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The Dark Knight Changes Everything...

Posted On Sunday, July 27, 2008

With all that was going on with Arena Con, I didn't get to see The Dark Knight until the following Monday, an unforgivable three days late of its theatrical release. And while I might want to engage and lament about the performances therein, there's something else that became ever so prevailant to me as the credits wound to a close in that dark theatre; something that has rocked me to my creative foundation, changing the way I view comics and the stories told therein. As I'm sure we all know, the main theme of this particular oveur is "escalation"; how the emergence of the Joker and his manical antics of crime are a response to Batman's own emergence -- an escalation of the established force to fight crime and injustice in Gotham City (that's just the forefront form of the escalation theme and one that has been widely discussed with no sense of spoiling the movie, please see The Dark Knight for more -- it really is a great movie!). And in the aftermath of experiencing this epic, it was the idea of escalation and how it was portrayed in this movie that made me come to this conclusion -- THE DARK KNIGHT COULD BE THE DEATH OF THE AMERICAN COMIC BOOK INDUSTRY!

Big talk, I know, but let me explain. More than anything, The Dark Knight was a great movie. That's understood, but what needs clarity is that it's not a superhero movie. Or specifically, it didn't have a superhero story. Now what I mean by that, as I try to salvage whatever readership I may have obtained that is probably typing in some new url address, is that it doesn't fit the norm that has become the "superhero story." There's a simple formula to those stories -- the most notable trait being that the hero always wins and in most cases never loses. While that may seem like a bumpy contradiction, I assure its got is truths. Sure, the hero may suffer an injury, fail to stop the destruction of a particular building, structure or device. Even in the worse case scenario, someone close to the hero may die -- but these are only partial loses (and in the realm of comics, character deaths are often even less than partial and moreso seasonal) that serve only to strengthen the hero's resolve or position and allow them to ultimately triumph over evil. Its in this that The Dark Knight abandoned the superhero story formula (please see the movie to understand how -- I'm not spoiling anything here!!!) and instead opted to simply tell a fascinating and compelling crime-drama, perhaps the ultimate edition of your favorite Law&Order episode that just happened to have a "superhero" in it. And that's where death is gonna come from.

The American Comic Book industry runs fat on superhero stories. Its a hallmark of the genre where very few titles have ever ventured away from. But it's also a great bane to the industry where stories are no longer about whether or not a hero wins, but how. And with that being the crux of the stories, creators are forced to inflate their characters actions by coming up with wilder and bigger feats to all tell the exact same story...the hero wins, the bad guy loses and you're now out of $3.00 for your troubles. TDK shows us that it doesn't have to be that way. Or rather, its what showed me...but it wasn't the first instance, only the one that made it stick. There are enough story genre-types that "superhero" doesn't have to be one of them, that in fact superhero is a character description and by no means a story definition.

I feel a soapbox coming, so I'll leave it at this: I've been inspired to not tell superhero stories or comic book stories, just good stories, some of which feature folks with powers and capes...

Other notable 'non-superhero stories':

Watchmen
The Dark Knight Returns
300
Sin City
Planetary
The Authority vol 1
Kingdom Come

There are many more, but that's a good start.

Can't Tell Me Nuttin'!

Posted On Saturday, July 19, 2008

So in the hours after Arena Con wound down for its final day, I have to admit an intense bit of pride. While not necessarily the most successful financially, the whole thing was an absolute commercial hit, bringing a lot of the local comic book community to the forefront of general public knowledge. Right quick, I want to give thanks to EVERYONE that made Arena Con both possible and a success, so in no specific order:

John Mueller and the entire Arena Grand theatre staff -- you guys are an absolute gift and a blessing to the promotion of the arts! Without a doubt, without you, not a thing could've happened, but more than anything, you're willingness to try something different has introduced many to medium a lot of us feared was nearing its end.

Dave's Clubhouse, The Laughing Ogre, BackPorchComics/S.P.A.C.E., Sean McKeever, Sean & Stephanie Forney, Uko Smith, Max Ink, Millard Draught and Mike Watson/Freestyle Komics -- I appreciate so much that you guys were able to come thru and showcase your many talents. I hope this experience was as awesome for you as it was for me! I want to extend an invitation to you all for our next gig, tentatively slated for Aug 15, coinciding with the premiere of the Star Wars: Clone Wars.

