The iFanboy Letter Column – 02.03.2012

Hi! I’m actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan. You might know me from my roles in various underperforming comic book adaptation films, or perhaps as one of the many characters I have played who dies on television series.

Friday means many things to many people. For some, it’s the day you tousle your hair just so, and fix your dreamy, sleepy eyes at a camera. For others, it’s the day you wonder just what it was Gerry Butler did right that you couldn’t quite reach! And yet for others still, it’s when you call your agent once again to ask why your character has to die in damn near every show you do. I mean, what in the hell is that about?

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. They answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of iFanboy’s shows or answered here, in the letter’s column keep them coming to

 I was just curious about your opinion of the current state of fantasy comics. Over the past few months I’ve realised that some of the books I look forward to the most are Demon Knights & Journey into Mystery, and the recent preview of Dark Horse’s new Conan the Barbarian ongoing floored me and I promptly added it to my pull list. Six months ago I read no fantasy and now it seams like some of the most interesting books on the rack involve battleaxes and fireball spells, even Uncanny X-Force has gone D&D crazy in its recent arc. What’s your opinion? Is there room to grow for Sword & Sorcery comics or is this just a case of a few good creative teams working in the genre in the same time.


I think there’s a general movement, and it’s very slow and gradual, to vary the genres available to the readers. The current readership hasn’t really been all that kind to diversity, so genre diversity is usually couched in the trappings of superhero comics. If a book is put out from DC or Marvel, and it’s one of those other genres, it’s only a matter of time before they have a superhero guest star to try to bring in the skeptical. By then of course, it’s usually too late. But you’re right that more of these kinds of stories are finding their way to the mainstream conversation, and I welcome them.

Thanks to the success of The Lord of the Rings movies, and more recent fare like the Game of Thrones TV series (and yes, it took movie and TV adaptations to make them popular in a big way), comics get a little more leeway to try something else. This is a wonderful thing. The upcoming Conan book by Wood and Cloonan looks wonderful, but the fact is, Dark Horse has been making wonderful Conan comics for years. Both Demon Knights and Journey into Mystery are enjoying great critical success, with sort of modest sales. Skullkickers at Image takes that same fantasy approach, but with a sense of humor. What I’d love to see is a good, long form, Vertigo type story like Song of Fire and Ice meets Scalped. Comics is the perfect medium for that. All they need to do is find an artist who’s cool with drawing horses and armor all the time. It’s not exactly adult themed, but Jeff Smith’s Bone is probably the best example of the genre done in comics so far.

There’s one other aspect that holds back sword & sorcery books, and I think that they tend to be super self-serious, and it’s hard to pull that off (in any medium really) unless it’s really, really good. I was just thinking about why I don’t try something like that, because I really love the genre when done well. But man, it is tough to pull off. I hope someone does.

Also, only because I both love it, and that it’s loosely related, here’s Tyrion slapping Joffrey.

Josh Flanagan

I pre-order from D.C.B.S. and buy some back issue collections from a L.C.S. If I begin buying current books online will it bring about the cancellation of books I like that may not be selling at great numbers. Thunderbolts and Legion of Monsters come to mind.

Rephrase. If digital sales go up and the big two use Diamond order numbers to gauge popularity of specific titles wont the loss of those purchases bring about more Bat family, Wolverine, and Captain America titles. Conversely producing less new approach titles like, Legion of Monsters and The Mighty Thor.


I’m not sure how “new approach” The Mighty Thor is, but anyway…

The fact is that no one but the companies themselves know exactly what formula they use to gauge which books to keep and which books to cancel. Is it the primary determining factor orders through Diamond? Probably. But there are probably also other things involved, as there always are, and digital sales are surely one of them. And as digital sales increase, their importance in determining a book’s fate can only increase.

