About Me

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I started reading comics regularly after 'Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns'. Since then, I've become a co-host on 'The LanternCast' (a podcast dedicated to Green Lantern that's been on the air since 2008), started a new podcast covering the late 1980's DC series Action Comics Weekly (appropriately titled The Action Comics Weekly Podcast), and have been the curator of THE blog on the internet dedicated to the character of Ragman, created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert published by DC Comics starting in 1976 and currently appearing on The CW show 'Arrow' as portrayed by actor Joe Dinicol. I'm an avid fan of comics, classic rock, and speaking my mind. Welcome!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Open Letter to DC Comics...

Dear DC Entertainment/DC Comics,

In late 2008 I picked up 'Rage of the Red Lanterns, Prologue: Blood Feud' a "tie-in" special to Final Crisis. That was the beginning of my complete immersion into the comics world. I bought Green Lantern (and related titles) regularly and began soaking up every bit of history on the character I could find. Once I was steeped in GL mythos, I moved on to the rest of the DCU. Characters like Firestorm, Phantom Stranger, Starfire, Deadman, Ragman, Firebrand, Aquaman and more seized a relentless grip on my attention. Then I moved on to the industry as a whole: Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, Image, and more. Finally I became obsessed with the forbidden knowledge. The origin of all things. At least, for comics that is. And I began soaking up a history of comics that you yourself (as a company) played a pivotal founding role in.

As time moved on I made comics my one and only hobby. Your characters, my introduction to their world, served as the cornerstone for all of my passion for the industry as a whole. Things like 'Green Lantern/Green Arrow' from the 1970's became my bible for groundbreaking and innovative comics that changed the public perception of "biff, bam, pow" comics to that of a more serious and thought provoking ilk.

From late 2008 to mid 2011 I went from knowing barely a thing about comics, to co-hosting a podcast dedicated to 'Green Lantern' and reading non-fiction books about the history of the comic medium. After awhile though, it seemed that things were beginning to get stale (to both the fans and you) and the decision was made to "reboot/relaunch" your entire universe. On August 31st, 2011 you launched a new universe for your iconic characters. It was ballsy, it was gutsy and you had the entire comics world talking for awhile. Sales skyrocketed and you went into multiple printings of everything. You even made the leap nobody else would and went 100% all in with day and date digital comics releases.

It was a move that shook the industry and left every other comics publisher gasping for air like someone caught in an undertow. You owned the comics world. In one fell swoop you sparked the curiosity of loyal fans, captivated new ones and leapt forward into a digital age.

And then...

You started cancelling books. It was a smart move. Give a few titles a chance to find some ground and if they don't sell then replace them with books that will. It makes good business sense (even IF I'm still pissed at you for cancelling O.M.A.C.). You made comic fans everywhere upset here and there about stuff but hey, what are you going to do? We get upset about EVERYTHING here and there.

And then...

DC, I don't know how to say this, so I'll just say it: You started to let everyone down.

I may not have been a comics fan long, but I can tell you right now that the things I've grown to appreciate from comics is creative freedom and amazing storytelling. Let's take my favorite comic series 'Green Lantern/Green Arrow'. From what I understand, GL was floundering and Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams were asked to step up to the plate and "fix this". So, Denny did what Denny did. The result was one of the most famous comic series of the 1970's (if not all time) that not only changed the perceptions of an entire medium, but taught the Comics Code Authority a lesson. All because DC let Denny and Neal do what Denny and Neal did best.

But DC, you've started to take your talent for granted. You've become so hyper obsessed with your characters depictions in TV, film and video games that you've forgotten the hallowed pages that served as the birth place for each and every character you own a copyright on (and even some you don't). Superman's shield may be the second most recognizable symbol on the planet, but Kal-El's true home isn't Krypton, it's within the pages of Action Comics.

One of my favorite things about comics is taking characters that have existed for decades and "letting someone else have a turn" to tell the story in their way. To add a new wrinkle to the mythos. People will either love it or hate it, but it's new and the creator is doing what they can to tell the story. Why? Because it's THEIR time to shine and they LOVE this character. They're going to give their all.

