February 11th, 2012

Putin

Does This Mean Hell Is Freezing Over?

I'll write more updates tomorrow after I shrug off some of this overtime. Right now, I wanted to post this so everyone can see it.

We have official confirmation from IDW, the comics publisher handling both the Star Trek series and the Doctor Who series.

There will be a Next Gen/Doctor Who crossover.

Here's the cover....



There have been sort of crossovers (official crossovers, we're leaving the USENET/ficcers/shippers out of this). There was the X-Men/Old Trek and the Legion Of Superheroes/New Trek crossovers that are obviously not considered canon. Who has only had one crossover, with the TV show Eastenders for a charity short that was derided by critics (give 'em a break, they can't all be Curse Of Fatal Death, you know).  But this is the first time two of the granddaddies of sci-fi/fantasy have intersected.

"'How's it going to end?'  I've been wondering that myself."
This Makes Me Moist

It's An Aereological Autoerotical Tubular Boobular Joy!

A while ago, I wrote that DC was launching a new World's Finest series that would pair Power Girl and Huntress together.  It's an Earth 2, so any pesky continuity established in the DCnU doesn't necessarily apply here.

DC released the cover, complete with the newly redesigned Power Girl costume.  Power Girl is second only to Supergirl in how often her costume changes.  There was her original white bodysuit with red cape and blue boots and gloves.  Then the white and gold unitard.  Then some weird mixture with a diamond cutout showing 100% of her cleavage.  Then back to the original.  Then the redesign with the high thigh cuts, that stupid cape on one shoulder and rope under the armpit, and what is lovingly referred to as the "boob window."

With DC having Batman and Catwoman screw like bunnies on a rooftop while still in their fetish costumes, turning Starfire into Super Slut, Voodoo just being fap material, and Harley Quinn's impossible to keep in place outfit, I had really misgivings about this.  Remember, Power Girl was revised to emphasize her sexiness (in fact, she's depicted as an older version of Supergirl, with Supergirl getting relatively innocent stories and situations.  Oh, and bike shorts under her skirt in case anyone sees underneath it.  Power Girl?  Not quite the same thing).  It was bad enough I hesitated to mention I was a Power Girl fan for fear of what people would think of me -- the only thing worse than people avoiding you because you might be a pervert is people who embrace you because they think you're their kind of pervert.

So, here's the cover, with the new Power Girl outfit.  Hey...that's actually pretty good!  Still has the vertical ridges to suggest the camel toe look, but other than that, I rather like this!  Took me a little bit to figure out that's a P on the cape front and not just some angular accent design, but it's not like that's a deal breaker.  And...what's this?!?  Power Girl's physique is actually relatively normal!  Holy crap!  I expected another costume change, but I never expected that!

Well, that actually gave me some confidence in the series.  I was going to stop by the comic shop today anyway, so I figured I would add this to my pull list.

I get there, and I mention I want World's Finest put on my list.  I pull out Twilight and show him the cover.  He points out the boob window is gone.

And he mentions that a lot of people are refusing to add the series to their pull lists precisely because the boob window is gone.

I'm actually seeing quite a bit of this bullshit on message boards.  There are actually protest posts and nerd rage and calls for a boycott.  And all because of fake tits.

Yeah.  This really makes us comic book readers look mature and well adjusted and not like a bunch of sexual deviants.

This is especially stupid because, if all you want is to look at drawn hooters, there are PLENTY of indie comics that will give you what you want.  Tarot - Witch Of The Black Rose is a good one, with the character constantly appearing nude and recently finding herself held down as an eel bites her twat.  Vampirella is another.  You mean to tell me that your quest for sexual objectification fails with the loss of one book?

I have no problem with sexy, and usually will just go along with it as long as it isn't drawing too much attention to itself (X-Women #1, anyone?).  But to actually fly into nerd rage because of a character covering up?  Is it really worth getting that worked up about?

Stay classy, comic book fans.  Or try to, at any rate.
Doctor Whooves

Doctor In The Horse

I got a message to check out a recent episode of My Little Pony -- Friendship Is Magic.  I was told which episode, and I'll know it when I see it.

