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She-Hulk

Wow, sucks, doesn’t it? Something we love is going away. The She-Hulk series, published by Marvel Comics, written by me, largely drawn by Javier Pulido (Ron Wimberly killed it on issues 5-6), with colors largely from Muntsa Vicente (Rico Renzi for 5-6) incredible covers from Kevin Wada and lettered by Clayton Cowles, with wonderful editorial work from Jeanine Schaefer and Tom Brennan, will end at issue 12, which will hit in January, 2015.

I’ve known about this for a little while – it wasn’t a surprise to me. To you guys, however, it seems like it was a bit of a shock, at least based on the massive response I’ve seen on Twitter, FB and in the press. Some wonderful things are being said about She-Hulk, and the team and I appreciate it immensely.

Can't take credit for this, I saw it on Twitter, but I thought it was pretty great - memed-up form of some panels from She-Hulk #1.

Can’t take credit for this, I saw it on Twitter, but I thought it was pretty great – memed-up form of some panels from She-Hulk #1.

One thing that’s important to realize, which might seem counterintuitive: Marvel loves She-Hulk too. They really do – all up and down the line. I’ve had conversations about this book over the last week with… well, pretty high up folks. They know it’s a series that’s important not just because of what it sells, but because of what it is. For example:

For me, that’s incredibly gratifying, because those responses suggest that I succeeded in what I was hoping to do with this book. Sure, I’m a lawyer, and I wanted to write what I know, but I also wanted to create a project about a woman who didn’t have to read as a “woman” or a “man” or a “superhero” – but instead, just as a person dealing with life, using her expertise and confidence as weapons even more potent than her fists (although she can use those too – like any actual person, Jen Walters has more than one side to her.)

That was my theme for the book from the very start:

Panel from She-Hulk #1.

Panel from She-Hulk #1.

I also really wanted to write something that could be read with (or by) kids, but wouldn’t read as a kids’ book, and wouldn’t talk down to anyone. I try to make the legal stuff in the book accessible for non-lawyers, but at the same time, I don’t want to pander. That’s not how the world is, and I want She-Hulk to feel connected to real experiences and real lives.

Based on the way you’ve been reacting over the last few days, it seems like maybe I got there, a little bit.

Why is She-Hulk going away? It’s somewhat about the issues noted here and here, in wonderful articles written by phenomenally kind journalists Oliver Sava over at the AV Club and Brett White at Comic Book Resources. (Many other folks have written amazing things too, and thank you to everyone who has taken the time.)  In this day and age, every book has to justify its existence on a financial level, even one as beloved as She-Hulk. Comics is still a business, and there are considerations beyond the creative. However, that’s not really all of it.

Another significant factor – I pitched a twelve-issue arc: She-Hulk Volume 1. The story we’re getting through issues 1-12 is exactly the story I wanted to tell. And let’s take a look at what we actually got here:

  1. Jen quits her law firm and opens up her own shop.
  2. Jen brings Angie, Hei Hei and Hellcat on as her staff, goes out on the town and hulks out a little.
Page from She-Hulk #2

Panels from She-Hulk #2.

3. Jen takes on Kristoff Vernard, the Son of Doom as a client, in an effort to help him avoid deportation from the US.

4. Jen goes to Latveria to help her client, and confronts Dr. Doom (or a giant Doombot, anyway.)

She-Hulk #4.

She-Hulk #4.

5-6. Jen delves into the mystery of the Blue File, and things get really real.

  1. Jen, along with Hank Pym, beats up some cats.
she-hulk-ant-man-talk-to-ants

She-Hulk #7.

8-10. Jen goes up against Daredevil in court, with Captain America on trial.

She-Hulk #8.

She-Hulk #8.

11-12. The mystery of the Blue File is resolved.

