Pitch Machine: ERAS

Ziah Grace challenged me to make a 7 Soldiers of Victory style series using any character making a pitch every day for a week. I laughed. And then I picked a buncha Bob Powell characters that almost nobody heard of and made 7 pitches that tie into the same story. Except each one takes place in a different decade. And each story has a different feel towards it. I do wish I’d fit in more female characters though but here is my pitch for ERAS. And I did this all in about 2 hours.

Ted Parrish

Ted Parrish was an actor – The Man of 1000 Faces, Master of Make-Up until the Depression hits. Hollywood folded up like a blind man playing Poker and Ted gots into fighting – he’s an angry man, he’s washed up and he just likes to beat people till they bleed. He ended up joining the underground fighting ring in Hollywood where he holds the top few spots and is lucky enough to avoid booking fights with his other personas until his luck runs out. When his two biggest personas have to refuse and they are kicked out. Ted refuses to give up and returns under another identity but he finds that the fights have changed. Now instead of fighting other humans – it is him versus monsters and if he loses, he’ll be the piece of meet chopped up into a beast. Can Ted Parrish find the source of the monsters to stop them and can he prevent his own inner demons from ripping himself apart?

Read More

Pitch Machine: Thunderbrunch

Established during the brief period that the Thunderbolts were used as a corporate tie-in, Thunderbrunch was established as an unofficial theme restaurant for the team by New York millionaire Milo Gorgon who came from a rich Greek family. Gorgon used his wealth to secure costumes, collectibles and actual tools from the members of the Thunderbolts when Norman Osborn was pushing them as heroes. When Norman Osborn was ousted, the restaurant collapsed. Nobody wanted to eat at a restaurant honoring villains and the sales dropped off. Now Gorgon and Vincent, his nephew are the only employees feeding a few regulars and tourists. Gorgon’s family lost their money in the crash and he can’t rebuild. He just has to wait it out.
And then one day a bus pulls up with a group of people with Green Goblin tattoos. The next day a group of AIM beekeepers come in for a beer and nachos. The day after that boxes of Thunderbolts merchandise shows up along with a few smaller villains. And then it becomes a dropoff for deathrays. Androids walk in with one team and walk out with another. It becomes the hub of villainy in New York – but it also becomes profitable.
Meanwhile Gorgon and his son start breaking apart. Is it responsible for Milo to take money from known criminals, to harbor them. If you have to sell out to restart, will you be able to live with yourself? Would you risk your family to make money? What do you do when you are a man not even trying to save the world, but you just want to make money. Do you go along with what happens or do you make a stand?

Dan Didio Assigns All Characters Random Kinsey Scores

Justice League members with their assigned Kinsey scores from Dan Didio

In a shocking press release this morning, Dan Didio, co-publisher of DC Comics announced that all DC Superheroes were “slightly gay.”
“I was catching up on Mad Men last night and it suddenly occurred to me that I thought that I had no idea what happened to (Paul) Kinsey. So I look Kinsey up on the internet and the Internet has this Kinsey scale of gayness and it is like Hot danggity dang, I can just make every character sort of gay. And it comes with a numbering system so we can just add it to power charts that the fans like.”
The Kinsey Scale is a 8 number ranging scale from 0 to 6 with X as a non-sexual rating where lower numbers mean more heterosexuality and higher numbers mean more homosexuality meaning a 0 is purely heterosexual and 6 is purely homosexual with the numbers changing through life.
“I love breaking everything into groups and the Kinsey scale let me do that,” explained Didio. “Jim and I ended up rolling bones for each character to assign them sex numbers and now we can get some news for it. Did you know that Batman and Green Arrow are 6’s? They are probably just spooning on the satellite. And Superman is a 5 so he gets in on that too! Shade the Changing Man ended up being a 0 – who knew! And because we are doing this, it is all canon!”
Didio then displayed the famous nu-52 Justice League image with the new Kinsey chart rankings. “We are currently updating a bunch of Wikias that you guys love to run so you can check there.
While the current reaction has been stunned silence, One Million Mom has already planned to continue not buying comics .
“On a sad note, all of the Robins and Flashes are pure Xs. No sex for them!,” concluded Didio.

