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The Comic Wire by Beau Yarbrough
Citizen V

Thursday September 17th, 1998

Marvel Comics fans have long watched their DC counterparts scream in horror as under-performing series were canceled, one after another. Now Marvel fans have begun to have the same happen - cancellations of "Alpha Flight," "The Rampaging Hulk" and "Heroes for Hire" were recently announced - they're also getting as jumpy as their DC cohorts.

And so it was that rumors surfaced this week that another crop of Marvel books would be canceled, including "A-Next," "J2" and even "The Thunderbolts." Fortunately for fans, things are quiet in the Marvel Universe at the moment.

"It is not true. It's never been true. 'T-Bolts' is in solid shape," Kurt Busiek wrote the Comic Wire this week. "We'd love to have more readers, of course, but as it stands the book is in no danger of cancellation."

Tom DeFalco went into a bit more detail about the situation of two of the three MC-2 alternate future books he's created:

"Actually, the final sales on 'A-Next' and 'J2' have yet to be determined. The orders which people are basing their rumor on were the pre-orders to the direct market. There was also a 25 percent overprint which was also shipped to the direct market and additional copies were also sent into the direct market when everything else sold out.

No one is questioning the health of "Spider-Girl," which by all accounts was a hit nationwide, but the books starring the son of the Juggernaut and the next generation of the Avengers are under something of a cloud in the mind of the comic public. DeFalco understands, but isn't getting too worried yet.

"As far as the business types are concerned, any title that sells out is a good title. The question ahead of us is the scary one. Will the direct comic shops base their future orders on their actual sales - or will they base them on their original pre-orders? If they go with actual sales, both 'A-Next' and 'J2' will be around for quite awhile."

"Marvel has asked me about expanding the line - but for some very practical reasons - I don't want to go beyond four titles [a month].

"I honestly don't know what the future holds for MC-2, but the present is as good as it gets!"

The Monitor from Crisis

Sure, it redefined the DC Universe, and along the way wiped out some of the most-beloved characters. And now, 14 years later, DC Comics is bringing out "Crisis on Infinite Earths" in a single collection for the first time ever.

But as eager as fans might be, they are looking askance at the price tag on the December collection, which will be sticker-priced a cool $99.95.

So, what does DC say they've done to make 12-issue reprint collection worth the price tag?

Well, for that kind of money, fans will get the obligatory slipcover, along with a full wraparound cover featuring more than 500 characters, painted by Alex "Kingdom Come" Ross over pencils by original "Crisis" artist George Perez.

There's also been a massive recoloring job by Tom McCraw, since the original series used a special printing process now rendering obsolete by modern technology. Along the way, corrections were made to repair scratches, art that had dropped out, typos, and other mistakes and inconsistencies.

Possibly the most notable change will be the now-inked "Monitor Tapes" strip running along the bottom of every page of "Crisis" issue #10. The tapes were originally done in pencil only, but the hoped-for effect didn't work out, and the original art is faint and muddy. Inker Al "The Avengers" Vey, Jerry Ordway's original inking assistant on "Crisis," was commissioned to finish the "Monitor Tapes."

Among other things corrected or enhanced, according to DC:

  • The covers are reproduced in the slipcase, and will feature some characters previously unseen because, in the case of issue #10, of the cover copy on the original and in the case of issue #11, a character has been added to the space left blank to accommodate the UPC box.

  • Mistaken identities (Speedy was miscolored and accidentally referred to in dialogue as the Earth-2 Green Arrow several times), incorrectly colored costumes (Arion's costume was inconsistently colored), and typos (consistent misspellings of Solovar's name, Earth-1's Hawkwoman being referred to as "Hawkgirl", etc.) have been corrected. In addition, scenes with multiple speakers have had word balloons adjusted to better clarify who is speaking.

  • The Anti-Monitor's shadow demons are now dark gray rather than black to make them more shadow-like.

  • Inconsistent design elements (such as Dr. Fate's irregularly shaped word balloons, which were used in his first appearance in the series, but never again) have been made consistent.

    In addition to the series itself, the hardcover includes an introduction by writer Marv Wolfman, an afterword by "Crisis" inker/former DC Vice President Executive Editor Dick Giordano, and original character-design sketches by Perez, including the never-before-published sketches of Doctor Light. Included with the hardcover in the foil-stamped slipcase is a 22" x 34" poster-sized reproduction - minus all type save the logo - of the classic cover to "Crisis" #7, featuring the dead Supergirl cradled in the arms of a heartbroken Superman.

The hardback is scheduled to arrive in stores on December 2.