But here’s the thing: you can’t go crazy worrying about this stuff. Buy the books you want to buy, in the format you want to buy them, the way you want to buy them, and let the rest sort itself out. At the end of the day, that’s all you can do, really. This is your hobby, right? It’s supposed to be fun and it’s not supposed to be work, and worrying about the business implications behind your buying decisions seems an awful lot like work.

Conor Kilpatrick

How big of a mistake is DC making by giving Rob Liefeld control of three books when Hawk & Dove failed and The Infinite is so terrible? 

Darrell from Orlando, Florida

Normally I don’t like to run questions that are overly negative or accusatory, but Darrell’s question here brings up a good quandary that comic fans and publishers deal with on a daily basis. The question posed is that, based on Darrell’s assertion, that DC is making a mistake by giving Rob Liefeld more books to work on, based on Hawk & Dove “failing” and The Infinite being “terrible.”  Now, the reason I take issue with that assertion, and this is by no means in defense of Rob Liefeld (although I do consider myself a fan), is that it’s built on assumptions and judgment posed by you Darrell, and not looking at the facts. Let’s break it down…

Did Hawk & Dove fail because Rob Liefeld was the artist? Or did it fail because it was a book based on two C-level characters that not many fans know about and was a nostalgia play leveraging Liefeld’s history with the characters (at best)? Or did it fail because the story written by Sterling Gates wasn’t quite engaging to fans? It could have very well failed because Rob Liefeld’s art wasn’t quality and fans didn’t like it. And truth be told, it’s probably a combination of all three.  But to pin the failure of Hawk & Dove solely on Liefeld is unfair and mostly untrue.

As for The Infinite, you may think it was terrible, but it sold great when it was initially released. Now, I’m ignoring much of the hullabaloo about this title that recently occurred, but as someone who’s read every issue of The Infinite, I didn’t find it “so terrible.” I was actually enjoying it. Was it the next Watchmen? Hell no, but few comic books are. But for what it was–a time travel story with a bunch of guys with guns and a mysterious villain–it was fun to read. Now, that’s my opinion, which differs from yours. Which is what makes the job of a comic book publisher so difficult. How to sort out the personal opinions and make decisions that best move their publishing business forward.

To change the subject from Liefeld, let’s look at another vilified creator, Greg Land.  If I was in charge of Marvel, no way would I have him on Uncanny X-Men, much less any book. And yet month in and month out, the guy gets work.  Why? We may never know.  Some suspect that there’s a core audience that buys some creators work regardless of the title. Others suspect that exclusive deals and business matters that we may never know the details are involved. But ultimately, it comes down to a mix of business justification (sales) and editorial direction (publishers/editors wanting to work with certain creators.)  Given Liefeld’s history in the 1990s with DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras, it really came as no surprise to me to see him doing more work at DC Comics.

To get back to your earlier question, is DC making a mistake? Time will tell, won’t it? Ultimately it will boil down to sales and given that the characters Liefeld is now working on are B-Level, at least he’s got a bit of a leg up over Hawk & Dove.

Ron Richards


  1. thanks for answering my question guys:)

    • If you dig fantasy books, you should totally be checking out Skullkickers and Orc Stain from Image. Both are excellent titles and filled with fantasy goodness. Get thee to a comic shop! 🙂

    • I think the photo referencing is a whole other thing but what can be said about land is that the photos he is referencing are not his. He didn’t take them and you could view it at using some one else’s art whether you consider the original art or not. I have had a mixed view of graffitie artists for years now due to this reason.

    • Sorry that was meant for jcwell01’s comment

  2. I’m not sure I understand the hate for Greg Land, I don’t mind his art at all.

    Could be a similar instance with my opinions on Romita Jr.

    • that’s the point. Art is subjective. What works for some may not work for others. I happen to not like Land, you do. And that’s okay. I love Romita Jr., you may not. And that’s ok.

    • Completely agreed. I thought maybe there was some deeper issue, so I thought I’d ask.

      It always fascinates me how radically different the viewpoint on art can be. Just like how some people detest photo realism and some people love it.