But DC, you're not giving them that freedom anymore. That much is clear. And you can come out with press releases and promotional gimmicks and carefully planned politically correct events and "things will never be the same again" solicitations, but nothing will change what you're doing right now.

I wanted to keep this 'letter' brief, but I still have a bit more to say. Let me just skip straight to some examples of how you're treating your talent.

Kevin Maguire Kicked Off Of 'Justice League 3000'

"This is very humiliating. Obviously, I was looking forward to working on a fairly high profile book. I haven't had a top ten book since the '80s and I thought this would finally be my shot at doing one. But it's DC's book, it's their property, they can do whatever they want with it. They don't owe me anything. I've been told they wanted a book that was "dark and gritty", so I'm perplexed as to why they chose us for that. We did exactly the kind of book you would expect from us. Lots of action and humor...I think that'll be it for me and DC for a while."

James Robinson Leaves DC Comics

Blackman & Williams Leaving 'Batwoman'

"We’ve always understood that, as much as we love the character, Batwoman ultimately belongs to DC. However, the eleventh-hour nature of these changes left us frustrated and angry — because they prevent us from telling the best stories we can. So, after a lot of soul-searching, we’ve decided to leave the book after Issue 26."

Rob Liefelds Public DC Departure

"Massive indecision, last minute and I mean LAST minute changes that alter everything. Editor pissing contests… No thanks."

Andy Diggle Quits Action Comics

Fialkov Ditches 'Green Lantern Corps' and 'Red Lanterns'

"...editorial decisions about the direction of the book that conflicted with the story I was hired to tell.

Gail Simone Off Batgirl

Gail Simone Leaves Fury of Firestorm

Ron Marz Off Voodoo

"I have to admit, I was pretty surprised, since I'd been making the revisions and changes that had been requested by editorial as the book evolved. But it seems like they want something other than what I was giving them."

and the BIG one that SHOULD have made you sit up straight...

George Perez Goes EXCLUSIVE to BOOM! Studios

"While I have enjoyed considerable professional and personal success with both Marvel and DC, it was becoming all too evident that many of the books being produced by both companies seem to be getting more and more corporate driven. Many of the characters I grew up with were turning into strangers whose adventures were determined by factors that had less and less to do with what made a good comic story and more to do with how these properties can be exploited for other purposes. There's nothing wrong with that, I guess, but not something that I felt was particularly satisfying for me as a storyteller.

(NOTE: Some of those can be contested as creator decision and not DC decision. I understand that. However, there are more examples for you to choose from HERE. For every ONE you "discount" four more that ring true will take it's place.)

Take a moment and look through that DC. Forget your executive chair. Forget your paycheck. Forget whatever it is that makes you OK with making these decisions. Forget it all and read those again as a FAN. Let's face it, the vast majority of you in power at DC wouldn't be there unless you started as a FAN FIRST. What does that tell you about the state of your business? How much PR does it take to clean up messes like that? Wouldn't the best bet be to handle things better, recognize that the money you make RELIES on the creative talent and NOT just a fancy new cover?

Before the New 52, when a book was in trouble, what did you do? (heck, even now) You brought in a big name writer or artist or both to save your title? Why? Because those names had FOLLOWINGS. Fans TRUSTED them. So you clearly recognize the talent and power your creators have. So why alienate them?

And, before I go too long, let me make my last point. Have you seen what your competitor Marvel is doing? With each bridge you burn, Marvel attempts to build one. Do you know why? Because Marvel sees the value of their creators. They might not be doing the best when it comes to retaining them and treating them well, but they're doing better than you. And WHY are you burning these bridges? Rumor has it (and the facts seem to support it) that you DESPERATELY want to make your characters more marketable to the general audience. Much like Marvel Studios has done with their movie franchises. Marvel gave you a wake up call and now you (and your bosses at Warner) want a piece of the pie. And yet, the rival you're trying to match/outrun....is STILL snatching up the remnants of your hasty decision making in your mad rush to make millions. Why? If they're making ALL that money, why is Marvel still focused on their comics?

