Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Introducing the Collected Classics Wishlist

No blog from Pierre as he's knee deep mopping up a mess at the animation studio. I don't have a lot of details on the problem except that involves some snafu with backgrounds. So, I'm going to use today to introduce a new feature to this blog in my usual, rambling way. ;)

It start with this - Monday in the comments section, I wondered what Bob Harris, the new Editor in Chief at DC had been doing since he left Marvel back in 2000, and Reno filled me in (Thank You Reno!)...
Harras was in charge of DCs collections (TPBs, hardcovers, and the like) for the past five years (I think)

In thinking about it - that makes a lot of sense to me as I can see how DC has made several improvements to their collected editions in the past 5 years with a couple that feel like they were ideas borrowed from Marvel's collected editions.

For one, the big black and white DC Showcase editions must have been inspired by the Marvel Essentials editions. Unless I'm mistaken, the first one was the 2005 Jonah Hex DC Showcase which came out the same week the new Jonah Hex comic was launched. (I've always thought that was especially well executed publishing launch.)

The other idea area Marvel seems to have influenced DC is in the idea of collecting classic storylines in hard cover collections. Marvel does this with their excellent Marvel Classic Premiere editions and DC has a few in their DC Classics Library.

I'm a total sucker for these collected editions! I love getting all of the old stories bound in a hardcover with nice paper (though you could argue the Marvel paper is better than the DC versions...) And while Marvel seems to be doing a great job putting out new ones (at a pretty brisk clip) DC is painfully slow updating their catalogue. (Which reminds me - I wonder if Harras was the guy who cancelled the Captain Marvel vs the Monster Society collected edition?)

And this brings me (finally) to the point of today's post: I have a few requests for storylines I would like to see collected. For instance, how about one that collects the fun-filled Futureshock storyline from Marvel Team Up?

For those of you not familiar with this bit of Marvel history, this was a time travel story that starts with Spider-man and the Scarlet Witch journeying back to the Salem Witch trials to stop a villain named the Dark Rider. As the story progresses, the battle is joined by the Vision, Dr. Doom and Moondragon. While the heroes are triumphant in defeating the Dark Rider, there is a subplot involving Cotton Mather that ends in an especially Bronze Age fashion that has always stayed with me. (I won't give it away here.)

After the fight, Dr. Doom thanks Spider-man for his assistance in the battle by having his time machine bounce the webslinger into the future Marvel universe of Killraven (and eventually) Deathlok.

Spanning six issues this strikes me as the perfect length to be collected in a Marvel Classics Premiere hardcover. Here's my mockup of the cover...

I think the timing to put out such a volume would be perfect as Brian Bendis (of all people) just *recently* referred to this storyline in the pages of the recent Avengers...

I don't know if Marvel will actually make this MCP hardcover, but if they do, I have more when they are done.

How about you? What classic storylines from Marvel or DC would you add to the Collected Classics Wishlist?

- Jim

Monday, September 27, 2010

DC: A Company on Two Coasts?

Last Friday was a tough one if you worked at DC. With rumors that anywhere from 20 - 30% of the workforce might be laid off, many DC employees were given the option to relocate to Burbank, California or face being laid off. Having gone through my share of Move or Get Out layoffs in the past, I can sympathize with the DC staffers. Having to decide between your job and your current home is not an easy decision, especially in one of the worst economies in American History.

Diane Nelson
I wonder how many of the DC staffers this is blindsiding? Sometimes the writing is on the wall. In this situation, I think people knew a reduction in force was in the wings, as many outgoing positions were being filled with contractors (always a bad sign.) Also, Time Warner has been cutting staff all across all division of the company.

From 2007 to present, Time Warner has laid off a virtual army of employees from Time Inc., Cosmopolitan and Entertainment Weekly. I've often wondered how DC was able to avoid the layoffs. What I suspect is that the *streamlining* that may now be occuring was always in the cards, but there were timing issues that needed to be dealt with. Obviously, getting Diane Nelson installed at DC was step one.
Diane Nelson
That move always felt to me like Time Warner not really grokking someone like Paul Levitz (or viewing him as a little too old school to really understand how run a modern business. And to be honest - based on some of his statements about Digital Comics, Time Warner may have been right.

