Friday, November 30, 2007

Heidi downloads comics?

So check this out - from the Beat - which btw is a GREAT blog if you've never checked it out.

We’re especially sad about all this because we’ve been getting rid of tons of books we had around the house for reference, thinking “Well, if we REALLY need it, we can just go to Z-cult”…and now THIS happens. Sheesh.

I wouldn't have pegged Heidi as being *one of us.* :D

Pullbox Online part 2

So yesterday at 5:30 am I sent an e-mail via the Pullbox Online *Contact Us* form where I asked them when would be able to get the comics I paid for.

Check out this half assed Contact Us form by the way...

Anyway, this morning this is what I got in my in-box:

Thanks for checking us out!
This is just an automagic reply to let you know we've received your message and
we'll get back to you as quickly as possible after that.

Still no comics, or a real response from a human being...

So far, this online digital comics experience has pretty well sucked.

Suddenly the Marvel Online Digital Universe doesn't seem so bad. :D

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

While I wait on Pullbox Online...

Having mentioned Eyemelt several times last week, I thought I also take some time this week to review IDW's Online initiative:

So, last night I purchased 5 comics from the Pullbox website. The steps were simple enough:

1) Enter in your email address
2) Pick a password to use when visiting the site
3) Select your comics
4) Enter in your credit card info and hit Submit...

Well, I got a confirmation screen saying I'd be e-mailed a link to download the comics (which is similar to how Eyemelt does it.)

However, that was last night, and now, 8 hours later, I still haven't gotten that e-mail.

Hm, but they were kind enough to charge my Visa card already. :P

When I tried to login to the Pullbox site to check the status of my order, I found my username/email wasn't recognized by the system. :P

Not Cool.

I'll keep you posted on this while I get the situation sorted out.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The SLG - ZCult FM mixup

Over the weekend, there seeems to have been quite a bit of mixup over whether Slave Labor Graphics would allow Zcult-FM to torrent their digital comics. (which I predicted earlier this week.)

From Serj, the Site Admin at Z-Cult:

Our statement and update in response to this news article:

UPDATED 25th Nov 2007 - 02:21)

In our first news post on this subject we posted the following statement from SLG Publishing:

To the members of Z-Cult:

SLG publishing would like to thank the moderators and forumers of Z-Cult for the respect they have shown in regards to our ban request. Obviously, our preference is to have each comic legally paid for, and the efforts undertaken to honor this desire have clearly shown that Z-Cult is not a forum overrun by those expecting a free ride. In return, we have decided to lift the ban from our independently published titles being distributed on Z-Cult. Of course, this is not an entirely selfless act - we hope that exposure to our large library of titles will help encourage support of our legal download site,

It is our belief that there is a market for legally downloadable comic books, and we hope that we can prove this to the comics industry by showing success through our our digital distribution system.

Unfortunately we cannot lift the ban on any SLG/Disney titles, for reasons that should be obvious. These titles are limited to: The Haunted Mansion, Tron, Gargoyles and Wonderland. Our apologies for being unable to allow sharing on these particular titles.

For those of you who took the time and effort to report and remove our material, and particularly to those who undertook the process of re-uploading your torrents over and over without complaint, thank you.

SLG Publishing

(Serj has) just been in contact with Dan (Owner of SLG Publishing) who has said this statement DID NOT come from him and DID NOT come from this company.

(Serj has) been in contact with Dan and SLG Publishing over this issue and the following is the reason behind this mix up.

Many months ago someone on behalf of SLG Publishing contacted (Serj) requesting (Zcult) removed SLG books from our website. As standard procedure we asked the e-mailer to verify who they said they were and their position in the company. The user provided proof they were speaking on behalf on SLG Publishing and so (Zcult) removed the books. Dan has stated in his recent email to (Zcult) that the user WAS requesting the removal of their books on behalf of himself. So (Serj's) background research was 100% correct.

