I struggled with writing this article on online piracy. I've written an article before my time here at Needless Essentials Online on the topic. However, in the past week, it's jumped to the forefront on Twitter.
Before I get started with this very carefully worded review of Catalyst Prime: Seven Days, I need to preface it with something. It's always surprising whenever we get notified of a comic that we haven't heard of, but should have. Usually these come from the smaller publishers, but when they come through, it's refreshing.
I remember the years right after I graduated from college and when my friends turned me onto Achewood. The wonderfully irreverent webcomic just seemed to sum up everything good with publishing comics directly to the web. I probably wouldn't be far off in guessing that Chris Onstad influenced a lot of other cartoonists to launch their own webcomics.
It's been a running trend that the comic industry under-compensates the creative people behind your favorite comic books. It goes back to the beginning of the industry. I was talking about this with a friend on the phone the other day.
(Sources will be cited at the end of the article) I've mentioned Andrew Rev in passing a couple times. It has been mainly in how he bought Elementals from Bill Willingham when he bought Comico in the early 1990s. Andrew Rev disappeared from the face of the Earth after the collapse of the 90s collapse of the comic book industry. Word has it that every time someone inquired about buying Elementals from him, he immediately would ask an exorbitant amount for the property and negotiations would collapse.
I was going through a review of a comic and a thought occurred to me. What if these decades-long stories had been planned in advance so major events could be properly foreshadowed? Think of it, from the moment Gwen Stacy is introduced, her death is constantly hinted at. She's afraid of heights, we keep seeing the George Washington bridge showing up. How about bird imagery constantly popping up from the moment Jean Grey joins the X-Men?
As I write this, it's a slow news day. I'm already a week ahead on these columns, so it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to put in yet another one. It seems like forever since I did one of these for an independent comic. Of course, in my mind, Phantom Lady doesn't count. The first thing that came to mind was one of my favorite independent series, Elementals by Bill Willingham, better known for Fables. A lot of what other writers did in the later 1990s and 2000s was done before by Bill Willingham. Do you want a sinister government agency interacting with super-heroes? Willingham did it in Elementals. Do you want super-heroes cursing? Willingham did it in Elementals. Do you want graphic violence in your super-hero comics? Willingham did it in Elementals. Do you want your super-heroes deciding not to act like they're in a comic book? Well, I've got an issue for you.
I've wanted to review a Golden Age comic for some time. The problem comes in the fact that during the Golden Age, much of the language of comics, and the techniques that we take for granted were being formed. This was also before the rise of the Comics Code Authority, so creators were trying things out to see what would sell. This is probably where the salacious aspect of Phantom Lady comes into play. Her costume reveals a lot of skin, especially for the 1940s. No doubt this was part of her appeal. Artist Matt Baker was very skilled at designing a cover that emphasized the visual appeal of the character. However, somewhere along the way, her effectiveness as a character came through. She's one of those public domain heroes that always gets noticed, and always has someone bring her back to use, despite DC Comics making use of the character and enforcing their version of the character. Erik Larsen might have been the most recent creator to incorporate her into his comics, but he did so only briefly.
It was a history-making list of nominees this year. The history comes from Image Comics who swept the Best New Series category. Bitter Root, Crowded, Gideon Falls, Isola, Man-Eaters, and Skyward took all six spots in the category. Overall, Image Comics took 30 nominations, including 11 shared nominations. DC Comics took second place with 24 total nominations, including 7 shared nominations. The comic with the most nominations is Tom King's Mister Miracle with 4 nominations.
I always strive to review old comics that you may not have thought about. Heck, you may not even know that they even exist. This is sometimes hard to do, especially in these days when some of the most obscure titles are available with a membership. Many creators got their start in unlikely places. Some have their careers go into areas that may seem unlikely given their past. Bill Willingham is one of those writers that became very popular with his Vertigo series Fables, and it reached into other works for DC and of late, has been working for independent publishers. This is not uncommon ground for him. Bill Willingham first rose to prominence on his creator owned series for Comico, Elementals. Eventually, as the comic market saw the publisher fall, Willingham sold the rights to Andrew Rev,who had bought Comico. After putting together a bible for the direction he had been taking the series, Willingham saw it ignored and eventually used as a doorstop, according to an editorial in an issue of Ironwood. Word has it that Willingham retooled many of those ideas and put them together for a mini-series that saw itself published, albeit irregularly, by Lone Star Press.
We field through a lot of press releases. It would be easy to just copy and paste every one of them, but that wouldn't be fair to you guys. However, if one passes our inbox that looks interesting, then we'll pass it along. Today, that happened with a new book about Hellboy. Sequart has released The Mignolaverse: Hellboy and the Comics Art of Mike Mignola which looks pretty good.
Oni Press is merging with Lion Forge. The announcement makes it seem that Lion Forge's parent company, Polarity, is purchasing Oni Press, but the move is being marketed as a merger. I'm still trying to determine what this news means.