Man, I have so much stuff on Rob Liefeld this week I think he should pay me to develop a fucking newsletter...
A few days ago, the infamous Rob detailed his new comic book plans on Millarworld, after being uncharacteristically absent from the boards over the last few weeks. He told posters that both Youngblood Bloodsport and Youngblood Genesis will be collected as soon as their runs are complete. “The supplemental material on both is huge and will be of interest to pretty much everyone on these boards,” Liefeld added.
Rob also says that Century by Eric Stephenson and Keron Grant will hopefully hit shelves in late 2004, while other fan-favorite books such as Warchild, Supreme, RE:GEX, Bloodstrike and Kaboom have been put on hold as Arcade decides “the best course for each book.”
Rob’s most surprising announcement was a 2004 launch of a new ongoing Youngblood book. Liefeld said the series would not be written or drawn by him, but it has been commissioned and work on the project has begun. “I believe the book as it has been conceived will stand out on the stands. I want a monthly Youngblood and realized to achieve that I can't draw it but I am very active in outlining the broad overview of the series,” Liefeld said. “The writer and artist have been signed and we'll announce it at the appropriate time. The new Youngblood will launch summer 2004 as soon as the final Bloodsport ships.”
Liefeld went on to say that his company will collect, for the first time, the first six issues of the original of Youngblood series in a hardcover format. According to Rob, the pages will be re-colored, some will be re-scripted and there will be some additional material. “At least issue #1 will have some expanded scenes that were scrapped from long ago.”
Liefeld also said he anticipates limited print runs on all of the upcoming work to ensure low overhead. “I am determined to have one flagship title and build on top of it if possible,“ Liefeld wrote. “With Bloodsport, Genesis, authors such as Millar, Busiek and the newest scribe on board, Youngblood will strengthen its brand.
For those looking for strong release dates on the second issues of Youngblood: Bloodsport and Youngblood: Genesis, Rob says both will be available at Wizard World L.A. If you’re wondering, Wizard World L.A. drops in March 2004, just eight short months after the first Bloodsport and Genesis issues debuted.
But hell, I ripped on Rob’s lateness last week. This week what’s more interesting, as adeptly pointed out by Millarworld poster Mike Daniels, is that Liefeld forgot to mention Youngblood: Genesis writer Brandon Thomas in his little announcement. Along with his scripting chores for Youngblood, Thomas is also working on a new Brigade book with artist Marat Michaels.
After Daniels pointed out a missing Thomas, Liefeld was quick to offer an apology. “Sorry, I in no way meant to slight Brandon who has done exceptional work for me on Genesis and the upcoming and similarly slighted Brigade. I expect to continue working with Brandon as long as he will have me. We have a couple of hush-hush projects coming up in the future...”
This Has A “Hush Little Brandon, Don’t Say A Word” Factor of Nine Out of Ten
Along with the down low work for Mr. Liefeld, Brandon Thomas has also been spending his time writing another secret project. Originally it was for Marvel. Now it’s up for grabs. I don’t know if this is a first for ATR or not, but Brandon has provided the column with a five-page preview of a new, creator-owned series without a home. Here’s what he had to say:
This all started back in January. Somewhere around my birthday (Jan. 24), Marvel/Epic received my first script for a proposed series. For the next seven months, the concept was heavily developed between Marvel and me, until we began spinning our collective wheels somewhere around August and I respectfully bowed out. The obvious reaction, and one that a friend had suggested almost from the beginning, was to just use the material for a creator-owned book. Finding just the right artist for the project took a couple months, but after the enormously talented Clement Sauve (Human Defense Corps) hit me with a few character designs, I knew he was the guy. Now we're ready to start pitching it to comic companies.
Considering that I’ve worked on some aspect of this project in relative secrecy for the last several months, and because of the intoxicating feeling of finally seeing this script brought to life, I asked Markisan if I could run the first five pages in ATR. He said “cool,” so I’m here with a tiny sneak preview of Cross (an action/adventure/romance comic), while I complete the arrangements on the final pitch.
And I’m not joking when I describe Cross as a romance comic. It’s one with decidedly action/adventure tendencies, but when you break it down, the whole story is really about a man and his woman. More specifically, it’s about a man who’s been lying to his woman for the last several months. He has his reasons of course -- a set of rationalizations that makes it permissible and at times necessary -- but that’s only one interpretation. Damon Cross is simply ignoring a conversation he’s not ready to have yet. There’s plenty of time to tell her about “The God Complex”. Just not today.
