On this, the eighth day of Christmas I have no use for maids-a-milking. These items, on the other hand….
Murder weapon as Christmas gift:
A gift I gave to a psycho-chicken Elf who remains at large. “Slay” bells ring….
The tentacles of power:
A gift I gave to myself. Power mad? Yes, I am.
Fatale was an experiment in many ways. Fatale was created to be Broadway Comics’ answer to the “Bad Girl” trend, popular in the 1990’s. Being me, I wanted to do a Bad Girl who was every bit as extreme as those pneumatic vixens who led the charge but less puerile and more real.
Here is my introductory editorial:
As explained in the previous post, Broadway comics were written TV-style, by four people working together. Two women among us.
We had so much faith in Fatale that we debuted her in the first Broadway Comics offering, Powers That Be #1 (starring Star Seed) and in the first two issues of Shadow State, our second series launch.
Here is the Contents Page of the first issue of Powers That Be, a title suggested, I believe, by Alan Weiss.
David Fruhling, “Genetic Science Consultant,” is a guy I played basketball with at the time in the Martin Luther King Jr. High School gym, which a group of us rented on Tuesday nights when I was less old and debilitated. The MLK, Jr. High School was on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan. David was/is a genetic science guy, super-smart, and generous with his time and knowledge. He gave me a tour of his company’s research facilities and explained the mysteries of life to me. No, not the birds and bees. That I knew. I’m talking genetic engineering, here. P.S. he could handle the rock and could hit perimeter shots.
(SKIP THIS COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT ASIDE: Not that anyone cares, but the aforementioned basketball group consisted of, besides David and me, a varied bunch of professional people—Mike, a publishing exec (and world class point guard), Jeff, the head of ad space sales for Playboy (in my estimation, the best all-around player), Rob (our best outside shooter), a notable photographer who once photographed Ronald O. Perelman and found him to be a total douchebag, Jim, a chemist (and great power forward), Danny, a dentist (a hot-shot fast-break artist), Steve, the Editor in Chief of High Times (an undersized but crafty low post/rebounder type), several lawyers, and other interesting, successful people. There was a guy named Andrew, a publishing entrepreneur, who was too good to be playing with us amateurs, but gave us a break. He let me foul him all the time and never yelled “I got it!” That’s what you say in no-official games where you call your own fouls.
Because I am ridiculously tall, I got a lot of rebounds and blocked a lot of shots. Played defense. I couldn’t shoot, couldn’t dribble and passed only when it was safe. But it was good exercise and fun.
Funny. Only point-guard Mike, who brought me into the group, knew my last name. On the court, he’d yell instructions like “Shooter, low post!” or “Shooter! Board!” After a couple of games the other players took Mike aside and told him to stop calling me “Shooter.” They thought he was making fun of me for not being able to shoot the ball….)
(A MORE RELEVANT ASIDE: Much has been made of the unorthodox package design of early Broadway Comics. Here’s the scoop: We were funded by Broadway Video Entertainment. BVE was the general partner in my 50/50 partnership with them, and BVE required that we use their favorite design firm, Monk Swing—yes, that was the company’s name—to create a distinctive look for our books.
Okay. Here’s what we wound up with:
Our splash was a contents page. My column was on page two. Very magazine like. I suppose.
After a while, we finally got a little more control of the look of our books:
Back to Fatale.)
It seemed to us, the Broadway Comics writers, that typical Bad Girl characters walked onstage as fully formed, badass anti-heroes—over-developed “girls” who never developed any further.
Fatale, real name Désirée Hopewell, starts out as what her trainer, Duke, refers to as a “party girl.” She’s lazy. Flighty. Careless. She has a weight problem. She counts on her remarkable abilities to see her through every danger and difficulty.
Yes, that’s Matt Senreich, a Broadway intern, on the TV. Matt grew up to become one of the producers of Robot Chicken.
We were pretty bold with the sex, sexiness and sexuality.
Even as a party girl, Fatale is no cupcake.
Ultimately, being a party girl doesn’t work out so well.
Fatale gets serious.
Fatale toughens up. When push comes to shove, however, she still “borrows” some skills from her teacher to fight the woman she thinks killed her friends. No fool she. No one becomes a world-class martial arts expert, like her opponent, with only a few days of training.
So, during the course of the three introductory short features in which she appeared and the six issues of her own series, she learns, she learns, she grows up, she develops, she gets stronger. She becomes responsible.
She fights those trying to steal her power and destroy her. She wins.
She ends up as the head of a secret, global power elite cabal, the de facto rulers of the world. She is their absolute mistress, Queen of the Planet. Heavy hangs the head….
As an extra feature, we hired Harry Broertjes, a major league journalist, to write newspaper accounts of the events in Fatale and other Broadway Comics series. Here are a few:
Harry, for his own amusement, wrote them in the styles of various publications. He’s goooood.
We had a zero issue origin story written. It was never published. Here’s the script. Sorry about the formatting glitches.
