I just got back from a Memorial Tribute for the late, great artist Dave Cockrum, who passed away from diabetes in November 2006. I had to leave after the first hour or so, but I'm sure others can pick up the rest. It was at the Time Life building in New York, with DC Comics hosting.
There were a lot of industry folk in attendance, especially a lot of editors from the past and present. Some notables included Paul Levitz, Dan Didio, Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley, Chris Claremont, Peter David, Mark Waid, Steve Wacker, Tom Breevort, Danny Fingeroth, Bob Schreck, Jo Duffy, Jack C. Harris, among many others that I missed and didn't recognize. Before the speeches started, all the creators and editors from the era were meeting up and seeing and catching up with each other.
Paul Levitz lead off the ceremonies by explaining that these tributes were part of an old tradition dating back 25 years ago to when Wally Wood died and the comics community came together to share stories, thoughts and remember him.
The tone was pretty light and upbeat — partly I assume because it's been six months since Cockrum passed and everyone has had more time to deal with the death. Even Cockrum's wife, Paty, was in high spirits, as she came in wearing a Magneto t-shirt.
Clifford Meth, Cockrum's longtime friend, started off the speeches, reminding everyone Cockrum died in his Superman pajamas and was cremated in his Green Lantern shirt. He also read a statement from Marv Wolfman, who was unable to make it in town. Next Meth introduced a prepared audio statement from Harlan Ellison, but not before making a light dig at Gary Groth. Ellison read from a humorous intro he wrote for a Cockrum tribute book. It actually drew a tear from Peter David — which actually came out of laughter, not sadness. Not everyone was into Ellison's enthusiastic but long speech, as Mark Waid jokingly pretended to cut his wrists halfway through.
Jo Duffy, Jack C. Harris, Roy Thomas (via Paul Levitz proxy) and Chris Claremont also spoke and shared anecdotes. Unfortunately I missed the rest because I had to get back to the other job.
All in all, it was a pretty light but very heartfelt tribute. Parts were pretty touching, especially considering I'd never met Dave Cockrum. It really did make me wish I'd been more familiar with Cockrum's entire body of work, and appreciate what I have read of his even more.
High-fives all around to Laura, who just scored some nice employment at Virgin Comics working as the CMO's right hand gal. Hello, health benefits! She'll still be writing kickass piecse for CF and PWCW so fret not, gentle reader. * And yes, we'll be working extra hard to make sure it's not a conflict of interest.
This is some concept art kickass illustrator Sam Weber did for the new animated film Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Smart readers will recognize Sam's work the BEASTS! book from Fantagraphics. Sam's a great guy and is one of my favorite illustrators to work with.
All has been quiet on the magazine front — until now. I'm happy to report that Comic Foundry and Diamond have struck a compromise! Diamond Comics will distribute the magazine in September, and we will drop our cover price on the first issue from $6.25 to $5.98. Thems the terms.
Diamond was very gracious to reconsider the book and meet us half way on this. I hold no ill will against them, and let's hope they feel the same way. I feel confident though, that despite the... unusual start we can continue on to forge a good business relationship.
We were considering taking the book to a publisher, but we're going to stick it out on our own for the first issue. Maybe we'll reconsider after this issue, maybe not. All I know is it's going to be a fun ride.
Now, this obviously never would've happened if it weren't for the massive amounts of support from all you friends, colleagues, bloggers, viewers, readers and other people. The amounts of support has been overwhelming, and I can't thank you all enough.
Now that this is over we can get back to the more interesting things going on in the comics world. Like tentacle rape.
We've also received a ton of letters from a lot of big names in the industry voicing their support. But the ones that really get me are the ones from our readers — especially the ones I've never met. Here's a favorite:
"I'm writing to you today as a self-admitted novelty—a female comic book fan. It's an interesting cultural boundary that I straddle, encountering skepticism both from my fellow adults in the "normal" world and from my fellow comic book enthusiasts. Now I've grown accustomed to the eye rolls I receive at the finance magazine ( SFOmag.com) I edit for when I head out on Wednesdays with that extra spring in my step. I've never, however, been comfortable with the attention that I receive from the mainstream comic book fan. I've attended Wizard World in Chicago for the last four years with my brother and sister and it's not unusual for someone to assume that my sister and I are there because a boyfriend dragged us there. In fact, a representative from Wizard Magazine was profoundly surprised when my sister and I rattled off a list of comics that we regularly read. While perusing any installment of Wizard Magazine chock full of pubescent, and frankly bad, writing that merely reinforces negative stereotypes of our beloved juxtaposed sequential art form—it becomes abundantly clear that I am not apart of the preferred, or at least expected, demographic.
