It's a rough time to be a fan of DC's comics. The publisher has made so many problematic moves in the past couple of years that the brand is now as strongly associated with disgruntled talent and unhappy readers as it is with iconic characters like Superman and Batman.
In the wake of the inauspicious departure of the Batwoman creative team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, I intended to write something about DC's editorial troubles. I got as far into the opening paragraph as noting, "I have to write quickly because there'll be another fiasco along any minute," before another fiasco came along - the Harley Quinn try-out controversy.
At this stage, talking about any individual incident at DC as a blip seems too narrow. A good week is now a blip for DC. The company has profound problems, and the question we have to ask is, can it be fixed?
But then people took notice of one of the panels, which depicts Quinn naked in a bathtub, readying herself to pull a string that would dump plugged-in toasters, blow dryers and other electronics in the water. Anti-suicide groups including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Psychiatric Association and National Alliance on Mental Illness felt DC was making light of suicide. Others called it exploitative. Now, DC is officially addressing those criticisms.
Q: Does Arkham have any success stories and if not, how does it continue to get funding? -- @TheMikeLawrence
A: I'll be honest with you, Mike: If you look at it logically, Arkham Asylum is a genuinely terrible mental hospital. Heck, even if you just look at it by the standards of comic book penal institutions, which only exist so that crooks can escape from them and occasionally provide something for Hank Pym to do in his spare time so he's not just some weird due who stares at an ant farm all day, Arkham is just the worst.
But really, it's not so much what Arkham has done that keeps it around, as what it has the potential to do.
According to a DC press release, signed by co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, the company's holding an open talent search for someone to draw one page of the issue, which is scheduled for release November 6.
Launched in 2005 by what was then called DC Direct, the Batman: Black & White statue series is DC Collectibles’ three-dimensional spinoff of the hugely acclaimed, Eisner-winning 1990s comic book anthology edited by Mark Chiarello that invited some of the world’s best and most idiosyncratic artists to express their own uninhibited visions of the enduringly popular and graphically compelling Dark Knight. Like the original book, the Black & White statue line has become a favorite among collectors and illustration enthusiasts for its high quality craftsmanship and impeccable taste in collaborators. Some of the artists who’ve designed for the Black & White series include Paul Pope, Simon Bisley, Eduardo Risso, Mike Mignola, Steve Rude, Alex Ross, Frank Miller, Matt Wagner, Neal Adams, Bruce Timm, Cliff Chiang, Darwyn Cooke, Frank Quietly... the list is very long and almost embarrassingly auspicious.
Having collected numerous DC and Warner Bros. Animation-related statues from the days when they were still licensed out to sculptors like Randy Bowen, the artists of Graffiti Designs and the talents at the much missed Warner Bros. Studio Store, I’m obviously a great admirer of the work of DC Collectibles. There’s something very hard to describe about how a great statue or other three-dimensional representation of your favorite hero can express their true, well, awesomeness in a way that’s utterly distinct from line art or even film or animation. It’s arguable that no collectibles line possesses this power in greater quantities than Batman: Black & White, as the line’s success with fans and creative professionals continues to demonstrate as it releases its fiftieth statue this week, designed by longtime ComicsAlliance favorite Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus, The Wake).
To celebrate the occasion (which also syncs up nicely with the long-awaited return of Chiarello’s beloved anthology, for which a photograph of Murphy’s statue will serve as a variant cover), we connected with DC Collectibles VP - Creative Services Kevin Kiniry and Design Director Jim Fletcher to talk about the history of Batman: Black & White, the possibility of a Black & White villains spinoff, and why so many comic book artists consider working on the line a “badge of honor.”
It probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that Batman '66 is hands down my pick for the best digital comic going today, but it's always worth repeating. It's the highlight of each and every comics week, and while I've personally been waiting decades for a new story about Egghead, Jeff Parker and Joe Quinones have spent the latest issue bringing in a character who may -- may -- have more appeal to modern audiences.
In this week's Batman '66 #7, they've introduced the 1966 version of Harley Quinn -- or at least, someone who'svery close.
Harley Quinn has gotten a considerable amount of face time in the New 52 as the most-recognizable member of the Suicide Squad, but one title simply couldn't contain her. So she'll be getting her own book later this year, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, the wife-and-husband team who previously collaborated on 2009's Power Girl series. Conner will be handling art duties for the covers, with a not-yet-named artist on interiors.
If you were worried DC Collectibles had already shown its hand earlier this month with the reveal of its upcoming New 52 Swamp Thing and Supervillains series Deathstroke action figures, today's full September solicitations release ought to put the toy and statue segment of your mind at ease.
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