Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 
Fanzing Mailroom graphic by Jeremy Greene

by Chaim Mattis Keller

Beware the Bug!

Well, Fanzing's new format debuted last month, and at the top of out column, we have some feedback on that. Leading off, though, by special request from our Editor (Ralph Dibny) is the following note:

Dan Greenhaus (drparasite@yahoo.com)

Subject: comment about fanzing site

You have a bug in the stylesheet of http://www.fanzing.com/mag/fanzing27/2814.shtml. When you put the font at 110%, when using netscape, it increases the font with every line. With IE, it looks good. just thought you might want to know.

Our Editor, Ralph Dibny, replies:

Dan, I'd like to thank you for pointing out the bug there. I've fixed it (in that I didn't figure out why it was happening, but I stopped it from happening).

Netscape was my favorite browser…until recently. While I still like Netscape as an alternative to Microsoft…I have to say, until Netscape puts out their Cascading Style Sheet-compatible Netscape 5.0, my official policy is "Netscape sucks". The main problem is that Netscape is not compatible with Stylesheets, whereas Internet Explorer has been largely compatible with them since version 4.0! If you compare the Table of Contents for issue #27 in both Netscape and IE, you'll see that they're very different. The page looks beautiful in IE and hideous in Netscape!

For now, if a reader has both Netscape and IE to choose from on the computer, I highly recommend IE. The site is just as readable in Netscape, but it won't look very good until Netscape releases a new version.

And now, onto less technical feedback…

From: Scott Frank (cpl_otter@yahoo.com)

Subject: new format

I haven't been a reader for long, but I've loved looking at back issues. I've been a little bit of a Batman fan for a while, but your magazine is a big reason I'm intereted enough after "No Man's Land" to want to buy "Millennium Editions" to fill in some back story on the rest of the DC universe.

I really only have one criticism of the new format- at the bottom of each page, I like hitting a "next" button. It makes the browsing experience more like a "real" book. I think the linear experience of each issue makes for a more engaging experience. I may not have heard of each hero, but I may want to know more after I browse each article. Please add the "next" page button again.

Thanks.

Scott Frank "Corporal Otter"

Ralph Dibny Replies:

Hello, Scott, and thanks for your letter! I can't tell you how rewarding it is to confirm that Fanzing really is spreading the word about DC Comics and helping their sales. (Now we'll have to keep your letter handy in case DC's Legal Department ever starts cracking down on fan sites!)

As for your request for a page-to-page navigation…I appreciate your desire to read the issue more like a page-to-page magazine. That is the way Fanzing used to be, and it was fun. But it was a real pain in the neck to program! Every time I added a page or removed a page (for instance, if we didn't have a "Comics Cabana" for the month) I had to change the links on all the surrounding pages. The end result was a navigational mess that had a lot of incorrect links.

Of course, if you want to read the issue page-by-page, all you have to do is go to the navigational menu at the side, start at the top and work your way to the bottom. And, to help you get to the menu, you'll notice a new link at the bottom that will take you back to the top. That way, if you finish a 500 paragraph magnum opus, you don't have to drag the slide bar all the way to the top!

Now, it may be that there is some very advanced tech way to do page-by-page navigation. Unfortunately, I'm not an advanced tech guy. Plus, I try to keep this site as low-tech as possible, since some readers have very old browsers (or worse, WebTV!) and would not be able to handle some of the advanced functions like floating tables of contents.

I hope it isn't too much of an inconvenience, Scott. Thanks for reading!

In addition to the new format, the following writer has praise for the "Choices" story:

From: john entrekin (john5150@prodigy.net)