    • The deeper issue is Land’s continual use of photo referencing from various and dubious source material, leading to inconsistency in how his characters look. This is in comparison to his earlier work, which didn’t have this problem.

      That’s why people don’t like him. Then it became popular to not like him, and it went from there.

      Me? I don’t like or like it. Not my thing.

    • See I’ve noticed inconsistencies, but I never realized there was a likely reason behind that.

      I have a feeling I’m going to start noticing it more now.

    • What Josh said. Land uses photo references that give his characters a certain look, both in facial expressions and poses. All of his women are posing or making sexy faces. He uses a lot of photos of swimsuit and lingerie models (and some would say porn models as well) as references that gives his females a particular look that some people do not enjoy. I am one of those people. It’s art that I do not enjoy looking at, as well as art that I find distracts from it’s comic’s writing. But somebody has to dig it, cuz the guy isn’t going anywhere.

    • Doesn’t Leifeld use other people’s photo referenced artwork too?

      I can understand not enjoying someone’s work, but don’t understand the hatred. Unless it’s something personal. JRJR is amazing by the way.

    • I am in the anti-Land camp, and the basics have already been covered by other comments (the inconsistency of a character’s appearance from one page to the next because he photo-referenced different faces is a big one), but for me, the final straw was when there was a page with a woman being tortured, and because of the photo-referencing he favors, she *still* looked like she was getting off. Bad enough that his women when performing high kicks look like they’re just having their legs propped up for a kama sutra maneuver, and that when they’re shouting they mostly look like they’re sucking on something…but when they should be in agony but instead seem to be feeling pleasure, that’s just creepy fetishistic garbage. And it takes a LOT to offend me, for real.

    • @bansidhewail – so he does this on purpose and not just because he is untalented?

    • I think that’s kind of like Tom DeFalco.
      I can’t get enough of his writing (and he’s a hell of a nice guy) but some people don’t like it.
      Like what you like!

  3. Well said Ron, I happen to love Rob’s work and think that just maybe his guts and glory approach to stories may just appeal to a younger audience. I think you have to take art for what it is and not just compare it to other art. I mean I love Robs work but I also love Chris Ware and Seth… Yet I cant tell you who is better because while Seth and Chris are far more talented in a technical way they don’t come close to Rob in passion on the page. Really what I’m trying to say is talk up what you love and just don’t read the rest.

  4. I must agree with jcwell01. My introduction to Greg Land was in CrossGen’s Sojourn. LOVED IT. It helped that his style fit with the fantasy setting and characters, but I’ve enjoyed his work since then too. Oh well, to each his own.

    Uh oh. Hope this string doesn’t turn into a Greg Land debate.

  5. Art is subjective. Propotional anatomy is not.

    • by that rationale, just about every single comic book artist should be burned at the stake for all of the extra vertebrae and fictitious muscles they draw on superhero bodies. There is nothing wrong with stylized work…really its personal preference.

    • Yep. Ed McGuiness is not a good artist. The Mario Brothers are stylized, Mcguiness’ Hulk is a sad testament to his lack of talent. I mean you can prefer his stuff, but Ilke a lot of terrible things, but don’t act all surprised when somebody points out the flaws. Also, ‘Lots of people prefer X.’ is not a normative statement on quality. Lots of people prefer Justin Beiber. Lots of people still listen to Korn. Lots of people went to watch that awful Hugh Jackman movie with the fighting robots.

  6. You know, despite some of the hate that Liefeld gets on the net, there are peeps that love his stuff. Lots of my guys at the store I go to dug his Hawk and Dove. It’s a taste thing. Also, we should remember that the dude loves comics and is never out to hurt the industry.

  7. I have to agree with Conor’s take….its a hobby…its about fun. Don’t sweat business stuff that you can’t control. Sometimes i feel we are waaaaaayyyy too worried about the business side of comics and forget that none of it is our problem to solve. If the book was going to get cancelled, it would anyways for factors no one single purchasing habit can fix.

