DC_Rebirth

0:00-48:32: Very quick greetings so we can move right to talking about the rumors of the June DC relaunch, the news of which literally broke the day after we last recorded.  Graeme has written about it on the website but he is kind enough to bring us all up to speed about what’s going on, giving Jeff plenty of time to do nothing by speculate mindlessly. Also discussed: worries about DC’s leadership; the near-total failure of the DC You; theories about the Tumblr crowd and comics (SPOILERS: Jeff sounds like a nerdier Norman Schwartzkopf by repeatedly using the phrase “force of engagement” a lot]; is Rebirth pivoting toward Batman Vs. Superman, or is it pivoting toward Suicide Squad; the different reactions of creators leaving DC as opposed to leaving Marvel; and more.
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48:32-1:01:58: A lot of retailers appear to be saying that All-New, All-Different Marvel is selling badly, with one book, Black Knight, already being announced as cancelled with four other books selling lower than it. Also discussed: seasons as opposed to series, and how long those seasons should be; where the bump in Image’s marketshare came from; and more.
scooby-doo-jim-lee-600x9101:01:58-1:13:30:  And another bit of surprising news coming from DC: the revamp of some Hanna-Barbera properties by DC talent, such as Scooby Apocalypse co-written by Jim Lee and Keith Giffen; Future Quest by Jeff Parker and Evan “Doc” Shaner (woo!); Wacky Raceland featuring re-designs by Mark Sexton of Mad Max: Fury Road fame; and The Flinstones with redesigns by Amanda Conner and scripts by Mark Russell of Prez.  Discussed: Keith Giffen doing Scooby Doo?; whether inspiration came from Marvel and Star Wars or Archie and Afterlife With Archie; and more.
Harry Potter comic

                            This excellent comic yoinked from http://floccinaucinihilipilificationa.tumblr.com/image/101960092787

1:13:30-1:23:45: Jeff read 16 comics before the podcast, only four of which were superhero books…arguably, five if you factor in Scooby-Doo Team-Up which featured Aquaman (and us being us, we do argue about it, a little).  And this somehow segues off Jeff’s point to talk about the third issue of Sheriff of Babylon and the fourth issue of The Vision, both written by Tom King (art by Mitch Gerads on the former and art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta); as well as wondering where the Harry Potter comics are, and why there might be more Sandman mythos comics overseen by Neil Gaiman; and more..
Enigma That page
1:23:45-1:47:01: Speaking of Neil Gaiman, Graeme has looked at the Marvel books that are selling less than Black Knight, and one of those books is Neil Gaiman’s little-seen Miracleman material with Mark Buckingham.  Why is this material selling around 15,000 copies?  Does it have to do with the way Marvel packaged the material?  With Gaiman’s fans and their responses to what looks like more straightforward superhero work?  Discussed: 1602, which Kubert did the art for 1602, Richard Isanove and digital painting, and the standard of digital painting today, Steve Oliff’s colors of Marvel’s Akira reprints, and the miracle that is, was and will be Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh’s colors on Milligan and Fegredo’s Enigma, Milligan and McCarthy’s Sooner or Later, before moving back into Gaiman’s Miracleman material and more.
Miracleman Golden Age
1:47:01-1:58:07: “Okay, so here’s a question,” sez Graeme to Jeff.  “And talking to you as someone who (a) loves the classics, and (b) loves Alan Moore…is there really a next chapter after where Alan Moore left [Miracleman]?”  And Jeff…well, Jeff has an answer for that.  It’s an answer that involves a trip to Road-Not-Taken-ville, with a lengthy amount of time in Almost-Forgotten-Pitch-Town, but we hope it’ll be worth your time.
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1:58:07-2:11:53:  And that should be where we end things, since we are right on the cusp of two hours, but a quick opportunity for us to give quick picks of the week—Sheriff of Babylon and The Vision, High School Debut—leads to a long talk about Black Magick by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott.  Discussed:  emphasis in comic books, televisionetic comic books, Rucka and his plotting; and more.
2:11:53-end: Closing comments with one more slight digression about our appearances in letter columns and comic books (inspired by Matt Terl’s awesome column from a few weeks ago)! Look for us on  Stitcher!Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr!
Our special thanks to the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios for their continuing support of this podcast, as well as our continuing special thanks to the Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy…and to all 115 of our supporters on Patreon who make all this possible.
NEXT WEEK:  Baxter Building Ep. 14!  The Fantastic Four without Kirby begins to find a focus again! Read up on issues #111-118 and join us!
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23 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 194: Fallow Fellows

  1. Jeff Lester Feb 8, 2016

    And if you need that sweet, sweet context-free link:

    http://theworkingdraft.com/media/podcasts/WaitWhat194.mp3

    enjoy!

