Monday, August 31, 2009

The Tweets That Roared on the Day that Disney bought Marvel!

Wolverine, meet your new pal, Mickey!

I’m usually a news monger on most days, but today was a very busy one at the office.  I was stunned to come home and read that Marvel was being acquire by Disney!  There’s been tons of speculation from pros to fans to Stan Lee about how all this will play out.  I’m hoping it’s going to do for Marvel what Warner did for DC Comics, and not affect the publishing line too much.  I found Marv Wolfman’s comments quite insightful—he’s worked for Marvel, DC, and Disney Publishing in his career.

What was really entertaining about today were all the Tweets.  If I were constantly checking twitter all day, I would have known earlier.

Joe Quesada, of course, started off today with a bang:

“G' morning, Marvel U! Welcome to this moment in history. Everyone relax, this is incredible news and all is well in the Marvel U.”

“Everybody take a deep breath, all your favorite comics remain unchanged and Tom Brevoort remains grouchy.”

Then Warren Ellis chimed in:

“Why is everyone at Marvel making quacking noises today? It's horrible.”

“so I got this phone call from Joe Quesada and it was just the sound of him rubbing himself with money and now I am confused.”

Quesada replied:

“Hey, @warrenellis I hope you're wearing your mouse ears as we agreed upon when you post that.”

Ellis fired back:

“@JoeQuesada Yes. Am wearing the mouse ears. AND NOTHING ELSE.”

Then…the jokes about the Disney-fication of Marvel was launched in earnest.

Stephen Wacker:

“Deadpool is now called Alivepool.”

“Scarlet Witch Mountain.”

My favorite Wacker quote gets in another dig at the fans upset by One More Day: “Y'know I never thought Cinderella and Prince Charming shoulda gotten married...hmmm.”

Tom Peyer:

“Stan Lee Presents Walt Disney's Spider-Man.”


Jason Aaron:

Can now officially have the Punisher target the entire cast of "Hannah Montana."

Please do Jason, my nieces torture me to death with that show!


if this merger has taught us anything is comedy writing isn't for everyone :)



Howard the Duck 1 1975

For some sobering thoughts, listen to Gerry Conway:

“This can't be good news. RT @TVWriterCom: Disney buying Marvel for $4 bil? I'm completely stupefied”

“Re Disney buying Marvel: Any time a small creative operation (which Marvel is, still, in general terms) is bought by a large corp, bad news.”

“Disney is a huge enterprise, Marvel is a small one; Disney will swallow Marvel's creative culture, whatever's left of it.”

“Being purchased by Warners was bad for DC for many many many years, and still is, in terms of movies made from DC properties.”

“Look how long it's taken DC to get many of their properties into film production because Warner is the sole gateway.”

“If Warner doesn't want to do a DC project, they can make certain it doesn't get done anywhere else, and they do.”

“Howard the Duck. RT @A_Daly: @gerryconway The possibility of Donald Duck appearing in the Marvel universe surely can't be a bad thing =D”

“Good example of the Disney/Marvel problem: Howard the Duck would never have happened. Never.”

Great point!  Disney did sue Marvel to make them change Howard the Duck’s outfit…I think they made Marvel promise to have Howard wear pants.  Steve Gerber’s MAX series had Howard changed into a rat to avoid the terms of the settlement.  But on the other hand…if Disney owns both Howard and Mickey…maybe they’d let Howard come back in his original form?

“Guarantee: If Disney had owned Marvel, no "Death of Captain America." Can't mess with a valuable corporate asset.”

Not too sure about that.  Warner Brothers let DC do Death of Superman.  Although they would not have allowed DC to stretch it out 2-3 years.

“And with $4 bil invested, no way is Disney going to be a "hands off" silent partner, letting the kids do what they want. Civil War? Ha!”

To close out on a more cheerful note, there’s always Brian Reed with a handy zinger:

"Face it, Tigger, you hit the jackpot!"

At least, Marvel’s shareholders certainly have!  For the fans of the comic books, we’ll have to wait and see a few years down the line.  What happens whenever Joe Quesada leaves the company?  I’m a bit concerned if that happens in a new corporate environment—Joe’s been a rock of stability for nearly a decade.  Nuff said.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Giant-Size Avengers #1: John Romita Sr. Cover Evolution

The Marvel Bullpen Bulletins had whipped me up into a frenzy in anticipation of the Avengers new larger than 20 cent title back in 1974.  At first they were going to co-star in a rotating wheel title called Giant-Size Super-Teams (along with the Defenders and Fantastic Four).  A month or so later, the BB announced they were going to be in a title called Avengers Super Giant.  But when it finally arrived it was, like everything else, GIANT-SIZED!

