come as no surprise that CrossGen Comics dropped a few bombshells
at the San Diego Comic-Con. Dropping bombshells seems to be
a way of life for the publishing company. What remains surprising
is just how explosive this still relatively young publisher
can be. Until you actually meet CrossGen CEO Mark Alessi,
a force of nature disguised as a really charming guy. If he
occasionally threatens to crush the competition, it's forgivable.
Because really, it should only make them work harder.
CrossGen rolled out Version 2.0 of Comics On The Web, aka
COW. You may have seen the first version, which enabled users
to view back issues on-line. With an extra tool that allowed
for slight manipulation and magnification of text, CrossGen
made it pretty easy to read comics across the internet. And
now they've made it even easier.
sound files. Basically, CrossGen has hired voice-over talent
to portray the characters, as well as scored each title. Comics
on the Web has become a truly multi-sensory experience. The
company demonstrated it throughout the weekend, playing on
monitors above their booth. Admittedly, some of the voices
sounded a little stilted, but it's another step that forces
"the other guys" to catch up. (And it's the honest truth that
even at Version 1, Comics On The Web was still ahead of the
pack.) More impressively, it comes in a variety of languages,
with more in development.
think that this new web experience makes it too easy for potential
readers to just listen and look at pretty pictures, Alessi
has another think coming for you. While not garnering quite
as much attention as the rest of CrossGen's announcements,
the company had a table set aside for their new educational
with top educators, CrossGen has developed a literacy program
for elementary through high schools, using Meridian, Sigil
and Ruse. Fully loaded with activities and exercises
to stimulate critical thinking, the program has a reasonable
price that Alessi estimates at around the cost of four textbooks.
getting new readers into comics is of the utmost priority
for CrossGen. (And it should be for everybody else, too.)
So why not start in the schools? Alessi's point is that if
you can get a kid excited about reading, he'll move from comics
to more traditional literature. It worked for me.
swearing he had no time to talk and still chatting for a good
twenty minutes, Alessi made us vow to attend the company's
presentation on Friday, in which several Hollywood deals were
to be announced. Through their Hollywood liaison, Michael
E. Uslan, CrossGen has made some sweetheart deals.
in mind that even with the almost unprecedented creative control
CrossGen apparently has, the road to actual film is paved
with exciting announcements and false starts. Here, however,
is what Uslan has lined up for CrossGen:
In development with director Chuck Russell (The Mask, The
of the Rat: Also attached to Russell, who has taken it
to Castle Rock Entertainment (Rob Reiner's production company)
and begun working with Frank Darabont on development.
666: From Robert Zemeckis' company Image Movers, Bennet
Scheer announced that this new CrossGen property has caught
Mortal Kombat producer Larry Kasanoff claimed that
his company, Threshold Entertainment, has gained the interest
of a young superstar writer on this project.
Larry Whitaker from Cornerstone Animation announced that his
company would be working on the adventures of Sephie. Though
a fairly new company, Cornerstone did take on a huge chunk
of Return To Neverland, making what could have been
a routine exercise into something watchable.
Though director Wes Craven (Scream) was not in attendance,
Uslan confirmed the long-lived rumor that the horror master
wanted to make a Mystic movie.
into bed with Hollywood has already proven to work both
ways for CrossGen. On Saturday, CrossGen announced that
Hurricane Entertainment would be releasing their upcoming
Snake Plissken title through the recently formed
CGE imprint. Though it's likely CrossGen wanted everything
Hurricane has to offer, the critically acclaimed Violent
Messiahs will remain at Image.
imprint Code 6 Comics also scored a coup by bringing fantasy
author R.A. Salvatore's best-selling Demon Wars to
comics. "In looking at what CrossGen was doing," Salvatore
offered, "I saw an absolute parallel in what I was doing."
will not be writing the books, but a colleague from his
days toiling in the Forgotten Realms series will
be. Scott Ciencin will scribe, with Ron Wagner tapped to
pencil. For fans of the Demon Wars novels, it may
be important to note that the comics will be based on a
new cycle of books in the works.
company promises even more announcements in the next few
weeks. If things go on track, it's likely they'll be announcing
their annexation of Florida by December.