Archive for July, 2010

Does this thing go any higher?

MUY CALIENTE!

If anybody wants to know how hot it has been in LA for the last two months… And how much your electricity costs when your fridge is freezing over and refuses to turn off– the EXACT amount is $413.45 for 60 days.

That doesn’t include the cost of the NEW fridge, of course. ($883… with free delivery and a 10% discount.)

To put these numbers into perspective, I could have bought 324 overpriced Marvel Comic Books with that money and suffered through 2,268 NEEDLESS COMPANY ADS stuffed in the back of each book (at an average of 7 useless promo ads per title) so the comic book publisher previously known as the HOUSE OF IDEAS could “justify” charging me an extra dollar per comic.

Hey, Marvel! HERE’S A STORY FOR YA!

When I was a kid, I got a $5 per week allowance. I was rolling in dough.

Today that would buy me EXACTLY ONE comic book. After tax, I would have just enough change left over to phone my parents to BAIL ME OUT OF JAIL– after getting caught breaking into the local pharmacy after hours…So I could steal drugs to sell for cash to feed my comic book habit. Those NINE different Batman one-shot comics that DC is printing in October aren’t going to pay for themselves, you know!

God help me if I fancied one of those delicious HARDCOVER editions you jerks pump out every week. I’d have to wait 5 or 6 weeks before I could save up enough money to purchase one… And then it would probably sell out before I had enough cash to pay for it.

CAN SOMEONE ANSWER THIS QUESTION FOR ME?

How many comics do you think that Marvel & DC will be printing every month when ZERO kids can afford to read them anymore… And their current customers are all 90 years old and pissing themselves in nursing homes?

How many are you going to sell then, Marvel? How about you DC? Do you care?

THE TRUTH:

How we will ALL download comics in the future!

SAVED by the BEAVER!

Posted: July 31, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Well, our first ever “Cussing Catch Phrase Contest” was a complete bust… Sort of.

And women say size DOESN'T matter. Mr. Funny Beaver would disagree!

In hindsight, it was ridiculously idiotic of me to run a contest when the site was less than a day old and had only 1 regular viewer (that would have been me). So, of course, there were NO entries.

ZERO. ZIP. ZILCH.

I was a little disappointed in the results but I simply held the contest– Too. Soon. I had decided to chuck the whole idea about the same time I started looking at the site’s stats yesterday. I was instantly amused by all the crazy things people had typed into a Google search that eventually led them here.

Phrases like:

iron man crossed with wonder woman, swear all you like buffy, cosplay comic ass, fuck you all fuckers and funny beavers

I suddenly realized that the same internet surfers that had inexplicably found themselves here had also inadvertently answered my siren call for a Site Motto… For what better phrase to use to represent this site than one that was completely random and unintentional? That said, I had a really hard time deciding between “fuck you all fuckers” and “funny beavers”.

Finally, I decided to go with the latter– since I think I probably type the word “fuck” on this blog more than most porn sites do.

You can find the NEW MOTTO down the left sidebar on any page.

Feel free to let me know what you think of our new catch phrase– or I might be compelled to switch to the less savory– and more direct– motto!

TERRENCE HOWARD SIGNS TO PLAY ROLE ON LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES

Asking for a little LESS cash for Iron Man 2 is probably looking pretty good in hindsight right about now.

Don’t get me wrong. Get on the right television show and TV Money can be crazy-stupid money… Even more so for the little amount of time you’re required to work each week. And I don’t care what anyone tells you– a TV show still doesn’t carry the prestige of a dynamic film career. Hard to believe it was just five years ago that Terrence Howard came thisclose to winning an Oscar for Hustle & Flow (after also snagging plum jobs in CRASH and Ray).

He slays the role of Tony Stark’s right-hand man, James Rhodes, in Iron Man. With director Jon Favreau promising a larger role for Howard in Iron Man 2– Terrence seemed poised to start landing all kinds of leading man roles in lots of Hollywood productions.

Another wrong turn with disastrous results.

Then the rocket fizzled and his career came to a crashing halt over the insane raise either he– or his agent– allegedly demanded for Iron Man II.

Dumped dramatically and publicly by Marvel Studios– Howard had to sit helplessly and watch Don Cheadle walk away with a role that now rivaled the size and clout of Robert Downey Jr’s part in Iron Man 2. As word of Terrence’s ouster circulated through Hwood, his career instantly turned as cold as the shoulder Marvel Studios head Kevin Fiege had given him just a few weeks earlier.

