero comics for adults. I’m just saying let’s appreciate the original source material and who it was originally created for when adapting a comic to another media and we may surprise ourself with a more successful films than we are used to.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Father’s Day Tribute To Jack Kirby From His Son

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Two weeks ago we ran a blog post here at CO2 Comics titled The King and The Man that compared excerpts of interviews with Stan Lee and the late Jack Kirby who recollected their dramatically opposing perspectives of the creation of the FANTASTIC FOUR and much of the Marvel Universe.

The post sparked an animated debate throughout the internet in forums and discussion boards on comic related sites, highlighted for us at CO2 Comics by a brief and pleasant correspondence with the son of a legend, Neal Kirby who politely defended the validity of his father’s position.

This week as, we prepare to celebrate Father’s Day, Neal Kirby has delighted us again by offering CO2 Comics the opportunity to post a very touching Father’s Day letter that he has written as a tribute to his dad.

Those who follow our posts regularly know that Tuesday is our feature blog day and that this would be our last blog before Father’s Day. By coincidence, today is Flag Day. What better day to honor the man that gave us the original star spangled superhero, CAPTAIN AMERICA?

We are proud and humbled to be able to present to you this letter from Neil Kirby to his father and the father of superhero comics as we have known them, Jack “King” Kirby:

Happy Father’s Day; Glad You’re Not Here

Jack Kirby and son Neal, Photo © Neal Kirby

I’ve just turned 63 and my fathers’ been gone over 18 years, but I still cry when I think of him, especially when I see one of those overly realistic WW II shows, and I see him as a young man trudging through northern France dodging machine guns, mortars, and those dreaded ‘88’s, until his feet froze inside his boots.   I cry when I think of all the nights I spent in his little 10X10 studio in the basement of our Long Island home (“the Dungeon”) watching a Brooklyn Dodger game or Victory at Sea on a little black and white TV in a wooden cabinet.  Most of all I miss watching him create and draw.  He would sit there, hours on end, pipe or cigar in mouth, right hand flying over the page, sometimes simultaneously writing story notes or script in the margins for the mythology that became the Marvel Universe.   And always surrounded by bookcases full of his beloved books: history, mythology, Science fiction – especially the pulps!

Young Jack Kirby, Photo © Neal Kirby

Captain America 1

For those of you familiar with the world of comic books, the name Jack Kirby is instantly synonymous with being the greatest comic book artist – ever.  Captain America, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Thor, and the Silver Surfer; just to name a few out of hundreds.  Those with also a modicum of knowledge of comic book history are also aware that my father was either the creator or co-creator of almost all the Marvel characters he had a hand in bringing to the public.

First appearances of Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, The Hulk, X-Men and Thor

If your unfamiliar with the comics industry, and just enjoy super-hero movies, you will notice my fathers’ name on some screen credits, usually buried at the end of the movie; sometimes, as in the recent “Thor” release, coming third after someone who had no hand in the characters’ creation other than being the editor-in-chief’s brother.  Unfortunately, for the past several years, some in the comics industry who have had the benefit of longevity have used the opportunity to claim to be the sole creator of all of Marvels’ characters. Must be great to be the last man standing.  It would seem that being backed by the public relations department of a large corporation buys access into the 24/7 news cycle.

Marvel movies based on Kirby creations

My father, to the contrary, was the most humble person I ever knew, probably to his detriment.  If you were to ask anybody who ever knew him they would tell you that was his most endearing trait. Taking credit for someone else’s work was just not in his make-up.  His super heroes did not consider themselves to be super or heroes.  There was no ego involved.  His goal through his characters was to be the defender of the little guy; the just and noble whose role, whether chosen or thrust upon them, was to protect those who through no fault of there own could not defend themselves.

Kirby Family 1961, Neal, Roz, Susan, Jack and Barbara up front, Photo © Neal Kirby

Maybe it’s now time for those still in the industry and comic book/super-hero fans, the “little guys,” to speak out.  Demand fairness not just for my father, but also for all those who have unjustly had their creative credit stolen from them.  As my father would say, “Show a little moxie!”

So Dad, I love you and miss you, but I’m glad you’re not here; not here to see others take credit for the characters you selflessly created over the years for the enjoyment of millions of children and adults.  But God, I sure wish you were the last man standing.

Neal Kirby 2011


The Great Comic Book Flood of 2011

Monday, June 6th, 2011

August 31 is becoming a benchmark day in comics. Remember that date in 2009? That was the day Disney bought Marvel for roughly four billion bucks and we all suspected that the comics industry would change forever. It didn’t.

This year all the current hullabaloo is about DC Comics’ announcement that it will renumber and revamp its entire line beginning with the release of the all new Justice League Number One to be released on…you guessed it…August 31. This too is expected to change the world of comics forever. It won’t.

Regardless what they say, do or plan, the big two have only goal and that is the market dominance of their perspective trademarks. You can’t blame them, it’s big business, but their focus is not really on the comics. You can believe that if you want to, but the real value of both brands is in film, licensing and merchandising of their trademarked intellectual property and has been for a long time.

The big two are so protective of their properties and dominating roles that they share exclusive trademark ownership of the term “Super Heroes.”

Marvel and DC do not want competition in the marketplace that they have comfortably controlled for decades when it comes to folks in tights, but the growth and success of independent publishers and unique comic related properties that have demonstrated an ability to succeed are causing them to tighten their grip on the market.