Real Interviews: Mark Andrew Smith

Mark Andrew Smith has been all up in the comics scene for a while so when he announced a new project he’d big Kickstarting with James Stokoe of Orc Stain and Won Ton Soup fame, Nerdcenaries tossed Luke into the interview realm.

Your upcoming project with James Stokoe is called Sullivan’s Sluggers – what is the comic about?

Sullivan’s Sluggers is the story of a baseball team who get an invitation to play a game in a small town. Unknown to them, the town has a curse on it, and after the 7th inning streatch the townsfolk turn into flesh eating monsters. The Sluggers have to utilize all of their baseball skills to survive until morning.

You’ve done a few shorter stories in anthologies like Popgun along with continuing series such Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors and The New Brighton Archelogical Society – how is Sluggers going to be released?

Sullivan’s Sluggers will be a 200 page hardcover book.

A lot of your other work that I’ve read or heard about has been all ages – is there any age range for Sullivan because knowing Stokoe’s work he can do scary really well.

I think Sullivan’s is PG 13. It’s a jump going from all ages to Sullivan’s but I don’t think anyone will confuse Sullivan’s with an all ages book.

How did you end up coming up with the project – what was some of your inspirations as far as movies, comics, tv and all of that?

I’ve always been a baseball fan and a horror fan. In particular I’m a huge fan of ‘Evil Dead’ and ‘Dead Alive’ and just splatter horror as a genre.

You are going to be raising money for the project via Kickstarter – are there any specific reasons for starting the project this way?

I want to connect directly with readers, and set the foundation to do more books like that in the future. I see Kickstarter also as being a direct distribution chanel.

Are there any real cool incentives to look out for?

I always adhere to K.IS.S. or Keep it Simple Smitty. So we’re starting easy and to the point, but it would be great as the Kickstarter progresses to offer up other items.

Are there any artists who are currently out there that you would like to work with?

I would love to work with John Romita Jr.

What comics are you currently enjoying – either old or new?

I’ve read so much in the past year, that now I’m taking suggestions for new books to read 🙂

We’ll definitely be linking to the Kickstarter once it begins and readers, feel free to suggest books below! Personally I recommend the Rocketeer Adventures Vol 2 series.

You can follow Mark Andrew Smith on Tumblr and Twitter!
Edited to add Kickstarter!

Pitch: Cable Messiah

The other night before I went to the Adam WarRock show with my friends, I swore that that I could make an interesting pitch for any character as either a series, miniseries or even a villain of the week thing. Beast Boy came up (team up with Animal Man and Vixen for people connected to the Red, the Red Teamm fighting an alien planet’s Red connected heroes/villains), Vandal Savage (go into how he turned evil, have him go on a crazy 60’s drug trip where he ends up seeing everyone he ever new including other versions of himself that drives him insane) and even Kiteman (Kiteman vs Hawkman, Kiteman creates this giant floating wall of killer kites and death traps – make it insane and stupid and brilliant and have Savage Hawkman just attack it) and then they did brought up Cable. (Technically Cable happened before Kiteman but who cares).

Cable stumped me for a while. I mean the entire idea of the character really keeps coming back to the fact that he is trying to change the future – which he has done a lot and then he is an over the top 90’s character – the poster boy for it. Why is his name Cable? And yet despite Cable’s gruff demeanor he hangs out with Deadpool and keeps doing crazy stuff and he keeps traveling through time.

So what if his time travel didn’t work. What if Cable came from a reality set in the future – but the past reality that he ends up in is a whole different timeline and he can’t return home. Cable does what he is supposed to stop the future plague – but his world is still screwed. He can’t even return home and he really has nothing to do – he saved humanity from the big threat. So he goes Booster Gold.

Cable is a man with digital archives of everything that happened in a similar timeline. He is sort of a cyborg. He is a bit insane but deep down he wants to save the world. – so he creates this giant plan to save the world and then he goes to win big in Vegas.

