Pat Mills: Judge Dredd, break dancing, and Iran

Pat Mills, creator and editor of the seminal British comic book anthology magazine 2000 AD has a new blog, and in this post he recounts the creation of the mag’s most popular and famous character, Judge Dredd. It’s an interesting read, especially if you like comics history and behind the scenes looks.

However, this particular bit caught my attention, since it was so out of left field:

“Coming back to that death penalty for dropping litter – if the idea seems unconvincing or ridiculous now, then consider the situation in modern Iran. I spent three months in that country a few years ago and once watched breakdancing teenagers halfway up a mountain outside Tehran. They believed they would be safe from the law, but the secret police were also watching, and moved in to arrest them. Dancing is against the law in Iran.”

By the way, the death penalty for littering that he’s referring to is in regards to the infamous zero tolerance that Judge Dredd has for any form of law breaking, not anything that actually happens in Iran. Not that the Islamic Republic doesn’t have its share of ludicrous laws and punishments, mind you.

But more importantly, I wonder what the heck he was doing in Iran for 3 months…

Comics publishing – another reality check

Tyler James of the small press Comix Tribe shares some numbers and figures regarding the sale of their indie comic, Scam. The title is Hard Numbers, Hard Lessons, so you can guess how it’s going to play out. But I think this part from his “5 lessons learned” is worth highlighting:

“2.) It’s Harder Than I Though to Get Ordered at All

361 Diamond accounts ordered SCAM #1…out of 2,800 or so ordering books in August. So, after getting in the catalog, and all the drum beating, solicits, reviews, yadda, yaddda, only about 12% of retail accounts took a chance on SCAM. We all know that many retailers out there barely stock Image books appropriately, so I knew this number was going to be low…but 12%?

That takes some re-calibration and expectation management. But it also leaves a ton of room for growth.”

Yep, out of the around 3000 comic book specialty stores, you’re lucky if a bit over 10% of them consider ordering even one copy of your indie comic. That’s why I think it’s a good idea to consider web or digital publishing as a first step.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Planetoid #3

Here’s a look at one of the new indie series that I’ve been picking up and enjoying, Planetoid, by Ken Garing, and published by Image Comics:

The writing is a bit uneven, but I like the high concept of a former mercenary crash landing on a mysterious “planetoid” composed of the metallic wreckage of countless other spaceships, and the other humans and aliens who are trapped there.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Warlock 5 #6

And this post wraps up our week-long look at the 5 central characters from the urban fantasy series Warlock 5, which began publication in 1986 from Aircel Publishing. This cover features the sorceress Tanith O’Donnell:

If you’re interested in hunting down the back issues of this series, be aware that the original creators Gordon Derry and Denis Beauvais only stayed on the title until issue #13, after which there was a fairly contentious falling out with the publisher, and other creators continued the book until its cancellation at issue #22. There was a 2nd and 3rd volume with the same title, but the characters were completely unrelated, and the quality abysmal. Don’t bother with any of those issues, stick with the original 13.

Scott Allie on storytelling

Dark Horse editor Scott Allie has a great post on his blog about storytelling (and the lack thereof) in comics. Here he gives an example of a simple conversation scene that is rendered less subtle and less interesting by the artist’s poor choices:

“In another story, negative space and closeups have become so much a part of the composition that specific actions—simple things, like a character picking up a drink (which he later hurls to the ground), or the fact that the characters are sitting together at a table, are lost because we’re so close on the characters that the table only shows up as a thick line across the bottom panel border, if at all, and the drink disappears for an entire page at a time because we’re too close to see anyone’s hands—even though the very succinct panel descriptions say things like, He gestures with his glass, or He leans across the table. The scene is not about the table—but the table provides important context that makes the scene make visual sense. If the panel description is that short, and the table was important enough to mention, it’s probably worth putting the table in the panel.”

There’s also a good Alan Moore anecdote from his days at Wildstorm.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Warlock 5 #2

OK, this week’s spotlight is on yet another of my favorite indie series from the 80s, Warlock 5, published by Aircel. And instead of the M-W-F schedule of this feature, I’m posting all 5 days of the regular week, to spotlight each of the 5 characters from the book. Created by writer Gordon Derry and artist Denis Beauvais, the premise of the book was a bit of a riff on the Highlander movie high concept, with 5 powerful mystical guardians locked in an endless struggle over control of an interdimensional “grid.”

We kick off today with issue #2, featuring the anarchist Zania Nervana: