Monday, March 14, 2011

What the Flashpoint creative teams tell us about DC's strategy regarding talent Pt. 2

Last week DC began announcing the creative teams for the many miniseries they were planning to publish in conjunction with their upcoming Flashpoint miniseries/ crossover event. Last Sunday, we took a look at the creative teams that were announced to see what it might tell us about the publisher's strategy regarding creative talent in the next few months.

This past weekend DC's Source blog announced the creative teams for the remaining miniseries, as well as those for four new one-shots. So let's continue taking a closer-than-usual look, with some conclusions at the end.


Covers: Gene Ha
Plot by: Scott Snyder
Script: Lowell Francis
Art: Gene Ha
Like the Batman series, this one has a pretty strong creative team, although I suppose Snyder is still considered an up and coming creator (at least relative to Batman’s Brian Azzarello).

Snyder, of course, is the writer of American Vampire, one of Vertigo’s current best-selling titles, and who recently took over scripting duties on Detective Comics. Prior to his comics writing, Snyder was a prose writer.

He’s working with a co-writer here, a Lowell Francis. The only place I’ve seen his name before is in the credits of one of Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard #2; he wrote a story illustrated by Gene Ha. I can’t find any other credits for him, save for a Heroes Initiative Benefit Book, so I guess it’s safe to say he’s a newcomer too. The Superman portion of a big line-wide crossover event working with a writer best known for collaborating with Stephen f-ing King is a pretty great gig for someone with just a few short stories to his name.

Ha is probably one of the most high-profile artists on one of the Flashpoint minis.
Covers: Doug Mahnke
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Ibraim Roberson
The cover for this is a little disappointing; it features the Morrison/Mahnke version of Frankenstein, fighting Nazis along with a werewolf, a lady fish monster and a vampire—it looks like the monsters may actually be the Creature Commandos (The vampire looks just like the vampire from the Creature Commandos).

Nothing wrong with the Creature Commandos, of course (even if the current iteration isn’t as cool as the original one), but the way the title echoes Challengers of The Unknown had me hoping for something a little more unusual.

This one’s by Jeff Lemire, whose work with DC Comics came as quite a surprise, given that he got his start as the cartoonist of The Essex County Trilogy. He’s since embarked on a Vertigo ongoing, written a short-lived Atom back-up and is currently writing the ongoing Superboy series.

Like Snyder, I think it’s safe to say that Lemire is still something of an up-and-coming talent, at least in terms of DCU super-comics.

Roberson drew a couple of one-shots for Marvel, a short story in 2009’s DCU Halloween Special and was one of the three artists on Justice League: Cry For Justice (Red flag!). His most notable work to date is probably The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks graphic novel, with writer Max Brooks.
Covers: Francis Manapul
Writer: Sterling Gates
Art: Oliver Nome
Well that’s a weird-ass, overly complicated and confusing title. Why isn’t it just called Kid Flash or Kid Flash Lost…?

I’m almost positive I remember a Kid Flash series, or at least a back-up, being announced at one point, with Gates attached and then un-announced. I would guess that the genesis of this series. Perhaps Flashpoint grew from a Flash or Flash family specific series into a line-wide crossover event, and that pushed this back, and turned it into a Flashpoint-branded book with a crazy title…?

Anyway, Gates is a relatively new writer who came out of nowhere a few years ago, writing some issues of Adventure Comics and bits of the Superman New Krypton storyline, a few issues of Green Lantern Corps, the 2010 miniseries World’s Finest, the (terrible, terrible, terrible) one-shot Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1 and, most notably, a short run on Supergirl.

Artist Nome apparently worked for WildStorm and did concept work for that DCU Online game thing. I can’t recall reading any comics he’s drawn, but here’s his Deviant Art page; I like his Vixen design.
Covers: Ed Benes
Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Scott Clark and David Beaty
Based on the cover, which shows Hawkgirl, Wonder Girl and a few other figures in the background I can’t make out, it looks like “The Furies” may be an all-girl super-team. There’s also an army of Amazons in the background, giving Benes the opportunity to draw the same female body over and over and over again.

Too bad both the alternate universe versions of Hawkgirl and Wonder Girl are both rocking belly shirts, but Wonder Woman is pretty conservatively dressed, and Benes even manages to make her armor fit like armor, rather than form-fitting spandex/body paint.

The Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning team have written plenty of comics for DC before, including a version of the Legion and Resurrection Man, but they’ve spent most of the last few years writing for Marvel, particularly the space opera/cosmic stuff, which they had transformed into their own little corner of Marvel’s line.

Clark draws Stan Lee’s The Traveler for Boom Studios and sections of Brightest Day, and has plenty of other credits as well, including parts of Cry For Justice (Uh oh!), a Cable series and an Alpha Flight series.
Covers: Eddy Nunez and Sandra Hope
Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Eddy Nunez
Another Abnett and Lanning scripted book, apparently tying closely into their Wonder Woman mini (the tease reads, “She is ready to reveal the Amazons’ secret!”).