THEN NOTHING

Not all quietude is good. When you’re a “hot” actor your life is crazy.

Now Howard has signed for a secondary part in Law & Order: Los Angeles. I’m not weeping for the guy– as almost any acting is a great gig when you can get it… But to go from near Academy Award winner to a revolving role as 1 of 2 different D.A.’s in a horribly tired concept show (Alfred Molina will play the other D.A.) is a remarkable letdown for a once promising movie career. His new part screams “Career Nosedive!” since Howard won’t even be working– or seen on the show– every week.

Terrence's agent may want to look into this!

Makes you wonder if the man is an incredible asshole, a prima donna or just extremely unlucky. Hell, maybe he’s all three.

Most of the luck you experience in L.A. is luck you make… And if Terrence isn’t an asshole or a prima donna– he should kick his agent roundly in the nuts for fucking his career. Good actors– especially if they are good guys– deserve better than this.

Here’s hoping Howard gets a spate of better fortune soon– because I’m sure a voice role in the underwhelming, under-performing 2009 animated film Princess and the Frog was not what he was anticipating when he sat in that auditorium nervously waiting for that Best Actor winner announcement back in 2006.

I know many of you believe American Idol is the run by the Anti-Christ and is also the biggest blight on the American Music Scene since Milli Vanilli… But, like it or not– This IS news!

AND FOR ADDICTS OF THE SHOW, IT IS GREAT NEWS!

Daily Variety confirms: DeGeneres said she told Fox and the “Idol” producers months ago that she wasn’t comfortable with returning for a second go-round on the show.

“I told them I wouldn’t leave them in a bind and that I would hold off on doing anything until they were able to figure out where they wanted to take the panel next,” DeGeneres said. ” It was a difficult decision to make, but my work schedule became more than I bargained for.”

Bye, Bye Ellen! Don't let the door hit you in the Pants Suit on the way out!

The article goes on to say, “DeGeneres had another year left on her rich pact with “Idol,” but it’s believed that the host wasn’t quite comfortable with some of the critiques she had to give to contestants – something she now confirms.

“I also realized this season that while I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings. I loved the experience working on ‘Idol’ and I am very grateful for the year I had. I am a huge fan of the show and will continue to be.”

RESPECT WHERE RESPECT IS DUE

Props to Variety for breaking this news… And props to Ellen for realizing she sucked at the job.

I had honestly forgotten just how brutal True Blood: Season 1 really was.

Especially for Sookie Stackhouse.

Warning: GREAT MUSIC VIDEO– But not for the squeamish!

And this, of course, will always be a classic True Blood moment:


This isn't the question I'm asking... But it's close.

There are a lot of good comic-centric blogs out there… So I feel very privileged that you have decided to spend some of your valuable time here– reading mine. I promise that I’ll always try to do my best to make things interesting. Whether or not I actually succeed will be for you to decide.

Which brings me to this topic:

Have you ever noticed how some Bloggers post a lot of shit but don’t really take the time to delve into their subjects or report on their topics… PREFERRING TO JUST ASK QUESTIONS?

Dan Slott’s taking over Spider-Ham full-time! What do YOU think of that?

The San Diego Comic Con may move to Newfoundland! What do YOU think of that?

Better than the New Avengers?

Marvel Studios just unveiled the cast of their new Great Lakes Avengers movie! Did they make the right actor picks? Do YOU think Snookie and The Situation got the shaft?

Can you believe DC is publishing 49 Bat-Mite One-Shot Comics in October? What the heck are they thinking? What do YOU think they’re thinking? Any thoughts?

DO YOU GET THE IDEA? I THINK YOU DO… DO YOU?

It’s not lost on me that my statements concerning this issue might be misconstrued as being a little pompous– especially for mentioning this sad practice when my Blog is only a couple of weeks old. But, hey– I’ve been reading blogs since the beginning of Blogs, buster… So I think my comments have just as much validity as any other person posting on this subject via the wild, wild internet(s).

And please don’t get me wrong: I think an occasional question or poll is a GREAT THING for any blog!

Questions and polls (both of which I have already generated here) are great ways to spur interest and to solicit participation from your readership… And while many of us blog because we have things we need to get off our chests… Any blogger who says they could care less if anyone reads their blog is fooling themselves… and attempting to bullshit you. Bloggers want you to read and participate.