Subject: Choices

First of all a quick note to you guys that make Fanzing: Great job! Just hope you get all the links up and running so I can catch up on all the stuff I can't get into from earlier issues. I love fan-fic and some of the links sat server was unable to find. Just wondering if you haven't got them all up since you changed the look of the site, which is much better, I must say. Now, onto Ms. Stevens.I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your story. I just recently found Fanzing on my computer and was browsing around the latest issue, when I found chapter 15. I was immediately hooked to the story and went back to chapter one and read it all the way thru. I have been a comic fan for the last 25 years, since I've been old enough to read, and fondly remember the old days of the infinite earths. It was with great pleasure I have been able to revisit them thru your story. I was particularly glad to see Dick and Kory together as I always have felt they were made for each other. It makes you wonder how much better the actual comics would be if the writers had more creative control. Good to see a caring Dark Knight as well. You have portrayed the whole group as they should be: a family. I like the character driven stories better than the action driven and this one certianly has me satisfied there. And it has just enough action in it to keep me happy there too. They are super-heroes after all, they do have to fight sometimes, I guess. And please have Selina and Bruce get back together. Well, I don't want to waste any more of your time, just wanted to let you know your work is appreciated by one comic fan out there. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Can't wait for the next part!

Thank you for the time,

wedge

Oh, by the way: Prophet is Tim Drake! My guess anyway.

Thanks for the comments! "Choices" is definitely keeping everyone guessing, with new surprises in every chapter. Tim Drake, eh? My guess was going to be that it's Captain Atom, or maybe Hank Hall…

Hooray for Hollywood!

Well, it seems that movies are very much on the minds of letter-writers this month. The new Fanzing cineplex is a major hit…but beware of bugs!

From: DCJules2@aol.com

Subject: re: movies

I have been trying to download your movie files - but the download hangs at 39% no matter what movie I try. Any sugguestions?

A Loyal fan

Dave

Ralph Dibny replies:

I can't explain WHY that's happening…but my suggestion would be to use a download utility. I recommend Getright (www.getright.com), which was a God-send back before I had a fast Internet connection. Get Right will get the file for you while you do other things. Should the download stop, it will retain the downloaded part and retrieve the rest later.

Our esteemed editor also recommended a utility called "Download Demon", which is distributed together with RealPlayer (and other programs, under different names) but recanted that suggestion due to an article which says that this utility spies on its users. I agree with him to avoid Download Demon. For reasons I don't know, I have always had trouble with my system when I install it along with RealPlayer, but no problems if I tell the RealPlayer installation program to not install Download Demon.

Jeff (jeffj1@adelphia.net)

Subject: Red Sand of Mars Previews problems

Hey there--

I was trying to play the clip, but I keep getting errors and it won't play. I downloaded the codecs and everything, but it still won't work. Any chance we can get it in another format?

Thanks for the great site!

Jeff

Ralph Dibny replies:

Thanks for the reply, Jeff. That's all I needed to hear. I'll send out the MOV file and change the links immediately.

I wish I knew WHY it isn't working. When Steven Conroy first sent me the AVI version, it worked just fine. Later, I had a technical malfunction with my software…and after I re-installed it, the "Red Sands of Mars" AVI didn't work! For that matter, the Death of Supergirl movie won't play on my system either. But, oddly enough, other AVIs like "JSA Preview" and "JLI Preview" work just fine.

I went ahead with posting the AVI version because I wanted to save the readers 5 more megs of downloading. But it doesn't do anyone any good if the file is unreadable!

I had hoped that this problem was only with my system, but apparently not. I do know that the AVI is working for some people, as they've downloaded it and commented positively on it. Maybe someday I'll figure out the problem. One question: do the "JSA Preview" and "JLI Preview" work on your computer?

I thank you for the heads up and apologize for the inconvenience to you.

Second time's the charm:

Thanks for the quick reply! But what else should I expect from the man who can continuously put out such a great website! I have to tell you, I have been visiting you site for years and it just keeps getting better. We D.C. fans seem to be few and far between…and we have Fanzing as our bridge! :-)

Anyway, I have had no problem with the JSA preview (Can't wait for that, as I am a HUGE Golden Age fan!) and the JLI preview (Again, another underrated series I miss!). The other one that I have had problems with is the Death of Superman clip. I have yet to be able to see that one!

Again, thanks for the great effort. Who knows, maybe one day I will get off my duff and write the Huntress (Earth-2 version, of course) story that has been kicking in my head and submit it!

Have a great one!

Jeff

Thanks for the kind words, Jeff! We'd love to see that Huntress story!

And our movie producer, Steven Conroy, replies:

Thanks for the comments on the clips and I am glad that RSoM finally worked for you. If you have any ideas or comment feel free to pass them on.