Folks?

Doctor Whooves might be canon.

The episode features the Doctor as an official contest timer.  Here's a screen grab.



Now, the reason I point this out is because of his neck.  The Doctor is wearing a collar and a green tie.  So what you ask?  Here's an image of the Doctor from back when he was just a regular background character.



Notice, no collar or tie.  The collar and tie did not turn up until the fandom started making Doctor Whooves stories and started putting a white collar and green tie on him.  And we know the show staff in general and Lauren Faust in particular lurk in all the MLP forums to see what everyone is talking about, as the gag with Derpy as a furniture mover proves.

Is this their way of telling everyone that he's not a generic background pony, he really is Doctor Whooves?  No one can say for sure, given that this could be construed as copyright infringement if they admit it.

Nevertheless, I'm going to be watching very closely for a blue police box....
What?

Ghost Rider Of The Storm

It was a late night after doing some art after a week of random overtime, including one night where I was at work for almost 14 hours.  I'm asleep in bed, having a wonderful dream, when I hear that voice again.  "Peter...Peter...."

I know that voice.  It's the ghost of Steve Gerber, trying to get my attention, because something has happened in the comic book world, a publisher throwing their weight around.

I slowly wake up and look to my nightstand on my left.  Twilight, my new tablet computer, is sitting there.  I start her up and start checking the news sites I go to in search of whatever has Gerber upset this time.

And I find it.  The next chapter in the continuing saga of Marvel versus Gary Friedrich.

It starts back in 1971, when Friedrich was writing comics for Skywald and created a character called Hell-rider, a Vietnam war vet and stunt cyclist whose motorcycle was outfitted with a flamethrower.  Next year, he was working at Marvel on a Daredevil story with Roy Thomas and created a character called Stunt-Master, a motorcycle rider with a flaming skull.  This was deemed too awesome to be a guest villain, and Ghost Rider was developed to be his own title.  Friedrich stated from the beginning that, if Marvel tried to take the rights, he would sue them.

Marvel didn't care.  After all, they had managed to beat Steve Gerber over ownership of Howard The Duck, and Gerber had a much better legal leg to stand on.  Friedrich not only signed an agreement that his stuff was work for hire and was specifically created for Marvel to exploit (as opposed to the happy accident that gave us Howard), but this was when Marvel issued paychecks with the quitclaim language on the back -- endorsing the check was signing a contract that you surrendered all rights to whatever you created back to Marvel.

Friedrich griped for years, but with the movie version of Ghost Rider hit big screens, Friedrich filed a lawsuit, claiming he was owed big bucks from the movie, despite being warned he couldn't have won before, but with Marvel now owned by Disney, he's screwed.  Friedrich also went to comic conventions, selling color photocopies of the cover of the first Ghost Rider comic book with his signature for $20 a pop (he turned up at C2E2).

Last December, the judge ruled that Friedrich had wasted his time and money -- there was the work-for-hire agreement and the signed checks.  Friedrich wasn't owed a dime.  Disappointing, but what can you do?

Now, Marvel has done something that smells like, "We're doing this just to screw with you, Friedrich."  Marvel claims that Friedrich owes them $17,000 from the sales of the photocopies with his signature, since Ghost Rider is Marvel's character and that means Friedrich was unfairly profiting from it.  It's $17,000 he does not have.  Literally.  He has no job and no income coming in.  His health is failing.  No one is hiring him, and he's 68.  And Marvel is saying the ruling says he can't claim to be the creator of Ghost Rider for financial gain (con appearances, interviews, etc.).  And Marvel wants the money right fucking now.

This has sent a chill down the spines of artists who work the Artist Alley at shows.  Publishers sort of turn a blind eye to these people selling sketchbooks full of their art of the company's characters or doing commission sketches or prints.  It's how the artists pay for their trips, and the fans love it.  The publishers do occasionally drop the hammer.  Last year (I don't remember if it was C2E2 or Wizard), Marvel shut down a guy who showed up at his Artist Alley table with hundreds of sketch cards for sale, claiming copyright violation and trademark infringement.  I had never seen that happen before.  And I didn't know why.  There were plenty of others with sketch cards.  Hell, some of them were Rule 34'ing the characters, which you'd think Marvel would object to as corrupting the brand.  But no.  It was just this one guy, and I never found out the real reason why.

