Posted by: Abhay Khosla on December 2, 2010
Self-promotion warning. For those of you not interested in self-promotion, and don’t want to spend their free time consuming advertising, this is fair warning, and I’ll hide my infomercial for myself behind a jump. I apologize in advance to anyone who thinks this doesn’t belong here– in my defense, I got Brian’s okay, plus Brian reminded me that Jeff had already done the whole self-promotion thing so… Please send all angry e-mail to Jeff Lester. Also: please send photos of yourself but just from the waist down to Jeff Lester. Pants tolerated.
“Good authors too who once knew better words, now only use four letter words writing prose…. Anything goes…” — Cole Porter.
(Is it just me or did dudes from back in the day used to put quotes from songs in their comics way, way more often? “You bros ready to read a comic about HAWKMAN? Here’s a quote from Jethro Tull to get this mother started on the right foot. WHOAH, AQUALUNG!” Is that something my mind is just making up on me? Didn’t that use to happen all the time? Are people still doing that? I don’t see that anymore.
It’s not the same thing, but all I can think of at the moment is I remember Peter David issues of the Hulk that’d have Shakespeare quotes– that one issue where the Leader tricks Banner into turning into Grey Hulk in order to fight Rick Jones Hulk, that’s got that “Swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon” quote or whatever…? And there’s me, age whatever– “I promise– no moon-swearing from me, Mr. Incredible Hulk, sir!” Does Peter David still do that? … I don’t know; I just heard that Cole Porter song earlier today and that line made me laugh. Funny song. Okay, whatever, let’s start the whole sales thing… Let’s get into character…)
SUPERMAN 80-PAGE GIANT 2011 #1
Written by JOE CARAMAGNA, STEVE HORTON, ABHAY KHOSLA, NEIL KLEID, AUBREY SITTERSON, BEAU TIDWELL and others
Art by EDDY BARROWS, CAFU, DAN MCDAID, ANDY MACDONALD and others
Cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN
I’m the co-creator of a 10 page Jimmy Olsen story in this SUPERMAN comic book, as advertised. It’s solicited for sale in February 2011. I think Beau Tidwell has written reviews and journalism, too, including for the NEW YORK TIMES. I don’t know who “Others” are, but my guess is that I’m at least the 4th or 5th best comic critic with a story in that SUPERMAN comic. Though I like to think that I’m the 2nd or 3rd best critic in that SUPERMAN comic, in your hearts.
Brian suggested I give you the Order code, so– here’s the Order code: DEC100215. Brian also suggested I give the Order code to the North Koreans, though, come to think of it. What was that about? Oh my god! Sarah Palin was right about San Francisco!
Dustin Nguyen did the cover, which I guess is a spiritual sequel to this fantastic cover he did for BATMAN 80-PAGE GIANT. Dustin Nguyen is one of my favorite cover-guys working with DC (plus I really love those chibi style drawings he does on rare occasion), so… Boy, I was so happy when I saw that cover…
I was approached by DC in May 2010 about contributing something– out of the blue. Just this weird out-of-nowhere thing. I guess they’ve been approaching new-ish people for these anthologies for a while now. It’s nothing I went out and got for myself– just this thing that fell into my lap. I think it’s going to be pretty funny for me, though, the next time I hear some mainstream comics person talk about, “Breaking into comics, man, it’s like infiltrating a volcano headquarters surrounded by a high-security prison, shoved up a nun’s butt. If someone manages to figure out a way in– they wall that way in up with bricks, and have Hakeem Olajuwon piss on the bricks in order to sanctify them with his famous +1 Urine of Obstruction.” Because– really? I was just sitting around watching SAVED BY THE BELL on blu-ray the other day, and got an e-mail offering to pay me to write a comic about one of my all-time favorite comic characters. Did you… Did you guys try chilling out and watching SAVED BY THE BELL? Because my way sure sounds much easier. For nuns.
Anyways, I sent in three pitches at the end of June– two were comedies: one pretty terrible, too vanilla, too much me pulling my punch, looking back on it; the other… it probably was a little weird.