  2. I came from Twitter hoping you would be talking about Masamune’s Black Magic. Looking through the shownotes made me sad :(.

    • Jeff Lester Feb 8, 2016

      Shoot, sorry about that! Better you found out now than after listening to us blab for two-plus hours, I guess. 🙂

  3. I’m posting this before listening, so apologies if this is answered by Graeme:

    “(Jeff is)… wondering where the Harry Potter comics are”

    A Harry Potter comic is unlikely to ever happen because of the contracts JK Rowling has regarding the text to her work. I work in the licensing industry, and roughly 12 years ago I was working in an office preparing a Harry Potter colouring book, using existing line art from the movie style guide. We wanted to run lines from the book under each illustration (simply a sentence to give the illustrations context) and were told an emphatic “no” from the licensor. It transpired that JK Rowling’s contract states that the book has to be printed in its entirety if any part of it is reprinted. Hence the reason there isn’t an abridged audiobook for any of her novels.

    Now, this may have changed, but in all honesty its very unlikely to: it’s not as if JK Rowling needs the money. About the only thing that I think could alter things would be if the proceeds from any comic went to charity (after all, that’s what happened to her two Potter spin off books she wrote) but even then, I think JK Rowling would prefer them to remain in the state they’re currently in. As the recent furore regarding Hermione’s skin colour, much of the inclusivity of the books relies on the reader’s imagination.

    I have to say I admire the hell out of her for being able to exercise that level of creative control, which is also why the satire of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen :2009 fell decidedly flat for me: the creation where the author has most control over is the villain and defeated by another creation that was bastardised by Disney of all people.
    Unless Alan Moore was jealous that he’s never been able to command that level himself, of course.

    • bad wolf Feb 10, 2016

      Interesting insight (and so jealous at the very idea of having a Harry Potter movie style guide)! The thing I (and possibly others) was hoping for would be new books/characters based in the Wizarding world, not just graphic novel versions of the original books (although that does seem like a gimme, with the choice of doing movie-based or GranPre-based illustration–or both?).

      Given the moves with live plays and new movies the comics idea seems not as crazy as before, but admittedly still pretty distant. By analogy to the Star Wars franchise, though, much more success would be had by keeping as close as possible to the original characters, and that may definitely be a harder sell to Rowling.

  4. Kris(not Chris) Feb 8, 2016

    It can’t possibly have taken this long for Graeme to realize he was Jeff’s wife, right? Lol in all seriousness though, congrats.

  5. Jensen Feb 8, 2016

    Great show as always.

    You guys have mentioned the “alienating new Marvel readers” thing a few times now, but don’t most if not all of the examples you’re giving also apply to preexisting readers as well? If we’re trying to figure out why sales decreased, well, there were a heck of a lot more preexisting readers, and the Marvel universe and its publishing practices have never seemed less familiar. I think for many readers, young and old, new and preexisting, all of the rebooting and rebranding has reached such a Peak New level that nothing seems reliable or recognizable. For two years we had something called “New Avengers (vol. 3)” which really should have been called The Illuminati. Now we have another New Avengers title that looks nothing like any of the previous incarnations. Ditto with that new book they’re calling “The Ultimates” even though it isn’t. No one knows the status quo of anything. I’m five issues into Waid’s Avengers title and am just now discovering whether this troop of characters is the, err, new Avengers and why the old ones aren’t around anymore. They intentionally withhold “what Cyclops did” for no reason. X-23 is now called Wolverine, and readers are shamed for not calling her Wolverine even though Logan is (sort of) alive (again). It’s all freaking mixed up and weird. And on one level I think the problem isn’t even that so many things have changed so fast, but that there’s a sense that the current status quo is probably just going to disappear again soon, maybe even before it seems like a stable status quo. Sam Wilson is Captain America? Just when people are getting used to that, Nick Spencer turns him into a werewolf for four months and then readers hear that Steve Rogers is coming back. It’s a total mess and there are reader concerns upon reader concerns and insecurities of all sorts on every level. I personally am still reading a lot of Marvel stuff and enjoying it almost as much as I was a few years ago. But I can certainly understand if most other readers are having a hard time with it. You don’t have to be a teenager fresh out of the theater of a Marvel movie to be confused about what’s going on.

    • Bruce Baugh Feb 9, 2016

      Whoo boy. Yeah. Among other things, the constant recycling of titles can make it really hard to search for issues that’ve been recommended to you.

  6. Congratulations Jeff !

    Picked up High School Debut from the library based on your recommendation (maybe too strong a word) and my wife read it with increduilty that quickly turned to hate (while still managing to make it to vol 4 somehow).

    My 10 year old daughter picked it up, mimicking my wife’s disdain despite being too young to understand and commit to a true hate read ( I hope). She’s starting on vol 3 now…

    Obviously hits that much sought after 40 something year old men/10 year old girl crossover demographic!