When this same user emailed (Serj) the other day from same account with this statement from SLG Publisher it was taken to be 100% official and the user stated it was from the company as a whole. This was taken as official by (Serj) due to our earlier contact with this user and email account. So much to (his) surprise tonight (Serj) was informed the owners did not issue this statement so (Zcult) removed this post until we could verify it.

(Serj) contacted Dan directly and informed him of everything (Serj) had gotten from the person claiming to be SLG publishing and this is the email issued in response by Dan from SLG Publishing.

Hello Serj,

[I HAVE REMOVED NAME] is a freelance writer. He did, with my knowledge, contact you in regards to having you take down SLG content from your site when we started EYEMELT.COM.

However he is not in a position to make policies, especially in regard to something like this. We never asked him to make a statement about removing the ban. This being an American holiday I was unaware of any problems with your site and Marvel/DC since I was out of my office and not checking my email. I was not even aware of any statement on our behalf until I was contacted by a comics news site for additional comment.

[SERJ REMOVED NAME] obviously wrote the statement himself. I'm not certain why he felt he had the right to make a statement on our company's behalf without contacting me. I'm sorry if you came out looking bad on this as I do believe you were acting under the impression that [REMOVED NAME] was sending you something on our behalf. Again, why he thought he could issue a statement on my company's behalf without contacting me is beyond explanation. [REMOVED NAME] is very devoted to the notion of digital comics and he must have felt he was acting in everyones best interests.

I'll be issuing an amended statement on our blog and news site and I will be sure to mention that you posted the SLG statement under the honest assumption it was from us. As for the lifting of the ban, just so you can come away from this with something, you can go ahead and make our stuff available for download. I am not certain what our digital plans are going to be in the coming year, so I may come back and ask you to drop them again.
Dan Vado

So there we go. I followed up this email asking if they wanted banners as stated in the "offical" statement that turned out to be false and Dan said:


As for the banners, go ahead and leave them up for now. Lets see if there is any jump in sales long term because of this.

Sooo SLG comics still good to go and banners remain..

I am sorry for any confusion this might have caused but seems a little mix up and confusion has taken place on both sides.

End of Serj's Post.

UPDATE: Here is more information from Blog@Newsarama...

My biggest take away from all this is I'm a little curious about Dan's comments about what his future digital plans might be. Also, I think it's really quite awesome of him to support Zcult-FM by allowing Zcult to torrent the SLG books.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Marvel and DC send Zcult FM a Cease and Desist Order

Well, here we have the second shoe dropping. This week Marvel and DC teamed up, but not to present a classic adventure with Spider-Man or Superman. Instead they got together and sent ZCult-FM a cease and desist letter. (For those of you just joining us, Zcult-FM is the longest lived and most famous torrent site for comics on the net)

It is reported that per the letter, Zcult has 3 days to remove all DC/Marvel content from their site before DC/Marvel takes any further action. (I'm told that Zcult is going to abide by the letter and only provide non DC/Marvel comic related torrents in the future.)

For more commentary on the matter check these links:

From Forevergeek...

...Obsessive comicbook fans who absolutely must read every single issue that comes out from their beloved titles, or completists that want to read every single issue that is included in massive yearly crossover events can either do two things — spend a majority of their income buying comicbooks or download digitally scanned copies of the comics. For a growing number of collectors, digital comics has been a salve to soothe acute wallet burnout. They can now scan favorite titles or look for issues that they have missed. This makes them buy comics with a bit of foreknowledge, allowing them to just get issues that they really love and skip those that do not pass their personal scrutiny...

From Shotgun Reviews...

This shut down of ZCult is a big blow to readers of downloaded comics, but it is far from the only site on the internet that hosts them. People will be able to find other places if this one is in fact shut down. What’s different about ZCult from most is the online community that has formed there. Some of the most active, and intelligently debated, forums on the comic ‘net can be found in their message board section. Add to that reviews, a podcast, and weekly previews, and you have a full on comic site being run by no one actively involved in the industry, except as fans. According to Serj, Marvel’s demands included the complete shut-down of the site, including these community features. This seems odd, and really, a little vindictive to many involved with the site.

From TorrentFreak...

