PREVIEW: 'WORLD'S FUNNEST'
Putting Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk together turns out to be a whole lot of work.
But Evan Dorkin's "World's Funnest" special from DC Comics is, at long last, all but in the comic readers' hands, writer Evan Dorkin says.
"It turned out far better than I expected it to, quite frankly," Dorkin told the Comic Wire on Thursday.
"World's Funnest" teams Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk and sends the two imps spiraling through DC's various eras -- insert obligatory Hypertime reference here -- as drawn by an army of artists.
"The process was more difficult than I'd anticipated, even with a lot of apprehension as to how it would work, creatively and logistically, it was a bit of a nightmare that took far more out of my life and work schedule than I'd ever anticipated or wanted. I expected DC to be more difficult to work with, which on the whole wasn't the case. On the whole. I also expected at least a few of the artists to toss the work out, which it turned out was not the case. Everyone put in a lot of work and obvious care, and no one seemed to treat it like a favor or a hack job done just so we could get their name on the credits. The only questions right now is to see if the script and the concept actually works for the readers, because the art is terrific. There's no question the book works as a showcase for the art. I just hope the jokes work."
The artists are a who's who of creators, spanning the decades of classic Batman and Superman artists and indie comic artists not normally associated with superhero comics.
"From an old superhero geek point of view, probably getting a [Brian] Bolland cover, and having him work off my concept, was a thrill. Definitely having Dave Gibbons do the lion's share of the book, and putting out such great material, that was incredible fun to see developing over time. It's hard to pick out favorites, because I had many of the contributors in mind when I pitched the book, and niceties and politics aside, everyone put in 100 percent. I think about how nuts it is to have Ross and Miller reprising their characters, and then I think about having Moldoff doing characters he drew back in the '40s, then having guys who are more of my era doing alternative work like Jay Stephens … it's all too weird or interesting or good to pick favorites. But, I will say getting Jaime Hernandez to do the Captain Marvel pages was just dead-on perfect, and getting David Mazzucchelli to do a few goofy superhero pages -- let alone pages of Kirby spandex and brimstone nonsense -- is something of a coup."
But the final comic only looks effortless.
"'World's Funnest' was very difficult, I mean, it didn't have to be as hard as it was for a joke book, but I'm a control freak to a point, and as far as seeing a project through, I put a lot of attention into everything I can. I treated this like it was my own book, except I wasn't drawing or producing it, but I worked with my editor Joey Cavalieri pretty closely, and we'd get together one to three times almost every month after the script was done to go over everything that had come in, and stay on top of everything. We lost two artists during the run, and they had to be replaced, one last minute, and technical and logistical things kept cropping up. Joey worked his rear end off on this book, but I wanted to have my hand in whatever I could. Everyone involved in this stupid thing worked their asses off, hopefully it'll be worth a few laughs. But yeah, having to research and read all the material I could find to write all 18 sections correctly, to keep the dialogue and feel to it all as closely as possible, and to figure out how to best use all the DC eras and universes, it was a real pain. I had a lot of help from Sarah Dyer and DC, but I deserve some kind of bonus for having to read Who's Who and Crisis and damage my eyes with that rotten '80s Baxter printing.
"I doubt I'd do something this 'big' again, because as a satire of continuity books, this book had to be huge. I don't really like massive continuity books, I think continuity has crippled our readership base and hurts attempts to grow readers for genre books, but this one, by its nature, had to be a big, stupid, fanboy wet dream. So I guess I'm not helping any. Anyway, I'd only work this hard on a book again if it was my own project, which I had some equity in. I'd be fine to write another one-shot for DC or whoever, or a mini, but if I'm gonna work this hard I'm going to own the material or at least have a going concern. This was just a long-boiling fanboy thing I had a chance to do in a crazy way, so I went for it. Most of time will now go to working on an animated Eltingville Club pilot for the Cartoon Network. It's actually been less difficult than WF in a way, but when we enter production it should get pretty hairy. DC and I are talking about doing another one-shot in the future, something that isn't a humor book, but I dunno when I'll ever get around to it.
