by Chaim Mattis Keller
Before we get started on the letters column, it's time we finally gave this letters column a new name! Much as we still love the graphic, this page needs something more appropriate. Something with "Zing!" Anyone out there have any suggestions that can parallel the great lettercolumns of the pros, like "Written To The Corps", "Suicide Notes" and "Europinions"? Please send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll pick the best one. The first person to submit the winning idea will receive the coveted Fanzing Solid Gold Diddly-Squat in a special invisible collector case.
When we get a letter from a pro, we always list it first. We stopped by Studio Foglio and mailed Phil Foglio a note about his revamps of "Angel & the Ape" and "Stanley & His Monster", and this was the response:
From: Phil Foglio
Thank you very much for the link to your reviews. I was, quite honestly, tickled pink to read them. The work that I did for DC seemed to drop into a black hole and I never heard much about them from anybody. Thank goodness somebody understood what I was doing.
The reason I stopped working for DC was more due to my treatment by the editorial staff than adverse sales. I probably could have freshened the copyright on obscure DC characters until I fell over. However, I realized that if I was going to put this much effort into a project, it should be something that I owned, and would keep in print forever as opposed to forever winding up in the quarter bins of history.
Thank you again, and I will be sure to bookmark your site for regular perusal.
You like us! You really do like us! Some quality letters in this month's mailbag. The big item was our editor-in-chief's new "If I Ran DC" column and his issues with Marvel Comics head man Joe Quesada:
From: Mark Anderson
Subject: Fanzing-#45 - If I Ran DC
Here, here. Hutch has some great and workable ideas here. I hope someone at DC reads this.
From: Charlie Taylor
Subjecct: Digest Comics
You know your idea about digest comics is exactly what Marvel does in the UK. They publish 4 Digest Comics -"Wolverine & Gambit", "Essential X-Men", "Essential Spider-Man" and "Avengers United". They are published every month and are available in regular newsagents, they aren't available in comic shops.
The format is a page on the inside cover giving a synopsis of the story so far, 70 pages of story, occasionally a feature about the marvel films, a couple of pages of ads and a letters page, about 75 pages in all. The cost is £2.40 so generally they publish two comics every to weeks (Avengers & Wolverine at the start of a mone, X-Men & Spider-Man in the middle).
The staggered release and general availability means they are easily within the price range of kids - although there are a host of British comics too. Interestingly DC has no similar products. Every so often they catch up and a title gets replaced, for example Avenger United replaced Heroes Reborn. I would expect Wolverine & Gambit to be the next to go and would guess that a Fantastic Four/Hulk would be the most likely replacement.
If you would like a copy of one of these drop me an e-mail with a postal address and I will send you some. It would be small recompense for the hours of pleasure I have had from Fanzine. Please keep up the good work.
From: Joe Palmer
Subject: On Trolls, Children and Knocking Opportunity
Ditto, ditto, and more ditto.
When DC dropped the kid friendly stuff, and jacked up the price they lost me too. I dream of one day (soon?) when some light will go on at DC and they will realize the audience that they lost, and how the ideas you outlined fit in so nicely with a Multiverse with some.........................(shhh) rules. Then you can have places where continuity rules, and places where it don't.
Just my two-cents - if it's worth that much.
From: Earth 2 Robin
Subject: Too rough? Nope.
Joe Q can dish it out, so he should be able to take it. I have to say I prettty much agree with you 100%.
As far as what DC needs to do, much of it seems like "duh" to us, but the sad fact is NO ONE AT DC IS GETTING IT!!! There are SO many kids who have no idea that comic books exist, yet they walk around with Spider-Man t-shirts and Batman action figures.
If you look back, the end really began in 1984, when DC instituted that "specialty store=new, drugstore=reprint" policy with New Teen Titans. They took their most popular title of the time and made it speciality only. Therefore limiting their audience, and excluding a huge chunk of that audience. And yes, I know the newstand title eventually reprinted the comic shop version, but it was like a year behind or more. What were they thinking?
Earth 2 Robin
Subject: Oh yeah, about the article
First off -- that's a good Supergirl comic you haven't read.
Secondly, keep in mind the first book sold exclusively to the direct market was ... Dazzler. Yes, we have based our entire system of distribution around the relative success of Dazzler #1. And we wonder why it isn't working ...
I wouldn't make Metal Men the kids' in point to the DCU. I'd use The Legion. They're kids. They have distinct personalities and are a good mix of characters in terms of races and genders. I don't mean that in a PC way but every kid can find himself in The Legion. Make it The Ultimate Legion for lack of a better term. Strip away the continuity, start from scratch and make it a fun exploratory kids' sci-fi book. Heck you can do ANY story with The Legion. Tenzel Kem is funny; Braniac could do detective work, etc ... Get Jeff and Phil Moy to pencil the book. Make everything self-contained (although lengths can vary, especially if we're in a digest.) You could even have a Legion Girls and a Legion Boys book. Again, I don't mean this in a condescending 'show the girls sharing hair products and the boys building fires' sort of way but certainly let's get girls into the books and get them reading the thing by appealing directly to their sensibilities.