Another high note, Z-Cult FM’s admin just announced some really good news. Seems that there are benefits to having your material available on BitTorrent after all. Serj explains:

A comic publisher we talked to while ago who wanted their books banned from our site for their own reasons have just PMed/Emailed me to revoke the ban and are happy for us to share their files here.

From ComicsCommentary.blogspot

The scanning and pirating of comics will continue in the near future (there are still many other sites in which these comics are available for free), but Marvel and DC taking joint action against the best-known sites surely will have some effect. My guess is that new sites will pop up to fill the void left by Z-Cult FM and the also recently-shut down Demonoid, but that some of these new sites may end up having more restricted memberships (an "only by invitation" system).

My Thoughts on the Cease and Desist:

1) It was only a matter of time. I'm surprised it took so long. (Then again, DC *did* just launch their first internet initiative, which is basically a Web Comics site.)

2) It's plain to see that Marvel has gotten DC to reverse their don't ask don't tell policy on comic downloads, as 2 years ago at HeroesCon, Dan Didio himself said DC thought that comic downloads HELPED comics. (His reasoning? Because people couldn't afford to follow every title in a huge company crossover...)

3)How many times has Pirate Bay been sent cease and desist orders? And as of yesterday, they seem to be operating just fine. So, this is really sort of Marvel/DC's way of treating the symptom and ignoring the desease.

4) The mystery publisher who is going to be allowing Zcult to torrent their titles? Don't be surprised if it turns out to be Slave Labor Graphic's Dan Vado. Dan has proven time and time again that he is a true *Out of the Box* thinker, so I don't doubt that he recognizes the value of Zcult's Viral influence on comics readers.

Stay tuned for more as this story develops...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

GIT Loses Marvel Liscense, gains Archie


According to a letter to retailers posted on his company’s website by GIT Corp President Raymond K. Pelosi, GIT will no longer offer Marvel comic books on DVD-ROM. The question of how the collections would work in conjunction with Marvel’s new online comics initiative had been raised by many fans when the publisher’s plan was announced.

Over the years, GIT had released collections of Marvel titles from Fantastic Four to Amazing Spider-Man, the X-Men, Avengers, and more. Popular with many fans, the issues in the GIT collections were scanned in copies, presented in pdf format. Utilizing the technology, GIT would collect decades worth of issues on single DVDs.

A poster in the a.b.comics.dcp group (Santa Cthulhu) put it well by saying:

...removing the legitimate option for people who want to legally purchase a digital
version they can own and enjoy at their convenience instead of waiting for Marvel's site to get back up so they can read a rented copy from a spotty selection.

My opinion on this is that it's bad and shortsighted marketing to promote the product you want to sell by removing all other even vaguely related alternatives that could possibly take away sales from a non-competitive rival, especially when the previous product has decent sales *and* customer demand and the new one is still an unproven test with a noticeably flawed implementation.

And already on various message boards and such, a lot of people are expressing disappointment that the upcoming Thor and Daredevil or whatever collections they were looking forward to/saving up for will no longer be produced.

I was saving up for Avengers, X-Men, and maybe FF, myself. I think this kind of puts recent events into perspective, and I'm petty enough to hope that Marvel's subscription service tanks just because of all the DVD-buyers they're letting down so they can push their shiny new subscription model.

Guess I know what I'm not spending my holiday money on this year.

Best regards,

I agree with Santa Cthulhu, this strikes me as a bad move, unless Marvel is intending to offer such collections on their own. Regular readers of this blog know how I feel about PDF comics, but even I must admit the GIT Marvel collections were a great idea. I'll be sorry to see them go.

On the upside, it will be nice to have The Archie library available in this format.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Introducing: Kindle! Amazon's New WiFi Reader

Is this the new face of the digital reader revolution?

Uh...I certainly hope not, because it's sort of butt ugly. :P

Honestly, I would have been *Wowwed!* by this type of device back in 1992, but since then, the look and feel of hand-held devices has sort of moved on from the plastic Soviet Issue/Bad Radio Shack walkie talkie era hasn't it? I mean, did the design department at Amazon not learn anything from how the iPod's aesthetic superiority kicked the Zune's ass?