My question is: Who's going out to Burbank and why? Of the big names mentioned, Nelson, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, only Nelson really makes sense to me. Isn't Johns the driving force behind the publishing side now? (His comics are definitely the ones bringing in the most cash.) And why is it necessary for Jim Lee to move the digital side to Burbank? (The digital side in New York is apparently being relocated but without any of the original staff.)

DC Digital is being moved to Burbank, working under Jim Lee, creating new exclusive digital comic books. While the offer to move coasts for the New York digital staff has been offered, most are unlikely to take it, and both New York-based Marvel and Comixology have made approaches already. ~BleedingCool

So what's going to be left in New York exactly? And how much power and autonomy will it have? It sort of feels to me like the publishing side is set to become even MORE of a Time Warner afterthought than it ever was before. Outside of Dan Didio, who else is going to be manning the ship in New York? And how stable is it going to be? The ship may not be sinking just yet, but it sure feels like Nelson, Johns and Lee are deserting!
Nelson, Johns and Lee leaving DC Publishing
In my experience, splitting companies into different divisions can be a good thing as separate divisions can sometimes act more nimbly. My concern here is in this case, one division is argurably tied to a dying industry and had its connections to revenue streams with greater potential distanced (if not altogether removed.)

My prediction - I suspect will see larger than normal number of DC titles cancelled over the course of 2011 as budgets get realigned in a way that the publishing side has never had to deal with before.

Anyway - while the future of DC Publishing may be murky, let's reflect on a time with the future was filled with fin shaped star ships and bowl shaped helmets with today's two free comics. Two issues of Charlton's Space Adventures

[ Space Adventures 2 ]

[ Space Adventures 3 ]

- Enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A new Lost Universe?

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is another one of Caine's explorations into the Lost Universes of defunct companies. You can read other Lost Universe articles here. - Jim

Today were going to take a look at what is reportedly the newest comic book universe to to join the ranks of the "LOST UNIVERSE'S" here at the FBU, that of the WILDSTORM Universe.

Dan Didio & Jim Lee had this (and more) to say on the subject:

"After taking the comics scene by storm nearly 20 years ago, the WildStorm Universe titles will end this December. In this soft marketplace, these characters need a break to regroup and redefine what made them once unique and cutting edge. While these will be the final issues published under the WildStorm imprint, it will not be the last we will see of many of these heroes. We, along with Geoff Johns, have a lot of exciting plans for these amazing characters, so stay tuned. Going forward, WildStorm’s licensed titles and kids comics will now be published under the DC banner. "~The Bleed

Of course, they are saying that the WILDSTORM characters will not vanish into the wind and will show up in the regular DCU but to what end?  The DCU has 75+ years of history and the characters know one another.  The WILDSTORM characters, as stated above, only have 20+ years and they don't all really know one another so well.

Where will characters like Midnighter, Apollo, and Mr. Majestic (who's been in the DCU proper before) find a place in the DCU when they were basically created as an analog to pre-existing DCU characters in the first place?  Its easy to hypothesize a miniseries where Midnighter goes toe to to with Batman, or Apollo meets Superman in space but beyond that it's any ones guess.  Could Lucas "Midnighter" Trent be one of the Batmen we've been told to expect?  Would he want to?  Bruce Wayne had a raving psychotic on his staff once before, Jean Paul Valley, so I'm not sure he'll go for it again.

What about the non character type entities of the WILDSTORM universe?  What about organizations (I.O., Black Razers, Black Ops etc)?  The DCU all ready has Checkmate, The Suicide Squad, and others.  What about alien life forms ( Kherubim, Daemonites, & The Drahn)?  The DCU all ready has Tamarans, Ungarans, & Kryptonianans.

I don't think this will be good for the Wildstorm characters at all.  I'm not the only one either....

"I received a bit of bad news yesterday, Wildstorm will cease to be at the end of December. While WS and I didn't always see eye to eye, a good part of my life happened there. First pro work, met Jess there, learned the ins and outs of comic production. So it's with mixed feelings I write this, sad to see it go, hoping that the old WS might see a resurrection in the DC universe. Hoping that whoever does something with Backlash doesn't change stuff just to change stuff. Good bye Wildstorm, you will be missed.  Brett [Booth]"~Demon Puppy

"My thanks to Bob Harris for believing in us...for Jim Lee for believing in Bob and us and for the crew at wildstorm for letting us get a bit nutty under their guidence. As well a big thanks for all the wonderful talent that were along for the ride...the best of the best. Below is a cover gallery of some of those books. Enjoy."~ Jimmy Palmiotti

As for me, I don't think I ever enjoyed an entire universe of comics more.  I remember discovering StormWatch, about a international peace keeping force stationed on a space station, completely by accident.  When I flipped open the pages I saw art done by Scott Clark, who'd drawn another comic I'd liked before although the Wildstorm art he was doing was very different. 

