Friday, February 26, 2010

Digital Comics Review:'s Adobe Air Client is a place for all people that, like us, love the art and story telling that lives within the pages of a comic book or graphic novel, and enjoy nothing more than sharing that enthusiasm with their friends.

It's important to note that our review is of the ALPHA version of the software. Once it's been delivered to you, makes no bones about letting you know there will be bugs in their current release & we did find a few (largely in setting it up after the install but was very helpful in getting us up and running).
You will need to have Adobe Air installed to run the software.

THE LOOK: is pleasant to look at and easy on the eyes with a faded neutral color design. This is good, if publishers/developers want us reading comics on screens for any length of time I'd hope that they'd consider the condition our eyes will be in once we're finished. After all, we'll need them for more than just viewing digital comics.

The layout of the main page is clean and very intuitive:

Like a blog that you might read, or a social networking site that you might frequent, your profile info is on the left along with news & updates with comics you can buy on the right (this feature has been turned off in the alpha) and updates from your self and as anyone you've "friended" (another feature that seems to be turned of) inside of streaming down the middle of the page.

Across the top of the page are additional navigation links taking you to different areas inside of your full profile, your comics collection, news feeds, and more.

THE COMICS:'s user interface is really very nice and where shines as a digital comic book experience. There are lots of ways to customize how the information is given to you. Here is a look a the "collection" area where you'll find the comics you're able to read:



Once you've chosen a comic to read runs a bit like HULU in that many of the features "disappear" into the background and allow you to focus on reading the comic book it self as it transitions to a full screen mode by default (however you can resize the window which is nice for customization as well as machines with smaller screens such as netbooks).

Click on the comic you want and it automatically downloads for you while you're waiting. Click on the title and you can get information about that comic, or read it. If you've read a comic on the iPhone or another device then you've all ready gotten a sense of how's reader works accept that has lots more room to play with regarding screen size, enabling them to put up some very nice graphics that enhance the digital comic book reading experience:

WANTED #1 (TopCow)
Here we have a full 2 page spread view, which gets too each time you click the arrows through reading one entire page (panel by panel - see below).

Once you click the left arrow, while on the 2 page spread view, begins providing another layer to the experience and breaks the page down by giving you each panel, one panel at a time, until you've read the entire 2 page spread and then it moves on to the next set of pages in line.

The comic book page, as a whole or broken down into panes all look really nice. The images are clear and crisp, as good as (if not better in some cases), any comic book page printed on paper today. As a bonus, in this mode there are specific features just for enhancing the digital comic reading experience including bookmarking pages, tweeting or updating facebook on pages you've read (including snippets of the page/panel it self), and leaving a comment/message attached to that page where other people logged into can see and read it.


Every comic book fan boy needs news. Who'll voice Nightwing in the BATMAN:Under The Hood animated feature? Where will the up and coming Green Lantern film shoot? Who's publisher of DC Comics right now? All of these items have their place and are a part of the comic book experience, an experience that understands as they've added a built in RSS feed reader and even preloaded it with a few choice feeds that my interest you:

The use of Adobe Air really makes these features not only smooth to use, but they really pop: each one standing out and demanding your attention.

Overall, not a bad way to read comics if I do say so my self, particularly when you take into consideration that this is simply the Alpha release with several features turned off and I'm sure a few new features waiting in the pipeline.


While I haven't gone over any of these things with (although you can, in the "feedback" area of the software) per say it would be nice to be able to import comics not on their servers into the software so that you can read them. Say from a certain free digital comic book publisher?

Have any of you been able to give a try? Would you like to? What would your ideal digital comic book reader have in the ways of form, functionality, and features?

Have a nice weekend,


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reinventing the Crisis

I am DYING!!


As I am writing these lines... I am waiting for the Justice League: Crisis on 2 Earths DVD.

I can't finish one of my half a dozen Blogs already in progress.

I can't even write a line without getting back to Crisis on 2 earths.

I have been watching the preview that was included in the Batman/Superman: Public Enemies DVD wayyyy too much.

And I was watching the preview... there is one thing that is driving me crazy.... CRAZY!!!
No... no waiting... although YES waiting for the release of the film IS driving me crazy.

But what REALLY is driving me crazy is that goddamn habit of always wanting to reinvent the wheel.

Why always try to reinvent what was fine to begin with?? Why always try to fix what isn't broken??

Why do they always try to redesign the characters?? and even worse... recast the actors who were doing an awesome job on the various animated series that was produced by Bruce Timm??

I can almost understand when it comes to the design work.