Seriously, it looks like a cross between a Texas Instruments calculator from 1982 and a Mattel Merlin..

But I know what you're saying..."Jim! How can you condemn such a neat device on just looks alone..."

Good point! Let's evaluate the price: $400.

Wow. For about the same price, I can get a cheap laptop that has wireless access, can read books and comics AND I can install games and programs on it as well.

And currently the votes by reviewers is running 74 5 Star reviews versus 146 1 Star reviews
Hm..maybe Amazon will have a better time winning me over as time goes by and new models of the Kindle come out. (Does anyone but me get an awkward *book burning* vibe from that name?)

In the meantime, I eagerly await Amazon's next awesome product - The Radio Hat!

On the Flipside:

Marvel corrected the double charge for my purchase of one month of the Digital Comics Unlimited. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Random Digital Comics Screenshots

Here are some random screenshots from my pc that tell a bigger story.

First up - me getting Double Charged by Marvel's new Digital Comics Online system. :P

Be sure to stick around while I get this little mess sorted out.

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase Two In One, doesn't it?

Next up, a sampling of some of the messages being posted in the alt.binaries.comics.dcp newsgroup.

There is still a lot of hand wringing going on in the DCP group about the fate of the newsgroup...and yet, what do we have here? Why, it's a torrent with all of this week's comics scanned by DCP? Guess the group is alive and well after all.

Finally, I check on a daily basis to see if Marvel has added Marvel Premiere 31 to their list of downloadable comics. So far they haven't, but I'm still hoping I'll see this one day...

Notes Concerning this Post:

1) DO NOT e-mail me asking where you can download bootleg comics. It's something I acknowledge, but do not advocate. If you want to download comics, go to Wowio, EyeMelt, PullboxOnline or download one of mine.

2) Seems like Marvel removed the online ads they had on their Digital Comics website. Just as well, they seemed to be very buggy, in many cases hiding the other menus and such. Also, I think there is something just plain broken with that little Flash menu...

3) Someone took the time to scan Captain Carrot. Pretty dedicated, aye?

4) Chris Sims doesn't get WoodGod. Doesn't think he's funny in the slightest. Someone feel free to set him straight. On the flipside, Phil Looney not only *gets* WoodGod, but has found a way to make Kang the Conqueror hilarious!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited - Where's WoodGod?

Well, Monday/Tuesday, Marvel announced their Digital Comics Unlimited - their first REAL venture into the world of Digital Comics (I don't really count the previous versions as anything but mere Flash advertising campaigns.)

Since this announcement, my fastmail inbox has been swamped with e-mails from various friends asking me for my opinion on Marvel's site.

I wanted to get an article out as quickly as possible, but as it turned out, the launch date of the site corresponded with my wife's Fencing Practice night, so I was in charge of watching our 2 year old daughter all night. (Which was actually a lot of fun, because we went and saw the Bee Movie, which we both enjoyed.)

ASIDE: The Bee Movie is quite awesome. Do yourself a big favor and go see it. :)

The launch of the site was preceded by a rather awkward bit of internet journalism as Newsarama broke the news from a Canadian news agency, only to have to retract it and post an update.

Regardless, the post on the news from Newsarama quickly blew up into a huge thread with most posters all wondering why Marvel wasn't going to let you download the comics. Site unseen, the Flash interface for reading these new comics was getting condemned, and to be honest, I must admit, I was one of the guys throwing stones at the press release.

Anyway, I hope I was able to tide all the loyal readers of this blog with links to the opinions from Phil Looney and Jason Wright.

As the week progresses, if other Flashback creators comment (see image <-- ) on the site, I'll be sure to post either their comments or links to their blogs here. :)

So, with all that aside, let us dissect this puppy...

Things that made WoodGod Happy...

Yeah, I'm gonna start with the good things about this new site, because I actually think there are quite a number of them. However there is also some *room for improvement* and *areas of opportunity* for the whole site, so bear with me.

