SadGirlCWOf all the weeks to be running into issues every time Rob and I want to sit down and try to bang out the damn podcast.

So, you may have noticed for the last couple nights we’ve thrown up a quick site business to explain the delay of our typical Sunday night podcast, which tens of you have come to know and rely on. If it wasn’t full on internet drought in the wilds of northern New England (and, frankly, how dare the White Mountains have no fucking Wi-Fi, amiright?), it was traffic and travel related. Tonight? Skynet. No, but seriously, Rob has run into an issue at his job he needs to stay ridiculously late for. I’d do the podcast myself, but I think we all know that while I’m good at saying really awful things at inopportune times, the show really needs Rob’s dick jokes to bring the whole thing into full focus. They say write about what you know and I am, well, dickless. It’s true. I checked.

It’s absolutely the worst time to find life hamstringing us like this; there are a lot of really interesting stories that have come out of New York Comic Con. For example, the attendance numbers at NYCC reportedly exceeded those of the San Diego Comic-Con. This year, 151,000 separate attendees all washed up on the doorstep of the Javitz Center. That is 21,000 more than San Diego. Given the crush of humanity that is the SDCC experience, I can only imagine what it must have been like to try to move around in that. It’s a mixed blessing. As more and more folks come out to see what all the geek fuss is about, the harder it is to actually get around to see all the panels, pros, vendors, and general weirdness that we’re all coming out to celebrate. NYCC has already set a date next year for October 8-11, 2015. The good news for folks who are specifically out to celebrate comics culture though is that there will be a special comics oriented edition in June on the 13th and 14th. This is actually a trend I’d like to see continue for some of the bigger cons. I hope it is a sign of more mindfully planned, better targeted convention experiences for fans going forward.

And then there is some of the news coming out of comics entertainment press in the past couple days.

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frank_miller_headshotFrank Miller was behind a computer keyboard yesterday. Someone made a terrible, terrible mistake.

Here’s what I’m talking about: the last time Frank sat down specifically to publish something he thought on the Internet, it was to post a diatribe about the Occupy Wall Street kids who were, at the time, camping out in public parks around the United States. Frank spent a few hundred words and a couple of amateurish “bowel movement” jokes comparing these neo-rich-kid-hippies with Al-Queda, which not only sounded like unnecessary histrionics, but really kinda ridiculous. After all, most world-class terrorist organizations ask their collaborators to have a useful skill. You know, beyond drum circles. But I digress.

Anyway, Frank’s public presence since 2011 has been comprised of that blog post and his original graphic novel Holy Terror, which was a Batman story that DC Comics refused to publish. You know, the same DC Comics that published Kevin Smith’s The Widening Gyre, where Smith retconned Batman to have pissed his pants during his first confrontation with the mob in Batman: Year One, written by… some guy who I can’t remember. I remember he was a good writer at the time, though.

So this is the first time in almost three years Frank has put himself out for Internet scrutiny, and I have to give him credit for doing it in a Reddit Ask Me Anything, where Miller has to boldly face questions like:

[–]metsbnl 133 points

What do you think of DC’s decision to reject publishing Holy Terror?

[–]Izawwlgood 348 points

And as a follow up; what in the fuck were you thinking?

and:

[–]ThrillhausVanHouten 148 points

How do you respond to critics who say your work is sexist and shows you only posses the crudest possible understanding of women?

[–]Psyladine 136 points

What are you talking about? His female characters have great variety, they run the gamut from Madonna to Whore.

and then had the courage to, well, ignore those question in favor of ones asking what superheroes he might still like to write.

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graphicly-logoSo a couple years ago, we reported that Graphic.ly, one of the early digital comics retailers, was shutting down its retail store and closing up its app to new customers. And at the time, we worried, even though Graphic.ly had announced that you could still get your books through their app (provided you already had it, since the instant they announced the closing of their digital retail store, they pulled their app off of Apple and Android), that the day would come when Graphic.ly shut down their servers and you might lose access to the books that you paid for.

But hey, that all happened two years ago! Nothing could possibly change the status quo for the books you bought, right?

Right?

Blurb, which lets authors self-publish and print their books, is buying Graphicly, a platform that lets authors publish and distribute e-books, with a specific focus on image-heavy content like comics and photography…

This is an acquihire [sp], with the six employees who formed Graphicly joining Blurb. As part of that process, Graphicly will be shutting down in the next 30 days.

Dammit.

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dc_survey_2014So didja ever wish you could make your opinions about what’s happening at a major comic book publisher known without having to go to the onerous lengths of writing a strongly worded letter, tazing Dan DiDio at a comic convention, or starting and maintaining a comics Web site for nearly three years?

Well, here’s your chance. DC Comics is asking readers to complete a survey (the first one we’ve heard about since just after the New 52 reboot in 2011) addressing, among other things, whether they like to read stories about smart heroes versus superpowered heroes, well-known characters versus more obscure characters, and who your favorite superhero is.

