From the moment I read
Jim Shooter's script for DARK
DOMINION #0, I knew that the series was going to be something special.
Jim's story instantly sucked me into Michael Alexander's world, giving
me the same rush of excitement I felt on discovering Lee and Ditko's Spider-Man
back in the late 1960s. of course in 1968 I was seven years old, and my
mind wasn't clouded with adult sensibilities. As I grew older, I found
it increasingly difficult to lose myself in any
type of fiction,
especially in comic book stories that featured inhumanly muscled heroes
battling super-powered villains ad nauseum, with
the fighting taking
up about ninety-nine percent of an issue. The vast majority of these
tales also seemed incomplete , not even offering a linear beginning,
DOMINION, it's different: The
title's protagonist is a modestly dressed (i.e., no spandex or tights
sight)--man in his early fifties; the other characters populating the
are engagingly realistic; and the multitude of creepy crawlers lurking
in the Quantum Substratum are intriguing visual representations of the
spiritual demons that have haunted the collective id of humankind since
the beginning of time.
wait to read more--I was thrilled
to be involved with such a fascinating concept.
giving birth is a painful experience,
whether biologically or in the creation, metaphorically speaking, of a
new comic-book series.
Len Wein (the
cocreator of DC's Swamp
Thing and the new X-Men for Marvel) was
brought aboard to write
the continuing series, so I knew each issue would be well-crafted. But,
Steve Ditko, the original penciler (the same amazing artist who had
Spider-Man comics I loved as a kid!),
had decided that he wasn't
philosophically comfortable with the concept, and after delivering his
pages for issue #0, he told us that he'd decided not to continue with
The next few
weeks were spent hectically
trying to line up another penciler. We asked a few well-known artists,
but because of the books deadlines, we couldn't find anyone who could
it into his already-busy schedule. For a day or two, I thought I had
transported into Michael Alexander's universe: I was starting to feel
Spiders of Anxiety working their way up my spine. Then Deborah Purcell
urged Jim Shooter to consider the work of our Production Coordinator,
James, who was penciling the back of some of our DARK DOMINION #0
cards. The drawings were top notch: They were beautifully rendered and
captured the look of the series exactly as we had envisioned it. Joe
the challenge and immediately began penciling the stellar story you're
chores for the first issue were
shared by Bob Downs and Mike Barreiro, both of whom did a wonderful
Add to this
list the incredible painter
Tim Perkins, and I'm sure you'll agree we've managed to put together
of the best creative teams in comics!
Drop us a
line, and let us know what you
Commentary: No comments.
Unlike most of my
friends, I've never fantasized
about becoming a rock star or being involved in that kind of fast-paced
lifestyle--but when I attended Comicfest '93, I was sucked into a
rock concert-like scenario, and in that scenario, I was one of the key
members of the band!
approached the entrance to the Philadelphia
Civic Center on Saturday, October 10th, I spotted a never-ending line
eager fans, which started at the entrance, wrapped around the side of
building, and seemed to wind it's way back to the horizon. A sense of
saturated the crowd: People were holding stacks of comic books to be
and they searched the surrounding vicinity, hoping to spot a familiar
building, a task force of beefy
security guards made sure that everything was running smoothly. People
were ushered into the Civic Center in an orderly fashion, their badges
checked and double-checked as they headed towards the escalators
down to the convention's main hall.
My wife Karen,
and I checked in at the
professional's registration booth, then worked our way through the
throng. Karen couldn't believe the size of the crowd. When I'd invited
her to join me in Philadelphia, I knew it would be more exciting than
one-day comic book conventions she'd been exposed to before, but I
expecting a turnout of fans rivaling the San Diego ComicCon!
the sea of people i the main
hall, I quickly spotted the DEFIANT™ castle rising above the tops of
other vendors' displays. A line of signature seekers was already
it's way around both sides of our booth. Artist David Lapham, Alan
and Adam Polina and writer Jan Childress were already signing
As soon as I stepped into the booth, another line formed--a line of
artists who wanted their portfolios reviewed. Even though I was scheduled
to do this at 2:00 P.M.--it
was only 11:30 A.M.--I
decided to begin early to give everyone a chance. Taking a seat, I
to inspect portfolios, spending at least 10 (sometimes 15) minutes with
each person in an effort to give in-depth appraisals of the work. Four
hours flew by in what seemed to be like a few heartbeats;
we had to turn 20 or 30 people away. Yet, on the way back to the hotel,
some of those people followed us, and I ended up inspecting artwork as
I walked through the streets of Philadelphia!