Steve

From: Rolland Lopez (hey_roll@yahoo.com)

Subject: RE: Films

The movies are excellent.

Thanks

Rolland

In addition to the Cineplex, we had an article about comic-based movies that evoked these responses:

From: Seth Gottlieb (RedFive778@aol.com)

Subject: Comic Fans and Comic Movies

Liked Bill's article about comic book movies. I agree with him on several points(although despite not having Colossus, I STILL want to see X men). An interesting film that deserves note however is last years sleeper MYSTERY MEN. A film, which IMHO superbly covers whats wrong(Captain Amazing) and whats right(Sphinx) with comic films nowadays. If he is interested in discussing this, let me know.

Mystery Men really was fun…it's interesting that the most obscure comics seem to make the best movies. Wonder if we'll see a Brother Power the Geek movie soon? And now that X-Men's out, what do you think?

From: Bogatyr5@aol.com

Subject: Comic-book fans/comic-book movies article

Hi!

First off, I just found your fanzine (courtesy of the Internet Guide to Comic Books and Superheroes) and enjoyed it. But I have a couple of points on which I have to disagree with this article.

First, I don't agree that when books are changed it's simply because they don't work on screen otherwise. Sometimes, they're changed simply because the writer/director/producer gets a dumb idea in his head--the formulaic adaptation of Peter Straub's Ghost Story came about, for instance, because the writer didn't think much of the book and thought he could do something 'more original' with it. Likewise, the producer of the Fish Police cartoon was quoted as saying the original comic book was a stock super-hero series (which, as you may know, it wasn't), and so they'd decided to do something--yes, more original with it.

Or of course, Kubrick's The Shining--there was no reason to turn the book into a psychological thriller except, presumably, Kubrick felt like it. And there are plenty of faithful adaptations of books that worked--Maltese Falcon, Joy Luck Club, to name two. Which is not to dispute that sometimes they do need changes, I just object to it as a general assumption. Particularly since I sometimes feel like I'm being scammed--Hollywood buys books they know have name value to some of the audience, then mangles them (frequently--I agree, not always--for no other reason than, as I said, they felt like it), then squeals "Well, you can't judge this movie by the book!"--something they never bring up until after you've got your money (this is pretty much how I felt about the theatrical Shining).

As to comic books … I agree with you, worrying about every little detail can get obsessive and pointless; on the other hand, if they chose to make dumb changes just for the sake of it, I feel perfectly free to kvetch. But really, if they catch the comic-book spirit and energy, then I'm much more likely to ignore the changes; I had no major problems with the old Dr. Strange TV movie, for instance (even though it plays very fast and loose), but I was totally bored by the TV Hulk (which I found simply a Fugitive knock-off with the Hulk as occasional deus ex).

As for changing Superman's costume, however--you've got to be kidding! I don't think this is a comic-fan issue, we're talking about one of the three or four most recognizable figures in fiction anywhere--however realistic a different suit might be, I simply can't imagine it going over (the Xmen's costumes, on the other hand, I had no problem with).

Regardless of disagreement, this was one of the more thoughtful articles I've seen on this point.

--Fraser Sherman

And, about a movie proposal article in the April issue…

From: WackiDixon@aol.com

Subject: Kurt Belcher's Brainstorm

In a recent issue of Fanzing (#26, "The 80 Page Giant!") there was a "Brainstorm's Corner" article featuring Kurt Belcher's proposal for a fifth Batman film produced by Warner Brothers. Not only was Belcher's plot brilliantly planned but his original artwork, which accompanied the article, was truly phenomenal. Love the zine. Thanks so much.

--Brian A. Dixon

Fourth Horseman Productions http://www.fourthhorseman.com

I'm glad you enjoyed Kurt's Batman V proposal. Now, if only Warner Brothers would sign him up!

And now, onto other subjects…

From: Doug (dnasluch@earthlink.net)

Subject: For David R. Black

Great article on the DC Implosion! Having lived through those times it brought back fond memories and frustrations since many of the implosions resulted in cancellations and reshufflings of some of my favorite charcaters. For your information and edification, here is some things that made some of the explosion books rather special:

Justice Inc. - based on the pulp novels written by Doc Savage creator Lester Dent. A few issues of the comic were actually drawn by Jack Kirby!