If Bloggers didn’t want us to read their opinions– they wouldn’t publish them. They’d just walk up and down city streets mumbling to themselves. (Which is actually what I used to do before I started to blog.)

So, with the thought of questions in mind– Why do so many damn Bloggers ask so many damn questions?

Personally, I think they’re just being lazy.

I’ve designed and constructed a blog now… I am writing a blog now… And I have already admitted twice in 2 separate posts that my admiration for Bloggers has increased tremendously. If you want to do this right– it’s not easy. And, at least for me, the only way to do this right is to actually have an opinion on 99% of the subjects I focus on here. (And if I don’t have a serious opinion– then I hope I at least have a decent enough joke to make some of you laugh!)

Why Not?

There is one comic related blog I read every day where the Blogger never stops asking fucking questions. He or she (I don’t really know their sex… I think I know but I don’t really care) starts off strong every day but then as their cell phone starts to ring or other distractions of the day start to mount, they go into SQM– Serious Question Mode. How easy do YOU think it is to post some news bite (or rumor) and then ask how people feel about it? (Let me tell you just how easy it is: It took me seconds to type the previous question.) With no real opinions to formulate, you could easily becoming the Guinness Book of World Records Blog Post Poster Child by sending those suckers off into the ether at 2, 3 or 4 an hour… And still have time to scarf down a fruit pie and guzzle a coffee.

If Blog importance or validity were measured by the sheer number of posts– my Blog would definitely have the shortest, limpest, uh, post count in town. I simply can’t write 20 posts a day and still do the things in life that pay my bills. I mean, I am enjoying the experience so far– but if you think I’m gonna lose my house over this or stop [*gasp*] making enough money to buy comics or Girls Gone Wild! DVDs because of this blog… Well, lets just say, “You don’t know me.” and leave it at that. ;-)

Plus– I don’t have 20 decent thoughts every day. There. I said it. (Sadly, my indecent thoughts are legion.) There. I said that. Too. And anybody who does think that they have 20 decent musings worth posting every day better have the first name “Stephen” and the last name “Hawking”– or I’m gonna call foul!

In the end, I am adopting a strange (for me) live and let live approach to this subject. What other Bloggers do is really none of my concern. If they want to play “20 Questions” every day, let them have at it!

I know this all probably sounds just a little crazy…

What do YOU think?!?


Odinson– You’re such a Prick Tease!

I hope in the next trailer they actually have the balls to show us Thor’s face!

(Hell, I’d take a close-up of his hand wrapped around the Hammer!)

That’s 47 seconds of my life I’ll never get back!

I got nothing.


As we all know, over the weekend the 2010 San Diego Comic Con quickly morphed into “That place where that guy poked that other guy in the eye with a pen– possibly for hogging seats.”

So I was wondering how MUCH MORE PUBLICITY the Con would have received if– instead of those two random guys fighting–  EDWARD NORTON had shown up and poked MARK RUFFALO in the eye for taking his seat on The Avengers movie panel?

Happy to be there, Mark still felt the need to scan the crowd for Ed... Just in case.

*Or something your Friendly Neighborhood Retailer really wishes didn’t screw YOU– and THEM– every month!

How not to run an INDUSTRY without really trying.

You go to your Local Comic Store (LCS) every week (normally on a Wednesday) to buy your comics… Or you get them shipped to you via mail order, right? And you probably figure, “How hard could this be? They’re all just shuffling some books around!” Or you might overhear the store owner complaining about getting screwed for some reason or another and then think, “What a whiner!”

Well, I’m here to tell you this Comic Book Biz AIN’T as easy as you think!

I am not going to launch into any grand detail about the intricacies of running a Comic Store– or how to operate a magazine distribution business. There are people far better qualified than I to do that.

Instead, I’m going to focus on one awful– POTENTIALLY DESTRUCTIVE– problem that affects the entire industry at least once a month… A subject that rarely, if ever, get’s discussed in the open air.

WHY DO COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS RELEASE AN OVERWHELMING DELUGE OF PRODUCT AT THE END OF ALMOST EVERY MONTH?

Competition = GOOD Monopolies = BAD

I mean, “WTF?… Right?” Why is it you can go almost 2 months without seeing your favorite monthly comic and then at the end of the 2nd month you see 2 ISSUES in the SAME WEEK? Or 4 STATUES in one week?

