Tag: Ron Marz

What might have been

Marvel vs. DC

I don’t think I’m really telling stories out of school here, since the project was well over a decade ago. Last week I mentioned on my Twitter stream how much affection I have for the work of artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, one of the true masters of the medium. I also mentioned that Jose was actually offered the DC half of the art duties of Marvel vs. DC (or, depending on your point of view, DC vs. Marvel), the crossover project that I co-wrote with Peter David back in the mid-’90s. According to the account I heard, Jose turned down the project because he wasn’t terribly interested in drawing a big superhero slugfest.

Batman vs. HulkIt was a disappointment, of course, because no other artist more symbolizes DC (at least in my mind) than Jose. In addition to his long list of credits in the DC Universe, Jose has done a wealth of art that’s been used as the basis for DC merchandising, including the Superman fleece blanket in my office, and a number of statues on my shelves. Jose is the “DC guy” to a lot of people, even if they don’t realize it’s his art. As far as I know, Joe has never drawn Marvel characters beyond his Batman vs. Hulk crossover in the ’70s.

So with Jose out, the job was offered to Dan Jurgens, another artist who has a rep as a “DC guy” even though he’s done a chunk of work for Marvel as well. Dan is also one of my closer friends in comics, and serves as the commissioner of a fantasy football league I play in. Dan accepted, and we were off and running.

Punisher vs. BatmanWell, halfway, at least, since Marvel had not confirmed its own art team. The first choice for the gig was John Romita Jr., who symbolized Marvel in much the same way that Jose was emblematic of DC. And, like Jose, John Jr. had never drawn DC’s characters outside of the Punisher/Batman crossover. But John turned down the job. So too did Andy Kubert and Adam Kubert. I’m not sure who else, if anyone, was asked. But it seemed curious that Marvel’s editor on the project, Mark Gruenwald, could not get a Marvel artist to commit to what was going to be a high-profile, high-selling project. I eventually heard that other factions within Marvel editorial were not as enthused at the prospect of a DC crossover, and actively discouraged Marvel’s top-drawer art talent from participating (the idea being that it was more beneficial for Marvel to have the likes of John Jr. or Andy or Adam drawing Marvel books, not spending time on a crossover). Now, bear in mind that’s something I was told by someone involved, but not something I can confirm with any direct evidence.

The choice eventually passed to Italian artist Claudio Castellini, with whom I had worked on a Silver Surfer special titled Dangerous Artifacts, which is still one of the most gorgeous art jobs I’ve ever been associated with. A brief aside here, if you’ll indulge me: Dangerous Artifacts was originally intended to be produced as a lavish hardcover, with both black-and-white and color versions available. But that never happened, which is a story I’ll tell in a future post.

Marvel vs. DCIn any event, despite producing gorgeous work, Claudio probably wasn’t an ideal choice in terms of commercial appeal, because he wasn’t much of a known commodity. Claudio also wasn’t a speed demon, due to his meticulous style of working. But he accepted the job, and did fine work on the project. In retrospect, his Buscema-influenced style really does have a Marvel flavor.

When Marvel vs. DC began, it was secret enough that a great many people at either company didn’t even know it existed. Our initial meeting was in Mark Gruenwald’s uptown apartment, so that loose lips in the offices wouldn’t leak the project. The initial idea on the table, which I wasn’t overly enthused about, was that Peter and I would alternate writing eight-page sequences throughout the four-issue story. I felt like Peter and I are different enough writers that alternating sequences would be an exercise in pulling in different directions. But I was willing to be a good soldier and give it a try. Marvel vs. DC

I wrote the opening eight pages, Peter then wrote the next eight, I wrote the following eight, and so on, until we completed issue #1. The result was … less than ideal. To my eye, the story varied pretty wildly in tone, and it wasn’t an issue I was particularly happy with. When the script was turned in to DC’s Mike Carlin, who was supervising issue #1, the reception was less than enthusiastic as well. It was quickly decided – like, in a few hours – to scrap the script entirely, and have the writers alternate entire issues rather than sequences.

Marvel vs. DC was ultimately a great deal of fun to work on. It was a popcorn-type project, with superhero slugfests and fan-service moments. I mean, when fan votes dictate the outcomes of fights within the story, you know the job is to write a crowd-pleaser, not a work of great literature. If I have one regret, it’s that we didn’t have twice the number of pages to tell our story.

But I still wonder what it might have looked like had, say, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and John Romita Jr. signed on for the art.

Cheers,

Ron


Witchblade #135 in stores

Witchblade #135, the second chapter of the three-part “Almost Human” arc, hits stores today. There’s a cop with a supernatural gauntlet. There’s a cybernetic assassin with green hair. Stuff blows up. What more do you need?