After a few minutes cheating and then investing money (this is back in the 80s) the now infinitely rich Cable works to just make life better while relaxing. He becomes a celebrity, he helps mutants financially becoming the public face of the pro-mutant and human agenda. Professor Xavier never needs to form the X-men – Cable is there. When Magneto threatens to kill all humans, Cable talks things out with the militant anti-human/mutant parties and the world improves. Supergenius mutants create clean burning energy. What Galactus comes, Cable already made the technology to turn cosmic energy into something that Galactus can harness to feed his hunger. When the Skrulls and Kree come to fight, Earth is ready and they negotiate a treaty with Cable heading the table. When Thanos stops by, Cable kills him knowing there is no real reasoning with a dude who wants to bang Death. Cable becomes the immortal messiah of the world – sent to prevent destruction, who ends up improving the world instead.

Totally different take on the character and it is something I’d check out.

Real Interviews – Chris Roberson

Greetings Chris Roberson of iZombie, Starborn, Elric, Fables: Cinderella, Superman, Superman/Batman and a load of other stories and comics. How are you doing?

I’m dandy, thanks!

For those people who are unfortunately unfamiliar with your work, is there any recurring theme through your work?

There are probably more recurring themes than I’m aware of, actually. I find that there are the things that the writer includes consciously, and then a whole lot of OTHER stuff that happens without the writer even noticing. My stories tend to deal with memories quite a bit, I find, either losing them or recovering them, or both. I also tend to take familiar character types or clichéd story tropes and try to do things interesting with them (I leave it to the reader to judge whether I’m successful at that or not). Also, talking animals.

Your new series Memorial which I haven’t been able to pick up yet has been getting a lot of buzz, you have a wonderful art team though. How would you pitch the series to someone so they pick it up?

Memorial the story of a young woman who arrives at a hospital one day with no memory of her previous life, and no clue to her identity other than a necklace she wears with the letter “M” engraved on it. A year later, she has managed to build something like a life for herself, with a job, an apartment, and friends, but she continued to search for clues to her previous identity. One day she notices a strange antique shop down an alleyway, one that she’s passed a million times and never noticed before. And it turns out to be one of those mysterious shops where you might buy a gremlin or a cursed monkey’s paw, and when you go to return the offending item, the store isn’t there anymore. Well, our heroine goes into the shop, and when she comes back out, she’s somewhere else. And that’s where the story starts. Tonally, it’s like Doctor Who meets Sandman by way of Miyazaki, with art by a supremely talented newcomer named Rich Ellis.
Also, there is a talking cat.

You ended up working on the last Superman arc taking it from a rather precarious position into what is honestly my favorite Superman story – it was those issues that got me to see Superman as an interesting character again. If you were the option to write for Superman again would you?

Thanks, I’m delighted to hear that you enjoyed it! The chance to write Superman for eight months was a childhood dream come true.
I knew when I took the job that it would only be for eight months, but I couldn’t help working out what I WOULD do with the book if I stayed on. I mapped out a couple of years’ worth of storylines, and actually started planting seeds in my eight issues of Superman that I could come back to, if given the chance. This was before I knew anything about the relaunch, of course, and as it happens very little of what I had in mind would work without the character’s past continuity to draw on. So I guess it just wasn’t meant to be!

From your Twitter and a few other sources, I’ve picked up that you are a big fan of cartoons and animated series. What are some of your all time favorites?

My list of favorites is a weird mix of stuff. I love Futurama, Cowboy Beebop, The Venture Bros., Secret Saturdays, Adventure Time, and Scooby Doo: Mystery Inc. And I’ll always have a soft-spot for old Hanna-Barbera adventure cartoons of the late 60s, anything Jay Ward did, the classic Looney Tunes, and so on. Basically, I like anything GOOD.

If you were given full creative control over a superhero or character and didn’t need to follow established conventions – i.e. you got to define the characters completely from scratch if you wanted, what series would you like to write?

My first instinct is actually a character that I don’t believe has appeared in comics before, but was created by a group of comic book legends: Thundarr The Barbarian. That could be a lot of fun to try!

With more and more mainstream artists starting up webcomics, have you considered trying your hand at the webcomics game?

I’m intrigued by the possibilities of digital comics in general, both webcomics and digital delivery through things like ComiXology’s Comics app. So yes, I have DEFINITELY considered the possibility. And there MAY just be an announcement coming in July…

Thanks for the interview!