And why is it that almost every time you walk into your local store at the end of the month– you are met with a monumental pile of product that you could only afford to buy if Angelina Jolie was your wife?

Who is the moron that allows this shit to happen– month after month, year after year? I mean, Hell… Comics have been around for a long time now. You’d think that the only major comics distributor would have figured out a way to stop this mad dump from occurring every month, right?

UH, NO. APPARENTLY THEY HAVEN’T

And, in my opinion (and remember, it is just my opinion), there are only 3 possible reasons why the professionals in this industry don’t fix this problem: 1) they have entered into some ridiculous distribution contracts that prohibit them from stopping the monthly crush, 2) they aren’t smart enough to fix it or 3) they don’t fucking care enough to fix it.

I’m sure most of you know that the comics you buy at your comic book store are non-returnable. Some of you may even know that certain publishers allow retailers to adjust their individual book orders higher or lower after submitting their initial orders. This practice– labeled FOC ordering– means stores can adjust their orders closer to a book’s actual release date (retailers order comics a full 3 MONTHS in advance)… And therefore the store owners can hopefully be more accurate when ordering their non-returnable product.

Sounds great doesn’t it? A long-standing system proceeding in a nice, orderly fashion: You reserve your books, your shop orders the copies they need to satisfy their customers… And then everyone sits back and relaxes as the products arrive on the day everyone expects.

To paraphrase a Justice League International J.M. DeMatteis/Keith Giffen-era Blue Beetle, “BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAA!”

AND MONKEYS WILL FLY

Many companies will make a fraction of their items returnable over the course of any given year… And they do so under strict rules and guidelines accepted by the retailers, the distributor and their own business departments. Each company’s return policies are their own– and their conditions can vary widely.

How would you like me to SHOVE this THICK WOODEN CANE UP YOUR ASS at least ONCE A MONTH?

Needless to say, no company wants retailers to return ANY merchandise. For publishers and distributors– the process is a time and money consuming hassle. Workers have to he specifically hired to deal with these returns– and despite the best efforts of all the entities involved… The product rarely comes back in the same shape it originally went out in. So it’s understandable that publishers try awfully hard to never give comic book retailers a reason to demand a non-returnable book become returnable.

Here is one of the most UNIVERSAL reasons retailers can return a book: The comic is not released within a specified time frame. If an issue arrives “X” weeks past its’ scheduled due date– the companies are normally forced to take it back.

Companies rushing to publish and distribute their products before these non-returnable deadlines expire is the MAIN REASON why EVERYONE gets BURIED with comics and comic-related merchandise at the end of every month. The companies know they are behind schedule– yet they also know they have a cushion of several weeks to release their books before their product is returnable… And if they can just squeeze ‘em out and hurl them into your local store by the end of the month…

RETURN “THIS”, YOU DIZZY BITCHES

Here's another tip: He who holds ALL the cards WINS!

There are millions of reasons why the system doesn’t function as planned– from creator work delays to overseas shipments being held by customs. Very few of these fuck-ups can be fixed by any of the parties involved… Except ONE.

When a book is delayed, there is only one party in this entire process that can make the end result easier on everybody… One party that could say, “No. Wait. That’s too much stuff to all come out in just one week. It will put an unnecessary burden on the retailer and the consumer.”

And the party that could stop this? THE DISTRIBUTOR.

Understand that I’m not expecting the book publishers to fix this problem. It will be a frosty day in Hell when DC won’t release a huge book just because Marvel is releasing 2 or 3 of their best sellers as well. (And vice versa.) And the smaller comic book companies? Many are lucky to publish whenever the can… So you can’t count them in on any steady plan.

So if you can’t expect the publishing companies to release their books in an even pattern under some sort of “Gentlemen’s Agreement”… How can this CRUSH be fixed?

By the distributor instituting a reasoned allocation pattern.

Since the current distributor is the only major distributor for the vast amount of comics and merchandise you see every week, they know in advance exactly what is coming out every week. They know if Marvel is inexplicably releasing FOUR X-Men reprint volumes or 2 issues of the “weekly”  Spider-man comic in the same week. They know if DC is about to release 2 Women of the DC Universe Busts, 1 Cover Girls of the DC Universe Statue, 1 DC Chronicles Aquaman Statue and 1 Christopher Reeve as Superman Statue all in one week.

