Friday, February 5, 2010

The Wash: 02/05/10

o Comics writer and filmmaker Ann Nocenti is currently in Haiti.

According to the article at Salon from January 15, Nocenti teaches film in the city of Jacmel, one of the country's cultural centers.

She's unharmed, evidently, and is co-organizing an effort by her students at the Ciné Institute to chronicle the aftermath of the severe earthquake of January 12:

"We don't just want to see stories of poverty and chaos coming out of Haiti," [Nocenti] says. "We want to see positive stories too -- and the story of our students and what they have accomplished is a positive story. Haiti is a beautiful country, a land of culture, music, art and agriculture. I worry sometimes that if people think it's all despair, they will throw up their hands and think that nothing can be done."

Jacmel, situated on the southeastern coast of Haiti and the country's fourth-largest city, was reportedly hit heavily by the recent earthquake; as many as 40,000 people are said to be homeless there as a result of the disaster, which reportedly killed between 300 and 500 people and injured an estimated 4,000 in the city.

Aid is still needed in Jacmel. In the Salon piece, Nocenti points to the possibility of making a donation via the Ciné Institute's homepage.

As a minor result of these events, Nocenti—and Molly Crabapple, who initially made me aware of the above, though I'm not sure if they were working on the same story—will not be contributing to Marvel's Girl Comics #1 (temporary link).

o Writer Joe Casey speaks frankly to Steve Sunu about his work on DC's struggling Superman/Batman series:

"Actually, I was shocked when I saw the printed comic and that ‘Our Worlds at War Aftermath’ trade dress on the cover [...]. I mean, come on... was anyone clamoring for a return visit to that story? I wasn't, and I worked on the original! [...]

"My poor editor was so swamped with other work, and had been struggling for months to try to make this book into something cool, something that would sell better, I think it was a case of grasping at straws to find a sales hook for a book that's clearly struggling by not being tied in to current events in the DCU."

Later on, Casey also sounds off about the way DC marketed his miniseries starring the Super Young Team last year, titled Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance:

"[T]his whole ‘Aftermath’ term that certain books–two that I've written for DC in the past year–have been saddled with as a marketing angle... let's put it on the scrap heap [...]. At the very least, replace anything with ‘aftermath’ in the title with a more appropriate word... like ‘hangover.’"

I love Joe Casey—certainly for his comics, which always succeed at being interesting, at the very least, but also for his refusal to bullshit-by-numbers himself through the comics marketing machine.

o Why on earth does Gene Colan need a fundraiser?

Look, I know the U.S. has no healthcare to speak of and is apparently proud of it, but this is preposterous. Colan has worked on some of the most recognizable characters of the country's biggest comics publishers for 65 (in words: S-I-X-T-Y F-I-V-E) years.

He's co-created Blade the Vampire Hunter, a character that, if I'm not mistaken, has made a little bit of money for all kinds of people in various films and TV shows.

If Gene Colan needs a fundraiser for his retirement fund, something's very, very wrong with this industry.

o Comics reporter Tom Spurgeon opines on the implications of rumored Watchmen (comics) sequels.

If I'm catching his drift correctly, Spurgeon suggests that no potential sequel comic could ever hope to be as offensive to the sensibilities and the creators of the original work by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons as last year's Watchmen film by director Zack Snyder.

I think he's got a point.

o Writer Kurt Busiek explains why Batman doesn't have a Green Lantern power ring:

"The stories are the cake, and the shared-universe stuff is frosting. Things tend to go horribly wrong when people start to think the frosting is more important than the cake, and then get better when they remember that it's about the cake after all."

Busiek knows what he's talking about. I recall reading lots of complaints about how his 18-months-long "Kang Dynasty" storyline in Marvel's Avengers was somehow harming Marvel Universe continuity, because Marvel's other books didn't tie in with it.

Personally, I never understood that mindset. I just tremendously enjoyed the fact that Marvel and Tom Brevoort gave one of my favorite creators the opportunity to do this big, epic story all in one series and on his own terms, without having to worry about the usual small-minded continuity nonsense that was usually bound to bog this type of story down. Did I care about continuity? Certainly, but I just figured the story took place in-between the stories in other titles.

It's a shame that Marvel and DC still can't—or won't—do that sort of thing more often. If they were, I might even be able to find an Avengers or X-Men title that's entertaining to me.

o There's a lot of very detailed blood and gore in Siege.

The only thing that's shocking to me about this double-page spread from the comic is how embarrassingly unimaginative Brian Michael Bendis has become.

Then again, I'm below 40 and I like having sex with other people, so I'm probably just not the target audience.

Thank god for Grant Morrison comics.

o Diamond Comic Distributors' Top 100 chart of the best-selling North American comic books of January 2010 is out.

Marvel's Siege #1 claims the top spot. Mainly, I'm wondering whether that's because it sold really well, or just because DC's Blackest Night was on a skip month.

Also: Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy's Joe the Barbarian #1 sold around 25,000 units, evidently. Given that the book was two thirds a promotional freebie and retailed for $ 1.00, that's faintly depressing.

o Finally, welcome to The Beat 3.0!

Crashing the housewarming party as of today: DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales for December 2009.

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