It was in StormWatch where I learned of a costumed spy who could turn to mist, kind of like a vampiric Nick Fury (Backlash) who was just as cool, if not cooler than Batman (he who all heroes are judged against :).  This led me to a mini series where he and another guy with a trench coat, a jagged red rag of a face mask and two big pistols (Grifter) took on a  pack of Ferrel people.  I haven't stopped buying comics since.  Thanks Wildstorm.

They even published some of my art...

Have a great weekend,

C Dorr

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Power Records

EDITOR'S NOTE: Today we are proud to feature another article by guest columnist MattComix who is introducing a new series to the FBU called Growing Up Bronze, wherein from time to time, he'll examine what made the Bronze Age such a awesome time to be a comics fan. - Jim

The Action Comes Alive As You Read!

Today in my first "Growing Up Bronze" segment I wanted to talk a little about one of my earliest comicbook memories. Having been introduced to comicbooks and superheroes thanks to my Grandfather's daily jaunts to the corner store, my new obsession was being further escalated by having viewed Superman The Movie, watching the Super-Friends cartoon, and being glued every Friday night for another exciting episode of lonely David Banner having his startling metamorphosis into The Incredible Hulk. Around this same time I got a record player for Christmas and my parents knowing full well (if not always understanding) my obsession wisely chose the perfect companion for that little red record player.

In the late 1970's and early 80's one of the best gifts a young superhero comic fan could get was a book and record set by a company called Power Records. Power worked with both DC *and* Marvel comics not to mention getting some other great properties like Star Trek, The Six Million Dollar Man, Planet of Apes, Space 1999, GI Joe, literary classics. Even Conan The Barbarian! Basically, the audio productions for these LP's and 45 records were done a lot like radio plays set to the script of the comicbook that went with them.

Now while sets like this were common at the time what made the Power sets stand out is that they got some solid comics talents to work on them. Guys like Dick Girodano, Jose Garcia Lopez, Ross Andru, and Rich Buckler. Sometimes an actual issue of the comic would be adapted or they would create one special for these sets. The comics themselves occasionally suffered from weird coloring errors but for the most part it didn't take to much away from how well they were illustrated.

At the time I started reading I would see a guy like Garcia Lopez doing art on covers for Superman but rarely on interiors. That's something that made these sets a real treat for me especially since I was already starting to draw myself and without realizing it I was begining to develop an eye for artstyles even if I didn't yet know the names of the artists.

Anyways, thanks to the Rob Kelly Family of blogs pretty much the entire Power records line is available to read and listen to. Today I'd like to share three of my favorites from "back in the day".

Superman. The Man From Krypton

One of my favorites from these sets was titled "The Man From Krypton" which of course told the origin of Superman. What was neat about this one to me is not only the telling of the origin itself, the artwork for which in my opinion stands toe to toe with any version that appeared in comics of the time thanks to art by Rich Buckler. What I also really enjoyed was the framing device used for it that's based on a simple but wonderful premise:"

Superman saves a little boys life and answers the excitable kids questions about who he is and where he came from. (All without tripping up his secret ID too much of course). This was also where I learned what a light-year was. ..and people say comics aren't educational.

The Hulk At Bay

I think this might easily be one of the most dramatic of all the sets. There's a certain nail-biting tension to the tone of this thing that had me on the edge of my seat as a lad. This might even be one of my favorite Hulk comics of all time. (Editor's note: Mine too!) I'm very much in favor of the shaggy haired mean-green but child at heart version of the Hulk and that's definitely at play here. It might also be one of the reasons I prefer Jim Wilson to Rick Jones as a "side-kick" for Hulk. The book features artwork by longtime Hulk artist Herb Trimpe and a throwdown with the deadly duo of Rhino and the Abomination!

