Posts tagged: DC Comics

Out Wednesday: Batman ’66 #7 – featuring FALSE FACE!

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BATMAN ‘66 #7 collects the False Face 2-parter written by Jeff Parker and drawn by myself (Christopher Jones) that already appeared in digital form with all kinds of fansy-shmancy motion enhancements. The solicitation describes it this way: “Horrors! Bruce Wayne is trying to scam a jewelry store and put the blame on poor Aunt Harriet? Or could it actually be the work of that mysterious master of disguises, False Face?

The story also features a guest appearance by The Riddler, and the debut of the Batman ’66 version of The Batplane! I’m a huge fan of the 1960’s Batman Television Series, so it was a huge treat to get to draw this story, especially given the great Jeff Parker script and the appearance of two of my favorite Bat-villains!

Check out the great Mike Allred cover above, and you can see previews of the first five pages of the story with artwork by me below!

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The comic issue features a second story written by Tom Peyer and drawn by Derec Donovan. Find out how crime really pays when the Clown Prince of Crime tries to downsize his mob in “The Joker’s Layoff Riot.”

Be sure to pick the issue up at your local comics shop or in digital form!

BATMAN ‘66 #7

Written by: Jeff Parker, Tom Peyer
Art by: Christopher Jones, Derec Donovan
Cover by: Mike Allred
Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: Jan 22 2014

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na I’m drawing Batman ’66!

I am delighted to formally announce that my next project is a story for DC Comics’ Batman ’66 – part of their Digital First tier of books and based on the classic 1960s Batman TV series staring Adam West. Here’s the solicitation for the print version:

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Cover for Batman ’66 #7 by Mike Allred

BATMAN ‘66 #7
Written by JEFF PARKER and TOM PEYER
Art by CHRISTOPHER JONES and DEREC DONOVAN
Cover by MICHAEL ALLRED
On sale JANUARY 22 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST
Horrors! Bruce Wayne is trying to scam a jewelry store and put the blame on poor Aunt Harriet? Or could it actually be the work of that mysterious master of disguises, False Face? Then, find out how crime really pays when the Clown Prince of Crime tries to downsize his mob in “The Joker’s Layoff Riot.”

I’m doing the False Face story in the issue, written by Jeff Parker. I can’t share any artwork from it yet, but I *can* show you the Batman art I did to be approved to work on the comic! This is a real treat for me to work on as I’m a HUGE fan of the 60’s Batman series, and the False Face episode is among my favorites. In fact, there’s also a cameo by my *absolute favorite* villain from the show, but you’ll have to pick the book up when it comes out to learn who that is!

 

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You can look for print versions at your local comic shop when they come out, or look for it in Digital Form on Comixology where you can currently find past issues of the series. The book is presented in DC Comics’ DC2 (pronounced “DC Squared”) format, where each tap of the screen actively advances the next element of the story, whether it’s the next panel or individual art elements on the page. It’s been an interesting challenge creating artwork for that format, but I think it creates a reason to seek out the digital version of the story rather than waiting for it to be collected in a print format later!

I’m having the best time working on this, and I think it shows in the pages. I can’t wait for the story can come out so you can see for yourself!

Digital Comics Distribution – What does the Future Hold?

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Marvel has launched Digital Comics Unlimited  recently- access to over 13,000 comics from their digital catalog for a monthly or annual fee. It’s sort of like a Netflix for comics, but only Marvel comics. You can read more about it here.

The news of their unique distribution model got me thinking. It’s been obvious for a while that digital distribution was a big part of comics’ future – the question has been what form would it take? The relative success of Marvel Unlimited could have a lot to do with the future of how comics are made available as a product.

There’s been no small amount of ink and pixels used to talk about how much the monthly comic book has become a dinosaur. I have as much sentimental attachment to it as anyone, but the realities of the market and printing have driven the cost up to $3.99 or more for what is still a 15-20 minute read at best. I don’t think the monthly comic will completely go away any time soon, but I strongly believe that you’re going to see more and more titles available only in digital form while being serialized, until they are collected in a print edition/trade paperback/graphic novel exactly as they are today.