Because they KNOW where they come from. They remember what happens when they treat their creators like crap. And in case you've forgotten, so do we.

(no names "reprinted" here)

"DC has a huge problem right now and it would seem that Harras is a huge part of it. There's no denying it.The pattern would seem to indicate that they are mistreating their creatives, and if that is the case then Geoff Johns and Jim Lee need to step up and fight that. I hate to see this with DC. I love Marvel but I am a DC guy, and this stuff kills me."

 "I’ll soon be down to just one DCU title."

"Disgusting. Those of you that support the arts or are artists themselves, how can you in good conscience support DC comics at this point? They're treating talent like garbage... Vote with your dollar, do not support DC Comics until changes have been made."

"It just seems like a complete mess over there now, something really needs to be sorted out soon. I'm down to reading just 2 DC books and they are digital ones not set in the DCnU."

"While I get that DC is well within their rights to dismiss creators from a book, the way they've been going about it seems very unprofessional to me. When that many creators take to the internet and openly discuss behind the scenes goings on, then at some point DC management isn't handling things well."

"It really feels like the management there is staggeringly incompetent."

"At some point, DC will have pissed off every comic book creator out there and have all of their comics written by headless chickens."

"And if there's ONE THING DC has taught me in the last few years, it's "Fuck creators in the ear holes, who the fuck needs those guys? We have fucking EDITORS, man!"

"DC really doesn't see this as their problem. They see it as our problem. We, the fans, the internet, the non-publicity-department-controlled comics media, are only upset because we *know* about this stuff. If we would just stop knowing about it, they would stop looking so stupid for doing it. And that, in a nutshell, is why DC keeps finding themselves in these PR clusterfucks. Because they just have no clue what they are doing wrong. As far as they're concerned, they're doing a great job."

"Why the heck do I even bother with DC Comics anymore. I think my excitement just dropped down to nothing."

Should I keep going...?

A Former Rabid Fan on the Verge of Buying All His DC Comics from now on Pre-DCNU from Back Issue Bins

Monday, July 22, 2013

Nostalgia: Weighing in on the Great Fire & Water Debate

This week, the Episode 59 of the Fire and Water podcast went up. During the episode co-host Robert Kelly relayed a story in which a reader of his blog, the Aquaman Shrine, left a comment on one of his posts stating that Rob was actively ignoring current story-lines to the detriment of the shrine blog as a whole, specifically Aquamans involvement in the DC event currently being billed as the 'Trinity War'.

This sparked a conversation between the co-hosts Rob and Shag in which Rob revealed that, when it comes to new things, he just doesn't care (for the most part). This prompted Shag to launch into a "nostalgia is awesome" speech and the conversation ended with the two requesting feedback from fans on this concern, particularly given the amount of listeners with comics blogs of their own (such as myself). Is it OK to not cover everything? What would you cover? How do you choose? Etc.

This discussion brought to the forefront of my mind a topic that has been dancing on the periphery for some time now.

DC just ain't doing it anymore.

Ironically, hours before the episode in question went live, I was in my living room organizing comics. I started by sorting into publishing piles (Dark Horse, Image, Marvel, DC, etc.) then from there splitting them by title. At the end of it all I had one pile of nothing but "New 52" issues. Every one I owned. And I immediately decided that I didn't care about any of them. Not a single one.

When it comes to currently ongoing DC titles, I don't care to rush out on Wednesday and pick up the latest issue to see what's going on (not even the AMAZING Scott Snyder 'Batman'). I'm happy to wait for the trade or just read it when I read it.

I suppose my lack of enthusiasm could be related to my increasing love of the trade format, but I sincerely doubt it.

In the episode, the guys asked about covering nostalgia and if it's OK. I not only think it's OK, I think it's basically the only option we have left if we want to cover thrilling and exciting material and not bore our readers by forcing ourselves to pretend to care about material that we just don't.

Let me tell you why. In the episode Shag mentioned "event fatigue" as what Rob was experiencing but told him that, in reality, Trinity War is the first "event" in two years from DC. Not so. And let me tell you why.

