Loose Cannon: Issue #47

Fri, December 7th, 2001 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Larry Young, Columnist

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DON'T SUBMIT

You would have thought that Frank Miller returning to the Dark Knight would have been the DC news that people'd been buzzing over this past week, what with the Entertainment Weekly cover blurb and the run on the book at stores all across the country…

…but it seems like the most volume from the Peanut Gallery was given over to DC officially announcing the end of their submissions policy.

I was sort of non-plussed by this, because, you know, no one was getting work from DC editors that way, anyway, so what's the big deal? Hey, it doesn't matter if somebody tells you that you can't eat here when there's no food on the plate, right?

Folks got worked up about it anyway.

If you're interested, there's an extremely long but ultimatelyentertaining thread about this on Warren Ellis' superlative forum on delphi, where Vertigo editor Heidi McDonald, and Brian Wood, and Kurt Busiek, and Warren Ellis try to explain that if you want to do comics, you really should just go ahead and do it. You'd think that the message there would be self-evident, and yet the thread went on for 528 messages.

That was something.

Anyway, it got me thinking about back when I was trying to get into comics. I worked up a Kamandi revamp, and a Nick Fury proposal, both of which you've probably read here. One for DC; one for Marvel. Neither went anywhere.

So, instead of constantly hitting against that brick wall, and continue to pitch things that were never going to be used, or, conversely, have some editor get so sick of talking to me for eight years that they just give in and let me do something just to shut me up, I, of course, decided to go ahead and do it myself.

And the thing, is, if you want to do comics, you should do this, too. Your own fate in your own hands, as it were. If you want to do comics, do comics. No one is stopping you.

So I recalled the minicomic that I had written and drawn and produced. How my then-girlfriend (and now-wife) and I rented some movies and ordered some pizza and ran six hours of videos as we collated and folded and stapled and counted and boxed and shipped 2430 copies of the little twelve-pager to Capital City Distribution.

Just because I really wanted to do comics.

And then I made some T-shirts up, and some stickers, and some baseball caps, and some jackets… all to promote my little comic, and people heard about the comic because they saw the stickers and wondered where the hats came from and watched some of my pals walking around conventions with the jackets on and after a while it turned into the vast, multimedia empire we know today as AiT/Planet Lar.

I was going to tell a Rockwellian tale of inspiration with an underlying message of hope with this you-can-do-it-too column, but I was having some trouble wrapping my head around it because it seems so obvious to me… want to make comics? Make comics.

Plus, I was starting to worry a little about the column, frankly, because instead of writing it, I really should be sitting on the floor of my office and having a Red Stripe and popping Unbreakable into the DVD player as I assemble the Couscous Express patches and the Channel Zero T-shirts packaging and count them, and box them, and ship them to Diamond Comics Distributors for brian Wood month in January.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. There's a reason cliches are cliches, you know.

So anyway, about the time I started to think that this is going to be a really short column, I heard the distinctive drop of mail through the slot, and along with the resumes that people send me and the checks from distributors and the blind submissions I get even though I often make a very big deal about the fact that we don't accept submissions… along with all of that stuff are a few pieces of mail that're interesting.

[Teenagers from Mars]Today I got a package from Rick Spears, he of Teenagers From Mars fame. I came across their website somehow, and after clicking around on it for maybe three minutes, I hit the "ordering stuff" section just to see what they had.

Well, Rick and artist Rob Goodridge certainly had a familiar bunch of offerings, and the whole thing looked like my apartment from three years ago: posters, badges, a look behind-the-scenes… these guys sure are marketing the hell out of their comic; better, in fact, than some bigger cats. "I have GOT to send these lads some money," I remember thinking, because I'm not so far away from the guerrilla marketing myself, even now. I know what it's like to try to get the word out, and a couple of bucks and some priority mail stamps in the mail from someone who has heard good stuff about your work is like Christmas in July when you're working hard on your comics, yourself.

So I opened up the package and, sure enough, there's the copy of Teenagers From Mars #1 that I ordered a week or two back. But Rick threw in a minicomic of Rob's manga-influenced sketches, and a few buttons, and a bound copy of the scripts to the first eight issues, as well as a really very nice cover letter. And it's raining a bit here in San Francisco, so I figured I'd put on some water for some tea and kick back and read the issue. I mean, these lads worked on it, so the least I can do is give it a flip-through, right?

Of course, the first thing I noticed was the cover. Nice big logo: TEENAGERS FROM MARS. All right; that's certainly evocative and puts an image in your head already… but the art on the cover is of the shoulder of a kid with some sort of name-tag job, a button that says "Ask me about comic books," and yet is sporting an incongruous spray of blood across his chest. Already, I want to read this book, so the cover's done its job.

The first couple of pages sports a bunch of kids in the present-day robbing the grave of a Civil War soldier (named "Jack Straw" hee hee) while quoting Star Wars dialogue and running from the cops.

Man, I liked this comic. And so will you.

I'm not sure if this thing's been solicited from Diamond, and, if it has, if it's readily available, but if you send Rick an email, I'm sure he'll make arrangements to put one in your hands.

Teenagers From Mars #1 is a 32 page black and white comic book that retails for $2.99. Think Felicity and Dawson's Creek by way of EC Comics and with a right-turn at Akira.

Here's an auspicious debut book by a couple of guys who didn't listen to the naysayers telling them that no one would care about their little comic book confection. They just went ahead and did it. I love that.

They didn't submit.

Email about this column should be sent to larry@comicbookresources.com.

Of course, most answers to simple questions you may have about me or my company can be gleaned from http://www.ait-planetlar.com.

While you can get your news about the funny books all over the Internet, I usually make it a point to let slip at least one bit of information at the Loose Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else. I'll probably announce something about the Steven Grant books we're doing in the spring. If there's nothing there, though, this week, it means Steven will say something in Permanent Damage, so make sure to check there, at least, on Wednesday.

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