Special mention to the Wexner Center -- Go see the Jeff Smith exhibit, up till Aug 3; The Cartoon Research Library -- a wonderfully hidden gem at Ohio State University; and lastly, but not leastly, Yankee Trader -- your domino masks were the best swag imaginable.

Thanks to everyone who came by and took part, I hope you all enjoyed yourself tremensely!

Packrat Comics Interview...

Posted On Thursday, July 17, 2008

At the tail end of my involvement with The Co. I came up with my masterplan to focus on the comic shops in the area, creating a sort of quid pro quo scenario where they'd be more apt to support my creative efforts. Part of that plan was a series of interviews I'd conduct, in a varied attempt to introduce people to the comic shops in and around Columbus, OH. I came up with a set of questions and emailed them to few different shops, whose answers will be featured in the upcoming comics from WizWorldInc! But I thought -- TO HELL WITH WAITING! Issue one is still tentatively a few months away! So with no further ado, please allow me to introduce you to the fine folks at Packrat Comics!!!
Shop Name: Packrat Comics Owner (or person to "ask for"): Teresa Colegrove

Shop Address:­­­­ 3872 Lattimer Street Shop Phone #: 614-527-8450
Hilliard, Ohio 43026 Hrs of Operation: 11-7 Mon-Sat, 12-5 Sun


Website or E-mail: http://www.packratcomics.com/

Shop Name: Packrat Comics Owner (or person to "ask for"): Jamie Colegrove

Shop Address:­­­­ 109 East Fifth Street Shop Phone #: 937-642-0492
Marysville, Ohio 43040 Hrs of Operation: 11-7 Wed-Sat, 12-5 Sun

Favorite comic (issue or title) and why? -- "Kingdom Come, the art and story telling are amazing."

Did you always want to be a comic book retailer? -- "No."

What are you currently reading? -- "Green Lantern, Secret Invasion, Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, Final Crisis, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Robin, Nightwing, Teen Titans, Walking Dead, Invincible, Battle Pope,Fables, just about everything..."

What are you top 5 suggested TPB's or GN's, general reading or specifically for new readers? -- "Kingdom Come, Batman the Long Halloween, Batman Hush, Spider-Man The Other, Walking Dead, Battle Pope and Y the Last Man."

How would you like to see your business expanded (would you like to franchise your chain, get a bigger space, etc)? -- "A few more stores are in the works, and continue to increase current store stock of graphic novels."

How do you view the American comic book industry? -- "Fragile."

What would you do (if anything) to change it [the American comic book industry]? -- "More comics for early readers and pre-teens to get them interested and keep them that way. Comics are geared for older audiences which make it difficult to acquire and maintain the younger generation."

To up and coming creators, can you offer any advice from the retailers point of view for how to get their product into stores (like yours) and into the hands of potential fans? -- "Bring it it, show it to us, offer in store signings, but don't expect much in sales, pick a Wednesday when there is typically a larger comic draw."

Many thanks to Teresa Colegrove for taking the time to answer these questions and give us a peek at the good folks at Packrat Comics. If you're out in Hilliard or up in Marysville, stop by and check them out -- it'll be one of the best experiences you've ever had!

PINS AND NEEDLES!!!!

It's the night before the big event, ARENA CON, kicks off and I'm all kinds of excited. This has definitely been a learning experience and when I help organize the next one, I have a whole slew of ideas to make the show even better. For those of you unawares, allow me to explain what ARENA CON is all about. About 3yrs ago, while heading the artists coalition called The Co. (http://www.myspace.theco-sr71.com/), I came upon the idea of using our "Fetch-A-Sketch" campaign in a local setting (specifically the Arean Grand Theatre (http://www.arenagrand.com/) during the opening weekend of comic book themed movies), to raise revenue for book production and kind of start a general promotion engine for ourselves as artists. It worked phenomenally well, funding such projects as "Please Press Start"and "Art of Darkness: The Art of Ren McKinzie." Although the time came for me to part ways with The Co. and start my own publishing venture (GO WIZWORLDINC!, GO!), I was definitely interested in keeping things going with the Arena Grand.

Thru my contact at the theatre (Hi Jewelee!!!) I learned that the theatre really liked what we had done, but certainly would be interested in developing things even more. With the approval of GM John Mueller, I set out to pull in as many local comic shop retailers, artists, writers and different comic book arts supportive entities as I could find. The end result -- ARENA CON!!! Over 2 days, the Arena Grand's lobby is gonna be turned into the hub of the convention, featuring 5 tables showcasing a number of elements of the local comic book scene.

