Welcome to Manhatten.
Youll notice that people stare
at the sidewalks in front of them as they walk, avoiding even fleeting
eye contact. Late at night, on a lonely block, they may cross the
to avoid passing you, though it's a well lit block, though you're well
dressed and unthreatening, though probably hundreds of people are
shouting distance. You step into an elevator in an apartment building.
A person already in the elevator cab darts out just before the door
to avoid riding alone with you, though they've probably seen you
though they know you've passed the scrutiny of the doorman.
Don't get in
trouble here. No one will
help you. No one wants to get involved because they may wind up in
too, and who's going to help them? They turn their backs, they cross
street, they ignore you.
afraid. A palpable fear pervades
this town. If you live here, you know it intimately. Anyone who spends
too much time here soon becomes aware of it. People from other big
less afflicted sense it instantly. Small-town midwesterners often have
to get mugged first. It's not entirely paranoia
thinking about this for a long
time. I thought about it while sitting in a hearing room once listening
to a superficially respectable-looking fellow lying his tail off under
oath. As I watched this fellow shifting, sweating and scrambling to kep
his disassembling sounding credible, I realized that he was very much
And I realized it's not the crime and violence in the city that cause
fear--it's the other way around.
unspoken "or else" that lets you
understand the way fear drives evil. Gotta steal or else
get it. Gotta get them or else they'll get me.
Gotta eat it, have
to do it now, or else my one chance will be gone.
Gotta look down
on everybody, or else they'll look down on
Fear is the
root of all evil. Works of
evil create the climate for more fear. It's not entirely paranoia...
along the line, a balance was
tipped, and Manhatten began a long, slow, slide into the abyss. I said
the fear was palpable. It's getting worse.
Our new title
debuting with this issue
is DARK DOMINION ™ . It's about Manhatten. It's
about fear and evil
and one man who isn't afraid. It was created by
myself an Steve
Ditko, who, of course, created Doctor Strange and
It's written by Len Wein, who brought you The Phantom
Thing, and the new X-Men. It's drawn by
Joe James and inked
by Bob Downs and Mike Barreiero. It's powerful, super-action-filled,
intense stuff. It's the cornerstone of the DEFIANT
universe. I rarely
do a sales pitch in my column, but this one I especially
Marvel's lawsuit against us:
The trial is over, and we're waiting for the judge to give us the
I'll let you know what happens. I appreciate the letters of support.
I'd like to offer you these
thoughts to ponder:
Ours is a
universe governed by quantum
mechanics, wherein matter is also energy and particles are also
We are each
one a coalecence of forces
in the quantum field, an eddy in the stream of timespace--a radiant
of energy, organized into form that our limited senses perceive as
that bend unseen lines of
force around itself, which iron fillings sprinkled on a piece of paper
will betray, we are each one a powerful generator of an unseen nimbus
limited senses, it is difficult
to conceive of the quantum nature of things. We bite into an apple--a
event--but in quantum terms, two field of energy are interacting, one
through the other.
nectar composed of minute particles,
which are also waves, which are also particles, which comprise the
structures on our tongues. Then more waves are relayed across a vast
relative to the quantum scale, a central locus, where they trigger a
of reactions. Thus we conceive of the nature of the energy field we
just encountered--we taste the apple.
is reality in our quantum
conceive far more than we perceive.
exactly as many things in Heaven
and Earth as dreamt of in our philosophy.
All we imagine
limits are imaginary.
Commentary: The apple analogy
here is so reminiscent of the restaurant scene in the movie "Matrix
that it is amazing. Einstein once said the secret to being creative is
knowing how to hide one's sources. This editorial was written years
the Matrix trilogy. The parallels are similar, yet clearly different.
their inspiration have been the same?
The Marvel lawsuit is
over. We won.
for a temporary injunction,
claiming that WARRIORS of PLASM™ was an
infringement on their title
Plasmer, which went on sale this
Here are some
excerpts from the Honorable
Michael B. Mukasey's opinion:
Plaintiff and defendant are comic
book publishers. Both are at the initial stages of publishing new comic
book series. Plaintiff's series, which has been announced to the trade
and consumers at trade shows and in plaintiff's other comic books, is
Defendant's series, the first of which
has been published, is called Warriors of Plasm....
the reasons set forth below the
injunction is denied....
