Monday, July 23, 2007

Golden Age revivals

Newsarama and CBR have news of the latest Alex Ross/Jim Krueger project, Superpowers, published by Dynamite. The way it's described, the project began with Dynamite's Nick Barucci, who then chose this pair of high-profile creators to develop the final product.

You won't find much information about the series artist or the series format at this point, what we have now is some concept art by Alex Ross (featuring several public domain Golden Age characters), a rough idea of what the series will be about, and Alex Ross saying "in the case of Dynamite you have creative energies coming from people who want to tell a story and create a project and make it the biggest thing they possibly can for their company".

How big? A clue might be found at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where we can see that "Super Powers Heroes" (presumably Dynamite Entertainment under a different name) is trying to claim trademarks for several characters, such as The Owl, Mighty Samson, Black Terror, Green Lama, and others, for use in comic books and printed materials.

Also revealing is their claim for the "Super Powers" trademark, for use in areas such as "entertainment motion picture films and pre-recorded entertainment video cassettes, pre-recorded audio tapes, video tapes, audio cassettes, video cassettes, CD-ROMs, DVDs, compact discs, and video discs, featuring entertainment related to films and music", "resin figures/statues", and "toys, namely, action figures, soft sculpture plush toys, stuffed and wind-up toys; playthings, namely, toy weapons, toy protective armor, and play and action figures".

Interestingly enough, only a few days after Dynamite's announcement, Erik Larsen announced that Image will be doing their own Golden Age project: "The Next Issue Project", featuring contributions from creators such as Larsen, Mike Allred, Kyle Baker, Howard Chaykin, and many others (I for one am glad to see people like Steve Gerber and Tony Salmons included, it'll be good to see more work from them).

The use of public domain heroes in contemporary comics is nothing new, as readers of AC Comics or Alan Moore's Terra Obscura can attest, but the announcement of these two projects in the same week is an interesting coincidence.

While Ross and Krueger seem to be crafting a more Watchmen-like story, creating a cohesive backstory for the characters and promising that they will deal with some usual super hero themes in ways that haven't been done before, Larsen's project seems to be more spontaneous and a bit less pretentious (Larsen mentions making use of oddball concepts such as Fletcher Hanks characters with an emphasis on having fun with them, which contrasts with Krueger's and Ross's more "serious" approach, and Dynamite's apparent intentions to establish new trademarks for future commercial use in different areas).

Some of Larsen's art features characters that will be used in the Dynamite project (including characters such as Samson, for which Dynamite is trying to claim a trademark). What remains to be seen is if there's enough support in the marketplace for both series (which despite the surface similarities are quite different in their approach), and if both projects can co-exist peacefully without any legal problems.

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