Chris Roberson is on Twitter @chris_roberson and his website is Chris Roberson.Net

Existential Predictor Horror

We are reaching this horrible point in the comic business that has been a long time coming where it is really freaking hard to come up with an idea to insult the industry with an outrageous idea or some stereotype that won’t come true. This is reaching the point where I am worried that if I post an article about Frank Miller’s family being gunned down in front of him it might actually happen.

Am I worried that I am actually god? I wouldn’t go that far but part of parody has always been understanding trends in whatever you are producing. The thing is what we once considered to be sacred and holy is, I don’t want to say being “blasphemed” since this is medium where the best selling characters are grown men in costumes, but there aren’t getting respect. Or the creators aren’t getting the respect for their work. They aren’t getting the chances to really create anything new with the big two and from what I understand the other companies in the states have their basic wheelhouses. If it is a Dynamite book it will probably have a lot of tits and cleavage in it. If it is Dark Horse expect some ghosts and creepy shit. If it is Image you’ll be getting blood and gore. Blue Water? – unpaid artists. ZING!

Back when I still lived in Pittsburgh I visited the Toonseum a few times and was even in a loose planning phase with Joe who was running the museum about doing a webcomic event (sort of an expansion of the Pittsburgh SPX). I ended up going to the gala for the next few months events as a press member – thanks Socialfist, and one of these big events was that Giulio De Vita’s opening (which I ended up missing due to pre-graduation). That said the guy is huge over in Italy and we barely hear about him in the states and the guy has some rather fantastic looking work. He was actually working on bringing his work for the American audience which is fantastic – getting ideas from an entirely different group where superheroes are not the only comics.

I think we need to start looking at other genres for more of what comics can be especially when you consider the big two companies really don’t have many non-superhero books. Marvel doesn’t produce any titles that they full own that aren’t tied to their superhero universe to my knowledge and while DC has Vertigo those big titles have been around since the 80’s and a great deal of them were just tied into the superhero universe and were remade.

Of course if you say “but these companies are less interested in comics than the properties ” where will these new properties come from? Has DC or Marvel created a new character in the past 5 years that isn’t a rehash of a preexisting one who can hold their own title? I mean I love Jeff Parker’s Hulk about the Red Hulk but he can’t be tied to his own universe at least for film purposes. We can’t do a Nightwing movie that fits the character without getting to discuss Batman (note: I know Nightwing is not a new character). This expansive universe essentially says you can either be tied to us and our world or you can go and start something new that will eventually be tied back in with the rest of us. Even Mystery Men, the Marvel series, had some explicit ties to the Marvel universe (though side note it was another amazing series).

(And yes there are the Marvel titles like Sigil from CrossGen but will it be that long before they get incorporated into the new universe like Wild Storm was pulled into DC).

So I am a bit afraid of not telling jokes but telling some version of the future based on what might happen based on what already happens. Of course if you want fresh universes there are always webcomics, indie comics (which are for some reason not online) and more.

Luke

J Jonah Jameson Solo Series Preorders Tops 1 Million

In a slumping market of comics the news of 1 million orders (numbers not seen since the 90’s Comics Boom) is a great sign indeed. A new series about J Jonah Jameson written by suspected J Jonah Jameson Twitter writer Kevin Church and illustrated by Eric Canete has taken the media by storm with only a social media marketing campaign.
The series will be released in early June and the hype is palpable with the large number of views and the twitter trending topic #JJJSeries.

Tales From The Dollar Bin

So, a guy walks into a used book store… And then he spends an hour sifting through the dusty bins and long boxes underneath the shelf of premium comic books. This is the story of what he finds.

 

Today’s buried treasure is Sergio Aragones Destroys DC, a comic, which I had no idea existed until I came across it in the third of five long boxes in the “S” section of the discount bins at Book Nook on Lawrenceville Highway in Lilburn, GA. I went into the place looking specifically for some Spider-Man: Clone Saga comics and when my thumb passed over this cover I was given pause. Sergio Aragones’ Groo was one of the first comics I ever owned as a kid and, like many 80s children, I grew up reading Mad Magazine specifically for Aragones’ cartoons. I especially loved the ones he would do in the margins of random pages. So a comic in which Sergio Aragones destroys anything at all is something I’m seriously interested in.

