Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Boot Camp This Saturday

I've been working on a set list for my Boot Camp at Club Republik in Second Life off and on for the past few days and I think I've got it locked in. Or at least until I start spinning it.
1. Party Ben - Another One Bites Da Funk (Daft Queen)(2009 Rework) (3:57)
2. lobsterdust - NirGaga (Niravana vs. Lady Gaga) (4:23)
3. World Famous Audio Hacker - What's That Sound? (6:24)
4. DJ Earworm - The Night Of Kittin's Messy Dream (Miss Kittin vs. P.J. Harvey & Thom Yorke vs. Corey Hart vs. Human League) (4:56)
5. DJ Le Clown - U Not Alone (Will Smith vs Michael Jackson vs The Beatles) (4:44)
6. Go Home Productions - LSD Forever (2:28)
7. Tarzan Of The Apes - Rat Inferno (3:06)
8. Phil RetroSpector - Looking Back is a Losing Game (2:33)
9. Celebrity Murder Party - Coma Girl Acid Test (4:32)
10. The Ciccones - communication (5:52)
11. Apollo Zero - New York From Blue To Green (Moby ft. Debbie Harry vs Chicane)(Apollo Zero Reconstruct) (5:12)
12. ElectroSound - Trans London Express (3:16)
13. Dunproofin' - Infused Peaches (4:40)
14. DJ Gaston - Groove In A Radioaktive World (6:22)
15. 9freak9 - Stressproof (La Roux VS Laurent Wolf VS Daft Punk) (5:23)
16. iBall - Light Will Be The Death Of Me (2:26)
17. DJ Payroll - Losing My Advertising Space (4:31)
18. Elocnep - Space Cadet Could Say... (Birdy Nam Nam vs. Lily Allen) (4:20)
19. MC Sleazy - Don't Call Me Blur (3:50)
20. Mighty Mike - Paperlong (M.I.A. vs. Foo Fighters) (3:35)
21. Thriftshop XL - Do You Wanna Cuz It's Tricky (Franz Ferdinand vs. Run-DMC vs. The Knack) (2:47)
22. Disfunctional DJ - You're The One I Want In The Next Episode (Grease vs. Dr. Dre & Snoop Dog) (3:50)
23. Aggro1 - Depeche Mode v. David Bowie v. Beatles (4:04)
24. ATOM - Music Non Stop (ATOM's Drunken Bunny Mix) (7:22)
25. Cheekyboy - NightRider (War vs. Fatboy Slim) (4:29)
26. DJ Prince - Mashing It Up (5:27)
27. DJ Schmolli - Land Of Sonic Numbers (4:25)
28. DJ Schmolli - Fire, Smoke And Tone Loc (3:32)
29. DJ ShyBoy - You Spin Me Upside Down (Diana Ross vs Dead Or Alive) (4:10)
30. DJ Tripp - Don't Go Weird (Yaz vs. Oingo Boingo) (4:38)
31. DJ Zebra - Golden Blonde (Blondie vs. The Klaxons) (3:19)

You can find the Club Republik website here with information about the SLUrl for the club and other fun flash facts.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

10 Questions About DC Entertainment

This question coming up in a piece on Newsarama gets to the crux of what I am wondering about with the recent Warner/DC corporate shuffle announcement.
How much input will Robinov (and by natural extension) Warner Bros. Pictures, have over DC’s comic book development?

Referring back to the Disney/Marvel merger, the folks at the House of Mouse went out of their way to say they want Marvel to keep being Marvel. Disney execs swore up and down they had no intention of rocking the House of Ideas’ boat.

Two big differences between that arrangement and today’s announcement. One, Disney needed Marvel to regain cred with young males more than Marvel needed Disney at this juncture in time, so in theory, it makes sense that Disney will take a hands-off approach.

Two, DC Entertainment was created to give DIRECT control of DC Comics to the Warners film division. Diane Nelson now runs DC Comics. Diane Nelson reports to Jeff Robinov, who runs Warner Bros. Pictures. How can he NOT have significant input into the decision-making at DC? How much influence he chooses to wield is up to him. Could it mean that the direction of certain characters could be affected by decisions tied to theatrical choices? Who knows? If he’s smart, and one doesn’t get to Robinov’s position without being smart, he’ll let the comics guys & girls handle the comics, so he can zero in on the movies. Lord knows, he has lots to do on that front.

The emphasis is mine in the quote, by the way. I don't think that it can be emphasized enough that DC Entertainment is being put into the hands of a brand manager under the direct control of Warner's film division. This just strikes me as a corporate synergy move, not one concerned with creative control...like the Disney/Marvel deal has been.

This decision isn't a reaction to Disney's (attempted) acquisition of Marvel. I think that it is a reaction to the success of Marvel Entertainment with the Iron Man movie (and to a limited degree the reboot of the Hulk movie franchise) that was announced with a timing that was intended to take some of the wind out of the sails of what's going on with Disney and Marvel. Despite the fluke of the Batman movie franchise reboot, the DC properties on the big screen have not been doing so well. Superman Returns is an example of this. I do think that we will see some success with the upcoming mid/low tier DC characters in the movies: Jonah Hex and The Losers. Will this success be due to tie in to comics? That's doubtful but it is exactly the sort of thing that this new DC Entertainment will be looking for: successful franchising launched from the R&D of the comic books. Frankly, this has little to do with the creativity on either of those books, and probably never will.