The third was sort of what I hope is a pretty straight-ahead superhero comic. DC went with that one. And I’m kind of happy that’s what I ended up having to try to make. Given the chance to make a superhero comic, I’m glad I had to make a real one, and didn’t find a way to hide from that…? I don’t know if any of that makes sense. You know– I figure this is the only time they’ll ever let me make this particular kind of comic, so I guess I wanted to be a part of… Part of the “tradition.”
Though I don’t know– my “tradition” probably isn’t everybody’s. A lot of DC comics in the 00’s, I suspect were trying to be in the tradition of the reveal of the Terra character in the Wolfman-Perez TEEN TITANS, which didn’t mean anything to me since my formative Teen Titans experience was the Teen Titans being buzz-kills and narcing out the cool kids on behalf of the Keebler corporation.
I was always sort of more fascinated with the post-WATCHMEN Inappropriate Superhero comics, as I think I’ve mentioned before. Or, like, you know what comic got stuck in my head this week. Does anyone remember that Jamie Delano comic TALKING TURKEY from VERTIGO JAM? It was an Animal Man comic that was just Animal Man (in his post-costume SERIOUS VERTIGO COMICS incarnation)(!) getting yelled at about environmentalism by a turkey on Thanksgiving…??
I don’t know. I didn’t have the balls to write a comic about a man arguing about SERIOUS ISSUEZ with a turkey(!), so I can’t say I achieved true glory. Failure of nerve, I guess. You know– but I tried to have Nerd Fun. Stole the first line of my script from those excerpts from Alan Moore’s script for SWAMP THING ISSUE 20 that Stephen Bissette had on his blog last year (one of several excellent series of blog posts on comics history, if you haven’t seen that before): “Before commencing this debacle, a few words” yaddah yaddah. Stole the last line of my script from Grant Morrison’s THE INVISIBLES: “End theme.” That’s how Morrison ended his first two INVISIBLES scripts, which I think are floating around online. I thought that was kind of a neat way to end a script for THE INVISIBLES.
I don’t know if I did anything anyone will like, especially– that’s not really up to me, I guess. I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes, or… It’s an all-ages Jimmy Olsen comic, and maybe that inherently has a limited appeal. I don’t know. But I tried my best to try not to make a faux-“cinematic” storyboard comic, which sure as hell was goal #1; I tried to give the artist chances to be awesome; and if my execution was lacking, well, I think I at least tried to have my goals be true to my tastes, so… I think that’s what I was supposed to do…? I think…? Or maybe not– I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. All my research aside, I’m not entirely sure what a hypothetical reader wants out of a 10 page Superman comic, or why they want it, so…
Annnnnd this is awkward-! I am not built for self-promotion. I *totally* judge other people when they promote themselves, so, I’m so sorry if this is horrible for you. It’s awkward for me. This is awkward for me. It makes me feel– I feel like I’m at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by.
Fun-fact: Mario Lopez is a guest on George Lopez tonight. Fun fact.
And… yeah: they let me write Jimmy Olsen.
Jimmy Olsen is just about my favorite character in superhero comics.
Olsen: he can be equally in a romance adventure (e.g. Nick Spencer is doing a nearly perfect example, at the moment), a Kirby science fiction comic, a James Robinson super-crime comic, or a classic Superman fantasy comic, without seeming too out of place. Only really Batman does more than Jimmy Olsen– that is to say, the MOST POPULAR character in comics.
Olsen was already reinvented for modern times– decades ago! By the best– by Kirby. Olsen before Kirby is okay. But the Kirby Olsen… To me, the Kirby Olsen is a crazy young man who seeks out the future so he can bring photographs of it back to the present. Maybe just no one could separate that aspect out from all the other, more idiosyncratic things Kirby brought to the book, I think.
