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Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2000


During The Continuum's recent visit to Film Roman, X-Men: Evolution producer Boyd Kirkland described the creative process of the upcoming Kids' WB! series.

In his North Hollywood, Calif., office, Kirkland said that he has to serve many masters in pulling off the show, which premieres Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (ET) on Kids' WB!.

Kirkland also talked about his experiences with the Batman franchise, including the Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero movie, and his hopes for the future of action/adventure animation.

For the complete interview CLICK HERE.


Marvel's Bill Jemas addressed the issues of collectibility and accessibility of the content of the Marvel Ultimate titles on Wednesday.

In the second in a planned series of teleconferences with members of the comics press - next Wednesday's will address Marvel's changes plans for the X-Men titles - Jemas acknowledged the value of comics as collectibles.

Here are Jemas' comments:

"With respect to Ultimate Spider-Man, we found ourselves in a situation -- half by accident and half on purpose - what we ended up doing with Ultimate Spider-Man is promoting and advertising this book as much as we've ever advertised any book in recent memory," Jemas said. "We had pretty good initial sell-in, and then we made the decision over Matt Ragone and Diamond's pretty strenuous objections that we would print as many books as we had orders for, plus a few thousand more, and leave it at that, and not go back for a reprint, and let the people who supported the book in the first instance get the benefits of having themselves a collectible item.

"For me, as a person who's been in this market and the trading card market for a long time, I envisioned what Amazing Fantasy #15 would have been worth, if Marvel had went back and printed another 20, 30 or 40,000 copies beyond what the demand was at the time. One of the many pillars of the comic book business is collectibility, and as long as the publisher treats the book like ink and paper and nothing more, even well-placed ink, then the books are not going to become collectible.

"What happened was sort of fascinating and interesting - this book that had been written for smart 12-year-olds turned out to be the favorite book among smart 40-year-olds, and there's a real collector craze about the book, and I'm not going to quote the eBay and online prices, but it is a solid book, and people are talking about and thinking about is the value of the book.

"With respect to Ultimates, we realized that was just grasping one horn of the dilemma. We're not going to start a franchise based on a fairly narrow printing, and that if we overly restrict this content, then it would ultimately hamper the resultant success of the rest of the Spider-Man line.

"The other shoe fell with respect to (Ultimate) X-Men. That book will launch as a top-five book, maybe top-10 book, and it will do numbers that are be larger than any numbers we've seen in recent memory. And guess what? Because it has a pretty sell and it will be well distributed, it will also become collectible the way that Ultimate Spider-Man did. This is not something that we''re bungling into. We know that if store owners feel that a book will ultimately become collectible, then they will be more willing to order it initially. If Marvel restricts our heavy promotion to the books that we think are really good books, then we'll have a nice payoff for the customers.

"What we're seeing with Spider-Man is that there is a real demand for the book, and the other shoe fell - it's translated into a significant demand for the Ultimate X-Men book.

"I'm not kidding. Sometimes you'll hear some B.S. out of me, but you're not going to hear lies. That Ultimate X-Men book by Mark Millar, that's one of the best books I've read of any kind, both with pictures, books without pictures. The guy's done a masterful job. Nobody who orders that book will be anything but happy with it.

"Our practical approach to Ultimate Spider-Man is as follows - we've gone back and aggregated the first three issues into a nice aggregation, which is on sale right now, and we've gone ahead and created what we're calling Marvel.comics, which is the exact content which is in the Ultimate #1 comic book, and it's being put up on Marvel.com for free, 12 pages at a time. The first pages are up there now, and believe me, it's prototype - the book's not as pretty as we'd like it to be, but our prototypes are improving every day.

"We think that's a reasonable response in the long haul - that when a book sells out, we can hold off reprinting six months to two years until we're ready for a solid trade paperback, and in terms of getting people familiar with the content, we'll get it out there at Marvel.com. That's the working plan for now, but if people don't like the way that Marvel.comics look, we'll run around and make a new plan. But right now, we think the initial response has been strong even with a rudimentary online player. As that player gets better and better, we think the responses will be stronger and stronger."

Jemas was asked if limiting the run of a comic to help collectibility is contrary to the philosophy of getting new readers.

"Whether we had that book out either as limited or plentiful or not, the chance of a significant number of new, younger readers finding their way to comic stores in the first place was pretty limited anyway," Jemas said. "Twelve-year olds move as fast or faster than any other segment of the economy into easily accessible collectibles. There are two levels here - the first is that we're not ignoring that demographic - we're aggregating Ultimates content into magazine-sized magazines that will be out at newsstands, adjacent to the game collector's books starting in January. So that the goal with Ultimate Marvel was to get teens, but we never really expected to get teens into comic book shops. As good as your imagination has to be to be the president of Marvel, you have to limit your imagination, and I can't imagine lots and lots of 12-year-olds finding their way to comic book shops right now, just because we advertised and promoted Ultimate Spider-Man. I do think that when kids hear about 20 and 30 dollar comic books that you can buy for two dollars, then that same wave of kids that went into comic book shops to get their Pokemon cards, I think they will come storming back to get their Marvel comics.