...plaintiff fails because it
has failed to prove likely irreparable injury and therefore has failed
to prove also likely success on the merits...
...there has been no showing
of by survey evidence of such [likely consumer] confusion, nor is there
any evidence of actual confusion....
There is obvious phonetic similarity
between Plasm and Plasmer. However, although word of mouth may play a
role in the popularity of a comic book, the axctual selection is made
...the sight and meaning tests
yield a finding that the marks are dissimillar....
...Although the first issue of
the defendant's book shows a monster that plaintiff claims resembles
evil self, I see no resemblance beyond the natural tendency of many
book monsters to have sharp teeth and frightening facial
The appearance of the two comic
books is not similar beyond the name....
...a customer with any experience
in buying comic books would be alerted by the difference in appearance
between the two books to the substantial possibility that they do not
the same origin or portray the same characters.
In addition, the names and logos
of publishers are displayed prominentlyin the left-hand corner of each
cover, further differentiating the two comic books...
...the content of the two books
is sharply different. Beyond a generally biotechnological context,
is no resemblance whatever between the two books....
...a cursory examination would
disclose the differences. This dissimilarity would be aparent even to
inexperienced customer so long as that customer had even a slight
with the genre of comic books....
...In order to find a likelihood
of confusion sufficient to warrant an injunction, I would have to find
that the prospective purchaser was acting on word of mouth, and knew
the title of the book--Plasmer--and nothing else....
...that doubly hypothetical possibility...is
simply too tenuous, absent any evidence whatever, to justify an
Even a purchaser acting on word of mouth that included so much as a
description of the contents of the book would know that Warriors of
is not about the character depicted in Plasmer....
...plaintiff has not shown a likelihood
of confusion and therefore has not shown a likelihood of success on the
merits either. In addition, it appears that plaintiff is the Goliath in
this striggle and the defendant the David....
Accordingly, the application for an
injunction is denied....
DEFIANT has cost us $200,000 and
literally hundreds of man-hours. I believe that was
purpose--bleed us, waste our time, slow us down, damage us, maybe even
put us out of business. Killing competitors is one way to protect
The loss of
money and time has created
some problems for us, but nothing we can't handle. We remain DEFIANT.
And. oh, by
the way--now, more than ever,
we appreciate your support.
stuff runs through your mind
when you're sitting in court listening to weasels lie, hoping that the
judge will see the obvious truth, knowing that if he doesn't, the triple
damages your adversary claims will put you out of business. I
a funnylittle homily my Grandma McDonald used to say whenever we kids
hurt, disappointed or downhearted:
Take a drink from my bottle,
Let it run down thy throttle,
Rise up and strive again.
decided that if I unfairly lost, I would
"rise up and strive again"--as I have before.
that, knowing that, gave me strength.
The moral of
the story is be strong, stick
to your guns, strive again, never give up. Eventually, the good guys
Commentary: Plasmer was a horrid comic book series. Despite
to "remain Defiant", Defiant Comics never recovered from the financial
setback of Marvel's lawsuit. Funding which should have come through did
not come through.
Len Wein was Editor in
Chief of Marvel Comics when
I first met him. He knew my work from Superman, Superboy, The
of Super-Heroes, and other comics I'd written for DC during
decade. I'd been introduced by a friend to his Swamp Thing
which blew me away. Len offered me some writing assignments at Marvel,
and I cheerfully accepted. I was really looking forward to working with
Unfortunately, it just didn't happen.
By the time I began writing for Marvel, Len had gone back to writing as
well. We did get to know each other a little though. I remember one
when a bunch of us were hanging around the Marvel editorial office
work, somehow Len's description of the time he and Neal Adams had
down a wall at DC comics while wrestling led to a reenactment--with me
in the Neal Adams role.
