Saturday, September 29, 2007


Let me just get it out. I'll bet that no one, 15 years ago or so, would've listened to Nirvana's Nevermind and thought to themselves, "You know who's gonna emerge as one of America's last great rock stars? The fucking drummer."

But, seriously, Dave Grohl is the genuine goddamn article. I've had Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace on a loop for the last four days. It's a beautiful album: hard when it's supposed to be, soft when it wants to be and—here's where the heresy truly comes in—I think Grohl's a better songwriter than Cobain was. Yes, he had more time to mature and ferment, and his doesn't seem to be a life of harsh torment. (And, yes, Courtney Love is nowhere near him.)

You watch the Foos in concert and he is everything a frontman oughta be: passionate, frenzied, and willing to shred his voice to tatters every night. Honestly, I can't think of a band I'd want to see live more than the Foo Fighters. The hardest working bar-band in show business. And when he's not banging away at the guitar, he's playing drums on other folks' albums. (Can you imagine being the drummer in the Foos? Knowing full well that your boss can do your job way better than you can?)

Every drummer pounding away in a shitty high-school band ought to have a temple to Grohl in their closet: he has shown you the way.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Great Moments in Fatherhood

I'm flipping channels this morning, and I come across the first Star Wars (Episode IV, which will forever be known as "the first Star Wars"), right about the part where we first see the Death Star, floating in space. My three-year-old son, Luc, looks at the TV and says "That's a moon."

And I get to say, "That's no moon...that's a space station."

It all comes around.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Out of the Box

I'm going back to Cali, y'all. (I simply cannot resist a little LL plug. A weakness, I know.)

Heading out on Monday, back on Friday. Pitchery is afoot. If I can, I'll keep you updated. But you know how these things go.

So, be good, for goodness sake. And I'll see you when I see you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Casting to Type

Working, as I do, at the magazine where I work (wow, that's a nonsensical phrase, but I'm gonna keep it in there anyway) for the last 12 years, I've seen a lot of magazine covers. A lot. We're a weekly, after all. Somewhere around 500 issues, give or take.

And when I saw the mockups for the cover of this week's issue...

...two things crossed my mind:

1) It's good to see an Asian face on our cover. There aren't a lot of occasions for us to do that, seeing as there isn't a multitude of Asian movie/TV stars. We cover the business, and it's not our fault if the business doesn't give Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indian, or Taiwanese actors much work. (Yes, I'm sure I left out a whole host of eses. I know. Sorry, thespians on Surinam.) The last time we had Asians and nothing but Asians on the cover was an Oscar Race Begins issue, with Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. So, yay for diversity.

2) Masi Oka will have James Gandolfini's career, but with less awards. By that, I mean to say that he'll do great work as one overwhelmingly ethnic character—and never move beyond that. I think Gandolfini probably came to terms with that. Could be what was behind the salary renegotiations: "If I'm never gonna get to do work this good again, I wanna get paid." And everything we've seen him in where he's not playing a mobster has been underwhelming: The Mexican, The Last Castle, All the King's Men. Granted, those movies sucked but, more importantly, you didn't buy him in them. That's the problem with creating an iconic, enduring character: you can never escape it. Will Masi be able to get out from under Hiro's shadow? Would you want to see him playing, I dunno, the romantic lead, or the smart tech dude in a heist thriller, or the gay best friend? He might be able to do all of those, and do them well, but I think we'll always see him squishing his eyes, shouting "Yataaai!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Big Question: Clarification

It seems, in tracking what's become the news story of the cycle—and, apparently, it's a slow cycle if The Highwaymen not selling can spur such discussion—people have misinterpreted the events to draw the conclusion that Wildstorm cancelled the book. Which is not the case.

We were engaged to do a five-issue miniseries. Which is exactly what we wrote, what Lee Garbett drew, and what Wildstorm is publishing. Were there conversations about possibly continuing the series beyond those five issues? Absolutely. But doing so was always contingent on sales.

Wildstorm solicited five issues of The Highwaymen, and that's precisely what, to steal liberally from Tina Fey, our dozens and dozens of readers will get.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Big Question: Part Deux

A lot of people have chimed in, both here and on Heidi MacDonald's The Beat, with their theories as to why The Highwaymen didn't sell.

To sum up:
  • No one wants to try anything new, so new characters by new creators...nuh-uh.
  • Wildstorm, as a brand, doesn't inspire consumers to buy anymore.
  • The wait-for-the-trade mentality + hatred of the miniseries format = no floppy love.
  • The retailer incentive for issue #1 didn't extend to issue #2.
  • The cover for issue #1 didn't stand out.
  • Readers didn't respond to the concept.
Most of those I'll concede, with the exception of the last two. I liked the cover for issue #1 and while the design might've been a little conventional, I'd have thought the name-brandness of Brian Stelfreeze would've made up the difference. And, anecdotal and empirical evidence both point to readers absolutely responding to the concept. And to the execution. I guess we were laboring under the misguided theory that "good will out."