But as anyone who’s ever lied to a woman can attest, she will find out “eventually.” Kara Wells is no different. “Eventually” may be closer than Cross thinks…
Special thanks to John Layman, who deftly handled the lettering on these pages.
More than telling strong stories with strong characters, Cross is about altering common perceptions of African-American lead characters (they don’t sell), and destroying an urban legend (that something called a “black book” exists). Now, I only need to find a publisher that agrees with me…
This Has A “Crossing Over With Brandon Thomas” Factor of Ten Out of Ten
Robbery and Assault
Oh, I’m sorry, did you think I was done with Rob Liefeld? Guess again. In the very same Millarworld thread I mentioned above, Rob got into a heated historical battle with creator Rick Veitch (Aquaman) who illustrated Supreme stories back in the day. It began when posters asked why the latest issue of Wizard magazine didn’t mention Supreme in its Alan Moore career tribute. A few people brought up the fact that Moore naysayed Rob’s work on the story, Judgment Day and attacked Rob for supposedly ignoring his scripts and instead drawing what he wanted. How much you wanna bet Moore asked Rob to draw feet?
Posters also brought up the fact that Rick Veitch has expressed disappointment in Rob for allegedly losing all the film and original digital files to his Supreme work and failing to pay promised royalties to creators for licensing their creations. In addition, Veitch is upset about the new Supreme collections published by Checker, which glorify Rob’s contribution to the stories on the back cover. On his website, Rick writes:
For reasons that are unfathomable to me, again CHECKER has chosen to give a back cover blurb to Rob Liefeld as if he actually had much of anything to do with the work inside the book. Rob's contribution was as publisher (one who was often late with payments) cover artist and inker of about three pages worth of figures in the New Jack City story. In perpetuating the illusion that ROB was creatively involved in Supreme to any great degree, Checker slights the efforts of Gil Kane, Jim Starlin, Ian Churchill and myself who actually drew full stories for the book.
Of course the book's biggest failing is that the final issue of the story was never produced. This volume takes care of that little problem by ignoring it completely and just tacking "The End" on the last story.
My other beef is personal. There are no royalties being paid to the creators for either of the Supreme reprint volumes.
At this point Rob made his first of many, really fucking long counter-attacks. Initially the former Image bad boy talked about how brilliant Moore’s work on Supreme was and how much he regrets the financial collapse of his former company Extreme/Awesome. He talked about the need to move on. Then he wrote:
Regardless of that unfortunate run of events, no one single person benefited from Awesome as much as Alan Moore did. Supreme single handedly revived commercial and critical interest in his career that had hit a snag with his Image work, including but not limited to Wildcats, Spawn, Violator and Violator vs. Badrock.
Supreme got people talking and pros and fans buzzing. It literally set the stage for his ABC line, in fact much of the ABC line is made up of poorly masked Awesome characters and story outlines he prepared for us. If I was as sue-happy and litigation driven as some suggest I be, I believe I could draw direct connections to many of the ABC characters and their origins coming from pages of Awesome work we commissioned from him. In short order, Tom Strong is Supreme mixed with his Prophet proposal. Promethea is Glory and the rest I honestly don't pay much attention to. Don't have the time or interest. Simply put, there is no ABC without Supreme and the Awesome re-launch.
As to his derisive comments about my Judgment Day work, all I can offer is that I followed the script implicitly and there was never an incident where his script had to be re-arranged to accommodate artwork that veered away from his script. He wrote full script and every page was followed to the letter.
Rob went on to address Rick Veitch's statements on royalties. He said it’s well known that royalties are paid after production costs have been covered. He acknowledged that larger companies are able to project sales and cut checks upfront, but said this wasn’t possible for Arcade. “I'm not a big conglomerate and look forward to achieving personal profitability on the Checker books that will enable me to cut everyone involved royalty checks,” Liefeld wrote. “That will happen as soon as the production costs have been covered.”
When tackling the issue of creator credits on the Checker trades, Liefeld likened himself to a movie producer who accepts an Oscar for film he worked on. “Similarly, I would think that when compiling credit list for the Supreme books, the producer, in this case, myself would be credited. I assembled creative teams, staffs and financed Supreme in case Mr. Vietch has a short term memory. That said, I have no agreement with Checker to acknowledge me in any way shape or form on the trade dress. I might guess that the fact that I have a fan base of my own and some small success in the comics business (100 million comics worldwide and counting) may have played a small part in prompting my involvement big or small as it may be.”
