Shelf Life: Summer Sampler

Thu, August 9th, 2012 at 2:58pm PDT

Comic Books
Ron Marz, Columnist

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A Sampler of Summer Thoughts

Ron Marz and Dave Johnson in the "Lost World," a cavern in Waitomo, NZ.

How's everybody liking August? Getting a nice dose of global warming for the summer? August is a bit of dead zone in comics. Everybody's licking their wounds (and catching up on deadlines) from San Diego, and pointing towards New York Comic Con in October. Lots of people go on vacation in August... though not a lot of comic pros. Vacations aren't terribly regular occurrences if you freelance. If you're not working, you're not getting paid.

Of course, I did get to go to New Zealand for 11 days earlier this year, as part of convention appearances in Hamilton and Wellington, so I've got nothing to complain about. Easily one of the best trips of my life, and I'd go back in a heartbeat. My pal and cover genius Dave Johnson was along as well, and we got to see a lot of New Zealand's north island, including visiting the set of Hobbiton, going jet-boating, and abseiling 300 feet down into the "Lost World" cavern in Waitomo. When I was dangling on a single line, 300 feet up in the air, the whole thing didn't seem like such a good idea. And when I had to climb a 100-foot ladder in the dark to get back, it definitely didn't seem like a good idea. But when it was all over, and nobody died... great idea!

Like the Thanksgiving "leftovers" edition, this week's column is a collection of random and not-so random thoughts. Consider this your "summer sampler"...

Wizard World Chicago is this weekend. It used to be a an every-year event for me, but I haven't been in quite a few years. Seems like most publishers have made the same decision. I recall one DC dinner a number of years ago, at an Italian restaurant a few miles away from the convention center. I don't remember anything about the meal itself, but I do remember a table of old men having dinner, all of them looking like they were out of central casting for "The Sopranos." Outside, there was a corresponding table of huge young gentlemen with no necks, each stuffed into a track suit, each sporting gold chains, each sipping espressos. The no-necks tended to the older men with obsessive care, waiting patiently while the old men ate and gossiped. When the old men were done, they each left with a no-neck in tow, heading to a waiting town car. Now, I'm not saying these guys were mobbed up... but they were.

Ron after climbing a 100-foot ladder in the dark. Yes, that's a Captain America shirt.

I really liked the format and content of those Vertigo Crime original graphic novels. Sorry there's not going to be more of them. I still need to track down the few I don't own in hardcover.

I'm told the James Bond rights are a complete morass, making a Bond comic series virtually impossible. But, damn it, Bond comics would be awesome! "Mission: Impossible" comics would be pretty great too. Somebody get on that, huh?

I miss writing Sara Pezzini even more than I thought I would.

Yes, there's more "Shinku" coming. As I've written before, health concerns with one of the creative team got the book off track, and then a cascading deadline crunch kept issue #5 from being finished. The good news: "Shinku" #5 will be ready to go press in two weeks. In the meantime, artist Lee Moder has continued drawing, giving us a bit of cushion. Sincere apologies for the delay, and sincere appreciation for the continued interest. We'll make it worth the wait.

I think you're going to see more and more established creators doing work through other channels, be it creator-owned, digital-first, Kickstarter or a combination of all three. Technology and connectivity has made it incredibly easy to round up a few friends, make a comic, and get it in front of an audience.

I expect I'll have a Kickstarter project within the next year. Probably sooner. Drawn by an artist I've worked with extensively.

I have a project being announced at the Baltimore Comic-Con next month, and then another project being announced at New York Comic Con in October. Both projects are a little unusual, both with artists I'm really looking forward to working with.

Ron edited "Legends of Aveon 9" for Indian publisher Rovolt Entertainment

I'm more interested in the Chicago Bears than I have ever been.

There are a hell of a lot more art books on my shelves than there are books on writing.

Two of the best scripts I've ever written will never see the light of day. Back in 2004, I wrote the first two scripts for a multi-part arc featuring John Lynch for Wildstorm's "Razor's Edge" anthology series. Kelsey Shannon was penciling, inking and coloring all the issues, which were set in Cold War-era Soviet Union, about Lynch smuggling a Russian scientist and his daughter out of the country. Gorgeous artwork by Kelsey, and the best chase scene I've ever written. We got two issues into the arc when the entire series was canceled, so the work never saw the light of day. I offered to buy back the scripts, so I could re-purpose them as an original story, or maybe even a Nick Fury story, but the answer was no. I still have hard copies of the entire first issue, in color. Looking at them makes me proud and sad in equal measure.

The comic I edited for Indian publisher Rovolt Entertainment, "Legends of Aveon 9," has been released in India. I think it's pretty damn good... though I am not completely unbiased. Release in the U.S. isn't confirmed yet, but when it is, I hope you check it out. It's an expansive science-fiction/fantasy adventure written by Shamik Dasgupta, with truly lovely artwork by Abhishek Malsuni and breathtaking color by Shashank Mishra.

Go buy the new Gaslight Anthem album, "Handwritten." You will thank me.

I was digging through some old documents in a filing cabinet this week and found the profit-sharing agreement from my time at CrossGen. Of course, there were never any profits to be shared. But for a couple of years, it was full of promise.

Ron holds out hope to write a "Tarzan" comic
Art by Tom Grindberg

I'd still love to write Tarzan comics. A few years ago, artist Tom Grindberg asked me to write up a couple of Sunday-style pages, so he could pitch us to take over the newspaper strip. Tom completed one of the pages, which you can see here, but nothing ever came of it. Someday.

People like Chris Samnee and Dave Marquez are the standard-bearers for this generation of comic artists, inking their own work and getting it in on time, every time. That's the future.

I see a lot of writers wearing jackets at shows. I'm generally not a jacket guy. I'm more of a T-shirt guy.

My 8-year-old son is a pretty good artist. Actually, he's better than "pretty good," he's really quite talented. Yesterday he asked me how old you have to be to draw comics. I told him about Joe Kubert, who was 12 or 13 when he started his career. Then he asked me how old a person could be and still draw comics. I told him about Joe Kubert, who is 85, and still turning out amazing work.

Ennis and Campbell's "The Shadow" is one of the comics Ron is enjoying at the moment

I didn't get one of those Kyle Rayner action figures that was a San Diego exclusive this year. Kinda bummed about that.

I wish I had more time to read. Books with pictures, books without pictures.

My convention schedule for the rest of the year: Baltimore Comic Con, New York Comic Con, Fest Comix in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and my local Albany Comic Con.

Some books I'm enjoying right now: "The Shadow" by Ennis and Campbell; "Daredevil" by Waid, Samnee and more; "Batman" by Snyder and Capullo; and "Rocketeer Adventures" by everybody. Good stuff. "Daredevil" is especially interesting to me, because it's a departure from the grittier take on the character pursued to such great effect by Miller, Bendis and Brubaker. It's a testament to both the talent of the current creative team, and the elasticity of Daredevil as a character. I think street-level characters allow for a greater range of storytelling, from back alleys to the cosmos.

And last, and most importantly, I'm sending some autographed items out to the Aurora Rise benefit auction. So if you'd like some signed "Green Lantern" comics, a "Witchblade" sketch cover drawn by Richard Clark, or a signed Kyle Rayner action figure, you can help out a very worthy cause.

Ron Marz has been writing comics for two decades, and thinks it's pretty much the best job ever. His current work includes "Artifacts" for Top Cow, "Prophecy" for Dynamite and his creator-owned title, "Shinku," for Image. Follow him on Twitter (@ronmarz) and his website, www.ronmarz.com.

TAGS:  ron marz, shelf life, shinku, tarzan, legends of aveon 9, daredevil

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