The GeeksverseNews Round-up | Dec. 8–14, 2012

News Round-up | Dec. 8–14, 2012
Published on Friday, December 14, 2012 by
Gail Simone says goodbye to Batgirl, the AFI picks a superhero movie for one of its year-end lists, we give an impromptu lesson on how to depict firearms and archery in comics, and more in this week’s News Round-up

Gail Simone gracious in her exit from Batgirl

Writer Gail Simone, perhaps best known for her work on Simpsons Comics, Deadpool, Birds of Prey, Secret Six, and Wonder Woman, announced via her Twitter account that she has been let go by DC Comics as the writer on Batgirl:

Really, DC? Firing someone via e-mail? Harsh.

Regardless of how she was informed of the termination of her employment, or even the leaks and speculation leading up to her firing, Simone was gracious upon her exit:

When suggested by Twitter user Mike Nelson (the world’s only comics-literate, computer-using chimpanzee, judging by his Twitter avatar) that her firing may have come about because of a lack of “women in refrigerators” in her Batgirl work, Simone managed a cryptic reply:

It will be interesting to find out what effect Simone’s firing will have on the sales of Batgirl, the best-selling superhero comic book in North America with a female lead. As Bleeding Cool‘s Rich Johnston has pointed out, we will now have the opportunity to see whether the support the book has enjoyed will be afforded her replacement—rumored at one point to be Scott Lobdell, whom, incidentally, elder comics statesman Jim Shooter advised to “get a grip” after seeing what he described as Lobdell’s “porn for kids” characterization of Starfire in Red Hood and the Outlaws #1—or if Simone will take her loyal Batgirl readers and fans to whatever, presumably non-DC, comics project she works on next.

Interesting, too, is how this sequence of events will impact the public perception of DC Comics’ hiring practices, if at all. As readers may know, DC Comics co-publisher Dan Didio has received some fairly reasonable criticism for his response to the observation of a significant drop in the number of female contractors working for the company in a creative capacity, from 12% to 1%, since the launch of the “New 52″ campaign.

Dara Naraghi’s Persia Blues needs a little Kickstarting

Kickstarter media and entertainment projects are a dime a dozen these days. And they can cover a wide range of stuff, from films that seem to have been based on a poor judgement of the market, such as the What is a Juggalo? documentary that raised all of $5 of its $5,000 goal, to projects that seem to be deliberately testing the limits of the crowd-funding community’s fiscal and common sense, such as the Love of Music photo book, which sought to raise $19,750 so that project lead Michael Moon could conduct “an on-going photo exploration of women posed in various romantic and erotic relationships with musical instruments (cello, guitars, harp, rock drums, etc.) that will culminate in a professionally printed color photo-book.” (Not surprisingly, the project received zero pledges).

And then there is comics writer and PANEL comics collective co-founder Dara Naraghi‘s Kickstarter project to raise $3,000 so that he can compensate Columbus, Ohio-based artist Brian Bowman for his work on Persia Blues, the first installment of a planned graphic novel trilogy set to be released by specialty publisher NBM Publishing. As Naraghi explained in a Kickstand feature on Comic Book Resources:

CBR News: Why did you decide to do a Kickstarter campaign, when the book is already under contract?

Dara Naraghi: The main reason is I wanted to compensate my artist properly for all the time and hard work he’s put into the project. As I mentioned in both the Kickstarter video and text, our publisher NBM has been great to work with and is even giving us a small advance. But the truth is, it’s just not enough. And this is not a knock against NBM — far from it. Heck, most indie publishers pay very little, or nothing at all. It’s just the reality of print publishing, and especially indie graphic novel publishing. The market just doesn’t support a book like ours to a degree where a publisher can justify paying out thousands of dollars as an advance.  So I turned to Kickstarter, as a means of making things right with my collaborator.

To learn more about Persia Blues and the unique incentives contributors to the campaign will receive such as signed copies of the book, handwritten short stories, Persian cuisine family recipes, original pages of art from the book, and more, visit the Persia Blues Kickstarter page. The fund-raising drive will remain open until 11:30 PM EST, 20 December 2012.

AFI names The Dark Knight Rises among its list of the best films of 2012

It’s that time of the year again, when film critics, those custodians of celluloid culture, those mavens of movie method, come out with their lists of the year’s best, recognizing the filmmakers whose offerings proved most satisfying to their refined palates, while also telling the great unwashed what they should have seen, instead of spending a whole day watching Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson suck face and make googly eyes at each other. But what is this? It looks like a legit summer “actioner” blockbuster made it to the American Film Institute’s unranked list of the year’s ten best films! Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, the final entry in his Batman trilogy, has made it to AFI’s 2012 top ten, joining a diverse collection of leading Academy Award-favorites like Argo, Lincoln, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Moonrise Kingdom, and Life of Pi. [Editor’s note: No The Master? I would have thought it a shoo-in for AFI’s list.]

No word yet on what David Cronenberg thinks of the film’s selection, but we’re guessing he doesn’t agree with the AFI, given his previously quoted remarks on The Dark Knight Rises‘ directorial merits.

Superman is Super-serious

If Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy’s haunting “Elegy” playing in the background of the new Man of Steel trailer isn’t enough to clue you in, the solemn tone of the trailer should tell you that Zack Snyder’s reboot of the film franchise is a super-serious film about Important Stuff. No kryptonite real estate scam shenanigans here (so far).

No word yet on what David Cronenberg thinks about this movie, but we imagine he doesn’t have a lot of good things to say about it, either.