That’s eight stories over twelve issues – it’s not nothing, and I think it will feel very self-contained when it’s all said and done. It’s what Marvel hired me to write, and I’m extremely satisfied with and proud of these twelve issues. Do I have more She-Hulk stories? Why, yes I do. I could write her for a while yet to come, and I have many ideas for where her story would go in the future. I’d like to bring in some of the other professionally-minded people from the Marvel Universe, for one thing (Tony Stark’s shark of an attorney, the ominously named Legal, needs to reappear), and there are many interesting things to be said about the way Jen would continue to try to make her life, superheroing and new business work on her own terms.

I mean, isn’t that what this version of She-Hulk is, in a sense? It’s our own little venture, our own little startup, which we’re trying to do our own way.

Here’s what I can say at this point about additional Jen Walters adventures – the door isn’t closed. Like I said, I think everyone wants to see more She-Hulk, done more or less the way it’s been done thus far. Still, it’s very important to let Marvel know in a concrete fashion – you’ve all been doing amazing work on social media and so on, but there’s another way, too… pick up the issues, whether digitally or in print versions at your local retailer. Buy the trades. Volume 1, collecting issues 1-6 is out now both in print and digital, and Volume 2 will be out soon. You can give the book reviews on Amazon (at that link I just provided) and Goodreads.  If you haven’t added the book to your pull list at your local retailer, do it. Issue 12, the final issue for the moment, is in the Previews catalog right now, with order code NOV140813. If you go to your shop and ask them about adding She-Hulk to your pull list, they’ll do it, and then they’ll order another copy. If enough shops do that, well, it certainly sends a nice message that these are the sorts of books you want, will read, and will support.

I also like these hearts:  . They’re green. Just like She-Hulk.

Anyway, thank you for reading, for writing, for reviewing, for Tweeting, for telling your friends and customers and colleagues about the book. I know how special this book has been to me, and knowing that it means as much as it seems to for all of you is truly wonderful. If you want to talk more about She-Hulk, books like it, or anything else, my Twitter handle is @charlessoule, and Marvel Comics is @Marvel.

Case… closed?

Death of Wolverine #1 hits shelves tomorrow, and it hits alongside the announcement that I signed a contract with Marvel Comics to work for them for a bit (which was released by USA Today just a few minutes ago, and confirmed by Comic Book Resources.) I expect both to have a very significant effect on my career. DoW is getting tons of press coverage – everyone has known it’s coming for a while. This contract thing will come as a surprise, I think, so I thought I’d type up a few quick thoughts about it to help explain where things are right now.

First and foremost, signing a contract is a business decision – it is, literally, my business. So, if I don’t describe every detail about what happened, how it happened, how long it will last or other specifics, well… as I said, my business. However, I know that some people out there will be curious about how my Marvel contract affects my work for other companies, including some of the titles I’m working on right now, so I thought I could speak a bit to that.

For those who aren’t familiar with the comics business, there are only a few main players, and they occasionally sign individual creators to contracts that prevent them from freelancing for the other main players in the business for a specified period of time. While I’m not technically a Marvel “employee,” I will be doing the majority of my comics work for them for a bit.

This means that I won’t be writing for DC Comics for a while, which was not an easy decision to make. DC gave me my first shot at “Big 2” comics with Swamp Thing, and my profile took a massive leap forward when they trusted me to write Superman / Wonder Woman. Red Lanterns has been a blast as well, not to mention all the other side projects, one-offs I’ve been lucky enough to write – and of course the projects I haven’t written yet! So let me be clear – the decision to work with Marvel for a while isn’t any sort of denigration of DC. I had a fantastic time there, I was treated extremely well, I have strong positive feelings about all of my editors and the DC universe of characters, and I look forward to hopefully working with them at some point down the road. You’ll still see DC work coming out from me for a little while yet over the coming months, and both Marvel and DC were extremely gracious about working with me to make sure that I could complete my runs on DC titles the way I originally intended. So, you’ll see my work on Red Lanterns as part of the big Godhead event, you’ll see me ending my run on Superman / Wonder Woman the way I wanted to, and Swamp Thing will continue under my pen for a little while as well (in fact, a new Swampy issue hits tomorrow!)

