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Fanzing Mailroom graphic by Jeremy Greene

 Well, what do you know? FANZING has managed a letter column for the second consecutive month! Perhaps our favorite piece of correspondence this month is the news that FANZING has been selected to receive the Stephie Award for Web Excellence by the DCU: Next Generation website. We're exceedingly grateful for this acknowledgement and shall proudly add it to our trophy room.

This month's reader feedback dealt almost exclusively with our fiction, and the Titans West and Elongated Man animated series proposal's generated the lion's share of the commentary.

Hi!I just read the two stories that Louise Freeman Davis contributed to Fanzing and I adored them, especially the one written with Marilee Stephens. It gave me a deeper insight into Nightwing's background and in such a interesting way that I didn't get caught up in all the pre-Crisis/post-Crisis confusion… or maybe that's just me. I guess I'm not enough of DC devotee to figure that stuff out without the help of my fellow fanboy friends! Anyway, at the risk of sounding like a snotty femi-nazi, it makes me really excited to see a female writing fan fiction. Even though I know there are women all over the place who love comics, I sometimes get a little lost in the testosterone when I chat with my 'Net buddies.

Thanks!

Alyssa Yarde

Thank you, Alyssa. Female comics fans and writers remain a distinct minority, I fear, but it's great that we can support each other. If you'd like a site to find a lot of comics-loving women, I suggest Friends of Lulu at http://www.friends-Lulu.org.
LFD

Dear Michael,

I think that the selling points of your Elongated Man animated series proposal are solid. I especially like the aspect of Ralph's world travels becoming a vehicle for educating children about geography. Additionally, too many heroes nowadays seem to punch first and ask questions later. Ralph has never been one of these types of characters, and his non-violent means of solving problems and mysteries is refreshing.

I agree that Sue's character would make a great role model for girls. She was portrayed as intelligent, independent, and self-confident in many of her appearances in the Justice League's second series (I am most familiar with the character from her appearances in that title). As long as Sue doesn't suffer from what I call "Lois Lane syndrome,"i.e. needing the male character to help her out of every sticky situation she gets into, she would make a great role model.

The episodes seem to be very well thought-out. My favorite of the bunch was "Tic Toc 'Tecs." The premise of having a time-tossed group of the DCU's greatest detectives team up to solve a temporal mystery would not only make a good show, but also has potential as an actual two or three issue miniseries.

I like your choice in villains as well. Personally, I'm not too keen on Copperhead or the Rainbow Raider, but the other villains have promise. Ragdoll seems like the perfect choice for becoming Elongated Man's potential arch enemy. Most of the established heroes in the DCU have villains with powers similar to theirs, almost like an evil twin. Superman has Bizarro, Hal Jordan has Sinestro, and Barry Allen has the Reverse Flash. One suggestion; have a villain directly challenge Ralph to a battle of wits. Ralph's a great detective, and the villain could leave clues about his crimes (a la the Riddler), daring Ralph to stop him. I pictured Happy Homemaker as a cross between Harley Quinn and Mom from the Nuclear Family (a group of robotic baddies who fought the Outsiders). The combination of Harley's mischievousness, Mom's sweet,but inherently dangerous nature, and 1950-ish behavior would make for a character with lots of potential and popularity.

Every animated show seems to have (or need) at least one dopey villain. Big Sir fits this need perfectly. People of all ages can laugh at his foolish antics, but at the same time feel sorry for the poor guy. Big Sir reminds me of John Steinbeck's character Lenny from"Of Mice and Men," and pairing him with a more dominating George-type character (the conniving cousin) completes the analogy. Major Disaster played this type of role well in Giffen's Justice League. I'm not too familiar with many of the actors you listed as contributing their voices to the show. However, the choice of Patrick Stewart as the Gentleman Ghost was a perfect match for the character. Overall, I would watch the episodes. Your proposal is well thought out, and your love for and knowledge about the characters really shows.

Sincerely,

David R. Black

Michael replies: One thing that makes me smile: your analogy of Big Sir with "Lenny and George" from Of Mice and Men. You say you don't recognize most of my voice casting, so you probably don't know that my choice for Big Sir's voice, Stan Freberg, was the guy in all those Warner Bros. Cartoons who said, "I will get a rabbit and pet him and pet him and call him George!"

I guess we're thinking on the same wavelength!

Hey!

That was terrific!

The Elongated Man as an animated series is just what the Doctor ordered! If you don't have any luck with it ( and they'd be stoopid to turn it down)…how about a Metal Men series?

Keep up the terrific work!

Jim "Zilch" Doty

Michael replies:LOL! Are you reading ahead? Metal Men is my next proposal. Actually, if you check out the Archives and read my "Cold Metal" fiction story, you'll find a short synopsis of my Metal Men cartoon series. I devoted many months to that proposal, but never had the guts to send it in.

