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OnTV Today's Date:

Countdown To Wednesday

Release Date: August 6, 2003
Approximate running time: 110 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: Top comics creators offer advice on how unglamorous the industry is, and just how you can break in to be a part of it.


  • Still Gallery w/ Audio Commentary
  • Behind-the-scenes at a Top Cow production meeting
  • Stan Lee PSA for ACTOR (A Commitment To Our Roots)
  • "Being An Intern"
  • Outtakes
  • DVD-ROM content: Links to Resources, Job Tree

    At some point, just about every kid who reads comics dreams about making one of his own. Even if he can't draw, he takes a shot with stick figures, carefully dividing up panels and wondering "how do they do that?"

    Of course, these days it's not so many kids reading comics, but there are still plenty of people who dream of making it into the industry. But according to noted comics writer Mark Waid, it's like "…breaking into a government facility. After you're in, they make sure nobody can get in that way again."

    Waid and others offer such wisdom and tips in a new DVD, Countdown To Wednesday, from a company called Spacedoghouse. Clearly made in conjunction and cooperation with Top Cow Studios, the video still provides a balanced look at just how much hard work it takes to get into comics, no matter what level. If you dream of a career in the biz, or know someone who does, it's a useful tool, as encouraging as it is discouraging (that's a good thing).

    Countdown To Wednesday (the title referring to the day new comics come out each week) breaks down every element of production. Its brightest stars tend to be in the writing category, as Waid, Top Cow editor Jim McLauchlin, Paul Dini, and others discuss just what makes a good story and how writing relates to the art.

    While perhaps not a casting coup, per se, Marvel Comics giant Stan Lee speaks seriously but good-humoredly about the business. No matter what you think of his recent work, the man knows what he's talking about, and this video provides a rare forum for him to talk without shilling for some specific project. (Okay, so there's a giant Spider-Man statue behind him the whole time; I'll presume that Stan's sequences were shot in his own offices.)

    The only shilling Stan The Man does is for a good cause: ACTOR, an industry non-profit organization that helps out comic book creators that have fallen on hard times. For all his hard work, Stan Lee is still one of the rare ones to still be doing well financially. And his PSA for the organization serves as a good reminder that this isn't a career without risk.

    On the art side of things, Marc Silvestri, founder of Top Cow Studios and co-founder of Image Comics, leads the charge for explaining just how it all works. But he's ably supported by artists both in his stable, such as Francis Manalpul, and free-lancing. They all, too, make a case for the long hours, the hard work, and most importantly, the passion that is necessary for a comic book to exist. Along the way, they make some good recommendations on materials and supplies. A canny wannabe artist might just pick up a few tips.

    If you're not extremely careful, too, you just might pick up an appreciation for the undersung arts of coloring and lettering.

    Balancing it all out, both editors and post-production people fill us in on how it all really comes together. Certainly, Top Cow managing editor Renae Greerlings' gripes on excuses people give her ought to snap everybody into shape (certainly gave me pause). Guys and gals, they don't care about your problems with your significant others; they've got comics to produce. Well, they might care, but only after the comics have hit the stands. How has Top Cow been about keeping to their schedules, anyway?

    At any rate, this disc provides a great resource. If it doesn't have the answers to questions you're specifically asking, the DVD extras likely will tell you where to go to find them. And if you simply need a fire lit under your butt, Countdown To Wednesday does a pretty good job of getting out the tinder.

    Derek McCaw


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