Consequently, they could stop this madness.

It's HARD to be the ONLY KING!

Wouldn’t it be nice of them to step up and say, “No more of this bullshit. We are putting undue artificial pressure on an already fragile industry in a frighteningly fragile economy… There is no reason to overload the retailer or the consumer with late merchandise that could potentially cripple them financially. You don’t want customers forced to choose between late shipping products either. In that scenario, somebody always loses. If we release these items in an orderly fashion (as originally intended)– retailers will sell more product because customers will be able to afford more product. Everyone wins.”

“So– along those lines– we are only releasing 2 DC Statues and 1 Spider-man comic book this week. Since Spider-man is only published 3 times a month– the book simply will not have a skip week this month. We will also only release only one DC Statue and one DC bust every week for the next several weeks until this unfortunate product backlog is efficiently distributed.”

“And, by the way RETAILERS– Even though these circumstances are NOT of our making and were beyond OUR control… Since we are doing our best NOT to crush you with product by artificially overloading our distribution channels with delayed items… Please note that NONE of the delayed product affected by these allocation shifts will be returnable… No matter how far the product arrives past it’s ‘due date’.”

And you know what? With one simple announcement… All the shit, all the anger, all the disappointment and all the physical, mental and financial burden that occurs every month– would stop.

Instantly.

OF COURSE, A FEW RULES WOULD BE IN ORDER

See? That WASN'T so damn HARD, was it?

Everybody would have to make certain that no publisher would deliberately abuse this new process to their advantage… And books that contained substantial creative team changes would still be returnable. (After all, a misrepresented product– whether intentionally misrepresented or not– is still a misrepresented product no matter how long it takes to reach your local store.)

With a few minor safeguards put in place– this system would ensure easier, more enjoyable comics selling and buying for all involved… Unlike the current system– which benefits only the Publishers and the Distributor during a ridiculously overloaded release week.

My guess is, if enough comic books fans and comic book retailers wrote the various publishers and the distributor… And finally stood up for their hobby and their businesses en masse by contacting the press about this chronic problem– the substantial outcry created would force an easy– yet long overdue– change in a failing system that continues to ignore the basic financial needs of its retailers and end-use consumers.

So next time you hear your retailer grumbling or find yourself silently cursing your shitty low paying job as you gaze–  financially fucked– at the huge wall of books that were all released in just one week (and that you can’t afford)… Think about getting off your ass and doing something about it.

Who knows? By approaching this idea sanely and correctly… Maybe the whole monopoly family will realize that they’re really tired of all the bitching and moaning… And a small nudge will be all that’s needed to make things a heckuva lot better!

A NEW WEEKLY FEATURE

Since I am a 99.9% “Wait for the Hardcover or the Trade Paperback” kind of guy, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and let you know what I’m buying every week. Since people keep asking why I buy so many books every week, I expect all you floppy readers to tell me what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong… And I may even chime in on occasion and defend my choices. Not that a personal preference should need defending, mind you…

I might also point out why I am not buying some stuff as well… And the list may also generate a rant or expose a pet peeve– like this week’s list did for me!

Let’s start with this week’s RANT: This week sees Marvel releasing  FOUR X-men reprint volumes. Can you tell me why? There’s no special event or movie on the horizon. No significance to these books being reprinted now. So it was just greed, right? Or maybe incompetence? Or both?

Or worse– the just didn’t give a flying fig at all about their retailers or their customers. (That’s a whole other post that I promise to write.)

By the way– the 2 X-Men hardcovers are woefully OVERPRICED. You can purchase a copy of the X-MenL Phoenix Saga in TRADE PAPERBACK for at least half what this hardcover costs. And the original floppies for the X-Men: Mutant Genesis storyline are available at most comic stores for 50¢ eachor less!

THIS WEEK’S HARDCOVERS, GRAPHIC NOVELS & MANGA

Archie: Pureheart The Powerful (There’s a limit to even my Archie love!)
Army of Darkness  League of Light (Let’s compare and contrast the stories written in this volume (including one scribed by Elliott Serrano) to Elliott’s hip, funny, solo turn in Army of Darkness: Ash Saves Obama TPB that arrived last week, shall we?)
Azrael Death’s Dark Knight
Batman Whatever Happened To the Caped Crusader (Already have the HC)
Complete Jon Sable Freelance Omnibus Vol 1 (After Grell’s excellent “Ashes to Ashes” Jon Sable GN, this is a must!)
Doc Savage Double Novel Vol 39 (Personal fave. Love all their pulp reprints! YOU should read Doc Savage!)