JayJay created the Fatale logo using lipstick. Yep, lipstick. Broadway Video Entertainment’s chief graphic designer, Tony, contributed.
Dave Cockrum contributed mightily to Fatale’s design. Here’s a feature we ran about the creation of Fatale:
Star Seed was Broadway’s Superman, but Fatale was our favorite. Toward the end of Broadway, Fatale was really starting to take off. We published a trade paperback collection and a hardback collection. Two hundred and fifty copies of the hardback were signed by penciler J.G. Jones, inker Frank McLaughlin and me. The collections sold well. The signed and numbered hardbacks are still sought after, and go for some serious money. Chuck Rozanski auctioned one off while I was at his Jason Street, Denver Mega-Store for something near $300, an amazing bargain, I’m told.
We felt we had turned the corner, and that Broadway Comics was going to break out and rise up.
Then…along came a Snyder. I’ll explain tomorrow.
NEXT: Traci Adell and the WWF, Fatale on TV, and the Web of the Snyder
RE: "One last question about the Broadway covers…."
If it had been entirely up to me, I would have done a lot of things differently at Broadway Comics. Broadway Video Entertainment was the general partner and sometimes bosses there called the tune. At first, at their insistence, an outside design firm designed our cover look and interior presentation. Once I managed to get rid of that, the BVE house design director, a guy named Tony weighed in. The stark white BG's did make our books stand out on the racks, but posed other problems.
Another example of BVE dictates: Once, BVE President Eric Ellenbogen told me he didn't like our intros and text pieces. He recommended Paper Magazine, Raygun and a few others as examples of the trendy styles he preferred. He told me to hire someone who could write like that. I checked out the magazines and started writing my intros and editorial pieces in PaperMag style. Eric was impressed. He asked me where I found such a good writer. Ha. You want Steinbeck? J.K. Rowling? Mr. Mickey? I can ghost anybody. : )
[MikeAnon:] One last question about the Broadway covers: What was the deal with the lack of background image in favor of putting a foreground image on a stark white field? On one hand, it's an interesting stylistic choice and the look certainly was distinctive, and since the foreground images were generally lifted from the interiors no one can complain you weren't showing what was in the book (always a pet peeve of mine), but these covers always left me disappointed because they were so information-poor — they made the covers seem to me like tic-tacs to be gulped rather than meals to be savored. I would think that you'd prefer to put images on the cover that the reader would contemplate for a while and wouldn't just absorb in a heartbeat and say "Yay" or "Meh" over before moving on to consider the next book. Was this a stylistic choice you favored, or would you have preferred to go the more traditional route (as with Valiant and Defiant)? [–MikeAnon]
Look here: http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/11/ditko-at-valiant-and-defiant-part-3.html
I remember Fatale well. I specifically remember a panel where she is jumping down from a building holding her breasts. (Not sure what issue after all these years.) The image struck me as unusual at the time. As I later learned from a girlfriend with a large chest — that participated in vigorous sports — it can be painful for your chest to constantly be bouncing up and down. Totally makes sense. I thought if this much effort and thought is put into this panel I can be assured every scene/panel is equally treated. I was impressed. I thoroughly enjoyed Broadway's offerings. Thoroughly enjoying your blog, Mr. Shooter. If you run across any notes regarding the process of creating the character Glimmer in Dark Dominion and his use of the quantum field I would love to hear/read them in your blog.
I can't wait to hear what Jim has to about big bad Ivan (and the rest of the family, maybe?). Assuming I have the right Snyder in mind.
Re. non-comics related material…
Really enjoyed the material about the basketball game (despite hating the sport itself – like Norman Mailer said about the game, "every ten seconds eight idiots jump in the air." Of course Mailer had his character J. Edgar Hoover speak these words, so it was probably more to establish racist tendencies in Hoover than any knock on the hoop game.) and would love love to read some anecdotes about the softball games. I would never object to any post here, on any topic, comics related or not, it's all manna from heaven. Some of the most engrossing material I've read here has not been comics related. Thinking back to the Bullpen Bulletins, I seem to remember Robbie Carosella, knocking the ball out of the park to win all the softball games.
Elsewhere on this site, I think the posts about Rom, we've been directed to a remarkable piece of writing by Mike Netzer about an ill-fated volleyball game in Central Park. Initially, and true to form, Jim Shooter is depicted as the villain of the piece, but emerges at the end as the hero. There is also Netzer's amazing portrait of Shooter, that can only be described as a hagiography in pen and ink. I do hope we'll get to read some of those sporting anecdotes.
Sorry about that irrelevant crap about Mailer and basketball.
90's…yeah…I was oblivious to the existence of Defiant and Broadway I think.
All we had out here in the sticks in those days were the pharmacy spinner racks, and they didn't carry those.
So…this is like lost-history Dead Sea Scrolls stuff to me.
Wow…fanboys really can whine about anything when they can moan about big jugs on a cartoon lady.