Using a move
I learned watching the superb
film King Kong vs. Godzilla, I lifted Len off the
big bear of a man, but I was in shape then--and tried to flip him onto
the floor. He countered somehow, so that all I succeeded in doing was
us both around and slamming Len feet first into Roger Stern, who had
watching with bemused curiosity until impact. Roger flew back like a
ball, just as you'd expect. He was, after all, a mere human, cast by
into the path of four hundred-plus pounds of lurching, spinning
Stan Lee happened to be striding
own the hall at that moment, on his way out. It was about 7:00 P.M.
Human projectile Roger careened out the door
of the editorial office
into the hall, narrowly missing Stan before thundering into the wall.
swiveled to stare for a second
at poor, stunned Roger, now limply sliding down the wall, then swiveled
to observe Roger's two-man propulsion unit. By this time, I was rather
off-balance and holding Len sort of upside-down. Though his expression
revealed amazement, Stan never broke his stride and merely said "Stay
men!" as he exited through the back door.
started laughing--Len, myself,
and the puddle that was Roger. That's when I lost my footing and went
hard, dropping Len en route. Len landed on his head, I think, which may
account for a few quirks in his behavior since then.
thereafter, I became Editor in Chief
at Marvel, but by that time Len had gone back to work for DC Comics.
we remained friends, we never did work together.
I ran into
Len last April at WonderCon
in Oakland. He had some time in his schedule, and I needed a writer.
writing DARK DOMINION and
WARRIORS of PLASM, and has written the WARRIORS
Graphic Novel, "Home for the Holidays."
Len is of
course, the cocreator of the
new X-MEN (with Dave Cockrum, who penciled "Home
for the holidays"),
Swamp Thing, The Human Target, and many
other notable series. He's
universally acknowledged as one of the finest writers and creators to
grace our field--and he's doing the best work of his career. I respect
him and his work beyond measure--he's been through good times and bad,
triumphs and tragedies, and has come through it all with greater wisdom
and sharper skills. Best of all, he still has that fire in his belly
made Swamp Thing great. He's at the peak of his
powers. I'm very
glad he's with us.
Len and I
still wrestle sometimes--verbally--over
story point, as any good editor and writer do, and we're having a ball.
But I bet
just the thought of that
makes Stan Lee quicken his pace...And Roger? He probably searching for
his flak jacket right now.
Commentary: Dark Dominion was
indeed an excellent read. The first 5 issues were struggling for a
but issues 6 through 10 had resolved that problem.
In Kansas City, when
they say "please" and "thank
you", they mean it.
was a guest at the Kansas City
Comics Club, and it was simply the best convention I've attended in a
Con organizer Mike Worley treated me, Clark Smith, and the rest of the
Team DEFIANT with great kindness. People are sincerely nice there.
lots of other guests, of course.
I don't want to slight anyone, but it was particularly nice to see Dick
Ayers, Julie Schwartz, Murphy Anderson, and Curt Swan, four of the
upon whose shoulders we stand. It was a great honor to receive the K.C.
Comics Club's Fan Appreciation Award for Lifetime Achievement in front
of some men from who I learned my craft. Curt, in particular, taught me
a great deal back in the '60s when he drew many of the Superman,
Finest Comics, and Legion of Super-Heroes stories I
addition to a plaque, the Club
gave me a wonderful statue of Lorca sculpted by Bud Bortner, which has
become the centerpiece of my office. Thanks, again, guys, for
Let me tell you
something about Alan Weiss...
comics reader has never heard
of Alan Weiss, because he's never worked for extended periods on
series. He's worked on Batman, The Avengers, Warlock,
marquee titles, but only on a project-by-project basis--picking his
working only on stories to which he could apply his art and his skills
with passion. Among professionals, and among fans
who have traced
his career's circuitous path, Alan is very highly regarded as an artist
and as a creator.
I think he
may be the most creative person
I've ever met--and, remember, I know or have known many of the all-time
greats in comics and most of the current superstars.
when we were putting DEFIANT
together, I ran into Alan in Denver. I told him what we were doing. He
loved it. I asked him to help us build a universe. He
Alan had a
concept for a character called
"War Dancer," which dovetailed almost eerily into the universe concept
of DEFIANT. War Dancer was, in fact, the missing lynchpin. As we've
War Dancer, it has become a critical centerpiece of the
amazing for two reasons.
has never made a long-term
commitment to a series, much less a Universe. As I said, he has
to have passion for what he's doing, and that's meant a career-ful of
and special projects-- until now.
