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The Final Draft

Print 'The Final Draft'Recommend 'The Final Draft'Discuss 'The Final Draft'Email Alan DonaldBy Alan Donald

Hello and welcome to Final Draft. My name is Alan Donald and I'll be your host each and every week.

What's this all about? Read on and see, the column is packed to the brim with features and articles as well as a quick introduction to the other regular features that will show up from time to time.

Read on, enjoy...




This Week

Every week I take a wander through the weeks stories to see what catches my interest and what you may have missed.

The headline: The Mother of All Contract Suits

It's a slow news week and everyone's running the story.

The history: In a move that shocked a great many Marvel filed a lawsuit against Sony claiming, in essence that they'd been screwed over revenue from the Spider-Man film.

Personally: The news was shocking in many ways as many thought the two companies had worked very closely in the production of the film, Marvel had been releasing news to shareholders about how good the film had been for their coffers and then there was the ongoing rumour that Marvel was/is about to be bought out by Sony.

The Story: The Daily Variety and the Los Angeles Daily Journal have filed a suit to the Los Angeles Superior Court to get the documentation used in the Marvel/Sony lawsuit opened up. It appears that there's even more than meets the eye here as Sony claim Marvel haven't been honest about revenue from Spider-Man products.

Opinion: The water's going to get even muddier before it clears.




The headline: Lady Death Crowned Book of the Month!

The history: Lady Death was once one of the flagship titles for Chaos! Comics but when the comicbook company went bust Brian Pulido managed to jump ship with the character just in time to avoid it being tied up with creditors.

Personally: There's a great deal of scandal and intrigue here as some claim that Lady Death must be part of Chaos!' assets and that Code 6 doesn't actually have any right to print the series. Die-hard fans were also appalled at the news that the new series is a re-imagining of the character.

The story: Wizard has named Lady Death their book of the month in their forthcoming issue (#141). The former 'bad girl' comic is now apparently a fantasy epic with a strong central character and a great story. The debut issue has sold by the truck load and it looks like CGE could sell as many as they print.

Opinion: There's more to this story than meets the eye. Lady Death selling out is great news for all involved as is the accolade from Wizard but behind it all is a sheer ballsy-ness you don't tend to see from lawyer-led corporations. Where other companies would have waited CGE/Code 6 just plain denied all the rumours regarding Lady Death still belonging to Chaos! and printed the damned thing. Stories such as this one which make no mention of the problems make it very difficult to oppose CGE, the comic is coming out, it's selling well and anyone who thinks the title belongs to Chaos! will gradually be made to look stupid and little (whether or not they have a point).




The headline: Johnson and Cage Blaze into Film Production with Ghost Rider

The History: Ever since the first X-Men film there has been a mad scramble to find the next hot Marvel property to take to the big screen. Spider-Man, Hulk and Daredevil have all made the jump already, Ghost Rider has been on the cards since the start.

Personally: Nicholas Cage has been desperate to star in any comicbook film. He's been tied to projects as diverse as Superman and Hellblazer. The Hollywood star is a huge comicbook fan and it was only a matter of time until he got his way.

The story: Variety are reporting that a Ghost Rider film will be made with Daredevil director Mark Steven Johnson (a big comicbook fan) as writer/director and Nicolas "please put me in a comicbook film" Cage (a bigger comicbook fan) as Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze. Production is supposed to start at the end of the year and Columbia Pictures are hoping it'll be a franchise winner.

Opinion: It's an interesting character and perfect for a feature film but we've been down this road before...Cage keeps missing out and Ghost Rider itself has been dropped as a film before now. That said this is the most promising rumour for a long time and I think we may see this film out late summer 2004 at the earliest or Easter 2005 at the latest either of which adds up to a stupidly long wait.




The headline: BRIAN BOLLAND RETURNS TO 2000 AD!

I know, I know I keep on going on and on about 2000AD but heck Judge Dredd was voted best character in this year's Squiddies and Brian Bolland's been doing some cracking cover work at DC for some time now.

The history: Brian Bolland was one of the early artists on 2000AD his clean style and incredible detail made him a fan favourite. Mr. Bolland came to worldwide notice when he did the artwork for Alan Moore's 'The Killing Joke'. Recently Mr. Bolland has only been doing covers.

Personally: Brian Bolland's style is outstanding, the art work on the Dark Judge's storyline is unsurpassed and for me he is the definitive Judge Dredd artist. Like many Manga artists Brian Bolland works best in black and white and his heavy inks often look out of place on coloured work (with the exception of 'The Killing Joke') but that black and white work is breathtaking.