And will "World's Funnest" be the kind of thing that Dorkin's non-superhero-reading fans will enjoy?
"Probably not," Dorkin said. "But anyone who likes comics even a little bit might want it just to see what cartoonists like Jay Stephens, Jaime Hernandez, David Mazzucchelli and Jim Woodring are doing in there. And some of my SLG readers might take a look. But if anyone in this hobby considers themselves a comics reader or fan, they'd pretty much have to be a fan of at least five or so contributors in here. I can't see how this couldn't do well, but then again, this being comics, it'll probably tank. Whatever. I'm done."
GREG HORN COVERS MARVEL,
'J.U.D.G.E.' RETURNS, WITH ELLIS
While Greg Horn's "JUDGE" from Image Comics last spring wasn't a runaway success, it was hard not to notice the art.
Marvel Comics certainly did.
"I attended the Orlando Megacon last year and I was in the midst of trying to improve my art and storytelling," Horn told the Comic Wire on Thursday. "You see, during the production of 'J.U.D.G.E.,' I had kept a journal of things that worked or failed and I'm a firm believer that if you don't constantly work to improve yourself in this industry, you can become a dinosaur quickly. 'J.U.D.G.E.' was a real trial and error type of project for me and I had compiled quite a list of changes I wanted to make for the next chapter!
"Anyway, I had just finished this kick-ass Fathom painting using my new-found techniques and I was showing it around to everyone getting their input and ideas. By chance, Joe Quesada was in the corner of the room signing books -- we had met before at some store signings so, I figured I'd go say hi and show him what I was up to. A few weeks later, he called me and asked if I'd be interested in doing a few covers. Of course I said, 'yes please.' And wouldn't you know it … a few months later, I got a call from two editors."
Those calls turned into work for the artist.
"I'm working on four covers for Marvel's Backpack series. There is a Spider-Man cover, two X-Men, and an Avengers cover (which is a cool portrayal of the Wundagore Witch story in 'Avengers' #187). I also painted the cover to X-Men Universe #12. These covers are my first work at Marvel."
Comic fans familiar with "J.U.D.G.E." will recognize Horn's work.
"Yes, I am using the same technique of digital painting, but with an all new approach. Like I said before, I've taken some time off to learn more and improve my art."
As for "J.U.D.G.E." -- the original miniseries was slated to be a part of a series of specials and miniseries -- it'll be coming back next year, although Horn won't be tackling the book alone.
"Yes, the adventures of Victoria Grace and her merry band of psychopaths will continue in the near future. I am currently collaborating on the next chapter with writer Warren Ellis. I'm a huge fan of 'Planetary' and when I asked him if he would consider writing a chapter of 'J.U.D.G.E.,' imagine my surprise when he said 'yes.' I sent Warren the back story behind 'J.U.D.G.E.' (which gave him a stabbing migraine by the way) and he produced the incredible, yet despicable plot titled 'December.' I don't want to give away anything at this point, but I will tell you that this story violates many of God's laws -- I believe we will be sent directly to jail upon its completion. I can't wait to get started on it -- it's going to be a special book!"
It'll also have something of a different look. While the mutant-hunting team's propensity for showing lots of skin as they worked provoked comments and even raised some eyebrows last time around, the glamorous Victoria and her agents will be dressing a bit more practically next time fans see them.
"Yes, the gear for this book will be totally conservative compared to 'J.U.D.G.E.' Warren has told me that this chapter will be icy and Victoria will be covered from head to toe which will be a complete turn around for me artistically. I have already tried thinking of many innovative angles that will show Victoria's cleavage, but to date, none of them have worked."
'LAST SON OF EARTH' SEQUEL IN 2001
It's only been a few months since readers first followed Clark Kent, as he was rocketed from the doomed planet Earth and raised on the planet Krypton in DC Comics' "Last Son of Earth" two-parter, but writer Steve Gerber is already planning the return trip.
