Just Newsprint
The Simple Comic Newsletter 
Issue #23  -  July 2000

01. X-Men Here, Spidey Coming!
02. Bargain Bin Bonanza
03. Classic Commercial of the Month
04. Marvel's Reinvention
05. Sites of the Month
06. Conclusion

X-Men Here, Spidey Coming!

The X-Men movie is almost upon us! The $75 million dollar blockbuster is headed to theatres everywhere and may finally change the perception of Marvel Super Hero based movies. But even more exciting than that, The Amazing Spiderman has broken out of the legal web it was stuck in and is in the casting mode! Barring any unforeseen problems, it should be out by 2002, possibly even earlier (I have seen reports of fall of 2001, but I am a pessimist).

Everyone cross their fingers and pray for a good showing from the X-Men. This is an important step forward for the comic industry and a major bomb could be a big setback. Marvel needs a hit, in the worst way. It needs to show that Blade wasn't a fluke. It needs to prove once and for all that DC isn't the only company that can make characters that the people wants to see converted to the big screen. We have heard for years how popular the Marvel characters are. We have heard that with the right budget and some worthwhile people in the movie, they could compete with the likes of Superman and Batman. Now is Marvel's time to prove it.

While comic movies have fared well, many of the hits have been movies that the average person didn't know was a comic book. The movies didn't make them pursue the comic version like many do with a novel that is made into a movie. Movies like The Crow, The Mask and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were all big time movies, but the average person did not know they were originally comic books. That few second blurb at the end of the opening credits is not enough to catch the average movie goers attention. But with Spiderman and possibly the X-Men, people are more aware of their origins and it may help bring in new readers.

So we all need to hope and pray that the X-Men is the hit that is appears to be. A successful movie will not only insure a sequel, but will jumpstart many other Marvel projects, some that have been in limbo for decades. Then maybe we will see a big budget Fantastic Four movie that will do justice to the group. We can even dare to dream of a possible Avengers movie. Who knows what could come of it, but one thing I do know is that many comic fans, myself included, will be watching the weekly results from the box office.

To go to the official X-Men movie website (a really cool site too), click on the link below:

http://www4.x-men-the-movie.com/index.html

Bargain Bin Bonanza

During the 1980's some of the upstart companies were looking for franchises to turn into comic books. While Marvel and DC had the most popular ones tied up (Star Wars, Star Trek, GI Joe, Transformers, etc...), there were still alot of movies and television shows that were not explored. Many would have been deemed too small to be bothered with by the Big Two. But companies like Dark Horse, NOW and Innovation found there were large followings for these type of books. One of these titles is the subject of this month's Bargain Bin Bonanza! The title in question is Astro Boy, one of the first Japanimation series to make it to the U.S.

For anyone not familiar with Astro Boy, he was a boy robot who went around and did good deeds. He is easily distinguished by his funky hairstyle, odd shaped feet which served as rockets to propel him from the ground and the small box on his chest which opened up his insides. While he looked cute and adorable, he could pack a wallop! He was one powerful robot and someone that you were glad was on the straight and narrow.

The NOW series captured the boy robot well with beautiful artwork by Ken Steacy. He really captures the feel of a cartoon, especially the covers which really stood out! The stories, done by Michael Dimpsey were pretty good too. You got to see Astro Boy learn that he is a robot. He really believes he is a real boy, made of flesh and blood and not a robot, made of steel and plastic.

The comic series does a good job of paying homage to the classic cartoon series. While things are updated some, they do a good job of keeping the character the same. In an age of people changing everything for the sake of ratings and sales (remember this is the era when all those movies based on television shows were starting to come out and all those awful popular cartoon characters as kids series), it is good to see someone try not to reinvent a character that doesn't need it.

So if you are a Japanimation fan, then this is a good way to check out one of the first and most influential of the original Japanese cartoon characters. The man who created Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka is considered the father of Japanese Animation with his creations of Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and many, many other great series.

Classic Commercial of the Month!

In tribute to the release of the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie, I give you the enjoyable commercial for Cheerios with none other than Moose and Squirrel! Now you know the secret to Bullwinkles amazing strength! So click the link below to go directly to the classic commercial, starring two timeless characters!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW COMMERCIAL

Marvel's Reinvention

While this is old news to the comic industry, it was fairly new to me (to show you how out of it I am). I saw where Marvel was restarting their titles for the umpteenth time. There is one difference, this time there was going to be a new series with a young Spiderman and young X-Men starting from scratch and the old series that would keep the last 30 years of history. The two different series would be separate from each other (wonder how long this will last?) and the only thing in common is the name of the book and the character.