The Story: 2000AD's Spring Attack will kick off with a Brian Bolland cover...

Opinion: What a let down! The best Judge Dredd artist of all time and he's only doing a cover! Shame on you Rebellion for getting my hopes up like that.

Follow up: I dropped a line to Tharg's earthly representative, Mark Chapman at Rebellion. He had this to say:

"I'm afraid Brian's only doing the cover. While our editors would probably sell any number of aged grandparents to evil space aliens for the chance to run a full Bolland strip, various practicalities dictate that this ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

Then again, look on the bright side - the Dredd strip nestling behind that lovely Bolland cover - 'The Trial of Orlok' - is drawn by some new guy we thought we'd try out, goes by the name of Cam Kennedy... "

Seeing as I'm a nice guy and not some scummy gossip columnist I'll leave it up to you to come up with your own 'practicalities'...The real bad guy here is Wakefield, the 2000AD Webmaster for getting me all worked up. You should write loan agreements, Wake. I signed up as soon as I saw 'Brian Bolland returning to 2000AD' and only noticed later that it was just to do one cover…





The New Boy, The Old Boy, The Publisher, The Retailer and The Hack

Five very different people from different parts of the comicbook industry, with different experiences and ideas on the industry come together to answer your questions. The New Boy, fresh faced and full of hope, the Old Boy more than just established, he's a cult figure, the Publisher, his decisions can make or break careers, the Retailer, he actually sells the stuff plus he talks to the fans and the Hack, lurking in the shadows...Every week our panelists will answer one of you lucky folk's questions.

This week, four of our panelists introduce themselves:


The Old Boy

1) Who are you?
Peter David. Husband, father, and writer of stuff.

2) What are you doing now?
Answering these questions.

3) How did you get your current job?
Pure dumb luck.

4) How did you get your break in the industry?
Got a job in the sales department of Marvel Comics, working for then-direct
sales manager Carol Kalish.

5) What do you think of the comicbook industry at the moment?
Books cost too much.

6) What are your plans for the future?
A new series for DC called "The Fallen Angel," more original fantasy novels
("Tong Lashing," "One Knight Only") and lots of other exciting stuff.

Check out more of Peter David's thoughts and ramblings on: http://peterdavid.malibulist.com/


The Publisher

1) Who are you?
Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics.

2) What are you doing now?
All I can say is thank god you don't have a computer cam.

3) How did you get your current job?
I had a modicum of success producing a limited number of Marvel titles and was offered the opportunity to produce the whole shebang.

4) How did you get your break in the industry?
I was at the right place at the right time.

5) What do you think of the comicbook industry at the moment?
I think we're producing better books now on average than in the entire history of the medium-EVER!

6) What are your plans for the future?
Depends how much trouble this column gets me into.

Check out Joe’s website, featuring some of the best message boards online, at:-
http://www.joequesada.com/


The Retailer

1) Who are you?
I'm Evil Rick Shea, a mild-mannered 26 year old comic book fan who loves the comic industry. I've been a fanboy for over 18 years and I'm lucky enough to deal with comics and graphic novels on a daily basis.

2) What are you doing now?
I'm the Manager of Famous Faces & Funnies, a comic store specializing in comics and graphic novels in Melbourne, FL.

3) How did you get your current job?
I started working at a smaller shop, and since 1994, I've helped to build FFF into the major retailer that we are today.

4) How did you get your break in the industry?
I have a great affinity with comic books and a good eye for what's worth reading and what's not, and that eventually turned into a job.

5) What do you think of the comicbook industry at the moment?
I think there's a better variety of product than we've ever seen before and a whole new level of excitement to this industry. There are currently more interesting creators and concepts than we've ever seen before. New and returning readers are giving comics a chance, and all the great comic movies right around the corner are only going to make more people stand up and take notice. Most books coming out today are interesting enough to get them to come back for more. The last few years have steadily gotten better and our comic book and graphic novel sales continue to rise each month alongside all
the new faces we see.

6) What are your plans for the future?
I'm going to try to continue to build a better shop through good customer service, carrying quality product, and by recommending the books I believe in with a full money back guarantee.

Rick also writes another column he'd like you all to read: http://www.brokenfrontier.com/storefront/storefront.htm


The Hack

1) Who are you?
Craig Lemon, long-time Reviews & Column Editor at SBC [he's too modest, Mr Lemon is also SBC's first officer, as it were - AD]

2) What are you doing now?
Answering your questions...seriously, prepping this weekend's columns and reviews prior to posting, reading a few trades before pulling together a few new TPB reviews over the weekend.