After this statement, Rob said he’d be addressing Alan Moore’s comments about him in greater detail “in the very near future”, but that the forum on Millarworld was not the time or the place.
Not sure what that meant, but apparently it was the time and place for Rob to shift gears and talk about his issues with Wizard magazine. Something about threatening publisher Gareb Shamus with bodily harm and how he crossed the line and learned a valuable lesson. Then he said, “If I ever share the details of the story it will both shock and entertain you in probably the same way it affected the staffers that witnessed it. You're sure to laugh even though it wasn't terribly funny at the time.”
Well shit.. I’m laughing now, Rob.
While Rob remembered the old days, Veitch crafted his first response for the boards. Like the posts that followed, it dripped with sarcasm.
I'm so happy you are stating here that the creators involved in Supreme will receive royalties on the collections of their work. Any confusion on our part could have been avoided if you, or someone on your staff, had gotten in touch with those of us who worked on the series and let us know what the plan was. Now that both books have been published to such great success, perhaps you could give us some idea of the percentages, or even the reprint rate, that we are set to receive?
Similarly, the return of the original art for New Jack City, which I've been asking you about since 1999, would be much appreciated.
As to your film awards metaphor for the strange credits on the Supreme collections, you no doubt are aware that the Guild strictly regulates who gets credit for what in any film production. Harvey Weinstein might get to collect the Oscar, but he isn't credited with the script unless he actually wrote it. If all collections of comics were credited as both Supreme books were, then Paul Levitz would be listed on the back cover of Watchmen right after Alan Moore.
Hoping to hear from you soon about the royalty deal and original art.
This set off a volley of posts by Veitch and Liefeld. Here are the highlights:
Rob: “I'm off to find artwork in question and we'll get to those royalties as soon as the books reach profitability.”
Rick: As to the promised royalties; couldn't you be a little more concrete about "profitability"? You have to admit what you're saying sounds so vague its easy for anyone to assume the creators will never see a dime on these books.
Rick: As to the credits; my beef was with the Checker tpb's, which listed Alan Moore and Rob Liefeld equally prominent on the back cover. To the uninformed observer it would appear the book is a collaboration between yourself and Alan, which it most definitely is not by any stretch of the imagination.
Rob: “Listening to your beef with the trades your gripes are clearly of a personal nature and are with Checker and totally out of my hands.
Rob: And for the record, none of the previous Awesome agreements involved royalties. I informed the Supreme parties 3 years ago that they would eventually receive royalties at the point of profitability. This is in no way shape or form new news to the Veitch or Moore. The up front page rates were above the industry average to off set the waiver on royalties.
Some feel entitled to participate in arrangements that were not part of the original agreements.
Rick: I'm not bitter about SUPREME. Actually, after a twenty-five year career spent observing and interacting with some of the grandstanders, greedheads and socio-paths working in comics, I find the situation more than a little amusing.
As to your statement that "I informed the Supreme parties 3 years ago that they would eventually receive royalties at the point of profitability.", I received no such communication from you or anyone acting on your behalf. My sole communications with you have been e-mails of the "Can you return my original art, please?" variety and your promises that it was going out immediately. (Any luck finding it by the way? I would really appreciate getting it back and will happily pay the shipping if it will facilitate its return).
Rick: I'd be happy to discuss either option with you concerning my extensive work on SUPREME. Sorry, but vague statements about 'profitability' are a red flag to any creator who expects to be treated fairly and professionally.
Rob: As stated by Mr. Veitch, he is a grown man, a veteran of the business who's been around the block and seen lots of shady characters. He signed a grown up document, actually several of them, stating there are no royalties for the work.
I have stated to him that I would like to pay a royalty if profitability permits. It's simple math, when the production costs are covered royalties could become available. We're not even close to this point yet and again, the grown up big boy documents signed by Mr. Veitch in 1996-98 make it crystal clear that there are no royalties owed to him or any participating party.
This is really old news, dating back nearly 7 years covering business that was conducted by grown men who were happy to sign voucher after voucher.
I'm certain that as time passes, others at Disgruntled R' Us will emerge and we'll keep going around this endless merry go round.
Rick: You're 100% right that we knew what we were signing (and who we were working for). And I realistically don't expect to get anything from you on SUPREME ever.
Any luck with the original art yet?
Rob was then asked why his relationships with his peers (Moore, Larsen, Veitch, McFarlane, Silvestri) always go sour.