Of course, they will also ask you whether you like to buy reproductions of superhero costumes, and if you like buying ancillary merchandise related to particular superheroes. So clearly the comics aren’t the only research priority for this survey.

But with that said, I am going to recommend that you complete it anyway. Because if you do, you will be eligible for some freebies and discounts, including a free comics digital download, a digital skin for the Infinite Crisis video game, or most enticing (if you are the type to be interested in the superhero merchandise questions of the survey): a 10% off coupon code for purchases at the DC Entertainment shopping site that’s good until the end of the year.

Further, if we do this survey right, we will soon be able to buy an official Wild Dog replica jock strap. Which will mean that I will have won an under bet that I placed in my high school lunch room in 1988.

So help DC, help comics, help yourself… and help me make Paul from Drama Club have to wear a dress at Boston’s First Night New Year’s Eve festival while shouting, “I am the night! I am upside down! I am suppurating with herpes! I am… Bat Wang!”

Take the survey. Make your – and Paul’s – voice heard.

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free_comic_book_day_logoDespite being inveterate comic books geeks here at Crisis On Infinite Midlives, I don’t think we’ve ever actually gone to a comic book store on Free Comic Book Day. We missed the first one, on May 4, 2002, because we had spent the night before driving around Boston looking for a theater that was showing Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie that wasn’t sold out before finally catching a late show in Cambridge and then closing out our local bar, drinking and babbling excitedly at how Raimi really captured the visual style of the character. The only way were were gonna make it to a comic store the day after that would be if they were also selling the chick drinks I would have needed to stop the screeching pain in my head without making me throw up.

Besides, there wasn’t a hell of a lot on that first Free Comic Book Day to bring me into the store. There was a reprint of Ultimate Spider-Man #1, a reprint of an issue of Greg Rucka’s Queen And Country, a copy of Justice League Adventures and a couple of other books… but I already had most of those comics. Let’s face reality: Free Comic Book Day hasn’t, historically, been an event for people like me. The point of the event has always been to use the publicity surrounding the release of whatever superhero flick that, by 2002, was inevitably gonna come out in May, to draw new readers into the art form that inspired those movies. And that art form had made me its bitch 27 years before some poor Hollywood costumer had to puzzle out how to hide Tobey Maguire’s junk in those spandex pants.

Further, and this is not meant as a slam, but my local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me to remember that attempts to leave the store with freebies will be followed with pepper spray, is not known for holding any kind of event. I love the place, which has a huge selection of new books and back issues as well as a ton of pop culture paraphernalia, but in the 13 years I have been a regular customer there, there has never been a creator signing. Or a reading. Or a panel discussion. Or a gaming night. There was one sale, once, but that was when a lost lease led to a move down the block, and the owner didn’t feel like hauling all his shit to the new address. And even though I remind him that that sale led to my finally buying the entire original First Comics run of American Flagg! and my Glenn Fabry-inspired John Constantine statue, I doubt there will be a recurrence any time soon.

So I’ve never seen much point in heading to the comic store on Free Comic Book Day, since it happens on a Saturday (and I’d always had that week’s new comics on Wednesday) and I didn’t anticipate much of anything going on there. But today, Amanda and I were out for lunch at a new restaurant down the street from the comic store, so we decided to swing in to see what was happening and maybe grab one of two of the free books, and…

Holy shit.

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project_superpowers_jae_lee_2008Here at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office, we are some Warren Ellis fans.

Back in 2000, when watching Unbreakable led me to leave a several-year Vertigo Comics exile to delve back into superhero comics, Ellis’s The Authority and Stormwatch trades helped reinforce my hope that superhero comics had moved away from the Image Age of chicken-scratched detail lines on footless steroid monsters punching on each other with no driving story to speak of, and into something that an adult might like to read.

Ellis’s Nextwave remains one of my favorite limited series of the past fifteen years, and his collection of Come In Alone columns not only reinforced that there were actual adults writing comics, but they made me a lurker on the Warren Ellis Forums, where my proudest contribution was that Matt Fraction ripped off the logo from a 1999 Web site I ran to be his forum avatar for a while.

Ellis has been mostly absent from mainstream comics since we started this Web site in 2001. He wrote Secret Avengers in 2001 (which is the first book I ever reviewed here), and he’s been contributing to the Kelly Sue DeConnick co-written Avengers Assemble for the last couple of months, and he did the Avengers: Endless Wartime graphic novel a few months ago,  but otherwise he’s been working on novels and TV properties and whatnot.

So it is about time, as far as we fans are concerned, for Ellis to take on a larger-scale comics project… which is a thing that he is doing. Specifically, he will be rebooting Dynamite Comics’s Project Superpowers line of books. You know, that line of comics that Alex Ross and Jim Kreuger launched in 2008! The one that none of us actually read!

