Pipeline

Tue, June 24th, 2008 at 7:03pm PDT | Updated: June 24th, 2008 at 7:04pm

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

DC EXODUS?

It's possible that John Nee left DC to take a new job. Maybe he had a friend make him an offer he couldn't refuse. Maybe some young startup company needed his help. Perhaps a company he worked with at DC made him an offer to jump ship to work for them. Maybe Nee wanted to change industries to one slightly more sane than comic books. (For those of you counting at home, that's all other industries.)

We don't know. Trying to pin DC's troubles on him right now is way too premature. Given the complete lack of information surrounding his departure, it's way too early to speculate.

But if I were to speculate, I'd extend out the Yahoo analogy I was using last week. (Yahoo!'s Chief Yahoo, by the way, is Jerry Yang. I misspelled it last week. My apologies.) Looking at Yahoo!, we can see trouble happening. There's a "vision" problem at the company. Yang is still seated atop it all, but there's an exodus of top level talent. The list of executives who've left the company in recent weeks is too terribly long to be a coincidence. Some have left without even lining up new jobs. There's now a Yahoo! Resignation Letter Generator you can use to help automate the process.

But Jerry Yang still has his job and title. The executives keep going. Eventually, Yang will be forced out, too.

Is John Nee just the start of a DC exodus? We'll see.

In other Yahoo/DC news, I was amused on Monday afternoon to see a story headlined "Microsoft to Yahoo Shareholders: Fire Jerry And We Might Bid Again"

Is anyone else reminded of Bob Wayne's edict to Marvel to lose Joe Quesada if you want to see "Batman/Daredevil?"

POLL TIME: FLY ON THE WALL

Ron Richards of iFanboy fame and I got to talking last week about our favorite "Fly on the Wall" moments in comics history. If we could have been a fly on the wall in any comic book-related conversation, which ones would it be? We batted around a few ideas -- mostly from the last 15 years -- and then decided to put it to a vote. We narrowed the selection down to six and present them to you today.

Which wall would you have liked to be a fly on?

The first conversation I thought of was the famous Image Founding Fathers meeting in Terry Stewart's office at Marvel. George Khoury's "Image Comics: The Road to Independence" book last year probably dispelled a lot of the mystery around that meeting, but still -- wouldn't you have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Todd McFarlane presented his demands to Stewart, or when Tom DeFalco walked into the middle of the whole kerfluffle?

The second wall I would have wanted to fly onto would have been Marc Alessi's at CrossGen. CrossGen was in turmoil for much of its last couple of years, and there can be no doubt there were some interesting meetings in that office. The one story I'd love to confirm officially through my compound fly eyes is the one about Alessi making a staff member stand in the corner with a dunce cap on. Apocryphal? Or True Life? The fly knows.

Yes, this poll is slightly creepy and more than a little invasive, but isn't that the fun of it all?

Finally for me: Back in 1998, Jim Lee sold WildStorm to DC. Selling your company is easy. Selling Alan Moore on selling his books to DC, though? That had to be rough. America's Best Comics had already been announced. Moore and a team of artists -- including Gene Ha, Zander Cannon, Chris Sprouse, J.H. Williams III, Todd Klein, and Alex Ross -- were already working on four titles for the line. But Moore's hostility towards DC was legendary, and not without reason.

Jim Lee grabbed Scott Dunbier and flew from California over to the U.K. to meet personally with Alan Moore, explain the situation, and hope for the best.

The meeting went well enough. Jim Lee became the personal firewall between DC and Alan Moore. He paid Moore, not DC. Moore did work on ABC for a few years, wrapped everything up, and walked away.

But still, I'd love to know how that conversation went between Moore and Lee. I'm sure it was very cordial, but I'd love to have been there for it.

Ron has outlined the other options for you to vote on over at iFanboy.com. They include the Joe Quesada/Grant Morrison "X-Men" breakup, the "Civil War" delays, and Rob Liefeld's ouster from Image Comics. Hop on over there to take the poll. Let's see which situation interests you the most.