Hercules Unbound - The late Wally Wood contributed much of the inking and pencilling art. the attempt on this book was to create a hostory of events that occurred during the time between the last great atomic war and Kamandi (another Kirby creation)

The Metal Men: the fabulous art by Walt Simonson made this a truly special relaunch. They have never been drawn as well as these issues. What was frustrating was the bimonthly frequency of this title.

Warlord: The last great DC title that Mike Grell would work on. Even the later Green Arrow was really just a continuation of Warlord. (it's those beards!)

Steel: The Indestructible Man: the final issues were eventually worked into a few issue of All-Star Squadron - the Don Heck art in this series was actually one of my favorites. Heck has always been overlooked even though he drew the Avengers and iron Man over at Marvel in both titles early days.

All-Star Comics: This title was in the middle of some storylines that led to the death of the Earth-1 Batman. These stories ended up in the new 100 page Adventure Comics.

The explosion led to the influx of a great deal of new talent who are todays cornerstones in the comics field. Many of these artists and writers had been working for DC in various titles but really came to prominence when DC turned them lose to create or revive old characters. Walt Simonson, Trevor von Eeden, Tony Isabella, Joe Staton, Don newton, Jack Kirby, Mike Grell, Wally Wood, Gerry Conway, Al Milgrom, and many, many more.

Thanks for listening!

- Doug

David R. Black replies:

Thanks for the letter, and I'm glad you enjoyed the article! I've become a big fan of the less mainstream 1970's titles (meaning anything other than Batman, Superman, JLA, and Wonder Woman), but not having lived through the Implosion, I have no idea what it must have been like to have your favorite titles cancelled without much warning. I can imagine someone back then looking forward to the Explosion, and all the cool things it promised, but then getting really upset when things turned sour.

Regarding Steel, The Indestructible Man; I enjoyed this series as well. Setting Hank Heywood's adventures in late 1939/early 1940 was a nice change of pace for a series based in the World War II era. I never knew such a large anti-war movement existed in the USA, and that the debate between the war and anti-war advocates was so fierce, until I read Steel. And you're right about the unpublished issue #6, which promised "The Secret Origin of Baron Blitzkrieg," being worked into All Star Squadron.

I've only read a few issues of Hercules Unbound, but the ones I've read all have great art. In addition to Walt Simonson and Wally Wood, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez was a mainstay on the first couple of issues and Bob Layton even worked on one issue (#9). However, the merry-go-round of writers, including Gerry Conway, David Michelinie, Paul Levitz, and Cary Bates, gave the title a lack of direction, in my opinion. The best aspect of the series is the strong supporting cast of Basil (the dog), Kevin (the young blind boy), David Rigg and Jennifer Monroe.

And Mike Grell's work on The Warlord? What can I say! That series is one of my all time favorites! Grell's one of my favorite artists and a great storyteller too. I'd heartily recommend the first twelve or so issues to anybody (they're collected in a TPB called "The Savage Empire"), and the rest of the Grell issues, including those ghost written by his then-wife Sharon Wright, aren't too shabby either. The Warlord has probably the best supporting cast of the time period, and one of the best of all time. Machiste, Mariah, Tara, Shakira, Ashir, Mongo..need I go on? Now that I think about it, it's very interesting that Sword and Sorcery and Fantasy books have some of the best supporting casts in comics. Starfire, Conqueror of the Barren Earth, and Amethyst are all other excellent examples.

If you're interested, Comic Book Artist #8 contained an interview with Grell, parts of which can be found online at http://twomorrows.com/comicbookartist/08/grell.html Travis Morgan (the Warlord) and his supporting cast are also currently appearing in Aquaman #71-73. Check it out!

Mini-review: the first two issues of that Aquaman-Warlord story are quite good. Jurgens has quite a handle on Travis Morgan, and the clash between his leadership style and Aquaman's is enjoyable to read. A shame this book is getting canceled.