1) The price seems fair - for $60 I can have access to a wide array of Marvel comics on my computer without taking up any hard disk space. That's really nice.

2) They seem to have a nice assortment of titles on the site. I saw comics ranging from the 60's to the Modern Day. Strangely, I even saw a few that seem to violate the 6 Month Publication date rule (Omega, The Unknown)

3) The scans are really top notch! I viewed a Bronze Age Captain America comic and was amazed at the clarity of both the colors and lettering. NOTE: I did have to fiddle with my browser size to get the page to appear sharp, but I suspect on a 17 inch monitor, no such tweaking would be necessary.

Things that made WoodGod go WTF..

Got this message while exploring the site and it pretty much killed the whole experience for me, as I was unable to access the site from then on. it just me, or do you only ever see this message when sites are using MySql? Seriously - can anyone send me a similar message from a Microsoft SQL Server?

I'm sure in the right environment, MySQL has it's uses...'s just not for me.

Still, I think it really says something about the validity of such an idea (Digital Comics) that for the first two days the site has been running, the server's been too busy to accomodate all the requests to the site.

On the flipside, people don't like paying a monthly fee for a site they can't access!

Not to mention the CRUCIAL loss of good first impressions Marvel needed to make with this launch.

Things that made WoodGod Mad...

1) No downloadable comics - Wow, did you see that one coming? Seriously, has anyone at Marvel Corporate looked at the history of such sites as People, especially us greedy Americans, really like to KEEP what we buy, and not being able to download and store your comics from the Marvel site seems like a huge oversite.

2) That interface is still pretty awkward. I've noticed quite a number of people saying the found the interface difficult to understand or clumsy. You don't hear prople say that about CDisplay.

3) This is NOT the iTunes of Comics we were hoping for. With all the media hype that this site is getting, I'm afraid the idea of Marvel delivering their comics in a nice downloadable cbr format are pretty much gone. I also suspect that DC will probably do something similar, so we end up having to read the complete I, Vampire or Black Orchid in some ghastly Zuda interface.

4) No Woodgod. - Nuff Said.


As long as the keep posting things like this:

...I'll probably keep checking out the site, but I'll be wishing I could download the comics everytime. :D

Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited (pre post 2)

Jason's Comic Shelf- I totally agree with him on the lack of a Downloadable option..

Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited (pre post)

While I work up a full review of Marvel's new Digital Comics site, please enjoy this great review from Phil Looney's Poptown blog!:)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

RIP for the DCP?

Last week saw a bit of turmoil in the DCP newsgroup as one of the more well known posters (Ourobouros) found himself served with an e-mail from the DMCA (Digital Milleneum Copyright Act)

This resulted in quite a number of back and forth posts in alt.binaries.comics.dcp devoted to how the newsgroup, and all downloadable comics in general, would soon be disappearing.

Yet, that didn't seem to happen. Wednesday came, and the 0-day scans still appeared in the group, as well as the associated torrent trackers, so I suspect that just like Hydra, if you serve one comic book scanner with a cease and desist from their ISP, 2 more will rise up in their place.

The New World Record for Comic Book Downloads

Anyway, in checking out exactly how the various torrent sites were doing in the wake of the DCP furor, I ran across this little statistic on one of the member only torrent sites:

UK Edition: Transformers (UK) [ DL ] 07-10 19:35 2.31 GB 362 74 21 264,170
fyi, the 7-10 is when the torrent was originally posted and the 74/21 numbers are the number of leechers/seeders on the torrent today.

So, over 250,000 people have downloaded that run of digital comics. On an arcane site that requires a password to access. Sort of puts All Star Batman in it's place doesn't it?

Friday, November 9, 2007

FlashBack on your iPhone/iPod Touch

A secret about the origin of the Flashback Universe is that I originally decided to begin my time/money investment in the project after using one of the first 5th generation iPods (the ones that could playback movies...) While admiring how slick the videos looked and how easy it was to use, I knew it would be just a matter of time before someone (most likely Apple) developed a device that would function as an all purpose iTablet, where you could watch TV, surf the net, phone friends and listen to music. So, one of my goals for the Flashback Universe was to build comics for that day... and while that day is still just a little ways off, it got a LOT closer when Apple introduced the iPhone.

