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Messages - positronic

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General / Re: Cameos in early progs
« on: 11 June, 2017, 01:17:19 AM »
a mob scene with Bill Savage

That's not Bill Savage, that's James Blocker from Timequake.  The woman dancing with Sam Slade is Ardeni Lakam from  Mind Wars, who's actually wearing more clothes than she usually does.

Thanks. Some of these characters look pretty off-model as drawn by Keith Page, whose work I was totally unfamiliar with. There are some real head-scratchers in there as to what they might have been thinking (like why would Wulf Sternhammer, a Viking, be playing what amounts to the 22nd Century equivalent of a traditional Scottish highland instrument?) 

I was also unfamiliar with both Timequake and Mind Wars (have they ever been reprinted? ... or is that for the best?) so I knew I missed the woman. There were also a couple of alien critters in there I was unable to identify. Some of the cameos are so stuck in the background (like Digby) that they were hard to pick out.

The appearance of the "Mills Script-Droid" leads me to think Pat was the perpetrator here, but I could see where he might understandably not want to be "credited" (or blamed) for it in retrospect.

General / Re: Pat Mills
« on: 10 June, 2017, 05:53:30 PM »
That's a fair point.

I think so far as the 1990s are concerned, the problem was that there were rather terrible creators though, and the editor should have been a bit firmer with what they were allowed to get away with and who was allowed to work on the prog at all.

It's hard to believe that with all the creators out there at the time, the editor couldn't find better material. Even if those 1990s creators had the ultimate say on what they would or would not do as far as complying with the editor's requests about changes to their submissions, the editor still had the power to disinclude their stories from the magazine.

You might think a situation where creator-ownership was understood might result in anarchy, but realize that economic necessity is driving those creators to attempt to keep the editor happy, so that the editor will continue to purchase stories from that same creator. Anyone who developed a reputation as "difficult to work with" or a "prima donna" is going to have a short career in the industry.

The other thing to consider is that the editor rarely has those sort of checks & balances overriding his policies and decisions, unless it's a large enough problem to work its way up the corporate chain, to where the editor's reputation for playing hardball with creators is turning talent away from the magazine.

On balance, the publisher will support the editor's decisions. But we've all read the crazy stories of IPC sub-editors who arbitrarily established nutty policies like "there will be an explosion in the third panel of every page, bar none" (an actual anecdote from TPO), or something as easily irrational. That's because once given the position, there's no one to tell the editor he can't do something, as long as he isn't spending all the company's budget or something that's getting the CEO's attention.

Freelance creators, even if they are creator-owners of properties, still need to depend on someone to pay them to publish their material, unless they want to undertake the financial risk of publishing it themselves. They can't be so stubborn as to alienate everyone who might want to pay them for doing what they do. They can't expect editors to refrain from having any say about the work they're buying, and they can't afford to be thin-skinned when it comes to criticism.

Some creators have been working in the industry longer than their editors, and there's a good chance they might know what they're talking about when they disagree with an editor. There's always a chance that the editor's right, and the creator's wrong, but does the editor feel strongly enough about his position to be willing to pass on the story altogether (knowing it's going to create a headache for him to fill those pages now)? Likewise, does the creator feel strongly enough about the rightness of his points of contention that he's willing to pass on a paycheck from the magazine? Not all the advantage is on either side.

General / Re: Cameos in early progs
« on: 10 June, 2017, 11:34:42 AM »
There is the "Christmas Party" story in DAN DARE ANNUAL 1980, which has a whole slew of cameos. I guess you could file this under a "crossover story", but the party (taking place on Xmas 2099, while Dredd is still serving as a Luna City Judge-Marshal) included a mob scene with Bill Savage, Dan Dare, Digby, The Gronk, Hammer-Stein, Johnny Alpha, Mach Zero, The Mekon, Mek-Quake, Mr. Ten Percent (Howard Quartz), Ro-Jaws, Sam Slade, Starlord, Tharg, Walter the Wobot, and Wulf Sternhammer (and I might have missed a couple), so most of them get little to do in the actual story.

