Archive for the ‘comic book industry’ Category

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A Catwoman Renaissance

April 26, 2017

“For me, Catwoman has always been fun to write. I think it’s because she actually likes herself and enjoys life. That’s so rare in a modern comic book character.”
– Chuck Dixon, Poplitiko

The statement will probably confuse the modern Catwoman fan.  Selina fun?  A winner who likes herself and enjoys her life?  How can this be?

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Jim Balent shares Catwoman Issue #1

Cat-Tales fans are not confused, and Cat Tales fans can rejoice for that fun, winning, sexy, resourceful Selina that we never gave up is (finally!) making a comeback!  Coming this September, DC is releasing the first volume in the collected edition of Jim Balent’s 1990’s Catwoman series.  It will include issue 1-14 written by Mary Jo Duffy and issue #0 by Doug Moench who is simply the gold standard of Bronze Age Bat/Cat.

Jim Balent remains “the epitome of Catwoman artists” (Amazon), delivering an unapologetically voluptuous feline fatale whose look fits her brazen personal style. Consider the episode from the first story arc, “Life Lines,” which Chris Dee cites in her 2011 Blogtalk interview: Selina infiltrates a wealthy man’s apartment during a party, posing in the dark as his wife fresh from the shower and wrapped in a towel. She gets away with the goodies and gets back into costume just as quickly as she had come (so much for it being impractical) but Chris’s point was the daring nature of the move, the fun – this Catwoman’s essence and appeal is the fun of being bad (and getting away with it).  Though before we close the book on practicality, it’s worth noting that this costume defined it for those who know the meaning of the word rather than using it as code: it was noted that while the rest of Gotham fought a fully-functioning Batman, Selina only had to contend with 1/5th of him.

Writer Jo Duffy catches Selina’s voice perfectly. She catches her good and bad sides, her tenderness and cattiness (and another feature that Cat Tales fans know about, her utter contempt for Azrael, the man who took Bruce’s place – in his view, anyway – when Bane broke his back).

If you’re tired of a Trinity cosplayer with Snoopy goggles being presented as Catwoman, tired of “complexity” (i.e. short hair and small boobs passed off as characterization), or just want to see what was so special about the era when Selina was sexy, sassy, confident and the world’s best cat burglar that fans refused to give her up despite a full court press from her publisher that went on for a decade and a half, you can pre-order here on Amazon, or visit your local comic shop who are apparently unable to preorder for several months yet.  Make sure they (and DC) know that we want this.

One final note on what may be a renaissance for the smoking hot, purple kitty: Brazilian pop culture company, Iron Studios, is going to release a gorgeous statue of the stunningly beautiful, purple clad, long haired Selina based on the artwork of long time DC artist, Ivan Reis (famous for his Aquaman run with writer, Geoff Johns).  a-catwoman-renaissance-ironstudios-ivanreis-maquette

Models and maquettes have come a long way since Denny O’neil’s day when depictions of the Balent Catwoman were marred by unattractive snarls and poses as if by editorial mandate, but nothing – nothing like this – has been seen for the absolute love that has gone into every angle and detail.  This hand-painted, 1/10 scale, 18cm model is simply the sexiest tribute to the purple Selina you can find, and rivals the Tweeterhead Julie Newmar statues in my opinion.

Iron Studios full photo album is here.  (Unfortunately, how you could go about buying one, I have no idea.)

So… whether it’s actually a sexy, purple, long-haired, cat-burglar Catwoman renaissance, a test balloon or simply a very lucky coincidence, the time is now.  Break out your wallets.  Vote with your wallets.  You know how Selina gets when you make her do it herself.

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Dead Comic Writers Society

June 15, 2015

You know, it’s been a long time since I laid into DC Comics, but this just pisses me off.

Apparently our favorite company started putting advertising into its story pages yet was somehow unprepared for the world’s most predictable backlash: readers found it intrusive.  Now, I’m not going to get into an Art v. Commerce debate, because that would be inappropriate.  I’m the Catwoman writer with the non-prostitute origin who does for love what those guys do for money; it’s too meta.  I’m going to stick with how they publicly justify the decision and the glaring spotlight it shines on the company’s loss of vision and focus.  According to IGN, DC Comics head Dan Didio said “We are in the business to have ads in our books.  We’ve always been the best with ads in our books, and now we have companies interested in buying ads in books. So I think that’s a good thing.”

Jon Stewart: I'm no expert, but that sounds like bullshit

I’m no expert, but that sounds like bullshit

Now, this isn’t Ray’s Air Conditioning Repair on Interstate 42.  This is the head of DC Comics, a division of Time Warner.   I’m not saying it has to be a polished statement crafted with Sorkinian eloquence saying the thoughts and prayers of everyone at DC Entertainment, Warner Bros and parent company Time Warner goes out to the readers as they adjust to this traumatic intrusion on their comic-reading experience, but I have to wonder what ‘We are in the business to have ads in our books’ translates into behind closed doors when they’re being blunt.