Rob: Let's see, pretty much everyone with the exception of Silvestri who I was never friends with at any time, merely a partner in a comic business, each of the gentlemen you've mentioned are notoriously at odds with far more folks than me.
Moore at one time raged against the entire DC machine until he decided it was in his best interest to look the other way while they funded his ABC endeavor. Gimme a break.
Now it's just down to me and Marvel comics. Oh and he has a beef with Toddy Mac.
Todd and I are friendly, the past is in the past. We butted heads once and moved on.
Larsen. C'mon he's a classic player-hater. After Byrne maybe the biggest one on record. We're all just moving targets in his Uni.
Veitch, card carrying member of the vast Bitter Old Comic Guy club. Nuff said.
Or maybe I'm just a big ole prick.
Yeah, upon closer inspection, it's just me.
Rob: Allow me to issue a retraction.
I was too hard on Veitch, I'll downgrade him to cranky.
PS: Any luck finding my artwork?
And so it goes, friends. As entertaining as that was, I’m fucking drained after sorting through the thread. Let me just leave you with a conversation I had about this whole affair. I think it probably sums up everything even better than what’s above.
Markisan: I love how Veitch keeps asking Rob if he's found the pages? LOL
Friend: Right, right, even though he knows he'll never see them again.
Markisan: Yeah, you know he doesn't think Rob will ever locate that shit. It's really funny. And meanwhile Rob is like.. “I'll go back into the Supreme archives and see what I can find.”
Friend: Yeah, but he really goes and takes a shit and comes back, "No, I don't see 'em.”
Markisan: You know full well the Liefeld archives probably consist of a shoe box with 20 prizm cover copies of Youngblood #1 and a fucking Badrock button that lights up.
This Has A “Liefeld Lost & Found” Factor of Ten Out of Ten
In an upcoming interview for SBC, Abadazad writer J.M. DeMatteis revealed he has a comics project in the works for 2004 that will apparently delight a lot of people. He says it’s top-secret and wouldn’t reveal the title or the publisher. DeMatteis also drops news that he is writing a couple Justice League episodes for the Cartoon Network next season and he’s working hard on a movie project. “A supernatural thriller that I'm writing for producer Dean Devlin (the guy who did “Stargate," "Independence Day" and "The Patriot," among others).”
This Has A “Formerly Known” Factor of Six Out of Ten
Earlier this week Planetary writer Warren Ellis told his “Bad Signal” mailing list readers he will not be taking over New X-Men. Rumors had been circulating that the popular scribe was available to do the book now that his DC exclusive contract expired. Ellis said that he’s “been in the X-Office before, and the idea of all that continuity and soap-opera and group coordination is just a nightmare, one I lived through. The time I spent on EXCALIBUR was one of my least favourite experiences in comics.”
However, Ellis did give readers a glimpse into what a New X-Men book would be like under his pen. “Imagine a big lecture hall full of mutant kids, tricked out with holographic projectors creating CG imagery around the speaker -- I've only read a few of Grant's issues, but let's say it's Emma Frost and assume he didn't kill her or turn her into a hat and a pipe or something. Imagine a lecture:
You're not different.
The world has spent forty years telling you you're different. Some of your own teachers have doubtless told you that you're different, with the best of intentions.
But you are not different.
You are new.
Yes, you are mutants. But so are the Basque people of Spain. Did you know that?
They have a gene that protects them against heart disease. It is a gene that no other people have.
That, by definition, makes them mutants.
Do people without that gene go to the Basque region with pitchforks and torches? Do people seek to outlaw them?
Have people, in fact, designed and constructed giant robots to hunt and kill the Basque populace?
They are simply part of the human genestream.”
You can find the rest of Professor Ellis’ lecture at Millarworld.
This Has A “Gene Therapy” Factor of Eight Out of Ten
Chris Claremont has revealed he will be writing three X-titles in 2004 on the Comixfan message boards.
According to Chris, he is not writing New X-Men. He has not confirmed whether X-Treme X-Men will be cancelled or not. Posters speculate that Chris will be penning Uncanny X-Men (recently announced, with Alan Davis on art); X-Men: The End, a 16-issue maxi-series; and either X-Treme X-Men or possibly X.S.E..
This Has A “X” Factor of Seven Out of Ten
PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share email me at email@example.com or IM me via AOL Instant Messenger. My screen name is Automatic San. Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It’s greatly appreciated.
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