Watch for the
powerful, apocalyptic, stunningly
orIginal superhero saga of WAR DANCER, starting--with passion--in
and watch the DEFIANT Universe continue to unfold around
Lastly, I've been having some conversations
with Rob Liefeld recently. Interesting...
Commentary: Alan Weiss indeed
deserved the praise he received. The stunning artwork featured detail
few artists bring to comics today.
Happy Birthday, DEFIANT.
One year ago, on February
18th. DEFIANT emerged from a gestation of hopes and dreams into vivid
us, here at the plant, anyway. Our first issue Warriors of
didn't appear until August of last year, so it
seems we're only half
a year old to you DEFIANT people who don't gather at the office every
Either way, 1994 is our first full year together--and what a year it's
going to be!
DEFIANT will publish it's
first mega-cross-over-- a story so big it involves every DEFIANT title.
Sure, everybody does cross-overs, but not like this.
story is called SCHISM.
It's the reason why there's a DEFIANT Universe. It profoundly involves
every DEFIANT personage.
If you live
in the universe, it involves
SCHISM is a great story, not a
gimmick to force you to buy titles you don't want. The story is deeply
rooted in each DEFIANT series. Every second of every story from DEFIANT
has been, is and will be the foundation of SCHISM--
fact, the story has already begun. However, the essence of
appear in four graphic novels, one a week, on sale the last two weeks
july and the first two weeks of August.
SCHISM is being written and
designed by myself and David Lapham, with powerful help like Len Wein,
Janet Jackson, Alan Weiss an others--people who invented the
revolutionized it with UNITY a couple of years back, or both.
to want to read to read SCHISM.
story has already begun. All
the universe is involved. Watch the weave develop and be ready for
you've never seen the likes of before. I do not say these words
comment: A retailer friend told
me it's a bad time for comics, that most companies are dying or pulling
in their horns, and that nothing new and exciting was on the horizon.
I told him about SCHISM-- and that DEFIANT was
thriving by the way.
Blew him away.
Now is the
time to build, to grow, to
do great works. Now is the time to be DEFIANT.
1994 is going
to be the Year of DEFIANT.
The first full year. The first of many.
Now is the
time or a great story.
What a great
year it's going to be!
Our Creative Director,
Janet Jackson, is thinking
of changing her name to Sheena Easton to avoid confusion.
Commentary: Optimism is a wonderful
thing, but realism prepares the mind for the problems ahead. 1994 could
indeed be called the Year of Defiant, but it was
not the first of
many, and unless someone was to find a way to bring it back, it never
be. Optimism would say that you should never give up, realism says that
dreams do sometimes die. Optimism says press forward, realism says that
your dream has no greater right to be manifest than the dreams of those
around you. Dreams sometimes collide. They boil down to a battle of the
spirit-- one's willpower, one's wisdom, one's clarity of thought, one's
resources. Hope is not based on dreams. Hope is based on a greater
of justice that shall exist. Hope is based on the balance that every
dream, ambition, and desire is respected-- even when that man has
the bounds of his worthiness. He shall receive his portion, but no more.
sued DEFIANT, DEFIANT ran out of free cash,
SCHISM was never released. DEFIANT
shut down. There is little doubt
that MARVEL had stepped beyond their worthiness to win, but MARVEL
win. MARVEL lost the court case, and later fell into debt
and bankruptcy. Two wills lost because they deemed the other a threat,
not an asset. There is a wisdom which can be found in loss. That wisdom
is-- don't make the same mistake twice.
she prefers to be called, for
obvious reasons, is one of the brightest and best talents to grace our
medium. She's the best colorist--we usually say "painter," since our
process allows for full-color, three dimensional rendering--in the
She's an outstanding graphic designer, photographer, technical
and mechanical artist. She's also a pre-press and printing expert--a
best of all, but close, she
possesses the kind of brilliant conceptual mind that allows her to
to invent, to build universes from pure thought. As I've said in this
before, she was responsible for more of the creation of the characters
and concepts of the last universe we worked on together--the Valiant
anyone except me. She receives no credit from the corporate pirates and
their purchased lackeys who stole Valiant from me, no royalties--and
haven't even paid her the $28,000 in back pay they owe
know what she meant to the success of Valiant. and you should too.
got the concept, and was actively
contributing while those who'd
like you to believe the created it all were insisting that Harbinger
was "too different." They didn't get it.
