Planet Buzz 02-05-02


Gaiman Sues McFarlane; Fans With A Sense Of History Grow Giddy…

Yes, last week two legends in the comic book world finally decided to fight it out like real men …in the courtroom. And it's about time.

Neil Gaiman filed suit against Todd McFarlane over copyright issues and owed royalties, alleging that though Gaiman created the characters of Angela, Cogliostro, and Medieval Spawn (all key figures in Spawn money-making mythos both paper and plastic), he has not seen a dime in royalties from the Toddster.

In addition, of course, Gaiman also seeks control of the rights to Miracleman, created (but deeded to Gaiman) by Alan Moore. McFarlane claims to have bought the rights when he purchased the assets of the defunct Eclipse Comics, a company that had done the American reprints and Gaiman's continuation of the series.

While McFarlane has acknowledged that his claim to Miracleman may be spotty, he has dropped hints that the character would be appearing in Curse of Spawn, and that he doesn't care if anybody else has a claim.

I am far from the first to point out the irony that McFarlane joined in the founding of Image Comics expressly claiming that Marvel had exploited him as an artist, and that he was tired of being just a cog in the machine working on characters owned by a big company. On the other hand, sports fans already knew that Todd has a lot of balls.

WAUGGH! History Repeats Itself…

Due to an error at Diamond Distribution, the recent release of the latest Howard The Duck #1 got underpacked, and thus undershipped, by 15%. Marvel called this an allocation problem, and has since made sure that every comic book store eventually received every copy of the book that they had ordered.

It was most likely an honest mistake, but it does bring to mind the speculator frenzy upon the release of the first Howard The Duck #1, released in the mid-'70's. That book got bought up by unscrupulous speculators intending to make a killing. Thus actual newsstand copies (back when there were such things) were very, very hard to find. It wasn't until the fourth issue that distribution and feeding frenzies had stabilized and people began to actually buy and read the title. (Though clearly, not a one of those readers went on to write the movie.)

CrossGen Comics Bring A Couple of Inkers Back Into Comics…

Once again CrossGen has increased its roster of exclusive artists, this time reaching into the worlds of animation and game design to bring back "new" inkers.

After having made his mark inking many of the books in the late Valiant line of comics (X-O: Manowar, Solar, Man of the Atom, and Shadowman), Tom Ryder left the industry to work in animation, storyboarding some series for Sony. CrossGen has lured him back to work on the May release Way of the Rat, over the pencils of Jeff Johnson.

Rounding out the team will be colorist Chris Garcia, a former freelancer whose work on Mystic and CrossGen Chronicles landed him a full-time gig.

In addition to Ryder, CrossGen has hired Brad Vancata. A graduate of the Joe Kubert school (literally), Vancata has knocked around the industry for over a decade, inking high-profile projects for both Marvel and DC. In recent years he spent time doing design work for the Spider-Man ride at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure, and has most recently been storyboarding a variety of games for the Playstation 2.

Vancata will work with Smith doing a fill-in on Negation #6, though plans are in place for the two to move onto their own title sometime later this year.

Artist Kurt Schaffenberger Dead at 81

We've lost another one.

Schaffenberger spent time at every major publisher doing the forties and fifties, including a nice run on The Marvel Family (that would be those guys now known collectively as Shazam!, not the Marvel Captain Marvels nor the Marvelman/Miracleman Family), before settling in at DC.

There Schaffenberger did some defining work on the Superman Family, most notably Supergirl and Lois Lane.

Instantly recognizable, his art had a cartoony edge, appropriate for the often whimsical features he was given to draw.

Kevin Smith Replaced!

Okay, so we knew it would happen. Kevin Smith will be leaving Green Arrow in a couple of months, so DC has finally named the guy who will take over the writing chores. It's …Brad Meltzer.


Meltzer is currently a top crime novelist with his latest, The Millionaires on the New York Times Best-Seller list. A long-time comics fan, he plans to continue in Smith's vein, citing his jealousy over the cleverness of crossing Green Arrow with Stanley And His Monster.

This kind of quirky thinking promises, in Smith's mind, "…a helluva ride." And having a crime novelist write comics certainly hasn't hurt the Bat-books, where Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker have both told some terrific stories. So let's give Meltzer a chance, and wonder if he'll stick as many penis jokes into the book as Smith did.

Image To Release Michael Goodson's Dream Comic…

Comics Continuum has an interview with Jimmy Palmiotti concerning his upcoming project with Garth Ennis and Amanda Conner, Pro. Set to be released in July, Pro tells the story of a waitress/hooker/single mom given super-powers as the result of a cosmic bet. (Sort of like DC's late Major Bummer, except for the waitress/hooker/single mom thing…)

While this sounds a little more tasteful than its initial description (Palmiotti once called it "pure evil," but didn't make it sound like this was a bad thing), it's still enough to outrage a lot of people. Palmiotti warns that kids will have to get their "dirty old uncle" to buy it for them.