 

First of all, it’s called Sergio Aragones Destroys DC. Right off the bat that lets me know two things: 1) It’s going to be an exceptionally terrible, pun-riddled 90s “humor” comic in which the mainstays of the DC Universe will be lampooned by some writer turning in a half-assed script (in this case it’s Mark Evanier) as an excuse to allow the good Mr. Aragones draw some funny pictures, and 2) it’s going to be amazing.

 

Indeed, it is all of those things.

 

It starts out with Martian Manhunter responding to a cry for help, which turns out to be Hawkman foretelling the doom of the entire DCU by saying doom so many times that it’s just got to be funny, right? This sequence introduces the plot of the book.

 

The next scene shows Aragones at a drafting table with Evanier lamenting the fact that his career has ebbed so low that he has to write this comic (it’s meta!). Then it becomes an anthology comic showcasing really terribly unfunny retellings of Superman’s and Batman’s origins, a unabashedly misogynistic Wonder Woman story, and an actually really fun and charming Legion story.

 

At the end of each of these short sections Hawkman flies into the scene to shout “doom” some more, which marks the end of each story as the spotlighted character then joins Hawkman to fight some vague threat.

 

It’s a really, really terrible comic book even though Aragones’ art is just absolutely terrific and rich with all the little intricacies for which his fans love him. There’s about seven other little background things like this happening on this one page from the Superman story, and this one is my favorite. Only Sergio Aragones could transform the horror of deadly ricocheting bullets into something fun.

 

And here’s Wonder Woman rescuing a pervert from a mugger. What you don’t see is the panel in which a hundred other men run up to her asking to be tied up and beat also. And then the pervert she rescues offers her money to do it to him next time. The 90s! (Interesting side note: The Wonder Woman story was inked by John Byrne.)

 

This right here is my favorite page of the Legion story. In it, a bunch of would be Legionnaires audition for membership. Since they’re all sucky heroes with sucky powers they don’t get in. I don’t know a whole lot about the Legion of Superheroes, but from what I do know this is totally a scene that could have been in the regular, non “humor” version of the comic.

 

After the stars of the DCU get their time in the spotlight Hawkman gathers the Justice League on a random uninhabited planet to face the vague threat he was shouting about earlier. I have to admit, I was expecting the villain to actually be Aragones and Evanier since the book is calledSergio Aragones Destroys DC written by Mark Evanier and they would all jump out of the page on the drafting table and fight Aragones’ and Evanier’s cartoon selves. But no. The actual villain is…

 

… Johnny DC. So, pretty much this comic is the basis of the video game Epic Mickey.

 

Johnny DC goes on to describe his fall from grace and why he became evil and there’s an actually funny bit in which he’s about to bed a woman and he opens his robe to reveal his logo and the woman laughs at him for being a “comic book fan.” If I had a nickel…

 

Then something magical happens. Johnny DC all of a sudden “updates for the 90s” before the Justice Leaguers’ eyes in what is maybe the most get-off-my-lawn-you-whippersnappers moment in all of comics history.

 

It turns out this entire comic book was written as a jab at the state of comics in the 90s, which, looking back, we can all recognize as objectively awful, but it takes a special kind of crankiness to bemoan the state of 90s comics within the pages of an extremely 90s comic. To be fair, if anybody had the right to do such a thing it was friend of Jack Kirby and frequent collaborator Mark Evanier. And in the end, Extreme 90s Johnny DC is tricked into saying his name backwards (um, what?) sending him back to the 5th Dimension, I guess, and the Justice League walks off into the sunset after resolving to be more like they were when Johnny DC first knew them.

 

I did a little bit of research and discovered that this comic (along with it’s companion book Sergio Aragones Massacres Marvel) actually won the Eisner Award for “Best Humor Publication” in 1997. It also won the book’s editor, Don Raspler, the Eisner Award for “Best Editor” that year.

 

Cover Price: $3.50

Price I paid: $3.50 divided by two then divided again by three. Book Nook’s price structures are weird.

 

Thanks for reading, everyone!