That's That Shit: 10/18/2012: Superman Court Decision, DC Cancellations and ComiXology's Self-Publishing Arm

A comics news article


That's That Shit

Last Week's News, This Week's Comics for 10/18/2012


Hi. That's That Shit is exactly what it says above -- we talk in-depth about everything that happened in the comics world last week, and then look forward to some notable releases slated for this coming Wednesday.

Your panel of judges are Comics Bulletin Managing Editors Danny Djeljosevic and Nick Hanover, who pretty much have paper and ink in their blood, and CB Columns Editor Andrew Tan, who got his start in comics late in life through Adrian Tomine and is slowly dipping his toes into the broader aspects of the medium. So we deliver the news, Andrew asks the questions and hopefully everyone learns something.

Bang on.







Court Ruling Grants WB Major Victory in Ongoing War Over Rights to Superman

Somewhere, Alan Moore is Summoning Elder Gods to Attack WB HQ



Nick: We're working on a special report on this, but since a recent court ruling that gave WB some major ammunition in its ongoing battle with the Siegel estate for the rights to Superman is the biggest story in the industry right now, we felt it necessary to bring it up in TTS. The gist is that U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright has ruled that a prior agreement made between the Shuster estate and DC in 1992 "precludes the estate's attempt to terminate a copyright grant," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

This doesn't necessarily end the battle between DC/WB and the Siegels, but it does throw a wrench into the Siegels' plan of attack, which centered around terminating the copyright grant through an addendum to copyright law that allowed for creators who signed agreements before 1978 to end existing agreements and renegotiate the ownership of their creations. That addendum was made with creators like Siegel and Shuster in mind, who made agreements with corporations in a time when copyright ownership didn't include near constant renewals and extensions. 

An appeal to the ruling is expected, particularly since a 2008 ruling favored the Siegels' claims, stating they were entitled to the copyrights for the Superman costume, origin story and Clark Kent identity as those details were presented in the original Action Comics stories. The fact that this 1992 agreement was made exclusively between DC and Peavy does, however, mean that the Shuster estate will likely not be able to share in any gains that the Siegels make.

Andrew: What is the goal for the Shusters and Siegels by terminating the copyright grant? Do they want to take Zack Snyder off Man of Steel?

But seriously, what effects do you think this case has had on the comics industry as a whole? I know more and more people are moving to creator-owned projects like comics printed by Image and even doing self-publishing.

Nick: For the Siegels, it's an attempt to get even a slight portion of what I feel their family is rightfully owed. There are plenty of assholes out there who lack empathy who feel it's okay that WB has made countless millions off this property while the heirs of the character's creator get table scraps, but frankly that's bullshit. Anyone who knows about the early history of the mainstream comics industry knows that it was all about intimidation, sweatshop-like working conditions, and sleazy business practices by men who often were literal gangsters. Beyond that, the crazy state of copyright law in this country has enabled corporations like WB to benefit far beyond what they should have been allowed to benefit and if you're okay with the fact that copyrights continue to get extended at the cost of creativity, then you shouldn't have any problem with the actual creators of the copyrighted works and their heirs getting a profit share that mirrors the extension of those copyrights. I just don't understand how people are totally fine with authors' heirs continuing to control the works of their ancestors but comic fans are somehow psychopathically against creators getting fair benefits and treatment.

Danny: Most people don't even know why copyright even exists in the first place. The idea is that the creator would benefit from having the rights to his or her work in order to have incentive for creation to begin with, and then one day the work would become public domain for the enjoyment of all. Instead, it's being used so that corporations could make money off of Superman and Mickey Mouse long after the Earth is dead.


DC Cancellations Continue, Frankenstein Returns to the Grave 

Somewhere, Rob Liefeld is Tweeting "I Told You So!"



Nick: Like some bizarre flip of the "Cyclops Was Right" quasi-meme, The Beat has announced that "Liefeld Was Right" in regards to...DC cancellations. That's right, Liefeld's prediction in September that "Legion Lost, Blue Beetle, Grifter [and] Frankenstein" would be getting the boot has proven to be accurate as DC's January solicits confirm. While three of those titles haven't exactly been making big splashes commercially OR critically, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. has at least been critically well-received. The Beat's Todd Allen believes that DC is targeting titles that fail to average above 18k in sales and he's singled out Fury of Firestorm, DC Universe Presents, I, Vampire and Savage Hawkman as the most likely titles to get the axe next, as they're all at or under the 18k sales mark. He also suggests that Demon Knights and Deathstroke could be in danger since they're hovering near that number.

Frankenstein the character is set to join Justice League Dark, and Blue Beetle will be appearing in Threshold, while Grifter is part of Team 7, though that series is set before the present day and focuses on the period when superhumans were new to the DC universe...which conveniently seems to contradict a lot of Grifter's current origin story.