3) How did you get your current job?
Not so much a job as a hobby (i.e. I don't get paid and I have a real-world job); I used to write a weekly review column for the CBEM and heard on the grapevine that SBC were looking for a reviews editor, so I approached Jason Brice the publisher with a few weeks' worth of columns. He liked my stuff enough to bring me onboard, and gradually I've been taking on more and more responsibility as I empire build with the ultimate aim to kick him out and rule the SBC roost...is this thing on?

4) How did you get your break in the industry?
I'd hardly call it a break in the industry - in fact I'm probably the only guy working for a popular website that has absolutely no interest in working professionally in comics in any capacity.

5) What do you think of the comicbook industry at the moment?
Some comics are the best they have ever been, trades are absolutely the way forward and the salvation of the industry, some companies are seriously maligned and ignored in favour of the "Big Two" by so-called comics fans (why people aren't reading even a select number of books from Dark Horse and CrossGen I just don't understand).

6) What are your plans for the future?
To retire from comics in March 2004 when Cerebus ends.


So, just The New Boy to go...and I'll keep him under my hat for now... Tune in next week for his introduction; meanwhile if you have a question you'd like the panel to answer then email me on aland@silverbulletcomicbooks.com




Why aren't you reading...

This is a regular feature where I'll look at some of the titles I've been reading lately that I think need a bit more publicity than they're getting. To begin with these'll be titles I read normally or that my local comic guy has recommended to me, eventually, however, I want to look at titles that you recommend to me. Have you read (or are you a creator on) a comicbook you feel is being overlooked? If so let me know all about it. If possible I'll have a chat with the creators/publishers and find out more about the story behind the title and what's coming up in the future.

This week's offerings were recommended by Matt from Automattics in Corsham, Wiltshire (01249) 701647.

Dogwitch

Dogwitch...um, how to describe it? I know I'll let them do it, here's what they say on Dogwitch.com.

"Dogwitch is a comic book series by British artist Daniel Schaffer following the shocking exploits of exiled witch-superstar and home movie maker, "Shrieking" Violet Grimm.

"Banished deep into the evil Banewoods for daring to practice her own unique brand of Molotov Magick, outcast Dogwitch Violet Grimm continues to stretch the boundaries of accepted 21st Century witchcraft. As tales of bad sex and dangerous voodoo spread her infamy through the Banewoods, Violet captures the attention of a multitude of weirdos and resigns herself to what she believes is her predestined B-movie lifestyle. Churning out provocative home videos for a berserk and hungry fan base in her pursuit of arcane knowledge, she feeds her diary with the dating rituals of the sick and heinous. Violet is the Garbo of witches, a reclusive legend in a depraved, gory, funny and fiendishly sexy world.""

That captures the gist of it quite well. The adventures of a porn/snuff/reality TV witch as filmed by a doll and a cuddly toy dog. Extremely original, extremely clever at times, featuring great diologue and incredible art. Daniel Schaffer MUST be picked up by one of the big companies soon (but hopefully they'll let him carry on doing Dogwitch too) as an artist and writer with this level of skill should not be ignored...oh and as the man himself says, it's also kinky and that's no bad thing in my book.



I had a chat with Dogwitch creator, Dan Schaffer about the series:

What's the history behind Dogwitch?
It's the culmination of everything I've thought up or tried to do with comics over the last few years. The comics I was attempting to write before were slowly getting weirder and weirder, until one day I just chucked everything I'd done into a big pot, and stirred it up. It came out flashing polka dot knickers and wearing kinky boots. I think it works.

What were some of the comics you were doing that led onto Dogwitch? How did they provide that magic spark?
I started out writing cyberpunk style Sci-fi comics. Usually with a suitably outrageous female protagonist leading the way, some very bizarre gadgets, lotsa sex and violence, and plenty of dark humour. I'd written a few of these and then one day, I just decided to change direction. All the sci-fi clothing was swapped for rubber and leatherwear, the technology was rewritten to have supernatural origins, cyber-sex changed to demon-sex.
Actually, I guess didn't change direction that much after all, just traded vehicles.

What's the future for the series?
All being well and good, it should continue as an ongoing series. It will follow a larger story arc that's broken down into six episode sections. These will cover certain aspects of Violet Grimm's time in the Banewoods, as we follow her through transformations, bad dates and various paranormal disasters. As usual, there will be some self-contained issues, a few of those mayhem episodes, and also some longer, more involved stories,
spreading over a few issues.