Spider-Man: Invasion of The Dragon Men

This one is actually the first Power Records project I ever encountered. The one I got that Christmas long ago. It's not even the best really but the whole thing is so daft that it's retained a lot of its charm for me. If like your Spider-Man cracking wise on the villain he fights I think you'll dig this one. It's swinging 70's Pete trying to balance college and crimefighting. It also has one of the most hilarious bits of Spidey dialog ever:

Got it! I've deactivated the deactivator! So what does *that* do to your flakey plan Drakey baby?!

For more a in-depth look at these great sets including audio files and the excellent artwork that so often went with them stop by and spend some time at this blog by Rob Kelly:

- Have a great day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Can Public Domain Comics Be Stopped by Cease And Desist Orders?

Today's post is going to be a short one as I'm going to Microsoft tomorrow, and I need to finish some mockups.

The one thing I do want to bring to everyone's attention is this article over at wherein Rich Johnston wonders if the Digital Comics Museum will be targeted for a cease and desist order like htmlComics was.

I don't normally mention Digital Comic Museum here because I don't know much about it. It is apparently some sort of offshoot or splinter group of users from my favorite site The Golden Age of Comics - but that's all I really know. In many ways the sites look like exact duplicates of each. Feel free to explain the differences and origins in a email or comment.

I find the article amusing as Rich says this in regards to public domain comics...
Okay, I think their public domainness is questionable, especially considering some use current existing trademarks such as Ghost Rider and Daredevil, but by sticking to the past, they may just get away with it and provide a valuable resource to the comics community.

I think we can all agree that the comics in question are in public domain, so I believe the issue Rich is really trying to raise is whether or not Marvel (or DC) might try to use trademark infringement to have comics featuring their characters taken down. Legally, I don't think Marvel or DC would have a leg to stand on. One, because the Lev Gleason Daredevil doesn't look anything like the Marvel Daredevil and two, I don't think most lawyers have a clue how Public Domain law works, so they shy away from it.

I say this because at last count, I have seen at least 5 different media companies selling the old Fleischer Superman which are in Public Domain. Why hasn't Time Warner stopped these from being sold?

I also wonder how much weight could be made for the arguement that public domain comics infringe on current Trademarks. Examine the DVD cover I pulled from Amazon. Where is Time Warner or DC notated anywhere on the cover? I'll grant you that the word Superman is trademarked, but I don't recall ever seeing it notated as trademarked on the cover of any of the Fleischer collections I've seen.

So bottom line - I don't think that either Golden Age Comics or Digital Comics Museum have much to worry about. Yeah, they *might* get a cease and desist letter, but anybody can send such a letter. Backing it up in court and convincing a judge is a different matter.

And with that, I present today's two Free Comics - two issues of a comic I've never featured on Flashback Universe before, but in light of today's topic, it seems appropriate: Fawcett's Marvel Family Comics.

[ Marvel Family 50 ]

[ Marvel Family 61 ]
- Jim

Friday, September 17, 2010

Digital Comic Floodgates

What will happen when they open up wide?

This question was proposed to me by TYLER JAMES via twitter the other day as I began to speculate about's iPad app and what would happen when they add the social feature to it like their desktop app has now. His comments, and the conversation have been on my mind ever since.

What will happen when it's possible for anyone (programmer or not) to create a comic app on the cheap? What will happen if, say possibly with HTML5, a webcomic is created in such a way that it's on par with a comic app or digital files sold on an SD Card?

Oh yeah, it's closer than you think:

"I understand that Marvel is offering certain comic stores the opportunity to promote its Digital Comics Unlimited service, which allows readers to pay a subscription for access to a library of Marvel comics, past and six-months-before-the-present-(mostly)."~BleedingCool

They're not specifically talking about SD cards but you get the idea.

What will happen when the data and formatting that goes into the creation of an app becomes easily interchangeable for multiple marketplaces (iTunes, Android, etc) by the push of a couple of buttons or key strokes?

Before we get into that, let me ask you another question from the flip side of the same coin.

Do the built in barriers of the "standard" printed comics distribution model: comics sold only through retail locations, and all retail locations pretty much only buying their comics from a single national distributor (which are responsible for keeping just anyone from selling a comic book at the national level) actually help or hinder the comic book industry?

Think about it. You can't just stroll into any comic book shop or book store across America and buy any comic book you want from any creator or publisher you want too. Some will be there to be purchased, more to be ordered, but there will be stuff you just can't get. Stuff you'd have to buy off of a facebook page or at a con.