Oh, and Letter 44 isn’t going anywhere. I’m on that one until it’s done, which won’t be for a while yet.

So why sign a deal at all, if things were so great? Well, it’s pretty simple. Writing eight titles a month (which I’ve been doing for quite a while now) is no joke. It’s a constant tightrope walk, requiring serious focus and discipline. I’ve proven to myself that I can do it, but now that I have, it’s time for a different challenge – I want to know what I can accomplish with a smaller slate, where I can really dive in. I’ve accomplished breadth, now I want to see about depth. There are creator-owned projects I’m anxious to explore, as well as some different kinds of writing – I have a few novels to polish and hopefully release, for one thing. Also, Marvel is giving me the opportunity to really play in their sandbox in a big way. Inhuman is going to some very interesting places, and the Wolverine stuff I’m working on post-death (not with Logan, but more about the impact of his death on the Marvel Universe) is pretty wonderful as well. And of course there’s She-Hulk… one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. Issue 8 hits shelves tomorrow, featuring the start of a three-part story in which Daredevil and She-Hulk go up against each other in court, with Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) as the defendant. First time that’s ever happened in the comics, and I’m probably as excited about that story as I am about DoW.

But speaking of the death of a certain angry Canadian, let me mention that I’m doing a ton of signings/appearances, etc. this month and next to promote that story. Here’s the list:

September 3 (Wednesday), 6-8 PM – NEW YORK CITY – Midtown Comics Downtown

September 4 (Thursday), 4-7 PM – PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – Fat Jack’s Comicrypt

September 5-7 (Friday-Sunday) – BALTIMORE COMIC CON

September 17 (Wednesday), 4-7 PM (time to be confirmed) – LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS – Larry’s Comics

September 27 (Saturday), 10 AM – 1 PM – SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – Yesteryear Comics

September 27 (Saturday), 7-10 PM – LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – The Comic Bug

October 1 (Wednesday) – 4-7 PM – SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Comix Experience

October 9-12 (Thursday – Sunday) – NEW YORK COMIC CON

It will probably be tough not to get a book signed by me in September.

Let me wrap up by thanking you for reading, and supporting my work over the past few years. I would never have gotten to this point without your help, and I think about that all the time. More great stories to come, I promise.

 

So, in the last six days, it’s been announced in Entertainment Weekly that I’m killing Wolverine, and by the Hollywood Reporter that my creator-owned series with Oni Press, Letter 44, is in development as a television show with SyFy.

That’s nuts. How did this happen? I wish I could tell you – it still seems almost misty, like it’s happening to someone else. Or, more pertinent to this blog post, it seems too big to articulate. But I suppose I’ll give it a shot. I mean, words are my job, aren’t they?

Here is what these announcements mean to me – along with the trajectory of the entire last year, really:

I don’t have to be quite as worried that it’s all going to go away.

For years – years – every time I made a wish of any kind (birthday candles, eyelashes, falling stars, you name the trope), it was always the same thing: “I’d like to spend as much of my life creating things as possible, making a living from ideas.” Not that I hate being an attorney – hopefully my She-Hulk series shows you that – but it’s just a different thing. Once you reach a certain point in your life, I think you figure out where your happiness lies, and mine comes from making things, whether music or stories or whatever else. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do – I wrote my first “novel” in fourth grade (it was about a unicorn.)

Now, though, because of everyone who has picked up, written about, talked to me about, tweeted, Facebooked, spoken to their friends about, ordered for their shop, hired me to do or just plain old read my work… I can feel myself relaxing a bit. I think, I hope that I’m not going anywhere. I can think about what’s next. (What’s next = cool stuff, if I have anything to say about it.)

So, thank you, all of you. I better get back to it, though – turns out I have quite a lot of work to do.

It’s Thursday – tomorrow morning I fly to C2E2 for what promises to be another great weekend of meeting fans, talking comics and – time permitting – a few great runs along the Chicago lakeshore, which is something I look forward to all year long. You go up from the convention center along the shore through Grant Park, Millienium Park and then turn around once you hit Navy Pier. It’s just gorgeous, and really helps to clear out the con-related cobwebs. And any other cobwebs.

By the time I land in Chicago, I believe some news will have broken about a project I’ve been referring to as The Grey Book on Twitter for a while.  This is the grey book in question, the Moleskine dedicated to the story:

IMG_20140424_140423_322

What’s in it? You’ll find out in broad strokes tomorrow, and more specifically later this year. It’s big, though – bigger than that one little grey notebook should be able to contain.

In other C2E2-related news, I’ll be doing a cool run of panels and signings. When I’m not doing those, I can be found at table O-13, near a rogue’s gallery of incredibly talented folks.  Here’s the schedule:

FRIDAY

2:45-3:45 – Room N427 -DC All Access – I’ll be talking about some of my projects for DC Comics, including Swamp Thing and Red Lanterns. Other guests include Brian Azzarello, Dan Jurgens, Greg Lockard, Greg Pak, Jim Chadwick, Kyle Higgins, Nicola Scott and Scott Snyder.

4:15-5:15 – Room N426 – Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way – Are you a writer or artist? Ever dream of working for Marvel? Do you find yourself thinking, “I could do that…if I knew how!” Well, here’s your chance! Join superstar writers and artists including Mark Brooks (Fearless Defenders), Joshua Hale Fialkov (Amazing Spider-Man: Who Am I? Infinite Comic, Ultimate FF), Todd Nauck (Nightcrawler), and Charles Soule (She-Hulk) as well as Marvel’s talent scout C.B. Cebulski to find out the answers on how to get your foot in the door and make your job MARVEL!

 

SATURDAY

Noon – 1 PM – Signing at the Marvel Booth.

4:15-5:15 – Room N426 - Marvel’s Next Big Thing – Want to start reading Marvel comics? There’s no better time than Marvel NOW! And there’s no better place to learn about our thrilling and creatively diverse All-New Marvel NOW series than this panel! Don’t miss some exciting discussion of Guardians of the Galaxy and Inhuman titles, plus a surprise announcement or two! Panelists include Executive Editor Mike Marts, Senior Editor Nick Lowe, Mahmud Asrar (Wolverine & the X-Men), Joshua Hale Fialkov (Amazing Spider-Man: Who Am I? Infinite Comic), Charles Soule (She-Hulk), Ryan Stegman (Wolverine), James Robinson (Fantastic Four), and Skottie Young (Rocket Raccoon)!

 

SUNDAY

12:15-1:15 – Room N427 – Superman, the Man of Tomorrow – cool panel discussing Superman (obviously), and more particularly the upcoming Doomed event, which starts next month. Other panelists include Aaron Kuder, Greg Pak and Scott Snyder.

1:15-2:15 – Room N426 – Wolverine – Three Months to Die – Wolverine is going to die! But when, and how? The biggest Wolverine event in years kicks off in June with “3 Months to Die” and this panel is the place to find out more! Plus, learn about exciting new developments across the entire X-Men family of titles! Panelists include Executive Editor Mike Marts, Editor Jordan D. White, Mahmud Asrar (Wolverine & the X-Men), Russell Dauterman (Cyclops), Jason Latour (Wolverine & the X-Men), Greg Pak (World War Hulk) and Charles Soule (She-Hulk, Thunderbolts) as they take on all questions!

Now, at the table, I’ll have the usual assortment of cool things – Strongman Vols 1 and 2, 27 Vols 1 and 2, Strange Attractors, Letter 44 1-6 (the whole first arc) and some of my Marvel/DC work as well. I’ll have 27 and Strange Attractors shirts, the world-famous Indian Swamp Thing poster, and something else – a brand new Strongman story called El Tigre and the Tiger.  It’s drawn by my frequent collaborator Robert Saywitz – the guy who did the amazing complexity maps in Strange Attractors. This is a short, fun tale about a trip to Coney Island undertaken by our doughty hero. It’s designed as sort of an art object – printed on really cool paper and folded in an interesting way, so that unfolding it becomes part of the story is told.  I’m very proud of it – this is the first new Strongman material in something like four years! Here’s the cover pane (the final is inked, etc. – but it’ll give you a taste!):

Strongman3_Pencil_Panel1-small

These are pretty limited, self-printed works of love, so if you want one, swing by O-13 early. See you in Chi-town!

 

I’m in the home stretch of prepping for my first convention of 2014, the always incredible Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, Washington.  While it’s not the first big convention of the year (Planet Comicon hits before ECCC, for one), it’s been my first con for the last four years running. This makes ECCC #5 for me, which I believe is a legacy to be proud of. I have family in Seattle, but it’s also just such a great town in general. I live in NYC, which I love, but Seattle lets me go for runs along Puget Sound, check out the EMP museum, do karaoke at one of my favorite karaoke places in THE WORLD (which I will be doing on Friday night with several friends I do this with every year, a small, select, talented group – we’ve been planning our song list for literally months), eat great food, hike up in the mountains… anyway, I dig it.

But I’m not just flying to Seattle to recharge my spiritual batteries and gallivant with my creative brethren and sistren in the comics industry. No, I’m also coming to see YOU.  I will be set up in Artist’s Alley at table V-12.

I expect to have the following items:

Letter 44 1-5
Strange Attractors
27 Vols 1 and 2
Strongman Vols 1 and 2
T-shirts (27 and Strange Attractors)
Posters (that awesome Indian Swamp Thing one you may have seen around)

Plus, various issues and collections of Swamp Thing, Superman / Wonder Woman, Red Lanterns, Thunderbolts and She-Hulk, including variant covers. If you’re looking for a particular cover (especially S/WW), chances are I might have one.

TONS O’ MERCH! But I will not just be trying to turn paper with words and pictures on it into smaller, greener paper with words and picture on it. I will also be talking at you. I’m doing a number of panels and signings. Full schedule below:

Friday 1-2 PM, ROOM TCC 301 – Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way: “Are you a writer or artist?  Ever dream of working for Marvel?  Do you find yourself thinking “I could do that, if I knew how!”  Well, here’s your chance!  Join Marvel’s Talent Scout C.B. Cebulski and panelists Jason Aaron (Thor: God of Thunder), Jordie Bellaire (Deadpool), Jason Latour (Wolverine & The X-Men), Declan Shalvey (Moon Knight), and Charles Soule (She-Hulk) to find out how to get your foot in the door at Marvel!”

Friday 4-5 PM, Signing at the DC booth. (Look for the DC comics booth. I’m sure you’ll find it.)

Saturday, Noon-1 PM, ROOM TCC 301 – Marvel: Pint O’ CB: “This is it, Mighty Marvel fans: the no-holds-barred, anything goes, full-of-surprises panel you waited all year for, and it’s here!  Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and Marvel’s Talent Scout C.B. Cebulski take on all questions about upcoming Marvel events with guests Jason Aaron, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Charles Soule and G. Willow Wilson!  Plus: find out more about thrilling new series Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel from the women who write them!  This is the panel everyone will be talking about… so head on over and have a pint with C.B.!”

Saturday, 2-3 PM, ROOM TCC 301: DC Comics – The New 52: “New and veteran fans alike are welcomed to be a part of history as the DC team and top-notch talent discuss the books that are shaping this new era of DC Comics! Don’t miss this exclusive look inside the hottest comic line in decades! Panelists include Matt Idelson, Brian Buccellato, Ray Fawkes, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Ann Nocenti, Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Alessandro Vitti. Moderated by Larry Ganem.”