Not quite sure to make of this from the cover (above, at the top of the post); I recognize The Demon, and feel I should have some idea about the other characters, but I don’t—Maybe the dude on the box is Hellgrammite?

Nice to see Lois Lane fully dressed for once, though.

I can’t find any information on an “Eddy Nunez”, who the cover is credited to, but I imagine that’s just a misspelling of “Eddie Nuñez,” who is credited with the art. Nunez seems to be another person who worked with Jim Lee; you can see some of his stuff here.

He really, really likes to draw breasts. The artwork all looked pretty nice, but it can be difficult to tell how good at sequential art someone is based only on pin-ups and single images. Still, he can certainly design and draw.
Covers: Felipe Massafera
Writer: Adam Schlagman
Art: Felipe Massafera
Note that Abin Sur looks much more like movie Abin Sur than comic book Abin Sur on Massafera’s cover.

This is another one by editor Schlagman, who is writing the Hal Jordan mini and is co-writing one of the upcoming GL movie prequels.

I’m not terribly familiar with Massafera’s work, although his tag at The Source indicates that he’s mainly just been doing variant covers for DC so far; he also did the covers for Superman: Last Family of Krypton and JLA/99 (both of which I initially thought were by Alex Ross, at first glance). Here’s a blog attached to his name, although some of it’s in Portuguese, and here’s his Deviant Art gallery. Great static cover images, although I’m not sure I’d like to see the style in panels for pages and pages.
Covers: Kevin Nowlan
Writer: James Robinson
Art: Javi Fernandez
My first guess as to this character would be long-time member of The Outsiders Metamorpho, but, if so, the glimpse of his wrists we see shouldn’t both be the same color (although it is an altered reality…)

Of course, given writer James Robinson’s love of relatively obscure DC Comics characters and history, there’s always the possibility that the title character is something a little more insane, like this:At any rate, Robinson’s about as established a comics writer as you could ask for. I can’t find anything on Javi Fernandez, after an exhaustive three minutes of Internet searching. Whatever the insides look like, they won’t look quite like Kevin Nowlan’s cover.
Covers: George Perez
Writer Peter Milligan
Art: George Perez and Scott Koblish
Based on the cover and the title and the vague tease, this is a hard one to even guess about the contents of—the title sounds like it could be referring to either the Secret Six or the Seven Soldiers of Victory or both or neither. There are only two characters on the cover. One is The Enchantress, and the other is Shade, The Changing Man, who here looks like the Vertigo version of the character, although manifesting his powers more like the DCU version.

I don’t suppose all that matters much though. The important thing is that this is by Peter Milligan and George Perez, one of the most high-profile teams on any of these books, and an interesting combination—two creators known for particular works with other co-creators, but not for working together.


I believe that does it for the miniseries, but then there are four one-shots, as well.
Cover: Francis Manapul
Writer: Sean Ryan
Art: Ig Guara
Sean Ryan is another DC editor. This event is giving new meaning to the phrase “editorial-driven content.”

Guara’s probably best known at this point for his excellent work on Marvel’s various Pet Avengers books, where he’s demonstrated remarkable facility when it comes to drawing realistic but expressive and comic book-y animals. A good choice for a book starring a talking gorilla, then.

Cover: Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes
Writer: Scott Kolins
Art: Joel Gomez
This one’s by previously discussed artist turned writer/artist not apparently turned writer Scott Kolins, who is also handling the event’s Citizen Cold series.

I cant’ recall ever reading a Gomez comic, but he apparently worked for WildStorm. You can see some of his images, including a Reverse Flash and some sample interiors, at his Deviant Art page.
Cover: Viktor Kalvachev
Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote
Art: Mark Castiello
I think it’s safe to assume that Mr. Pichetshot was not born in America, as that would be a rough first name to go through school with. Let’s see what the Internet has on him….

Oh. He is, of course, an editor. But here’s a twist! He’s a Vertigo editor!
Cover: Rags Morales
Writer: Mike Carlin
Art: Rags Morales
Finally, here are some very familiar names. Well, in the credits, anyway. Carlin is a long-time DC editor, probably best known for his stint running the Superman office. Artist Rags Morales drew Identity Crisis, Hourman, Black Condor, Forgotten Realms and far too few issues of JSA, and is the best.

I have no idea who the title character is supposed to be—is he an alternate version of an existing hero or villain, or a brand-new character? The weirdness of his look and name, are intriguing, but Morales’ name seals the deal. This one’s definitely going on the pull-list.


So, in summary, we have 20 Flashpoint-branded projects.

That’s 52 individual, 20-page comics, for a price of $155.48, if you want to read all of them (Trust me, you’re not going to want to read all of them; who does that? Just follow the characters and creators you like).

The reason I started looking at these the Friday before though was to see if they offered a possible clue about the direction DC might be going when it came to new talent, given the recent changes in leadership and the fact that this event would comprise such a huge amount of the publisher’s output for at least half a year.