    We’ve all heard the anecdotes about digital sales “not counting” and all we can do is hope the publishers screw their heads on straight and realize its a brave new world out there. Buy the books you want, in whatever format works for you.

  8. It’s probably a good mixture of both on why Hawk and Dove got cancelled so quickly. The characters are virtually unknown even with DC trying to push them the last couple of years. Whether you like Liefeld or not is one thing but I swear I see more negative comments and feelings towards his work then most artists right now.

    It doesn’t help that the most recent cover of H&D is the laziest cover I ever saw. He clearly just drew Hawk and then penciled/colored in Batman over top.

  9. Good questions and answers this week.

    I especially like Conor’s response on the to-buy-or-not-to-buy-digitally question. You can’t go crazy worrying about this stuff. And that doesn’t apply just to questions of digital but also to questions of buying trades through Amazon or back issues through cheap online comic shops, etc. On the one hand, I love going to my LCS every Wednesday and have no problem plunking down $3-$4 for certain single issues of titles I love. I want to be up to date on those series; I can’t wait to read them; I usually prefer reading things on paper rather than on a back-lit digital screen; I like the overall Wednesday LCS experience. That said, I don’t sweat it if I see an upcoming trade solicited on Amazon for $12; if it’s a collection of six comics that I’d normally spend $4 each via single issues, and if the trade’s coming out like three weeks after the sixth issue hits LCS’s… then, heck, I’ll just order the trade. Same with buying back issues and trades through dirt-cheap online comic shops. I don’t sweat it. I just do it. But I still support my LCS to an extent that’s reasonable and enjoyable.

    That said, I think that a boom in digital comic sales WILL probably result in certain low-level series being canceled. On the one hand, there’s no doubt that Marvel and DC make higher per-issue profit margins on digital sales. But on the other hand, there’s a certain print-run threshold that they have to meet, otherwise the series will just get canceled since it isn’t worth printing AT ALL. And it’s not like there are anywhere near enough digital sales to generate enough revenue to make up for dropping print entirely.

    On a per-copy basis, it definitely isn’t worth DC or Marvel’s while to print many series that don’t get a run of at least, say, 7,000 copies (to choose an arbitrary number just for the sake of argument). Printers charge less per copy when you print more copies. So, say a series is selling 7,500 print copies… and then 1000 readers switch to digital. What would happen then is that the series would just get canceled. The profit margin on 6,500 printed copies just wouldn’t be worth it, and they surely couldn’t get EVERY person who read the comic in print to switch over to digital. (And, sorry to say, there just aren’t loads of new comics readers jumping in to read DC and Marvel digitally. At least, not yet.) So, yeah, I think there’s a definite chance that if these sorts of transitions aren’t managed smoothly, then many titles could simply vanish. At least in for the near future until/if a more stable sales environment emerges.

    P.S. I don’t know what the deal is with saying that actors are “moderating” these letter columns, but I don’t really get what you guys are going for. Or, actually, I get what you’re going for but it just isn’t funny. It’s treating human beings like they were just living punchlines or jokes or something. Whether it’s George Clooney or this Morgan guy, it’s just weird for you guys to be doing this.

    • We do it because it makes us laugh. That’ll have to do I guess.

    • this made me think…….. have you guys checked into the legality of using these actors photos and posing as them in literary form??

    • A lot of things get picked apart on this site, but I never, ever thought this would be one of them.

    • @Josh: Well it doesn’t make flapjaxx laugh, so you should knock it off.

    • They’re hilarious. Keep it up!

    • @joshua

      “Doctrine of Fair Use” rulings on the ol First Amendment allows for free “political” speech. Parody is seen as political speech. Its the same reason SNL may mock companies or for-profit newspapers may show photos of Coke Cans or Mickey Mouse. However by definition parody needs to be commenting on the actions or personality of the individual.

      Each actor has a “right to publicity” so the boys couldn’t put the actors face on a t-shirt or print and sell them, even with their “witty” remarks attached.