Notably, Ro-Jaws offers Judge Dredd a drink, neglecting to tell him first that it's a vintage grade of oil, and Dredd spits it out in disgust, only to be offered another drink by Tharg, "a special Thargian recipe" made from old tyres and a secret ingredient (also explained too late, after Dredd spits it out). Mek-Quake chucks Dan Dare across the room before apologizing and admitting he loves reading his adventures (it's already established in "The Terra-Meks" that Mek-Quake collects old war comics, and has almost completed his collection of Sgt. Rock). And Wulf (playing what looks like some sort of electronic bagpipes) and Johnny sing their rendition of "Home on the Moon" (to the tune of "Home on the Range).

A "Mills Script-Droid" (drawn to resemble Pat Mills) gets beaten up by Mach Zero, while Ro-Jaws trashes an otherwise unidentified Art-Droid (whom I'm sure by the cannister-like design bears no resemblance to story artist Keith Page), and a Lettering-Droid likewise gets assaulted. Oddly, the story has no writing credits or lettering credits in reprint. Also making a cameo appearance at the end is O'Gosnell (another Luna City Marshal (after Dredd is forced to turn himself in for arrest to for disturbing the peace on Xmas).

General / Re: Pat Mills
« on: 10 June, 2017, 10:55:25 AM »
Still, I think when it gets down to a real unworkable disagreement between editor and creator, in general the creator should get right-of-way, and if he's wrong, the readers will certainly let him know by their lack of enthusiasm for the finished product.

That's exactly why the editor should have the last word! He is responsible for putting out a comic that people want to buy.

And of course that same reader lack of enthusiasm applied to the editor's decisions in the 1990s when things seemed to be going somewhat astray for 2000AD, which seems to demonstrate that the editor doesn't always have complete awareness of what readers want to buy.

I guess it's mere speculation to wonder whether if the actual creators of the strips were in control of their direction, they would have fared any better at that time, but my gut feeling is that things would hardly have fared any worse.

Putting creators in charge of creative decisions regarding their own strips doesn't totally abrogate the editor's power. He still has the last word on whether to buy a particular story or not, if he's not happy with it. It isn't as though he's forced to run whatever the creators decide to turn in, and that applies even more to to newer features just being developed, since no demand has yet been created for them among the readers.

The way that creator-ownership would change the usual method of doing things is that if the editor was hoping to run a popular feature like ABC Warriors, but wasn't happy with the direction of the story Pat Mills decided on, then he'd have to find another strip (not ABC Warriors) that he was happy with, to fill its place in the magazine -- unless he could cajole Pat Mills into coming around to his viewpoint on what he perceived as the problems with the story, and doing some re-writing. Yes the editor still gets to edit, it's just that the balance of power is no longer as one-sided.

General / Re: Pat Mills
« on: 09 June, 2017, 03:50:18 PM »
Some good comments there, everyone. And it must be admitted that by and large, the 2000AD editor have recognized where their bread is buttered, and have been mainly benign in letting the original creators curate their own strips. Dredd and the the many associated spinoffs would be the exception, although in many if not most cases, you might say the spinoffs are being shepherded by their original creators as well.

As many of you have commented, I think there were a number of mis-steps made by Tharg in the 1990s in assigning not-original-creators to certain long-running features, maybe in the belief that those strips might have become played-out under their original creators, and needed some new blood to shake up the status quo.

But in general, 2000AD editors haven't been as mercenary in exercising their power as their American counterparts in the comic industry. Still, this is the basic problem I see with publisher-ownership in general -- the balance of power between editors and creators is too one-sided, and limited only by the size of the creator's following among readers, and the potential clout that brings with it. When push comes to shove, the editor gets the last word even when it comes to to a disagreement with the strip's original creator. And it must be admitted that in some instances, even veteran creators can benefit from editorial input. They need to have some kind of sounding board because not all of them are incapable of the occasional mis-step. Editors can be wrong though, too.