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grayson_1_promo_coverSo DC Comics’s current Forever Evil event is famous for a few things, and not just for being an irritating “ending” to prior crossover Trinity War, for putting almost the entire stable of major DC superheroes off the playing field for about five straight months (except in those characters’ home titles, where they are wisely generally pretending that Forever Evil isn’t a thing that is happening), and for making even Marvel’s Fear Itself seem like a fully-baked idea.

Beyond those things, it is known for being the storyline where The Crime Syndicate exposes Dick Grayson’s identity as Nightwing to the world at large. Which has, since that even occurred in the first issue, begged the question as to how that event would be handled once the event ended (assuming it does. Considering Forever Evil spun right out of Trinity War, there is a part of me that thinks there might be another event spinning out of Forever Evil. With another event spinning out of that one. Ad infinitum. Keeping the Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on the sidelines, and making Justice League into an anthology title where Geoff Johns can reintroduce whichever Silver Age second stringers he has a fancy for. But I digress). Would Grayson go back to being Nightwing, with perhaps an crossover appearance by Mephisto to make a deal for everyone to forget his identity?  Obtain some kind of neural backup to restore an earlier personality? Or one of the myriad other trick Marvel has somehow successfully used to retcon their terrible continuity mistakes?

Nah. They’re going full James Bond and making him a super secret agent.

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comxiologySo. Amazon has bought ComiXology.

I’m not gonna write a whole hell of a lot about this development, since Amanda and I have decided that this might be a good topic for another podcast (Yes! Two podcasts in less than two years! Truly it is a new and exciting age in audio-only media!), but there is one thing I would like to point out.

That thing being that our Web site traffic, which is usually pretty consistent, is up about 25 percent today. And not because of anything recent that we have posted, oh no. No, it is because a couple of years ago, I wrote a piece about a kid on Reddit who briefly posted a script that allowed people to download their comics from ComiXology and strip the copy protection so they could back up their own books. And how ComiXology landed on that kid with both feet, and how that should be a matter of concern for ComiXology customers, because without the ability to locally save their comics, they would never really own any of them. You know, if something ever happened to ComiXology.

It’s a piece that has garnered a little bit of attention; it has been highly-ranked on Google for people searching for ways to save their digital comics locally – you know, just in case something happened to the parent company to get in the way of you getting the books that you paid for – and if it even got picked up by Hacker News just a few months ago.

And it suddenly is getting a lot of traffic. Apparently because there are more people than usual trying like hell to find a way to save the digital comics that they bought. Just in case something were to happen to them. Or the company they did business with in good faith.

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detective_comics_27_cover_1939We need to keep things short again today – we spent a large chunk of yesterday at the hospital waiting for news about and the discharge of a member of one of our extended families who happened to fall ill while we were the only ones around. So after a Saturday evening spent in the emergency room of a major metropolitan hospital’s emergency room (which is where you meet not only the finest, but the cleanest and sanest, people) and a Sunday morning and afternoon spent watching said family member to make sure that the crisis had, in fact, passed, we are fucking fried.

But we are not too fried to acknowledge that today is a huge day in comic book history. Because it is today, March 30th, in 1939, that one of the most important comic books in history was first released for sale. That comic? Detective Comics #27.

The first appearance of Batman, yo.

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dresden_files_war_cry_cover_1It might be hard to believe, given that we are big enough comic book fans here at Crisis On Infinite Midlives that we started a Website that is dedicated to comics, but we are, in fact, capable of reading books. You know, actual books. Ones with no pictures in them. And sometimes even ones that don’t feature superheroes. Although not often. Unless they’re written by Neal Stephenson. Which do feature a character named Hiro Protagonist. But that’s not the point right now.

The point is that we do read books… albeit usually genre books. And those genre books include Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. We became fans of the character, as many did, via the Sci-Fi Channel (you remember, back when “SyFy” actually showed, you know… sci-fi?) series starring Paul Blackthorne from Arrow. We became fans of the book, as many did, when I was at Logan Airport waiting for our flight to San Diego Comic-Con, realizing that I’d forgotten to pack a book to distract me from five hours of crippling nicotine fits, and finding Storm Front at the Hudson News near the gate.

So we have enjoyed the series of books (to the point where we own the Dresden Files roleplaying game, and will even play it when we have a spare hour here or there), and have enjoyed the Dynamite Comics adaptations of some of those books, except for the most part, the comics have been just that: adaptations. Meaning that we already know how those stories go and how they end, which mitigates some of the wonder of reading those comics.

But there’s a lot of time and activity that happens in between those novels that isn’t accounted for, and one would think that those periods would be a fertile groundwork for stories. And apparently, Butcher and Dynamite agreed, because at the currently-occurring Emerald City Comic Con, Dynamite has announced The Dresden Files: War Cry, which is an actual untold story of The Dresden Files… and which puts it high on our pull list.

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