The Russ Manning Awards Draw Closer. Here’s a quick rundown of nominee Craig Cernak
A couple months back, Dynamite starting publishing new adventures of two classic pulp magazine heroes: The Shadow and The Spider. Both characters have seen comic adaptions over the years, particularly The Shadow. With a couple month elapsed, its time to step back and see how these characters that predate comic book superheroes (and influenced the creation of Batman) are holding up.
By Todd Allen
–I learned something new today. Remember how Watchmen started out as a treatment for the Charlton characters DC had purchased? Come to find out out, DC didn’t purchase the rights to all the Charlton characters and Dynamite now has the rights to Peter Cannon/Thunderbolt. As in, the prototype for Watchmen’s Ozymandias.
There are some comics that really should have digital editions. American Flagg! is a 15 minutes into the future classic of dystopian (not _quite_ cyberpunk) science fiction that put Howard Chaykin into the spotlight with First Comics in the early 1980s. A political satire featuring military industrial complex taking over, government regulation of cable television, the outlawing of sports (leading to an underground basketball league), subliminal messages, a talking cat,some Nazis, and a fair amount of sex, Flagg! is a hugely influential book.
Thun’da is a bit of an oddity from the tail end of the golden age (1952). On the surface, it’s a variation on the Tarzan mythos, with a bit of a cold war spin. It only ran for six issues. On the other hand, the first issue was one of legendary painter/illustrator Frank Frazetta’s comic projects. It also was tapped for a movie serial starring Buster Crabbe. According to comics.org, Gardner Fox was the scripter on the first issue, adding a little most historical flavor to it.
Dynamite has landed a new comics license in Pathfinder. Pathfinder, if you’re not current on role-playing games, is a sort of spin-off of Dungeons & Dragons. Essentially, the D&D 3.5 rule set is available for licensing via a “Game System License” and Pathfinder jumps off from that point. Tor talks about Pathfinder as being like D&D “3.75″ and an alternative to the latest rule revisions to the mother ship.
You’ll recall that a few weeks ago, the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs sued Dynamite over their ongoing lines of Tarzan and John Carter comics. Although the earliest works in each series are in the public domain, ERB, Inc. sued on the basis of trademark infringement, claiming that Dynamite’s Lord of the Jungle was infringing their trademark for “TARZAN LORD OF THE JUNGLE” and so on. Well, Dynamite has responded, and it’s pretty much a blanket denial, as you can see above. Dynamite’s defense is pretty simple: the books are in the public domain, and ERB, Inc., doesn’t have a trademark to infringe. For instance, ERB didn’t file a trademark claim for Lord of the Jungle until March, 2012, although a shadowy company called ETT Corp. had filed one a few years earlier.
Vampirella wasn’t the only reoccurring character from the old Warren comic magazines. One of the supporting characters in Vampirella was the shape shifting Pantha. In June, Pantha will be spinning off into her own book, written by Brandon Jerwa (G.I. Joe, the Shield) and illustrated by Pow Rodrix (Justice League).
Uh, uh, looks like maybe Dynamite should have entitled its Barsoomian comics “Master of the Male Wedgie” and not Dejah Thoris and so on, because ERB, Inc., the family-owned corporation which controls existing trademarks to the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate, is suing Dynamite, Dynamic Forces, and Savage Tales Entertainment for trademark infringement and unfair competition over Dynamite’s publication of books entitled “Lord of the Jungle,” “Warlord of Mars,” “Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris”, and “Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom” based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs originals.
With The Shadow already scheduled Dynamite is now scheduling their second pulp adaptation, The Spider. The Spider was effectively The Shadow’s nastier little brother. Originally created to tap into the popularity of the Shadow’s pulp magazine, The Spider amped up the Shadow’s format: more violent, more lurid, wider-ranging schemes from the villains, more outright “weirdness” in the “Weird Tales” sense of “weird.” The other major difference was that The Spider had a more streamlined backstory: only one identity and a much smaller circle of sidekicks/assistance.
Army of Darkness (as in Evil Dead) returns to the world of comics today with a new first issue. We caught up with Army of Darkness writer Elliott Serrano (who likes to pretend he’s a mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper as the “Geek To Me” columnist at the Chicago Tribune’s Redeye) to talk about Ash, Bruce Campbell and the new series.