Comics were in the news in recent weeks when Marvel announced that X-Man Northstar will marry his longtime gay lover this summer in a big public ceremony. He pops the question in “Astonishing X-Men” No. 50.
Not to be outdone (and I’m not sure which came first), DC said one of its characters would be reintroduced as a gay man. I’m betting it will be Captain Marvel.
I worry when comics companies start following trends or go for publicity gimmicks, like the recent Superman story revealing that the Superman of another Earth is a thinly disguised Barack Obama.
Sure, it makes headlines and makes some people look up from their cornflakes and say, “Huh, how about that?”
But how does it help comics? Does the average non-comic-book reader rush out to buy the book? Nope. It’s just a stunt. I’d rather see more attention paid to good writing.
The gay announcements are hardly news. Northstar came out in 1992. DC introduced a lesbian Batwoman several years ago, and there are dozens of gay characters from both companies. Great, now can we get on with writing good stories for them?
There are no more, or very few, “shock” barriers left to be broken in comics. Jim Shooter broke the incest barrier in Valiant Comics with the amazing “Unity” story line in 1994.
Everything found in real life can be found in comics. Births, deaths, weddings, divorces, AIDS, addiction, bizarre sexual proclivities — it’s all been done.
A “shocking” development is fine for the short run but does not make a good comic book. That’s a lot harder and requires the writer to have something to say besides “Gotcha.”
Now, eat your piece of Northstar wedding cake and let’s get back to, ahem, reality.
The legendary Schreck
Bob Schreck’s work in the comic-book world has always been legendary. Now the claim can be taken literally.
Schreck has become editor in chief of Legendary Comics, a subsidiary of Legendary Entertainment, which has produced some of the biggest films of the last seven years, including the “Dark Knight” Batman series.
Founder Thomas Toll, a huge comic-book fan, tapped Schreck when he decided he wanted to get into the comics business.
Schreck started out in the comics business in my old hometown, Norristown, Pa., as director of Comico Comics in the 1980s, and he bounced around the biz until becoming an editor at DC. He was unceremoniously dismissed in 2009.
Toll was smart enough to see what DC didn’t and hired Schreck to direct a line of graphic novels.
The first was “The Holy Terror,” released late last year. It’s a hardcover Frank Miller work originally written as a Batman graphic novel. It was a great way to come out of the gate.
“Thomas Toll called me and said that everyone is trying to find the next comic to become a big movie, but he wanted to produce great comics,” Schreck said at the recent C2E2 convention in Chicago. “He said if it becomes a film, fine. But he wanted to start with a great comic. That’s all I needed to hear.”
“The Tower Chronicles” is a 72-page edition with art by Simon Bisley and a cover by Jim Lee. It comes out in September and has gotten a lot of buzz already.
“Quick version, it’s about a supernatural bounty hunter,” Schreck said. “But what makes him a stand-up guy is his back story. By the end of the first book readers will learn his tragic history, and that’s what will make readers empathize with him.”
Schreck said he is working with other big names and that more Legendary projects will be announced within a few months.
Comic con Sunday
The Lake Effect Comic Con at Atlas Cinemas Great Lakes Stadium 16, 7860 Mentor Ave., Mentor, is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
It includes great guests, including artist Frank Cho, Archie Comics writer Craig Boldman, the amazing Mike Gustovich (Marvel, DC), Marvel writer Marc Sumerak and others. Admission is free; there will be prizes. Call 440-255-4242.