Maybe, finally, the answer to the "why" is: The market just isn't set up to support a book like this because, ultimately, the readers don't want a book like this. If they did, there'd be more of them. There'd be more romance books, and more action books, and more war books, and more straight sci-fi books, and more police procedural books. I'd say it was as myopic as TV, but then you'd have to posit a TV landscape where there were only sitcoms set in a bar.

But the market, with the rarest of exceptions (e.g., Y: The Last Man, Criminal, Walking Dead, Fell, Casanova, etc.), wants superheroes and only superheroes. Especially superheroes they already know. And especially if there's a possibility that they're zombies.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Big Question

Given the news of the post below, a fella could ask himself, "Why?"

Not, "Why isn't Wildstorm going to do another arc worth of Highwaymen stories." I know why. Because it didn't sell. We moved a hair under 10,000 copies of issue #1. At the time, we were told that was as good a number as one could expect for a book about two characters no one had ever heard of, created by three guys no one had ever heard of.

But issue #2 took a 40% dive—which would be fine if we were a movie; that's considered a pretty good hold in week two. However, we're not a movie. And it's not enough to warrant doing more. I get that.

So, the question is, "Why didn't it sell?"

Did we not spread the word adequately? I'd like to think we did. We did oodles of press, interviews with anyone who asked. Had pieces up on, Newsarama, CBR, Silver Bullet, IGN, and Broken Frontier. Some mainstream press, too, in EW and a couple of news syndicates, which got us into a whole host of regional papers. We did in-store signings and convention appearances, a couple of podcast interviews to boot. DC gave the first issue the better part of a page in Previews, and seeded house ads throughout the bulk of its books the month before it came out. It's possible we could've done more—a cross-country tour would've been nice, but not in the cards...and we all can't have Warren's internet presence, not overnight—but we didn't let it stumble out there without any support at all.

Was The Highwaymen simply a bad comic? I'd almost say that's a more important concern, except for the fact that there are tons of shitty books that do/did better than ours. So quality does not insure sales. But, judging by the overwhelmingly positive response we've gotten from almost every critic who's reviewed it, quality was not our problem.

Was it the subject matter? Were potential readers turned off by the cast, a pair of old dudes, one white and one black? Was ageism or racism a factor? No way to be sure. Though, we've been told, in pitching other books, that black characters just don't sell. Even Blade, with three hit movies behind him, can't keep ongoing-series hope alive.

Can a good action-adventure book that received a decent PR launch about a pair of racially diverse seniors who aren't superheroes fly in today's market? I guess that's the $64,000 question.

And I guess we got our answer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Word From the Mountain

From the Jim Lee panel at the Baltimore Comic-Con, via Newsarama:

"The Highwaymen will conclude its arc and then end, Lee said, noting that the series was a great read but hasn’t performed well sales-wise. After the series is over, Lee said that they’ll be working with the creators again."

Well, there you have it. We're glad we got to tell the story we set out to tell. If you find us at a convention bar one of these years, we'll tell you what would've happened...if you buy us beer. And nachos. Definitely nachos.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

If You Thought I Gave Up on the Pimpery...

Johnny Bacardi digs himself some Highwaymen #3:

HIGHWAYMEN #3: Wonder of wonders, we actually get some explanations and answers in only the third chapter, something which flies in the face of normal shoot-em-up comics/movies/TV series of this ilk. Livelier than last issue, to boot, oddly enough, with fewer improbable stunts. I think this one is going to be all right. B+

Wither 'TV Guide'

The news that TV Guide may be shutting down its print edition doesn't come as a surprise to me. What does surprise me is that it took this long.

I have no ill will towards TV Guide; I've got friends that work there. The front of that magazine still reads pretty well. But that's just it: what about the rest of the magazine? The listings?

Well, in this day and age, the listings are useless. The kind of people who desperately want to know what's on and when are the kind of folks that already have cable or satellite TV. And those services come with an on-screen guide, to tell you what's on and when. If the box you're interested in watching gives you the information you want, why would anyone look away from said box to get that information?

I guess that marketplace reality has finally set in. And there no way to support a TV-based magazine these days. Too narrow of a focus. That's what the web is for. TV Guide should've got in bed with TiVo a few years ago...

So I guess it's farewell TV Guide. The me from 1986 will miss you.