Remember When?Both companies have always employed the ultimate biblical equalizer, the flood, when they found it necessary. The advent of the Direct Market has made the flood an even more effective tool since it has established what amounts to be a captive audience with limited spending resources. Whenever Marvel or DC have detected a threat to their market share, either one or both have simply increased their output and financially drowned their competition.

Pour one for our Homies

The first significant wave of independent publishers in the 1980′s,PacificCapital, Eclipse, First, Comico and others, all fell victim when Marvel flooded the market with X-Men spin-offs that were met with DC counter productions. The market could not bear the glut and the indies were the casualty.

DC’s announcement of a relaunch of their entire line of 52 titles is business as usual. A flood of epic proportion of first editions with variant covers, day and date digital content, print and digital combo packages and the final nail in the coffin…return-ability.

Marvel is not going to sit by and get waxed. They will counter. Independents, look out! You may as well not even plan to publish from September on, or at least until the novelty wears off. Break out the water-wings the Great Comic Book Flood of 2011 is coming and it will not be pretty.

Comic fans, if you love the medium, it is time to stop acting like lemmings. How many decades do you have to read story after story of the same old stuff? Is it possible to really do anything new or interesting with these characters that the big two have been milking for seventy years? Get real. The answer is, “NO!

It is time to support new material if you really want to read exciting NEW comics. There are plenty of publishers out there putting out great, truly original material either in print, digitally or on the web. Marvel and DC are not going anywhere. You can get a fix of your favorite character at any time but please don’t, as a fan, be responsible for propagating a marketplace that stifles the opportunity for the creation and success of exciting new characters by exploiting blind brand loyalty and worse, the zeal of speculation.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


The Gutter

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

gerry_giovinco_171x2452One of the greatest revelations about comics that I ever read came from Scott McCloud’s incredible Understanding Comics which in my mind is one of the finest and most important comic works ever created. Scott describes “the gutter,” the space between panels, as the host to much of the magic and mystery that are the very heart of comics. This is the intimate space where the reader connects the panels, lead by the comic artist, to experience a unique and personal concept of space and time. Scott refers to this space as a form of Limbo.
Limbo.
This is where I feel that I’ve been since the late 80′s regarding my experience in comics both as a publisher and a creator. I stepped out of a panel where I had a brief whirlwind career as a founder / publisher / art director / writer / artist / letterer etc. of Comico the Comic Company. Now I prepare to step into this next panel with Bill “Cooch” Cucinotta, my longtime friend and former partner at Comico, to develop CO2 Comics, an on-line cooperative for select comic artists that is intended to explore the options that the future holds for the comics medium.
I have often looked at the gap in my comics career as time lost, but as I reference Scott McCloud’s  ideas regarding the gutter I appreciate now that I’ve been in a very magical place that gives me a new, intimate and unique perspective of comics as a medium and an industry.
My time away from comics has been spent, mostly, performing as Captain Visual, the World’s One and Only Super Clown! If you don’t believe me visit captainvisual.com. I left Comics to become a living cartoon character and have spent an exciting career staring into the wondering eyes of audiences both young and old who are fascinated by a clown wearing a cape and a space helmet. I have lived the magic of comics.
Inspired by Paul Smith of X-men fame I became an influential balloon artist and teacher, authoring a number of  books on the subject that have been published both in the mass market and as Print On Demand (POD) via lulu.com Using Scott McCloud’s definition of comics I discovered that my balloon books qualify as sequential art and confirmed that comics continue to run in my veins.
Through the years I have stayed in touch with Bill Cucinotta, often commiserating over our place in comics history. Bill’s experience working in comics retail, publishing, advertising and creating has always made him a tremendous asset as a partner and friend regarding comics. His design instinct makes him a natural front man as a logo designer and comics packager. He was with me in college as we developed Duckwork at the Philadelphia College of Art, a partner in the dawning days of Comico, a vital part of Matt Wagner’s Bain Sidhe Studios and instrumental in the look and success of Comic Zone comics. A more comprehensive look at his accomplishments can be found at billcucinotta.com .Today he is the main driver in the creative development of the CO2 Comics web site.
With the passing of our former partner Phil LaSorda last year and my own very recent “cardiac event” it has become more urgent for us to act if we intend to stride into the next panel of our comic careers.
We have jointly created CO2 Comics as an experiment with a name right out of a high school science lab class. Our Welcome Page does a great job of briefly describing our intent and why we chose the name.
Nothing here is locked in stone. We intend to explore format, both in print and on the web. We want to inspire creative diversity, and promote the medium to different audiences. We want to explore new areas of revenue for creators and much more.
This Blog, “The Gutter” will be a place for us all to play, roll up our sleeves and get dirty. Lively discussion here will lead to a new “House of Ideas” and it can be a glass one where folks throw stones because a little fresh air from a broken window can be a good thing.
For now, “The Gutter” will be updated weekly as we focus on recruiting and posting comic content for the overall CO2 Comics site. Some will be retrospective material from the good ol’ days while other material will be new, experimental, and, hopefully, trendsetting. Please return regularly to enjoy and participate.

We urge you be open with your feed back, it is valuable to us as artists. Bill and I agree that the interaction with creators and the audience has always been our personal favorite experience in the comics industry. I don’t expect that to change.

Don’t be shy. Leave comments, reminisce, make requests, offer suggestions, be critical, offer praise and support. Most of all, have fun. If CO2 Comics becomes, at least, a community of comic enthusiasts and artists that can revel in hearty discussion then this will be a successful experiment.

Now get your mind out of “The Gutter.”

Go enjoy the rest of the site and stay in touch.

Gerry Giovinco


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