"In the first instance, the down-the-street 12-year-old will get exposed to this content online and at newsstands. We know at newsstands that when a game publication publishes a game guide with Spider-Man or the X-Men on the cover, that they will see a 25 to 35 percent sell through at the newsstands, so we know that the characters are strong, and that they sell magazines. What we need to do is put ourselves in a position where they can't help but trip over the content and pick it up. With respect to the Ultimates and more and more with respect to the entire Marvel line under Joe Quesada's leadership, you'll find lots and lots of books that are easily accessible and fun to read for new readers."

Why didn't Marvel do a second printing of Ultimate Spider-Man #1, clearly marked as such?

"That's something we thought about hard. I think what that does is create a certain amount of confusion in the minds of the potential collector," Jemas said. "In the trading card analogy, you have a Michael Jordan rookie card that's worth $500. Theoretically, you could type 'card 1A' on the back and make a reprint, but getting that communication out there in a significant way, and explaining to a customer that one is collectible and one is not - that's a real chare and a real challenge, and I don't think that our systems for communicating with customers at large are sophisticated enough. I certainly know that's what DC does - they know what they're doing over there, but we made an alternative edition, which was to let people get excited about that first issue and chase it, and to aggregate the first three issues which are a wonderful read into one book, and to hold the price point on that aggregate down to $3.99, and get out there with that.

"What we're really looking at, rather than running back to press and putting out a book with "II" on it, we're going to let the demand continue to build and get a nice three-issue arc out there."

Why should retailers support an online event?

"The idea of the online event is to bring in people who aren't current customers," Jemas said. "If I owned a comic shop now, I'd be very worried about those Pokemon collectors who may not be so interested in collecting now as they were last holiday season. You listen to your retailers, and you do a lot of what they say and try to help, but sometimes you have to have your own opinion about the customer base. Our sense is that the universe of Spider-Man fans is four or six times the Spider-Man readers. If we can reach the Spider-Man fans through Marvel.com, and expose them to what we believe is some very good storytelling, they'll get into the habit and hobby of collecting comic books."

In other notes:

* Jemas said that traffic is on the web site for Ultimate Spider-Man has been "heavy." The next 11 pages are due Friday.

* Jemas said he will hold for "as long as humanly possible" before ever charging for access to Marvel.com content. "We think online is a tremendous marketing tool for the comic-book business."

* Jemas said a mature reader's line of comics online might be something Marvel would charge for. As for the line itself, Jemas said:

"The books that we have lined up for that mature line, they were certainly graphically oriented, they were certainly not suitable for anyone under 18, but we also felt they were not good enough to bear a Marvel sub-brand name. We have some great ideas and decent creative teams forming to do this line of adult comics, and we took a cold, hard look at the facts and decided to delay that until we had a line we could be proud of."

* J. Michael Straczynski's Amazing Spider-Man could also be put online.


P. Craig Russell told The Continuum that he does plan on doing a story for the Ultimate Spider-Man & ... book which launches in February.

The title will be written by Brian Michael Bendis, who also writes the Ultimate Spider-Man comic.

"It's still very much in the planning stage," Russell said. "I won't be starting till I finish my commitment to Dark Horse, but I'm talking to Bendis about a Spider-Man/Doctor Strange team-up."

How long is his Dark Horse commitment?

"My Dark Horse commitment lasts until I finish the Ring (of the Nibelung) -- 80 pages to go-- ink other 40 pages and do the (Neil) Gaiman project Murder Mysteries for them, which should between 48 and 64 pages," Russell said. "This one has been in the wings for years."

Russell said he is also taking with writer Brian Azzarello about possible projects.

"He's another writer I like a lot," Russell said. "For years I've been doing mostly adaptations because most of what I was offered in mainstream comics was not very interesting. But suddenly I'm talking to Bendis, (Alan) Moore, Gaiman, (Mark) Ricketts and Azzarello about a lot of really interesting story possibilities. It seems like a whole new phase coming in and I like it."


Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada told The Continuum that he has spoken with writer Steve Englehart over Englehart's concerns with the Big Town mini-series.

On Monday night, Englehart issued a statement to The Continuum, saying the book was reedited without his input and he was unhappy with the result.

"I have spoken to Steve and ironed it out," Quesada said, declining to go into details of their conversation.