Guest List:

Laughing Ogre
Dave's Clubhouse
Packrat Comics
Moore Comics
S.P.A.C.E.
Hero Initiative
Sean McKeever
Uko Smith
Millard Draught
Max Ink
Sean Forney
and of course...WizWorldInc!

If you're around the Arena District, seeing The Dark Knight or not, stop on in and check us out. Con hours are Friday (4-8pm) and Saturday (2-8pm). There will be signings, books for sale and chances to get original artwork. And if you're artistically inclined, grab a sketch card on your way out, do a piece and turn it in the next time you're at the theatre -- all received pieces will be featured here in the weeks after the con!

I Think It's Working...

Posted On Sunday, July 13, 2008

Today, the Columbus Dispatch featured (prominently, I might add) a sweet article, where a panel of comic book and film aficionados ranked some 50 or so comic book movies. I was one of the lucky panelists and got some decent ink too, specifically a mention of my exploits at the Arena Grand theatre, drawing for patrons when comic themed movies are released. It's kinda funny too, because doing those "Fetch-A-Sketch" shows is what got me the invite to the party, so that's kinda a full circle thing for me.

My hope is that people will peep the plug for the theatre and mosey on down there this weekend where they will be greeted by my brain-child, the Arena Con!

link to the online article:
http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/arts/stories/2008/07/13/superhero.html?sid=101

I Almost Forgot...

Posted On Saturday, July 12, 2008






Here are a few sketches featuring Ebony & Ivory, the two main characters from WizWorldInc!'s series, Deuce. Just a little something whet your whistle and let you know that things are coming!

*artwork by Victor Dandridge for WizWorldInc! All rights reserved.

First Post...Woot!

Welcome, welcome, welcome! What I hope this to be is an online chronicle, a journal if you will, of something new in the world of comics. At best, I hope to inspire others to try a different path and make their own way, not just in the world of comics but the world at large (yay, for happy feelings). At the worst, maybe this will serve as a cautionary tale and become a bigger joke than Rob Liefeld (crap, look at me burning bridges! Lol)*

Anywho. Let's see, where to start... With great power comes -- no, that's not it, but then again. As a creatively minded individual, I can say that what strikes me as most odd is the lack of follow-thru from most self-publishing endeavors. Or at least, what I'd consider conventional follow-thru. It seems like most creators out there finish their respective projects and expect the books to fly off the shelves, expediently, if not magically -- but, they sure don't come up with a plan for that. I don't think its the part of the BUSINESS that most creators consider, but by all means should. Just to create isn't enough, you gotta come up with a vehicle to push your product, whether that's an online store, from the trunk of your car, a back pack, whatever.

So, taking my own advice, that's the first thing I set out to do, even before building my art team(s) and finishing (read: starting) any particular project. Now, my means of doing this is pretty extreme, but if you can find your own way (or even some kind of version of mine), I think you're making some key steps forward. Now, on the basis of production cost (subject later), I know I can't afford a wide spread area of distribution -- though I've been told by friends in the industry that that's the best method of dissemination. Instead, I'm focusing on my home turf of Columbus, OH (Go Bucks!) and the comic book scene therein. Despite having such notables as Jeff Smith, Chris Sprouse and Darryl Banks (many others, but I'm just trying to illustrate here) call the capital city their home, the immediate awareness of comics is a bit hush. So, I'm helping to organize a mini-convention that will ideally help bridge the gap between the success of the comic book movie and those shops that specialize in the source material.

Coinciding with the premiere of WB's The Dark Knight, in association with the Arena Grand Theatre, WizWorldInc! will be hosting Arena Con! There's a strong disconnect between the theatres and the stores, where a person can enjoy the movie and the characters, but not know where to go or what to get to continue the experience. This is basically drawing a map, "find your comics here!" with the immediate benefit for WizWorldInc! of building a relationship with retailers. As an independent creator/publisher, its this sort of relationship that will be paramount in being able to distribute more than 5 issues of a project at a time to any of the 9 or so shops in the city. So, we'll see how well this actually works out, but on paper -- its a good idea. LoL!

*I'm a huge fan of Rob Liefeld's work...honest.
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