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The other big advantage of digital distribution is that it digs the industry back out of the hole it created when it went all-in on direct distribution back in the 80’s, moving away from magazine-style distribution that made comics a common staple of news stands and drug stores to being a specialty item that you had to go to a niche comic book shop to find. Not only does that prevent your product being seen by casual readers and impulse buyers, but many potential comics readers don’t live anywhere NEAR a comic book shop. Digital distribution makes comics available to anyone with an internet connection, giving them greater exposure and potential readers greater access. More and more, digital distribution is transforming every corner of the publishing world, and that’s going to include comics. The publishers would be crazy not to try to get out in front of it, so comic book shops will have to adapt and evolve as any retail store needs to do to survive in a changing marketplace. (Many already have, and sell toys, games, a large selection of trade paperbacks/graphic novels, and other pop culture items right along side comic books, as well as hosting events and other outreach initiatives.)

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When digital comics first emerged, a lot of the attention was on format – how to create the best viewing experience on a desktop computer, or a laptop or Kindle, while still preserving something of the traditional comic book look-and-feel, and hopefully keeping the content in a form that could work both digitally and in print. We seem to be moving past that now and the next question is what will become the prevalent business model for digital comics in the 21st Century marketplace? Will each publisher have their own digital comics platform, or will there be one distributor that carries content from multiple publishers?

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Consider the iTunes model, with the alternative being that each music label had their own, exclusive platform for music downloads. Or Netflix, with the alternative that each movie studio had their own platform. The publishers would love to have their own platform – it cuts out a 3rd party middle-man from taking a share of the profits. But is that what the consumer wants? Savvy music and movie buffs may pay attention to what music label or movie studio produces the entertainment they enjoy, but most consumers just follow the artists they like. A typical moviegoer will decide to see a film based on the cast or director, or if the trailers and commercials look good, but don’t care if the film was produced by Warner Brothers, MGM or Sony. With comics, the major publishers have franchises and characters they’d prefer that you follow. It’s great if you’re a fan of Matt Fraction or Greg Capullo, but while the publishers are happy to take full advantage of a creator’s talents and star power, they’d rather you follow their characters, since they OWN those and will always be able to reap the rewards of that following.

Then there’s the question of paid downloads versus a different profit model. Many web-based comics give the content away for free on line, but make their money from advertising, merchandise, or print editions. This has the advantage of making the potential piracy of the digital content a relative non-issue. Still others use a pay-what-you-can or donation model, which depends on an appreciative fan base wanting to support the creators of the content they enjoy and willing to contribute for the sake of its continuation.

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While the digital comics landscape may never distill itself down into a single unified system, it seems likely that a particular model will become the dominant one, with the major content producers adopting a preferred system and a conventionel wisdom emerging as to what is the most profitable model. Like many of the format wars of the past, the winner may not be the best system. Many people will tell you that Betamax was better than VHS, or that HD-DVD had advantages over Blu-Ray, but in the end the inferior formats won decisive victories in the marketplace because of locking up market share.

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There’s a lot of experimenting going on right now with digital distribution models, and a lot of competition for market share. DC and Marvel are both pushing digital editions of their comics, either directly or using partners like Comixology. Mark Waid’s Thrillbent is another new player on the scene, trying to produce content exclusively for the digital realm and offering it to readers for free.

Again, I don’t think digital means end of the comic book. But it’s a new format and a chance to reach more readers. How’s that going to work in the marketplace five or ten years from now? Your guess is as good as mine… but I can’t wait to see what it all looks like!

Young Justice Invasion: Volume 1 coming in December

Young Justice #20

Young Justice #20

Young Justice: Invasion – Volume One TP
Writers: Greg Weisman
Artists: Christopher Jones
Collects: Young Justice #20-25
$12.99 US, 160 pg

With Volumes 1-3 the collected tie-in comic for the Young Justice animated TV series in print, I had been hoping for some news on a Young Justice: Volume 4, but it seems instead that the last 6 issues will be collected as Young Justice Invasion: Volume 2.  It’s funny that they went that way – when we were talking about the comic making the jump to the timeframe from Season 2 of the show, there was talk of rebranding the comic as Young Justice: Invasion and getting a new #1 issue. But that didn’t happen – they just continued on with the existing title and numbering, just designating the “Invasion” storyline with a subtitle and numbering it as 1-6 of 6. I guess someone decided that Young Justice: Invasion Volume 1 was more marketable than Young Justice: Volume 4. Fair enough.