Jayjay is at it again, helping
to build the DEFIANT Universe. She gets it. She's contributing mightily.
of all, she's started
Jayjay's first solo flight
as a writer was "Bad Moon Rising," the powerful and gritty tale
in DARK DOMINION #4. It's outstanding.
that it is the best first
effort I've ever seen from any writer. Roll that
one around in your
Let me clue
you in about another talent
to watch--an amazing all-around artist named Adam Pollina. His first
was for Triumphant Comics on a series called Chromium Man.
he was ready an gave him a chance penciling CHARLEMAGNE,
monthly in March. Remember when Michael Golden arrived on the scene
his debut Micronauts?
I'd like to mention is DEFIANT's
upcoming mega-crossover--our first. It's called SCHISM.
see the weave beginning now in all of our titles, though the roots of
saga go all the way back to the beginning of time.
Now I hear
you thinking--is this the one
of those deals where they try to force me to buy things I don't want to
get some gimmick or premium? No. I guarantee there won't be any trading
cards or rewards gimmick for buying them all. The "gimmick" is that
It's the best
I've ever done--and Jayjay
is contributing brilliantly. So are Adam, Len, David, and other DEFIANT
It'll be "too
different" or certain unimaginative
weasels. They won't get it.
I think you
Commentary: This clarifies whether
Janets work is considered a painting. I do find her stuff to be a
and not just a "fill in the square with a color marker". Some of
color covers have sold on ebay for hundreds of dollars.
|Jack Kirby died last week.
worked with him at
for several years,
to know him a little.
He was a
professional and a genuinely nice
man. He was
King of our craft, one
greatest creative forces
will ever inspire,
amaze us, and eve
fondly to mind the
and the gentleman.
I'd like to correct a
major oversight. Two of
the artists who did spectacular work on THE DARK DOMINION Zero
trading card set inadvertently were left out of the credits--inkers
Wilson and Grey. Sorry, guys.
A lot of people
have been asking me if I'm
leaving DEFIANT to go to Image. Rumors are everywhere, especially since
Extreme Studios ran an ad in the trades that said "Rob Liefeld/Jim
what's really going on....
is the only original Image
creator who I didn't know from my Marvel days. The others all worked
Marvel when I was Editor-in-Chief there, but Rob started working
after I left. I met him for the first time at Wonder-Con in April 1993
in an elevator. A few months later, hen we were both doing an
at a retail store in Anaheim, where Extreme Studios is located, we had
breakfast together. I asked Rob if he'd mind "guest-starring" in THE
GOOD GUYS #1. He agreed, and then he told me that I was one
favorite writers and asked if I'd do a tory with him someday.
GOOD GUYS #1 came out,
Rob called me to tell me how much he'd enjoyed it. He also asked if I'd
write a storyline for Youngblood and offered to do
some work for
DEFIANT in return--sort of a crossover of creators as opposed to
busy. So's Rob. But there's
something about the idea that appealed to me instantly. I said yes, and
agreed to work out the details later. Rob asked if I'd mind
started promoting the event. No problem, said I. Hence, the rumor
A long time
ago, I worked with George
Pérez on the Avengers at Marvel, and I think we
were a pretty
good combination. The power in George's art brought out my best. Power
is, of course, the essence of Rob Liefeld's work--thundering,
extreme power. Nobody,
does it better.
This is going
to be fun.
Commentary: No comments.
Contrary to popular
rumors, I am not leaving DEFIANT.
The other day
we received a series of
calls from readers and retailers who'd heard that I'd gone to work for
Continuity Comics. Their evidence:
Continuity has apparently just
announced that they're publishing some stories written by me.
are...but I wrote those stories
to hear from callers and correspondents
that I'm going, or have gone to Image.
