December 29th, 2011


Somebody Shoot Me. Wait...What Do You Mean, "YOU First?!?"

Let's get something straight right off the bat -- suicide is a horrible, horrible thing.  People who are so depressed and inundated by the world and isolated and marginalized...people who are just moving from one day to the next, no real future, no real hope, nothing but problems and regrets instead of memories.  Lots of people carry on.  Some people can't.  And remember, I almost went there myself not to long ago.  Being stuck like that is horrible.

That said, there are some suicides that don't deserve sympathy.  These are the narcissists.  People who basically view suicide as one big "Look at me!  Aren't I just the shit?!?"  These people have no real problems, they are successful, they have people who like them, and they are quite happy to end it all, trivializing the nightmare people contemplating suicide go through.  You know, attention whoring.

I know John Byrne only by reputation.  Oh, fuck, what a reputation.  So superior to everyone and enjoying his little treehouse message board.  Byrne has long been known for his condescension and self-regard.  So this little exchange on his hugbox isn't exactly a surprise:

BYRNE:  "Even as far back as 1972 -- MCMLXXII -- I had been giving serious consideration to making my planned and (hopefully) gracious exit when I was in my 66th year -- MMXV -- but I'm lately rather liking the "symmetry" of MMXX. Will I really jot that notation onto a commission piece some day?"

VALMOR J. PEDRETTI:  "So, JB, when you say gracious exit you mean retiring completely from the craft?"

BYRNE:  "I mean retiring from the planet, Valmor. I have no interest in withering away.  All depends on various external factors, of course -- not the least of which being the Fates beating me to the punch! "

Thanks for giving us eight years warning to write our eulogies.

I understand the appeal of not wanting to waste away.  I'm not sure of Byrne's religious alignment, so I'm not going to bother with anything along those lines.  And I also understand Byrne has taken on a somewhat more depressive air in his recent posts.  But this is like those idiots on Internet message boards who make sure everyone knows they're quitting just to either be persuaded to stay or as some grandstanding act -- "You'll be sorry when I'm gone!"

There are people with real problems who feel so bad that even the uncertainty of what comes next beats where they are now.  You're not helping.  Keep your superiority complex to yourself.

Ghost Writer

The ghost of Steve Gerber wishes me to relay a message to you all.

Gary Friedrich just lost his lawsuit seeking money from Ghost Rider spin-off media.

The ruling is simple -- by signing the checks, Friedrich conceded Marvel was the owner and what he did was work for hire.

Always -- ALWAYS -- read those contracts, kiddies.  What the large print giveth, the fine print taketh away.

This has been a message from the ghost of Steve Gerber.

Politics Will Be Politics

Some fast items that came skittering across the Peter G newsdesk....

*  Michele Bachmann's Iowa campaign manager has jumped ship and is now working for Ron Paul's camp.  Bachmann is demanding answers from Paul's people.  I dunno...maybe your attitude had something to do with it?  You've been pretty bitchy towards Romney, Gingrich, and Paul lately.  Besides, he's not the first campaign manager you've had defect (two others went to Rick Perry's camp), you know.  The one common denominator in all this

*  Jon Huntsman really wants to be President, but seems to have forgotten you don't get there by insulting the voters.  He's not bothering to campaign in Iowa, writing it off in favor of trying to win New Hampshire.  When asked on CBS' Early Show why he was not bothering with Iowa, he said, "They pick corn in Iowa.  They actually pick Presidents here in New Hampshire."  Nice.  If he continues to remain at the bottom in NH on January 3rd, I'm gonna laugh my ass off.  And those who've seen my picture will attest -- that's a whole lot of laughing.

*  Most recent Iowa polls have Romney with 25%, Paul with 22%, Santorum at 16%, and Gingrich at 14% (margin of error:  +/- 4%).  Some people are saying Santorum is surging and has a real shot at winning the state.  Somebody watched Rocky II too many times.
Kermit And Piggy

Oh, Please, Dear God, Let This Turn Out To Be True

 I got sent a quick message about the whole "signing checks is a contract" thing and thought I would share it.


Jim Steranko is a longtime comic guy who worked for Marvel when they were doing the check contracts.  For those who don't know, for a while, a common ploy was to put wording on the backs of checks where the recipient had to sign to endorse the check.  By endorsing the check, you were also agreeing to the terms just above it, signing a contract.  And quite a few publishers put in there an assignation disclaimer that, by signing the check, you agreed you did work for hire and surrendered your claims to whatever you were being paid for.  This is known in legal circles as a quitclaim deed.

This is an asshole move on several levels.  Not the least of which is that comics don't pay shit.  People in the field need every last dime as soon as they can.  If they refuse to sign the check, they don't get paid and possibly lose their homes.  It could also be used as a bait and switch in contracts.  You get a contract with a publisher that you keep the rights to whatever unless you willingly surrender them.  Guess what happens when you sign that check.  What's that?  Legal challenge?  With what money?  Remember, you can barely afford food, and the publishing company has an army of lawyers that eat and live really good.  Your chances of winning are not good.

Now, legal challenges have been made.  As far as I'm aware, pulling this manuver is no longer legally enforcable (although keep your eyes open anyway.  Remember, part of it is that it's just not worth the money you'd shell out for a lawyer, so just accept you're getting screwed).  That doesn't help people from back in those days, though.  People like Steranko.

Steranko supposedly never lost the rights to the things he came up with.  And he didn't need a lawyer.  When Steranko got his check and saw the boilerplate on the back that he surrendered the rights, he simply crossed it out and signed the check.

Don't laugh.  It is legally enforcable.  By doing that, he rejected the terms Marvel was offering.  Because Marvel allowed the check to go through and didn't stop payment or contest what had happened, it was seen as Marvel's offer being rejected and Marvel was fine with it, voiding their claim to his work.  It supposedly went to trial when Steranko tried to enforce his rights, and Marvel just about shit when they found out about the ticking time bomb they had missed.

Like I said, I don't have absolute proof this is true, so take it with a grain of salt.

But if it is....

After all the fast moves Marvel has done, from their treatment of Kirby to Steve Gerber and others, this is funnier than hell.

And if it is true, Steranko is my new hero.