I have seen it in the past on various production.

Whenever you get a new designer/director on a project... the new guy pretty much ALWAYS look at what was done before him thinking "this sucks... I will fix it and make it 1000 times much better" or some such equivalent.

It never fails.
It is even worse on shows where there was a change of director halfway through the production for some reason.

At least a few times I had to redo designs/storyboards that were already approved by the first director... only to have the second director go "this sucks... everything sucks... lets redo all of it".

In most cases.... I would explain it with one very simple word...
There is a lot of egos in the art community.

They HAVE to try to put their mark on the project.

So they will try to "fix" the project by trying to redo it in their style.

It makes no sense... but there you have it.

In the case of the designs of the Timm animated projects... they had developed through the years and AWESOME style. And though the years... they had refined the style close to perfection.

So I am always scratching my head whenever they decide to put everything they have spent years perfecting in the garbage bin, and decide to redo everything from scratch.
Makes no bit of sense to me.

And even worse for the voice acting.

They had some awesome voices for Batman, Lex Luthor, and most of the cast.

So why not use them actors who were doing a GREAT job to begin with???

Why always try to look for other actors to do a job, when they ALREADY had the people to do a GREAT job??

I don't get it.
Anyway.... so as you read it... I should have watched Crisis on 2 Earths half a dozen times already..... unless it was sold out for some reason.

So far.... word is that it is great.
Which makes me even MORE DYING to see it... if that is even possible.

So I will not wait one nanosecond to see it.
I will go get myself a copy as soon as I leave the studio.

So odds are.... next week... I should tell you about my experience watching Crisis on 2 Earths, and if it’s as good as they say.

We shall see.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Exciting Comics

My wife is sick this morning, so no long intro today as I'm getting her and my daughter ready to go to the Doctor. Enjoy today's comics. - Jim

[ Exciting Comics 31 ]

[ Exciting Comics 34 ]

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lost Universe: The Patriot

Here at Flashback Universe we’d like to start discussing comics in the past tense, in addition to our present and future tense articles. To that end we’re continuing a new feature we’re calling Lost Universes. We’ll discuss properties, imprints, lines, and characters from comic book universes that are no longer actively putting out books such as Valiant, the Ultraverse, Comics Greatest World and others. More to the point, we’ll be examining what made those publishers and their lines interesting, unique and great...

Today while narrowing in on the "comics boom" (bronze & iron ages) we'll be examining a unique phenomenon of the publishers in the LOST UNIVERSE: The fact that only one of them published a book centered around a patriotic character sporting the stars & stripes (or another nations equivalent). For such an iconic look, and powerful archetype filled with stories of characters standing up for all mankind to do what's right in the name of the nations we've built over time & those behind the flag being held to a higher standard as they represent "the best of us" doesn't it seem weird that only one publisher put out any books like these? Just one?

When you consider that lots of publishers were publishing one or two, and the bigger publishers had many more, the lack of such a strong dominating genre, which was being ill represented on the comic book shelves by these publishers, may have played a factor in one or two of their demise don't you think?

Then again, the one publisher who did publish a patriotic book also met their demise so who really knows how big a factor such a decision might play.

A bit of perspective:
  • DC: 23 patriotic styled characters (plus a team)
  • Marvel: 21 patriotic styled characters (plus a team)
  • Image: 5 patriotic styled characters
  • Wildstorm + Imprints: 6 patriotic styled characters
Lets examine this a bit further by taking a look at some of the LOST UNIVERSE publishers who didn't put out a patriotic book...

In the Ultraverse the government was largely represented by an organization known as ALADIN and their primary agent was WRATH.

There were nine regular issues & a giant size published of WRATH, all of them filled with twisted mysterious government secrets that WRATH was charged with protecting. The entire run put the man behind the mask (a genetically altered soldier by the way) at odds with his orders and kept the book really messy story wise as plots twisted and intermingled full of guest stars that would nearly overshadow the main character at times.

As you can see, WRATH does not wear the iconic colors or emblems of any nation and wouldn't be considered a patriotic character by any stretch of the imagination.

The Valiant universe, probably the largest of the LOST UNIVERSES, had plenty of government poking around in it's many titles. I think the closest thing they had to a patriotic character were the ARMORINES.

The U.S. Government took X-O Manowar as a threat. The Armorines were created by Dr. Phillip Zahn to deal with this threat. After they got the go ahead on the project from Senator Ackerman, Colonel Gardner recruited eight soldiers to function as the Armorines. Four would be trained as the field agents with the other four acting as their co-pilots from the base. Gunny Lewis, an aging war veteran, was chosen to be their field leader. Ackerman, however, made it perfectly clear to Gardner that he wanted Lewis out of the program as soon as the others were properly trained to function without him.