No, Rob Liefeld and I
are doing a "crossover
of creators," in which I'll write a YOUNGBLOOD storyline and he'll do
artwork for us...but I remain DEFIANT.
DEFIANT remains DEFIANT. Some
people heard that the company that licensed the right to make DEFIANT
cards had postponed publication, and inferred that we were out of
We even got a phone call from WIZARD, no less.
doing fine. In fact, we're
beginning a make-good program to help take care of some outstanding
to do with the trading cards that bore our name. retailers, contact our
sales troops if you haven't heard about this.
for what we think will be
a pretty exciting announcement regarding trading cards.
licenses, by the way ae doing
fine. We're especially excited about the CD ROM SPLATTERBALL VIDEO GAME
and we'll be making an official announcement soon about the first
movie! More on those later.
At the risk
of sounding like I'm lecturing,
be aware, friends, that scoundrels use rumors as weapons to damage
They exploit people's natural tendency to believe bad news. Question
Be suspicious of "authorities." Look for conflicts of interest and
motives. Defy the self-appointed arbiters of taste.
The world is
full of liars, lawyers, and
vicious curs. Be careful out there.
summer of DEFIANT is nigh upon us.
SCHISM, our first super-saga crossover,
is coming during July and
August. Please order it now from your retailer.
You'll be very glad
you did, I promise you.
originally wrote this column for
Hero Illustrated Magazine, but it's a good one and it bears
Commentary: Having spoke casually
with several former Defiant Comic employees, there
is no reason
to doubt the sincerity of the comments made in this May 1994 editorial.
This piece was written some 5 months before Defiant made the choice to
cease publication. Following the publication of this editorial, several
licensing deals fell through and some financing failed to come forth as
it was expected to do. The lawsuit with Marvel Comics over the name
vs. PLASMER had drained any extra operating capital the company had
for publishing comics. At the time DEFIANT chose to cease publication,
they paid all outstanding artist and creators for the work that had
done. Creators were even paid for work that had not been published.
to several sources directly affected, DEFIANT's doors were closed in a
very fair and honest manner towards all creative talents
good reason to believe that the
rumors, lies, and negativity that Mr. Shooter was addressing in this
had a direct affect on sales despite quality improvements. This
could be viewed as a failed attempt to prevent what actually
one problem in the industry
is not the glut, not the lack of talent, not the crash of the
market, not thin margins, not late books, not even greed-
that's a contender.
one problem is lack of honor.
Look at us-an
industry that trades heavily
upon the concept of noble super-heroes-do you see many stand-up guys
What you see is a lot of backbiting, childish
and rodentlike wimp-ism.
cronyism and patronage carried
to absurd extremes. Editors at big houses don't hire the best writers
the titles in their care, they hire each other on a
basis. Brown-nosing is a more important job skill for artists than a
of their craft or talent. If you ask an artist about that, he or she
probably say it isn't so in their case, of course, but yes, they're
of the syndrome. The corollary is equally ugly-no small number of
artists have told me that they'd like to do a job for DEFIANT, but
because they might be "blackballed" at Marvel by certain editors who
some axe to grind. And when some creator is
because he was seen with the wrong people, or because some editor's
needed work, don't look for other creators to rally around. Typically,
they'll look the other way in droves, glad it's not them being
routinely tolerated in this
business. While I was a V.P. at Marvel, I was working from within to
the sorry treatment of Marvel's founding fathers-Kirby, Ditko, Heck,
et al-and making grudging progress, until Kirby sued, seeking ownership
of the properties he'd created or co-created. At that time, Marvel's
management went into bunker mode. Kirby began to get publicity mostly
publications wherein Marvel didn't advertise, and, apparently a great
of support within the trade as well as among fans. As the groundswell
I remember thinking that retailers and distributors would no longer
us, that the fans would boycott our books, that it could be the end.
happy to give lip service
to Kirby, but few seriously put themselves out. Me? Once I had reached
an impasse with Marvel's owners, and realized that I could no longer
a difference working from within, I left.