The guy sitting next to me at the bagel place was able to translate the above into an appropriate corporate statement on a dare:

We are in the business to tell great stories and make phenomenally entertaining comics, and to do that competitively in today’s world means exploring different ways to deliver ads.

You could also mention that advertising keeps the issue price down, allowing the reader to buy more titles, which I’m sure the local comic shops would appreciate.  You could, in short, view the reader as the customer, not the product.  According to Mr. Didio, DC sees itself in the business of harvesting eyeballs to deliver to advertisers, not telling stories that are good enough people will pay to read them.

I wonder which of the writers and artists creating those comics would agree?   Actually, I think I know.  When you see someone come in on a title who changes everything the character has been, changes the cast and relationships and even sexual orientation, almost as if their story was written for a different character entirely in another book–possibly one that’s just been cancelled, you’ve found one.  You see, none of it matters because the character traits that made him or her beloved to the readers are not relevant, making the story compelling or even coherent is not relevant.  It’s all just equipment in a factory used to acquire eyeballs that are the true business of the company.  The comics aren’t the product, YOU ARE.  That’s presumably why they think they can change you to fit whatever their new business plan calls for.

Here’s a tip, guys, from the Dead Poets Society.  Your real writers and artists know it’s true whether they’ll tell you or not, because that’s why they chose to do that for a living instead of a dozen other things that would pay better and for companies that would treat them better.

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We do not tell stories because it’s cute.  We tell stories because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion. 

If you’re not, I don’t know why you went into entertainment in the first place but you’re taking up a slot that could be filled by someone who is.

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The Strong Female Character

July 21, 2014

There’s an excellent post tearing up Tumblr at the moment:

I don’t think writers realize that ‘strong female character’ means ‘well written female character’ and not ‘female character who punches stuff and shoots stuff.  ~ace-enjolras

the-strong-female-characterInitially I reblogged with a simple “Yes, Yes, Yes, for the love of God, Yes!” but it occurred to me that a significant number of the 32,000 (and counting) who are enthusiastically liking and reblogging this bit of wisdom are doing it merely to say “I don’t like River Song.”

And that’s fine, Tumblr isn’t meant to be the Algonquin Roundtable, but if we’re going to get on our high horse about one-note oversimplification about something as complicated and nuanced as a human being, then we shouldn’t resort to kneejerks and generalizations.  And so, the unabridged version:

“I don’t think writers realize that ‘strong female character’ means ‘well written female character’ and not ‘female character who punches stuff and shoots stuff'”

Yes. Yes. YES, YES, YES, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, YES!  By Victoria’s Secret candyfloss shopping bags and La Perla embroidered tulle, by Eleanor of Aquitaine and C.J. Cregg, by Ambassador Delenn’s monologues in Babylon 5 and Kate Beckett’s in Castle, by Beatrice and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Rose Tyler and the Marquise de Merteuil.  A “strong female character” means first and foremost a well-written human person with all the dimensions, senses, affections and passions that implies. She may have large breasts, she may wear high heels, she may love a man and opt for the Happily Ever After.  She may sacrifice for a worthy cause–or a stupid one.  She may win; she may lose.  She may smoke pot.  She may be smart or she may be dumb. She may be a bad role model. She may not subvert a single trope. She will most certainly surprise those who thought they had her figured out on page 5; she might even surprise herself. She might be a victim, she might be a virgin, she might be a screeching bitch. She might be a slut. Most of all, she will be an honest product of a writer – male or female – who understands their own life and their own feelings and their own soul, and has the unbelievable balls to put a piece of that out there before the world. She cannot exist without that.

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Catwoman: Corporate Intervention

April 6, 2014
Lichtenstein-style Catwoman says "If corporations are people, we're looking at the DC Comics thing all wrong."

If corporations are people…

This is the third in a series of images in the style of Roy Lichtenstein, simulating a comic book look through those famous dots, and presenting a thought that – well, let’s just say the text and thought bubbles in Lichtenstein’s works generally presented something too complex to be boiled down to the four-color medium.   The first two in this series, ‘Lichtensteined’ the Liam Neeson as Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins and Christian Bale as The Dark Knight with the most appropriate lines from each of those films.

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Ask Catwoman; Ask Chris

November 8, 2013

It’s readers and fans that make Cat-Tales what it is. I love hearing from them in the forums and social media, and occasionally even Selina gets involved through her Ask Catwoman feature.

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Catwoman’s Costume: The First Fitting in Kittlemeier’s Back Room

Most recently, a young reader asked about her costume, her flexibility and training. Catching her in a good mood (eh, possibly creating the good mood by mentioning their own cats), Selina was moved to reply here: Ask Catwoman #15: About her costume, training and origin.