The Armorines are also not "star spangled" and if memory serves the standard Iconic American Dream type stories that one would find in a patriotic book were not to be found in this one.

Since the CGW series took place in three major cities, there's plenty of government here (or lack there of depending on your story view). The closest thing that CGW has for a patriotic character are the PIT BULLS.

The Pit Bulls aren't really even government. Instead they're a classified strike team of police officers set aside to deal with the costumed/powered ruffians of Arcadia (one of the CGW setting cities).

While they do have blue suits they are not flag wearers and the members are not iconic who represent the best of us as most patriotic superheroes often do.

To be fair I did leave out a few publishers that did publish patriotic character centered books like; AC Comics (Miss Victory & Yankee Girl) but AC Comics is technically publishing again from their website, Archie Comics ( Captain Flag & The Shield) who are technically still publishing as well, & Fox Features Syndicate (U.S. Jones & V-Man) who were not part of the "Comics Boom" but are golden age publishers.

TEKNO, CHAOS!, CROSSGEN, BROADWAY, & DEFIANT were all comic book publishers who didn't put out a patriotic character book (although I'm betting TEKNO'S would have been interesting if they had).

Who did?

Awesome Entertainment published The Fighting American/Agent:America & whether that did or didn't play a part in it's demise this blogger can't say for sure but AWESOME was the only LOST UNIVERSE publisher of the "Comics Boom" to put out a patriotic character centered book.

Was it a sign of the times (bad girls, big guns, trench coats, mutans & meyham) that made introducing new Patriotic characters more passe than Omnipotent, or Dark Vigilante characters? Would it be chalked up to "tone"? Maybe the smaller publishers where trying to do something a bit different than the big two? Maybe Captain America had that corner of the comic book shelf taken care of? Maybe the creators who went to work for the other publishers had all already done their Captain America story?

Did we cover your favorite lost universe in this post? Did we cover your favorite character (patriotic or not) from the Comics Boom? We want to so please let us know what you think about this article, this series, or anything else that may be on your mind concerning the Flashback Universe.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

1001 (Saturn) Knights

"An obvious copy of Iron-Man"

It is what I was told when I showed my roommate at the time an early version of Saturn knight.

And to this day.... I am still scratching my head at how it can have been perceived as an "obvious copy of Iron-Man." I could almost... almost have understood such comment from the color version since it had a good chunk of yellow in it.... but from the penciled version???

I don't get it.

It was also called "an obvious copy of Guardian".
Other then the energy glow that can surround both characters.... again I fail to see it.

The script of the first Flashback Universe comic required of Saturn Knight to have some sort of force field. Since I knew that I would be doing the colors using my "friend" Photoshop... I figured that I could use the "outer glow" feature to give our character a cool force field... and a cool effect.

But Saturn Knight was never meant to be another "Iron-Man" or "Guardian"... it was from day one always meant to be our very own....


Jim and I are HUGE Nova fans. 
And Saturn Knight was always meant to be our Flashback Universe counterpart to Nova... just as Nova was meant to be Marvel's counterpart to DC's Green Lantern... Hal Jordan.

In retrospect... I guess a simple way to describe the Flashback Universe in the early days would be;
"What if Nova was the flagship character of Marvel and a founding member of the Avengers"
Since Saturn Knight is our flagship character that we used to establish the look/feel of the
Flashback Universe... and we made him a founding member of the Vanguard.

Originally... Jim meant to call him "Captain Saturn".
I can't recall why... but at some point... we went with the name Saturn Knight... after the name of a regular poster on Newsarama from about 4 years ago.

I made a rough early design attempt... which allowed us to get the ball rolling and discuss what Saturn Knight should look like. For example, in this early design we could see the character's eyes... but we decided it would work better not seeing the eyes.

To Jim's credit... HE was able to recognize the drawing for what it was: a rough early attempt that served no other purpose then to get the ball rolling and start the creative process. It was a first step to figure out what Jim had in mind when it came to the look of the character. And also the look/feel we wanted to give the Flashback Universe's characters in general.

After a few versions... and much color attempts... we settled on a few versions of the character that we both kind of liked.

So we moved on to designing the rest of the Flashback Universe.