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Young Justice #23

Young Justice #24

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Young Justice #25

Young Justice #25


This was a fun run of issues to work on. Catching up with Season 2 of the show meant Dick Grayson as Nightwing and an influx of new characters such as Batgirl, Blue Beetle, Wonder Girl, and Lagoon Boy. Plus, our big Invasion storyline featured a trio of villains I got to design for Young Justice continuity – Brainiac, Kylstar and Deadshot. Plus the mutation of Match into our version of Bizarro. This was easily the most epic storyline we ever tackled in the comic, and I’m so excited to finally have it collected into a squarebound edition!

The book won’t be out until December. I’m not sure why there’s such a delay, but better late than never! Young Justice recently aired its final episode earlier this month on Cartoon Network. The series is set to remain in reruns for at least a couple more weeks before being shuffled out of the DC Nation programming block. A lot of people are looking for ways to show their support for the Young Justice series right now, and pre-ordering this would definitely be one way to do so! Or, you could just pick it up when it comes out because it’ll be a good read!

Until then, Volumes 1-3 of the COLLECTED Young Justice are available NOW!
Look for them at your local comic shop or bookstore, or order a copy online!

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VOLUME 1
Collecting #0-06! $12.99

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VOL. 2 – Training Day
Collecting #07-13! $12.99

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VOL. 3 – Creature Features
Collecting #14-19! $12.99

Harley Quinn and my first DC Comics Writing Credit

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Page 1 – The Corwin O’Dooley Show!

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Page 2 – The Obligatory Monologue

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Page 3 – Enter: The JOKER!


This was the opening sequence of The Batman Strikes #35 which I co-wrote!

Russell Lissau was one of the writers contributing scripts for The Batman Strikes and I met him and was chatting with him at Wizard World Chicago. He mentioned that he’d wanted to do a story with the Joker but hadn’t been able to think of a Joker plot that could be told within the kid-friendly confines of the Strikes title. I mentioned an idea I’d had to tell a story from the point of view of someone under the influence of the Joker’s nerve-toxin, since in this continuity is was a paralytic rather than instantly deadly. The whole story would be about The Joker and Batman playing hot-potato with the victim while they were a helpless, paralyzed observer. Russell loved the idea and offered to co-write it with me, which lead to issue #35.

The concept got watered down a bit. I would have loved to tell the story literally from the victim’s POV – seeing it through their eyes, but I wasn’t surprised when it was deemed too  high-concept for an animation tie-in title. I’d hoped that we could at least limit our story POV to that character – only seeing and hearing what they would be personally aware of. But even that was considered to be a little too much.

Still, the story was a ton of fun. It introduced the show’s version of Harley Quinn into the comic, and centered on a late-night talk show host who earns the Joker’s ire when he is dubbed “The Clown Prince of Late Night” by a Gotham magazine. The character was deliberately a cross between David Letterman and Conan Obrian.

That opening page took forever to draw, but I really wanted that big shot looking from behind our host out at his studio audience – letting us share the view he would have walking onstage. I think this was one of the pages I apologized for when handing it off to inker Terry Beatty. I wanted the sequence to feel like you were seeing it from the stage floor of the studio, not from the POV of the audience or the cameras, so that meant a few more busy shots of the studio audience in the opening pages, until the action eventually led us to a chase outside the studio confines.

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Page 5 – Harley Quinn’s big entrance.

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Page 6 – Bruce & Dick sneak away.

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Page 7 – The helpless host.


As a note of trivia, I should mention that I designed the Corwin O’Dooley Show logo and modeled the theater on the CBS Ed Sullivan Theater where David Letterman’s show is done, which is on the next block over from DC Comics‘ offices in New York. I replaced the “CBS” letters on the marquee with “GBS (aka the Galaxy Broadcasting System),” as a nod to the TV network where Clark Kent served as a news anchor during some of the Superman comics of the 1970s.

And here’s a look at how some of these pages looked in print, with inks by Terry Beatty and colors by Heroic Age.

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