How to sell a crappy Wonder Woman show

Use phrases like “a product of its time” and “certainly worth a look.” That’s the inspired sales pitch on the DC Comics blog for the 1974 TV pilot for Wonder Woman, starring Cathy Lee Crosby.

As developed by writer John D.F. Black (Star Trek, Shaft), this take on Wonder Woman featured a hero with little in the way of super powers hunting down a villain (portrayed by Ricardo Montalban) who had stolen classified information about American agents. Also drastically different was Diana’s mod-inspired costume, though elements such as her iconic bracelets, lasso and her Amazonian home of Paradise Island make appearances. While a product of its time, this take on the revered character is certainly worth a look for DC comics fans, if for the nostalgia factor alone.

That sure sounds like a great take on an iconic comic book character. I’m sure fans of Wonder Woman can’t wait to fork over their hard earned money for this “classic” now available on DVD.

First look at the new Blue Devil

A few months ago on the blog, I posted my pitch for a new take on DC’s Blue Devil character, after it was clear that it wasn’t going anywhere. And today I saw the announcement for a new Black Lightning/Blue Devil storyline coming up in DC Universe Presents. Anyway, here’s the new character design by Brett Booth:

No. Just…no.

I don’t know the man himself, and I have nothing against him, but I’m not a fan of Booth’s style at all. To my eye, it’s a throwback to the absolute worst excesses of the 90s “Image style.” Metal kneepads with chains attached to them? Leather fetish wear with an open chest and more chains acting like a tail? Yeah, I pretty much think this design is 50 shades of hideous, and that’s being generous.

On the other hand, Marc Andreyko is writing the 5-issue story arc, and I’ve liked most of his past work, especially his reboot of the Manhunter character, with Kate Spencer in the role. And since it’s not clear that Booth will be the artist on the series, there’s some hope in that department yet.

I like the anthology aspect of DC Universe Presents, and I’m looking forward to Andreyko’s take on these characters. Despite my comments above about the character design, this isn’t a case of sour grapes. When I was given the opportunity to pitch to DC, I always knew it was a long shot, and I don’t begrudge any other creator getting work.

I just really, really dislike that ugly character design.

Asinine stunt by BOOM! Studios

A lot of words came to mind after hearing about the recent “variant cover” stunt by BOOM! Studios.

Idiotic.

Counterproductive.

Shortsighted.

Insulting.

And yes, asinine.

For those of you unfamiliar with the news, here’s the basic scoop: BOOM! Studios has a new comic coming out called Valen The Outcast. They printed a 1-in-200 variant cover for it, which means a store would have to order 200 copies of the book to get 1 copy of the variant.

Yes, welcome back to the dark ages of comics, circa 1993.

But wait, it gets better! The variant issue came pre-“slabbed” by the CGC (another wonderful practice that’s a blight on our industry) which means the book is sealed forever in a plastic case (or as the CGC calls it, “fitted inside an archival-quality interior well, which is then sealed within a transparent capsule”). As Bleeding Cool so succinctly put it, “this was a comic destined never to be read. They could have printed blank pages.”

Apparently 25 comic book stores were stupid enough to take BOOM! up on this fine offer. Which is where the story gets even better! To really drive home the “collectible” nature of this bullshit variant cover – you know, the one that nobody will ever open or read – the publisher burned the remaining 475 printed issues with the variant cover!

Here’s a video of them doing so, proudly. Bravo to the book’s writer, Michael Alan Nelson, for getting involved in this imbecilic stunt so cheerfully.

Seriously, guys? Did we not learn anything from the chromium embossed die-cut parchment nude variant cover excesses of the 90s that led to the speculator boom/bust that nearly dragged the entire industry down the drain? This is how you aim to promote your books in 2011? At a time when comics have finally emerged in the social consciousness as a respected medium, but at the same time its publishers are hemorrhaging readers, this is how you as a publisher choose to represent the industry?

Unbelievable.

But wait, there’s more! (I know, I can’t believe it either…it’s the story that keeps on giving, like explosive diarrhea.) Yes, this fantastic first issue, with the ultra rare 1-in-200 slabbed-and-burned variant cover…has 7 other variant covers as well. That’s right, seven more!

I don’t know what’s worse: crass, myopic stunts like this, or the fact that despite such fine publishing decisions, fans and retailers are all worked up over how digital comics will spell the doom of the industry.

Classy…Not!

I spotted this ad on a comic news site:

I believe that’s the textbook definition of irony.

For future reference, I think it’s safe to say that no art featuring women ever produced by J. Scott Campbell can accurately be described as “classy.” Porny, maybe.

Spoof Comics: 90s dreck at its best (worst)

Recently, while looking for comic covers to post as part of the Weekend Versus feature on my other blog, I ran across several more books from a publisher called Spoof Comics. You may remember them from this previous edition of Weekend Versus, featuring their oh-so-clever Wolverbroad vs. Hobo book, or this one, featuring Spider-femme vs. Denim.

Well, I’m here to tell you that judging by the covers of their other books, it’s a testament to the strength (and insanity) of the 90s era speculative market that they lasted as long as they did. Again, I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t read a single one of these comics, but honestly, I can’t imagine any of them actually being funny. For example, we’ve got O-X: Cow O’ War:


Because nothing’s funnier than recasting Valiant’s successful X-O: Man O’ War as a cow. Cow’s have udders, which are funny, right? Ugh. Or how about The Punish-her Score Journal:

First of all, the character’s name doesn’t even make sense, other than it’s the best they could come up with that would somewhat rhyme with Punisher. I don’t even want to know how they wove in the theme of dating and sex and “punishment,” because I have a feeling it’s a bunch of frat house juvenile humor. But hey, check out the early Dave Johnson cover. At least he went on to bigger and better things.

And speaking of great cover artists, the folks at Spoof Comics were at least smart enough to know they’d have a better chance of selling their books if they put some recognizable talent on the covers. My guess is the interiors of these comics were drawn by hungry, naive young artists with way more enthusiasm to “break in” than actual alent. You know, the Bluewater model. So if you can get some nice looking covers, you may at least trick some unsuspecting souls into buying your crap comics. Case in point, Swamp Thang:

Oh, Kelley Jones, you must have had a car payment to cover that month. But at least it’s a really good cover. And then there’s Spider-femme:

That’s right, despite the normal looking (and sized) breasts, that’s pinup artist extraordinaire, Adam Hughes. Incidentally, the above cover is from their anthology series Spoof Comics Presents, which, get this, lasted 19 issues! And in that year and a half of publication, they gave us such gems as Daredame:

…Vertigo parodies like Dame Patrol:

…and the super-innuendo of Green Lanterns:

(by the way, I’m pretty sure that’s a Cully Hamner cover on GL)

…and so many other comedy classics, from Justice Broads to Wet Shirts. I’m telling you, Spoof Comics was a veritable (un)funny factory, churning out not just comic book spoofs, but also those of celebrity rock bands. Behold, Kisses:

But even in the early stages of their careers, guys like Adam Hughes and Kelley Jones probably charged too much for a cover (and by too much, I mean “not free,” which seems to have been Spoof Comics’ payment standard), so their other books looked more like this:

That’s right, Youngspud. What’s funnier than a parody of Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood book, than a bunch of potato superheroes? God, I can just imagine all the funny lines in that book: the heroes drink a lot to get “mashed,” or maybe they fight a French supervillain knows as The Fry?

Well, I’m afraid that’s about as much as I can stand to write on this topic. But before I go, I’ll leave you with the best of the bunch. Behold teh funny of Soul Trek:

I don’t even want to know.