Andrew: I genuinely hope Deathstroke doesn't get cancelled, but if it does, I am tickled by the idea that we can just run the headline DEATHSTROKE'S DEATHSTROKE in TTS.

Danny: I'm sad to see Frankenstein go because it was a fun read every month, but that's just one less DC Comic I'm buying. Grifter was unforgivable for taking a fun character and making him boring, and Legion Lost was unreadably confusing, with lovely Pete Woods art. I did not read Blue Beetle.


comiXology Hits 100 Million Download Milestone, Launches Self-publishing Arm of App

Somewhere, Danny Djeljosevic is Counting His Mad Ghost Engine Money



Nick: Despite whatever Larry of Larry's Comics is barking at you, there's no stopping the digital revolution in comics. NYCC this year was dominated by digital announcements, including the news that Terry Moore's classic Strangers in Paradise was now available through comiXology and that the company had reached the 100 million download milestone. But perhaps the most exciting news for those within the industry was the announcement that comiXology had created an area for self-publishers to get their work on the platform, called "Submit."

The guidelines are relatively straight forward, requiring content to be a minimum of eight pages, with comiXology head honcho David Steinberger stating that the biggest rule is that the content must pass a quality check initiated by site reviewers. If accepted, publishers will share profits with comiXology in a 50/50 split, after fees have been processed.

"Submit" is currently in the beta stage, but comiXology seems to be pretty optimistic about it and Steinberger indicates it will be open to everyone sometime in early 2013.

Andrew: This article really stands out especially with the Superman stuff above. Personally, I'm a big fan of print comics mainly because I can peruse those at my LCS and I can get them signed because I'm a nerd about that.

Although, I do have a quibble about the 50/50 split. I don't know how much this adds to comiXology's infrastructure, but anything above 60/40 seems like the distributor is asking for way too much. For example, Apple requests 30 percent of the revenue from their App Store and when I'd teach classes in city centers, the most that I ever got asked for is 40 percent. And they provided space, material, registration and advertising. Asking for half of something someone spent several months of his/her life on just seems gratuitous on comiXology's part.

Danny: While I hit the shop every week, I will always be pro-digital -- it broadens a given comics' reach and cuts down on printing costs, which allows digital-only publishers like MonkeyBrain to exist. Some stuff just doesn't sell in the current culture of superhero readers going to brick and mortar shops every week, and digital levels the playing field in some ways.

Dunno what to think of the 50/50 split, but honestly that doesn't really scare me off as a creator.

Nick: In the music industry, 50/50 is a pretty standard indie split. I think what you're viewing it from, Andrew, is the idea of a sales rather than a publishing platform. Apple takes a smaller split on iTunes, for instance, but that's because artists who have their music on iTunes are going through some other publisher first, even if they're self-releasing. In order to get your music on iTunes, you typically have to go through a third party that handles digital publishing and they take a healthy cut of the profits, or if you're on a relatively well-known label, your label is taking their cut and usually that cut is pretty massive. In the comics community, it's no different. All that's happening here is that comiXology has removed the middleman and now both them and the creators can equally split the profits without having to include anyone else. 

Apps are a little more difficult to compare this to, though, because they have more potential for the developers to continue making profits after the sale through in-app purchasing and expansion and because they're also helping attract people to the hardware itself, so Apple has to be more flexible in regards to splitting the profits. You can't really make the case that self-published comics are driving people towards comiXology, which means that comiXology has more power here and they're also taking the bigger risk.


Ed Brubaker Lands Some TV Pilots

Everything's Coming up Brubaker



Nick: As if the last two years haven't been good enough to Ed Brubaker, what with the epic one-two punch of Criminal: Last of the Innocent and Fatale, CBR's Spinoff has confirmed that the noir genius now has two pilots in the works. First up is Rising Suns, which centers around "an American Yakuza boss on the run from a female FBI agent" and is in production for FOX. Next is a yet-to-be titled NBC pilot that so far is only described as an "espionage drama," though it seems likely that it's meant to compete with the upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. series which will premiere on ABC. These are, of course, only pilots, but if they succeed, Brubaker's star could begin rising in Hollywood very quickly.

Danny: Mad props to Ed Brubaker for scoring those. He's a great writer with interests beyond making superhero comics, and I hope at least one of these gets picked up.

Andrew: I don't know Brubaker's stuff that well, but what do you think the chances are Rising Suns will have some romantic tension between the FBI agent and the Yakuza boss? Also what are the chances the Yakuza boss will actually be played by a Japanese actor?

Also, it'd be hilarious if NBC's S.H.I.E.L.D. competitor just ends up being The Son of Chuck.

Nick: Brubaker rarely makes obvious plot decisions, so assuming he gets minimal network interference, I think Rising Suns will be full of surprises. I mean, Sleeper is an excellent example of how Brubaker subverts narrative expectations in storylines that appear at first glance to be relatively straight forward.

And seriously, go check out Criminal, Andrew. That shit will rock your world.

Danny: I think people remember Brubaker as the guy who killed Captain America and then made some crime comics, but the dude's had a long career of making self-published indie crime books, doing stuff for Vertigo, and then writing Batman and Captain America. And yeah, Criminal is fantastic.


Speaking of S.H.I.E.L.D, Coulson is Back!

Please Don't Kill Him Again, Joss



Nick: During the Marvel TV panel at NYCC this year, Jeph Loeb broke the news that Clark Gregg would be returning as Agent Coulson on the upcoming Joss Whedon S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Details were scarce in regards to the nature of Coulson's reappearance, but considering he's a fan favorite character, it stands to reason that ABC is hoping he'll make the pilot even more palatable for viewers coming to the show from The Avengers.

Andrew: It's gonna be really weird to watch a Whedon show when you already know how the lovable character that you are rooting for will die. But Clark Gregg seems like a real cool dude. 

Danny: I still kind of hope that they use Coulson as the model for the Vision, even though I hate that lousy weeping android.

Nick: If you were created by one of Hank "Epic Douche" Pym's castoffs and wound up marrying a crazy lady with reality warping abilities who once surprised you with two impossible kids and then eventually destroyed you because she was having a bad day, you too would weep, Danny.


The Goon Movie Kickstarter is Live

The Psychic Seal Commands You to Back This Project



Nick: If you're a fan of The Goon, then you likely already know that David Fincher and Eric Powell have been hard at work for some time now at adapting the series for the screen. Well, they've now taken things a step further and have launched a Kickstarter to create a story reel for the project, which is meant as a way to further entire major investors to commit to the project, utilizing filmed storyboard backed by music and effects. As of publication, the project has received nearly $150k in funding, which is a little less than half of the $400k total needed. There are 23 days left to back the project, so head on over and check out some of the awesome stuff investors get, including special Goon artwork, merchandise and the pitch book itself.

Andrew: Oh man, I'll Kickstart any project that has Paul Giamatti speaking real soft and then TALKING…ugh, you get the joke, I don't need to finish the thought, right?

Nick: I don't know. Does the joke end with Philip Seymour Hoffman sticking photos to a wall with his ejaculate?

Andrew: Nick, EVERY joke should end with that.





Ex Sanguine #1

(Tim Seeley, Josh Emmons, Carlos Badilla; Dark Horse)



One's a natural born killer-a remorseless hunter restlessly prowling the night for victims to quench an unnatural bloodlust. The other's a vampire. A bored vampire. His centuries of existence have left him world weary and detached, until one day his thirst is reinvigorated when the deadly and intricate work of the Sanguine Killer catches his eyes.

Danny: I dunno much about this book, but that cover image is nice and gory.

Nick: Tim Seeley is on a fucking roll lately, and I've been loving the way Dark Horse has been promoting their new horror books, so I am all for this. Sure, it has vampires and everyone who isn't a tween or a tween at heart is fucking tired of vampires by now but I'm willing to give the story a chance to reveal itself to be something awesome. Because that's totally what's going to happen.

Andrew: LYCANS?

Danny: In your dreams, Beckinsale.


The Zaucer of Zilk #1 (of 2)

(Brendan McCarthy, Al Ewings; IDW/2000AD)



Get Zaucy! IDW is proud to announce this special collaboration with 2000 AD and Rebellion Publishing, The Zaucer of Zilk, Brendan McCarthy & Al Ewing's phantasmagorical psychedelic extravaganza from beyond the fringes of imagination! This special 2-issue adventure features an inter-dimensional magician who travels across the realms to save his number-one fan from the dank clutches of arch-nemesis Errol Raine, as visualized by the brilliantly surreal artist McCarthy.

Danny: McCarthy never gets his due, but I'll gladly pay six bucks for this entire series. I bought up the first issue and flipped through it, and it's as full of so much psychedelic and colorful imagery that every other comic book looks like shit in comparison.

Nick: I'm just happy to see 2000AD finally getting a chance at making a splash stateside and I'll be picking up all of these new wave titles. And like you said, McCarthy is severely underrated and this recalls some of his peak era Vertigo work.

Andrew: Wow, this dude's art is like the opposite of what I imagine Joseph McCarthy's drawings would be like. What am I even doing?

Danny: Or Jenny McCarthy, for that matter.


