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Sunday, February 24, 2002
MARK ALESSI TALKS CROSSGEN PLANS
CrossGen's Mark Alessi addressed a panel at MegaCon in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, elaborating on CrossGen's plans, including Comics on the Web, new titles and the company's film/TV aspirations.
Following is a rundown:
* CrossGen's Comics on the Web program was unveiled on Friday next to the CrossGen booth proper; 51 issues are currently available. The program will be free for two months. Afterwards, charges will be $1 per month, with other options, such as lifetime subscriptions available.
"We expect to see Comics on the Web be a massive success," Alessi said. "Comics on the Web is the future."
The program continues Alessi's agenda to get CrossGen product to as many customers in as many ways possible. He frequently compared the comics to soda.
The program was designed by Gabo Mendoza, a Flash animator who is now a CrossGen employee. According to Alessi, even with a 56K modem, pages will load in less than a minute.
Alessi said there will 4,200 pages of story and art through the program by December, more than 8,300 pages of story and art by 2003 and more than 13,000 pages of story and art by the end of 2004.
"Every single book will be on the web," Alessi said.
Plans are for the comics to appear online 60 days after they appear in the Compendia collections, which are 90 days behind single issue sales.
To reach a worldwide audience, CrossGen's Comics on the Web will offer many different languages, including Spanish, Italian, French, Swedish and Norwegian. Alessi said talks are talking place to having the stories also translated into Chinese, Russian, Japanese and Portuguese.
CrossGen will have portals for its Comics on the Web through numerous other sites. CrossGen has signed with Mercury Media, and the portal sites will allow for 100 million unique visitors by the the end of the year.
One of the portals for Comics on the Web will be Comics Continuum.
* Alessi said that "serious discussions" for Hollywood film/televisions licensing are taking place for all 13 titles - including Saurians -- that CrossGen publishes today. No specific announcements were made on Saturday, however.
"We write different rules in our agreements than, I think, most comic-book companies would," Alessi said. "I care that you bring the product to production, that it's on a timely schedule, that we have merchandising that's shared or separate, but there's some management control.
"But more importantly, I want them to put the product out. If they put the product out, they going to drive many people to go to the comic-book stores or to other stores to buy the product - or to Comics on the Web - and actually read the comic books.
"So I know I'm not going to make a lot of money from movies or TV. But I do know that I can use them as advertisers. So that's how we're going to use that. Seems to me to be a pretty fair relationship. They won't give me any money, so I'll use them for advertising."
CrossGen has hired Michael Uslan to develop its properties and recently announced the hiring of entertainment attorney Nancy Newhouse Porter.
"She's known as a deal maker, not a deal breaker," Alessi said. "She's ethical and she's intelligent. Between she and Michael, we, in 21/2 months, have cut through more nonsense out in Hollywood than most people can get through in 10 years, which is why all 13 comic books have multiple studios either bidding on them or in contract negotiations today."
* Brath MacGaren of Sigil gets his own series, Brath, in January, "People say they wanted Brath and we listened," Alessi said.
Although CrossGen promoted the series at its booth with an overhead image, Alessi said a writer has not been assigned yet.
"We have a basic direction of where we want to go, but we don't want to go too much further until we sign a writer," he said.
* George Perez's CrossGen title will start in February 2003. "I know what that book's about, and I'm not going to tell you," Alessi said.
* Caravan will be the third Compendia title and will launch in July 2003. It will coincide with CrossGen reaching 15 monthly titles.
* The company has no immediate plans for action figures as Alessi pointed to a rough toy market.
"We're not strong enough to support the kids of deals I want to do," he said. "We're supportive of action figures, but I think there's a time and a place for that."
* Alessi said CrossGen's new horror title, Route 66, will have "no religious overtones in this book whatsoever."
"It's designed to fit into the CrossGen mythos," Alessi said. "It's set in a look-alike Earth-type world in the 1950s, so you get 1950s cars and drive-ins and some very cool scenery and some tremendous special effects, which is probably what we've always wanted to do: to give you guys an opportunity to look at something other than the skyline of Manhattan."
* Future CrossGen trade paperbacks will contain six issues, with the price dropping from $19.95 to $15.95.
* Alessi said he has had talks with the Kubert art school to translate CrossGen titles into easier-to-read books for children. "We don't have a firm agreement yet," he said. "But I have talked to Joe Kubert about it."
KEVIN SMITH TALKS BLACK CAT
Appearing at the MegaCon Saturday, Kevin Smith said that his new Marvel Comics mini-series will be called Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do.
As announced by Marvel last week, the mini-series didn't have Black Cat in the title. Smith said that caused a bit of a fuss on the Internet and he talked with mini-series editor Alex Alonso about the insertion of Black Cat into the title.
The mini-series will begin in June and will lead into a Black Cat ongoing.
"We're not sure if it will be four issues or six," Smith said of the mini-series. "Joe (Quesada, Marvel editor-in-chief), said six, but I don't know if it will be four or five or six."
The series is meant to bring back Black Cat in a big way.
"We don't change her much until about midway through the mini-series, and that will continue in the ongoing title," Smith said.
Terry Dodson will be drawing the mini-series.
"He draws fantastic-looking women," Smith said. "And since it's a female character, who better than Terry to draw it?"
It is unknown if Dodson, the artist of DC's Harley Quinn, will be working on the ongoing series.
Also during his panel, Smith said that Ben Affleck, a frequent actor in Smith's films, will make "a great Daredevil" in the upcoming movie. He also approved of the recent news of McG as director of the new Superman movie. Five years ago, Smith wrote a draft of Superman Lives, but that film was put into turnaround.
NEW SMALLVILLE EPISODE
"Zero," a new episode of Smallville, is scheduled to air on The WB on Tuesday, March 12.
Here's how the network describes the episode:
"Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) faces the consequences of his shady dealings in Metropolis years ago when an old enemy comes to Smallville intent on destroying his life, ultimately putting Clark (Tom Welling) and Lana (Kristin Kreuk) in harm's way. Meanwhile, Clark has his hands full as he tries not only to protect Lex from the past, but also keep Chloe (Allison Mack) out of his after she discovers a mystery surrounding his adoption."
The episode's story was written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar from a teleplay by Mark Verheiden. Michael Katleman directed.
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