Subject: Good article!
You made your points quite well and I didn't feel you went very far out-of-bounds.
Maybe calling Quesada a "troll" was a bit much. But then again, I've heard him called worse! ;-)
Personal history - I started my comic collecting, paid for by my own allowance money (and other money earned in various lawful chores), at the ripe ol' age of 15. Now, I had read comics before then thanks to a cousin of mine. She used to give me comics her Dad (my Uncle) found in mobile homes that he would reposses / buy and in which comics were sometimes left inside of by the previous owners.
But I don't recall ever asking my parents to buy me comics. I may have. I may not have. Just don't recall. But I did watch the 60's Spider-man cartoon (in reruns! honest!) growing up as well as Spider-man & His Amazing Friends. I've always been a Spidey fan so of course he was the character that got me into collecting comics.
Anyway, getting back to Quesada (and that news article / interview)- I think it's terrible for someone (for that matter - anyone!) in the position he is in to be swearing and behaving as he has been.
It's just not professional. If he wants to be that way and talk that way around his friends, fine. But he's representing a company and he's not doing it in a positive way. Not at all.
Sorry for going on a bit of a tangent there. Well, two tangents anyway! :-)
Back to your article - as I said, it was very good.
You mentioned some good ideas for marketing comics and making them accessible. I really like idea about the Superman & Batman books that don't cross-over. Anybody over at DC listening????
And I really miss DC Comics Presents too! Also I'd love a Metal Men series!! Though I will admit to enjoying the Mike Carlin / Dan Jurgens mini. Don't shoot me please!! :-)
Also you are correct in saying that the comics *don't* have to have the cartoon-style artwork or talk down to the kids. There are lots of talented writers (like Geoff Johns who you mention and Kurt Busiek and more I'm sure I could think of but not gonna try right now...) who can write stories that work on several (many?) levels. Stan Lee used to do it all the time. :-) Kids and adults can read 'em and both get different things out of the stories as well as getting a good story!
Wow. Your article really sparked something for me to type this much. Most I've typed on this board in a long while. If ever this much!
Really enjoyed the article and the opportunity to talk about it some here. Thanks!
Our editor, Michael Hutchison, replies:
I really appreciate your comments. Thanks!
I didn't call him a troll capriciously. He really does fit the profile for a troll online, except that he actually identifies himself by his real name. (Look at all the time he and Jemas have posed as other people when responding to Quesada's original posts on Newsarama.)
The Metal Men mini was well-written and dramatic. However, Cheeks the Toy Wonder said it best: "It was, perhaps, the single most egregious and glaring example of a writer Missing the Bloody Point of a series concept as has ever been witnessed by even these jaundiced eyes."
I'd prefer to do a Metal Men series similar to the classic Silver Age stories but with a modern writing style.
Busiek's "Power Company" is somewhat accessible to kids. I don't think pre-teens will have a problem understanding it (except for the lawyer talk), and parents probably wouldn't object (depending on how much of Josiah Power's personal life is shown). The problem is...how are kids to find Power Company? And how are they to know from the outside that it's not a property aimed at adults?
My proposed "DC Comics Presents" is actually a combo of the Superman team-up title and Batman in "Brave and the Bold".
From: Michel M. Albert
Subject: Fanzing-If I ran DC
Just a quick word on Michael's "If I Ran DC" column in Fanzing #45:
Your idea about a large magazine Digest aimed at kids really struck a cord, because that's one of the ways I got into super-hero comics.
I happen to be a French Canadian, so I was raised on Tintin and Asterix and other European hard-cover albums. When I was at the age we're discussing (between 8 and 10), there was a publishing company who was reprinting loads of Marvels and DCs in black and white translated into French (worst lettering you ever saw though). Each of these JUMBO books (that's what they were called) were about 2 inches thick, had maybe 8-10 full comics (with color covers reproduced), plus lots of shorter tales from House of Mystery and such. Now, each one was a mix of Marvels and DCs, so a JUMBO could have a couple of Thors, a couple of Fantastic Fours, a Flash, etc.
