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Archive for October, 2013

Quote of the Day

It was expected news, but shocking news at the same time.

Yesterday, Warner Bros. announced that it will move the entire comics operations of DC Comics from New York City to Burbank, California.  The move will become effective by 2015.

As I said above, this move was expected.  Most of the four members of DC Entertainment’s top management (Diane Nelson, President; both Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio; and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns) are all based out of southern California.  By moving the entire operation out west, it cuts down on trips to the East Coast for oversight and so on.  But by doing so, it ends 80 years of DC Comics being made in New York City; first as “National Publications,” then as “Detective Comics,” until finally settling on “DC Comics” in the 70s after a few years as “National Comics.”

But the move is a loss to New York and the rivalry between DC and Marvel.  So much so, that Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada felt the need to write his thoughts on the move.  After expressing his heartfelt concern over how agonizing it is going to be for a number of DC Comics employees to uproot their lives, their families, and so much more to move 3,000 miles west and wished them all the best; he said this about how the loss of DC from New York, is a loss for comics in general.

“While I can’t comment as to the business side of Warner Bros. decision to move DC publishing to Burbank, from a strictly historical point of view and as a born and bred, dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, I have to honestly say that it breaks my heart. I know most people probably wouldn’t expect that kind of a response from me, as I’ve never shied away from poking at our distinguished competition—or, as we like to say in New York, bustin’ their chops. But that’s because at the end of the day we are competitors and lets face it…it’s kind of a Marvel tradition. But at the very core of it, we’re also partners in this industry that I love with every ounce of my being, and we fight in the same trenches.

“To me, comics are New York City and New York City is comics. We all know that the first character to put his underwear on over his pants was created in Cleveland, but it was New York City that gave him his start. It was New York City that provided the spotlight and it was here that he and all those that followed in his footsteps became famous. So to see a piece of that publishing tradition shift to the West coast saddens me, because it’s the end of an era and yes, while I’ve always loved to tweak our crosstown pals, New York City will admittedly be a little diminished by DC’s absence.”

In a way, he’s right.  New York City is where publishing is still done whether you want to admit it or not.  Be it books, magazines, comic books, and so on, all that came through the Big Apple.

While on a business sense, having everything under one roof out in L.A. makes the most sense for DC Comics / Warner Bros., it feels like a little of history is dying with it.  Then again, maybe the comic book publisher best known for fake cities can flourish in the land of fake boobs, inflated egos, and false die-job blonds.

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Running for a House Seat in WI…via California

Great find here by Jack Craver over the CapTimes.  (Seriously, how Jack is still there is strange to me.  He’s a fine enough reporter you’d think the JS or Gannett would have snatched him up by now.)

At the very least, Amardeep Kaleka is an unconventional candidate for Congress.

That is apparent from any media coverage of his candidacy, which the 35-year-old says was inspired by his father’s tragic death at the hands of a deranged white supremacist who last year opened fire on a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, killing six.

But other aspects of his candidacy are unique as well.

For starters, unlike most Congressional candidates, Kaleka’s campaign is not based in the district he hopes to one day represent. Currently the campaign address is listed in Los Angeles, where Kaleka has worked in recent years as a filmmaker, not southeastern Wisconsin, where the First District is currently represented by Republican Paul Ryan.

Kaleka says he splits his time between Wisconsin and California, where his film business has an office.

“The way our business works, we’ve been in and out of California for four years now,” he says by phone from the west coast. “We pay taxes in Wisconsin as well as here. Our home has always technically been (in Wisconsin).”

And he dismisses the suggestion that he is not sufficiently in touch with his district to provide adequate representation. He points out that he grew up in southeastern Wisconsin and argues that being a member of Congress is as much a national duty as a local one.

According to Craver’s report, Kaleka’s day job is that of “Documentary Filmmaker.”

His latest film, “Sirius” is on how the federal government has been hiding the existence of UFOs, ETs, and proof that they’ve been the Earth.

(Wow, the “he’s a wack-job” direct mail nearly writes itself.  How does a picture of this guy look next to the Hale Bop Comet Cult leader?)

In all seriousness, the issue here is Kaleka’s primary residence and where he is paying taxes.  That information can be easily found and is eligibility under state law determined then and there.  It’s whether this guy seems to think he has to actually do constituent work which frankly seems to worry me.

“I don’t know if (where you live) corresponds to whether you’re going to do a good job in Congress,” he says. “I would rather elect somebody who has a lot of national leadership experience and international experience.”

The point of being in the House is that you are to be the closest connection — both in terms of the size of the district you represent and the term in office you have — to the people.  That’s laid out fairly well in the Federalist Papers (See. #53) so I have no idea what Kaleka’s talking about by saying the job “is a national duty, not a local one.”

In reality, it’s both.  Always has been.

So I wish the kid luck in his primary against Rob Zerban, who apparently still has only $12.49 in his campaign bank account. 

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Cartoon of the Day


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Cartoon of the Day


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Happy 75th Anniversary to Superman

June officially marked the 75th Anniversary of Superman, but do to delays and other things, Warner Bros — parent company of DC Comics — released this video only last month.

 As you can see it’s an animated retrospect of the look of Superman from the Siegel/Shuster origins of 1938 to the Jim Lee “New 52” look from the 2011 issue of “Justice League #1” and Henry Cavill in the film, “Man of Steel.”  It includes such iconic images as the Fleischman “Superman” cartoons of the 1940s, the George Reeves “Superman” of the live-action TV show from the 1950s, iconic art and story lines from the 60s and 70s, the campy “Super Friends” cartoon look, “Superman v. Ali,” and of course the late Christopher Reeves from the films of the late 1970s.

