Through the Mail Slot


So, I seem to have been neglecting the blog. Sorry about that. Since last I posted, we’ve done Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’ve spent a week in L.A. pitching a movie, a week in Florida visiting relatives, written a mess o’ comics, read a ton of graphic novels and three quarters of a ton of novels, gotten very productive, gotten sick and unproductive, and now I seem to be getting productive again.
But anyway, let me answer some of the mail that’s stacked up, at least, and I’ll feel a little less neglectful. For a week or so, maybe.

I apologize if this question is at all out of line or a sore point and I’m even more sad I missed the opportunity to talk to you last weekend at Mid-Ohio, but I’ve been wondering if you felt any kind of way about Marvel’s use of your story beat from the Confessor arc of Astro City as the general concept for the Secret Invasion event from two summers back? As a fellow writer, I wholly subscribed to a “my ideas are for the world to use and explore,” but I know I’m in the minority on that one. Was this something that you were addressed with before or is it possibly another happy-accident of creative synergy?
Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this and I hope I get to make your acquaintance on the con-circuit come next year!
I’ll confess to not having read Secret Invasion, but I expect what you mean is that there were shape-shifting aliens infiltrating humanity, right? If so, the idea wasn’t original to me—Skrulls have been disguising themselves as human at Marvel for years, going back to Fantastic Four #2, when they disguised themselves as the Fantastic Four. And of course, the trope goes back to stuff like They Live, The Invaders and Invasion of the Body Snatchers as well.
I’ve also seen people suggest that Marvel took the Superhero Registration Act in the Civil War event from Confession, but that too has predecessors—the Mutant Registration Act at Marvel, the “Last Days of the Justice Society” events at DC, where the JSA heroes were pressured to reveal their identities to the government, the Keene Act in Watchmen, and of course they’re all inspired by real-world examples like the 1940 Alien Registration Act or the Nazi registration of Jewish-owned property, and so on.
What matters isn’t whether ideas are new—most aren’t, after all—but how they’re used. And I’m reasonably confident that Secret Invasion used its ideas rather differently from what happened in Confession.
From MARK:

No question, no inquiry, no request.
Just wanted to say thank you for writing great stories that I really enjoy reading and coming back to again and again.
Reread Astro City Vol 1 again and felt compelled to tell you how much I enjoyed it, again.
Very glad to hear it, sir!

Continue reading

Astro City Future????????????


Me and my new iPad!

So, here’s what my blog in-box looks like these days:
From WILL:

I just read that Dan Didio and Jim Lee are shuttering Wildstorm. Will this affect Astro City? Will KBAC come out under the DC banner then?
i was wondering (and i probably missed something) with the new announcement about wildstorm shutting down where will new astro city issues be coming out of? will they be coming out of the dc banner or something else? i have similar questions about the future of the america’s best comics line
I’m wondering what is the fate of Astro City with the end of the Wildstorm line?
…and so on.
One post at my Facebook page puts it quite simply:

Astro City Future????????????

That’s a lotta question marks, for a sentence that couldn’t afford a verb…

I’ve addressed this on Twitter and Facebook, but maybe to spread the word further (or at least have a nice linkable place to point people, here’s the word, at least as it currently stands:
There won’t be any news about the future of Astro City,the Arrowsmith novel and The Witchlands, my three Wildstorm projects, for a little while, but I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.
Here’s what’s going on: On Tuesday, DC announced that they’d be moving a large portion of the New York-based DC operations to Burbank over the next year (everything but the publishing division, pretty much), where it could more easily interact with the movie/TV operations of Warner Bros. And at the same time, they announced that the Wildstorm imprint, based in La Jolla, California, would be closing down, and that, after some restructuring, the staff there would be the core of DC’s digital/e-publishing operations in Burbank. The news pretty much went out to everyone at once—I heard about it from Twitter, right around the time the Wildstorm staff was being told in the La Jolla offices.
This wasn’t rude or short-sighted—they couldn’t exactly tell me ahead of time, because the people who’d have been doing the telling were just hearing about it themselves. And they couldn’t tell everyone on staff ahead of the announcement, because news travels at internet speed these days, and someone would have posted the news online and then bam, it’d be announced even if they hadn’t announced it yet.
[One Internet commentator, the sagacious Tom Spurgeon, was wondering why the information rolled out in two waves, and I’d suggest the answer is time zones. The New York-related news came out of New York after everyone was in the office and could be told, and then the La Jolla-related news came a few hours later, after Wildstorm’s staff was at the office and could be told.]
Anyway, the announcement from Wildstorm mentioned that the Wildstorm Universe line would be ending, though the characters would be cropping up again in the future, and that licensed Wildstorm books like Ratchet & Clank and Fringe would be moved over to the DC imprint. But they didn’t say anything about creator-owned books like Astro City and The Witchlands.
The reason for that’s pretty simple, too: They can’t announce anything before they talk it over with me, and with the owners of any other creator-owned books in the works, and make sure we’re cool with whatever the plans are, or discuss alternate plans, or whatever else needs to be done. And they weren’t able to do that yet, because they’d just made the announcement.
They still haven’t been able to talk to us yet. That’s not rude or short-sighted, either—it’s just a function of the fact that all the editors I work with, all the production people, all the support staff and so on, are all having individual meetings at Wildstorm to talk about each employee’s future. Are they moving to Burbank? Are they leaving the company? Are they going to New York, maybe? I have no real idea what’s happening in those meetings, but they’re all about people’s jobs and lives, so they’re more immediately crucial than the question of where the next issue of Astro City will come from, when it’s ready to go.
And everyone I deal with at Wildstorm is either having those meetings, or conducting them.
So let ’em get through that, and then they’ll be able to talk to me and other creator-owned guys.

Who the hell is that?

I won’t speculate on what the upshot will be, but I wouldn’t worry about it. Astro City is a profitable series, and DC isn’t going to be in a hurry for it to go away. [And frankly, even if they were, in the last few days I think I’ve heard from almost every American comics publisher whose staff isn’t tied up in meetings, letting me know that if it should possibly happen that DC and Astro City part ways, there are safe landing spots.]
So don’t worry. There won’t be any news for a little while, but that’s because we haven’t had a chance to work things out. There’s more immediately-important stuff going on.
But we’ll talk. Things will be figured out. And announcements will be made.
In the meantime, hold tight.
As for the future of America’s Best Comics—sorry, Robbie, I don’t have a clue. Wish I could tell you.

The Viscera Ladle!


My one San Diego Con panel, Saturday afternoon, as described by the site
3:30-4:30 Wildstorm: This is WildStorm!
Get the viscera ladle on what’s upcoming from DC’s wildest imprint from WS-VP Hank Kanalz, Senior Editor Ben Abernathy, Fiona Staples (North 40, Trick ‘r Treat), Kurt Busiek (Astro City), Adam Beechen (Killapalooza), Christos Gage (Wildcats, Dante’s Inferno), Darrick Robertson (Prototype), David Tischman (Red Herring), Liam Sharp (Gears of War), Jason Craig (Freddy vs. Come determine unserviceable from the truly of the freshest artists in the biz! Room 4

I can understand why they translated it into French, but I’m not sure why they auto-translated it back into English rather than use the original. But by all means, come and determine unservicable!