And unlike most DC characters, he’s not locked into any single theme. A comic about Batman should probably be about crime being a bitter fruit that grows weeds, or whatever that expression is; a story about Wonder Woman should be about Man’s World; a story about Black Canary should be about fishnet stockings; a story about Zatanna, I don’t know, I guess should also be about fishnet stockings. A story about Cheryl Tiegs should be about that fishnet one-piece she wore in the 1978 Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Maybe the story could be from the perspective of the fishnet swimsuit– let that blow your mind, intro to creative writing 101 professor. Or it could be from the perspective of a young Brazilian girl watching, from binoculars, and she’s judging at first but then gradually her defenses wear down and she starts having FEELINGZ. I don’t know– I don’t want to accidentally screw up any plans that Geoff Johns might have there, you guys.
Jimmy Olsen doesn’t really quite have a heavy burden of theme to him. You can think of him as someone inspired by another’s heroism to go be a hero himself; i.e. as a symbol for the positive way being a fan of some fantasy character can effect your life. Or you can think of him as … As someone who tries to be cooler than he plainly is, to the extent he’s making a fool of himself or even risking his life, based upon an impossible standard that he’s imposed upon himself. Which I think is sort of how we all process mass media…? Mass Media gives up Superman and then we’re trapped in the bodies of Jimmy Olsen. When I watch a James Bond movie, what goes on in my head? How much have James Bond movies screwed up the inside of my head? And is that any different from what happens in Jimmy Olsen’s head when he’s watching Superman? Or you can think of something else entirely for him– Jimmy’s just this guy, you know?
I think I’ve mentioned this here before, but: what I love most about Jimmy Olsen doesn’t show up in my story, but it’s the signal watch. I couldn’t do that justice in 10 pages. I mean, none of this made it into my comic any, but … the signal watch not making it in smarts the most because I love it so much: Jimmy Olsen survives his adventures not because he’s more powerful or stronger than his adversaries, but because of his ability to form friendships with people who are. He doesn’t need superpowers– his superpower is social skills! Which — I think I consider that a better “lesson” than almost any other lesson in all of superhero comics. And the ultimate symbol for that is the signal watch. Plus, post-Crisis, at least, Jimmy Olsen invented the signal watch– he saw Superman and responded to Superman by inventing a way to get Superman to help him in his life.
Jimmy Olsen is a person in a society transitioning from a human society to a post-human society, and the way he responded to that is by putting that post-human society at his disposal. Which– is my favorite heroic type that I grew up with: the computer hacker. The computer hacker, when I was a kid, was a person who saw the effect computers were going to have on society coming, and was going to control that machinery of the world rather than let himself be a cog in it. Matthew Broderick in WAR GAMES isn’t going to be a victim of the military industrial complex; he’s going to use the technology of the military industrial complex to force it to recognize his right to be free of its machinery. Jimmy Olsen is exactly that. Jimmy Olsen is a hacker, not of computers but of a post-human society.
This is all stuff I’d thought about on a regular basis, years before anyone from DC ever got in touch with me, so…
Oh, god. I’ve wasted my life.
Plus: I got to write something that would have real comic art to it for once! I basically draw like crap, and so there are types of comics I don’t think I’ll ever create on my own, in one-man-band mode, for that reason. Action comics, horror comics, monster comics, suspense comics– really, anything besides people talking in a sparsely decorated room is probably off limits to me. So, getting to actually write, you know, ANYTHING and it’s some other stupid asshole’s job to draw it…? That is a Christmas miracle.
We managed to get my top pick to draw the comic: Mr. Andy Macdonald of NYC MECH, RED WARRIOR, TERMINATOR: 2029, TERMINATOR: 1984, PUNISHER: WAR JOURNAL, a SPIDERMAN web-thing, and END LEAGUE fame– no, infamy! I’ve known Andy for many, many years, and I’ve spent hours and hours watching him draw. No-joke: Andy would be my top pick to draw this if I could get anybody, anybody at all, so I feel like I got extraordinarily lucky. Well, no, wait– my top pick would be Jesus– that’s sort of a no-brainer. #2 would be Lee Harvey Oswald– my family’s pretty convinced he didn’t do it, so it’d be a big deal for them if he drew my Superman comic. But #3 would be Andy Macdonald. So: Andy Macdonald: Almost As Good as Lee Harvey Oswald in My Book.