      The comments on the column are easily seen as parody. However if the actor had their own blog where they post their comments in a similar style each week, the actor could sue over a “right of publicity” as there would be confusion in the marketplace, interferring with the actor’s ability to spread (and commodify) their own message.

      but as with any lawsuit, one must ask “what are their damages”?
      and with any comment one must ask “could it have been funnier”?

  10. as a side question to the fantasy one…is Orc Stain dead? i missed it the first time around and it really is beautiful.

  11. LOTR was popular in a big way before the movies. It is after all the best-selling english-language book from the 20th century. The movies just made it popular in a big, big, big way.

    • That’s almost word for word what Conor said.

      “Thanks to the success of the Lord of the Rings movies, and more recent fare like the Game of Thrones TV series (and yes, it took movie and TV adaptations to make them popular in a big way) …”

      You pretty much just added two more “big”s.

    • Firstly, it was Josh’s reply. Secondly, read it again. Josh is saying it took the movies release to make lotr popular in a big way.

    • I see what you were goin’ for now. My mistake.

  12. I was never a big fantasy guy. I mean, I loved LOTR and The Hobbit growing up, and I read every single Dragonlance novel that came out in the early 90’s, but since then I haven’t really missed it. Until Demon Knights came out. Since then, I’ve found myself drifting back towards that genre and really enjoying it. For my money, DK is one of the best books out there, and the different genre books are some of my favorite parts of the relaunch. I applaud them for the effort, and I wish we could see more of it.

    I think part of the problem is that those fans who are missing out by sticking to the big two expect tights and fights 24/7 because it’s what they’re used to. I’d wager that the fans who branch out a bit more into the smaller publishers have an easier time welcoming genre books from Marvel or DC. But what do I know.

  13. It took a movie adaptation of the highest or second-highest selling novel in the English language to make it “popular in a big way?”

  14. Yes. It was much more popular after the movies, because regardless of how many people bought, read or, even owned the books, way more people watched those movies.

    • Yes. But you said originally that it took the movies for it to become ‘popular in a big way’. It was always ‘popular in a big way’ even if there were no movies.

    • For a book.

    • For anything.

    • OK, so the movies had no demonstrable effect on the popularity of the Lord of the Rings story. That’s what you’re saying? Got it.

    • Your lack of comprehension is astounding. You are now trying to put words in my mouth!

      My original comment was “LOTR was popular in a big way before the movies. It is after all the best-selling english-language book from the 20th century. The movies just made it popular in a big, big, big way.” From that comment you can see I’ve definately been arguing that the movies had no demonstrable effect on its popularity. Not.

      Your original comment in the article states that it took the movies for lotr to become ‘popular in a big way’. It is an idiotic thing to say. The best-selling english-language book from the 20th century needed the movies to become ‘popular in a big way’? Don’t think so. The movies may have elevated it to a rarified air status of popularity, but even if they did not exist it would still be ‘popular in a big way’.

    • Why are you angry and calling me names?

    • Why are you making false accusations? What names have I called you?

  15. As funny as that Jeffery Dean Morgan knock was, I think he dud a great job as the Comedian, I love the Watchmen movie, thought it was a good psychological character study, some things I thought worked better on paper while some changes I thought translated better on screen. I noticed all 24 mins of extra footage in the directors cut and really enjoyed it, especially since a few of those cut scenes were moments from the book. I also really loved the emotion we got to see poor out of Dan Dreidberg after he learns of Hollis Mason’s murder and Rorschach has to drag him outta the bar saying nit in front of the civilians Daniel, w Dan all choked up. Saw it in the Imax before my directors cut bluray and gotta say that was a beautiful Imax experience, while I think Dr Manhattan could’ve wore the black tights more, the blue no need fir materialism penis wasn’t distracting on the 5 story screen. On another note Texas Killing Fields is another good movie w Morgan in it.

  16. I like my dud instead of did typo in the 1st sentence.