Still, I think when it gets down to a real unworkable disagreement between editor and creator, in general the creator should get right-of-way, and if he's wrong, the readers will certainly let him know by their lack of enthusiasm for the finished product. I think creators certainly deserve to reap rewards from licensing and merchandising agreements.

As for the publisher, well maybe to be fair creator contracts could be written in such as way as to give the original publisher exclusive first right of refusal to publish any continuations, sequels/prequels, or spinoffs, until such time as the publisher no longer feels the strip is working to draw readers.

General / Re: Pat Mills
« on: 09 June, 2017, 02:02:32 PM »
Absolutely. It might not be the "fairest" model in some people's view but it has given us a great comic for 40 years.

Personally I would rather see given strips continue to appear in 2000AD than go off somewhere else when the creator-owner chooses. If that were to happen I probably wouldn't buy the other publications strips would appear in.

What if the publication was an entire comic devoted to that one strip, or even an original graphic novel?

Apart from a few short-lived competitors (Warrior, Toxic!, Deadline and perhaps on the stateside of publishing, Epic Magazine or Heavy Metal), there really are (or were) no comparable anthology venues for strips of the sci-fi/action genre to appear in, so any creator-owned property that began in 2000AD would more than likely need to make a go of it as some sort of standalone publication of its own. (Ironically or not, I first read Dave Gibbons' and Will Simpson's "War Machine" in the pages of Heavy Metal, where it was reprinted not too long after having appeared in 2000AD.)

Assuming you enjoyed a particular strip in 2000AD, and it continued to be written and drawn by the same creators, what would change? Or is that more of an economic decision?

General / Re: Pat Mills
« on: 08 June, 2017, 03:03:37 PM »
Right ok...so that sounds like he is doing the job an editor would then(?)
Yes, that's correct. But I would tend to trust the editorial decisions made by the creators about their own characters, since they arguably have a vision of their own conceptions that no one else has.

Ok glad you said that, because - coming back to the original subject of this thread - that is petty much exactly how Pat Mills operated as the original editor of 2000AD ( as described in ThrillPower Overload and The Mighty One IIRC) at least with respect to strips he came up with, then contracted out to other writers and then edited hugely e.g Invasion, Flesh and Harlem Heroes. I'm guessing he had big editoral input on Dredd and Dan Dare too, but didn't create them.

I guess we can only speculate as to how the magazine might have fared had Pat Mills been given the creator-ownership he craved, and stayed on as editor-creator with the magazine past its launching, rather than stepping down and turning editorship over to Kelvin Gosnell. And I mean that as no slight to Kelvin Gosnell, who Pat himself admits is never given enough credit for his contributions.

I think people are naturally inclined to always view the situation as one of creator-ownership VERSUS publishers, as if the latter cannot possibly benefit from publishing creator-owned characters. I don't think that's true.

General / Re: Forthcoming Thrills 2017
« on: 08 June, 2017, 02:54:48 PM »
There is a great blog showing 14 of those original Shirley Bellwood-illustrated Misty covers here:

General / Re: Pat Mills
« on: 08 June, 2017, 02:21:38 PM »
Right ok...so that sounds like he is doing the job an editor would then(?)

Yes, that's correct. But I would tend to trust the editorial decisions made by the creators about their own characters, since they arguably have a vision of their own conceptions that no one else has. It's no different than it works with Japanese comic anthology magazines, where the magazine editors will certainly offer their suggestions and ideas, along with informing the creator(s) about reader feedback on the stories. Ultimately though, it's the creators' decision whether to do something or not. Whether to write/draw it themselves, collaborate with other creators, set up a spinoff character series, or merely supervise a creative team on storylines that they personally approve.

You could say that makes the creators like sub-editors of their own little franchises under the larger umbrella of (in this case) the 2000AD editor. But it also frees the actual magazine editor up to concentrate his energies on making decisions about other things, things that the creators of one particular strip have nothing to do with. I don't wish to devalue the contributions made by the editors of 2000AD, but they might not always have been the best judge of what to do with each and every character or strip in the magazine. In effect, it puts the proven-popular characters into cruise-control mode for the editor, while the editor can then concentrate on choosing the best crop of new talent and new strips for the magazine.