Quite a lot of her answer is familiar to long term readers from her origin story: Cattitude so to give those fans a little something extra too, we made up some new artwork: Catwoman’s Costume – The First Fitting.

And finally, there have been a few questions for me over on Tumblr.  Check out The Continuity Fallacy and if you haven’t heard the Cat-Tales origin story before now (you have), I’ve gone and told that again right here.

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Actually Not To Be Panicking

October 1, 2013

Something quite interesting happened Friday night.  It’s a story of hope, involving DC Comics.  That’s worth returning to a topic I thought I was long finished with.  It starts with a website the mere existence of which means the core dysfunction that drove me off years ago has only gotten worse.  It’s called hasdcdonesomethingstupidtoday.com.  Seriously, I thought it was a joke too, but try the link, it’s real.

This website has a counter indicating, as the name suggests, how many days it’s been since the last act of stupidity as covered by an underlying website called The Outhouser.  DC has had a bad couple of weeks leading to multiple resets in a single day.  (And no, this has nothing to do with Ben Affleck.  Let the man be.)   This incident is only tangentially related to the dramas that caused the multiple resets; you can read about those here if you care.  It has to do with the underlying problem and, more importantly, its solution.

For me, it began with a Saturday morning email that big dramas were about to erupt.  It seems there was an article on the mother site where Gail Simone “fan favorite writer and vigilante crimefighter addresses the DC marriage controversy.”  It took a blog she wrote and then commented/extrapolated in such a way that is common on the site, but in this case it was murky where Gail’s remarks left off and the commentary began.  Clearly nothing malicious, but it seemed to Gail that a journalist ‘just made stuff up’ that she never said.  After tweeting this, she publicly asked the article’s author to message her.  His editor saw that request first and responded.  The article was taken down until it could be edited.  (That’s not a euphemism, it’s back up.)  With apologies on one side and gracious understanding on the other, the whole thing was over in about 20 minutes, drama free.

Quite honestly, without DC Comics being involved, I’d still applaud.  Check it out: two rational adults setting something civilly and amicably on the Internet.  It’s better than YouTube kittens.

So, what about that email?  That was sent to me in the period between Gail’s request for a DM from the author and the editor’s response.  It said basically “Look for a counter reset in 3… 2… 1…”
My reaction, without knowing any of these particulars, was PFFT.  I told my buddy that, while I don’t know Gail personally, I’d seen her on Twitter for over a year and a lovelier woman you simply won’t find.  She has a sense of humor and a rational perspective, and I’ve seen her laugh off plenty of trolls, bigots and creeps who simply weren’t worth engaging.  I knew she wasn’t about to turn into Linda Blair and start spewing pea soup and obscenities over a simple misconstruction.

Now, what’s important here isn’t the lack of another negative PR episode involving someone at DC Comics.  It’s that I knew there wasn’t going to be one before I clicked a link.  I knew because the way this woman conducts herself in public, as well as the material she writes, tells me that she’s not that kind of person.

Back to DC proper.  Several people have tried to position themselves as the voice of reason over the past few weeks (or maybe they’re just fence sitting) saying that DC has a PR problem, an image problem, a perception problem, etc.   The implication is that it’s not the men at the top, the decisions they make, ideas and attitudes that prompt them or the way they choose to express those ideas that’s bringing the tempest upon them; it’s the failure of the marketing and publicity departments who don’t have their backs.  It’s their job to foresee these issues before they occur and be there to give the right spin.

Technically, I suppose it’s true:  In the same way I instantly gave Gail the benefit of the doubt because she comes off like a good person, we all assume the absolute worst whenever someone from DC editorial or management speaks because we think they’re assholes.  Those last 5 words can be described as ‘an image problem.’ But to say that image problem is the problem is, well it’s rather like this:

Press Secretary: The important thing is not to look like we're panicking. POTUS: See, and I think the important thing is to actually NOT BE panicking.

Maybe the impression so many of us have that this company is nothing but the corporate embodiment of a petty, insecure man-child lashing out maliciously but impotently at all that confuses and frightens him isn’t quite as important as the reason we have that impression.

Originally posted as: What if they gave a PR Disaster and Nobody Came? on Blogger

 

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Like I Haven’t Looked at All That

September 28, 2013

Like I haven’t looked at all that, marriages and all that-and what do you get for it? What do you get?

I’ve had my fun with DC Comics tripping over themselves all month.  They’re an entertainment company and it’s the first time in over a decade they’ve actually been entertaining.  But c’mon, do you really think if I cared what some nimrod from Team Readers-Be-Gone had to say about marriage, you wouldn’t have heard at least ONE song from Company by now?

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