Although Saturn Knight had nothing to do with Iron-Man, we did come up with our
Flashback Universe counterpart to Iron-Man with the Artifact. When Jim mentioned this character.... I just knew that we had quite literally our "iron" man. Although a strange thing occurred. I wanted to give him a rust covered look... and when I did so... it made me realize why DC's Robotman was colored orange.
Probably to give Robotman some sort of rusty look.

It had never occurred to me until I colored the design of the Artifact. 

And as we started adding more and more characters that we would need not only for our first issue.... but also that we would need to populate our Universe..... it was now time to design our villain for our first issue.
I am not sure why Jim wanted her to be the grand-daughter of Captain Nemo... but one thing was clear... she would be our Doctor Doom.

So Doom was my starting point.
So of course... she would be wearing some sort of armor... and she would have various dots suggesting some sort of rivets of some kind.... and let's not forget the cape.

Also since she would be a Saturn Knight villain.... I asked myself... "Who is Nova's counterpart to Doctor Doom???

One name came to mind....
The Sphinx.

So I decided to give Lady Nemo some sort of Egyptian motif. Being Royalty... I wanted her to have some sort of Egyptian "crown".

So in short... Lady Nemo would be a "female Sphinx/Doctor Doom" amalgam.
In retrospect... I am surprised that I did not make her armor "gold". Maybe I had already designed our character Sandwalker with a similar Egyptian motif?? Could be.... this was over 4 years ago... the specifics are a little fuzzy in my memory. So odds are, I made Lady Nemo a different color to keep her distinctive from Sandwalker.

She was later compared to Marvel's Jocasta.
Funny how a female version of Doom can end up being called a copy of Jocasta. Although I have seen this many times in my career... it never fails to surprise me.
I guess that any metallic lady could end up being compared to Jocasta.

The funny part is that such comment has inspired me for an upcoming comic that we are working on.
No I won't spoil it.... you guys will have to wait and see. ;)

Once we had a truckload of characters in stock.... we looked at our first character... Saturn Knight.... and now that we had designed a lot of them characters... we had a clearer picture of what we wanted to do.
So we went back to the drawing board and decided to redesign Saturn Knight.

Once again... we made various attempts.... and we tried pretty much every color combination we could think of... until we decided on the FINAL version of the character.

In the end... no we did not make 1001 version of Saturn Knight.
I once counted as we were in the design process and we had about 127 different versions... so we made over 127 versions of Saturn Knight. That is counting the different designs, and all the color variations that we made....

Until there was only one left.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Curtain Closes on Mister Crimson

Today is a bittersweet day, as we present the conclusion of the Mister Crimson saga with 3 final screens. I would like to thank Seth and Diego for the hard work on this series. When I first saw it on Zuda, I knew it had amazing potential, and I'm glad that they were kind enough to let Flashback Universe be the place where they could complete the story.

See how Mister Crimson ends here .:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Planet of Vampires

In the comments section of my Morlock 2001 post, it was decided that the information from Beau Smith and the legal team at Eclipse Comics may have not been exactly right when they said the Atlas Comics properties had never been copyrighted.

However, I think the Atlas comics have pretty much of drifted into that realm of Limbo Domain, wherein the copyright holders don't are too apathetic to care about doing anything with the copyrighted work. (Sort of like Marvel's Rom Spaceknight.)

So today, I present another favorite of mine from the 70's Atlas Era - Planet of Vampires! With art by Pat Broderick and stories by Larry Hama and John Albano, these were some of the best examples of the potential of the Atlas Comics Company.

[ Planet of Vampires ]

[ Planet of Vampires ]

- Enjoy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The FBU's Direct2DVD Suggestions

Superman: Doomsday, Justice League: New Frontier, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Superman/Batman:Public Enemies. These are all animated direct to dvd movies put out by Warner Bros. of their DC Comics characters. Like any comic book movie, those listed above have met with mixed reviews by fans and officials alike. We at the FBU kindly offer our suggestions on which properties Warner Bros may want to move forward with when they consider their next movie to release.

These are not ranked, numbered, or in any particular order.

Honorary mention going to the Scarlet Speedster. Whether you're a bigger fan of Barry, Wally, or Bart it's high time the Flash stared in one of Warner's Direct2DVD movies.

Now, on to our picks...

The Flick: The Judas Contract
With the recent announcement that Marv Wolfman & George Perez's Teen Titans:Games would finally see print, and with the potential Young Justice cartoon that's been rumored all over the internet, it would make sense to kick production of The Teen Titans: Judas Contract into high gear. All ready announced as a probable release under the Direct2dvd Warner Bros line The Judas Contract seems to have run into some road blocks in development & fallen off the radar. With Games being published, The Judas Contract should be scheduled to be released at the same time.