day, when I checked in at
the DEFIANT booth to do another portfolio review, no one was waiting
me. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then Brady Darvin, DEFIANT's Sales
had a Comicfest employee make an announcement over the Civic Center's
system, and I was mobbed again. This time I had to leave early to
Jim Shooter's "How to Create Comics" seminar, and two people absolutely
refused to walk away until they showed me their penciling samples! I
obliged, then hurried to the third floor auditorium with
The room was
packed, and we were lucky
to get two seats together. Halfway through Jim's lecture, Clark Smith,
DEFIANT's Sales and Marketing Manager, pulled me aside and whispered
I had an important phone call back at the booth. Slipping out of the
I returned to our display area to take the call. Our Creative Director
Janet Jackson, was on the other end of the line. She had important news
for Jim and wanted me to give it to him before he left the building. It
sounded like a simple task, but getting back to Jim's lecture wasn't
team had blocked off the escalator.
They explained that they were afraid Jim was going to be mobbed after
seminar; six huge security guards were standing by to usher him into a
private elevator and get him out of the building safely. At first, they
weren't going to let me go back up to the auditorium, but after proving
that I was a member of the DEFIANT staff, they let me pass. Upstairs,
revealed the route Jim would take out of the Civic Center so that I'd
able to meet him along the way and relay Janet's message. I explained
Karen what I had to do and asked her to wait for me.
position just outside the auditorium,
I listened to the muffled sound of Jim's voice as he wrapped up his
doors to the auditorium exploded
open. Jim's students exited his seminar, and the empty hallway where
waited was now deluged with overzealous fans.
Jim spotted me
as as he was being maneuvered
through the swarming crowd by a phalanx of security guards. I made my
over to him, we shook hands, and he asked how I liked his lecture as
security team whisked us towards the elevator. Then an interviewer from
Amazing Heroes caught up with us (Jim
was scheduled to be interviewed
right after the seminar) just as I started to give Jim the message.
all of the words made it out of my mouth, a security guard directed Jim
and the security team into an elevator at the end of the hallway. The
also managed to squeeze into the tiny compartment, but there wasn't
room for anyone else. A crowd of fans (most of them waving to Jim)
me as the elevator doors closed between us. As I turned to
to the auditorium, one guy asked me if I was going to continue
Luckily I was
able to find my wife in the
crowd and to finally hook up with Jim in our hotel lobby half-an-hour
On the way
home from the convention, Karen
asked me how I felt about all the attention given the DEFIANT team. I
I couldn't believe what had happened.
creators (and sometimes comic
book editors!) are treated like royalty now. Like movie or rock'-n-roll
stars, they're worshipped by their fans, and some command big
in a way, but I hope all
this "star power" doesn't go to our collective heads. We need to
to produce good stories and art, and give back to our fans some of the
creative knowledge we've learned: There has to be a new generation of
artists, writers, and editors to carry on in our footsteps. That's
philosophy, too, and the credo of DEFIANT-- and quite frankly, I'm
to be a part of it.
Back in early December
of 1989, while I was struggling
as a freelance writer, I found myself with very little money right
the Christmas holiday. At one point (before I ended up having to borrow
some cash) I had only five bucks to my name. My refrigerator was empty
save for a few slices of lunch meat and a couple of eggs. There wasn't
anything but water to drink, and I knew my soon-to-be wife, Karen, was
really thirsty for a soda. With visions of dwindling dollars dancing in
my head, I decided to walk to the local deli and purchase a bottle of
I was sure --or at least kept trying to convince
luck would change, and we'd end up with enough money to buy one another
token Christmas gifts. For the moment, though, it was a leap of faith
to spring for that liter of cola.
Commentary: of course the market
is not that large now and many creators are quite
I slipped on
my jacket and headed towards
Joe's Market. As I neared the rear of the deli, I spotted a filthy old
man in tattered clothing rummaging through the store's garbage
I quickly recognized him as one of the handful of homeless people I'd
wandering around my hometown. Continuing up the alley, I rounded the
and entered the market.
