My Brian Michael Bendis theory: So Bleeding Cool has anonymous sources saying that Brian Bendis is taking over the X-Men next. Bendis claims it's much crazier than that. More rumors will run! More guesses will be made! More fun will be had!
So let me put my crazy theory into the mix now: Following the events of "Avengers vs. X-Men," the two teams will merge. A new X-Vengers will rise from the ashes. Bendis can claim he's leaving the Avengers and not just writing the X-Men and be both completely correct and wildly misleading at the same time. It's a brilliant move. It is also..."crazy."
Brandon J. Carr on Twitter suggested that wouldn't happen because of the tangled movie rights. And I think it's the perfect solution to that. Sure, Marvel sold off the X-Men movie rights, but they'd retain the "X-Vengers" movie rights! Marvel Films can get the X-Men back!
Mike Escutia suggested that Bendis was making the X-Men into the Avengers West Coast. Given how Bendis has wanted to establish a west coast Marvel identity through his work on "Moon Knight," that might be a likely solution, too. Disband the X-Men team completely and turn them into Yet Another Avengers team.
Hey, it's as valid an idea as anything else at this point, right?
See, this is what I love about the comics internet. Nobody gets hurt with wild speculation. We all have a good time trying to top each other's craziest theories. And eventually we'll find out and get excited over something else. It's the circle of the web. And it moves us all.
Comics Get Religion: I'm not Catholic, so pardon me if I get the terms wrong here, but it's too good an example of how comics so often infiltrates my life: I went to church over the weekend. During the opening processional, the Deacon carried the book of readings, placing the large oversized red hardcovered tome carefully on the altar. I take a look at the book and immediately thought, "Even the Catholics like Wally Wood."
The funny thing is, I think IDW's "Wally Wood EC Stories Artist's Edition" is even larger than the book was.
Impenetrable Collection Naming Schemes: One of the big problems with the constant rebooting of on-going series for no reason aside from marketing hooks is that naming the collected editions later can get really confusing. "Captain America" Volume 1 might be a trade paperback collecting, well, just about anything these days. So Marvel increasingly tries to explain things better by including a creator's name in the title. Of course, "Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Bendis" Volume 1 doesn't explain anything, given that he's written every issue of the series in all of its permutations. For the record, this is the first collection of stories featuring Miles Morales. Not the first Ultimate Peter Parker series, or the post-Ultimatum Ultimate Spider-Man series, both of which were also written by Brian Bendis.
I wish companies weren't afraid of having collections in a series reach higher numbers the way they are of single issues reaching such a large number that readers get turned off. I also wish readers would get a grip sometimes and figure out how to read a comic without waiting for a new #1. We're all to blame.
Sketch Book Follow-Up: Last week's column that a professional artist is smart in not drawing other companies' characters for money isn't to say the artist is in the wrong for doing so. It is, as many have pointed out, a gray area. I just wanted to make the point that the gray is dark enough that it's not worth the risk. While you might be able to successfully cite legal precedents in your defense, do you really want to be the one to fight the case? Hiring the lawyers to fight such a thing would not be cheap. It'd be easier and cheaper to roll over and pay up. Honestly, if it ever came to it, that would likely be the goals of the corporate lawyers.
Some worry that this would shut down Artists Alleys at conventions everywhere. That's nonsense. It would only mean that people with sketchbooks could only ever hope to get sketches of characters the artists own. And why does that seem so foreign to some? Yes, there are themed sketchbooks, and mine even had one back in the day. (My theme allowed artists to draw their own characters within the theme, though.) But wouldn't you rather get a piece of art that relates to the artist more? And wouldn't the artist benefit more from the promotion of drawing characters that he owns that people would want to have sketches? Doesn't that sort of behavior encourage the creation and ownership of dynamic characters with strong visual hooks? Win/win.
Scanning Original Art: I put up a few pages of original art on eBay this weekend. Normally, it's a painful scanning process to include images in those listings. I don't have one of those larger scanners that allows you to scan in a full 11 x 17 inch page in one pass. Usually, I have to do two passes and then stitch them together. That's not always seamless or easy.
This time, I came up with a better approach. I opened up the blinds in the den to let more sunlight in, I laid the pages flat on the bed, and I used my camera to take pictures. I even popped a little flash (directed towards the ceiling to minimize hot spots) to fill out the light on the page. With a couple minor adjustments to white and black levels in Adobe Lightroom, the pages looked amazingly crisp, and print ready. I was able to bring the pages into the computer in way less than half the time. I love productivity!