This is why producers are producers and artists are artists

Here’s something that will make any concept artist who’s had to work under the direction of a clueless producer or director shake his head in sympathy: 82 alternative conceptual designs for the character Deadpool for 2008’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine:

As explained by the original video uploader (“studioADI,” YouTube user name of the California-based Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. special effects and design firm) in the YouTube page’s video description, the designs were meant to satisfy the demands of “director Gavin Hood to the Producers and Studio.”

I have to say, none of the designs pass the “squint test” as far as being recognizable as the character in the comics is concerned. Did Gavin Hood or the producers even read any of the comics before telling ADI what to do? Because whatever they ended up with wasn’t Deadpool, it was a Guillermo del Toro movie creature reject. (h/t to SuperheroHype)

Dixon and Gulacy talk G.I. Joe: Special Missions

It’s always interesting to see major news outlets cover comics, and we’re not just talking superhero movie news or the “exclusives” that the Washington Post suspiciously scores whenever some DC or Marvel hero is about to get a revamp. USA Today (okay, so our definition of “major news outlet” could use some work) has an interview with Chuck Dixon and Paul Gulacy about their upcoming work on IDW Publishing’s new G.I. Joe: Special Missions title. Of the book’s format, Dixon had this to say:

The arcs are meant to be read as standalone thrillers as opposed to the more ongoing, serial stories the other books have.

This makes sense on two levels: It’s in keeping with the spirit of the “one-and-done” style stories Larry Hama wrote in the original incarnation of the Special Missions series, and it streamlines the consolidation process for packaging the individual stories into trade paperbacks.

IDW Publishing seems to be taking a more measured approach with how it uses its G.I. Joe license next year after a few years of rapid diversification that some observers might say quickly saturated, and later exhausted, a market that was more limited and resistant to expansion than initial expectations predicted. Color us optimistic, but cautiously so, about next year’s G.I. Joe comics.

Boom! Goes the Dynamite

Dynamite Entertainment president Nick Barrucci recently sat down with Comic Book Resources to talk about the background for the publisher’s plans for next year, including signing Mark Waid to do Green Hornet after the writer stepped down from his responsibilities as Chief Creative Officer of BOOM! Studios:

… we had been talking to Mark Waid about working together on something for about six years – at least since before he became Editor-in-Chief of BOOM! And after he took that job, this just wasn’t going to happen. He still was doing some writing at Marvel, and he was also writing and editing at BOOM! where they had some great campaigns that really kept him going. When you think about it, he was E-i-C there from 2006 to 2010. And when he left that job, he still had work at BOOM! and Marvel including a fantastic run on “Daredevil” that’s one of my favorite storylines for the character ever. But we started talking again seriously about a year ago about making something come together, and for one reason or another at Baltimore Comic-Con, we finally were able to sit down. I said, “Mark, what’s your dream project?” He said, “Green Hornet.” I said, “It’s yours.” And that was it.

Dynamite’s 2013 is indeed looking quite promising, with new licensed and creator-owned books coming from industry veterans such Waid, Fred Van Lente, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Andy Diggle, and Joshua Hale Fialkov as well as a new crime comics imprint headlined by Red Team from Garth Ennis, fresh off his landmark run on The Boys.

Secret Avengers, not so secret now that Nick Spencer’s talking it up

New Secret Avengers writer Nick Spencer had a conference call with CBR‘s Kiel Phegley about the Avengers spin-off. You know the drill: He’s having a blast on the book, he’s putting his stamp on the characters, it will be the quintessential Spencer Marvel work, etc. Anyway, we figure most of you folks out there have probably already made up your minds if you’re buying this book or not so let us instead offer you something different besides the hype. Check out this variant cover by Leinil Francis Yu, and focus on Hawkeye in particular:

Readers familiar with the basics of archery will find any number of things wrong with Yu’s Hawkeye drawing. We’re not singling out Yu here, mind you—we’re actually big fans of the artist if you haven’t noticed—these are mistakes many comics artists make, but master comics geek and archery instructor Jim MacQuarrie has written some pretty cogent arguments over the years in the Suspension of Disbelief blog about why it is important to get such basic things correct as a comics illustrator. Is what MacQuarrie doing nit-picking? Maybe. But we think his complaints are fairly legitimate and are comparable to the same concerns Chuck Dixon—you may remember him from a couple of news items ago—had about how writers mistakenly depict firearms and their use in comics, novels, and films in a 2004 article he posted on the (now-defunct) site. We actually have a saved transcript of the article’s text here (aren’t you glad you visited the site today?), which includes a brief anecdote about comics artist-writer Larry Hama, a former Army combat engineer and an ammunition and explosives expert, ranting to Dixon about a writer’s use of the phrase “the cordite stink of gunsmoke” in his work—a writer who turned out to be Dixon, as he recalled in this 2011 interview.

Anyway. Archery, that’s what we were talking about earlier. If the name Jim MacQuarrie sounds familiar, that’s probably because you might have read or heard his name mentioned in the news earlier this year as the columnist whose published criticism of Jeremy Renner’s archery form as seen in the earliest trailers and publicity shots of The Avengers was widely circulated in the movie and comics blog-o-sphere and supposedly led to some post-production tweaking of the film’s archery scenes in the interest of accuracy. We’re a little surprised Marvel didn’t send around a memo to its artists linking to MacQuarrie’s list of common comics archery mistakes and how to avoid them after the story and the ensuing social network “trending” notices broke.

So, don’t say we never taught you anything here at the Comixverse (even if it’s just stuff we cribbed and posted from other sources).

That’s your NEWS Round-up for this week. Until next time: READ BETWEEN THE HYPE!
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