What else are you up to at the moment?
I'm in discussions to do the artwork for an upcoming Poison Elves project, but nothing's confirmed yet. I recently painted a cover for the next PE trade, and I had a good laugh doing it, so I'm looking forward to taking on some of the proper art duties.

Is that volume 9 of PE? The boss tells me Drew was ill a while back and
that a few people are still worried, how's he doing? Will he be writing it?

Yeah, the cover was for Volume 9: "Baptism of Fire". As for Drew's health. It's improving, and he's still writing. But he was legally dead there for a minute, so he's at the moment he's recuperating, with a bunch of hot nurses at his beck and call. The guy's unstoppable, though, and he's still collaborating with Keith Davidsen on the new PE project that I'm lined up to draw.

Are you as deeply disturbed as the series would suggest?
Heh! I don't actually think the book is that disturbing, whatever that means. As long as I can get the mad shit out of my head and onto paper, I manage to stay pretty normal.

What's your favourite bit in the series?
Nobody has ever asked me that. I'm not quite sure how to answer it. I've got some great bits coming up that I'm looking forward to doing. With the issues that are on the shelves already, I think I'd have to say I like the little defining moments. I'm pleased with the image of Violet defiantly kicking up the snow in #4. The bit in issue #3 when Violet tells the vicar: "The safety word is "I'm a stupid fat bastard!" That made me smile to myself when I was writing it. And I guess I like the conversation between Violet and Mr. Kinky in #1, as it reveals a whole lot about Violet's character with just a few words - "First time with a demon?" "Hell no, first time with a suit!" Erm. I couldn't pick just one, sorry.

Ok then, who's your favourite character?
It's all about Violet Grimm, for me. I like the other guys, but I write it for her. She's the driving force behind the whole thing. She's the reason I do it. Second would probably be Dolores. She's quite difficult to write as she talks a load of nonsense, but she tends to reveal most of the secrets and portents. And watch out for the appearance of Elastic Head. I'm quite proud of that one.

Why should people read Dogwitch?
Because it's a little different. maybe? It's not manufactured. It's not written, penciled and inked by twenty different people. The quality of the book is a direct reflection of my integrity as a creator, so I work hard to attain a high standard with every issue, in both the art and the writing. As far as I know, I don't think there's anything quite like it out there at the moment, so if you fancy a change, pick it up and try it. Oh yeah, it's a bit kinky, too. Did I mention it was kinky?

Is there anybody you'd like to thank at all?
God yes. Jen, for a start. My other half. She's the face of Dogwitch, and un-credited muse. She comes up with all the coolest bits. I just do the donkey work. I've had a lot of support from readers, too. Folks like Kevin and Tammy, who run the Dogwitch message board. They're always happy to promote the book whenever they can, so they deserve a mention. The boys at Sirius, of course, for getting behind the book, letting me do it in my own way, and nurse-maiding me through the whole publishing experience. I couldn't wish to be working with a better team.

If it's not too rude to ask (probably is knowing me) is Jen just the face of Violet or does she own a pair of stripy suspenders too?
She's the face, but not just the face. A lot of the style and attitude in Dogwitch comes from her, too. To pull off the kind of realism v fantasy look that I'm trying to do with the comic, it's essential to have a realistic look for the character of Violet, not just a stylized comic face. Jen fits the bill perfectly. She's got the right smile, the right eyebrows. I got
lucky. And I like drawing her all day long, too. It's one of the other reasons I do this. As for the stockings, I'd go check her underwear drawer, but I think it might be booby-trapped.

What are you reading at the moment?
I'm trying to bone up on Poison Elves lore, so I've been reading through Drew's whole PE series, from issue #1. It's very entertaining. I'm also trying to make some time to read a couple of novels. I haven't done that for way too long. I've started with a couple of collections. One by Mike Arnzen and the other by Simon Logan. They both write from somewhere a bit left of center and have a knack of leaving you with strange visions burned onto your brain.

Are there any other series you think need more publicity?
Its no great secret that I'm not much of a superhero fan, so any publicity showing that comics can be as diverse as other mediums, from TV shows to novels, would be nice, please. Thanks.

Anything in particular you can think of? For example what are you reading and enjoying at the moment (other than PE of course)?
Alan, I've been so busy this last year, I don't think I've picked up one new comic outside of the Sirius fold. I'm a bit out of the loop. You got any suggestions? I've been reading Transmet, but it ain't like Ellis needs any more publicity, is it!! Hehe!

Well I've got this section in my new column you might like to check out called 'Why aren't you reading...' I'm doing a feature on a odd British creator's kinky magic comic this week...

Check out www.dogwitch.com for more details (including details of recommended retailers) or just bug the hell out of your retailer until he/she gets you a copy.