After years of watching DC Comics adaptations like "Batman" and the Superman franchise score big at the box office, Marvel Comics finally got a hit of their own this August, with the release of "Blade."

The surprise hit, which sat atop the box office charts for two weeks, has already prompted sequel talk, screenwriter David Goyer recently told the Detroit News Comic Continuum (http://detnews.com/comicbooks).

"I've been talking to New Line [Cinema] about it - and yes, I will probably be involved in some way," Goyer said. In addition to penning the new screenplay, Goyer has also recently signed-on to co-write DC's "Starman" with James Robinson. "New Line has been very happy with the movie's performance."

The film, which stars Wesley Snipes, has made $56.4 million as of last weekend.

Goyer originally pitched the film - which features a half-vampire hunter of other vampires - as a trilogy, and was offering New Line sequel ideas before the first movie was even completed.

"We were going to pull a Sam Raimi trick, and, at the beginning of the sequel, have Blade go back in time and accidentally do something which effects the future," he told the Continuum. "We wanted to do 'Planet of the Vampires' and basically the vampires do rule the world, and it's much more Mad Max."

He also confirmed rumors that another of Marvel's horror heroes would likely be cropping in the sequel.

"I have some plans for possibly using Morbius."


Spared in the recent spate of cancellations at DC Comics was a title many thought had also fallen below the level of profitability. Instead, "Chronos" was apparently rescued from near-certain death this summer, even as "The Creeper," "Chase," "Green Arrow" and "Young Heroes in Love" marched towards their final issue during the "DC One Million" crossover this month.

And then it was announced that "Chronos" was indeed dead, and would be ending with issue #11, to be published in January.

Series artist Paul Guinan explained the reasons behind the move to the Comic Wire, confirming online rumors about the impetus for the move:

"Yes, John Francis Moore has 'pulled the plug' on 'Chronos,' and in fact used that very phrase himself," Guinan said. "Among the reasons he gave me were: a deadline schedule that didn't allow him to spend the time he needed on his scripts, editorial circumstances that contributed to the book going in a direction he didn't care for, aesthetic disappointments, and low sales.

"The book's production schedule was tight from the very start, with no room for delays of any kind," he said. "This had a kind of snowball effect. With periodicals - especially ongoing, monthly comics - once you fall behind schedule, you're forever playing catch-up. There's no time to take a breather, the pressure becomes more intense, you start compromising your work to get it done quickly, and sometimes mistakes crop up. (One example was a draft script sent out with a plot hole that wasn't caught until after the pages had been inked.) If a monthly comic book is running late enough, an unfortunate side effect is that covers can't be done in time for it to be promoted well. Without a cover graphic, the marketing department can't 'push' a title in the phone book that is the monthly distributor's catalogue, and the solicitation winds up being a small, easily overlooked block of text.

"The passing of Archie Goodwin was a major blow to the book as well as the entire comics industry. The period following his death became an editorial vacuum from the perspective of the 'Chronos' creative team. There were communication breakdowns, and no one to 'ride herd' on the title for a while.

"One result is that the cliffhanger in 'Chronos' #8 isn't resolved until three issues later. Partly due to time constraints, the 'DC One Million' plot proved difficult to integrate into the overall narrative of 'Chronos,' so instead it was treated as a stand-alone story that didn't touch on how #8 ended. At about this time, DC's marketing department arranged for 'Chronos' #9 (which came out after the One Million issue) to be overshipped to retailers, in an effort to promote the series and raise sales. Our new editor suggested that since the One Million issue was stand-alone, it could be drawn by a fill-in artist so that I could catch up on the schedule with issue 9. I agreed, and the art team from 'Chase' was assigned. Because #9 was to be overshipped, the editor decided that it should be a stand-alone story also. This meant John had to swap the events he'd already planned for issues 9 and 10. "John was also asked to make Chronos more pro-active, less swept along by events around him, and in the words of one editor, less whiny and more 'kick-ass.' For this and other reasons, 'Chronos' wasn't turning out as he had hoped.

"When Mike Carlin came on board as editor (the third in eight issues), I thought the series was poised for recovery. Not only did it seem like a show of faith from DC, but CHRONOS would now be in the best hands when it came to dealing with questions of DCU continuity and guest appearances by DC heroes. With a new cover artist [Tony Harris] and colorist, the book would have a fresh look. Inker Steve Leialoha was no longer splitting his time between two projects (which is one reason issues 5 and 6 were inked by four separate people), and could focus more closely on 'Chronos.' John's latest script called for Chronos to remove himself from history - wiping the slate clean, creatively speaking, and positioning the character for his next phase. Our hero was about to get a shave and a haircut, confidence and maturity.