The Fun
While there should definitely be some origin aspects to the story, this should not be just an origin tale. It's an action adventure story filled with intrigue and subterfuge as the Titans discover a contract taken out on their lives, led by a traitor in their midst. Designs should be of the period that the book was originally published (that's right Nightwing will have the disco suit & while Starfire will probably have a less revealing suit than what shows up in the comics it shouldn't be like that of Teen Titans: Go!) with all the same characters.

The Features
A back up short form cartoon (10 Min) will ship on the same dvd disk centered around the "Bat Team". This piece will tell the tale of the entire team working together to solve a problem (such as retaking a high jacked ship or rescuing hostages). It will be less about story and more about showcasing characters: Batman, Nightwing (current design this time), Robin (Tim Drake), Batgirl (Cassandra Cain), Spoiler, & Oracle with a walk on by Alfred.

The Fine Print
With Batgirl, Spoiler, & Robin in it the animated short will go a long way in soothing the fans who's favorite titan character didn't show up in the main feature on the dvd and hey: who doesn't love more Batman?

The Flick: The Question

The Fun
This will be a fragmented cold case story that the original Question had worked on which has now fallen on Rene Montoya to solve. Two different color designs will be used to easily showcase the flashback sequences & make them different from the modern day sequences. This would be an excellent opportunity to use a c-list villain and really elevate him/her to a new status.

The Features
A back up short form cartoon (10 Min) will ship on the same dvd disk centered around the Manhunters. Paul Kirk will be attacked and in the hospital. Mark Shaw & Kate Spenser will come to see him and take off to avenge him only to find that they've been drawn into a trap and have to fight their way out. The Manhunter cult (droids and all) would be the villain and it would end in a cliff hanger in case the fans really dug it and wanted more.

The Fine Print
Both characters are legacy characters with strong core fan bases. Manhunter had at one time been saved from cancellation at least four times and The Question has shown up in all forms of media. The Question's long form print media appearances (Novels) are held with high regard to more than just comic book fans.


The Flick: Batman Beyond

The Fun
There haven't been many successful completely (or partial for that matter) "new" retoolings of Batman. Batman Beyond has to be considered one of the more successful attempts. This movie would focus on Doctor Able Cuvier (Chimera) from the season 2 episode "SPLICERS". Having crafted a new army of the spliced, Cuvier invades Gotham once again with one goal: Killing Batman. We'd mix it up too. Upon the climax battle of the movie Terry's pal Maxine would don a new Robin Beyond suit and Bruce Wayne would climb into a Dark Knight Returns style Tank from way back in the cave and they'd all take on the splicers for the win.

The Features
A back up short form cartoon (10 Min) will ship on the same dvd disk centered around the Suicide Squad & would be written by John Ostrander him self. It would feature a smaller unit due to time constraints: Dead Shot, Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang, and Nightshade.

The Fine Print
Two cutting edge DC properties packaged together on the same disk? Each of these properties have hard core fans that are always clambering for their return in one form of media or another and who knows, the Squadders may have a bigger impact than Batman Beyond.

What animated Direct2DvD movie would you like to see?

Have a great weekend,


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Visual Math 101

I believe that you could break down art into a mathematical equation.

Although I have been thinking about this for about 20 years.... I still did not come up with the math equation to prove my theory.

But someday maybe.

Despite my lack of coming up with a proper math equation.... there is a simple formula that can be applied when the time comes to coming up with a design.

"Formula" may be a bit much to describe it.... most would call it a "trick" I suppose.

It is a very simple trick that is often used by many artists.

It is fairly simple to apply... all it takes is either a good knowledge of what came before... or a good amount of research.

Are you ready??

The trick is this.

You take design A... then you take design B... mix and match various elements of both designs, and you end up with design C.

So in short

(Design A) + (Design B) = (Design C)

Simple... isn't it??
Here is an example

It doesn't have to be just with 2 designs. It can be done with multiple designs by taking some elements of each designs.

Here is a 3 designs example:

Why use such a trick???

There are many reasons.

I mentioned before how a professional artist does not wait for inspiration... he provokes it.

This is a good way to provoke inspiration.

Also (Design C) does not HAVE to be the final result. You can use (Design C) as a starting point... then you can tweak it... and tweak it until you have your new design... or decide to discard the result and go in another direction.

It is often used when you are caught in a tight deadline.

