Parting Shots on Tales of the Uncanny
Concluding This Overview of Things to Come
See yesterday’s post for the first part of this ‘wrap-up’ (I know, I know, I do go on…)
* We’ve cooked up a lot of completely new characters, concepts and stories unlike anything you’ve seen before in connection with this alternate comics universe.
We hope this, too, will add to the fun, and bring something new and unexpected to the package and the future we’ve planned for these characters and concepts.
Given the clear parameters of the original 1998 contract drawn up between the original creators of the original 1993 Image Comics series in which N-Man, Hypernaut, The Fury and Sky Solo debuted, I also tapped the original issue’s respective editorial and letters pages (some of which Rick Veitch and/or I wrote and produced at the time, to ensure the issues were completed on schedule), along with the various veiled references to past characters, stories and such that were cited in the trio of characters/concepts I fully own. Those were fair game, too, and I cleared a final list of those names, characters and concepts with Rick Veitch and my legal rep in January of this year, just to make sure I wasn’t treading outside of my turf. Rick cleared that list, and we’ve been having fun with many of them ever since.
When one of the contributors to this first volume, the enormously talented Josh Rosen (CCS senior and co-founder/co-editor/contributor to the excellent Werewolf! and Werewolf!! anthologies), seized on a reference to Draculex in one of the existing N-Man, Fury, and Hypernaut stories, I worked up character designs and we even nailed the time period and what the Comics Code Authority would and wouldn’t have allowed at the time (1962) for such a character.
[Above: My concept sketches for Draculex, incorporating elements from the 1961 Mexican monster movie Baron del Terror/Brainiac and my past Rawhead Rex character designs, which I never signed away rights to; below: Josh Rosen's refinements on my sketches, getting a feel for the character in prep for the N-Man story pages Josh penciled for Tales of the Uncanny: Vol. 1; Draculex character, concept, art TM and ©2010 Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved.]
We had a lot of fun working all these stages through, and Josh did a fantastic job plotting (with input from Tim and myself) and penciling an action-packed sequence of an N-Man story featuring Draculex — including three panels the Code nixed, requiring those panels be redrawn!
Of course, we made that ‘history’ up. We made all this ‘history’ of the Naut Comics line up. That’s the game. That’s the fun.
All that and more will be in the final volume, out later this year from About Comics!
[Left: Another Bissette character design for the Fury foe Deathmask, designed for a story written by Tim Stout, penciled by Matt Aucoin (CCS senior), and inked by Kim DeMulder (comics industy vet and fellow XQB); those pages will be seen in Tales of the Uncanny Vol. 1, natch. Deathmask, The Fury TM and ©2010 Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved.]
* Finally, a short note on my long-term plans for these characters, concepts and properties:
It’s too soon to go into any detail, but as a point of reference, my long-term plans (which I’m still formulating and formalizing with my attorney) is to nurture and develop these properties so as to leave them, as part of my estate, to benefit my now-adult children and future generations of students at the Center for Cartoon Studies, should they outlive me (and God, I hope they do!).
My fondest hope would be to forge publishing relationships with About Comics and other comics and/or book publishers to package and publish various annual projects, with the goal of providing a venue for CCSers that will earn them visibility, income and royalties (along with myself and my heirs) while building a scholarship for future CCSers.
I’ve been retired from the American comics industry since 1999. I didn’t ever wish to go back to that industry, and this was precipitated by the events of the past year and particularly this past January. I pursue this with some reluctance and great trepidation, but I believe I must proceed as I am. What was intended to be a modest vanity press experiment, printed locally or in the CCS production lab, has grown into this venture since the collapse of what was planned for 2010.
These characters, concepts and properties have been essentially orphaned since 1993.
While no creative, conceptual ‘child’ is in any way measurable against our real children — my own real-life children — to honor and fulfill my responsibilities to my real-life children, it is incumbent upon me, too, to take care of my creative ‘children’ — my stories, my copyrights, my trademarks, and my creative properties.
It seems self-evident to me that to take care of one, you must take care of the other.
I’m doing my daughter Maia Rose and my son Daniel no favors if I leave this behind for them to work with, deal with, earn from, dispose of or clean up without trying to do my best for them all while I’m here on Earth.
To that end, I have been working hard for years to clean up my legal affairs and lines of ownership — and now, it’s time I do something with all the work itself. My work.
[Right: Bissette Vyrmix design; TM and ©2010 Stephen R. Bissette, all rights reserved.]
The only way to do that, it seems clear to me, is to finally cut myself loose from the past baggage associated with them, and do something with them. Bring them to life. Make them live again. Make them invaluable and of interest again.