While this is a good idea and something that should have been done years ago, it will not work if they don't give it all the support it needs. To just start a new series is not enough to insure success. They need to really give it a total overhaul for it to really get the kids of today to try it. It will take more than giving Spiderman a new haircut, some fashionable clothes and the lingo of today's kids to be something the average kid would want to read. Here are my suggestions for a successful series:

1. Dump Yesterday's Writers-While many of the comic writers are very good, they are not what the kids want to read. They have been writing for adult audiences for so long, the are out of touch. If Marvel is serious about this, they need to go get some fresh talent. Look at some of the writers who are doing stuff that kids want and approach them with an open wallet. Don't get cheap here. Get in some serious talent and give them free reign. With writer's you have a better chance of getting some talent as the time commitment isn't as much. While the die hard comic fans may not like this, who cares? This is supposed to be a series to get young people into reading comics, not the people that are already here.

2. Be Creative in Your Marketing-Once again, Marvel needs to open up the bank and spend alot of money pushing this series. Ads in the CBG and Wizard are a waste of money. They need to reach the kids and the best way is to go where the kids are. Do a mall tour where you have characters show up at different malls, along with artists and writers signing autographs. Get some up and coming band to come and play music and give away comics and a few cool prizes (game systems, CD players, etc...). Make sure to make the event so it will attract boys and girls. It is crucial to get the girls reading comics and I am sorry, but Archies just don't cut it. Most pre-teen to teenage girls do not want to read the same comic their mother and grandmother read.

3. Give it Time-Marvel needs to make a minimum three year commitment to this. They need to give it time to work and they need to keep pushing it. Comics didn't fall out of favor with the youth of America overnight and neither will getting them to read comics happen overnight.

4. Make Stories Self Contained-They really need to dump this continuing storyline crap. Take those huge crossovers and throw them out the window. While the die hard fans may like that stuff, the average person does not want to make a lifetime commitment to a comic series. I don't think it is a coincidence that the most popular era of comic books, the 50's to 60's had comic stories that were almost all self contained. Comics were meant to be a fun experience and nothing ruins it more than needed a road map to know what book to read next.

5. Do Not Cross Over, Ever-Marvel really needs to stick to their guns and keep this new universe separate from the old one. No matter how much the writers want to have Spiderman meet Spiderman, they must not let it happen. This will only create confusion and this is one thing this industry needs less of.

6. Cross Promote it to Death-They need to do whatever it takes to get issues into people hands. Whether it be giving away free issues with cereal or video games or whatever, they need to cross promote it. If it means getting a popular group like the Backstreet Boys or N'Sync to make an appearance in an issue and to give it away at concerts, then they need to do it.

Sites of the Month

Since the X-Men is the big movie of the summer, I decided to point you towards a few sites dedicated to the X-Men. These should give you all the information you need to be prepared for the big movie!

Mutatis Mutandis
This biggest draw of this site is the X-Men character biographies, with 388 of them at the time of writing this article. Each one is quite large too! There is alot of information about each character and some pictures to boot! They are all broken into alphabetical order by their aliases. So you would find Wolverine under "W" and not Logan, his real name.

While this is the big part of the site, it is far from the only draw. There is also fan artwork, fan stories and alot more! If you are a mutant fan (and everyone seems to be these days), then this site has what you want and more!

http://members.xoom.com/_XMCM/charleyx/framex.html

Mutant Pages
One of the oldest sites devoted to Marvel's Mutants is the Mutant Pages. It has been up since 1994, which is ancient for an internet sites. It has a cornucopia of stuff for fans including:

-A countdown to the movie
-History section
-Team Lineups and a whole lot more!

While the frames are a bit distracting, the overall site is very nice and has a ton of stuff! Plus, they have links to all the other mutant sites as well as other comic related sites. A great selection of stuff for any fan!

http://www.santarosa.edu/~sthoemke/x/x.html/

Conclusion

A short newsletter this month, but the heat and desire to be not be inside is getting the best of me. Hopefully when fall returns in a few months, the size of the newsletters will increase. Then we can really have some fun. So take some time to check out the new X-Men movie and keep reading those comics!

-Tom Zjaba