"The third installment of 'Last Son of Earth' picks up the story of the earthborn Kal-El about 10 years after the conclusion of Book Two," Gerber told the Comic Wire on Friday. "We'll see what's happened on Earth in that time, of course, but the story also takes us back to Krypton, where Jor-El and Lara have established a sort of 'counter-culture,' based in the ancient ruins of Kryptonopolis. The Kryptonian elders are less than enthusiastic about this turn of events, and tensions are building toward a battle for the very soul of Krypton.
"I don't want to give away too much more about the story this early. We're still many months away from publication. (In fact, I've only just begun the script.) I can tell you, though, that the story will stay true to its predecessors, departing radically from both the established Superman mythos and the typical pattern of the Elseworlds books. The characters will not wind up in a slightly altered version of the DC 'reality' we already know. This story is different -- and full of surprises."
THEY'RE JUST THESE GUYS, YOU KNOW?
'7 GUYS OF JUSTICE' SELLS OUT
Call it the little indie that could.
No name writer, no name artist create a no name comic and self-publish it through their no name company.
And sell out.
That's exactly what's happened with False Idol Studios' "7 Guys of Justice" #1.
"Yup. The reorder numbers from Diamond tapped us dry," series writer Brian Joines told the Comic Wire on Saturday.
The book's creators certainly didn't expect this level of interest from the comic-reading public.
"Oh God no. We went into this expecting to lose money and have boxes of the books sitting around, propping up our end tables. The fact that our books have attracted enough attention to sell our run out is pretty inconceivable, especially given our total lack of previous exposure."
And, for the most part, it's been positive attention, Joines said.
"Fan reaction has been great. People who decide to take a chance on the book REALLY seem to like it a lot. There have been a few concerns regarding certain elements of the book, in terms of both cosmetic and content. To that we say, as we have before, the first issue of the book was a real learning experience for us. We're finishing issue #4 now and we can guarantee a higher-quality, more polished feel to the book, without sacrificing what made the first issues appealing in the first place.
"In terms of retailers, the few I've spoken to have had nothing but good things to say and seem to really be getting behind the book. I know of more than a few that have sold out their initial orders, which is great for both them and us. I think they recognize that we're fans of comic books, just like they are, and they want to see one of their own make good."
Before the first issue of the series was released through Diamond Comic Distributors this month, Joines and artist Joshua Rowe debuted the first story arc at the APE convention in San Francisco this past spring and followed those issues up with a 7 Guys of Justice special -- "Dung Beetle and the Human Poop" -- at Comic-Con International in San Diego this July. The special isn't available to comic shop customers yet, but it might be at some point.
"Possibly. We have talked about doing a trade paperback once we get a few more issues under our belt. If that does occur, I can guarantee the SDCC Special will be a part of that. Again, it all depends on how well the book is selling. Aside from that, nothing is planned, but you never know."
In the meantime, Joines and Rowe are more occupied with getting the next issues of "7 Guys of Justice" out the door.
"Issue 2 will ship in late September/ early October," Joines said. "The origin story continues through issue 3. After that, we do a two-parter featuring Bad Art, a poorly-drawn villain who's after one of the characters. Then we have Mr. Happy Jetpack, an alcoholic hero, showing up. Beyond that, we'll meet other heroes and villains in Big City, we jack up the power-level of one of the characters, we work on resolving a few subplots we start up in issue 4 and we begin to set things up for Dr. Jerque's return. Oh yeah ... and Ugly Monkey goes to his high school reunion."
THE COMIC BRIEF IN BRIEF
Since the last Comic Wire, CBR's other news service, the Comic Brief, has covered the following stories:
- "Static Shock" cartoon debuts on the WB network
- Steve Rude a father
- Warren Ellis writes for "Pulp" magazine
- Fifth Batman movie gains a director