On my way
back, the old man was still
behind the store, this time huddled next to the building eating scraps
of bread. I felt sorry for the poor old guy, but again passed him
stopping. As I continued to walk away, I couldn't shake the image of
devouring that bread, and wondered what his "meal" would consist of on
I caught site of three perfectly
sculpted wise men--a beautifully painted ceramic display in the window
of a tiny shop called The Christmas Corner. Moving up to the window, I
looked inside. Sunlight was hitting the glass in such a way that it
part of the shop's logo onto the roof of the manger centered in the
The word "Christ"--the first half of "Christmas"--was cast atop the
mahogany surface. Having been raised a Catholic, I was instantly
by guilt; I felt like someone "upstairs" was sending me an urgent
around and hurried back to the
homeless man. It looked like he thought I was insane, rushing up to him
as I did. I told him I wanted to buy him something good to eat, and
him into the deli, I ordered a triple-decker sandwich and a glass of
He was so happy, he thanked me over and over as he gobbled down the
On my way home, I began
to worry about how I
had just spent what was left of my five dollars. But the very next day,
I received a call from one of the comic book companies where I had sent
a proposal. They wanted to publish my story! Call it divine
or karma, or whatever, but I felt I was being rewarded for helping
less fortunate than I. So maybe Charles Mal's "smart" building wasn't
acting irresponsibly when it opened the doors to the cafeteria nd
Michael Alexander's ragtag army of homeless friends to pinch a good
Maybe we'll hire that building to write the PRUDENCE
graphic novel next year!
A similar type of events happen to me back in early 90's. Weird
I used to dream about
becoming a Good Guy. I actually
had a mask and a "costume," and so did my best friend, Jack McGinley.
summer night when we were twelve years old, we got dressed in our
garb and headed out into our neighborhood armed with slingshots and a
of Mace. We were determined to keep our community safe.
the poets among us can be
and triviality and can present
inspection, "imaginary gardens with real
them," shall we have it.
unfamiliar, shadowy figure,
who appeared to be breaking into the home of one of our friends, we
rendered him helpless by showering him with a tear inducing, chemical
thrilled at how easy it was to
keep him from entering our friend's house--that is, until the porch
went on, and discovered he was our friend's father
late from work!
one realized who we were,
and we were able to retire from the superhero biz without anyone
our secret identities or our embarrassing mistake.
if real kids had real
superpowers. How would they use them? Hopefully not
like Jack and
I used our "powers," or people might get seriously
hurt. (If we
had had superenhanced strength or razor-sharp claws and not just
and Mace, we might have accidentally killed that
In each issue
of THE GOOD GUYS, we'll
see how a group of superpowered kids deal with their
Will they make sensible use of their enhancements? Will they use them
"the greater good"--or apply them to their own personal agendas,
benign or sinister? If the former, how would they carry out a project?
If they decided to put an end to the substance abuse in this country,
instance, what would happen? Would they come up with a simplistic
stopping the outflow of drugs at their source--and end up annihilating
a drug producing country like Columbia in the process? Or what if they
wanted to stop terrorism? Would they decide the most expedient course
wiping out the entire Middle East?
entanglements the kids find themselves
in--whether large- or small-scale--you'll be sure to find their blunder
and triumphs intriguing, exciting--even frightening.
As the saying
goes, be careful what you
Next issue: Meet the
real-life winners of
THE GOOD GUYS Casting Call Contest in a special, in-depth report!
Commentary: If rumors were true,
this editorial was definitely foreshadowing some unpublished events
would have involved the kids.
You are holding in your
hands the first part of a
six-part Mindfox odyssey that will take Cookie
the entire DEFIANT Universe.
If you noticed
a couple of familiar names
missing from the credits, don't worry: Len Wein, Joe James, and Tim
are just taking a short break to catch their breath. Rest assured,
be back next issue.