Teenagers from Mars



Once more I'd like to open by allowing the guys themselves to describe what the title is all about (taken from www.teenagers-from-mars.com):

"Macon is a comic-book artist in the horror-noir style, his comics are his manifesto of the everyman in modern American corporate fascism... Madison is every parent's nightmare in combat boots and leather jacket, her quick temper gets her in more trouble than her parents can tolerate... Max is by day a good-natured neighborhood kid who with his two friends Spock and Danny are a fixture in the town streets, but when night falls, the trio engage in less scrupulous activities... Mayor Wertham is fed up with the alleged satanic practices that seem to be multiplying in his peaceful town, and he plans to do something about it... And Sandy is always looking for an opportunity to "check out some action"... Take these individuals, a wanton act of vandalism, hundreds of zombies, several ass-whippings, a hard-boiled detective, throw in some hostile persecution, and a little boy meets girl John Hughes type shit and you got yourself Teenagers from Mars"

Mayor Wertham...love it. What about the creators?

"ABOUT RICK AND ROB
When Rick isn't writing bad T.V. shows, he directs, assists or produces them. He also fancies himself a film-maker, however, his affinity for chronic public masturbation inhibit his performance in this respect. Rick lives in Brooklyn where his wife keeps his ass in check, and Rick tries to persuade her to dress up like a zombie for him.

Rob has produced a number of crappy comics and done nothing with them, either out of pure laziness or because he spends too much time being drunk and doing one man re-enactments of Star Trek:Voyager episodes. Even though he looks like a wimpy emo boy, Rob knows chinese boxing and will make you his bitch."

Ok...

This is a damned good read. The story is original and interesting with just enough of a twist to the narrative style to allow the writers genius to show through without becoming a self-indulgent wankfest 'look at me' style. The characters are engaging and you do want to revisit them time and again which is always a plus. Once again these are two creators who must have big things in their future check out Teenagers from Mars now before the collectors seal up all the issues in slabs. So, I had a word with the guys about TFM:

What's the history behind Teenagers from Mars?
I wrote the whole script out and then spent about a year looking for an artist. One day Macon (The Macon in the comic) was talking to Rob's roommate JJ, and they introduced us. From the first sketches Rob had TFM nailed and we were off.

What's the future for the series?
Teenagers From Mars is an 8 issue series and we have 2 sequels in the works. The 2nd series titled CURSE of the Teenagers From Mars will follow shortly after the conclusion of the current series. We also plan on doing some one-shots and internet stories to fill out the world of Mars.

What else are you guys up to at the moment?
We are working on a Batman story that will run as the back-up story in Detective Comics this summer and we're working on a graphic novel.

How's everything working out for Rob now after the fire?
Remarkably well considering. He's got a great attitude about the whole thing and with all the support he's gotten from friends, family, and the comic book community he has gotten back on his feet and back to work.

What's your favorite bit in the series?
Well so far my favorite is the issue #2 especially the end with Macon and Madison trashing the Mallmart but I think we are going to beat that with some of the great stuff to come.

Why should people read Teenagers from Mars?
Cause it's not the same old shit.

Is there anybody you'd like to thank at all?
I want to thank all of the kids that have gone into their local comic shop and forced them to carry our book. I get letters all the time from stores that say how they didn't stock the TFM until some kid demanded it and now they're selling out. Rob and I do what we can but it's that army of kids that have made TFM what it is.

What are you reading at the moment?
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is my favorite at the moment and I'm also re-reading the Epic Blueberry books

Are there any other series you think need more publicity?
I really like what the guys at Oddgod are doing. Their 2nd anthology just came out.

I notice you were reading Ned's Atomic Dustbin while you were producing the comic, really?...bloody hell! I haven't met anyone else that listens to them in ages!
This is almost word for word what I said to Rob after digging through his
wax collection:)

Thanks for helping us get the word out on TFM man, we really appreciate it.

No problems

http://www.teenagers-from-mars.com/




Remember to send me details of the title you think is being underexposed and if I like it I'll happily ask the question 'Why aren't you reading...?'




Digging Deeper

This is an occasional column where I dig a little deeper into a story from the last month or so.

I'm looking at Vertigo's tenth anniversary and to celebrate it I've annoyed the hell out of some top comicbook people! I wanted to do something more personal, more subjective to celebrate 10 years of DC's mature reader line than many others had and here it is:

1) When was the first time you heard about Vertigo and what did you think?

Chris Weston: I remember thinking, "Hmmm, I don't like that band down the side obscuring Brian Bolland's beautiful covers." They got rid of it later, thank God.