Since the launch of the New 52, DC Comics has been putting out strings of multi-book cross over story-lines. The Batman family had "Court of Owls" and "Death of the Family". The Superman books had the "H'El on Earth" storyline. Green Lantern had both "Rise of the Third Army" and "Wrath of the First Lantern" go through all FOUR of their related titles. Animal Man and Swamp Thing had "Rotworld" for a long while...and many more (such as the Hawkman and Green Arrow cross over, the Justice League and Aquaman "Throne of Atlantis", etc.)

And that's just what I can remember off the top of my head.

Now that might not be much. But let's consider the individual title's themselves.

Aquaman had "the Trench" then "the Others" then "Throne of Atlantis" and now whatever is going on. Batman had "Court of Owls" then "Death of the Family" then "Zero Year". Justice League had that "Secret Origin" type thing then that story with Graves and so on. And this goes on through out every other title.

If these books aren't crossing over, they're a part of some 6 or 8 or 10 issue storyline. Let's be honest, that many issues to tell ONE story can ABSOLUTELY feel like an event.

Now let's take what's been bugging me for nearly a year now.

DC is treating their creators like crap. Because of the LanternCast podcast, I know some people in the industry. Off mic, I've been told some stories that verify that DC Comics is FAR more concerned with what their grand goal and plan is than creative freedom. Which, honestly, makes sense for one of the biggest publishers in the entirety of this genre. But they're going about it HORRIBLY.

Never before has every event, every gimmick, come across to fans as such an OBVIOUS ploy.

Flashpoint beget the New 52, the New 52 has been teasing Trinity War since day one. The launch of the New 52 gave us an anniversary ploy of "zero month". Now they're going to give us whatever the hell that villains thing is coming up.

DC is more machine than EVER. George freaking Perez has now gone EXCLUSIVE to Indy publisher BOOM! Studios. George's work is ICONIC. The NAME alone brings up sales. He gets paid WELL. And you know what? He basically said, "I'm done with all this crap." and went to BOOM!.

Here's the DIRECT quote: "While I have enjoyed considerable professional and personal success with both Marvel and DC, it was becoming all too evident that many of the books being produced by both companies seem to be getting more and more corporate driven. Many of the characters I grew up with were turning into strangers whose adventures were determined by factors that had less and less to do with what made a good comic story and more to do with how these properties can be exploited for other purposes. There's nothing wrong with that, I guess, but not something that I felt was particularly satisfying for me as a storyteller." (read the FULL CBR article HERE)


Let that sink in.

The industry isn't creator driven anymore. Sure, there are some things that we LOVE. Some unique take here or there. But overall? The off the wall comics, the new stuff, the weird stuff? It's long gone from the big two. They don't want to take a chance on it anymore. Because that COULD hurt the bottom line. And they're taking more steps now than EVER to make SURE what is being published matches what THEY want for their universe and their bottom line. And that's pushing creators (and potential) away from them.

I'm sorry. It's true. That's why I love Indy comics now more than ever. Because the potential and the creators I love get to do nearly anything they want and just let LOOSE.

And THAT'S why Rob feels such strong event fatigue. THAT'S why we're all longing for "nostalgia". Because honestly? That old stuff isn't JUST good comics. It signifies the SPIRIT of comics. And which of us comics bloggers, so devoted to our characters, would chose the new corporate vision of our beloved character...over an iteration of them where we were just pleasantly surprised with each new issue?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fact or Fail? Taking a Look at the Theories Thus Far...Round One...

Welcome loyal Corps Conjecture readers! As you well know, the entire point of this blog is for me to attempt to predict the things coming down the pike in the Lantern titles from DC Comics. The first year was hard to get through because all I had to do was come up with NEW theories. Well, now that we’re a year in, I can finally add more content to the blog! This comes in the form of what I’m calling “Fact or Fail” posts. What I’ll do is take a group of theories from the previous year and analyze them to determine if I was right or wrong. This first round of theories will be from January of 2012, the second from February and so on and so forth. So not only will I be coming up with NEW theories throughout the year, I’ll also be revisiting old theories as they reach their one year ‘birthday’. Hence the uptick in content going forward. This was always the plan but, unfortunately, it took a year to get here (out of necessity).