later when Valiant was stolen
out from under me, many people privately expressed their condolences,
support, their outrage-but as a practical matter
the industry turned
a blind eye. I wasn't surprised. By that time Valiant was a big money
for the distributors and retailers, an important advertiser to trade
a lucrative account for the creative people, and well-entrenched with
fans. The trade press, if anything, made apologies for
for journalism in our trade
press is generally appalling. Facts are seldom checked. "New" stories
often blatantly slanted in favor of whomever has the most clout.
misuse their platforms. Can you imagine a column written by a
athlete in which he or she routinely criticized other professionals in
his or her sport? Or a column written by an actor in which he or she
slandered other actors, film studios, theater owners and moviegoers?
"conflict of interest" obviously
mean nothing to these people. One comics writer who is a columnist
me for work, was politely refused, and has since written a column
DEFIANT. In what other industry would such behavior be tolerated?
editors from one house doing
reviews of comics from other houses in trade press columns.
magazine (Hero Illustrated)
runs a column which purports to provide inside information but has
run pure fiction with regard to DEFIANT.
Irresponsibility is lack of honor. Especially
as far as the press is concerned.
readers seem to believe a lot
of the garbage they read. You'd think anyone who'd ever read Spider-Man
would be a little suspicious of journalists.
So why is our
industry this way? Low self-esteem,
I think. We started out as the poor stepchild of syndicated comics,
themselves were second class citizens of the arts. I
think a lot of people in this business still feel looked down upon, and
act as though they deserve to be.
The truth is
that the comic book industry
has grown up a lot recently. Before we can truly come of age, though,
going to have to learn to show some self-respect.
When you get
right down to it, that's
what honor is.
It may interest
you to know that on April 8, 1994
it was announced that Valiant, or more properly Voyager Communications
Inc., was sold by the pirates and weasels who stole it to Acclaim
I performed my
How to Create Comics Seminar
in Los Angeles recently, ably assisted by the legendary writer/creator
Commentary: The last sentence
negates the importance of the whole column. Let it sink in.
the Seminar began, I was presented
with a wonderful gift and the following letter:
been almost a year since I attended your
first "How to Create Comics" seminar. It has been a glorious year for
As you are probably already aware (from previous correspondence), I am
most appreciative of you for my new outlook on literature. What I
mentioned is my new propensity for creativity. For this I thank you
Creativity sometimes takes unusual
forms and sometimes it becomes a compelling force. That is precisely
it accosted me. A few months ago I was at the ocean with my two sons.
walking along the beach at the water's edge I found a slab of metal,
buried in the surf. It was an old piece of metal, corroded and pitted
probably many years in salt water. It had probably broken away from a
ship. It was obvious to me that it had no intention of lying at the
of the ocean, being battered and bashed by the elements. Somehow it
it's way through a perilous journey to rest on the beach. When I found
it, it was clear to me that it was one thing...DEFIANT.
During the following months I did my
best to interpret what was written in that hunk of metal. Working
only minutes, sometimes working for hours at a time. I am not sure if I
interpreted it's message fully because, to me, it doesn't look any
to the day I found it washed up by the surf.
Today I give it to you for the next
part of it's journey, because it like you shall persevere no matter
me, the journey is just beginning.
My creativity is headed in a new direction, writing. Since I'm being
along for the ride, I thought that I would pack up my imagination and
the region, Where Only the Limits are Imaginary. I have so much trust
you as a guide to that realm that I have brought my son to your seminar
today so that they too will know the path to the same limitless
Thanks For Everything
I was sincerely
moved by the whole thing. My sincere
thanks again to Steve Pendleton.
went very well, thanks to Bill Liebowitz
and the people of Golden Apple Comic, who co-sponsored the Seminar with
DEFIANT, and made all the arrangements. As always, all proceeds were
before the Seminar, just before
the autograph party for Len and me held at Melrose Avenue Golden Apple
store, I had a chance to sit down with Bill for awhile and talk about
state of the industry.