Marvel NOW! Point One #1

(All sorts of folk; Marvel)



Danny: Marvel sets up a bunch of new series with an anthology one-shot. All that matters to me is that there's a Matt Fraction/Michael Allred Ant Man story, because that combines several things I like. Also, we get a Young Avengers short by Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie. Steve and Natalie liked it.

Nick: Normally I fucking hate these Marvel Whitman's Sampler things, but I am incapable of not purchasing anything Allred-related. The rest of this issue could be love letters to Tigra from Ray Tate and I'd still buy the shit out of it. Actually, that would make me more inclined to buy the shit out of it. Except that I would immediately be disgusted with myself in that case.

Andrew: Hahaha, judging from how much I loved the first Strange Tales that had that AMAZING Spider-Man comic from Jason, Marvel Whitman's Samplers have a good track record with me.

Danny: This is an entirely different beast, though -- they're using an anthology one-shot as a springboard for new and upcoming ongoing series. It's a nice lineup of mainstream talent, but nothing like the intent of Strange Tales (which I also loved). I'm already decided on most of them, but I enjoy getting an early taste of what to expect from stuff I'm already going to read.


Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women #1 (of 2)

(Jeremy Whitley, Various; Action Lab)



The Eisner-nominated Princeless returns! Short Stories for Warrior Women brings you four brand new tales from the world of Princeless. Adrienne, Bedelia, Sparky, and all of your favorites are back, featuring art by the industry's brightest new female creators. This 40-page book is perfect for new readers, and will whet the appetites of fans awaiting Volume Two!

Danny: Princeless is a great, subversive all-ages comic. Keith thinks so and so do I. This miniseries is a collection of short stories by various female artists, with pin-ups and such. Should be a very fun read for fans of the series and a nice way for interested newbies to dip their toes in.

Nick: I unfortunately haven't checked this out yet but if you and Keith like it, then I am legally obligated to purchase it.

Andrew: This is the exact kind of thing that makes me miss teaching kids who were just getting into comics. If a parent were to ever ask me for a good comic for kids Princeless would be near the top of that list.

Danny: Yeah dude, it's like what all those vaguely Disney movies try to be when the heroine escapes her parents to find her destiny (Little Mermaid, Mulan), but it seems like Princeless won't shift gears like those movies to be just about finding a nice handsome young man.


The Hive

(Charles Burns; Pantheon)



From the creator of Black Hole, the second part of a new epic masterpiece of graphic horror in brilliant, vivid color. Much has happened since we last saw Doug, the Tintin-like hero from X'ed Out. Confessing his past to an unidentified woman, Doug struggles to recall the mysterious incident that left his life shattered, an incident that may have involved his disturbed and now-absent girlfriend, Sarah, and her menacing ex-boyfriend. Doug warily seeks answers in a nightmarish alternate world that is a distorted mirror of our own, where he is a lowly employee that carts supplies around the Hive.

Danny: GET. EXCITED. X'ed Out, was easily one of the best comics of 2010, and now Burns has finally come out with a new installment in his "Tintin meets Naked Lunch" weirdo sci-fi horror thing. And it's in full color, which makes Burns' art even more vibrant and horrifying.

Nick: Seriously, as great as Clowes and Tomine and Ware are, Charles Burns continues to be the creator whose new releases get me the most excited. X'ed Out was an incredible first installment, a massive head wound in comic form, with all the trippiness and confusion and damage that implies. I'm glad the series so far isn't getting released at a Black Hole-like rate and I can't wait to see where Burns takes this story.

Andrew: My copy of Black Hole that a friend lent to me 6 months ago is turning into a scowling face that's demanding I start that tonight.

Danny: Read that shit. F'real.



Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions) and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic with Mike Prezzato, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics and check out his other comics at his Tumblr, Sequential Fuckery. His webcomic The Ghost Engine,with artist Eric Zawadzki, updates twice a week.



When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set and functioning as the Co-Managing Editor of Comics BulletinNick Hanover is a book, film and music critic who has contributed to Spectrum CultureNo Tofu Magazine, Performer MagazinePort City Lights and various other international publications. By which he means Canadian rags you have no reason to know anything about. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon and you can follow him on Twitter at @Nick_Hanover.



Andrew Tan spends his days working on a bunch of different stuff he can't really explain here. Before that, he majored in Journalism at the University of Florida, where he worked for a few newspapers. He loves comics (obviously), sad music, duck confit and San Francisco. He also has a sentence published in McSweeney's that he is proud of. He was also mocked in Gawker for said sentence, which brings him roughly the same level of pride.

Andrew is one of the many people on the internet vying for the moniker of Tandrew. Some are him, some are not. You can find him on Twitter at @TandrewTan.

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