I know what you're thinking: "Really, Jeff? Again with the exclamation points?" But some of you are thinking: "Cassard and Acero? What are they doing in this brief-yet-already-overheated blogpost?"
And the answer to the latter is, "why, they are the winners to our second Wait, What? contest!"
That contest, announced right before we went on vacation, was to pick a Hitchcock movie to be adapted into an ongoing comic series, tell us who would work on it, and the most widely lauded part of the ongoing run. We got a lot of really great responses for this and chose both Dylan Cassard and RJ Acero as our winners for coming up with some exceptionally thoughtful books we would both kill to read. Graeme is mailing them each a copy of Marzena Sowa's memoir Marzi, illustrated by Sylvain Savoia and published by Vertigo, and you can check out their award-winning entries below the podcast embed.
As for that embed, here is the second part of episode 61, concluding our discussion about Marvel, and moving on to some other topics including why Ed Brubaker's Fatale might have ended up over at Image; the secret of Mark Millar's success, and questions from Twitter and our recent Savage Critic thread, with answers covering topics such as Wolverine And The X-Men #1, Shonen Jump Alpha, the revival of Rob Liefeld's Awesome Studios (such as, for example, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy's Prophet, which is where this post's image comes from), X-Factor, and much more.
We didn't quite have time to get to all the questions so if you don't hear yours, don't worry. We'll have it asked and answered in Ep. 62, we (mostly) promise!
And now for those winning entries! Here's Dylan's, which he presented as a recent article he'd just read (and which had me fooled up to a certain point):
North by Northwest"Getting There From Here"
In 1959, Martin Goodman managed to secure the rights to an adaptation of "North by Northwest” for Atlas in hopes of publishing something that didn't have a funny animal or Jerry Lewis. Stan at the time, was in desperate need of an artist. Joe Maneely would have been his original choice for a project like this, but now Stan was at a loss. He hesitantly passed it to Jack Kirby who turned in a character sketch of Cary Grant, which Stan deemed "too ugly for human consumption." On a lark, Jack passed the project off to Don Heck. Stan was so impressed with the way Don drew Cary Grant he later said in the letters column of issue #7, "Don Heck must be having lunch with Cary Grant on a regular basis, but I don't know how he could with all the comics he's drawing." The reception to the book was lukewarm at best, and Stan Lee's adjustments to the ending never sat right with Hitchcock. And it was canceled after issue 10. The adaptation rights lay dormant in the Marvel offices for over 20 years.
But all that changed one unseasonably warm day in the winter of 1974, Steve Engleheart marched into Stan's office and demanded to write the continued adventures of Roger Thornhill. Stan was skeptical at the time and was still pretty ticked about the Dr. Strange/Sis-Eneg debacle, but as Stan put it, "Englehart had a way of pitching an idea as though I'd already thought of it."
Engleheart's following series (penciled by Frank Brunner) chronicled the journeys of Roger Thornhill through the Marvel universe as he was consistently mistaken for Kang the Conqueror, M.O.D.O.K., The Mindless Ones and even (at one point) Spider-Man by Peter Parker himself! The public loved it, and issue #9 (the Doctor Bong issue) was the top selling issue on the stands setting the all-time comics sales record of 2.5 million copies. Which was not overtaken until Spider-Man #1 in 1990.
After 11 issues, it seemed like the creative team had started to lose interest with the initial concept. After a prolonged and contrived battle with the entire Kree race landed Roger Thornhill in the Pacific Northwest, Roger smoked peyote with a Native American shaman and realized he had lost touch with America and "needed to find out WHERE it truly was." (a lofty if vague goal to be sure) Englehart took Roger across the U.S. visiting every landmark and tourist trap that Steve had read about in a travel brochure he had picked up at a used bookstore one weekend. (Brunner has said that issue after issue he kept remarking, "I can't believe they are paying me to do this!")
Most die-hard NxNW fans site these 3 issues as when the series achieved transcendence and became something wholly different from anything the medium had offered before. And most likely would never return to again. Shortly after, Englehart left Marvel and the series was continued by Roy Thomas who wanted a "back to basics approach" with Roger being mistaken for different Marvel characters while trying to live his everyday life. A slew of fill-in writers plagued the book as Roy was busy with his EIC duties, and it was eventually canceled after issue 26.
Since then, there have been many attempts at revivals. Alan Moore penned a story in Daredevils that many Moore enthusiasts site as his best prose piece, and Todd McFarlane attempted to buy the rights from the Hitchcock estate in the late 90s but it amounted to little more than a toy of Roger Thornhill covered in thorns. Fan letters still drop in the Marvel office mailbox from time to time, and not a Comic-Con goes by that Joe Quesada doesn’t drop hints that there may be more new adventures from Roger Thornhill, but it is truly doubtful that any will recapture the magic of Brunner’s lovingly rendered sunsets casting a warm glow over Englehart’s conversations between Roger Thornhill and the waffle slinger at Louie’s Chicken Shack.
And here's the entry from RJ Acero who, since we didn't specify whether to use living or dead creators, stuck to the living:
Rebecca - written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Frazer Irving. I have to admit, the idea of Irving illustrating Manderley burning to the ground has me pining for this to happen. As an ongoing, I see this series as the travels of Mrs. Danvers (whom in our story, survives the fire) as she joins various households as a maid, leaving broken marriages in her wake. Think of her as a dour, older, feminine version of Tom Ripley. I think Ms. Wilson would be perfectly suited for writing the painful, surreal doubt that wives would face at the hands of Mrs. Danvers.
Rear Window - written by Greg Rucka, art by J.H. Williams III. The continuing adventures of Mr. & (now) Mrs. Jeffries. They travel the globe as Jeff is on assignment. Holing up in hotels in exotic locales. Jeff constantly in a different cast, and Lisa in the "latest" fashions. I would love to see the formalist flourishes that Williams could come up with for the inevitable "spying on the neighbors" scenes. Rucka seems capable of providing detailed assessments of Jeff's assignments and certainly has the chops to interject some interesting plot twists. And most importantly, he would write a strong Lisa Jeffries.
The Wrong Man - written & illustrated by Steve Ditko. Henry Fonda as Job by way of Ditko. Practically writes itself. As an aside, this may be the saddest sad sack film ever. Don't get me wrong, there's great craft on display (obviously), but the plot just gets darker and darker. The epilogue could not pull this one out of a nosedive.
Vertigo - drawn by Sam Kieth, written by Dave Sim. Two comic titans with diametrically (?) opposed views on women, working on an adaptation of a film that has some severe issues with how it portrays women. This would either be complete genius or a murder/suicide.
North by Northwest - written by Grant Morrison, art by Frank Quitely. I'm not quite sure why, but this makes sense to me. Think of All-Star Superman #3, where Lois is gifted Superman's powers. There is something about the dynamics of Clark & Lois' relationship that resonates with how I see Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall. And I want to see Quitely draw people on top of different monuments every month.
The Birds - written by Warren Ellis, art by Jill Thompson. This would basically be an ongoing series where every arc tells of a different town (different time period?) that comes under siege by birds. I think Ellis could really drive a series where the only constant is an unspeaking antagonist, and the central mystery goes unexplained. After reading Beasts of Burden, there is no question in my mind that Thompson is a perfect fit here.
Psycho - written & drawn by Ba & Moon. This ongoing would be a travelogue where at the conclusion of every story our protagonist(s) find themselves at the Bates Motel, and their demise.
Pretty great, right? Congratulations to RJ and Dylan, and our thanks to all our entrants!