I WAS going to begin this process in January but exciting things started happening! I’m now proud to say that I’m the sole individual on a one year lease at an apartment. That’s right; I finally got my own place! No living with a girlfriend (or ex-girlfriend), no crashing with friends, no staying at my parents. I have my OWN place for the first time. Only problem is that the process of moving and situating myself has pulled me from my blogging duties, but I hope to return soon! There will be the occasional delay for the next few weeks (I still haven’t found a good wi-fi plan) but I’ll attempt to work around this in the meantime.

Anyways, on to the theories!

“It's my theory that the Red Lanterns will rebel under Bleez's leadership and will be made self aware as Atrocitus and Bleez before them. Atrocitus will be faced with a dilemma. He will either have to leave his own Corps...or awaken to a CLEAR ideal and purpose...and take back control of his Corps in a ball of blood vomit fury...”

I highly doubt I’ll ever have a new theory regarding the ‘Red Lanterns’ title. If you’ve been listening to the LanternCast, you know all too well what my opinion of this series is. It’s disjointed, it doesn’t follow continuity (let alone its own) and it’s essentially one long and boring monologue from Atrocitus about things that don’t even matter.

That being said, I’m going to go ahead and call this one a victory on my part.

Bleez DID take off with a pack of Red Lanterns and Atrocitus DID make some Corps members self aware. Apparently though, the writer (and frankly editor) of this series neglected to mention anything about the continuation of the process to making a Red Lantern self aware because, every now and then, a Red Lantern will fly onto the scene and just start talking completely coherently. It makes no sense.

Atrocitus never left the Corps so, in order to call this one a victory, the other side of this coin has to be true. “…Or awaken to a CLEAR ideal and purpose...and take back control of his Corps in a ball of blood vomit fury...” Now, when dealing with the ‘Red Lanterns’ title, the idea that ANYTHING is “clear” is ludicrous. But if you sort through the confusion of this series, lately it seems that Atrocitus by and large has everything back under control. (or at least as much control as you can have with a Corps full of aliens whose sole superpower is extreme rage)

“It’s my theory that the Blue Lanterns will experience a fissure following a “crisis of faith” moment. Perhaps different factions will drop up, each with initial good intentions, and small sects will appear wielding the blue light. With no clear intention stated from a figurehead, no careful selection process to go through…It’s very possible that the wrong person could be recruited and start an inner conflict within the Corps.”

Now, as with everything in serialized fiction of any kind, most potential story lines or plots could happen in a few months or a few years. With that in mind, there will be multiple times that my theories “could still be proven correct”. But simply just waiting for it to happen to declare myself right seems unfair and a year is long enough to wait for anyone eager to see certain things.

Therefore I’m calling the first sentence of this one absolutely correct and the rest of it totally wrong. Keep in mind the rest of it is still POSSIBLE but, as of right now, hasn’t happened. “It’s my theory that the Blue Lanterns will experience a fissure following a “crisis of faith” moment.” If you’ll recall, back in ‘Green Lantern: New Guardians’, the characters were called to Odym to assist the Blue Lanterns in fighting the Reach off of their world. As the Reach slowly consumed and overtook Odym, one of their Lanterns (I believe his name was Shorm) lost all hope and his ring abandoned him. (a ‘crisis of faith’ moment) The Reach did, in fact, overtake Odym causing the Blue Lanterns to flee their planet of paradise.

What I neglected to take into consideration was the leadership prowess of Saint Walker. It seems the entire Corps looks to him for guidance. Because of that reverence, there has been no ‘fissure’ in the Blue Lantern Corps, but I still believe that it IS coming…eventually.

“The Sinestro Corps is on the precipice of major change at this very moment and it's my theory that is it ABSOLUTELY because of the NATURE of fear and the speed with which Sinestro initiated his vendetta against the Guardians of the Universe.”