Saturday, 3-4 PM, Signing at the Oni Booth! Letter 44 galore! Show up and I will answer ONE question about the series for you. BUT ONLY ONE.

Sunday, Noon-1PM, Signing at the DC Booth!

Sunday, 1-2 PM, Room 201, Writers Unite: “Creator-owned comics are back in a big way and publishers are looking for new stories. Charles Soule (Superman/Wonder Woman) and Jim Zub (Samurai Jack) discuss writing, pitching, and breaking into the business.”

FYI, this last panel is incredibly useful for anyone aspiring to be a comics writer. Jim and I have been doing it for several years, and at this point it’s a finely honed cornucopia of handy, frank advice, with a pretty lively Q&A to boot. Highly recommended for anyone trying to get into this cramazing biz.

And that’s Emerald City! CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOU!

 

 

Last night – probably too late last night, I tweeted this:

At the time, I was watching a movie that featured a few ex-Spetsnaz characters, which got me thinking about the incredible novel REAMDE from Neal Stephenson, which also features one of those scary, tough, extraordinarily competent dudes.  I decided to re-read that book as soon as I finished the one I’m on now (which I’m liking but not loving – good thing about books, though, is that there’s always another one).  From there, I moved on to a quick mental overview of Stephenson’s entire output (the movie clearly wasn’t really grabbing me) and realized that he’s what I would consider unassailable – everything he’s published is at a certain level of creative excellence, from essays to novels. Not a dud in the bunch. If you don’t know his work, please, see for yourself.

That led to the tweet above, which led to a pretty busy time on my feed. Seems like there’s plenty of brilliance out there (or at least the perception of brilliance).  The following names popped up in, in order of posting:

Wes Anderson, Charlie Chaplin, Quentin Tarantino, Jack White, George Carlin, John Williams, Seth**, Alfred Bester, Spalding Gray, Robert Fripp, David Bowie, Philip Seymour Hoffman, David Lynch, Slayer, Twain, Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Kurosawa, Toth, Paul Newman, Bryan Fuller, Daniel Day Lewis, Manet, Cormac McCarthy, Nikola Tesla?, Jack Kirby, Michael Jordan?, Christopher Nolan, Charles Soule (uh huh, sure), Scott Snyder, Brian Bendis, George Eliot***, Quentin Tarantino, Lewis Carroll, Hitchcock, Alan Moore, Otomo, Warren Buffet, Chen Kenichi**, Shigeru Miyamoto, Randall Munroe**, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Rush, Charles Schulz, Miyazaki, Aretha Franklin, Kate Beaton, Miles Davis, David Bowie, Eminem, Kurosawa, Harryhausen, Orson Welles, Jules Verne, Westlake, Hitchcock, Freddie Mercury, Will Eisner, Frazetta, Jimmy Stewart, Maurice Sendak, Osamu Tezuka*, Tom Waits, Akira Kurosawa, Alastair Reynolds, Bill Watterson, John Cassavetes, Warren Ellis, Tarkovsky*, Jack Cardiff*, Christopher Doyle*, Bach, Bowie, Whitman, Naoki Urasawa**, Shel Silverstein, Theodore Seuss Geisel, Alex Ross, Coen Bothers, Calvino, Saramago, Taiyo Matsumoto*, Hiroaki Samura**, Andre 3000, Phonte**, Madlib*, Mingus, Tolkien, Salinger, Faulkner, Emerson & Fuller*, Flannery O’Connor*, Norman Rockwell, Bill Watterson, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Daniel Day Lewis, Jim Henson, Coltrane, Moebius, Jack Kirby, Glenn Gould, Mamoru Hosoda**, Philip Glass, Rothko, Vonnegut, Kara Walker**, Hitchcock, Poe, Miles Davis, Stravinsky, Joyce, Saramago, Moebius, Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Steve Reich**, Hendrix, Kafka, Kurosawa, Wool*, Dostoevsky, Bach, Rothko, Dali, Goddard, Mozart, Warhol, Trent Reznor, Vandana Shiva**, Leslie Nielsen, Coen Brothers, Bella Tarr*, John Candy, Gregory Peck, Meryl Streep, Rimbaud, Plath, West, Cronenberg, Burroughs, Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Brautigan*, Melville, Lynch, Bjork, Reed, Davis, Jodorowski, Otomo, McCartney, Andy Kaufman, Charlie Kaufman, Tezuka, Alex Toth, Moebius, Louis CK, Plath, Proust, Garcia Marquez, Flaubert, George Lucas, Freddie Mercury, Joe Strummer, Bill Finger, Borges, Metallica, Hendrix, Clapton, Stan Lee, Jim Lee, George Lucas (1977), Spielberg, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, The Beatles, David Lynch, Borges, Scorcese, Scorcese, Alphonse Mucha**, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Osamu Tezuka, Lynch, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Alexander McQueen, Coco Chanel, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser**, The Brothers Quay**, Jane Austen, Hilary Mantel** and… as of this morning, the last pick was, sigh, Charles Soule.