As I’ve already stated, these are necessarily work-for-hire projects at this time, but nurturing venues for these properties could in time also create titles/projects that could incorporate CCSers’ creator-owned stories. For instance, if Tales of the Uncanny were a sf comic title, book or annual, the Hypernaut and Queep material would be TM and © Stephen R. Bissette, but additional non-Hypernaut sf comics art and stories appearing in the title would belong entirely to their respective creators.
That said, I’m taking this one step at a time, and with great caution. Having published (Taboo) and self-published (Tyrant, SpiderBaby Comix), I know the ropes, but I’ve no desire or intention to publish — the market isn’t what it was in the 1980s and ’90s, and I will need partners in this long-term venture willing to work with creator-owned properties and trademarks (mine, and potentially that of future contributors).
We’ll see if that’s possible. I’ll be doing my best.
Lest those (like myself) who have ethical issues with the whole premise of work-for-hire pounce, let me remind you that I’ve addressed these issues at length in my fateful The Comics Journal #186 interview back in the mid-1990s. Under current North American copyright and trademark laws, work-for-hire is the only legal foundation that permits me to retain rights to my properties; furthermore, as I also noted in that TCJ interview, many celebrated writers of the current generation of comics creators are only able to mount their celebrated published comics works because they do not self-publish, but rather work with other publishers who facilitate the legal ownership issues and all that entails — allowing DC Comics, Vertigo, etc. to handle these legal affairs doesn’t neutralize the ethical issues, but it does facilitate what those creators can do as collaborative creators and/or partners, and deal with the legal issues many have been loathe to confront and engage with in their own careers otherwise.
I’m dealing with these legal matters head-on and up-front, and am starting from ground zero on this venture financing this initial project out of my own pocket (About Comics isn’t bankrolling the creative package, I am; About Comics is our publisher, seeing to printing and distribution on this first volume). Have no illusions: I’m doing all this on a teacher’s salary and what royalties I earn quarterly from past work still in print. Nobody, least of all me, is ‘getting rich’ off this venture.
I wish I were better financed and could move forward without relying on work-for-hire as a legal framework, but I can’t; that said, our agreements on these initial efforts do guarantee royalties to all involved if this maiden voyage proves profitable, and we’re being as forthright and fair as possible every step of the way. All advance and royalty shares are based on page count and pro rata every contributors part in that final page count, and we’ll see where it goes.
OK, that’s that. Hereafter, we’ll just tease and tantalize with occasional glimpses of what we’ve done and what we’re doing until it’s all in hand.
The official announcement from About Comics will be posted here tomorrow, with final release dates to be announced later this spring… be patient, I think most of you will consider what’s coming will be worth the wait!
Get Your Red-Hot Uncanny Preview!
Tales of the Uncanny Preview Edition Selling Like 21st Century Hotcakes!
* Now that I’ve opened up to online sales of this past weekend’s MoCCA exclusive Tales of the Uncanny Preview Edition (see last week’s posts, all is explained) for a limited period of time (while supplies last!), I’ve been happily inundated with orders.
This bodes well for the future of this project! But — these are selling fast, and once they’re gone, they’re gone!
A reminder: if you want a copy of the 16-page Tales of the Uncanny Preview Edition booklet — signed by yours truly and many of the contributors! — with your signed bonus copy of No One Escapes… The Fury! (the original 1993 Image Comic, no longer available from the SpiderBaby Store and long out-of-print), immediately Paypal $6.00 plus shipping (details follow) to my Paypal account, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Within the US: An add’t $2.50 for postage and handling; $4.90 for Priority Mail Flat Rate shipping.
Outside the US: Add an add’t $6.00 US funds for shipping, please; In’t Priority Flat Rate to most countries is $1295. If more is needed, I will contact you via email to settle up.
Be sure to include your full snail-mail address with your Paypal payment. I do not accept credit cards; int’l orders require Paypal payment. If you are in the US and don’t use Paypal, you can mail your payment (US postal money order only, no personal checks) and order to SpiderBaby Grafix, Tales of the Uncanny Preview Edition, PO Box 157, Windsor VT 05089.
But don’t wait — quantites are very limited, they’re going fast (faster than I could have ever imagined), and this offer won’t last for much longer. Thanks for your interest and support!
Tales of the Uncanny, No One Escapes… The Fury TM and ©1993, 2010 Stephen R. Bissette; N-Man, The Fury, The Hypernaut, Sky Solo and all related characters, concepts and titles TM and ©1993, 2010 Stephen R. Bissette, by contractual arrangement with the original co-creator; all rights reserved. All other images ©2010 their respective creators/photographers/proprietors.