Bryan Talbot: Before Vertigo began publication, knowing Alan Moore and all the other British writers involved with it. I thought it was a great idea to have a DC imprint for mature readers.

Grant Morrison: it was probably in 1992 prior to the launch. I was wrapping up my run on 'Doom Patrol’, one of the 'proto-vertigo' titles, as science has called them, in preparation for the launch of the Vertigo Doom Patrol by Rachel Pollack. I then went off round the world to get some new ideas and in another strand of the plot, editor Art Young moved to Disney, of all things, to launch an unlikely 'adult' comic line called Touchmark - which still sounds more than faintly seedy, I feel (I still have the badges which read 'Touchmark - Deal With It!' and again, hint at some vague, damp, abusive encounter with the unsuspecting writer of the x-ultimates) it didn't work out in the end so Art moved back to DC along with his gaggle of creators.

'Sebastian O' was originally conceived as a Touchmark project and then became my first Vertigo series.


2) What is your favourite work published by Vertigo (either your own or not)?

Chris Weston: It's a toss-up between the first four Issues of The Invisibles and Garth Ennis' War Stories. Both writers have an incredible knack of picking the best artists for the job, and getting the best out of them. Yeah, I realise I did one of Garth's War books... sorry!

Bryan Talbot: Certain SANDMAN stories, FLEX MENTALLO, ENIGMA, some of Jamie Delano's 20/20 VISIONS, certain PREACHER or TRANSMETROPOLITAN episodes.

Grant Morrison: Probably 'Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery' and 'Kill Your Boyfirend' are my favorites of my own short-form stories but i like them all. Otherwise, I vote for 'Rogan Gosh' by Pete Milligan and Brendan McCarthy and 'The Enigma' by Milligan and Duncan Fegredo.

3) What is your least favourite (see above)?

Chris Weston: Do Helix books count? If so, then "Time Breakers" has got to rate as the most wasted year of my life! Sorry, Stuart!

Bryan Talbot: Can't remember. I probably threw them away half-way through.

Grant Morrison: Anything with fucking vampires in it, I'm afraid. No slight on anyone's talent but I absolutely despise the undead and all their works. When I was a child, the old lady next door - who used to send me to the shops for her cigarettes and cat food - was allegedly some kind of vampire and since those days of begrudged errands, I've despised Dracula, his unholy brood and his goth record collection.

The bit about Dracula's records is true - I was talking to Van Helsing in the bar of the Standard Hotel on Sunset Boulevard and all he was pissing himself about Dracula's crap taste in music. The last time he broke into the Count's castle, he says he found a coffin filled with 12' vinyl and a ton of CDs - Sisters of Mercy, Cassandra Complex, Vampire Lestat - the real cheesy end of the fangs 'n slap market.

The only vampire I ever liked is Barlow from 'salem's Lot' but he doesn't have his own Vertigo title yet...unlike 'Death', 'Lucifer', 'Misery' and 'Cancer'.

4) What do you think Vertigo has done (if anything) for the industry?

Chris Weston: Firstly, it created a valuable space where creators can do work that doesn't involve capes and spandex. Secondly, it's brought a few dollars into the British coffers. More importantly, it's given sad Goths something to spend their money on, other than "snakebite".

Bryan Talbot: The most important thing, I think, is the inroads it's made into the mainstream. SANDMAN especially had a large readership outside comic fandom and still has today in bookstores, if the continuing royalty payments are anything to go by.

Grant Morrison: Vertigo provided a platform for some of the most distinctive and revolutionary voices in the comics industry, or anywhere else, deny it if you can - Gaiman, Ennis, Ellis, Milligan etc, the result being some of the most explosive and creative work ever done in the comics field. The concept of the 'Graphic Novel' flourished into ambitious and ground-breaking long-form, creator-controlled works like 'Sandman', 'Preacher' 'The Invisibles' and 'Transmetropolitan'. Vertigo opened doors into the bookstore market which are now starting to look like escape hatches for many creators as specialist store monthly comic sales float in the doldrums and book shop sales go up.

Vertigo also introduced progressive creator ownership deals which remain the best in the business.

Best of all, and for a few glorious years only before cost-cutting set in, there was Art Young and Vertigo's 'British Office' - the comics equivalent of the 'Loaded' HQ in the 90s. Vodka, mushrooms, Es, sex, money, travel and the pure unleashed creativity of young people having a good time together. Those were the glory days of 'Bizarre Boys' - the lost Milligan/Morrison/Hewlett project.

5) What do you think Vertigo has done for your career?