If you are someone who is excited that these properties are going to be farmed for movies, television and video games...all of this about DC Entertainment is most likely great news. If you are someone who is a fan of the medium of comic books and loves the creativity that comes out of that medium, well, things are still hazy on whether or not this will be a good thing or not.

Regardless, it does look as those the comic industry is in for a big change in the way that it deals with itself, and that change is coming soon.

Industry Reacts to Levitz, DC Entertainment

From Comic Book Resources, Kurt Busiek and other comment on the DC changes. Click through for some of the other comments

I heard the news in pieces. 'Hey, DC is reorganizing! Hey, this is going to be the new person! Hey, it's going to be a new entity called DC Entertainment! Hey, Paul Levitz is stepping down and going back to being a writer and consultant!' I was reacting to it as each piece hit, and I've got to say...Warner Bros. is reorganizing DC to make better use of the DC characters across media platforms? Yeah, fine, sure. That's movie stuff. I don't care. Paul Levitz stepping down? That's huge. That's a bigger story for comics than Disney/Marvel, than DC Entertainment, than any of this. Paul not being in that chair, in that office at DC doing that job is going to change comics in ways that there's no way to predict.

The industry has grown from what it was in the '70s to what it is now largely because of the things that Paul's been involved in. Having gone from a newsstand-oriented periodicals business to a backlist-oriented, multimedia library with royalties and creator's rights and all of these things... there are a number of people who were significant players in making all of that happen, but no one was more significant long term in making that happen [than Paul Levitz]. I'm very excited that I'm going to see more Paul Levtiz writing, because Paul is a terrific writer. But I'm just amazed at the prospect of an American comic book industry without Paul Levitz being one of the guiding forces.

I think the system we've got right now will continue the way it is, but what's the next big change, and how will that be handled? Paul not only was an innovator, but there have been people over the years who have complained that Paul won't move fast enough for their taste. Paul has always been someone who moves forward deliberately but carefully. And where other companies would move forward and rush into something – committing a whole lot of money to a trade paperback program without building up a backlist to support that program like Paul did – that created financial instabilities that were absorbed by the fact that DC was always there to backstop the system and keep things moving in the right direction. Various developments that could have been created by rushing into the new thing only to watch it flame out and collapse – Paul was the one who kept that from happening.

What challenges are we going to face next? I don't know who DC Entertainment is going to put into Paul's job. Diane Nelson is going to be the President of DC Entertainment but not the President of DC Comics. Whoever is in that role is going to report to her, and whoever that is is going to have different instincts and different priorities from what Paul had. That's going to be a big change. I don't know what that's going to be. I can't say it'll be a great thing or it'll be a bad thing. It's going to be different. That's all I can say. Five years from now, I think the comic industry is going to be different in a huge number of ways, and it's going to be that way because Paul's not in that chair anymore.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Keeping Up With The Jones: Corporate Restructing and DC Comics

This is going to be a bit lengthy, but this is big enough news to warrant it. As I said on Twitter earlier, the sounds you've hearing today are the sounds of the other shoe dropping in the comic industry. This shoe is probably going to bounce for a while too.

First, let's go to the official announcement from Warner:

Burbank, CA - Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (WBEI) has created DC Entertainment Inc., a new company founded to fully realize the power and value of the DC Comics brand and characters across all media and platforms, to be run by Diane Nelson, it was announced today by Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, and Alan Horn, President & COO, Warner Bros.

DC Entertainment, a separate division of WBEI, will be charged with strategically integrating the DC Comics business, brand and characters deeply into Warner Bros. Entertainment and all its content and distribution businesses. DC Entertainment, which will work with each of the Warner Bros. divisions, will also tap into the tremendous expertise the Studio has in building and sustaining franchises and prioritize DC properties as key titles and growth drivers across all of the Studio, including feature films, television, interactive entertainment, direct-to-consumer platforms and consumer products. The DC Comics publishing business will remain the cornerstone of DC Entertainment, releasing approximately 90 comic books through its various imprints and 30 graphic novels a month and continuing to build on its creative leadership in the comic book industry.

In her new role, Nelson will report to Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, in order to best capitalize on DC Entertainment’s theatrical development and production activities and their importance to drive its overall business with each of the divisions of Warner Bros.

Nelson will bring her expertise and more than 20 years’ experience in creative brand management, strategic marketing and content development and production to ensuring DC Entertainment’s dual mission of marshalling Warner Bros.’ resources to maximize the potential of the DC brand while remaining respectful of and collaborative with creators, talent, fans and source material. Additionally, Nelson will continue to oversee the franchise management of the Harry Potter property, which she has done since 2000, and also continue to represent the Studio's interests with the author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling. Nelson will segue from her post as President, Warner Premiere but maintain oversight responsibilities of that division. (An executive succession plan for Warner Premiere will be announced shortly.)

