Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Okay, so yesterday, I was disappointed at the news that DC Comics had discontinued its line of graphic novels reprinting strips from 2000AD. Today, I'm in a better mood, because, according to 2000AD Review, Rebellion (the company that publishes 2000AD) will be continuing the books on their own.

However, realizing just how much the possibility of the 2000AD books ending upset me has caused me to think even more about the comics I currently buy. And I don't want to fault DC here... okay, yes I do. This situation with the 2000AD and Humanoids (a French comics publisher distributed in the US by DC, also dropped due to low sales, which, until recently, were not promoted at all by DC) is pretty irritating. DC claims they're ending the deals with Rebellion and Humanoids because the books weren't selling. Well, as I've said, they didn't promote the books at all. I didn't see them reviewed in trade journals (not the ones we get at the library, anyway; obscure journals like Publisher's Weekly and Booklist and Library Journal), I didn't see ads aimed at bookstore stock buyers in those journals... Hell, I didn't even see ads in other DC comics. I mean, call me crazy, but since most of the big-name writers working for DC's Vertigo line got started in 2000AD, perhaps advertising their early works in Vertigo comics might have been a shrewd move? But no, they opted to not tell anyone that they were publishing these books--at the rate of three a month, mind--and then were surprised that sales failed to materialize. And then, instead of trying the bold step of attempting any marketing campaign, they canceled the lines.

(To be fair, I had seen house ads for the Humanoids books lately, but obviously, too little, too late.)

So what this says to me about DC is that despite being better than Marvel (the other big company in the US) at publishing diverse material, they don't actually know how to sell anything besides superhero comics. Which would be fine, if sales figures didn't indicate that the audience for superhero comics is shrinking, and that new readers aren't coming into the market. But what bothers me is that they're not willing to try to figure out how to sell other kinds of comics; they're apparently willing to just continue marketing a specific genre to a shrinking audience.

Well, maybe I've just done too much growing up in the past few years, but I'm no longer interested in superhero comics quite the same way I was, not even a year ago. So I'm pretty much dropping every ongoing DC superhero title I was getting. Not every single one; I've been a fan of Legion of Super-Heroes since I've been reading superhero comics, and it's finally good again, so I'lll keep reading that. Ditto Birds of Prey (huge Black Canary fan). And Gotham Central, the comic about the police department in Batman's home town, is still pretty keen. So is Superman/Batman, but when writer Jeph Loeb leaves the book in seven months, I'm going with him. But every other ongoing DC superhero comic I was getting is pretty much off the list, due in a large part to the fact that they've pissed me off. That, and these are the comics that just aren't exciting me the way they used to. Other comics from other companies seem new, exciting and different, while DC is making a big deal about restoring old characters to their old lives in really bad stories (yes, Green Lantern: Rebirth, I'm talking about you). They aren't telling stories about characters any more, and, more importantly, they don't seem interested in even trying. So, I'm out.

(Of course, there are exceptions. I'll keep getting miniseries from them, because those, by their very nature, are story-oriented, and finite. I'll keep getting stuff from their Wildstorm and Vertigo imprints, because those tend to feature new ideas, or non-superhero ones. And if it lives up to the previous work of the creative team, I'll get the new Supergirl comic, because I like the creators, and I've always liked the character. But that's it.)

Sorry if this is rambling a bit. Got some other stuff going on in my real life that I'm trying to distract myself from.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

NEWSARAMA - DC SHEDS 2000AD/REBELLION & HUMANOIDS: "Their absence in the July solicitations was duly noted by the respective fans of the UK and France-based publishers, and DC late today issued an explanation for the missing 200AD/Rebellion and Humanoids solicitations: the publisher has ended its relationships with the European publishers, and will no longer publish their material in North America."

Considering that the 2000AD reprints were some of the comics I most looked forward to each month, this is really disappointing news. But really, you have to wonder just how much better the sales might have been if DC Comics had advertised them. At all. Ever. Even once.

And people wonder why comics sales are down...

Yahoo! News - 'Ronin' Mercenary Drama Headed to Small Screen
: "CANNES, France (Hollywood Reporter) - 'Ronin,' John Frankenheimer's 1998 mercenary spy drama, is headed to the small screen as an hourlong TV series under development by Canada's Incendo Prods. and German-based Action Concept.

The series, announced by the two companies at the MIPTV conference on Monday, will follow the adventures of an international team of freelancing agents who take on jobs too hot for regular spies to handle."