Also, drop us a line. I'm sure there are other situations we're not thinking of that would be interesting to us all. What unresolved mysteries could a well-placed fly solve for us? What nags at your curiosity? What voyeuristic tendencies do you have? It doesn't just have to be from the 90s and 2000s. Go back as far as you'd like.

We'll run some of your responses in a future column.

QUICK THOUGHTS

  • I looked up a couple of the old CrossGen URLs last night, only to find they're parked by a notorious cybersquatter. That's a shame. The owners of the "CrossGen" trademark could sue for the domain name, if they ever wished.
  • By the way, wouldn't a new "Punisher" mini-series written by Chuck Dixon be really cool?
  • So, you want to publish your own comics magazine? Try MagCloud. Upload your PDF and they'll print your magazine. Not cheap, but interesting for vanity projects, or perhaps artists looking for a portfolio printer.
  • Pipeline is now 11 years old. Didn't want to make a big deal of it. But I did want to mention it somewhere. So there you have it.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO -- ?

I was going to ask this week about Mark Crilley. The creator of the popular "Akiko" series a few years back had fallen off my radar. As coincidences would have it, I stumbled upon him again on -- of all places -- YouTube. He has his own channel there that he uses to promote his current project, an OEL manga titled "Miki Falls." In support of it, he's posting instructional videos on drawing everything from hands to eyes to chibi faces. It's mostly close ups of his hand drawing, but I find the videos fascinating. It helps that he certainly knows how to draw in that style. If all of those "How to Draw Manga" instructional books are too much for you, try Crilley's channel.

It again makes me think (and worry) that video is the future and that I'm a lost man on the modern internet. Don't worry -- when I win the lottery, I'll build my own studio and give you a daily Pipeline video beamed directly to the hard drive built into your high def TV set.

I love the future, don't you? It's only a matter of time before it happens.

FLIGHT FOR KIDS

From the creators of the successful "Flight" anthology, "Flight Explorer, Volume 1" is a more compact edition aimed at a younger audience. The book runs over 100 pages in full color for ten dollars. It's beautifully done, with a series of short stories that entertain, inspire, and stimulate the more creative corners of your mind. There are stories of monsters in the snow, science fiction adventure, mushroom-hopping, robot duplicates, Egyptian cat jealousy, Tarzan lateness, and a goldfish who saves the world.

Three stories jumped out the most to me:

"Delivery" is a three page Tarzan story by one-name wonder, Bannister. He's a French artist who works his story in pencil with color laid on top. If you've ever had a problem with the way comic books shot directly from pencil look, you need to see this story. It might change your mind. This is the way to publish with this style. It's beautiful. Sadly, it's only three pages, but the punchline at the end is sweet.

The centerpiece of the book is the cover feature, "Missile Mouse," by Jake Parker. It's an anthropomorphic sci-fi/fantasy piece about an adventurer stranded on a strange planet and fighting his way home. The 19-page story has more than its share of adventure and colorful settings and characters. It's the kind of thing that sparks my imagination, which is what all of the various "Flight" anthologies always do.

Finally, Kazu Kibuishi's lead "Copper" story provides much the same fantastical feel, showing us a world that looks so much as first like our own, but turning out to have greater differences than initially thought. It's a beautiful and colorful story of a boy and his dog. The rounded panel corners help create the soft feel that Kibuishi's brush line portrays, and the dense page layouts give you more story than the relatively short eight pages would seem to hold.

This book is another winner for the "Flight" crew, and I hope to see more of it in the future. I think it's a great way to get younger kids into comics.

I LOVE A GOOD ART BOOK

Richard Starkings is an extremely lucky man. He gets Ladronn to draw things he writes. Now, he gets to show us all how much fun that can be. "The Elephantmen Art of Ladronn: Unhuman" is a mightily impressive oversized hardcover art book. Starkings narrates page after page of Ladronn's art stylings, from pencil roughs to convention sketches to detailed cityscapes. There's a diversity of material in there: organic and mechanical, human and anthropomorphic.