Of those 20 projects, here’s how the writing talent breaks down:

7 by well-established comics writers (Brian Azzarello, Jimmy Palmiotti, Tony Bedard, James Robinson, Peter Milligan, the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning team)

4 by up-and-coming comics writers (Adam Glass, JT Krul, Sterling Gates, and a Scott Snyder Lowell Francis collaboration)

6 by current DC editors or assistant editors (Adam Schlagman, Rex Ogle, Sean Ryan, Mike Carlin and Pornsak Pichetshote)

3 by established comics artists turned comics writers (Scott Kolins and Jeff Lemire; these two could just as easily be in the up-and-coming category as well, of course; this just seemed like a different route).

Only two of the writers seem to have come from other media (Snyder from prose, Glass from television), and all have some prior working relationship with DC.

Is it troubling that there are almost as many projects written by editors as there are written by well-established professional comics writers? I suppose that depends on how good the editors happen to be at writing, but it is certainly a noticeably strange phenomenon, and I can’t help but wonder if DC is moving towards writer/editors, instead of having the two positions going to two entirely different people.

I can’t break down the artists so effectively, as I’m much less familiar with them. In general though, Risso, Ha, Perez, Kolins and Morales seem like the only ones with well-established careers and a great deal of name recognition, with some up-and-comers like Ardian Syaf in there as well. A lot of the artistic talent seems to be coming from WildStorm.

Also of note is this fact, brought to my attention by a link from Dispatches from the Fridge, of the 47 creators on the 16 main miniseries, only a single one of them is a female—Sandra Hope, who inks a cover (All of the folks involved with the four one-shots are dudes, too).

That’s kind of weird. I know DC has female editors too…


Andrei said...

Gene Ha was the artist for Top 10, one of the best comics ever. But you already knew that and were being sarcastic, right?

SallyP said...

I'm certainly not going to be getting each and every one of these books...but I can't help but feel that it isn't actually a BAD thing to have some new talent working on them. Having a bunch of short stories, or a mini-series, or a series of mini-series tied together in an event seems like a good way to try out some new talent, and see what they can produce.

It should be interesting, that's for sure.

Dru said...

Wow. Look through the comments for The Outsider, and it gives you a clue from Batman's history as to the character's identity (spoiler alert? I guess?)

Dara said...

Pornsak Pichetshote isn't just a Vertigo editor, he's a well-respected Vertigo editor with a number of high-profile projects under his belt, including bringing in Mike Carey's critically acclaimed The Unwritten to the imprint.

Unfortunately, he was laid off back in September, along with fellow Vertigo editors Joan Hilty and Jonathan Vankin. Which makes his writing assignment on this one-shot rather...odd.

rjt said...

I don't know if it's accurate to label Lemire a comics artist turned writer. He's been writing comics just as long as he's been drawing them. In fact, he's written more comics than he's drawn.

Caleb said...

Gene Ha was the artist for Top 10

That's certainly part of why I called him one of the highest-profile artists working on one of these..

...but I can't help but feel that it isn't actually a BAD thing to have some new talent working on them. Having a bunch of short stories, or a mini-series, or a series of mini-series tied together in an event seems like a good way to try out some new talent, and see what they can produce.

Oh, I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing at all, I just think it's strange that so many of these are coming from editors. Like, when looking for new writing talent, the editors at DC looked at...each other? I guess?

I'd probably be pissed if I were a professional freelance comic book writer who could use some Flashpoint cash, though...

Wow. Look through the comments for The Outsider, and it gives you a clue from Batman's history as to the character's identity (spoiler alert? I guess?

Ha! I totally meant to post an image of the '60s Outsider, I even left a colon to set it off, and then I never uploaded the image. But yeah, I just did that. There's an old Batman foe called The Outsider, and his secret identity is shocking/silly.

Unfortunately, he was laid off back in September, along with fellow Vertigo editors Joan Hilty and Jonathan Vankin. Which makes his writing assignment on this one-shot rather...odd.

Yeah, "odd" is right.

I don't know if it's accurate to label Lemire a comics artist turned writer. He's been writing comics just as long as he's been drawing them.

Yes. I went with "artist," but I guess technically he got his start as a "writer/artist" or "cartoonist," and thus his writing on Atom or Superboy cartoons isn't quite the same as if, say, Mark Bagley scripted a Justice League comic that someone else drew.

For my purposes here, I was simply looking at the sources that DC went to for finding new talent, and Lemire wasn't just a comics writer, he was a comics writer/artist or cartoonist, which I chose to refer to as an artist.

My point was that he was a newish writer who got his foot in DC's door by being an artist as well as a writer.

Joel said...

I'm concerned by the continual blurring of the line between writer and editor at DC. They're totally different skills, and it's just leading to situations where the high-profile people have no oversight or restrictions. Which is one of the many things that leads to bad writing, not to mention the gradual devaluation of the status of artists at DC that we've been seeing for a few years now.