Chris Weston: Hey, Vertigo IS my career! Oh yeah, like I'm constantly fending off offers to do the X-Men!

Bryan Talbot: Widened the potential audience for my own work.

Grant Morrison: It's allowed me to make money by telling stories about my own characters. Thanks to Vertigo, I own several lucrative intellectual properties and make almost half my earnings on sales of book collections and 'Graphic Novels'.

More importantly, I've met many long-term friends and accomplices thanks to Vertigo.

6) Did you think Vertigo would last this long?

Chris Weston: Definitely... who else is providing an alternative to the Superhero antics that dominate this industry?

Bryan Talbot: I don't remember considering it at the time but probably not.

Grant Morrison: Yes. It'll last at least as long as Karen Berger, who has a radioactive half-life of seven thousand Earth years. I should imagine Vertigo will be around well into the 91st century and then it'll just stop dead when Karen does, like an old grandfather clock.

7) What's your favourite Vertigo memory?

Chris Weston: Hearing Grant's tale about wearing white jeans on a long plane flight, whilst suffering dysentery....

Bryan Talbot: Glen Fabry biting the bottom of a Vertigo editor (who shall be nameless) at a drunken DC party in Soho, London.

Grant Morrison: It's hard to say...the '93 tour with Jill, Steve, Shelly, Tom and others was a 'Doors'-style hoot and no mistake, and all winding up at the '50 Years of LSD Celebrations' in San Francisco but...for me one moment stands out and it was that day in 1996 when I was feeling pretty down and all the Vertigo characters came round to cheer me up with a bottle of Lucozade and some Salt & Vinegar Square crisps - the Sandman was there talking about all the racy wet dreams that never made it into his comic. John Constantine appeared late with a lot of stupid excuses and it turned out he's actually quite shy in real life, very unlike the way he appears on the page. When he finally did talk it was to say how much he'd enjoyed a Peter Ackroyd book of mine he'd ended up with via a mutual friend.

Death gave me a bit of a start but that's how it is with Death, I suppose. I soon settled down when she told me she'd only come to 'claim' the influenza bugs that were bothering me. Lovely lass once you get past all the make-up...

HUGE thanks to all those who took part, their sites are listed below. If your favourite Vertigo creator is missing don't panic just yet I'm still bugging quite a few of 'em at the moment and I'll run their answers as and when I get them but not everybody was easily contactable and some simply didn't want to take part (such as Warren Ellis whose response was that he wasn't that important to Vertigo! Or poor Carlos Ezquerra who admitted to been very proud of his Vertigo work, particularly Condors but who doesn't actually read American Comics because they don't ship 'em to Andorra and DC don't send him any).

www.bryan-talbot.com, www.Westonfront.com, www.warrenellis.com, http://www.internet.ad/ezquerra/, www.grant-morrison.com and www.neilgaiman.com




Noticeboard

From the biggest comicon to a signing in a shop the size of a postage stamp by the guy who edits a self published magazine on wanking printed on toilet paper, we'll promote them all. All you have to do is email me to let me know. The noticeboard will be here every week to promote your events. We'll even do public service announcements like this:

"I'm running Comics Week at my school at the end of next half term (in about 8 weeks). I need to lay my hands on some freebie type badges, posters etc but I don't know where to start. Do you know places you can get stuff like that? I have a modest budget (and I'd like to use some of that to buy graphic novels as star prizes too) and I'd like to be able to sprinkle the kids with a liberal helping of batman and spider-man badges and other such cool stuff.

What am I doing? Devoting a week of my school's time to comics. Working on getting Kev F to do a couple of days of his Masterclasses, trying to hook up a couple of other local artists (Kev being a long way from local) running a "make a mini comic competition", generally having a laugh.

What do I want? Whatever I can get. comics would be great (raiding everybody's back stash as we speak for teen friendly fodder), posters would be good too, as would t shirts if such things can be got. button badges would be fantastic as they're much in vogue in my school right now. Need contacts. Need ideas. Any and all gratefully received...

Any ideas?

Regie Rigby Fool Britannia "

This is a great opportunity for the comicbook companies to show what they're made of. I'm going to take a bit of an interest in this one myself and all contributions will receive good publicity from me.