The Top Cow Universe has a bit of split personality. There’s the supernatural side, which is where titles like Witchblade, The Darkness and Magdalena call home, and then there’s the more tech/sci-fi side that covers things like Cyberforce and Hunter-Killer. I don’t mix the two sides on a regular basis, but if done sparingly, I think the contrasts make for interesting stories. The aforementioned cybernetic assassin, Aphrodite IV, falls more on the tech side, but she’s encountered Witchblade wielder Sara Pezzini before. Issue #135 digs a bit more into Aphrodite’s “origin” and puts some pieces in place for her appearance in May’s Free Comic Book Day issue from Top Cow, which serves a prequel to the upcoming Artifacts series.

Story by me, art by Stjepan Sejic …who does not like to be called the “Croatian Sensation” despite being Croatian and sensational. Two covers, one by Sejic and one by Darick Robertson of Transmetropolitan and The Boys fame.

Cheers,
Ron

PS:
Ah! Before I forget, Comixology has a preview of Witchblade #135. That’s also where the images in this post came from. Hey, credit where credit’s due!

–RM


You wanna read something for free?

If you happened to be checking out my Twitter stream earlier today, there was yet another discussion of pirating and illegally downloading comics. I won’t belabor the point here. Suffice to say that I’m wholly against downloading, and I’ve yet to see an argument for it that holds any water. If you want a comic, support the industry and pay for it. Or, if you’re just looking to read something for free, there are plenty of choices available. Even some by me. Last time I looked, Top Cow has various complete issues of my Witchblade run online, as well as the First Born #1 and number of other offerings. You can peruse them here.

Samurai Vol 1 on AmazonYou can also check out an 8-page Samurai: Heaven and Earth story that appeared as part of the first Dark Horse Presents “issue” on MySpace. Dark Horse was looking for something a little more visceral to run with Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon’s Sugarshock, and Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s Umbrella Academy (not to mention a short Rick Geary story). A guy with a sword fit the bill, so artist Luke Ross, and I put together a brief, violent tale of our displaced samurai, Asukai Shiro.

Samurai: Heaven and Earth is a creator-owned series by Luke and myself from Dark Horse, with two volumes in print thus far. It’s also absolutely my favorite project ever. The story follows a lone samurai who crosses the globe from East to West, following his kidnapped love, the lady Yoshiko. His travels bring him all the way to the halls of Versailles in Volume 1, where he meets some very familiar swordsmen. Volume 2 takes him to the sands of Egypt.Samurai Vol 1 on Amazon

I think the DHP short story, “The Forest,” stands on its own well enough. But chronologically it takes place between issues #2 and #3 of Volume 1, when Shiro begins his journey westward from China. At one point, I had toyed with the idea of a series of short stories, drawn by various artists, which would fill in the “untold tales” of Shiro’s journey. Luke is the artistic heart and soul of Samurai, but I’ve always liked “themed” anthologies, like Gaiman’s Sandman: Endless Nights or the Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall volume. Maybe that project will still happen at some point. But for now, “The Forest” is what you get, with beautiful art by Luke and colorist Dan Jackson.

For anybody that’s already read Volumes 1 and 2, thanks. Yes, there’s a Volume 3 planned, taking place in the Caribbean, but we’re waiting for Luke to find time amidst his Marvel schedule to draw it. For anybody that hasn’t read the first two volumes, I know they’ve been pirated and offered up online. But please, if you’re interested, do right thing and buy ’em:

Samurai : Heaven and Earth vol 1 Amazon Listing

Samurai : Heaven and Earth vol 2 Amazon Listing

Read “The Forest” at Dark Horse Presents / MySpace


Thanks. In the future, I’ll be running some of the pin-ups that have appeared in the collected editions, pieces by buddies of Luke and mine, like Jim Starlin, Greg Land, Mike Deodato Jr., Cully Hamner, Lee Moder and plenty more.

Cheers,

Ron

NOTE

For some reason the link to “The Forest” doesn’t take you directly to the story (it’s supposed to). You can read the story by scrolling down and selecting Issue 1 / Story 3 at the bottom of the page


Hello … Is this thing on?

So here we go. After much delay, RonMarz.com is finally open for business. We’ll be getting things up and running over the next few weeks, putting more aspects in place while juggling deadlines. The plan is to update regularly, including news about current and upcoming projects, both work-for-hire stuff like Witchblade and Magdalena, as well as creator-owned work like Samurai: Heaven and Earth; peeks at lots of artwork; pieces on previous work when I can dig something interesting out of the files; writing tips; and whatever else I happen to think of.

Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully I give you a reason to keep coming back. In the meantime, check me out on twitter.

cheers,

Ron


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