Some people say, "Well, Marvel can't do that!"  Actually, yes they can.  It's legal, and they can be as inconsistent or hypocritical as they want.  It's their characters.  And if they allow some people to do their sketchbooks and such and prevent others, that's their right.  It doesn't matter if you aren't making a lot of money or even giving them away for free.  It's their sandbox, and if they say stop, you have to.

(Because of the various fandoms, several companies have developed their own policies for dealing with this stuff.  Paramount, for example, is fine with Trekkies making fanfilms and fanzines and shit, as long as they aren't making any money on it or outrageously misrepresenting the property.  The BBC has taken a similar stance with Doctor Who.  Hasbro is still trying to come up with an official policy, but has indicated they are fine with the My Little Pony fandom as long as they don't get too far out.  Doesn't matter that I did my Doctor Whooves fanfic for the hell of it or that, at DanCon, I'll be giving away some Doctor Whooves comics for free (yeah, other artists sell sketchbooks with copyrighted characters, but I'm not a big enough name to be left alone).  If the Beeb or Hasbro says, "Stop that shit!", the only option I have is, "Sir, yes, sir!")

Publishers will suddenly enforce their rights at different times, like the crossdresser who attended the con as Catwoman or the guy with the cards that I mentioned.  This does, however, mean that, if you do do stuff like this, they control you.  Honk them off, and they are well within their rights to stop you, and close off the revenue stream that could have been counting on to pay for your show appearance.  Or even worse, going through your history.  See, the part of the ruling that has everyone nervous is that Marvel wants money for things that happened long ago.  There's always been the possibility of this happening.  Now, it actually has, for $17,000.  There is fear that, if Marvel decides to sue you, they can go back through commissions you've made for years and claim those moneys.  Moneys you've already spent and, being a comic book worker, don't have a lot of extra just laying around.  And, since you had the money all this time, can Marvel ask for interest on top of it all?

This smells like payback to me.  Some people opine that the difference is Friedrich was mass producing photocopies for sale while a commission sketch is not intended for publication.  But that's bull.  The publishers could easily stop commissions.  They could make Andy Price take down his display with Batgirl sitting in bed naked except for covering up with Robin's tunic and thinking "Boy Wonder, indeed."  Once again, it's their stuff (people like me who ask for legally safe stuff like parodies or characters that he actually owns are pretty rare).  So those of you thinking you'll have to ditch taking commissions of Marvel and DC characters, no you won't.

As long as you play ball.  Forever and ever.

Nat Gertler, the creator of Licensable Bear(TM), hasn't done anything with About Comics or LB(TM) in a long time.  Gertler brought LB(TM) out of retirement to take a shot at Marvel over this.  Also, Steven Niles (30 Days Of Night) has started a fundraising page to help out Friedrich.  Donate if you wish, or don't.  The choice is yours.  I won't tell you what you should do.

Besides, right now, Steve Gerber needs someone to talk to.
RatReading

These Boots Were Made For The Walking Dead

It's too early to tell how this is going to go.

It's too early to tell what is the truth and what is just regular court filings.

It's also too early to tell if we'll ever learn the truth or if everything will be hushed up with NDA's.

But if it is true, I will never be able to respect Robert Kirkman ever again.

I don't know Kirkman personally, but I knew him when he first arrived down here in the trenches.  He was self-publishing as Funk-O-Tron, and his first title was Battle Pope.  I bought the first mini from him at Wizard that year and we talked a bit.  I told him I guessed he was a fan of the video game Toejam And Earl, since the home planet in the game was called Funkotron.  He seemed nice, and the series was good.  Money well spent, including the next line up he had the following year.