The book is well designed. The pages -- which are actually numbered! -- are set up to look like blue-lined art boards. Ladronn's art fills up each page. Some sections are devoted to showing the evolution of a single page, with some very impressive and highly detailed pieces to pore over. Others show various color selections Ladronn made of works in progress. Starkings' narration is done up in a handwriting style font, "Dear Diary," of his own devise. Evne that is colored blue, almost imitating the non-repro blue line pencils many artists use. It keeps things organic, and allows the text to flow freely around the art, fitting in where it can.

This book passes the true test of an art book: there are pages here which will stop you in your tracks to ogle every square inch. And, personally, I'm always a sucker for complex future cityscapes. Starkings points out how the one shown at the end of the book is inspired by Los Angeles while also showing the wireframes Ladronn came up with as a model.

Three nit-picks with the book. As mentioned earlier, the pages are numbered. Unfortunately, there's no table of contents at the front of the book. Second, some of the art progressions shown in sequence have such minute differences that it's tough to tell what's changing. I almost wish there were more annotations there. Third, while I love the way Starkings broke up the book into complete sections like buildings, cars, and specific characters, the fancy font used along the outside margins to denote the section are often unreadable.

Those are all, though, nit-picks. None of them affect the beautiful art on display, often at full-page size. That's the beautiful part.

The whole book weighs in at just over 130 pages, and it's worth every penny of the $30 cover price. It is, indeed, a book whose content is worthy of its format. Most excitedly, the spine and indicia indicate that this is volume 1. I can't wait for a volume 2 now.

Now, I have to go pull out my "Elephantman" comics. I'm suddenly in the mood to reread them. . .

HARVEYS: BAD CROWDSOURCING

Is it really ballot-stuffing that puts William Van Horn in contention for a Harvey? Or everyone else's lack of caring for the awards? If you're going to do an open call for nominations, then you'd better be sure you get the audience you want for your awards to do the nominating, in such numbers that it all evens out in the end. The reason that the "wisdom of crowds" works so well is that there is a crowd. With the Harveys, it appears, it's less a "crowd" and more a "small gathering of disparate folks." The biggest niche wins.

Well, no, they don't really win. They get their nominations. The winners are generally not from the "ballot stuffer" nominations, though. CrossGen didn't win any Harveys, did it?

If someone was smart, they'd capitalize on this and rush a new NERVOUS REX collection to market. Dare to dream. . .

PIPELINE PODCAST FOR 18 JULY 2008

Last week's top ten list:

10. "Rasl" #2
9. "Y The Last Man" TP Vol 10: "Whys And Wherefores"
8. "Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite" TP
7. "Amazing Spider-Man" #563
6. "Worlds Finest Deluxe Edition" HC
5. "Guardians Of The Galaxy" #2
4. "Drawing Words & Writing Pictures" SC
3. "Hulk WWH TP Damage Control"
2. "Wolverine" #66
1. "Ordinary Victories What Is Precious" GN

It came out a little later in the week due to Real Life Circumstances, but we're hoping for a more timely release this week. Check out the feed for all the updates, including the latest PIPELINE PREVIEWS PODCAST.

Next week: Marvel has at least 30 comics coming out this week. This week's podcast might just be all Marvel, at that rate. Maybe I'll find one or two to review next week.

The Various and Sundry blog is filled with Link Dumps, Tchaikovsky, women's gymnastics, and the trouble with urinals. Yeah, it's been that kind of week.

If you're really interested in what daily news bits grab my attention in the worlds of tech and comics and more, the best way to track is it at the Google Reader Shared Items. Several items are added to that page every day. I'm an RSS feed junkie.

The only social network I use anymore is Twitter, for all my thoughts 140 characters at a time. People also are finding me on Facebook and Linkedin lately, though. I'm there, just not terribly active.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 800 columns -- nearly eleven years' worth -- are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.

TAGS:  dc comics, mark crilley, flight, elephantment, ladronn

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