In the meantime, Jim
Shooter and Janet Jackson
collaborated with Philip Nutman (the writer of the forthcoming CHARLEMAGNE)
on the plot for the Mindfox storyline. Charlie
Adlard (a British
artist with a flair for the macabre) did a terrific job on the pencils,
which were inked by Keith Wilson and painted by Oclair (our master
from São Paulo, Brazil). Janet Jackson also turned in a wonderful
script for this issue, proving that she can write
as well as she
can color--and that is one heck of a compliment!
crossover will continue
in THE GOOD GUYS #4 which ships February 22, 1994.
Then, in DARK
DOMINION #5, we'll begin
a two-part storyline that will pit Michael Alexander against Lurk,
the Quantum manifestation of childhood fears. From what I've seen of
issue, Len Wein and Joe James have fashioned the most powerful DARK
story thus far. I'm sure you won't want to miss it.
of something you won't want
to miss, if you're in the New York City area during the Great Eastern
(February 11, 12, and 13, at the Jacob Javits Center), stop by the
booth and say hello. Jim Shooter, our editorial staff, and a number of
our artists and writers will be there signing autographs and talking
their present and upcoming projects. Jim will also be giving his "How
Create Comics" seminar--a must-see for anyone with a interest in the
If you can't
make it to the convention,
please keep those cards and letters coming. Reader response to what
been doing has been, I'm happy to say, overwhelmingly positive. It's
important to hear what you think of our work. You suggestions and
are much appreciated.
Stick with us.
The best is yet to come!
The day of the DEFIANT
Christmas party was a blast--from
the productive company powwow in the morning to the catered office
that ended around 11:00 P.M. that night.
Commentary: I agree that the storyline
from #5 and #6 was both the turning point of the series and
most powerful issues "thus far". The quality improvements across the
product line began at aproximately this time.
For me the
excitement began early, when
I was called into a creative jam session with a number of our top-gun
David Lapham and Alan Weiss were there, side by side with Grey, Joe
and Adam Pollina. We forged the path our Universe would take throughout
the summer and created new characters as well, assigning them to our
who then designed them. (One of the characters I conceived was given to
Dave Cockrum, the first comic book artist I ever met, back when I was
years old!) Throughout the day, key elements of overall storyline fell
into place, and there was Jim Shooter, in the
center of it all,
orchestrating the creative process like some master conductor in the
of a wonderful symphony.
around me, I suddenly realized
how lucky I was, being able to participate in something I used to dream
about when I was a kid: developing story concepts with some of the
names in the industry!
the meeting was over, I had
to rush to Port Authority us Terminal and meet my wife, Karen, who was
coming into Manhattan to attend our Christmas celebration. On the way
to the office, we passed Times Square, and she asked me no I liked
in the Big Apple, doing what I'd always dreamed of. A shiver ran down
spine as I mouthed the words "I love it"-- and suddenly I wondered how
many other people in he world were as fortunate as I.
began at 6:00 P.M. Other noted
people in the industry (both old nd new). like Chris Claremont, Bob and
Agnes Pinaha, and José Marzan entered the mix, and more creative
juices began to flow. Karen was surprised by how excited and
everyone sounded when they were talking about their work.
o'clock, she and I headed
out onto the office balcony, which has a splendid view of the Empire
Building. We stared at the awesome tower, savoring it's red-and-green
lights. Suddenly a shooting star flashed through the pitch-black sky
it. "Did you make a wish?" Karen asked me, and I found myself groping
an answer. "No," I finally responded. My mind was so focused on all of
the exciting things happening at DEFIANT, I didn't even notice the
or mind that I missed it. Most of my wishes had already been fulfilled,
and I silently thanked God for helping me realize my dreams.
The first time I met
Joseph A. James--my first day
on the job at DEFIANT--I thought we'd never be friends. He had been
a few weeks before me (as Production Coordinator) and was using the
I was told would be mine. When I moved in, Joe was forced to relocate
the DEFIANT bullpen, and it caused some bad feelings between us. We
brusque with each other for a couple of weeks, only interacting when we
absolutely had to. But as time passed and we got to know each other
we finally realized our anger was the product of a unfortunate
and we became good friends.