Bill is a
veteran in this business, he's
tough, smart, experienced, and wise. He made a few observations that
both thought provoking and chilling. Bill said that the speculation
the industry went through during the last seven years, a lot of regular
readers, people who read, enjoy and save their comics, became
The tidal wave of holograms, die-cut glow-in-the-dark-foil-stamped-etc.
covers, deaths, rebirths, cripplings, and restarts of old titles from
designed to squeeze every dollar out of every comic buyer, ended up
and driving away many readers who were the backbone
of the market.
People don't like feeling exploited, milked, bilked, and screwed. When
the speculators discovered cases of X-Men #1 or the
rebirth of Superman
they bought were not appreciating in value (because--surprise--there
millions of copies), they
deserted the market, leaving the
comics market in big trouble--no speculators, fewer readers and...big
More than a thousand comics stores have gone out of business since last
that the only way out
of this nightmare is for publishers to focus on story, and create
cutting-edge comics with that personality and attitude--a
daring, a little different, a little, well...DEFIANT that people can
We're on the
case. we are DEFIANT. C'mon.
Help us build a universe. And tell your friends.
Commentary: ...or just shut it
down.... which they did.
his wonderful wife
edited The Comics
Guide. Don was
of the best people
this industry, and now
gone. Let's all work
little harder and be a
better, shall we?
won't begin to make
for the loss,
good man's memory.
So, there I was on the
witness stand in Federal
Court in Uniondale, New York. Some guy was suing Columbia Pictures over
"The Karate Kid" films. He claimed he had created the name "Karate Kid"
in 1968 well before their movies came out. Columbia Pictures had, in
licensed the name from DC Comics and the defense attorney had asked me
to testify that I had created the name for DC Comics in 1965, which, I
attorney handed me a copy of
Adventure Comics #346 and asked me to
identify it, state when it
was published (1966), and state the circulation (500,000). The
lawyer objected...on the grounds that my testimony was hearsay.
The judge sustained
So there I was
on the witness stand in
Federal Court in Uniondale, New York, listening to a judge instruct the
jury that the printed, published copy of the comic
book in hand
had no significance as evidence, and that anything
I said was to
be considered hearsay.
evidently had no clue that comic
books were professional, real publications. I
suppose he assumed
that anyone could have made that issue of Adventure Comics
and put whatever dates and circulation figures he wanted in
If any of you
think for a moment that comics
have broken through the barrier and achieved general public awareness,
much less respect, think again.
A lot of weird
stuff happened lately...
famous comics creator condemned me from the podium during a keynote
at a major distributor's retailer seminar. Amazing. He and I have never
had a bad dealing, nor any harsh words between us in all the years
known each other. We've always been friends. Then, very recently,
warning, he began publicly attacking me.
He had some
venom in his speech for several
of the publishing companies in attendance, but I was the only individual
he attacked. My crime? Overstating my résumé, in
opinion, with regard to my work on behalf of creator's rights. I didn't,
but that's neither here nor there. His behavior is/was
trade magazine persists in calling it's award for "the lamest character
of the month" the "Mort", an obvious reference to Mort Weisinger.
was the DC editor who helped make Superman part of Americana, and made
a significant contribution to building the industry that we love.
you like his style or not, he was one of the giants upon whose
are more than weird. They're a part
of the reason that comics lack awareness and respect among the general
look at how we treat ourselves.
backstabbing, gossip, malicious
lies, and cowardly slander are rife among us. The lack of respect we
for each other is palpable. The ingratitude and disdain for our
No wonder the
public largely chooses to
turn it's back on us. We can be pretty ugly.
By the way,
after much testimony, the judge was
finally persuaded to admit Adventure Comics #346
(edited by Mort
Weisinger) as evidence. Shortly, thereafter the defense prevailed and
case was thrown out of court.
I guess that's
Next month, a big
Commentary: Ironically this editorial
ends with no period. Just as the comics ended with no proper
so did the last editorial by Jim. Was the "big" news intended to be
that Defiant was shutting down? We can't really know. This editorial
expresses a great amount of frustration. I don't honestly believe that
the general population knew or cared that industry "backbiting" was
taking place. Perhaps a toy manufacturer noticed it, but I don't
that as the general population.