When Jack Kirby made his move from Marvel Comics to DC in 1970, that's pretty much how he envisioned himself, as the creator of a small group of titles, that as they were established and expanded, would eventually be turned over to trusted writers and artists to continue under his supervision, while Kirby got on with creating new characters and titles. In fact it didn't turn out that way, and the details of why might involve a long discussion not pertinent here, but Kirby was forward-thinking and ahead of his time in a lot of ways. Then again, no one can know ahead of time whether something they create is going to become popular or not.

General / Re: Forthcoming Thrills 2017
« on: 08 June, 2017, 12:37:50 PM »
I think I was misled by the phrasing of the biographical text about Shirley Bellwood... something to the effect that she'd "illustrated every appearance of Misty in the comic" (not an exact quote as I haven't got the book right in front of me), which led me to believe Misty had appeared in actual stories. I was very disappointed to find that pages like the one I posted above, some few poster giveaways (as used on the cover of Vol. 1), several covers and small pictures used on the letters pages are all there were. Still, it would be nice to see an extensive gallery of those intro pages, covers, and posters of Misty as drawn by Shirley Bellwood, whose work really impressed me.

The merest hints about the character Misty imply that she's somewhat of a more girl-friendly version of Warren Publishing's Vampirella (although the precise nature of Misty's being remains a mystery), and Shirley Bellwood's illustrations would certainly have made her a worthy contender by comparison to Warren's star Vampi artists like Jose Gonzales or Enrique Torres, so it's a shame Misty never got any actual stories, even if they'd been only illustrated text short stories such as many comics carried in past decades.

Books & Comics / Re: Whats everyone reading?
« on: 08 June, 2017, 11:44:14 AM »
it seems clear to me that Robocop (1987) was influenced by the role of media played in Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns released just a year earlier

The news/media breaks and adverts that interject and inform RoboCop's story were more likely taken from the frequent and integral FasFax segments in Howard Chaykin's satire American Flagg - a comic that heavily influenced the tone and corporate ownership theme/plot of the film (Howard Chaykin gets a thank you in the end-credits) and was first published in 1983. It also features a Robot Cop as a supporting character. The Corporate Wars


And Chaykin's American Flagg! (which I loved, and coincidentally had just ordered the Image hardcover collecting of the first 14 issues, a week ago) always seemed a little influenced by (or maybe "a reaction to" would be more accurate) Judge Dredd to me. At least it seemed to have a similar satirical bent to it. In terms of being well-known however, it was greatly overshadowed by TDKR.

It's funny you use the example page you've shown, because that really doesn't resemble the way the media breaks appear in Robocop -- but they DO resemble the way Frank Miller drew the media commentators in TDKR. In American Flagg! the media commentary focuses on the interviewees, not the broadcasters, reducing the latter to tiny heads almost like what you traditionally see in comics where a sequence is being narrated through captions by another character.

General / Re: Things that went over your head...
« on: 08 June, 2017, 11:29:31 AM »
Things that went over Blackblood's head -- General Public.

General / Re: Pat Mills
« on: 08 June, 2017, 11:23:03 AM »
IMO 2000AD has had very mixed results when different writers take strips on from the downright awful (e.g. Robo-Hunter, some 1990s Dredd) to the ok (Dan Abnett VCs) to the great (Al Ewing Dredd).  Apart from Dredd, the best strips written by other writers seem to actually be ones which are spin offs from the original not continuations of the original e.g Jaegir.

But I don't mind different artists at all and  think mixing the artists is generally a good thing. And indeed necessary if you want a high volume of stories (e.g. Dredd, Sinister Dexter, even Nikolai Dante - which my memory had down as only being done by Simon Fraser and John Burns, but a re-read shows that was far from the case).