Quesada said he was the editor who bumped the book from the schedule to make corrections.


TBS' world broadcast premiere of Spawn last Sunday ranked as basic cable's top movie for the week and the second highest-rated movie for the month.

Spawn, the 1997 film starring Michael Jai White, scored a 3.5 total households rating.

Among targeted male demos, Spawn ranked as basic cable's No. 1 movie for the month, delivering 1,580,000 viewers among men 18-49 and 1,353,000 viewers among men 25-54.

TBS will air the Spawn again on Thursday at 10:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8:05 p.m.; Sunday at 3:40 p.m.; and Saturday, Nov. 11, at 6 p.m.


Following are Archie Comics' solicitations for February, with information coming from the company.


Written by George Gladir, Bill Golliher and Craig Boldman, art by Stan Goldberg.

"The Return of Captain Dare." Chuck's latest comic creation bares more than a passing resemblance to his high school friends. "Study Buddy." Archie has the whole house to himself and he's determined to study - but his visiting friends have other ideas. "Them's The Breaks." Archie tries to convince Veronica he's not as clumsy as everyone thinks - and breaks one of her father's favorite vases in the process.

32 pages, $1.99, ships on Feb. 16.


By various.

Reprints and new stories.

Digest format, $2.19, ships on Feb. 16.


Written by various, art by Stan Goldberg.

New adventures with the girl next door.

32 pages, $1.99, ships on Feb. 23.


Written by various, art by Jeff Schultz.

"Wheel Friends?" The scooter craze hits Riverdale, and Betty and Veronica get more attention than usual as they zip along on their snazzy wheels. But who has the best scooter? There's only one way to find out: a contest. "Interactive Comics II." The story picks up where a recent "Interactive" Archie story left off, as Betty and Veronica invited readers to determine the course of action. "Remote Possibility." Betty discovers remote control can control Veronica's actions and even rewind time so Archie can ask her out instead.

32 pages, $1.99, ships on Feb. 9.


Written by Dan Parent and Mike Pellowski, art by Parent.

"Look Who's NOT Talking." Veronica gets her tonsils out and that means she can't talk for awhile. That's bad timing - she's about to debate Reggie in English clash. When she decides to write everything out on a pad, however, she proves the pen is mightier than the boor. "Prize Fooled." Veronica learns her talent really is shopping when she becomes a winning contestant on the game show Guess The Price. "And The Winner Is." Brigitte, Betty and Veronica win a co-hosting spot on NTV's request video show.

32 pages, $1.99, ships on March 2.


By various.

Reprints and new stories.

Digest format, $2.19, ships on Feb. 9.


By various.

Reprints and new stories.

Digest format, $3.29, ships on Feb. 23.


Written by Craig Boldman, art by Rex Lindsey.

"The Hit Squad." Has everyone gone punch or did Jughead really hit Archie? "Cake Mistake." Jughead takes up the fine art of cake decorating - but drives everyone crazy when he decorates every food - and everything - in sight. "Brain Drain." Jughead thinks Hollywood is full of brilliant, original ideas - that they stole from him. "Barks and Bytes." Dilton builds Jughead an interactive robot dog - and it's got Hot Dog going nuts.

32 pages, $1.99, ships on Feb. 9.


By various.

Reprints and new stories.

Digest format, $3.29, ships on Feb. 9.


By various.

Reprints and new stories.

Digest format, $2.19, ships on March 2.


Written by Mike Gallagher, art by Dave Manak.

New adventures based on the ABC and UPN animated series.

32 pages, $1.99, ships on March 2.


Written by Karl Bollers, art by James Fry and Andrew Pepoy.

"New Order 2." As beautiful as the new Knothole Village is, Sonic just can't adjust to it knowing that Robotnik's presence - and that of the Overlanders - persists in Robotropolis. For his part, Elias has chosen the path of peace, electing to focus on turning Knothole into a permanent habitat rather than trying to reclaim Robotropolis. By issue's end, however, dark alliances shall be made and peril shall befall the Freedom Fighters - in the form of both natural disasters and wicked enemies.

32 pages, $1.99, ships on Feb. 9.


Written and art by Dan Parent.

"Powerteen!" Veronica decides to create and market her own super-hero character - and even makes personal appearances in costume. When she accidentally foils a real robbery, she becomes a real hero - but can she keep up the charade? "How Electrifying." Veronica is shocked - at least figuratively - when her father buys her an electric car. "This Old Mansion." When the Lodges remodel their mansion on national TV, Veronica makes more than a cameo appearance.

32 pages, $1.99, ships on Feb. 16.


  • Through 15 weeks, the X-Men movie has pulled in $156.8 million domestically.

  • Coming Up: X-Men news, DC news -- and much more!!!
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