Wow, right? A few thoughts on that list:

–First, it’s a pretty recent group. You’ve got plenty of 20th century folks, but then it drops off a cliff. Earliest name that I’m seeing as I scan through that is Bach. I think that’s legitimate, though, because we don’t necessarily know Bach’s entire output the way we do, say, the films of George Lucas, or the Coen Brothers. I know Bach was brilliant through and through because I’ve had the pleasure of listening to a huge cross-section of his stuff – same with Mozart and Beethoven. But Homer? I know two works, the same ones everyone else knows. For all I know, everything he wrote other than The Iliad and the Odyssey was a bunch of crap.

–There’s a difference between “genius” and “unassailable brilliance.” I think you could make a case for Star Wars being a work of genius, but I’m not sure I would agree with the idea that George Lucas is unassailably brilliant. Howard the Duck.

–No Shakespeare. No James Ellroy. No Frank Lloyd Wright. No Leonardo Da Vinci. No Michelangelo. No Julia Child. No Dickens.

–Few painters, few fashion designers… the focus was mostly filmmakers, writers and musicians. I wonder if that’s because I framed the original question using those, or because those are the people current society tends to elevate, or because that’s who my feed focuses on? Not much as far as popular novelists, either. I think you could make a case for Stephen King – although I’m sure it would spur fervent debate.

–We seem to really like David Lynch, Kurosawa, Hitchcock, Miles Davis, Hendrix, Bowie, Borges, Rothko, Moebius, Jack Kirby, , Tezuka, Alex Toth and Saramago.

–Here’s the best part about this, for me – every name on that list with at least one asterisk next to it is someone whose work I’m not particularly familiar with. I’ve heard of most of them (although not all), but I just haven’t checked out their work yet. To put it another way, THANK YOU, TWITTER, for giving me a fantastic series of recommendations for the next little while. I’m particularly intrigued by the ones I haven’t heard of. Those folks have two stars. Do I know everything and everyone? Come on – of course not. I’d be an idiot to pretend I do.

In fact, thank god there is more brilliance out there to find. I hope I never find it all.

–George Eliot gets three stars because of this lovely exchange with my friend Jennifer de Guzman:

I knew George Eliot wrote Silas Marner and Middlemarch, and I’m pretty sure that at some point I knew “George Eliot” was the pseudonym of a female writer – but not last night at 1 AM, apparently. I also might have mixed up Ms. Evans with this other pseudonymic writer. Anyway, no shame! I’ll never make that mistake again.

–Finally, I have no business being on that list.

So, last point – man, I love looking at that block of names. Pure distilled incredible. So much of culture is disposable – which is not necessarily a bad thing, as I think disposability serves a valuable purpose – but sometimes, we transcend.

And maybe the best part? Many of those people are still alive.