Now, even though this one is listed as both, I sort of believe this one is more “Fail” than “Fact”. True, the Sinestro Corps underwent a MASSIVE change when the Green Lantern Corps took control of the Yellow Central Power Battery and ‘disposed’ of it. True, Arkillo’s ring failed and the Weaponer constructed a new ring and battery for Arkillo to rely on.

However, other than Sinestro saying that every one of his Corpsmen has given into their “sadistic urges”, there has been no clear statement that leads me to believe, “that is it ABSOLUTELY because of the NATURE of fear and the speed with which Sinestro initiated his vendetta against the Guardians of the Universe.” Therefore I have to call it at least a partial “fail” for that reason.

So there you have it folks. My three earliest theories revisited and declared “Fact” or “Fail” for your amusement. Future “Fact or Fail” posts will not be so long and will offer more breakdowns of current(er) issues to back up my decision to declare them right or wrong. But for this one I felt you guys deserved a healthy portion considering my absence.

So what do you guys think? Am I crediting myself with too much? Am I being too hard on myself? What are YOUR theories? Subscribe, share and (most of all) comment on the blog! Looking forward to hearing from you! Till next time!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kickstarting: Off the Record DVD Interview with Gerry Conway!

While he may not have a whole heckuvalot to do with Green Lantern, Gerry Conway is a legend in the comics’ genre. Most notably for fans such as myself, Gerry created the character of Firestorm.

Firestorm, as you may or may not be aware, is Ronnie Raymond and Professor Martin Stein. Involved in a nuclear accident, the two joined together in one body to form Firestorm: The Nuclear Man. With the power to transmute inorganic material to other elements and items, Firestorm was piloted (so to speak) by Ronnie Raymond, a high school sports jock, and the brains of the operation was Professor Martin Stein, a nuclear physicist.

Gerry intentionally made Firestorm the Peter Parker of the DC Universe, but with a twist. Instead of the nerdy bookish kid getting the powers while the mean jock picked on him, Ronnie Raymond was the jock getting picked on by the mean geek (Cliff Carmichael). So, essentially, Firestorm was Flash Thompson with superpowers.

And folks, that's just ONE of the great many contributions Gerry Conway made to the comics medium.

Want to find out more? It's SIMPLE! Swing by Kickstarter and pledge to back the "Off the Record Interview with Gerry Conway"!

As of this posting, the $2,000 goal has already been MET! So congratulations to Roger Priebe on making his goal and making this fantastic DVD interview a reality!

But there's still always more that can be done so make sure you visit the projects Kickstarter page (CLICK HERE!!!!!) and pledge anywhere from $1 and more!

Apologies on the lateness of the post, I recently moved and have yet to set up wi-fi in my new apartment. So I haven't been able to check emails and such outside of work (or craft more awesome and in-depth content for this blog!!!) But, as of this posting, the chance to back this project doesn't end for another four days. But a chance to back it doesn't expire until Feb 4th so get on it!!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who is Responsible for the End of GLTAS? Could It Have Been Prevented?

With the news that the 'Green Lantern: The Animated Series' will be cancelled following the end of the current season, tons of Green Lantern fans are ticked off that one of the best interpretations of the character is being wiped off the face off the Earth.

With extended breaks mid season during its run, it's no surprise that the handling of the property by Cartoon Network led to it's cancellation. It's extremely disappointing but it leads to an interesting debate. (At least in my mind)

With Cartoon Networks treatment of DC properties over the past few years, I'm starting to question something. Is DC better off just funneling all of the properties through the WB/CW rather than working with Cartoon Network?

Consider the success of 'Arrow'. Consider the ten season long run of 'Smallville'. If DC made the move to put the GLTAS on the Saturday morning cartoon block of the CW, do you think it would work better? Or is DC solely going with the Cartoon Network just because of the talent that they have to create/produce the show? (or is that even a factor?)

Also, what role (if any) do you think that DC themselves had in this show being cancelled? Geoff Johns is the Chief Creative Officer for DC Entertainment. Considering the duties of his role, DOES he have a role in this fiasco? (I'm not subtly insinuating that he does, I'm genuinely asking.) And if he didn't have any factor in this, then who did at DC (if anyone)?