  7. Rob G. Feb 8, 2016

    Graeme said that DCYou is the reboot that everyone wanted but no one bought and that DC was doing interesting things with interesting creative teams. Why didn’t anyone buy these books? You listed a number of reasons/excuses, however, there was one important thing that you forgot to mention about the failure of DCYou and maybe the most significant: the lack of interesting characters. For me, and I suspect this is true for most people, the main character is often the primary draw when purchasing a book. What/who exactly is the demographic for Bizarro, or Bat-Mite? Dr. Fate, Black Canary, Martian Manhunter, Midnighter, and Starfire? These are the books that everyone was clamoring for? Really, you think so? They are are all third tier, uninteresting characters who never could carry their own books in the past. They’re “D listers” for a reason. Those books were doomed to fail before they even hit the printing press. I don’t care how interesting the creative teams are and how innovative the stories may be or how well written or drawn they are. If I’m not interested in the main character(s), I’m not even going to give the book a close look. (However, I did pick up issue number 1 of both Bizarro and Omega Men on your recommendations. Bizarro was indeed novel and unique and well drawn, but in the end, did I want to read an ongoing Bizarro series? The answer shouldn’t surprise anyone. No, I did not. Omega Men (at least the first issue) I found to be a confusing and a poorly drawn mess. I was not the least interested in the premise or the characters. This is something I might have liked when I was 15 years old. I can see why it’s facing cancellation.)

    The other problem is clearly marketing. You mentioned a huge major media push and a huge digital and social media marketing presence. I’m on a number of social media websites (Twitter, tumbler and Instagram to name a few) and subscribe to many periodicals and follow the Huntington Post and other media sites, etc. and saw absolutely nothing about the DCYou. Zero. I saw a free sampler at the comic book store and that was it. For me, that sampler was more of a warning to stay away. Batman starring Commissioner Gordon in a Robo-Cop suit with bunny ears? WTF? Look, I just want to read a Batman comic that’s actually got Batman in it. Where the fuck is Batman? Just not interested in reading about Bruce Wayne with amnesia. Also not the least bit interested in three Justice League books, especially when two of them are not in continuity. Prez and Gotham Academy and several others are clearly geared toward a teenage demographic. That’s not me. Anyhow, you stated that the marketing push was towards gaining young new readers, whom you labeled “second wave” readers or the “Tumblr crowd.” Do you really think that crowd wants to read about or even know who Bizarro and Bat-Mite are? Dr. Fate? Whatever Doomed is? I don’t think so. Didn’t DC do any marketing research on these books?

    Clearly this is not the reboot everyone wanted, And if the take away for DC is “we gave them what they wanted and they didn’t buy it,” DC should ask itself if people were really asking for more stories about Dr. Fate and Martian Manhunter.

    I’m kinda curious: How many of the new DCYou series did you guys buy and follow on a regular basis? You didn’t discuss that. Maybe that right there will answer your questions as to why DCYou was a failure.

    And congrats to Jeff on that promotion to whatever position he was promoted to.

    • Murray Feb 9, 2016

      I’ll take a second or third string character over a Superman/Batman/Green Lantern every single time. Easily. No contest.
      Who wants to read about Doctor Fate? Me.
      Who wants to read about Black Canary? Me. Put her in a band and give it a Hopeless Savages vibe and I’ll buy two every month.
      A romance/slice of life comic. Sold. Throw Starfire in it and you’ve made it even easier for me to pick it up.
      Bizarro? Probably not. But I bought the first issue and continued with every issue afterwards because it was charming and inventive.
      Are these characters going to be for everyone? Probably not. And they’re probably not going to be top of the charts. But I’m sure glad DC put them out there. I only wish they’d been able to last a little longer.

  8. TS Moreau Feb 8, 2016

    Just wanted to drop in to say this was my favorite episode in a while and that the best bit for me was the brief discussion of art in Enigma. Attempts to trace down which elements started where and why and how they transformed are my favorite. It’s those little decisions, unconscious or mulled over for hours, that make things special and worth looking into.

    I also love how deep Jeff’s comics’ connection bench goes. “I went to college with the guy who edited Miracleman. Got him into comics too. Oh, and I almost wrote Miracleman.” I mean seriously, Graeme’s mind was not the only one blown by that. Motherfuck christ. It’s like the time my dad told me that he’d smoked weed with Victor Moscoso in Marin county in the 70’s. Moral of the stories? The world’s a weird place and old hippies from the Bay Area CAN be awesome.

    And thanks guys, that digressive bullshit is precisely what I come here for 🙂

  9. TS Moreau Feb 8, 2016

    Oh my god I just got there and the last five or six minutes of this podcast are GOLD.