Commentary: No comments.
wholeheartedly agreed with Deborah Purcell
that Joe was the perfect choice when DEFIANT was searching for a
for DARK DOMINION--and everyday for the past six
months, my respect
for his talent has grown in leaps and bounds. As well as being one of
best artists around, Joe is a master of comic book production. He can
it all, which brings me to the point of this column: When Joe James
up to pencil DARK DOMINION, he realized that it was
at best a temporary
position--eventually he would have to make a choice between becoming a
full-time freelance artist (if he wanted to keep drawing the book) or
on the staff. He knew he couldn't continue burning the candle on both
during his tenure on DARK DOMINION, he was only
getting a few hours
of sleep each night. So after weighing the pros and the cons of both
Joe decided to give up the Dominion (after issue #5) and keep his staff
But fear not!
For those of you who can't
get enough of Joes's artwork, we have some good news: Joe James will be
creating an original DARK DOMINION poster, and
penciling an upcoming
DARK DOMINION Graphic Novel and a brand
new version of Dark DARK
DOMINION #0 (which will be published in comic book format
of the devastating effects
the Winter of '94 has had on much of the Northeast (roads have been
for days, and Fed-Ex hasn't been able to deliver packages on time,
has slowed down our creative process), we've decided to split up the
few issues of DARK DOMINION between two artist.
Louis Small Jr.
(best known for his stunning work on Vampirella),
and J. G. Jones
(a hot new artist Jim Shooter discovered at at the February Great
Convention in New York City) will alternate penciling the next few
of Michael Alexander to help us remain on schedule.
snowstorms have taken a toll
on our GOOD GUYS series as well, so Alan Kupperberg
and Keith Wilson will ink a two-part storyline (in issues #6 and #7) to
give our regular creative team a breather.
Speaking of out regular
creative team, the work
that Greg Boone and Mike Chen have been doing on this book
phenomenal! If you missed their initial collaboration on issue #5,
out issue #8. I'm sure you'll agree, Mike's inking terrifically
Greg's dynamic drawing. Just like the rest of us here at DEFIANT, both
artists are positively determined to take you beyond the imaginary
If someone told me eight
months ago that I'd be giving
up my job as Senior Editor at DEFIANT, giving up the chance to work
creative dynamo Jim Shooter, I'd have said they were crazy. But the
grind of a 4 hour commute (from my home in Pennsylvania to New York,
back to Pennsylvania) has really taken it's toll.
Commentary: It's a casual introduction
here, but J.G. Jones went on to much grander and greater accolades at
Comics. After Defiant shut down, Mr. Jones followed the creative flow
to Broadway Comics and made a lasting impressions on readers with his
on the Fatale series.
Greg Boone and
Mike Chen were also doing great
work on the Good Guys, so it's good to see an editorial based on events
that actually transpired rather than something that was never
So after weeks
of weighing the pros and
the cons of working in the Big Apple, I've decided to give up my
position at DEFIANT and head South to Boca Raton, Florida, where I'll
to ply my trade as Executive Editor at Big Entertainment.
excited about my new job, but
it was a tough decision-- walking away from the characters and stories
that I helped shape, and saying good-bye to Jim.
I've learned a
great deal from Jim Shooter
in the short time I've had the pleasure of working with him, a lot
the craft of creating good comics and, more importantly, a lot about
Jim is an extremely honorable person. I've seen him reward loyalty,
after time, and spend hours with rookie artists and writers, giving
advice on how to improve their work and break into the business. And
can bet your bottom dollar, whenever he promises a rookie a shot at the
big time, they got a shot.
Jim also works
overtime making sure people
get paid what they deserve. In editorial meetings, when the subject of
payment would come up-- even for a script or artwork we knew we weren't
going to use-- Jim was very generous. He believes that a creator should
be fairly compensated for their time, even if the finished product is
I'm going to
miss working with Jim Shooter
and all of my other friends at DEFIANT. To all of them, I'd just like
say: Thanks for the wonderfully creative times we've shared. I promise,
I'll never forget them.
Commentary: The content of this
editorial was probably centered around the topic of "fair
because many publications at that time (the Comics Buyers Guide etc.)
long running debates about whether Jim Shooter really advocated the
compensation of creators while working at Marvel
the 1980's. While some believe Jim Shooter did nothing noteworthy to
creators with getting fair compensation, others feel that his
to change the status quo was actually a key turning point in the