Kirkman eventually did what so many of us dream of and climbed out of the trenches.  He started working on high profile titles for Marvel and also wrote a Jubilee miniseries.  He also created Invincible, a throwback to Silver Age superheroes and stories.  The Image crew thought him and his work were awesome, and they invited him to become a full Image partner.  Kirkman signed up with his own studio, Skybound Entertainment.  Those of us in the trenches were thrilled that one of our own had made it and toasted his success.

But since then, Kirkman has done things that make us wonder.  How can a veteran of the trenches do these things?  For example, word got out that any title Kirkman agrees to publish through Skybound, the studio gets 50% of all spinoff rights and moneys.  The comic is still yours, you still have creative control.  But anything else, TV, webisodes, whatever, Skybound gets half.  (If true, I suspect it's to funnel projects to Kirkman's entertainment partners.  You won't see as much money with Joe Blow as you will if you let me and my friends handle this.)  That sounded like the kind of deal that, had Kirkman been offered it with Battle Pope, he would have stormed away insulted.  He also once said during a podcast interview, when asked how to get an artist to draw a writer's stories, Kirkman dryly replied, "Trickery and deceit."  (Uncovered by Reuters.)  The jokes we make reveals much about us because it says what we are comfortable getting away with.  That "joke" does not bode very well.

Tony Moore is a comic penciller who, among other things, helped Kirkman co-create The Walking Dead.  I don't watch The Walking Dead and don't read the comics.  I'm not much of a zombie fan, and too much of The Walking Dead is a rip-off.  Listening to people talk about the TV show, there isn't a lot going on there other than people arguing, crying, and praying for three quarters of the episode.  The official Walking Dead trading cards are 5 to a pack and cost $4.  A little girl played a zombie in one episode and only appeared as an extra.  She was at Wizard World Chicago last year, hawking her autograph for $20 a pop.  Don't get me wrong, I know it's people's money to spend on whatever crap they want, and I say that as a guy who bought a ton of Pokemon crap back in the day.  It just seems like The Walking Dead is much ado about nothing.

Moore co-created the comic series and characters with Kirkman and even drew the first six issues before the chores were handed off to Charlie Adlard.  Moore is now suing, claiming he was coerced into signing a deal that handed over rights, he hasn't received any royalties, not even the profit statement he claims he is legally obligated to.

Now, this is just the filing.  People say all kinds of shit in filings.  It's just allegations, and they don't have to back those up in court since they can be abandoned, so it's can be used as legal libel if your shark is up to it.  And filings sometimes go nowhere, as we saw with Valiant trying to sue Jim Shooter just last year and letting things die after Shooter filed his response.  So we don't know for sure what's going on.  But quite a few people, such as Rick Remender, who works with Moore on Fear Agent, have apparently known this is coming and just might be having their actions informed by insider knowledge.  Phil Hester tweeted, "Now I can’t rest until I know. Mmmmaybe I know."  To which Remender tweeted back, "We all fucking know. But why burn a bridge in this small industry, right?"  Uh-oh.

Well, we know this much for sure -- Kirkman is pissed and saying there will be blood.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Kirkman’s attorney Allen Grodzky tells THR that the case is “totally frivolous. Mr. Moore is owed no money at all. And Mr. Moore’s contract has an attorneys’ fees clause in it so we will be going after him to collect attorneys’ fees. We are taking this matter very seriously.”"

We'll have to see how this all plays out.  I'll be watching closely.  Suffice it to say, if it's true, then no wonder Kirkman is a partner at Image.  He's in good company there.
Peter G

Fun Time: I Do Crossovers Now. Crossovers Are Cool.

What would be your response if a publisher announced it was going to publish a Doctor Who/Buckaroo Banzai miniseries?

Poll #1818369 The Next Crossover You Might Wait For

What is your response to the thought of a Doctor Who/Buckaroo Banzai crossover?

Never heard of either of them.
1(11.1%)
Who's Buckaroo Banzai?
3(33.3%)
Nah, not interested.
1(11.1%)
Seriously interested.
2(22.2%)
Here -- take my wallet and give me back how much I should have.
2(22.2%)