So since the the iPhone went live last Summer, I've been waiting to see who would develop a cbr (rar) reader for the iPhone (and likewise, the iPod Touch)

So, it brings me great pleasure to present jComix!

jComix is a CBR reader written in Ruby by a talented Australian named Jeremy. It has been specifically tailored to the browser in a iPhone/iTouch.

Support for CBR/RAR archives (requires the unrar command line tool)
Detects JPEG, PNG and GIF images
Portable code (does not write to anything outside of its own folder)
Cross Platform

Now, I suspect not a lot of you reading this blog actually own an iPhone or iPod Touch because currently, they cost quite a bit for what they deliver. However I also suspect that within another year or two, they will be much cheaper and pretty much all the rage amongst the kids in the know. :)

And when that happens, the phrase, "Hey, Kids! Comics!" might just become popular again! :D

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Creature/WildCard Preview pages +LOSH homage

Note: Sorry this post is late. I'm involved in a rather complicated Sharepoint site Deployment for Microsoft, so feel free to blame Microsoft. :)

Following up on Monday's Paladin pages preview, I thought I'd show a couple of new pages Jerry Hind's has turned in for the upcoming Creature/WildCard story that will soon be appearing in Flashback Team-Up.

This first image is the splash page where UltraxThe Unconquered makes his grand appearance...notice the excellent details Jerry put into the crowd behind Ultrax. Also, check out the Counselor coming out of the space ship. Notice how the colors of both aliens uniforms seem to match. Really nice touch by Jerry on that! Jerry thinks of all these details I (and Chris) just don't think about. He's really quite brilliant!

This page shows two recent battles between Ultrax and the champions of other planets he's invaded...

Now, if you look carefully at the bottom half of the page, AND you are a fan of the old Bronze Era Legion of Super-heroes, I think you'll see a couple of familiar *faces.* It sort of looks like Ultrax is giving the Mon-El of that world a huge beatdown!

That single panel is pretty much an allegory for how the legion has been treated since Crisis On Infinite Earths. :(

start RANT tag...
What we can learn from the Legion of Super Heroes' decline in popularity and how it relates to comics in general...

It's funny because in many ways, what has happened to the LOSH over the years is really representative on a grander scale to comic books in general.

In the 60's, with innovative story telling and the introduction of a wide cast of characters, Jim Shooter managed to give readers a long run of stories that to this day cast a huge shadow on all writers who take a turn on the title. But as the Silver Age began to wain, so did the popularity of the title.

That was until Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell stepped up as artists on the title, reenvisioning the costumes of the classic characters, and bringing a slick look to the comic. This inspired the writers to bring their A game to the title as well. So in the 70's the book started to climb again in popularity (up until Grell left, then it sort of wandered a bit...)

Then in the 80's Keith Giffen and Paul Levitz reignited the Legion with the Great Darkness Saga. What they did wasn't so much a total shakeup of the legion or their mise en scene, but a nudge forward into recognized DC Continuity. Really, examine the Great Darkness Saga and specify the one exact moment where it completely outstrips the previous 20 stories before it...I argue, it's ONLY the inclusion of Darksied that makes that story special

After that story, we have one where Karate Kid is killed, and then Princess Projecta kills to avenge him. Then the series sort of meanders its way into oblivion...

So, back to my original hypo, Levitz and Giffen *really* only ignited some fire in the Legion by realigning it with the DC Continuity. After that card was played, they had to resort to a round of deaths to keep readers excitement going.

DC Countdown analogies can begin now. ;)

- Jim

Monday, November 5, 2007

Paladin Preview Pages

I've gotten quite a number of e-mails asking me about my opinion of Zuda. And while I do have my thoughts on the project, I'm going to defer comments to Heidi MacDonald's The Beat Zuda Reax for the time being because she's doing an awesome job keeping tabs on the Zuda pulse.