Paul Levitz, who has served as President & Publisher of DC Comics since 2002, will segue from that role to return to his roots as a writer for DC and become a contributing editor and overall consultant to DCE. This transition will take place as expeditiously as possible without disrupting DC’s business operations.

You can click here for the rest of the press release.

This last part is, to me, pretty damn huge. Paul Levitz is no longer President and Publisher, while someone who's experience is with brand management and marketing will take over as President of the newly named DC Entertainment division. What does this spell for creatives at DC Comics and its various sub-labels? Not sure yet, and really only time will tell but to me this doesn't look like good news for fans of DC's comics. Why? This looks like DC has been further relegated to an R&D position within the Warner corporate structure. Putting a brand manager in charge of a comic company is great for corporate synergy and leveraging the visibility and clout of the brands of the comic company but it doesn't speak to the creativity that goes on behind those "brands" in the first place. It may not end up with the monthly comics being given a second class status over the importance of the brands and characters, but it doesn't look like a rosy future for the creative end of things at DC.

Now, let's look at Paul Levitz's open letter of resignation in its entirety.
Dear Friends,

Thank you for your efforts, your support, and your contributions to DC Comics over the long years that I’ve had the honor of serving as part of DC’s leadership team. Together, our staff, creative contributors, readers, retailers and business partners have helped bring us to the beginning of what looks to be a new golden age for comics in the United States, and one that will bring more respect for the talent and the medium.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s heard me answer a comic convention request, 'When are you going to do more Legion stories?' that I’m going to step away from my executive desk in coming months to resume my writing career, in comics and hopefully other forms as well. One of the lessons I learned from my many great teachers, from Frank McCourt through Joe Orlando and Jenette Kahn, is that creative work is more enduring than executive acts, and I look forward to adding to the stories I’ve told. Expect to see my byline at DC, as it has appeared for almost 37 years, adding what I can to a mythology and company that has my enduring affection, and expect to see me around the world of comics, which I hope never to leave. I already hear Karen and Dan sharpening their blue pencils with glee, waiting for my first pages.

DC will remain in the hands of the people who have had ultimate responsibility for its success throughout the past two decades, the management team of Warner Bros., headed by Barry Meyer and Alan Horn. They have encouraged our growth as a creative enterprise, and I have confidence that the people they will select to join the DC team, beginning with Diane Nelson, will do their best to make DC a success. While that transition process is taking place, I’ll continue to run DC until the baton can be carefully passed, and afterwards will have a role in which I can provide my advice and help.

On a personal note, I deeply appreciate the warmth and friendship I have found in these halls since my first visit, as a 13 year old comics fan. The relationships I have made here, including one that began in a DC circulation meeting and developed into the first DC marriage in four decades (thereby rebooting a grand tradition?), have been and will remain central to my life.

And now, if you forgive me, the future is calling.

While it is great for comic fans (in the short term at least) that a writer like Paul Levitz is returning to a job that he loves, and will write a group of characters that he loves and has been a guiding force in the creation of. All well and good from a creative viewpoint. From a corporate viewpoint? I don't know. Imagine if a bank president showed up to work to be told by his bosses that from now on he was going to be working in the cafeteria instead. No, no...why would he continue to be paid the same or have the same responsibilities? Exactly. Going from a President within the corporate structure of Time/Warner to being a freelancer again is quite a drop. Sure, there is severance and such but going from being a President with a steady, good income to being another freelancer isn't exactly a lateral career move.

An interesting question is: How will this impact the creatives who do all the work that has led to these powerful brands? Will we see an end to creator-owned titles through DC and its sub-labels like Vertigo and Wildstorm? Will creators have second thoughts about working in a corporate structure that may be top heavy, with brand managers deciding what should be in monthly titles rather than editorial and creative teams working on the books? OK, so that's more than one question. But this is a big deal if you're a comic fan.

Another BIG question is: How will this impact Disney's acquisition of Marvel? Is Disney going to decide that in order to stay competitive they aren't going to be able to be as "hands off" as they have been saying they will be in the day to day of Marvel? This has just made an incredibly huge impact on the landscape of comics, both for fans and businesses. This is going to mean that there is going to be a lot coming out over the next few days, weeks, maybe even months.

Here's a link to an article at Newsarama with quotes from industry people about this news.

This is big.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My Panel Schedule at Necronomicon 2009

As a gaming guest at this year's Necronomicon in St. Petersburg, FL this is the list of panels that I will be on while I am there. A variety of topics, I think, but then you have to wear a lot of hats when you're a small press game publisher.

In addition I will be running some game sessions around these panels. I could probably be convinced to run after hours, if people approach me nicely enough.

Playing the Game with the Big Boys
Fri 1:00 PM

"You Say 'Self-Pub' Like It's A Bad Thing: Ways To Use It So It's Not."
Fri 3:00 PM

E-Book formats & DRM Methods
Sat 11:00 AM
St. Pete 3

How to Go from Amateur to Pro:Game Creation
Sun 11:00 AM
St. Pete 3

Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, MySpace…
Sun 1:00 PM
St. Pete 3

Living in a Virtual World
Sun 2:00 PM
St. Pete 3