I've heard/read professionally published creators state that they like it that way. They want a few barriers between them selves and the twelve year old in his basement making comics. The published professional often times wants their product to be sold in a professional manner and I can't say as I blame them.

Being biased I'd say the comics made here at the FBU are professional and would put them head to head on a comic book rack side by side a dozen or more publishers without so much as a second thought.

Of course, if the comic book shop was as big as a mall with racks stretching a city block then even professional level books would get lost in the shuffle wouldn't they? Hence the barriers.

Now just as I've heard/read professionals on the subject I've heard/read amateurs on the subject as well. Those same barriers can create quite an uphill battle for just anyone (with a good comic or not) getting a comic book sold at a national level.

An amateur creator can get their comic sold at the comic shops in their town, maybe towns where they have family and friends or fans who demand it. They can sell their comic at cons, off their web site, at Indyplanet and other web sites but getting their book carried on a comic rack at all the big comic book shops across the country? There are barriers holding them back (namely Diamond's thresholds).

When the digital comics floodgates are opened will consumers be able to separate the wheat from the chaff? Will they be able to locate comics they feel are worth purchasing within the river of digital comics now flowing in and out of every digital marketplace and through every hand held device?

I say yes! Yes they will.

What do you say?

Have a great weekend,


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Return of Atlas/Seaboard Comics?

If this were a newspaper, I would be inclined to shout, "Stop The Presses!"
I'm postponing our regularly scheduled article from Pierre today to share this latest amazing bit of news.

Atlas Comics is Returning To Publishing!

From Newsarama:

Jason Goodman — grandson of Atlas founder Martin Goodman, who also founded Marvel Comics — is relaunching the company.

The first two titles, The Grim Ghost and Phoenix, will be revealed at the New York Comic-Con. Other properties owned by the company include the Grim Ghost, Ironjaw and the Cougar. Already, a firm called Reaction Visual Media has posted a cover for The Grim Ghost, which will be written by Joshua Ortega with art by Qing Ping Mui.

For some of you who may not remember, I've posted some of the old Atlas Comics as Free Comics Monday features because I was told that they had fallen into public domain. And while the actual issue may have, I suspect I will not be able to post more, as Goodman and Company will undoubtedly try to enforce Trademark authority on their comics. (Which is too bad, as the old comics have some great qualities about them.)

Goodman brings up an interesting point about the Atlas Universe...

Although my grandfather eventually sold Marvel, he insisted on keeping Atlas Comics in the family,” the younger Goodman told Deadline. “As a result of his vision, Atlas Comics is the largest individually-held library of comic book heroes and villains on the planet. We have 28 titles and hundreds of characters imagined by some of the greatest minds in the industry.

JM DeMatteis will be leading this relaunch as Editor In Chief. JM co-wrote one of my favorites series of all time, the 80's Justice League, so it will be interesting to see how this new Atlas shapes up!

- Jim

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Hasty Return of Hercules

Editors Note: This article has Siege Spoilers, so if you haven’t read that mini-series, you may want to skip today’s article.

Looking at the upcoming comics over at Comics Alliance revealed that Marvel has a big event coming up with Hercules called The Chaos War.

Here’s the preview text:

Bigger than THE INFINITY GAUNTLET! More cosmic than ANNIHILATION! Since the end of SECRET INVASION, the CHAOS KING has amassed his army of alien slave gods -- and the time to strike Earth is NOW! Only the greatest Marvel heroes can oppose him -- all led by the newly-returned god of heroes ... HERCULES! But are even his incredible new powers enough to stand against the greatest threat the Marvel Universe has ever seen: A mad god who seeks to destroy Reality itself? PLUS: While thought dead, Hercules was trapped in a dangerous world that threatened his very sanity. Find out the secret of his exile in a special extra story penciled by "Prince of Power" artist Reilly Brown!

But didn't Hercules just die five months ago? Yep. Because they published a comic specifically devoted to his funeral - Hercules: Fall of an Avenger.

I understand, superhero deaths and resurrections are standard elements in comic books, so it might seem ridiculous to call foul on this but I gotta say, this sudden return from death strikes me as rather hasty.