More news about the UK comicbook festival (May 24th-25th www.comicfestival.co.uk for more details) JIM LEE has agreed to appear on the Hypotheticals panel. For those who don't know the Hypotheticals panel is run by Lee Barnett and Dave Gibbons. Panelists are given several hypothetical situations and asked how they would react. The real beauty of it is when the hypotheticals situations seem quite familiar to say the least and the editors, publishers, writers, artists and comicbook journalists start to squirm... check out their website for more details http://www.hypotheticals.co.uk

But don't just take my word for it see what these fine people thought:

"Hypotheticals - More fun than you should be allowed to have at a convention"
- Mike Carlin

"Appearing on Lee Barnett's Hypotheticals panels has given me more fun than any convention which didn't feature satanists and cannibalism"
- Alan Grant

"The Hypotheticals panel has been the highlight of my weekend for three Bristols running... "
- Regie Rigby, Fool Britannia




Kev F also wants to put out a few shouts to creators/companies. The deadline for the charity deck of cards is now the end of April and there are still spaces in the deck. Kev has also got vacancies left for the small talks room for any company, creator or fan that wants to run a promotion/event. One final thing is the voting for the awards...a certain Oxford based company that normally walks away with all the awards may only get Best Character if they don't pull their fingers out.




The London Expo is running on the 17th and 18th May. This is a new event for sci-fi, comic book and trading card fans. Details can be found on www.londonexpo.com but here's a few bits to whet your appetite. The event is being held at the very posh ExCeL centre in London's Docklands. There's going to be a gaggle of stars there such as James Doohan, Patrick Kilpatrick, Robert Picardo, Marc Singer, Richard Herd, Brad Dourif, Andrew Robinson, Andrew Prine, Suanne Braun, Norman Lovett and Robert Llewellyn. I don't know if I should be mad at myself for only recognising 5 of those names or if I should be happy for not being a full-blown fanboy yet. There'll also be some top comicbook talent with Dom Reardon, Gordon Rennie, Jock, Mike Collins, Charlie Adlard, Mark Harrison and Siku all attending.




That's all that's pinned to the noticeboard this week. If you've got an event you'd like publicised no matter how big or how small then drop me a line with all the details. I need more details on non-UK conventions and shop signings etc from around the world. I can't help you if you don't ask me.




And the rest...

On top of what you've seen I'll also have a number of other features dropping in from time to time, they are:

Toy Time

We're not all just comicbook fans some of us love toys, some of us have kids and some of us love toys and have kids screaming in the corner 'cause we won't let them play with us. Toy Time is a toy review feature that will crop up regularly. This won't be a straight review section but instead more of a battle of the bands where toys slug it out for my entertainment. Don't expect too much mainstream stuff though you all know the merits of Transformers so when I look at big robot toys I'll be more interested in what Megabloks can offer (for example). All this and (if I can swing it) a competition too!

Online comics

This one's up to you. Send me your favourite webcomic and I'll give you some publicity, we love free comics here at SBC.

Website review

A regular look at the best comicbook or simply good fun websites out there. There's an open invite to you guys to send them in to me.

Ten mostly silly questions

Take a comic pro, lull them into a false sense of security with a few jokey questions then hit 'em with a few serious ones. Look out for this becoming a fortnightly feature.

And more...

Other regular articles will show up as time goes by.




That's almost it for this week. Thank you for coming along it's been great having you and I look forward to seeing you next time. I've been Alan Donald and I hope you have a good week.

PS details of last week's competition are displayed below.




The views expressed herein by contributors are theirs alone and not necessarily those of SBC nor the columnist. Conversely the views expressed by the columnist are not necessarily shared by the contributors, SBC or even the columnist himself.




More Beating around the Bush

I really didn't want to start turning this column into some kind of political crusade but I keep getting mails that attack me. I got one this week from a gentleman accusing me of being a left wing nutter and I kind of went off the rails a bit at him. Personally, for the record, my politics are very middle of the road but that is by the by. What I actually want to say is that I'm sorry to any Bush supporters out there that I've offended, you are entitled to your views and opinions and it is not my place to judge you. I have my views on the matter and they haven't changed but it is not right for me to harp on about them. If, however, you are after information to back up some of the things I've said there's always the BBC news archive online or any of the sources listed in the appendix to Chapter 1 of Micheal Moore's Stupid White Men. The latter is worth checking out and I found some of the information quite easy to look up.

Right, talking of Bush it's competition time. I asked you to vote on your favourite site from last week's selection. It was tough and www.webdesignlab.co.uk/niksthings/masking.html nearly won but I'm afraid the winner by a clear margin is http://www.drparsons.fsnet.co.uk/georg.html. I'll be getting in touch with the winner this week to get their address details from them for me to send on my copy of Stupid White Men. For all those who didn't win I'm sorry. There are no losers here and you would each get a copy of the book if I wasn't so damned poor. Thank you all for taking part.


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