On a production... you are often faced with unreasonable deadlines. So you often cannot afford to come up with everything from scratch and sometimes need to "borrow" from an already existing design.

Imagine if you are working on a show and you have... let's say... one week to come up with a score of new character designs.... two scores??

Kind of tough to do that from scratch.

Even the best artists will have tough time coming up with scores of new characters in such a short time.

So when they need to... either they will use an already existing design that they have done in the past... or they will take out their TI-59 and use the equation mentioned earlier;                               

(Design A) + (Design B) = (Design C)

Until next time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mister Crimson Episode 57

Mister Crimson Episode 57
Wherein we see the final fate of Ace of Spades?

Read it here .:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Clowns, Captains and Condors

Hey guys, today I bring you probably the best scanned quality Golden Age comic I've ever seen, but it doesn't come without cost.

See, today's beautifully scanned issue of Crack Comics 24 is from a gentleman by the name of Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. A true fan of Golden Age comics who uses his own money to buy and scan comics for other fans to enjoy. What I'm asking of you today is one of two things:

You can make a donation to Jim via paypal care of:'ve done it - don't worry it's not some weird scam.)

Or you can send Jim an email and tell him how much you appreciate his work. Or you can simply post a comment on this blog, and I'll make sure the comments reach Jim myself.

I can't make you do either of these, but if you enjoy the comics you download from here every week, then please at least consider it. :)

Crack Comics 24

[ Crack Comics 24 ]

Crack Comics 30

[ Crack Comics 30 ]

And yes, I do find the cover with the clown utterly disturbing...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Today We Flashback to Lost Universes

Here at Flashback Universe we’d like to start discussing comics in the past tense, in addition to our present and future tense articles. To that end we’re beginning a new feature we’re calling Lost Universes. We’ll discuss properties, imprints, lines, and characters from comic book universes that are no longer actively putting out books such as Valiant, the Ultraverse, Comics Greatest World and more. More to the point, we’ll be examining what was, or made these books great!

Today we’ll be giving a brief overview of some of the universes we’ll be covering over the course of this series, there will be more than we have space to list here today & please we encourage you to give us your feedback, leave us a comment, hit us up on twitter , or drop us an email and suggest any universes you’d really like us to cover.

Remember, we’re discussing comic books being published in the early nineties for the most part, in what has affectionately become known as the “comics boom”. With the “comics boom” in full swing companies could come out of the gate & hit the ground running hard without needing to take their time and build up an audience before publishing multiple titles. It wasn’t unheard of for a no -name company to sell a hundred thousand copies of their first issue of their first book early on….


"Valiant Comics is an American comic book publishing company, founded in 1989 by former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Jim Shooter with writer-artist Bob Layton and their financial partners. Initially packaging specialty comics, Valiant Comics became one of the largest companies in the American comic book market during the 1990s, selling more than 80 million comic books in its first five years"

 What was g
reat about Valiant was the fact that it matured really very quickly due to its core characters being from the silver age (coming with at least some fan notoriety built in) and then newer characters being built on classic archetypes for fan appeal with a creative tweak done to each one giving them plenty of originality to stand out from the big two side by side on a comic book shelf. Valiant produced such titles as: Archer & Armstrong, BloodShot, H.A.R.D. Corps, and XO-Manowar. They became fan favorites early on and really had a stranglehold on the industry during the “comics boom”, sometimes hitting sales numbers that topped that of Marvel or DC.

"The Ultraverse line was launched by Malibu Comics during the "comics boom" of the early 1990s, following the success of Image Comics & Valiant comics. The Ultraverse boasted improved production values over traditional comics (especially digital coloring and higher-quality
 paper), and a roster of respected and/or talented new writers and artists."

The Ultraverse looked really flashy and super slick due to their adoption of computerized coloring, which is kind of funny as they were known as the “writers comic book company” due to the amount of mainstream talent they hired to write their books. Those colors helped them stand out on a comic bookshelf next to DC or Marvel. Adopting the same formula used by Valiant The Ultraverse put out such titles as; The Nightman, Prime, Hardcase, & Mantra. Launching a bit later in the “comics boom” offered The Ultraverse theability to quickly break into film, television & animation ahead of the other companies at the time with the Ultraforce cartoon & a syndicated television series based on The Nightman. Unfortunately launching a bit late in the “comics boom” also hurt the Ultraverse but we’ll get to that at another time…

"Comics' Greatest World was an imprint of Dark Horse Comics. Originally conceived in 1990, it took three years for the line to be released, which led to an industry-wide perception that it was created to capitalize on the speculator mania of the early 1990s."