"In San Diego I spent much time at the Comic-Con dispelling rumors of cancellation. I heard from three major retailers that they gave customers money-back guarantees on 'Chronos,' and no one had returned a single issue," Guinan continued. "I went home to Portland with my batteries recharged, began pencilling issue 10, and called John. He told me he was pulling the plug on 'Chronos' - that the results were not what he'd expected, and not worth the continued investment of his energy and emotions. I understand where he's coming from. Next year will be the tenth anniversary of 'Heatbreakers,' a series I co-created with my wife, Anina Bennett. Sometimes I feel like Don Quixote, tilting at the windmills of the unpredictable comic-book market. I dream of the day when 'Heartbreakers' might become my paying 'day job' - and I don't even have a kid to feed, just a house and an action-figure habit.

"With 'Chronos' behind schedule, low-selling, and plagued by a myriad of minor scheduling and production problems, Mike agreed to John's request to end the series. Mike joked that now he wouldn't get a chance to claim credit for saving 'Chronos.' He suggested that, considering the current climate of the comics market, perhaps in a couple of years the character could be brought back in a different context, under a different title - 'Tales of Chronopolis,' for example.

"My thanks to Mike Carlin for his handling and support of 'Chronos,' and to John Moore for allowing me the opportunity to co-create 'Chronos' with him. Above all, thanks to Archie Goodwin, who launched the series. He provided the layout for the image on the 'Chronos' poster, which hangs in my studio. I see it every day, I often think of Archie ... and sometimes, I wonder what might have been."


The Ignatz, named after George Herriman's brick-wielding mouse from "Krazy Kat," recognizes outstanding work that challenges popular notions of what comics can achieve, both as an artform and as a means of personal expression. The Ignatz is a festival prize awarded at the Small Press Expo to recognize outstanding achievement in comics and cartooning. A panel of five cartoonists developed the ballot listed below, which will be voted on by Expo attendees. Winners will be announced at the Ignatz Awards Banquet Saturday September 26th.

For more information about the Small Press Expo, visit their Web site at http://www.indyworld.com/spx.

Joe Chiappetta (Silly Daddy, self-published)
Nick Craine (Portrait of a Thousand Punks: Hard Core Logo, House of Anansi
Press Ltd.)
Gilbert Hernandez (Luba, Fantagraphics Books)
Jaime Hernandez (Penny Century, Fantagraphics)
Dave Sim (Cerebus, Aardvark-Vanaheim)
Tara Jenkins (for Galaxion, self-published)
Matt Madden (Black Candy, published by Black Eye Books)
Carla "Speed" McNeil (Finder, self-published)
Ron Rege (Skibber Bee Bye, self-published)
Chris Oliveros (The Envelope Manufacturer, Drawn & Quarterly)
"Ghost World" by Dan Clowes, serialized in Eightball (published by
Fantagraphics Books)
"Jimmy Corrigan" by Chris Ware, serialized in Acme Novelty Library
"Letters from Venus" by Gilbert Hernandez, serialized in New Love
"New York City Diary" by Julie Doucet, serialized in Dirty Plotte (Drawn &
"Soba" by Joe Sacco, from Stories From Bosnia (Drawn & Quarterly)
Acme Novelty Library by Chris Ware (published by Fantagraphics Books)
Eightball by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics)
Nowhere by Debbie Drechsler (Drawn & Quarterly)
Silly Daddy by Joe Chiappetta (self-published)
Yikes! by Steve Weissman (Alternative Comics)
Acme Novelty Library #9 by Chris Ware (published by Fantagraphics Books)
Coventry #1 by Bill Willingham (Fantagraphics)
Eightball #19 by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics)
Nowhere #3 by Debbie Drechsler (Drawn & Quarterly)
Stories From Bosnia #1:  Soba by Joe Sacco (Drawn & Quarterly)
Amy Unbounded by Rachel Hartman
Bathroom Girls by Yvonne Mojica
King Cat Comics by John Porcellino
Magic Boy Does Laundry by James Kochalka
Oaf by Matt Brinkman
Views of the Warehouse District by Martin Tom Dieck (Arrache Coeur)
Frank  vol. 2 by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics Books)
Ghost World by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics)
The Little Man by Chester Brown (Drawn & Quarterly)
Titanic Tales edited by Mark Wheatley (Insight Studios)
Michael Cohen
Tom Devlin
Tom Hart
Marc Hempel
Dylan Horrocks
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