It makes me wonder if Hercules death wasn’t supposed to last a bit longer, but perhaps the Chaos War got moved up the schedule for some reason. This sounds likely to me, as going into the Fall, I don’t see a lot of big books on the schedule for Marvel. If I’m correct, I'm curious what was scheduled to come out then and why did it get postpone? Or was this just a case of Marvel realizing they don't normally have much of anything big scheduled for that time, but a new emphasis from Disney is causing them to reevaluate the normal publishing numbers for this time period?

Anyway, Hercules is alive and well in the world of Public Domain Comics and today I present two issues from two different publishers featuring the Demi-god.

The first is from Quality’s Hit Comics featuring a Hercules who isn’t actually descended from the Gods.

[ Hit Comics 12 ]

The other is the MLJ’s Blue Ribbon Comics and features a Hercules who fits in rather nicely with the rest of that line’s light hearted characters.

[ Blue Ribbon 4 ]

- Enjoy!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Digital Comics Watch | Dateline

I can't exactly remember how I stumbled on to Flashback Universe. I imagine it was a google search for "digital comics" or something close to it that brought me here. Having all ready downloaded CDisplay I was eager for digital comics to read with it that were on the up & up and I was astounded when I found the FBU.

Raven & RuneWraith in particular grabbed my attention and I can remember scouring all of the available downloads to get another few pages of either character. Sadly there is precious little of either of them in the current offerings.

That brought me to the Character page, which in turn led me to the extra's page, and that in turn led me to the donate page. You see where I'm going here? You had to donate to get a peek behind the curtain. I wanted to look so I donated. It was my first Paypal transaction ever, in fact I had to get an account and do all that goes along with that to make the donation.

That got me Jim's email. :)

Jim's life has never been the same, you can be sure of that that.

I began emailing him a couple times a week. First it was about the FBU and clarifying questions to make sure I understood the entire "line" of comics. Then I began emailing him ideas for other books he could do. I was intrigued to find out that Jim and Pierre have created a lot more characters than whats shown on the web site and I wanted to know more about them.

I wanted to know why he hadn't done a "who's who" type of book which I personally loved.

I subscribed to this blog and I can remember when he started doing the Paper Comics Death Watch. Since I'm also a gadget freak I kept running into gadgets and other tech that I thought could be used, or adapted to be used in comics. I would send Jim links to them, sometimes they'd show up in the PCDW posts. Sometimes not.

After the 20th suggestion or so Jim asked if I wanted to write a post on his blog, maybe do a column. This only emboldened me further so I began pitching comics to him. Some intrigued him, others not so much, but I eventually intrigued him enough to actually do a Raven comic (which is scripted, finished, & turned in).

Soon after Jim began listing me on the contributor page.

The bloging I've done, until recently, has centered around "Digital Comics". That is: comics read on a device rather than printed on paper. The news in this department has been lacking as of late. Let's review:

For the last year or so we've been blogging about tablets. Sometimes it was nothing more than rumors, but they seemed like strong rumors when we passed them off to you. Some looked, and still do look really cool:

The Plastic: A flexible tablet no thicker than a sheaf of paper updated through RSS over wifi. I'd still love to have one.

The Courier: A tablet from Microsoft designed to take on the iPad head on. This one might of had two screens that folded up.

Touchbook: The tablet where the screen and the keyboard separate. I tried to buy one, what a mess.

Crunchpad: Rumors of this one hit the internet before the iPad even launched. The pedigree of the people behind Crunchpad seemed just right. Everyone was sure this would get made.

Where are they all now? They may be in development, or some stage of it, but what about comics? Nothing really.

Within the same year we've brought you news regarding websites with built in comic book readers, or branded reader software that could be downloaded.

Comics XP: They pitched bridging the gap between comics delivered over the internet to a reader and comics bought at a comic book shop by selling digital comics on SD cards at comic shops. I thought it was clever.

Carbonated Comics: There really hasn't been much movement over at CC at all. On twitter they've stated that it's been tough to do what they're attempting and it looks like their right.

Longbox: The iTunes of digital comics with a built in marketplace. Two or three announcements regarding Longbox made quite a splash - even at the SDCC.

Where are they all now? They may be in development, or some stage of it, but what about comics? Comics XP has a single page web site up stating that they will return with an update coming soon. Carbonated is still up and offering comics. Longbox is nowhere to be found.


We've blogged about completely digital initiatives such as Wowio, Zuda and others even fewer of you will remember. Team FBU even had a few comics pitched to Zuda. Some got in, some didn't.

