Wonder Con is a comic convention held in San Francisco, California from April 1st to the 3rd, and with every convention comes announcements and news leaks galore!
– Stan Lee is back at it again, lending his authority to all sorts of crazy superhero projects; his most recent was a deal working with the NHL to make superheroes themed after hockey teams. Now, Stan Lee is working with the former governor of California (as well as ex-body builder and 80’s action hero) Arnold Schwarzenegger to produce a new cartoon and comic book next year based on his larger-than-life personality and image. The title? THE GOVERNATOR, which is based on Arnold’s nick-name during his political tenure. Entertainment Weekly has the scoop (http://popwatch.ew.com/2011/03/30/arnold-schwarzenegger-the-governator-exclusive/), and Stan Lee has confirmed it on Twitter (http://twitter.com/TheRealStanLee/status/53337169061879808). This is not the first time Stan Lee has been involved in an animated project centered around a celebrity – “STRIPPERELLA” was voiced by actress Pam Anderson and character designs were based heavily on her. At any rate, THE GOVERNATOR will feature “Ahnold” as a super hero akin to Batman, complete with a secret base, hi-tech gadgets and costumes, and teenage sidekicks. Is it stupid? Yes. But no less stupid than “PROSTARS”, “HULK HOGAN’S ROCK N’ WRESTLING”, “CHUCK NORRIS: KARATE KOMMANDOS”, “MISTER T” (the cartoon), or Shaq appearing as himself in “STATIC SHOCK”, which won an Emmy (although not for that particular episode).
– IDW, the company that has the comic publishing rights behind such classic licensed properties as GHOSTBUSTERS, G.I. JOE, TRANSFORMERS, DOCTOR WHO, VOLTRON, GODZILLA, and CLASSIC STAR TREK have just added another 1980’s property to their stable – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31647). IDW announced their intention to not only create new TMNT comic material, but to reprint the classic material published by Mirage Studios since 1984. This is good news for long time fans of the Mirage comic series, as Mirage themselves were often eclectic, at best, when it came to trade collections. While TMNT #1 has been reprinted enough times to clog Jupiter, reprinted collections of other comics from the Turtles’ long black and white run, across about three volumes, are rarities that often lapsed out of print – some by the 90’s! After celebrating the TMNT’s 25th anniversary in 2009, Nickelodeon purchased the license from co-creator Peter Laird and 4Kids Entertainment for $60 million last year. Peter Laird confirms this news on his own blog (http://peterlairdstmntblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/news-about-new-tmnt-comics-from-idw.html), and implies that this deal had no involvement from him; his influence on Turtle affairs seem to have ended with last year’s mega deal. His blog also states that the TMNT themselves are apparently owned by Viacom. Nick is planning a new CGI animated cartoon next year. It is unknown what creative team IDW would tap for new TMNT comics or what sort of continuity they would follow. This is also not the first time TMNT comics have been licensed out to non-Mirage parties; during the 1990’s, both IMAGE COMICS and ARCHIE COMICS owned the Turtle license and published their own comics. Perhaps IDW might consider hiring the currently unemployed regular Turtle artists who lost their long time gigs when Mirage sold the license; Jim Lawson has been drawing the Turtles for roughly 20 of their 25 year history and, at least as far as his blog goes, hasn’t worked in nearly a year (his final post’s title was literally, “I’m Done” – http://boxburning.blogspot.com/). Other “available” Turtle artists include Micheal Dooney and Eric Talbot. TMNT remains one of the most well known and successful independent comic creations of all time, having become a pop culture icon for Generation X and Y’ers. In recent years, despite his unassuming demeanor, Peter Laird has been capable of some very efficient business decisions. At the start of the century, he purchased co-creator Kevin Eastman’s rights to the creation, so he could be the sole man in charge of it. From 2000 to 2009, Laird engaged in publishing new TMNT comics and getting a new cartoon on the air with 4Kids for seven seasons, as well as a CGI theatrical film and new video games. His 25th anniversary push in ’09 was practically a large promotional stunt to publicize the recognition of the license for one final sale. At any rate, given that IDW has a pick of what sort of “Turtle continuity” to run with, the specifics of their comics remain to be seen.
– IDW will also be teaming up with Marvel to print and release several large trade collections – the first being the entire Walt Simonson run on THOR (http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/04/02/idw-to-publish-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-darwyn-cooke-martini-edition-and-marvels-thor/). Given that IDW has reprinted some of Marvel’s past TRANSFORMERS and G.I. JOE material, it was perhaps inevitable that they would team up to reprint other material. Perhaps Marvel seeks to outsource some trade collections to IDW to save costs?