One of the BEST BUYS every month. MORE BANG for your Entertainment Dollar!javascript:;

Flight Vol 7
Four Eyes Forged in Flames
(Did I screw up by not purchasing this?)
Hulk Fall Of The Hulks Red Hulk (Already have the HC)
JSA Vs. Kobra
Marvel Masterworks Mighty Thor Vol 1 SC
(Don’t go here. If I bought all these, I’d need a wing to house my books!)

Marvels Project Birth Of Super Heroes HC (I greatly preferred the cool looking Human Torch “variant” cover!)

Torch & Subby: Together Again for the very FIRST TIME!

Mondo Urbano
Neil Gaiman Dangerous Alphabet

Night of the Living Trekkies
(Looked interesting or Fun… maybe)
Shadow Double Novel Vol 40 (Great book… But I stick with Doc Savage and The Avenger)
Shermans Lagoon Discover Your Immer Hermit Crab
Showcase Presents Sgt. Rock Vol 3 (See “…would need a library wing ” statement above)
Siege Battlefield HC (Yes, I know. But sometimes I have to buy stuff I don’t want because of what I do.)
Star Trek DS9 Fools Gold (Ack! Didn’t watch the show)
Super Pro KO Vol 1
Superman Whatever Happened to Man of Tomorrow
(Already have the HC)
Thundra King of Congo Archives Vol 1 HC (Looks cool but not for me…)
Usagi Yojimbo Vol 24 Return of Black Soul (Read Vol 23 with the intention of buying all of them– sadly unimpressed)
Valentine Reloaded
Vampire Tales Vol 1
(I have a big soft spot for Marvel’s B&W Mags from the 70′s. Great stories + nudity!)
Walking Dead Vol 12 Life Among Them
Women of Marvel Celebrating Seven Decades HandBook)
(Nope)
Woman of Marvel Celebrating Seven Decades (Random stories thrown together just because they feature women? Nope)
X-Men Dark Phoenix Saga HC (1st random X-men reprint. Horribly OVERPRICED)

Ugh! The first 9 1/2 MILLION TIMES Marvel printed this story wasn't enough?!

X-Men Mutant Genesis Premiere HC (2nd random X-men reprint of the week. You can buy ORIGINAL FLOPPIES for 50¢ each!)
X-Men Powerless (3rd random X-men reprint of the week)
X-Men We Are X-Men (4th random X-men reprint of the week)

MANGA
D.Gray Man Vol 18
Hikaru no Go Vol 20
JoJo Bizarre Adventure Vol 15
Kaze Hikaru Vol 18
Rosario + Vampire Season II Vol 2
Skip Beat! Vol 21
Slam Dunk Vol 11

Bakuman Vol 1 comes out next week! I hear it’s going to rock!

KARMA KILLER

Posted: July 28, 2010 in Great Music
Tags: ,

Because sometimes you just have to say,

“LOOK WHAT YOU DIDN’T TAKE FROM ME.”


IT’S QUITE SIMPLE, REALLY

This is one of the BEST BOOKS you're NOT reading... And now it's CANCELED.

The good guys at CCW*TV– comic retailer par excellence Jose Melendez and comic writer extraordinaire Elliott Serrano– are very high on the obvious talents of one Mr. Jeff Parker. They like him so much, they mention his name often and are always certain to note whenever a new “JP” book arrives. Since they turned me onto Jeff’s work, I have already mentioned him in several posts (here and here) and even reviewed his Namora #1 one-shot comic on this very Blog.

The fact that Jeff’s book– Agents of Atlas (also known as “AoA” for brevity’s sake)– was never a big hit had been quite the topic of discussion (and bone of contention) for most folks posting on the highly recommended CCW*TV Blog. So much so, when Marvel dropped the bombshell that Jeff had decided to end the current AoA run with issue #5, practically everyone on the blog declared the comic’s demise a national tragedy.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I also personally believe Agents of Atlas is one of the FINEST COMICS Marvel has printed

in well over a decade…Which makes “Jeff’s decision” to stop the book cold all the more distressing to me and other discerning comic fans. Some say Parker made the smart move to “cancel” the title himself before Marvel did it themselves… That way he could leave the book on his own terms and with his vision intact. I absolutely agree.