Who would you add?

It’s been a bit, but it’s become pretty clear to me that unless things slow down, that blog posts will be a luxury for a while. Perhaps I’ll just assign blogging to of the clones I keep being accused of having, but I prefer to save those guys for the books. Blogs need the personal touch, I think.

Anyway, I decided to take a few minutes to type something up today with respect to a new milestone in my writing career – and for once, it’s not about a new project I’m taking on.  Nope, this one’s about the first book I’m leaving.

As was reported this week, my time on the very cool Marvel series Thunderbolts will be coming to an end with issue 26. I took the book over from the infinitely capable Daniel Way with issue 12, and I will be succeeded by the equally skilled Ben Acker and Ben Blacker (of the Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast, among other delightful things.) When all is said and done, I will have done sixteen issues with the ‘Bolts, a little over a year’s worth of work (Marvel double-ships some titles, which means they put out more than one book per month on occasion.) Three hundred and twenty pages worth of dark action/comedy featuring some of my favorite characters in all of comics, including the Punisher and Elektra, not to mention newer faves like Red Leader and Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider. Tbolts scripts are always a joy to write – it’s work, sure, but it’s work I look forward to every month (or every three weeks, really – double-shipping, remember?)

So, if I like it that much, why am I leaving the book? Ultimately, there are a few reasons, but mostly, it’s workload. I am currently on seven titles (that we know of), and that is a tremendous amount of material to generate. I’m up to it, but here’s how I think about it – if I’m carrying everything I can, then I can’t really pick anything else up, you know? You guys know what my Tbolts is like – and so do I – but it’s also a song I’ve sung, at this point. To stick with the musical metaphor, I think of Thunderbolts as a track on my first record (my first MAJOR LABEL record, anyway…) but it might be time to think about what my second album is going to sound like.

Change is good, development as a writer is good, and part of that is setting new challenges for myself ALL THE TIME. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on that second album…

1. SWAMP THING – still love it, still love that people love it.

2. SUPERMAN / WONDER WOMAN – Issue 6 is a HUGE issue. It’s out Wednesday, March 12, and it’s stunningly drawn by Tony Daniel and the crew.  I know everything in comics is “Big, Amazing, Don’t Miss!!!” but this really IS. It pulls together everything from the first five issues and really, really goes out with a bang. If you haven’t picked up any issues of this series, get this one. I feel like that once word gets out about what we actually DID in this issue, Twitter will crack, Tumblrs will tumble, Faces will Book… you know.

3. SHE-HULK – wow, you guys dig this book. So do we. THANK YOU.

4. INHUMAN – Coming soon. Bunch of info and incredible colored Joe Mad art just released yesterday – see it here! Very pleased with how this series is coming together. The scope is huge, and it feels like a different kind of layered “powered people” storytelling than we usually see. Err… if I do say so myself.

5. RED LANTERNS – Mustache Guy! We’re building to a huge crescendo in this story of our space biker gang ruffians. The response to the Green/Red flipbook issue was tremendous, and I want to thank everyone who’s been supporting the book. If you miss my Tbolts when it’s gone, you really might enjoy my Red Lanterns, starting with Issue 21. Different, of course, but in the same family.

6. LETTER 44 – oh yeah. Big things coming. First trade’s out in July, there’s plenty of big news about this series that has been hinted at before… buy a ticket on the rocket. It’s going all the way.

7. KICKSTARTER – I’m doing one, pretty soon. What it’s about… you’ll have to see, but it’s related in part to a project I’ve talked about before on this blog. Nervous about it, and it’s a lot of work, but still very exciting. I hope you guys support it when it launches – I know KS is a little bit of a roll of the dice, but I won’t let you down.

8. THE GREY BOOK – Biggest thing I’ve ever done. You’ll see.

9. CASH – Soon.

10. SHIPS – Soon.

So, yeah. Plenty going on. And don’t worry about sophomore slump. None of this.

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