Dear Fanzing:

I just finished reading this month's Brainstorm's Corner featuring a Titans West proposal and I must say that while I admire Kurt Belcher's idea of resurrecting the team, I found some serious flaws with the proposal. It starts with the tagline: "Being a three-issue limited series featuring the team no one wanted to see again." I'm fairly sure the line was intended to be humorous, but it also carries a little weight with it as well. After reading it, the first two thoughts that came to mind were that that I was getting ready to read a proposal in which the writer takes a satirical look at Titans West, or one where the writer takes a team of second-stringers and makes them top-rate. In my opinion, this series -- as proposed -- would do neither.

The second thing I noticed, is that the reader is thrown into the middle of issue one with no reason or explanation for why the team is together in the first place. The fact that the series starts off with the team being together is odd considering Titans West hasn't been a team in years and this particular group of Titans haven't ever been a team. Very rarely do disparate personalities such as these just come together out of the blue. The team needs a reason for its existence, some sort of catalyst to bring them together for the first time. Issue one ends with a nice cliffhanger, but then in issue two the cliffhanger is never followed up. All the response to Changeling's surprise visit and subsequent announcement is never even mentioned. There had to be some kind of reaction from the team, but the reader never gets to see it.

My other big problem was that even though a proposal is a bare-bones summary of an actual story, at least some attention should be given to the characters' motivations. This proposal seems to have none. The characters are thrown together and instead of really acting, then just ending up reacting to the events of the mini-series. All the emphasis is on the events happening and not on the characters. If the goal of the proposal is to get an ongoing series,then the battle is already lost because the reader isn't shown anything thing to make them care about these characters who are regarded as "second-stringers." And, the plotline itself also fails to introduce a serious enough threat to hold the reader's interest. In all honesty, I'm not even sure Dr. Psycho ever became Captain Wonder in the post-crisis DCU, but I don't believe that he did. Even if he did, he's so obscure that most fans wouldn't remember him and he might as well be a new character.

All in all, Mr. Belcher has assembled an interesting cast of characters, but it's all for nothing without more development. Before sending this one to DC,I would spend some time thinking about who these characters are and what traumatic event could befall them that would bring them together when they're practically strangers to each other. And, it would make the threat even more serious if we knew more about the villain behind it. Why is he feeding off this fear? What's his purpose for this grand scheme? He needs more motivation of his own or he's just a cardboard villain thrown in for the sake of telling a story about a fight. Once the writer has that much in place, then the next step would be to have the characters start acting (in ways uniquely their own) to solve the problem instead of generally reacting to a generic threat. With the right motivations, the rest of the story will snap in place around the characters.

Tony Smith
HeroScribe@aol.com

Well, I for one like Kurt Belcher's "Titans West".  So much so, in fact… You want an illustrator?  Check out my work on Titans Lair.  (http://www.keeffee.com/titans) You're using three of my favorites: Risk, Azrael, and Changeling.  What would it take to get Harlequin involved?  

Thanks!

Marcus
baringer@computron.net

Kurt replies: Truth to tell, Harlequin was one of my runners-up. I'll explain: The proposal itself was going to be much longer and more detailed, telling why these people had come together -- but I got caught in a time crunch, and as result didn't have as much time as I wanted to write it up.

If it had been longer, it would've explained that Harlequin, Magenta (Frances Kane) and maybe one or two others were going to join -- but had been prevented because of their mental problems. As sort of a springboard into a possible regular series, it would've been said that had been undergoing some mental counseling advised by the rest of the team, and would join the group later after other members left. Also in the proposed regular series, there would be some exploring of several members' pasts. This would include Azrael, who would be featured in a story guest-starring Zauriel. Zauriel and Azrael investigate Azrael's past and discover that he is, in fact, a REAL angel -- he had apparently been attacked while on a mission for Heaven, in a Holy Vessel (the spaceship) and crashed into the Antarctic millions of years ago, freezing until the present. That was why Azrael had a flaming sword and a more 'Heavenly' looking costume in the pic. ")

The story in the proposal was just a basis, I may actually change it around, extend it a little. The reason I'm not going to make it a regular series proposal is that I think a limited has a lot more chance of getting accepted and published.

And having someone else illustrate it would be great! As you can tell, my coloring on the pic I did was less than spectacular (*chuckles*). Are there any ideas you'd wanna tell about the characters I involved there that we could include in a proposal to DC?

Finally, this come in from Kent Orlando, owner/operator of the Cheeks the Toy Wonder Homepage, recipient of FANZING's first-ever "Best of Fandom Award."

Michael:

Hokey Smokes, Bullwinkle. <g>
Words cannot even decently express how pleased; touched; and (it hadda happen sometime) humbled I am by such a wonderful gesture on your part
(and Bruce's and Louise's as well, I daresay) as this.
The award (which, you should only know, made my week, is all) is up on
my site; prominently and appreciatively placed, for maximum visibility and impact.
Wow.
Just… WOW.
Thank you, Michael. ;-)))))))))))))))))

Kent

Kent's site is accessible via the FANZING multiverse page, and is well worth a visit from any and all Silver Age comics fans.After you've read the rest of this month's FANZING, that is.
Keep those cards 'n letters coming, and good-bye until next month.

Louise Freeman Davis

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