Namora and M-11 get their DESTROY on.

And even though Agents of Atlas is soon ending active publication, I strongly suggest that you make a point to pick up all the various Trade Paperbacks or Hardcovers that are available before they too sell out. Cancellation doesn’t mean a book is dead. There are a lot of great AoA adventures for you to read if you haven’t already done so!

Which brings me to Jose politely insisting that I finally read the Agents of Atlas: Turf Wars hardcover the other day. When he went so far as to  double-check and determine that this new collection wouldn’t spoil my current reading of Marvel’s Dark Reign crossover books– I read Turf Wars immediately.

Upon reading the hardcover and enjoying every single page of it (despite the annoying, frequently rotating, list of pencilers)– I decided to try to determine exactly why Agents of Atlas didn’t sell– in any of its’ various incarnations– considering the huge amount of talent involved in the book from Day One.

The obviousness and simplicity of what I decided may just shock you.

THE GOOD STUFF
Another Leinul Yu Comic Book Cover Master Class

Another Leinul Yu Comic Book Cover Master Class

Let’s quickly run down what the Agents of Atlas creative team and the publisher did right. As already stated, Parker and company really couldn’t have devised and created a better comic book. One CCW*TV Blog poster noted that he felt Marvel had done their part in supporting the book as well– and that is true. They gave AoA like, What? 3 different chances to succeed– despite never seeing powerhouse sales? And Marvel execs certainly let Parker run loose in the Marvel U– with one-shots and guest stars from the likes of the #1 best-selling Avengers book to the popular X-Men and Hulk comics. They also contracted with the über-talented Leinel Yu to create the regular series covers… And for my money, you can’t pick any better living comic book cover artists than the triumvirate of Leinel Yu, Brian Bolland or Olivier Coipel.

So we have a fantastic book, popular guest-stars that should guarantee lots of crossover sampling and beautiful book covers… So what went wrong? Why didn’t Agents of Atlas sell?

THE 1ST THING THAT WENT WRONG

#1: Jeff Parker is too talented.

I know, I know… I can already hear you screaming, “How in the fuck is that a problem?”

Well, I’ll tell you how it’s a problem: Because Parker is so talented, people saw Comic Companies putting his name on lots of books (Underground for Image and Mysterius the Unfathomable at Wildstorm– to name just a few “instant classics”)… Yet hardly any fans knew anything about the man– let alone that he could actually write comics.

Parker is one of those rare polished professionals that jumped into a Marvel writing gig without already making a “name” for himself as a writer at some other comic company or in some other mainstream medium like television, movies or prose fiction first. In fact, prior to his current Marvel stint, Parker had mainly worked only as an ARTIST.

Get the pattern? Parker had ZERO “heat” as a writer. There was nothing to differentiate his stellar work from the hundreds of other comic book writers already busting their asses attempting to make a living.

You may have been a big fan of Jeff’s art– but chances are you didn’t know bupkiss about his writing ability. The Big Two (Marvel & DC) will tell you that in this era of $3.99 comicsnot being a name writer is a big negative. Marvel definitely loves hiring all kinds of famous and semi-famous prose writers whether they have proven comic writing skills or not. (DC, sadly, is following suit.)

Yet Marvel hired “No-Name” Parker anyway and given his awesome talent– immediately launched him on a new title… Something that is virtually unheard of in nowadays. Usually– especially when working for DC or Marvel– every creative person must toil in less popular “B” and “C” titles first… Learning their craft and building that “name”– before being given a shot at the “Big League” characters. They definitely don’t get to shepherd their own book straight out of the chute.

So, as weird as it sounds– Agents of Atlas’ sales have been a “victim” of Jeff’s superior talent– as Marvel gave Parker the book long before he had the chance to build the huge fan following most writer’s acquire before being offered such a major opportunity.

At $3.99 per issue, current readers cannot afford to give new talent a shot… Unless, of course, someone pairs the newbies with a already popular creative partner or places them in “creator proof” titles like Spider-man or Batman… In other words, books that have proven over time to sell well despite the quality of the creative teams involved.