Jurgens seems to have quite a soft spot for Warlord, having also recently used him in his Teen Titans series. I'd be willing to bet that we see a Jurgens-penned Warlord series in the next few years!

From: T Campbell (pop@faans.com)

Subject: Captain Carrot Springboard

First pros, then cons. The art is FANTASTIC! Radically different from Shaw, Hoberg, and Lay, but hey, narrow-eyed art critics were never CAPTAIN CARROT fans in the first place. The costume redesigns are very contemporary (and that's a good thing: CC at its best reflected the trend of the moment). I loved Fastback's rubber suit in particular. The concepts were neat. The joke about those slightly fetishistic androids was very well done, and though it was only loosely sketched here, it was nice to see the Zoo Crew suffering like the rest of us from things like broken refrigerators and their friends' obsessions.

Overall, I enjoyed this immensely. It shows a lot of potential. Please take these criticisms as nothing more than attempts to help realize that potential.

The only fault I found in the art was in color contrast. I love the light, cartoony colors, but YP and AKA have parts of their costumes so close in color to their natural flesh tone, it makes their costumes look a lot racier than I *think* they're intended to be. (YP's star-boobs in particular. If I'm wrong, it's still contemporary, but it doesn't seem quite in character for AKA and YP to show *that* much. Yankee Poodle isn't quite a young thing anymore…)

Storywise, this seemed like a rough sketch. If it was intended, as most springboards are, to be the first few pages of a full-sized comic book, then I didn't really see where it was going. (Cold Turkey's offer to narrate his nefarious scheme doesn't quite fill me with suspense.) I would have appreciated a "hook" to make me want to turn the page.

Gags about comic-book cliches are close to becoming cliches themselves. This one might work with a little more polishing, though… playing up Captain Carrot's unusual standing as a superheroic comic book writer-artist.

Of course, you're not obligated to follow the characters' original personalities any more than you've followed their original character designs. So forgive me if the following sounds fanboyish. But I would like to see a bit more of those personalities shining through… again, YP and AKA in particular. (I would love to see a really choice snide line from her lips…) And FB seems more like a "dang" guy than a "damn" guy to me.

Now that I've picked your work to pieces, why don't you do the same to me? I'm writing a retrospective on the good Captain for the Cheeks the Toy Wonder site (the first part is at http://toywonder.simplenet.com/SlowCapCarrot1.htm), and would love to hear your comments.

Please get in touch with me. It is so nice to find someone else on the Internet who remembers CAPTAIN CARROT!

T Campbell,

http://faans.com

Thanks for the comments! And please feel free to submit your fiction for posting here in the future. Writers of all kinds are welcome to contribute to Fanzing!

We continue to get mail about our Special Report, "How To Save The Comics Industry"…

From: Frederick Ascher (fascher@coh.org)

Subject: Your website

I just stumbled upon your website while on my lunch break. Your impassioned plea to save the Comics Industry is so wonderful, but I wonder if anyone will read it?

I agree wholeheartedly with your suggestions… I was a major collector through the 70s of Harvey Comics, graduating to mostly DC and some Marvel during the great revival of good comics in the 80s and early 90s. I stopped reading comics regularly in the mid-90s because they became too dark, too lengthy (I can never find a good self-contained issue), and too gimicky with the gimick not living up to the very high price.

I long for the days of a good 80-pager with Batman reprints you can pick up on a newstand after a hard day at work, or a good graphic novel that you KNOW will be good simply by being in a graphic novel format, or a good comic book that is more likely than not something you can understand if you haven't read the past few issues.

Whenever I go to a comics shop these days, I leave either empty-handed or with a classic from the past, even though I enter looking for something new. The melodrama and the darkness needs to give way to something just a tad more upbeat.

I hope your campaign is heard by the higher-ups at DC.

So do we, Frederick…and by the higher-ups at other comics companies as well.

And so we come to the end of my first letters column as editor. Vote Star Hawkins for President in 2100!

Letters Editor Chaim Mattis Keller, aka Legion-Reference-File Lad, is a computer programmer who lives in New York City with his wife and four children.

 
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This piece is 2000 by Chaim Mattis Keller.
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