    Congratulations Jeff!

  10. Brendan Feb 9, 2016

    Congratulations Jeff, and good ‘sode to you both!

    There is a dire lull in the focus of DC and Marvel, and they are both publishers known for being unfocused messes. It’s ironic that that’s a problem now because navigating the mess is what was fun in the first place. I think they should try starting new titles at a considerably slower rate than they are cancelled. Maybe then, they could have 30 titles that stay above water and about 10 that are given a chance, even if they underperform. It’s easier to see 10 floundering titles through a couple story arcs than 15 or 20 right? Just an idea, anyway…

    The tumblr crowd may not know what it wants but at least we know how to run the entire industry down here in the comments at waitwhatpodcast.com!

  11. Matt Terl Feb 9, 2016

    This was a really fun episode, gents. Few things:

    1) Jeff, Hologram Me had nothing further to add to the sports metaphor. You kicked that ball right through the uprights and into the basket-net.

    2) I think another part of the reason Cap: Civil War may be tracking badly is because of Marvel’s own previous success. Specifically, I think people LIKE both Downey’s Stark and Evans’ Cap and aren’t necessarily excited to see them fight. (My wife would be one anecdotal support for this–she’s a big fan of Downey in those movies and is lukewarm on the idea of seeing Cap bash his shield against Downey’s head for two hours.)

    3) Similarly, I think part of the reason for the lack of success of the Gaiman “Golden Age” stuff is that it’s ALWAYS been dry. Those six issues feel like Gaiman finding his feet on the book by basically spending each issue expanding the idea behind one throwaway line from Moore (kind of like the first six issues of Sandman, actually). For me, the explication did little to excite me more than the basic ideas did. But I was really enjoying the Silver Age, and thought it was doing something potentially interesting; it’ll be interesting to see what Gaiman at 55 (after massive career success, a divorce, a new baby, etc.) does with (or to) the ideas he started when he was 34 and just beginning to become huge.

    4) Congrats, Jeff. Great job [doing a thing] so well that you now [get to do that thing even moreso, likely with other thing-doers reporting to you]! Very proud.

  12. Before I listened to the episode, I decided to start a drinking game where I drink every time Jeff says “I could be wrong.” I’m currently dying of alcohol poisoning.

    Hopefully my next of kin will forget to cancel Patreon.

    (Also, congratulations,)

  13. Walter Feb 10, 2016

    I am legit shocked that anyone could dislike the art in Lazarus. It’s really the selling point of the book for me. Having said that, it is moving very slowly.

  14. Kevin Feb 11, 2016

    Congratulations Jeff! And I echo the sentiments earlier: this was one of the best episodes in a while, aside from the moment where I was like “Gee, I’ve been enjoying Black Magick! Maybe … maybe I’m not a discerning reader! Maybe there’s something wrong with me!” The discussion about DC’s announcement was engaging and insightful. I’d like to hear more meaty, lengthy, in-depth discussions like this (not that Wait, What? isn’t already filled with substantial and enjoyable conversations).

  15. Tiny thought: It’s interesting how perceptions shift based around our social media timelines and general internet diets. From my vantage point, MIDNIGHTER has been the talk of the town, while I was frankly unaware that Angela still had a comic book coming out post-SECRET WARS. I’m not saying Graeme was wrong to suggest the reverse is true, just that I’m not sure we have very reliable metrics for such things.

  16. Alan Pursell Feb 11, 2016

    Congrats Jeff. I highly recommend reading Essential Defenders to the fetus. Worked great with my son.

  17. daustin Feb 15, 2016

    Anecdotally, I am the lapsed reader that was brought back into the store by the New 52 and within a year was buying mostly Image books. For 10 years before that, after dropping a massive habit, I only bought very occasional trades, mostly Marvel. To be fair, I was brought back in ever so slightly before the New 52 by the reboots of ‘Breed and Xombi, two old favorites that came back briefly. But the New 52 kept me past that with books like Frankenstein, Wonder Woman (never thought ‘d buy one of those), Animal Man and a few others. Now, three years later, I go to the store regularly, but the only DC books I’m picking up are the Tom King series (Grayson, Omega Men and Sheriff of Babylon), Secret Six, plus Batman when Comixology has a 99 cent sale, mostly for the art and colors. The second King goes, I go. Marvel I pretty much only read in Unlimited (aside from the Ms Marvel books I buy my daughter). The vast majority of what I buy in stores is Image, plus the occasional Boom/IDW, and indies like Copra and Lose (I’m much more catholic in my tastes on Comixology, where the buy-in is so cheap). So the lapsed reader that DC brought in, only to hand over to Image … I’m exhibit A.

  18. Dan Billings Feb 23, 2016

    A bit late but catching up on everything…Congratulations, Jeff! Really happy for you!

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