Agents of Atlas was far too obscure a title to ever be considered “creator proof”… And Marvel taking a gamble by putting Parker at the helm is a commendable decision. It is also a very hopeful sign that Marvel actually values and looks for something other than exceptional pencilers when evaluating potential new comic book employees.

Parker’s overabundance of talent brings us to the MAIN REASON Agents of Atlas did not sell well. The reason being so simple that I must fault Marvel for not catching on and doing something to correct it.

THE 2ND THING THAT WENT WRONG

#2: The strange, giddy SYNOPSIS PAGES that Parker wrote for every issue of the continuing Agents of Atlas’ comic book.

As noted above in Reason #1, the new $3.99 price point makes a casual comic buy virtually a non-existent animal these days. Most comic enthusiasts are  not going to pick up a new book– especially a continuing book they aren’t already reading– just on the strength of a cool cover drawing. They need much more. And with the popularity of huge company-wide crossovers diminishing by the year, the Synopsis Page is one of the only major tools left to convince a possible new patron to take a chance on a new title.

Unfortunately, Gorilla Man-- not enough people knew enough about you to save you.

Whenever you have an exceptional writer– especially one that decides to work in the comics field– their work/vision tends to eclipse the power wielded by their editors. This is not a phenomenon that only adversely affects the comic book industry. Every medium has popular writers that get away with bloated, eccentric works– simply because they can.

Now, it’s very clear that Parker was not given the freedom to indulge some of his wilder eccentricities because of overwhelming popularity. He was far too new at the scripting game to enjoy such creative license. I believe Jeff “got away” with his quirkier dalliances because the Powers That Be couldn’t bring themselves to stifle his creativity– and wanted to keep this wonderfully talented man satisfied and working for them (and not the Distinguished Competition) for a very long time to come.

As a person who has made a pretty satisfying career out of entertaining folks, I can tell you without equivocation that every writer needs an editor… If anything– just to encourage said writer to keep going down the “good paths” in his or her work. Writing the SAYL Blog is one of the hardest “assignments” I have ever undertaken… Not for the sheer volume of grunt work that a Blog requires– but because I am own editor.

So we’ve got Jeff Parker– great writer– seemingly given little editorial guidance or interference when writing a series of weird, off-putting first page synopses for every issue of Agents of Atlas. How these pages ever saw print is amazing– as they contradict everything one might learn in a “Marketing 101″ class. Every person involved– including Parker’s AoA Editor– obviously did not understand or give enough credit to the valuable importance the Synopsis Page now holds in determining what books comic readers buy.

And it is my considered opinion that no one told Parker to quit writing these extremely important marketing blurbs just for CURRENT Agents of Atlas reader.

Rarely (if ever) did Jeff write a catchy, straight forward synopsis that might benefit or encourage a non-reader to purchase his book.

As a reader from Issue#1, I  can tell you I loved the cool, wacky synopses that Parker wrote. At least he was attempting to do something different… Right? But I’m not the person that Jeff or Marvel should have worried about. I was already a true believer in the comic. But after reading several of these complicated, overly mocking introductory segments back-to-back– I knew the tone used in these pages was a horrible mistake. I could literally envision thousands of comic fans picking up different Agent of Atlas issues for their beautiful Yu covers or popular guest characters– only to quickly place them back on the racks after reading the near indecipherable, almost always impenetrable Parker synopsis.

I know it’s tough to believe that something so seemingly inconsequential could be the main culprit that led to Agents of Atlas demise. Could it really be that everyone’s hard work was wasted just because of a few quirky synopsis pages?

You damn well better believe it could.

Consumers are literally overwhelmed with choice these days– hence all the overtly titillating product enticements and quick-cut movie trailers that tell you a film’s entire plot in 2 and 1/2 minutes. If the potential object of desire doesn’t hook you instantly– or expose itself so frankly that you can relate to it immediately Chances are you are going to ignore it and move on to the next bright & shiny thing that does.

So before you go blaming Marvel completely for canceling your favorite comic, please try to realize that– like all things– there is more than enough shared culpability here. I have no doubt that Jeff Parker’s wildly inventive style is mere months away from gaining wide mainstream acceptance. I can also easily see Jeff eventually considered as the “American” equivalent of an Alan Moore or Warren Ellis.

Unfortunately for Agents of Atlas fans– that day isn’t a reality… yet. But take heart. It IS right around the corner.

THUNDERBOLTS-- Another Parker comic YOU should read!


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