Where are they all now? They may be in development, or some stage of it, but what about comics? None really.


I blogged about a few other things one could classify as "Digital Comics". One in particular has actually continued to move right along if not get larger in scope: Podcasting.

The Red Panda Adventures: Keeping 1930s Toronto safe from gangsters, racketeers and power-mad supervillains - Thrill once again to the tales of that Masked Man of Mystery; The Red Panda! All-new tales of two-fisted pulp justice!

Batman: The Ace of Detectives: Is an ongoing monthly serial adventure based on the modern incarnation of the character in DC Comics.

Justice League Heroes.

Playing for keeps.

This area, by far, has seen the most news. Comixology, PanelFly,, Iverse, ComicZeal and more have all been reported on here at the FBU and all over the net over and over again. So much so that we've become quite picky about which Comic App news we bring you since it's all over the place for you to find.s the comic book industry, as a whole, better or worse because of any of the items listed above? Are readership numbers up? Are sales up? Are comics more attractive to younger people? Ladies? Citizens outside of the U.S.?

We can't answer that yet. It's too early still. One things for sure though, we'll need more than another year (give or take) to make a determination one way or another.

If team FBU were to put out another comic book how would all of you prefer to receive it? A CBR file? A PDF file? A comic book app? Have any of you read any of the FBU comics on the ROBOT COMICS app/system? Do you like that? What about a "floppy" that we've cursed to death by 2015 here at the FBU? Would any of you like to read an actual paper comic book in your hands? Are any of you listeners of audio fiction? Podcasts? Would you be interested in a Tales of the FBU podcast?

We'd love to know what you think, honestly.

Have a great weekend,


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It Started With A Chair

I needed a new drawing chair (or is it an animation chair?). My previous chair that I bought when I first started college all the way back in 1987 died on me quite some time ago.

Although I was using a temporary solution... I finally got around to getting myself a new chair some time ago.

But also when I got my new chair... I decided to also get a desk/table for my computer/printer/etc.

And that was only the beginning.

My TV died as well... although not as old as my chair... I still had my TV since 1997.

So I got a new TV for fairly cheap... but then... my DVDs looked like crap now on my new HD TV. Although I had bought a fairly good DVD player and it still worked fine (a Sony five disks DVD player)... the picture quality of my DVD player on my new TV was crap.

And I was told by pretty much everyone that there was no point in getting a Blue-Ray player. If I really needed a Blue-Ray player... the logical thing would be to get a PlayStation 3. It would not only play DVD/Blue-Ray movies... but also it could be used to play games as well.

So I did what seemed like the logical thing and got the PS3.

And once I did... I learned what an HDMI cable was. And I learned that my Laptop HAS an HDMI outlet.

So I not only got an HDMI cable for my PS3... but for my Laptop as well.

I was toying with the idea of getting a second computer screen for my laptop. I have been working with 2 computer screens at the studio for the past year... and I can tell you that it is not easy to get back to using only one screen after that.
But now with my HDMI cable... I have something even better then a second computer screen. I now have a 40 INCHES COMPUTER SCREEN!!!

I now feel like Kirk or Picard... not only with my chair... but with my HUGE screen as well (OK maybe not that huge.... but my place is not that big.... so a 60 inches TV would have been wayyy too unreasonable).

So now... playing games is quite a different experience... but watching movies as well.

But best of all... I can use it to read comics as well.

Heck even DC’s Absolute edition comics are no match for reading comics on a screen this size.

And then I realised something even more cooler then reading comics.

I realised that I could read Flashback Universe comics on my TV. Or simply look at my artwork on a BIG “canvas”.

Damn... that is quite a feeling... it is very difficult to describe.

I had set up one of my rooms at home as a studio with my drawing table and all my references (comics/books/etc). But now I had to rethink my setup because I wanted to hook-up my Laptop to my TV... and I also wanted my computer next to my drawing table to be able to work more efficiently.

So instead... I set-up my studio in my living room now... giving me something that I never expected... my very own library.

I mean I knew that I had lots of books/comics... but now I have a room dedicated to nothing other than my comics/books/etc.  As I said... my very own library.

Strange to see how all the dominoes fell into place like that. One thing leading to the other.

Although I still need to sort out all my comics/books... but there is no rush... I got plenty of time to get around to doing that.     

