Sentinels, Not Senators
By Jason Brice
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[Ed: The following column contains language that some individuals may deem coarse and/or unpleasant. We take this opportunity to remind you that Silver Bullet Comics is a website intended for an adult audience. If you are a minor or easily offended then please browse elsewhere at Silver Bullet Comics]
That Last Code Meeting In Full...
It's been widely reported that Marvel has withdrawn from the Comics Code and both Marvel's Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas have given their reasons for it, with a somewhat muted response from DC, the Code, Archie and the like.
But what actually happened at the last Comics Code Authority meeting that Marvel attended? The rumours have been spreading round the freelancers for the past few weeks, here's a collection of some of the more popular clips.
At a previous Comics Code meeting, Joe Quesada and DC's Paul Levitz had crossed swords over the attraction of the Code. It's reported Levitz believed in the necessity of the Code to get distributed in stores like Walmarts, that non-Code books like Spawn got everyone kicked off the stands, and that's why the Code was necessary. I understand Quesada responded that if the Code was no proof against books like Spawn getting everyone kicked off then it served no purpose and asked how he could be protected from the Spawns of this world?
So the scene is set. The story goes that Marvel had made it clear they were not happy and were planning to leave. Attending were the Code, Marvel, DC, Archie and Dark Horse on speaker phone. They all knew this was a meeting to persuade Marvel to stay with the Code - apart from DC, who reportedly had missed out on this vital piece of information.
So when Marvel had six or eight staff present and Archie had three, DC only had two. Paul Levitz and Mike Carlin. No wonder it's reported that Levitz complained of being ambushed or outnumbered.
Especially since, aside from Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas, the other four Marvel staffers present, Stuart Moore, Axel Alonso, Jenny Lee and Bob Greenberger were all recently ex-DC staff who'd taken the Marvel Value Stamp. A source also reports there were a couple of ex-Archie employees from Marvel at the meeting, too.
So it was a tactful and sensitive Bill Jemas that answered this complaint, saying "The number of people representing each company at this meeting is directly correlating to sales."
Reports have it that Paul Levitz wasn't the happiest bunny in the meeting, phrases such as "seething" and "muttering" have been used, and the observation made that he refused to shake certain people hands, sitting through the meeting fuming with arms folded. It's been reported he stated, "This isn't a CMAA meeting, I don't know what it is but it's not a CMAA meeting!" repeatedly.
Marvel on the other hand seemed cocky, self-assured and "playing".
It seems that DC and Marvel came down on two sides of the argument; DC saying the Code was there to stop far worse external censorship being imposed from government, while Marvel didn't see that as a problem.
I hear that Levitz requested of Marvel that if they did leave the Code, that they wouldn't inform the press, as that would make the action visible to government bodies.
I understand that Michael Silberkleit from Archie also agreed with that fear - that if it were reported in national newspapers, they'd all be in trouble. Marvel couldn't see this as an issue and seemed to relish the possibility of additional exposure.
And as we know, Marvel seemed more than happy to talk to the press afterwards.
I'm told Michael Silberkleit pulled out old newspaper clippings detailing news of government interventions into other industries and talked about the government hearings in the 1950's and swore that they'd all be back there again if Marvel left the Code. I'm also told Levitz also mentioned that in 1981, DC also wanted to leave the Code but instead worked with the Code to revamp it, and that they subsequently launched their own mature brand of comics. I understand Quesada asked Silberkleit if he protested the same way back then with press clippings when DC said they were bringing in Mature Readers labels and whether DC brought the government down on everyone as a result.
Bill Jemas responded saying, "I'm not of afraid of senators, Michael. I am a bit afraid of Sentinels. but I'm not afraid of Senators."
Again, I say, oh boy. Mike Carlin was observed rolling his eyes every time Bill spoke...
At one point, I hear Levitz pointed to the video game industry as fair warning over possible external censorship, and that after Columbine they were plagues with Federal Government interference.
I'm told Jemas chuckled and asked Levitz if he really felt that really hurt their sales, and that all it did was encourage them to label product - just as Marvel was planning to do.
It's reported that Jemas asked Levitz if he had a choice wouldn't he rather be in the video game business, and that comics has nothing to compare to computer games in sales. Paul was non committal...
One of the favourite reported quotes from the meeting was from Mike Carlin, "McCarthy may be dead, but he has children!"
Dark Horse's presence on speaker phone was negligible. Mind you, if you had a show like this, would you want to interrupt?
When asked for comment, Mike Carlin replied "No comment. Just an action. Still rolling my eyes." Neither Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada, Patty Jeres, Bob Wayne, Paul Levitz, Dark Horse or Mike Silberkleit were willing to comment as of today.
Tabloid Confirms Marvel/JK Rowling Rumour
The rumour, first broadcast on All The Rage last week, that Joe Quesada met Harry Potter author, JK Rowling, to discuss working for Marvel has picked up new steam after an article in yesterday's Sunday Mirror.
Written by All the Rage reader Craig McGill, the paper states that JK Roqling met Quesada at her Edinburgh home when he visited here and that they discussed a comic book series based on the Harry Potter character as well as making a cartoon series.
Quesada is quoted as saying "I'd like to see JK Rowling involved with comics. The qualities she would bring are evident - not to mention her built-in audience."