 Honestly what was great about CGW was how different they were. Darkhorse hadn’t done much in the way of traditional superhero comic books until then, choosing instead to focus on licensed material and the peripheral genres that had, as of late, not been published much by the big two. When they created CGW they infused their superhero universe with the elements that they included in their regular line of comics.

As an example Barb Wire, about a bar owner/bounty hunter in a junked out wreck of an industrial town was drawn and colored like a superhero comic but it was really more of a western themed book that had been modernized. Nearly all of the CGW titles were that way, which may not have satiated all fans' appetites but did build a strong loyalty with the type of fans that crave those particular style of comics. It was also a bold move, and one worthy of the name Darkhorse comics.

Tekno Comix was an American publishing company that produced comic books from 1995 to 1997. Tekno Comix publications featured characters and situations created by celebrity authors and others, but were primarily scripted and illustrated by freelance comics creators." ~wikipedia
Tekno Comix was a geek fanboy’s dream comic book company because they produced comics by fan favorite creators like; Gene Roddenberry, Mickey Spillane, Leonard Nimoy, Isaac Asimov, & John Jakes. Their comics wereprinted on nice paper, full colored, and well written but it wouldn’t have mattered anyhow with creator owned properties like; The Primordals, I-Bots, Mullkon Empire, Mike Danger & Lady Justice Tekno immediately covered a niche in the “comics boom” which paved the way for series like Buffy Season 8.

"Chaos! Comics was a comic book publisher that operated from 1994 until 2002. Chaos! Comics filed bankruptcy in 2002 with all characters (save Lady Death) being sold off to Tales of Wonder. Prior to the  bankruptcy, rights to Lady Death were sold to Crossgen Comics; prior to Crossgen's bankruptcy those rights were then sold to Brian Pulido & Avatar Press. Chaos! Comic’s titles included Lady Death, Purgatori, Evil Ernie, & Chastity."

The “comic boom” wasn’t the only trend to explode in the early nineties, another was the bad girl phenomenon! There were many bad girls, particular during the “boom”, and Lady Death was arguably the most popular at the time. A goddess, warrior, witch, and voluptuous dealer of death she’s been published under many comic book companies (Chaos!, Crossgen, Avatar) and even stared in her own animated feature. Her popularity was such that Brian Pulido sold her rights separately from the remaining licenses Chaos! possessed before declaring bankruptcy. Lady Death did and her creator did their part in paving the way for an entire genre of comic books, as well as rejuvenating ancillary content such as the bikini special and other “artistic print” specials.


"Cross Generation Entertainment, or CrossGen, was an American comic book publisher that operated from 1998 to 2004. CrossGen Comics, Inc. was founded in 1998, by Tampa, Florida based entrepreneur Mark Alessi who sought to create a comic book universe that was uniquely varied but also connected by a common theme that included Sigil, Meridian, Scion, & Mystic."

Crossgen was great because nearly everything about it was infused with an industry wide rediscovered excitement about what comic books could be & just as if it were fate, with Crossgen launching at the end of the “comics boom” (lots of creators could see the boom ending as the comics business slowed back down to a normal pace), it looked as if Crossgen would infuse the industry with another much needed dose of adrenalin.

A bit of an experiment of
sorts, Mark Alessi toured the country interviewing comic professionals in an attempt to find existing flaws with the way comic books were made and eventually set up shop in Florida hiring professionals who would relocate and attempt to set up a production facility that might improve upon the way comics were made.

Not since Image Comics had there been a comic book comp
any to spark such a frenzy in the industry, and like Image Comics before them, Crossgen was closely monitored by the Wizard magazine who reported on nearly everything going on at Crossgen. The excitement didn’t die down until the end either, financed like few other comic book companies before it, Crossgen launched several titles all at once and continued to build it’s stable of books at a fairly aggressive speed, which many have speculated, led to it’s downfall.

Look for us to provide a stronger focus on specific elements within the individual companies listed above in the future. We hope that you all will enjoy this new series here at Flashback Universe, and we'd really like it if you let us know what you think about Lost Universes and all of the digital comics news we bring you.
Have a great weekend,


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pierre Speaks: Big Time

Just like Watchmen!Watchmen... Astro City... The Ultimates.
I must have read over 100...heck I would say about 150 scripts/proposals from aspiring writers/small publishers.

And about 95% of them proposals are people trying to recreate one of these three series.