So I thought that now might be a perfect time to share with you guys what my work space looks like... and also the ton of DVDs... Books... CDs... and yes... even comics that I own. This will give you an idea as to the amount of comics and other references that I own.

It might give you an idea why for the past few years... I have been trying to downsize my collection... and put as much of it on CDs and DVDs in order to save some room.  

Let me tell you.... when it is moving day... it is a LOT of comics to pack/transport/and unpack.

Not fun.... not fun at all.

Hope you guys have enjoyed this little visit into the “Dragon’s Lair”.

Until next time.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Public Domain Wizard of Oz Comics

While at HeroesCon this year, I visited the MacFarland Publishing booth. If you aren't familiar with MacFarland Publishing, let me introduce them with this blurb I've appropriated from their website:

McFarland is a leading U.S. publisher of scholarly, reference and academic books. Located in Jefferson, North Carolina (in the Appalachian Mountains), McFarland publishes books that can be found in libraries worldwide.

And while that sounds pretty damn dry, and I can already feel a number of you getting ready to click to your link to Bleeding Cool or Newsarama, you might be interested in seeing the type of scholarly books they put out - check out this awesome Doc Savage tome!

I actually own a copy of the above Doc Savage book (which I got from Amazon) and was so impressed with it, that I was pretty happy to see MacFarland's booth at HeroesCon - they have a wide range of other books on a lot of varying subjects. At that point, I had spent a lot of money at the con, but I did see one thing I wanted, which may surprise you. The Wizard of Oz Catalog.

Now I don't know where you stand on the Wizard of Oz, and to be honest, as a kid and teenager, I never thought about it much. However, in college, I gained an appreciation for the original Frank L. Baum/William Denslow editions of Oz via way of Dr. Ashley, a Oz Knowledgeable English professor who also turned me onto Frank Herbert's Dune. (I now wonder if he just liked authors named Frank...)

When most people think of The Wizard of Oz, they tend to think exclusively of the Judy Garland movie, but that is the tip of the iceberg as far as the Oz Mythos goes. The novels (and there are a scores of them) were hugely popular when they were originally published. So popular that Oz illustrator William Denslow was able to buy an entire island in Bermuda with the money he made off the series!

On the comics side, several publishers reprinted the Oz newspapers strips during the Golden Age (Dell's The Funnies and Hawley Press' Hi Spot Comics)

Bronze Age Oz Comics Fact 1: THE comic below was the FIRST collaborative publication by Marvel and DC!

It was the success of this comic that led to the classic Superman/Spider-man comic in 1976.

The Oz mythos has always struck me as one of those real Odd Duck literary creations, seeming to borrow some elements from European fairytales as it does, but using a longer narrative than those stories. The plots are much more direct than the Literary Nonsense works of Lewis Carroll, but seem to be influenced by that movements sense of whimsy.

Bronze Age Oz Comics Fact 2: The Superman character Vartox owes his existence to the Oz books.

Vartox, who will go down in history as Superman's Hairiest opponent, was inspired by the Sean Connery science fiction movie Zardoz. In the movie we discover that there is a critical connection between the name Zardoz and the book Wizard of Oz. I'll refrain from telling you more, lest I ruin the movie for you!

In the Golden Age Comics, The Oz stories that appeared in the Dell Comics were reprints of newspaper strips illustrated by Walt Sprouse. While not quite the stylist Denslow was, Sprouse managed to capture quite a bit of Denslow's original feel. They featured the adventures of a young lad named Tip.

Bronze Age Oz Comics Fact 3: The Superfriends once visited Oz. I don't know that this episode has ever made it to DVD, but you can check out the cartoon on Youtube:

Anyway, back the MacFarland book which started off this whole thing. It clued me onto which Golden Age comics reprinted the old Sprouse Oz strips, but it didn't have the exact numbers. So after much downloading at the totally awesome Golden Age Comics, I was able to pin down the issues to Dell's The Funnies 21-29 which were printed in 1938. Other issues after 29 may have included the strips, but there is a gap in the run at GAUK.

So today, I'm happy to present the first two issues of The Funnies to include the Sprouse Oz newspaper strips. (Note: 22 does not include a cover, so I made one for the purpose of linking here.)

[ The Funnies 21 ]

[ The Funnies 22 ]


- Jim


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