– Robert Kirkman naturally had his own panel to promote his Image and Skybound comic book work. While THE WALKING DEAD and SUPER DINOSAUR (Kirkman’s all ages project with Jason Howard), the image that garnered the most attention was a new person (and an African American at that) wearing the Invincible costume that teased about 2012. Naturally Kirkman was not about to ruin plot details for INVINCIBLE next year, but he confirmed that it is a new character in his costume and that Mark Grayson (the title star) did not change ethnicity (like the Punisher once did). Over at Newsarama (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/robert-kirkman-the-infinite-110401.html), Kirkman discusses THE INFINITE, his August release with Rob Liefield, in which he defends comparing Liefield to Jack Kirby (because Liefield creates new characters, apparently) and states some details about the series. The gimmick is that a 19 year old named Bowen teams up with his future self, Bo, to stop the Infinite, which is run by a tyrant who is using time travel to take over everything. Kirkman also confirmed that SCIENCE DOG SPECIAL #2 was coming, but that Cory Walker was often late on art.
– Todd McFarlane has revealed that he is 75% finished writing a scrip for a new SPAWN film, which he is going to naturally re-write, edit, and pitch to a studio (http://www.mydvdinsider.com/2011/03/16/todd-mcfarlane-qa/). Any deal he makes with a studio, the creator states, will include him being writer, producer, and director – which means a low budget. He sees a modern SPAWN film as an R-rated horror film more than a superhero epic. New Line Cinema made a PG-13 film (while releasing an uncut R-rated version on DVD) in 1997, which did modestly well in an era when comic book films were not a fad; it cost $40 million and earned over $54 million domestically and $87 million worldwide.
– Comic news website Bleeding Cool has discovered a con who has been ripping off convention customers for years, as well as stealing work from other artists. Rob Granito has been a fixture at many comic conventions, such as ones held by WIZARD, for years, and his web-site biography lists a long litany of work from BATMAN to TEEN TITANS to “IRON MAN 2” to even the CALVIN & HOBBS postage stamp. In reality, he has merely traced the works of other artists and sold it as his own to unsuspecting customers for years (sometimes for triple digit prices). Finally, after years of rumors, Bleeding Cool spoke to industry veterans who Granito claimed to have “ghost drawn” for, and none of them knew who he was (http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/03/24/who-on-earth-is-rob-granito/). Suddenly, Mark Waid was confronting him at his latest booth, creators such as Leonard Kirk, George Perez and so on were denying every knowing him, and there were entire Facebook communities that were devoted to showcasing his blatest “tracings” from everything to Marvel trading cards to DC comic panels of Dan Jurgens on Batman (http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/03/29/rob-granito-the-man-who-got-drummed-out-of-comics/). It was a case in which it showed just how small the comic book community is, but also how it was a trusting community that, due to being a world of artists, doesn’t demand “proof of identity” much in the way applying for a gig at Wal-Mart does. How low did Granito go? He was recently spotted by Waid trying to peddle Dwayne McDuffie material as his own not long after McDuffie’s death – which Waid considered “the last straw”. Given that all one needs to set up a booth at a convention is to pay whatever the fee is, cons like Granito have likely circulated the circuit for years, but none had sought so many false credentials for this long. In the face of such exposure, WIZARD took down Granito’s bio page (of his false work) and it looks like one industry fraud is finished. The subject of “tracing” the art of others as one’s own is nothing new; Joe Madureira had to personally tell former Image artist Roger Cruz to stop tracing him in the 90’s, and entire blogs have been set up showing how Greg Land traces from photographs and magazine covers (mostly of porn and wrestling). The practice is sometimes rampant with some Japanese manga. At the very least, one huckster exposed.
– ComiXology’s Comics App for Android is now teaming up with Google’s Billing application to stream line the billing process for buying comics online, such as via PayPal (https://market.android.com/details?id=com.iconology.comics).
Last Week’s Indie Comic News – http://hornface.com/comic-books-in-new-york/indie-comics-news-for-3-28-11-chew-tv-show-avatar-boom-unite-image-launches
Last Week’s DC Comic News – http://hornface.com/comic-books-in-new-york/dc-comics-news-for-3-28-11-new-aquaman-comic-lois-lane-cast-more
Last Week’s Marvel Comics News – http://hornface.com/comic-books-in-new-york/marvel-news-for-3-29-11-marvel-teams-with-starbucks-black-panther-s-new-duds