IMAGE COMICS AT TEN
First of all, happy Twentieth Anniversary to Image Comics. I can honestly say that without them, I wouldn't be where I am in comics today. Without the books under that label printing so many of my letters in the 1990s, I'm not sure I would have had the name recognition to be known for this column, or to have had the confidence to produce it in the first place. It's funny to me to think that today there might be people who don't know that I was a letterhack in another lifetime It's how I got my start, and the excitement of so many of those Image titles is what propelled it.
It's also the company that got me looking outside of Marvel and DC seriously for the first time. I knew there were other titles and probably samples one or two before that, but I never bought anything regularly, aside from Duck comics, outside of that superhero scope. When Image formed, I tried other things on principal, to varying results. I was "Ninja High School" fan for about six months, even.
I only wish I had had more time this month to put together something fancy for Image's latest birthday celebration, but maybe I'll have better luck in 2017 for the 25th celebration. Ten years ago, though, I did have the time. I celebrated the tenth anniversary of Image by writing about it every day for a week. It was an oddball assortment of topics, mostly due having to scrap initial plans to write about the Tenth Anniversary Hardcover book, which didn't come out for some time afterwards.
- Day One: I interviewed the then-new Director of Marketing for Image Comics, Eric Stephenson. He rose up the ranks there pretty well, I think.
- Day Two: I looked into the history of an early lost Image character, Chris Claremont's "The Huntsman." Someday, that character might yet show up again. You never know.
- Day Three: A hodgepodge of scans and clips, with a focus on Highbrow Entertainment and Image X-Month.
- Day Four: Featured another hodgepodge of lost or forgotten titles. Remember "Operation: Urban Storm?" "Gen13" was once "GenX." And J. Scott Campbell's early "Savage Dragon" fan art!
- Day Five: "Tellos." I had done interviews with Mike Wieringo and Todd Dezago for a magazine piece that never came together, but the raw material found its way here.
While we're looking at the early days of Image Comics, don't forget my podcast interview with George Khoury, author of "Image Comics: The Road to Independence" from TwoMorrows a few years back. Listen to two Image fanboys discuss the comics they loved from the 90s. As I recall, I was fumbling pretty badly through the interview with pages of notes to talk about. Thank goodness for judicious editing!
And, coming soon, we now will have an Image Comics documentary, from the same folks who brought you the Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, and Chris Claremont pieces. You can pre-order that movie through Kickstarter today at the above link.
I'll be interested in seeing what facet of the Image story they go with here. I know they were interviewing the current generation of creators at the Image Comics Expo over the weekend, but the seven Founders should be interviewed and should be available to do so. Those earliest crazy days are likely where some of the wildest and most entertaining stories are, if they're willing to tell them on camera like that. The money was pouring out of their ears in those early years, and it would be interesting to see how it changed them, or didn't. Even better, what lessons did it teach, particularly as the industry -- and some of their individual careers -- has gone through roller coaster rides to make Six Flags jealous.
I'd focus on those years, which isn't to say the story of modern Image isn't just as interesting. Whichever way they go, though, I'm in.
IMAGE COMICS EXPO
From all accounts, it was a successful little event over the weekend, not overcrowded and not weighed down with Hollywood's eternal presence. Aside from a couple of "Walking Dead" cast members, it was a pure comics convention, complete with portfolio reviews and writing and art tips from Image Founders.
Is this the future of conventioneering? With the upcoming launch of some kind of Grant Morrison-themed convention coming up, one has to wonder if the backlash to the lunacy of San Diego is hitting to a degree where smaller, regional events with stronger themes are the way to go. Will there be any follow-up to these two events? Will there be a second Image Comics Expo, giving it more lead time to package together a bigger even without losing the intimacy or focus that this one had?
Should the Image Founders/Partners all go on a tour, and do seven mini-conventions for a year? Or was the specialness of this event the uniqueness of it, never to be repeated?
Am I just hoping against hope that they bring the show to the East coast so I have a chance of making it to one? Yeah, that's it.
And, look, a rare sighting of Todd McFarlane drawing Spider-Man! I don't think anyone asked him about "The Art of Todd McFarlane," which will be a year and a half late at the soonest release date possible from today. Maybe it'll show up when we least expect it. Somehow, I doubt it'll match the original description of it, though. I bet, in the end, it's a sketchbook of Spawn, Haunt, and random monsters.
I'm starting to back up books to be reviewed the way airplanes line up to get to a runway. With any luck, some reviews will soon take flight. I'll stop there before I stretch my analogy.
Failing that, I'm starting to compile some samples for another lettering column. Please come back, anyway.
Lots of pictures are going up at AugieShoots.com. And there's lots of art up at the eBay page linked above and below, so please check those out, too. Thanks!