I've actually seen the movie, and it's pretty good, but mostly for the really cool, really expensive European car chases. (Between that and the Matt Damon Bourne movies, I've decided it should be illegal to set a car chase in the US.) Can't see them matching that action for the TV series, and without the star power... I have visions of John Woo's Once a Thief, which I loved, but lacked the expensive look and feel of La Femme Nikita...

Monday, April 11, 2005 / News / World / Australia/Antarctica / Handler punished for donning camel costume

This would be why I never check luggage when I fly...
Sci Fi Wire -- The News Service of the Sci Fi Channel: "Lost Finale Is Super-Sized

Javier Grillo-Marxuach, a writer and supervising producer on ABC's hit series Lost, told SCI FI Wire that the much-anticipated season finale will clock in at three hours and give fans everything they love about the show. 'In terms of epic storytelling and shocking destiny, you ain't seen nothing yet!' Grillo-Marxuach said in an interview. "
The New York Times > Arts > Television > Directions | Pilot Watch: Desperate Hours: "'Fathom' (NBC): Four characters around the world (including one played by Lake Bell, pictured) encounter a species of beautiful sea creature no one has ever seen. The characters' stories intersect over the course of the series, and viewers find out whether the creatures are nice or mean.

'Threshold' (CBS): Alien life forms land on a naval freighter at sea, but there's no sign of them. So where did they go? And will their friends be joining them? A team of scientists and agents (Carla Gugino, Charles S. Dutton, Brent Spiner) prepare for a possible invasion as they investigate the evil influence the absent E.T.'s appear to exert.

'Invasion' (ABC): Something strange happens in a Florida town during a hurricane. The kind of strange that involves aliens.

'Triangle' (UPN): On their honeymoon in the Caribbean, a young doctor (Ivan Sergei) wakes up to find his wife has disappeared from their yacht. He searches the islands for her, uncovering secrets as he goes.

'Supernatural' (WB): Two brothers whose mother was killed in mysterious circumstances drive around the creepy countryside hunting evil creatures."

Obviously, I'm thrilled that Carla (Sin City/Karen Sisco) Gugino has a new pilot, but my favorite title of these proposed new Lost-a-likes? Supernatural, about two brothers who investigate the... well, the supernatural. (This one comes from McG, the vowelless director of the Charlie's Angels movies who also produces the successful TV series The OC, as well as TV failures Fastlane and The Mountain.

And for the record, I've never been able to get through a whole episode of The OC, I made it five minutes into The Mountain before giving up, and I watched the whole first episode of Fastlane, because it was created by John McNamera, the genius behind Profit, Spy Game, and new fave Eyes. Clearly, with Fastlane he had just plain given up...

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Thanks to cable movie channels, I watched Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed last night and Van Helsing this morning. At least, I think that's the order I watched them in; they're really the same movie, as far as I can tell. The one with Sarah Michelle Gellar, I watched last night, and the one with Kate Beckinsale, I watched this morning.

Ah, I make the joke, of course. Truth is, they were both fun. Not movies I would have cared to pay to see in theaters (which I didn't, so that's all right), or even movies I would have gone out of my way to rent, but when they show up on the movie channels, and all I have to do is have the DVR record them (in HD, no less) to watch at my leisure later... Well, that's why I pay for those channels, to be honest. (Well, that, and Deadwood, I guess.)

Van Helsing was probably the lesser of the two, partly because it was over two hours long, partly because my expectations had been raised by Stephen Sommers' earlier movies (the two Mummy movies and Deep Rising), and partly because Scooby-Doo had Linda Cardellini (ER, Freaks & Geeks, The Lot) as Velma. Scooby also had the advantage of deliberately choosing to use classic monsters from the TV show, whereas Van Helsing chose to give us updated versions of the classic Universal monsters. (Not that Universal Studios created Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman, but they do own the copyright to the most recognizable versions.) But while the monsters may not have caused the same echoes of nostalgia, the movie was still good popcorn fun. And it had a twist at the very end that I hadn't expected from a movie like this, which caught me off guard.

Having said that, I don't think the world needs a sequel to Van Helsing, so I'm not too crushed that it failed at the box office. And it's not as good a Kate Beckinsale monster movie as Underworld, I think. (Partly because, attractive as she was, the sight of her running around in a lacy bustiere fighting vampires while everyone else in her village is dressed in rags just looked silly. At least everyone else in Underworld was wearing tight leather outfits...) But if, as is rumored, Stephen Sommers' next project is a revival of Flash Gordon, this movie shows it might be fun. Here's hoping...