And since Ennis is writing it, it will be like the crack cocaine of comics. Thanks, Jimmy.


Gold…um…er…YEAH, BABY, YEAH!

Near the end of the nail-biting action of Superbowl XXXVI, and after the blood-rushing action of Britney Spears' Pepsi commercial, you may have seen an ad for a movie starring Mike Meyers as Austin Powers. What you may have also noticed is that, interestingly enough, not only was this movie "not yet rated," but it is not yet titled.

Of course, you've probably also seen posters in movie theaters for a film titled Austin Powers In Goldmember. Not anymore.

MGM successfully complained to the MPAA, who administers these sorts of things, that the title Goldmember was a violation of their intellectual property and that New Line Cinema had to cease and desist from using it for the third Austin Powers film.

Never mind that the second Austin Powers also used a parody of a James Bond title. That was then; this is now. And allegedly Mike Meyers has left MGM high and dry on a couple of different potential franchises, so they didn't feel like making nice.

Obviously, as of Superbowl Sunday, New Line had no idea what to call the film. But worse, it's possible that Meyers will not actually be able to use footage of himself as key new villain Goldmember. It's an ugly fight that may go down in cinematic history for its almost absurd pettiness.

Pass the popcorn. I love watching this kind of stuff.

Say, Can Anybody Spare A Quartermain?

The Hollywood Reporter has made claims that Sean Connery has entered into talks to star in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, based on Alan Moore's popular mini-series for Wildstorm.

Recounting an adventure so great it brings together some of England's greatest heroes of the 19th Century, the film had been fast-tracked with director Stephen Norrington (Blade) at the helm. If Connery does take a role, it seems likely that he would be the aged Alan Quartermain, though we probably shouldn't rule out Professor Moriarty.

No reports have leaked out one way or another as to whether the production will still be using James Robinson's screenplay, rumored to veer wildly from the line-up of the comic and including Tom Sawyer as a federal agent.

Bullseye…Right Through The Heart

Despite recently issuing press materials listing Daredevil with a November 2002 release date, Fox has officially announced that the film will be released on Valentine's Day, 2003 (that's February 14 for those without romantic souls).

Also set in stone now is Jennifer Garner as Elektra and Michael Clarke Duncan as The Kingpin. Long cast, of course, are Ben Affleck as Daredevil and Colin Farrell as Bullseye.

The production is still looking for a Foggy Nelson, reading through Hollywood's list of chunky guys, including Howard Stern's new sidekick Artie Lange. (And just yesterday Howard harangued phone-in guest Joe Quesada for not letting him read for some Marvel property.)

Lady Death To Hit Twin Cinemas Everywhere

Producer/writer Carl Macek has confirmed that plans are moving forward to animate Chaos! Comics' Lady Death for the big screen. In conjunction with Asian animation house ADV Films, production has begun.

Chaos! And ADV are looking to create a new model for cooperation and design between Asian studios and Western creators, hoping for a final product that moves beyond traditional anime into a brand-new style.


The WB Tries For a Super-Fall

In a recent interview, WB Executive Jordan Levin confirmed that Birds of Prey was on the slate for fall pilots at the network. He went on to say that as a comics fan himself (and gee, he should have access to a huge line of characters), he wants even more comic book-based programming.

Just today the network announced that it would be developing The Lone Ranger for the fall, as well as a new property called The Black Sash, about a martial arts master turned masked avenger. Hmm.

Anyway, on the heels of Levin's interview, more information about the Birds of Prey pilot has slipped out. The two main characters will be Barbara Gordon/Oracle (as expected) and The Huntress, fighting crime in Gotham City ten years after a climactic and devastating "final" battle between Batman and The Joker. (And yes, it is rumored that the creators are not shying away from having Barbara paralyzed by the Clown Prince of Crime.) Barbara will have been Batgirl in her past, but this version of The Huntress seems closer to the old Earth-2 version, as it will be hinted that she is the daughter of Batman, now in self-imposed exile.

The two crime-fighting women will encounter teenage runaway Dinah Lance, who they dub the Black Canary, partially because of her metahuman sonic cry.

No formal casting has been announced, but let us humbly suggest Annabeth Gish as The Huntress. She needs a new gig, and despite some lame plotlines, she has proven that she can kick butt on The X-Files. Just a thought.

The Worst-Kept Secret in Television

Unable to stand the strain of secrecy any longer, Brian Michael Bendis has confirmed on his message board that he has written the pilot and several episodes for the upcoming Spider-Man TV series, to be broadcast on MTV.

Bendis stressed that though there will be elements similar to his work on Ultimate Spider-Man, the TV series will be attempting to follow movie continuity (which he also bragged about having seen). But if an element seems to work really well in the comic book, he may reuse the idea for television.

The series will be done in CGI, but with the look of a 2D cel-based show.

Derek McCaw


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