So instead for today, I'm going to post some of the first couple of pages of Pierre's Paladin artwork. Enjoy!

Here's the cover (yes, it's a Steranko tribute.)

Here's Page 1 - The Vanguard returniong from a successful mission!

Pages 2, 3 and 4

And our tribute to Hulk 181!

Hope you enjoyed those! Maybe Wednesday I'll do a big Zuda write up. ;)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Submissions: Can I Write For You? part 2

Picking up from yesterday, here are a few more things to consider when submitting a story to Flashback Universe...

3) Be prepared for a lot of tweaking by me (or your editor) as you work on your story.
Now, this really isn't a rule that's exclusive to the Flashback Universe. Any professional company that pays for writing has this rule. And in actuality, many companies won't go through the trouble of suggesting story tweaks, but rather just say, "No, thanks." without ever telling you why. Which really doesn't help you as a writer I'm sad to say. So, when I'm tweaking your story, realize I'm trying to help you develop the best Flashback Universe story I think you are capable of. Any help from someone who's going to pay you for your story is something you should fully respect.

For instance, the second story I ever published professionally was a horror story I submitted to a small press magazine called DeathRealm. Well, on the first submission, Mark Rainey, the editor, passed on the story, but said it showed promise. He didn't say exactly what was good and what needed work, so I did the unthinkable...

...I called up Mark (this was before e-mail) and asked him what he liked and what he didn't like. He told me my dialogue was stilted and one action scene dragged a little. I thanked him for the criticism and then I did another unthinkable thing...

...I changed my dialogue and fixed the action scene exactly as he suggested. then I sent it back to him with a note saying, I made the changes you suggested, and I think it's a much better story now.

Mark agreed. My story got published and I got paid.

So, to circle back around to my point, when I am reading your submission, I am thinking about how much money it will cost me to publish your story, and will it add to the overall mise en scene of the Flashback Universe. So, if I ask for 2 or 12 story changes, be prepared to work with me on them. Some will be things I won't compromise on. Some will be things we can discuss and meet in the middle on.

For example, and I'm going to pick on Chad Bowers here for a second...Chad's currently working on a Prometheus story. And to be honest, I've just gotta think Chad must hate me at this point, because I've made about a zillion suggestions to his story so far. (NOTE: not because Chad's story is deficit in anyway, but because Chad comes up with these GREAT ideas, and I like to push him to flesh them out more in his story.)

So far Chad's been a true professional, and rolled with every suggestion I've given him (when I was adamant about them.) A lot of these suggestions are prefaced with the phrase: Here's an idea, but I'm not married to it... meaning just that - I'm suggesting something for the writer to consider, but I'll be okay if the writer decides to not use this suggestion.

Now, a lot of this may sound like common sense to most people who want to work as writers, but I'm sorry to say, it's not. A lot of people who want to submit stories get all freaked out when you, the guy *paying* for the story dare suggest that they make a change to their story.

To those writers I say, That's cool - you have an artistic vision and don't want to compromise it. I can respect that. However, you should really just publish your own story then because you'll may never be happy working for other people.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Submissions: Can I Write For You? part 1

Okay, I get a lot of e-mails about Flashback Universe, but far and away the most popular one is Can I Write For You?

The simple answer is yes, but to be honest, unless you understand the core concepts behind Flashback Universe, you will probably not be able to send me a story I'll want to publish. Here are some simple guidelines:

1) The story must be self-contained.
Every FBU comic on the site might be a visitors first exposure to the Flashback Universe, so it's critical that the story is a done-in-one. People don't download things in sequential order. They just don't. They download based on what appeals to them. And that's how it should be. If you send me an idea for a 6 part Lady Nemo story, you will get a rejection.

2) The story must have that Bronze Age feel to it.
I'm sorry to say this concept is a little tougher for people who are not familiar with Bronze Age comics to grasp. Still, this doesn't mean you have to be born in the 60's to understand them. Chris Sims is one of my youngest writers, and he TOTALLY gets what the Bronze Age stories are all about.


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