Creator-owned doesn't have to mean that the original creators are the only ones who will ever work on a character, or spinoffs of the concept. Mike Mignola has an entire universe of characters he created and various spinoff series (Hellboy, B.P.R.D., et. al.). He doesn't personally write and draw every comic or every character, but he oversees and approves the storylines and the choices of the writers and artists involved.

General / Re: Pat Mills
« on: 08 June, 2017, 11:06:59 AM »
Because of its nature as a sci-fi action/adventure comic anthology, I'd argue that 2000AD is better positioned to succeed because the concept of the magazine itself IS the brand. Not even Judge Dredd has appeared in EVERY issue (although pretty close), and readers are adjusted to the idea of constantly rotating features, mixing new strips with familiar favorites.

I'd have to disagree, based on the history of this specific comic.  From the mid-90s collapse 2000AD was living on borrowed time.  While the skill and determination of the editorial teams that kept the comic afloat has to be acknowledged, I'd be convinced that without Rebellion's intervention at the turn of the century the anthology would no longer exist in a recognisable form.  And I cannot believed that Rebellion would have taken on a hodge-podge of creator-owned strips, when what makes the whole show anything more than marginally financial viable is the IP rights. 

Believe me when I say that I wish Wagner, Ezquerra, Mills, Grant, Moore & Co had the full ownership of everything they created for us, and they and their families were getting fat and lazy on the proceeds, but I'd also be sure we'd never have seen a fraction of what we got under the current (unfair) model.

But I'd be forced to ask whose fault IS it that there was a mid-1990s collapse? Some combination of publisher's, editor's, and writer/artist choices is what I'd venture, but is any of the fault attributable to the original creators of the more recognizable, long-running characters making bad choices for those characters?

What I'm suggesting here is that I think the original creators, not the publishers or editors of 2000AD, make better custodians of the characters they created, in terms of creative decision-making. Where 2000AD has been successful in creative terms, I think it's when editors wisely let the creators hold the reigns and guide the characters they created. It's not that I think that comic creators are infallible and incapable of bad decisions, just that they may be somewhat less so than an editor or publisher. Nor, obviously, are all characters created equal, or all creators equally creative.

Film & TV / Re: Wonder Woman 2017
« on: 08 June, 2017, 09:50:06 AM »
Gadot is definitely the DC movie universe's Chris Evans, just absolutely embodying clear-eyed heroic decency and a fierce moral centre.

Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman.
Now the world is ready for you,
and the wonders you can do.

Make a hawk a dove,
Stop a war with love,
Make a liar tell the truth.

"Make a hawk a dove, stop a war with love"... That was essentially my biggest problem with the script. I didn't see any of Diana as the ambassador of the Amazonian philosophy of love and peace in this movie. I guess because I didn't even see that the Amazons in this movie even had any sort of philosophy like that.

I think Gal Gadot was very charismatic (and convincing in the action scenes) and tried to show some glimpses of a sensibility of social justice, but that was about it. In the film Diana believes she's a living weapon, "the Godkiller", and joins the war effort with the express purpose of seeking out Ares to kill him, thinking that this will bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities -- but it doesn't, even after she finds the real Ares. Then there's a tragicomic bit where she mentions "I don't understand why they didn't stop fighting." There's a bit of lip service given in the framing sequences where she comments on her naivete, but the script seems to miss the heart of the character's message of love and peace. As with the prior Man of Steel film, I don't think it's ever a good idea to begin your movie franchise by having your superhero KILL the villain, no matter how evil he might be. The hero might be shown to be more powerful than the villain, but might doesn't make right. Characters like Superman or Wonder Woman should aspire to higher ideals, and find a better way.

I guess it's not surprising that the Amazons aren't really portrayed as espousing a philosophy of love & peace, since none of the usual matron goddesses are even mentioned -- Athena, Hera, Aphrodite, Demeter, or Diana. In fact the film reduces the complexity of the Greek mythological pantheon to a very simplistic sort of black & white; Zeus = good/creator, Ares = evil/destroyer.

The movie is certainly satisfying as a pure action vehicle, but I was hoping for a little more.

Spoilers added

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