Weekly Process Roundup 6/3/11

The weekly process roundup is a collection of sketches, pencils, inks, thumbnails, everything other than finished product, from The Long and Shortbox of It's favorite artists and illustrators, hitting every Friday.

I think I found cool stuff this week!

(Shhh... Don't tell anyone but I'm in charge of these things for a month while Josh is in Greece!)


DC to Reboot Fictional Universe Simultaneous With Digital Download Scheme

The announcement from DC's official blog The Source on Tuesday conveniently mentioned only oblique things about the line-wide story reboot that will accompany the beginning of their same-day-digital-release plan. (A thank you to my buddy TJ (@StrsMyDestntion) for putting me on to this at all.) In fact, most of their promo material is skirting the issue.

DC has really put the fear of god (or God, whichever you prefer) into both its retailers and its fans with this double news. Same-day-digital release is risky. But restarting a series' numbering from 1 of a new volume always peeves some. Retooling ongoing stories with little warning downright angers people. Starting in August every single damn DC Comics character, property, and title will be available same-day-digital and gets a story re-boot with their new volumes. Or so it seems. The statements that have people concerned are those from DC The Source:
"the first issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE by Johns and Lee... will offer a contemporary take on the origin of the comic book industry’s premier superhero team."
and this one from DC co-publisher Dan DiDio in the big USA Today article:
"We really want to inject new life in our characters and line ... This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience."
However, no other statements I've seen clearly make claim to a resetting of any narratives. Not even, as far as I can tell, this list of a few of the new titles with creator line-ups and quick 'new directions' descriptions from The Source. I'm an optimist: intentional misdirection to get fans angry and talking? Probably not. That's what I thought about Marvel's "Spider-Man: One More Day" (another attempt to 'refresh through reboot' the Spider-Man story) and I was dead wrong. The idea is to make the characters feel new again by disregarding the complicated stuff that's come before. Sounds great but smells very, very fishy to those of us who follow the industry's shake-ups of the past two decades. We've heard these things before, you see. It rarely goes well. I could show you proof:

Google "joe quesada spider-man one more day" or "crisis on infinite earths zero hour" or "grant morrison batman rip final crisis return" or "rob liefeld heroes reborn" or "john byrne spider-man chapter one". Some people liked these stories (and they have elements to recommend them), but they all have in common a deus ex machina, nonorganic, magic approach to storytelling. An approach that was inevitably again and again rolled-back.

That said? Totally HAS worked out on occasion. "Crisis on Infinite Earths" was more successful then not for a long time. Green Arrow being brought back from the dead. "Spider-Man: Revelations" narrowly solved more problems than it created. Regardless. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the stunt writing needs to stop. Just because you've done something shocking doesn't mean you've done something good.

Some of the smartest commentary I've seen on his issue has come from comics-artist and Hypothetical Island studio (@HypotheticIsle) member Reilly Brown. His Twitter stream (@Reilly_Brown) in real-time after the announcement read:


One statement that should have people excited is this one, also from DiDio in this ancillary USA Today interview:
"It's not just about straight superhero characters and stories. We're going to use war comics, we have stories set in mystery and horror, we've got Westerns."
Variety is a good thing.

The image below is being asociated with the news. It has been confirmed by The Source in a note from DC's Co-Publishers to be the cover of the new "Justice League" #1 (and to have been penciled by Jim Lee (@jimlee) and inked by his oft-art-partner Scott Williams, with colors by long-time DC colorist Alex Sinclair). As of Thursday June 2 at about 5 PM a Google Image search for: " "DC comics" reboot " brings it up first. And fourth and fifth and eighth and tenth and fifteenth and seventeenth and eighteenth...

And the sources for this image and other related ones? Most are comics-centric but mixed in are various sites that cover a variety of news, some with a dedicated section for comics, some without, including: MTV.com's Splash Page, GottaBeMobile.com, HomeIsPhones.com (whatever the hell those are), Movies.com (whose article is really about the implications for future film adaptation but gives a rounded overview of the issues), UGO.com, InsidePulse.com, KaboomMagazine.com, EscapistMagazine.com, and The Onion's famous AVClub.com. USA Today and The Associated Press are also covering this as it unfolds. This is indicative of the changed attitudes toward comics in the wider world, but much more-so the changed attitudes toward the superhero genre.

And that's a very good thing to this pundit's mind.


P.S. ~ I really try to resist this kind of commentary but... in the real world not EVERYONE wears a high collar. Or any single unifying element of clothing. These characters were always presented as different people from different places coming together to form a loose union. Looks silly to me for now. Just sayin'.

Quote for the Week 6/2/11

Technology is inevitable... so we’d better look at it as a good thing and go with the flow—or better yet, stay ahead of the curve and master it.
~ Stan Lee (@TheRealStanLee) in an interview with Success Magazine

(And yes there was a little unintentional historical comics joke in that last statement. Try googling "marvel comics stan lee hired" if you don't get it!)


DC to Begin Simultaneous Digital Release for Major Titles

Today may be a big day in the history of the American comics industry. Just a few hours ago, DC Comics announced on their blog DC: The Source (and through their Twitter account @DC_NATION) that starting Wednesday, August 31st of this year the publisher will release "all of its superhero comic book titles digitally the same day as in print".

That is to say that anybody who doesn't live near a comic-book store (or anybody who doesn't want to bother WALKING to a comic-book store) will be able to download to an iPad or similar digital reading device the last issue of the "Flashpoint" mini-series and the first issue of the new volume of "Justice League" the day they are available in print. (This will be the beginning of a slow relaunch with new volumes of all of DC's major titles. A new series will be relaunched with a new #1 issue every week for a calendar year afterwards. [CORRECTION 6/2/11: All fifty-two new volume #1 issues will be released in FIVE WEEKS.])

[via @f_francavilla via @DC_NATION via DC: The Source blog]

My friend David Brustlin (@davidbrustlin) was just marveling last night at the fact that a prose novel he's pre-ordered will be available for him to read on his Kindle the second it goes on the market. The same is now true of DC's comics as it already is of publisher Archie Comics' titles.

When interviewed by Newsarama.com after Archie's similar announcement in January, Mike Wellman, co-owner of Manhattan Beach, California's store The Comic Bug said "If it was Marvel, DC or any of the other bread-and-butter companies, I'd be much more concerned."

Today's post from DC ends with the sentence: "This year, make history with us."

But, tellingly, the comments for the entire blog are closed and have been for the month of May. Could the company have done so in advance consideration of backlash from this major announcement? Certainly the brick-and-mortar comics retailers are not going to be very happy to hear this news. Marvel's and DC's weekly superhero releases form a large portion of their income and the approximate six-month-delay both companies held up has been perceived as the major barrier to the complete cannibalization of their print sales. That combined with the retailers' (and my own shared) belief that a great number of readers enjoy the tactile feeling of print too much to read more than a very few new titles in e-book form.

The next few months will tell us how true those perceptions are.

~ @JonGorga