It often starts with "It starts in WWII like The Ultimates...", or as you read the proposal you read something like "it's a cross between Watchmen and the Sopranos" or something.
In the case of a project that we will call Big Time, it was introduced to me as  "Astro City done like a broadway musical".

It was over 4 years ago... so the details are a little fuzzy.

The guy seemed okay... and the page rates... although small... was enough that it would have allowed me to concentrate on pencilling this project and not have to worry about how I would pay the rent.
But right from the start it was a bumpy ride.

I was supplied a very rough version of the character designs... so I had to "guess-timate" how to draw the characters. Turns out I misinterpreted some of the details of the characters and was asked to fix it. Which was not a problem in itself. I fixed the characters to be like what the client was asking for.

But then I was asked to change it back to what I had done in the first place. It turns out that the client in the end prefered what I had done when I did not quite understand what his designs were supposed to be.
So once more I made changes to the pages and fixed the characters... again.

But by the time I sent a few rough versions of page 5... it was the end.

The client decided that it was not what he wanted.

Sad since I thought all them pages... other then maybe page 05... weren't that bad... I thought I had done a good job especially with the backgrounds.

page 5I even was complimented at the time on them pages by a legend in the industry, and another guy who is working at Marvel right now. They too especially liked them backgrounds.

But I did mention before how it often does not take much for a project to go down the drain.

This was an example of such project.

The client really was not happy about page 05.
And it's my fault.

I was not happy about page 5 either... and I mentioned that very fact... and that I would fix it.

Mistake #1 was to mention that I was not happy with it.

Unless you know the guy you are working with well enough.... never do that. Editors/Directors/supervisors will find enough reasons on their own to criticize your work... THEY DO NOT need your help seeing the flaws in your work.

It is something that I can do now with Jim... because we have been working together for a while now. I can tell Jim when I am not happy with something... he knows what I am talking about by now.

page 5 fixAnd sometimes he will tell me that I am nuts and that what I did is fine. And sometimes he will suggest how to fix/change it to turn it into something that will actually work.

Mistake #2 was to actually send a scan of the page BEFORE I actually fixed it.

Again unless you know the guy you are working with... don't do that. The client will assume that what you are showing him will be the final work.
There is nothing worse than trying to convince the client that "what you will do will look sort of like what you showed him.... but better".

The client usually wants to see exactly how the final work will look. One of the reasons also why you must not send rough artwork at first to a client.

They cannot read a rough and assume that what you are showing them will be the final result... and no matter how many times you tell them that "it will look sort of like this... but cleaner/better".

Doesn't work.

Unless once more it is someone like... lets say Jim... with whom you have been working for a while and who understands how the process actually works and how your work will look like in the end.

Why did I send them rough for page 05?

Well I foolishly was trying to figure out what the client wanted. So I had even sent him a few versions of page 01. A version full bleed.... a version with no bleed... a version with more shadows/rendering... etc.

All that in an attempt to get the "pulse" of the client and to try to figure out what he wanted exactly. To try to adapt what I was doing to what he wanted.

So I foolishly thought that with page 05... he could simply tell me what he thought so that I could adjust how I was approaching page 05.

Not even remotely what happened.

Mistake #3... as the project derailed... we got into fights about various details that no longer mattered once it was clear that the project was dead.

For example... the client started complaining that a subway train does not look like what I had drawn.
Then I replied that it does and I sent him the references I had used to show him that he was wrong.

And then it turned into a fight about how in the area where he lived... subways did NOT look like what I had drawn.

And then I got into this long e-mail explaining the historic of various subways around the world and how the subway in Japan was different from the one in Paris, then the one from New York, then the one here in Montreal, etc.

I tried to explain to him that if he wanted me to draw a specific kind of subway train.... if he wanted me to draw the subway train from where he lived.... he should have said so in the first place and he should have sent me the appropriate references.

That I was not a mind reader... that I had no way to guess... that he HAD to let me know if he had a specific subway train in mind.
So anyway... it did not end well.

But better to find out that it will not work out after 5 pages as opposes to finding that out after 25 pages.

As far as I know... the "Astro City Musical" comic was never done.

I guess that the "Big Time" creator was not able to find someone who could draw the "Big Time" subway cars the way HE wanted them. ;)

And especially at the page rates we had agreed.

It happens.

Maybe by now, the "Big Time" guy realizes that I had offered him a good deal. That I was doing a lot of work for the small page rates that we had agreed to. Maybe he could not find someone else willing to put the amount of work that I did for the small page rates that we agreed??

I guess we will never know.


Related Posts with Thumbnails