Plus: we’re trying to get an old, old friend to letter the story, too– I don’t know if that’s 100% locked in yet. But this person, Andy and I all had dinner together at San Diego many, many years ago, and it’s one of my favorite memories of the times I went to that thing. So, I guess I’m happy that… If it feels like something made by an assembly line of strangers to other people, then that’s how it is and I apologize to you, but I’m really happy it’s not going to feel that way to me…? And aren’t my feelings all that really matter? Yes! You’re right! They are!
And then: sometime in 2011, the 4th issue of my webcomic TWIST STREET. I also started writing issue #4 sometime in May, I think, according to my notes. Hopefully this gets released sometime in June but it’s hard to say for sure. I’m wrapping up a final draft now, and hopefully drawing starts in late December / early January. Talking heads, repeating images, endless dialogue– low-low-low-budget comedy webcomics. More than 100 pages, but less than 200, I think. With a plot, this time– another stab at doing a plot, unfortunately. But the good news is I think I found a way to make my cheapest looking, laziest comic yet! I really think people might hate this one! Yay, honesty!
You know: there have been times when I’ve wished that other people had found a better balance between their personal work and their work for others, and have been disappointed that they haven’t. So, I guess I really, really want this to be out in 2011 so that I won’t ever have to feel like I was wrong about anything. Take that, world! No comeuppance, everybody! I avoided comeuppance!
I mean, I’m not saying it’s normal but … I really think my feelings about the Superman thing would be diminished in some essential way if I didn’t also have this coming out. Anyways, here’s the Order Code: Seven.
And of course, there’ll be more of this sort of thing. You know: more stuff that gets posted here, extremely slowly, and probably not often enough, and probably about comics no one cares about, and sometimes with me maybe calling the guy who wrote POWER PACK a baby-killer. (You reading anything good? I’m wrapping up DUNCAN THE WONDERDOG– I really haven’t decided yet if I’m enjoying that or disliking it intensely– interesting book, though. That and HARLEM HEROES– why did people who wrote 2000AD think black people rhymed so much?? I’m going to end the year sitting down with the ALEC omnibus…)
But yeah, I should say: writing for this blog, this is the most fun i have writing anything. Oh god, when one of these comes together– it is so much goddamn fun.
You know: I think part of the fun of this whole experience has been watching myself to see if I turn into That Guy. Because I was really scared I’d have that moment of, you know, “Oh, I was wrong! Forgive me, people who work in comics! I’ve learned the error of my ways– the real enemy is snark. How dare you, snarky snarks? Comic creators have FEELINGZ.” And maybe I did it wrong, but… I didn’t have that moment. I was never visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. I never felt like I had to repent.
And I’m so happy about that. SO HAPPY. Having been through this experience now– I take NONE of it back. DC gave me every opportunity to think about what I was putting out into the world, and I’ve gotten asked questions throughout the process, questions making sure I understood and respected the characters, questions about story logic, theme, etc. And if I didn’t think hard enough on my work product, and what I put out there was … was intellectually lazy or morally repugnant to someone else in any way, then there’s no way I can pretend I didn’t deserve the “snark” (or as I like to call it, “entertainment“) that I get in retaliation, even if I disagree with that person or how they draw their conclusions. And that would only be my fault, and no one else’s, not snark, not “The Internet“, and especially not Lee Harvey Oswald, who loved the smell of cookies coming out of the oven, which I think you’ll agree the Warren Commission completely overlooked….
Plus, I just really, really don’ want to repent– this is such goddamn fun and I don’t want FEELINGZ to get in the way of that. So, I guess what I’m saying, if anything, I really hope that this experience has only made me a worse and more unfeeling monster than I was before.
In conclusion: No comeuppance!
“Lee Harvey, you are a madman. When you stole that cow, and your friend tried to make it with the cow. I want to party with you, cowboy.” — John Winger.
“Drying in the cold sun — watching as the frilly panties run.” — William Shakespeare.