It had so much material, my mom never minded getting me one for whatever price they were asking for in those days. Now, I'm pretty sure you'd have fewer pages today at a higher price, but nonetheless, with tighter editorial selection, they could put a mix of reprints from various eras, making sure they were complete stories. Probably thematically link them to a central character or team, but still include something extra so that kids could be hooked onto characters they didn't know before. Heck, throw in a couple of Who's Who pages if you have to (well, these are so easily dated, maybe not). Older readers might even be tempted to pick these up if there were a few stories in there they didn't have. Keep the price low with good ol' newsprint too.
Thanks for taking me down memory lane.
Michel M. Albert
From: Bryant Williams
Subject: Fanzing- If I Ran DC
I happened to be goofing around on the internet at work one day (it wasn't very busy and hell, you do it, too) looking at comic book sites and happened to stumble upon Fanzing. It has become my favorite site on the internet. Not only do I love comic books (I'm been reading them since I was 10) but I only read DC comics. The thing that I like best about Fanzing is that I can't pin point one part that I like the most. It has everything from art contest to reviews and in- depth discussions on topics in comic books such as retconvention. I was read the Editorial "If I Ran DC", and I have to say that Joe Quesada is a complete moron if he doesn't believe in the 8 year old comic fan, because the eight year old fan one day becomes the 40 year old fan that one day takes his 8 year old child to the comic book store. Unfortunately I don't think that Quesada's opinion is a new one at Marvel Comics. Some years ago when I used to read and collect a couple of Marvel titles, they began to alienate their long term fan. Every character began to become dark and gritty, even Spiderman. All new characters had the word blood, fire, or dark in their names. The characters were more violent than ever and the comic book women had unbelievable proportions. While these changes were being made at Marvel, DC continued to just make great comic books (with the exception of the Genesis crossover and Extreme Justice those just plain sucked). This is about the time that I stopped reading Marvel comics all together. I felt the company was beginning to alienate its general readership as well as the young readers specifically I think that Marvel for some time now has been abandoning the young reader, but Quesada is the first person dumb enough to put it into words.
With that said I would like to thank the staff of Fanzing for a great ezine and for keeping me entertained during my lulls at work.
Whew! Seems like we struck a nerve. Stay tuned for more entertaining and controversial editorial columns in the future! Oh, and one little retraction on that article...
From: Robert Blanchard
Subject: Ralph Macchio
I just read your "If I ruled DC" article, which I certainly agree with. I got the impression that you think Ralph Macchio the editor and Ralph Macchio the actor are the same person: In fact this is not the case, as Mr. Macchio says himself in an interview that can be found at http://www.comixtreme.com/viewer/6798 .
Thanks for the correction - the erroneous information has been removed from the article since it was posted. I must say, in my defense, I have actually seen movie-related web sites which list the Karate Kid actor as now being an editor at Marvel. I think it actually said that at the Imdb.com web site at one time, although it's not there now. Or maybe I'm just mental.
Boy, nothing like a blistering editorial to shake things up and change the tone of a letters page, ah? Well, maybe not...the more things change, the more they stay the same...
From: Young Life
Did "Choices" ever finish? If so, what issues? Thanks!
Not yet, but we're told it's going to happen some month soon!
From: Bryant Williams
Subject: Fanzing- Underused Characters
I have been a big fan of Fanzing since I first discovered the Ezine. One issue that I especially liked was the Limbo Rocks issue. I was wondering are there any future plans to do another issue of the kind or just look at some of the under used characters in the DCU such as Booster Gold, Damage, the New Gods, and the New Blood characters?
While we won't soon have another entire issue dedicated to that theme, you can read fiction stories focusing on underused characters that have been submitted for our writing contest. Several entries have already been posted in prior issues, and remember all you budding writers out there - contest deadline is July 22!
From: Gerald Wilson
Subject: Remembering Bob Riley
I did not know Bob Riley was no longer with us. Please extend my sympathies to his family and loved ones. He was one of the best artists working in the Timm style that I encountered on the web.
We miss Bob too. Fortunately, as long as Fanzing is around, you'll still be able to admire his works in our Archives. We remember him every time we see the Best of Fandom award that he designed for us.
Subject: More cheeks!
You guys are awesome, nay sir, Right-smack-under-God-himself for bestowing that article from the best site on the internet, bar none, to us, your loving readers.
Fanzing forever! I salute you!
And, if possible, some more Cheeks would be appreciated, too.
"More Cheeks"? If you're over 18, I can recommend some magazines for you...
Seriously, though, we will continue to run articles from the Toy Wonder's site when we feel the issue warrants it.
Now, there's a serious compliment. What could possibly be a better way to end a letters page? See you all next time!
All characters are DC Comics
This piece is © 2002 by Chaim Mattis Keller.
Fanzing is not associated with DC Comics.
All DC Comics characters, trademarks and images (where used) are DC Comics, Inc.
DC characters are used here in fan art and fiction in accordance with their generous "fair use" policies.
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