Giant-Size Avengers 1 cover by John Romita 1974

The cover by John Romita Sr. is certainly dynamic, despite the sidebars, word balloons, and logos.  You’ve got the big three—Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man—plus the central characters of the Avengers—the Vision and Scarlet Witch—in the background.

Giant Size Avengers 1 cover sketches by John Romita

In an issue of FOOM, we got an inside look at the making of this cover.  John Romita (1st and final one) and Rich Bucker (last two concept ones) did these sketches of three possible covers.  Notice that two of them have the Super-Giant title.  From what I gather, Romita took some of Buckler’s sketch (#2) and made Thor even more centrally prominent to draw the reader’s attention.  Of course, the FOOM proofreaders took a break the day this page went to press…spelling GIANT as GAINT.

I don’t have a scan of the original Romita black and white art to Giant-Size Avengers #1.  If you do, please send it to me and I will add it here!

Giant-Size Avengers 1 double page spread by Rich Buckler 1974

The story in Giant-Size Avengers #1 was by Roy Thomas, who brought back some of the Golden Age characters, most notably, the Whizzer.  The art was by Rich Buckler, who drew the Avengers in epic Kirby-esque proportions.  Most of them look fantastic, except for Mantis, who looks like a sumo wrestler instead of a svelte Kung Fu expert.  While it was an interesting story, I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t tie in directly with the main Avengers book.  For that event, we’d have to wait until issue #2, when regular writer Steve Englehart took over.  Nuff said.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Silver Surfer Saturday: John Byrne and Tom Palmer's 1982 special

One of my favorite inkers of all time is Tom Palmer.  Palmer has a superlative inking style, but he is also a wizard of coloring--especially in the old days using the four color process.  No one could make colors more vibrant (without using computers) than Palmer.  His credits are too numerous to mention, though you can look them up on Comic Book DB.  I'll always remember his inks on Neal Adams (Avengers, X-Men), Gene Colan (Doctor Strange, Tomb of Dracula), and John Buscema (Avengers).

Back in the 1980s, fans always wondered how well Palmer would work with the superstar of that period: John Byrne.  We finally got to find out in a special double sized event issue: Silver Surfer #1, V2, circa 1982.

Silver Surfer 1 v2 by John Byrne Tom Palmer 1982

I think the cover to this special is one of the most glorious Silver Surfer covers of all time.  All for the big price of $1, the story (plotted by Byrne and dialogued by Stan Lee) resolved a number of dangling plot threads strewn throughout various Fantastic Four stories.  Shalla Bal, who had been kidnapped by Doctor Doom and forced to live with amnesia, was finally discovered by Norrin Radd.

John Byrne splash to Silver Surfer 1 v2

I made a recent discovery myself--John Byrne's original pencils to the splash page of this special.  The Surfer dissolves into one of his usual bouts of self-pity, among the wreckage of a long lost Himalayan civilization.  Streams of light arc diagonally towards the Surfer, drawing your attention down to his figure.  I am really impressed by how tight Byrne's pencils are on this page.  He was really quick during this period.  Did he knock this one out in a day?

John Byrne splash, with inks, colors by Tom Palmer Silver Surfer 1 v2

Here's the finished page with inks/colors by Palmer.  You can see he kept all of Byrne's original lines intact, but Palmer also added his own remarkable style.  The color design is fabulous--the muted tones of the ruins really make the Surfer's white body stand out in the scene.

I was under the impression that this was the only Byrne/Palmer collaboration, but I see they also worked on X-Men The Hidden Years.

Tom Palmer continues to work in comics today, most recently on Kick Ass with John Romita.  Nuff said.

Update: Comments from my old MT blog...


Hi, Richard:
Byrne/Palmer were also the art team on Byrne's "Star Brand" run in the late '80s.
Richard, thanks for this -- Tom Palmer is a Giant-Sized Marvelman, both regarding inks and colors, and one of my greatest comics art heroes! According to the color reprint hardcover edition of their classic Adams-pencilled X-Men issues, Palmer also colored those X-Men issues -- whereas I had always assumed it was Adams who colored them, as their coloring style is very similar, and, yes, truly excellent.
I've only seen one story Palmer pencilled himself, a short horror story, I think it was of some Lovecraft tale, or some clone thereof. It was perfectly competent, but nothing really special -- but it had his great inks and colors.
A little technical correction: "especially in the old days using the four color process". That's the name of the coloring/separation/printing also used today: "four color process" simply means CMYK seps/inks. Whether this kind of color reproduction is achieved by hand-cutting separation films or cranking out direct-to-plate by digital software makes no difference -- it's all "four color process".
Thanks for the correction on the coloring and reminding me the Palmer did the coloring on Neal Adams X-Men!