I'm still learning
DEFIANT office culture, and early
on I caught onto a phrase these folks use a lot:
see if we can harness
power for good.
That's great isn't it? I've heard it applied
in reference to everyone from a penciler discovered at the last
to the new summer intern. It's particularly apt used in a comics
because it's one of those Truth, Justice, and the American Way phrases:
in a melodramatic, but sincere way it conveys an energetic dedication
the values that heroes stand for. Sure, it's corny, but it feels right.
About a month
ago, Jim Shooter told me
he wanted to harness my power for good.
when Jim asked my husband, Alan
Weiss, to help build him a universe, it was the beginning of a dizzying
and fun ride for both of us. Not only did I get to witness a universe
but I had the opportunity to watch DEFIANT grow. I remember walking
these offices when they first moved in and remarking to Debbie Fix on
much room there was, and now that I'm here, all I can see is how much
The best part
was developing friendships
with these marvelous people. Beyond the hours spent in the office, we
the summer conventions under the DEFIANT banner. Janet and I became
fast friends, discovering a shared fetish for cowboy kitsch. I loved
the sonorous voice of publisher Winston Folkes, telling tales of his
when he was Vice President of Finance at Time-Life. Nothing is better
sharing a laugh with marketing director Clark Smith a.k.a "The King of
Infectious Energy". Speaking of energy, there are a few people with
than that than editor Joe James...and he looks darn good
in a cowboy
moment: sitting at a long table
in a restaurant with about thirty DEFIANT creators and staff after the
Great Eastern Convention this past January, toasting the late Jack
and other people in the restaurant raising their
glasses with us.
Good Times. Really good friends.
impressively, I watched all of them,
the staff, and the creators, pull together some of the most original
well-told comics stories under some very arduous conditions.
Jim, the hub around which
all of this revolves. Tireless, energetic, dedicated, tenacious,
creative, you've heard all of this before; Alan says Jim's superpower
focus. Putting aside the fact that I
grew up on the comics he wrote:
watching him through the "starting over" process of building DEFIANT,
impressed me most are his abiding obsessions with quality, honor, and
It's clear in his dealings with creators, staff, and our readership;
clear in the high standards he applies and upholds for all DEFIANT
My predecessor, Ed Polgardy (to whom I'm highly indebted--thank,
told you about it last month, and I'm a willing witness to it as
It came down
to this: I believe in these
people and I believe in their vision. So when Jim asked me to consider
leaving the corporate world of advertising behind and invited me toformally
join Team DEFIANT, how could I refuse?
I'm proud to
officially be a part of the
DEFIANT family. I'll make a solemn vow to you now (in the great comics
tradition!) that I'll work very hard with these good people to bring
the very best stories we can. It's not just a job, it's an adventure.
corny. But it feels right.
In the short time I've
been editing comics, I've
found that there are an awful lot of fun things you get paid to do. So
far, everything having to do with getting to know our readership has
the best, but nothing has quite compared to the weeks I spent sifting
the hundreds of entries in our "Bad Guys" contest, co-sponsored by Wizard
and Entertainment Retailing Magazines. One reader
and one retailer
would be chosen on the basis of a short essay. The prizes are a cash
of $1000 and a special guest appearance in a future issue of The
Guys...in which their characters get to die!
Commentary: This is further
indication that employees at DEFIANT must not have
sales to drop so dramatically. This would have been written about 4
before the doors were closed. Pauline surely would not have quit one
to work for Defiant if there were any signs of Defiant
product quality setbacks during the lawsuit
with Marvel created a ripple effect of damage that grew until the final
days of publication and it could not be reversed. Many of the
readership had dropped out because some story elements were suffering
inconsistent in the first 6 months of released product. The speculator
sales dropped because everything had been overordered and there was no
shortage of supply. Retailers had no incentive to order extra copies
they couldn't even sell their excessive overstock at cost (or
Any potential customers saw everyone around them trying to get rid of
Comics. The potential readers were also bombarded with a large amount
negative publicity. The negative publicity was coming from multiple
and involved critical attacks which could not be countered or
Retailers had been price gouging on the limited edition card products
to make up their losses from overordering the comics. This gouging
on the speculator and occasionally the reader. The River Group fueled
price gouging by creating more and more limited products. The River
also published a press release which was basically a resume of Jim
They released it as a marketing attempt to help promote their products
by promoting Jim Shooter, the company founder. The trade magazines were
nitpicking the press release and they exagerated the information, the
the semantics. The trade magazines were clearly throwing out negative
based on negative assumptions.
Valiant comics where the product quality
started high and continued high, Defiant's quality started high, dipped
drastically, and then resumed its stride a few months later. Not all
titles had this dip in quality, but they were meshed so inseparably
readers only had to read one story that was unclear and it affected the
reader's perception of the whole Defiant Universe.
All of the
entries were tremendously creative,
and nearly all of them came up with fabulous characters with equally
(and occasionally hilarious) powers, ready to go up against the Good
Some of my favorite powers included a passion for colorful clothing (Dori
Ann Granger, Orwell OH), the ability to consume vast amounts
(Tasadduq Hussain, Tampa FL), and a lip curl Elvis
would be jealous
of (Aaron Parker, Rancho Cucamonga, CA). I'd
agree--these are definitely
qualities any bad guy worth his salt ought to have!
rounds of difficult deliberations,
judges Jim Shooter, myself, Good Guys writer Len
Wein and artist
Greg Boone are happy to congratulate our winners, Dina
Short Hills, NJ, and John Such, the owner
of Papa John's Comics
in Greenville, SC.
Dina is a
senior at Barnard College in
New York, majoring in psychology. She's currently spending her summer
at a camp with disabled adults. Dina's been reading comics for about
years, and lists Spawn and Catwoman
among her favorite titles.
Her essay describes her bad guy character as the ultimate seductress,
will "make you fall in love and will break your heart...will take not
your heart, but everyone you hold dear...will discover your goals, your
ambitions, you secret dreams...and shatter them
like so much worthless
"secret identity" is a design engineer.
He grew up on the classic Marvel books--Fantastic Four and
Man were his favorites. His son is an avid comics collector,
drew John back into comics, and he decided to start his own store as a
sideline about a year-and-a-half ago. He's created his on character
Apap, the Dream Stealer. "I sell imagination, and I want yours. I want
to thrive to see your thoughts totally wrapped up in a comic I sell
more you imagine, the better price I get for your thoughts... my
feasts on your dreams."
As you can
tell, these two folks are truly
evil, but they got into the spirit of the contest, had some
the idea, and ultimately they both locked into part of the essence of
Defiant Universe: dreaming and imagination. Look
for their appearances--and
their demises--in upcoming issues of Good
Our thanks to
all of you who entered the
contest. However: after weeks of reading entries from all of you bad
out there who threatened to kill my goldfish, eat my left leg for
or cause the next 7.2-on-the-Richter-Scale earthquake in the New York
if DEFIANT didn't pick you as the baddest guy in the universe, I have
ask--y'all were just joking, right?
I mean, my
goldfish are safe...right?
Commentary: The end. This
was the last month of publication.