Then, the music shifts (from the iconic John Williams to the newer theme from Hans Zimmer for “Man of Steel”) and with it the grim and gritty Superman of today.  The battle with Doomsday, the “Death of Superman,” the “Reign of the Superman,” “Superman Red / Superman Blue,” the cartoon from the 1990s until they switch to “Kingdom Come” and into the modern day.

The old man looks good at 75.  Expect to see something similar for Batman (1939) and Wonder Woman (1942) in the coming years.

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Cartoon of the Day


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“SNL” Mocks HealthCare.Gov Website and So Much More

When you’ve lost the comedians, the very one who helped make Barack Obama into “President Cool,” you know these things a disaster.


Quick thoughts on the sketch.

1) Notice that the fake Sebelius blames “User Error” for the first two suggestions. “Have you tried rebooting your computer?” and of course the old “Too much traffic” excuse.

2) Jokes about AOL never get old.

3) The fact that NBC has a copy of MS Encarta ’95 in their props departments is a statement about how crappy that program actually was.

4) Professional federal government IT guys aren’t like that at all…they wouldn’t have been as prompt and on time.

5) Icelandic was a good choice to go with, since the actual Spanish-language website doesn’t work at all.  In fact, it hasn’t even launched yet.

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Cartoon of the Day


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Cartoon of the Day


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Comic Book Pages Originally Meant for JFK Presidential Library Appear at Auction

(This might be a first, where the best written version of events comes from “The National Enquirer.“)

After the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy, a number of tributes were made.  In 1964, due the lead-time needed to create commemorative issues, DC Comics had two “Superman Meets JFK” issues put to print.  The first was “Action Comics #390,” in which the plot had the late President help Superman by covering for “Clark Kent” so Lois Lane wouldn’t discover Superman’s alter ego.

The other was “Superman #170,” in which the Man of Steel is given personal orders by Kennedy to Superman to help promote the Presidential fitness program. (The story goes that the plot for this issue came from Pres. Lyndon Johnson himself.)

As a result of the direct request of the White House, the story goes that the original pages of art were to be donated to Kennedy’s widow Jacqueline.  She then in kind, donated the pages to the Kennedy Presidential Library, which is on the campus of Harvard University.

But apparently the pages never got there; in fact, they were sold unknowingly at auction at Sotheby’s in 1993, and where about to be sold at auction again next month.  Starting asking price, $20,000 a page.

Perhaps even more cryptic, the auction is set for November 22 in Dallas; the very date and location of the Kennedy assassination.

Fast forward to last month’s New York City Comic-Con and the story of 91 year-old Al Plastino.  Plastino was the artist and inker on “Superman #170,” and believed like everyone else, that his pages were on file in Boston…until they were shown to him by an employee of the auction house.

As many of you already know, all of us in the comics dept., in addition to just working there, are huge comic fans. One of our employees was chatting with Al as a fan at New York Comic Con, and Al expressed interest in seeing the art, so we brought it for him to look at. That’s when someone from the Hero Initiative snapped a few pictures.

We’re all very sorry to hear that Al Plastino never got the art back from DC, but we all know the sad realities of the comic publishing business back in those days. Heck, it’s one of the reasons I am on the board of the Hero Initiative and the reason Heritage helps support them.

Plastino then wrote out this plea on his personal Facebook page:

Please help if you can. The art I donated and thought for all these years was being housed at the Kennedy library at Harvard is now being auctioned off on the anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. And now I am finding out that the art may have never made it to the library. The archivists tell me there are no records of it ever being received. I asked for the art back and they will not give it to me. I asked for the consigner’s name and they will not tell me that either. They tell me I have no rights to my work and that it is too late to get it back.

Since then, the auction house has suspended the listing of the art while it investigates.  Sadly, Plastino is facing an uphill fight when it comes to getting the art back.  Back in those days of comic book publishing, artists rarely if ever got their art back.  In fact, it was common practice back then for both Marvel and DC to warehouse original art and do with it as they pleased.  It wasn’t until the late 1970s to mid-1980s that it became common practice for a comic book company to return original artwork.

Before then, only a few big names like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko had enough clout to get their artwork back.  In the case of Kirby, it took lawsuits to get some of his original art from the 40s and 50s back.  Today, many artists hang on to their art for sentimental reasons, some do sell pages, but often as a last resort.

For artists like Plastino, who had no pension plans and lived month to month on their artwork, selling pages meant building a nest egg.  Add in how he believed it was going to be given to a Presidential Library to be part of history, and the discovery of them being at auction is an incredible betrayal.

Plastino’s case is now being handled by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Hero Alliance, both non-profits which deal with ensuring comic book creator’s rights are honored.

But advocates for comic book artists say that since the art was never given to the museum, Plastino remains the rightful owner. Comic book publishers, they claim, only buy the publishing rights to an artist’s work, not the work itself. Publishers generally dispute this, and it’s an issue that’s been debated for decades.

“He never gave up ownership of the art because DC never purchased it from him or paid sales tax,” asserted Kris Adams Stone, daughter of comic book legend Neal Adams. She added that legal papers are being prepared to halt the auction for good.

As the current owner, there’s nothing to say they did anything legally wrong.  The real question going forward is how they never made it to the Kennedy Library in the first place.

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