I love comic books. I've been to the comic strip museum in Brussels and I was fortunate enough to meet Will Eisner before he passed. We have a dynamic and active community of fans. We are lucky enough to have weekly content created by an army of original and revolutionary artists and writers. But the predominating comic book culture in America, and the institutions like Wizard Magazine that sustain it, alienate women and keep a vast potential audience at bay.
Not only does Comic Foundry inject genuine credibility into comic book journalism, but it also showcases the true face of comic book fandom. In the online edition, I found a place for authentic criticism and theory. I know at least a dozen Professors in Chicago alone that are licking their chops at the opportunity to introduce a text like this into their courses. Personally, I couldn't wait till the print version came out. Imagine reading an interview with Mike Carey or Pia Guerra that didn't contain a question regarding their favorite comic book movie or not feel embarrassed reading a comic book rag on the train because there is a "top ten bikini scenes in comics spread"? Finally, I'll feel like I'm not reading my brother's magazine (from when he was 16).
I understand Diamond's refusal to distribute Comic Foundry germinated from a seed of doubt that there would not be a sizable audience for an 80-page black and white magazine about comics. Let me assuage those fears: I would much rather 10 pages of black and white CONTENT from Comic Foundry than the however many pages of content-less bright color that Wizard Magazine offers. Please give Comic Foundry a chance. The ladies, at least, would appreciate it." —Megan Milliken, Chicago
Doesn't it get you right there?
As far as updates go, we have options. Maybe still try with Diamond, maybe try a publisher, maybe go the distro route, maybe something else. What we'll decide, I'm not sure but the one thing I do know is this: Comic Foundry Magazine will see print.
And so, thank you. To everyone. Thanks for writing, for the support and for talking about the mag. I'm even thankful to the people who don't support us, because those disagreements always lead to some interesting discourse. But really, thanks.
So, I've got some news. Diamond has chosen not to carry Comic Foundry Magazine. This, as you might guess, is quite bad.
What are you talking about? Many of you know that for the past six months or so, we've been working on creating a new comics magazine. It'd feature brand new concepts, ideas, formats and presentations, to help breathe life to something fresh and exciting. I want to find new ways to cover comics and create something the readers deserve.
What does being rejected mean? Well, it means we're almost all dressed up with no place to go. We've got no way to get from here to there. For those not familiar with the process, Diamond puts out a PREVIEWS catalog that goes to every comic store. I'm sure you've seen it. It's from this catalog that comics stores order their stock of books and magazines. You have to apply to be in said catalog, and alas, we were rejected.
Why was the magazine rejected? According to Diamond: "a B&W title at the price you're using just won't work well in the current market we believe." Fact: our cover price is $6.25 for an 80-page B&W magazine. Now they might not think that will sell, but it isn't consistent with what they're already approving. Such as Issue 14 of Draw! magazine, that's 80 pages, B&W and retails for $6.95. Same with issue 15 of Write Now! Both same specs, but 70 cents more.
I called Diamond for more clarification and spoke with Tim Huckelbery, who let me know the news in the first place. He said, among other things, "When I was looking though it and reading a magazine of that type, which is about comics, which has lots of images of comics characters, that is looking to be timely and topical, I was expecting color. That, just for me, is how my brain is wired." So, to be a timely magazine with topical content (and feature images of comic characters) it has to be in color? I'm sorry, I've thought about this all afternoon, and I don't really see how this makes sense. What about The Comics Journal or Comics Buyers Guide? Neither of those are full-color, right?
Where does that leave Comic Foundry Magazine? Up the creek, sans paddle. Diamond is the major distributor in comics. Without being in Previews means a serious hurt in circulation. Can the magazine survive without Diamond? I certainly hope so. I've got a will, I'm just looking for a way.
Please we want to help. What can we do? If you believe in Comic Foundry, or you want to see a new comics magazine on the market, or you are ready for new ideas and a fresh take on things, now is your chance to be heard. If you want to help, please write to Diamond to tell them you support Comic Foundry Magazine and want to see it in their Previews catalog. If you're like me and this is something you believe in, we have a rare opportunity to not only be heard, but to make a difference. Click to write to Diamond's Tim Huckelbery.
PS I usually try to stay even-tempered, but I got quite peeved when talking to him when he compared the mag to Wizard. Eesh!
Check this new documentary on the making of the ultra-cool indie comic Karma Incorporated. It features interviews with the lovely David Hopkins, Tom Kurzanksi and more. Plus it has a catchy little tune in the bg. (that's high-level industry lingo for background).
This image is already making the rounds online, thanks to Entertainment Weekly getting the scoop. But it was just too cool not to post. Didn't the Batman movie costume have a built in "bathroom" as part of it? If so...you KNOW this one does too.