Damn these print journalists! How dare their respectability garner them decent quotes from Joe Quesada instead of the non-committal shrugs I get. Damn their eyes!
This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10
An industry insider has commented on the confirmed news that Authority is to be a Mature Readers book and confirms the rumour that WildCATS will go the same way, saying, "Wildstorm's mature line is a pretty big step -- Marvel may be talking Blade and Night Nurse and making them "mature readers" but Wildstorm is taking their most popular books and making them "mature readers" it's like if X-Men was suddenly for adults only. I think it's very strange and somewhat groundbreaking."
It's also rumoured the Mature line will contain three titles. I'm also told that Brian Azzarello's run on the book will last 8 issues.
This Has A Rumour Value Of 8 Out Of 10
I hear that Homage might be getting a facelift, with a new title from Brian Azzarello, Tim Bradstreet and Bermejo, recently reported on ComicBookResources.Com. This will be joined by Matador by Devin Grayson, and a crime book from Brian Stelfreeze.
This Has A Rumour Value Of 7 Out Of 10
Cat. Pigeons. Mix.
Catwoman inker, Cameron Stewart posted on the Warren Ellis Delphi Forum, in a reply to a post about his work:
"Actually, due to circumstances which aren't particularly appropriate to discuss publicly, I've regrettably resigned from the Catwoman book. I contributed to the first couple of installments of the Detective Comics backup story (beginning next week, I believe), but unfortunately that's as far as I got before I decided to leave. For at least the first few issues of Catwoman, Darwyn will be handling the art chores on his own. I'll be doing...something else, I imagine. Still trying to get Warren interested in my services... ;)"And after a little wooing by Ellis, he continued:
"I have a strip in the upcoming BIG BOOK OF WILD WOMEN, inking a few forthcoming issues of SWAMP THING, and I'll probably pop up in various places here and there. I'm also assembling some material for some personal projects."
Hungry, Hungry Hippos
Hip Flask, the Richard Starking created character has been the mainstay of his lettering company, Comicraft's ads in a variety of publications and, with artists such Ian Churchill, Jim Lee and others doing their versions for the ads, this hippo-in-a-trenchcoat has always threatened to burst out into a comic series - indeed my old rumour column Rich's Ramblings report such a rumour last year.
Comics Newsarama featured a news report on the upcoming comic, which opened a can of worms on its message boards, as the remarkable similarity to an Australian comics character Hair Butt was noticed, published in Mad Magazine - see more of this fellow at http://www.hairbutt.com
In response to Hairbutt co-creator Jason Paulos's starement on the Oz Comics Message Board saying:
"I suppose most creators have nightmares about days like these and I'm no exception!"Richard Starkings replied:"This is also a nightmare for me. I'll be happy to talk to you at any time, on the phone or via e-mail, whichever you prefer."And in response to Hairbutt co-creator Bodine Amerikah said:
"We all want to believe in a universal justice system, that's only Human, but...this is AMERICA we're being forced to deal with here!"Starkings replied:
"No, Bodine, just one self-employed, self-publishing Englishman. There is no conspiracy here, just bizarre coincidence. I created Hip Flask -- in 1995 -- after approaching Marvel and then Wildstorm with a view to licensing existing characters to promote Comicraft fonts. After my discussions with them led to nothing, I thought, to hell with them, I'll create my own character. I was not made aware of Hairbutt until 1998 when first Darren Close and then a reporter from Australian PEOPLE magazine contacted me. I told him what I told Darren -- after his second e-mail -- last week. Bodine, I am known in the industry for my sincerity and honesty and furthermore, as a Buddhist, I am well aware of the law of cause and effect. What comes around goes around. Nevertheless, I must ask you to accept that I created Hip independently with absolutely no prior knowledge of Hairbutt. Indeed, since being made aware of your character, I have steered Hip away from any similarities, most particularly, I have dropped his P.I persona. I am communicating to you now -- as directly as I am able -- out of my deep respect for you and Jason as hardworking and imaginative comic book creators. I am not hiding behind a lawyer or a corporation. If you wish to contact me more directly, please note my e-mail address -- email@example.com. My phone contact details are at http://www.comicraft.com."However, in a slightly harsher private e-mail previously, Starkings is reported to have written to Darren Close of OzComics:
"Your allegation is baseless. I take great pride in the fact that I have devoted considerable effort to the independent development of the characters, themes, ideas and stories of Hip Flask and I am offended that you would make allegations of copyright infringement without investigating the facts. I did not make use of any elements of 'Hairbutt the Hippo' whenHairbutt:Hip Flask:
I created Hip Flask because I was simply not aware of it."
"In the seven years since the first publication of Hip Flask, I have not received any correspondence from the publishers of 'Hairbutt the Hippo.'"
A couple of visits to last week's column:
Bill Willingham confirms that while he is writing a new series for DC/Vertigo set in New York, it is not a continuation of his Fantagraphics series Coventry.
It is very possible that when I wrote "Metal Army 2" I meant "Metal Gear Solid 2." But that would actually mean I knew what the hell I was writing about in the first place. A dangerous thing to assume...
I'd also like to thank Bob Wayne for a last minute spell check that prevented me talking about the Archie book Batty And Veronica...
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