I've really seen it all now.
Thanks for that, actually.
RE: "It seems clear to me from the comments that people want to hear what your plans for Star Brand were (myself included). Hint, hint! :)"
RE: "You guys (Marvel) had a softball team and used to play DC comics, back in the day. Apparently, this no longer happens. Was this kind of company interaction and frolicking a good thing, and do you think it hurts both companies that they don't get out and "play" with each other more?
Any stories about those softball games?"
Marvel played in a publishers league. DC formed their team just to play us. I have many stories. I'll confine them to weekends, since several people have expressed objections to posts not directly comics related.
People from Marvel, DC, Archie, Warren and other miscellaneous comics types used to play volleyball in Central Park after work on nice days. That was great. They were a good thing for the whole industry. Many stories. That was when Marvel was at 575 Mad Ave and DC was at 666 Fifth, both near the park and each other. When Marvel moved downtown, the volleyball games pretty much faded away.
The softball games were not a good thing. Too much sturm und drang. I'll tell you later.
RE: "How far did you plan Fatale? And how many unpublished issues were there? I'm wondering how she could balance wearing a "crown of thorns" while being a woman of action. It's a problem that other ruler-heroes like Namor and Black Panther have faced. How would Broadway have handled it differently?"
We had another Fatale arc planned, plus the #0, so that would be six or seven issues. We would have tried to treat her position of worldwide influence credibly and realistically — but we planned to get her out of the ruling-the-world situation quickly.
All this talk about women in comic books reminded me of this.
Yeah, it's juvenile as all get out.
Thanks MikeAnon, I have S.S #2 in a black and white version. I'll pick up the regular version in a con one day.I also have the Babes on Broadway book and it was good if not just for info on characters forthcoming from the Knights book.
[MikeAnon:] From what I recall, I liked STAR SEED because the character was totally selfless and made a really good example of a hero, the kind I think Steve Ditko would have been happy to draw. TILL DEATH DO US PART I enjoyed for its poking fun at Liefield-esque body styles. KNIGHTS OVER BROADWAY threatened to be the best book of the line, and I was really sorry to see it go down in the middle of the 1st arc.
FATALE never grew on me, though — maybe it was the lack of flashy outfits to anchor the title in my mind, but I think it was more that the big boobs got to seem like all gimmick after a while. I mean, sure, it's not like she's going to get rid of them — (can you imagine if her boobs got bigger or smaller depending on the amount of power she was storing?) — but…it's kinda like having a one-armed fat guy in the WARRIORS OF PLASM cast. Yes, there are huge-boobed women and one-armed fat guys in the world, but is this who you're going to make me look at issue after issue after issue? Plus, who's her arch-enemy going to be? "Flatchest"? I mean there's something about putting those humongous mammaries on the cover over and over again that practically begs the prospective reader to think this is a throwaway gimmick book. It honestly might have been a better choice to dial down the boobs to something a little less OMG.
And, last but not least, I found the BABES OF BROADWAY books just offensive as hell. (I wonder if I still have my copy?) It was one part parody, one part sellout, and one part creepy (thanks to the inclusion of the little girl from K-OVER-B as a "Babe"). And it had the nerve not to feature artists that actually would have made a swimsuit calendar of the female Broadway characters something worth flipping through. That book just soured me on the whole line for the sheer crassness of it. Maybe it was meant to be a fun parody of then-current trends, but it rang a hollow note with me. [MikeAnon:]
"I have all the books except for one of #2 of Shadow State."
[MikeAnon:] Both versions of Shadow State #2 can be had for around a buck plus shipping from Lone Star Comics.
[MikeAnon:] I've said this before, but I didn't care much for the 2nd-gen layout and title formats. Two things that I didn't like:
1) Dropped the border. Please note: It is NOT a bad thing for a reader to see something that instantly makes him/her say, "Oh! That's a Broadway comic!" Dropping the distinctive border visually made these books recede into the herd, especially with the Broadway logo scaled down and pushed to the side. (Yes, logos matter, too, especially if your titles share a universe.)
2) Spraypaint titles. Two words: Seriously. Ghetto. Like, embarassed-to-buy-this ghetto. And Fatale needs to have a decisively capital-F logo if it's going to be considered a capital-F book. I don't know how pre-internet Broadway Comics was, but today we all know that capital letters add volume, and what we have with the "fatale" logo is a whisper, not a shout. Even Star Seed isn't a shout because the spraypaint look softens the mental "sound" — and did I mention it's ghetto? I mean that misshapen grafitti star is all kinds of sad. It basically gives you that "poor work ethic, dammit we can't have nice things" feeling. I mean, it's been a long time since I read the book, so if "alien thug in the hood" is what the book was about, fine, it fits, but I really don't remember that being the case. [–MikeAnon]
It seems clear to me from the comments that people want to hear what your plans for Star Brand were (myself included). Hint, hint! 🙂
I own the original art for those two pages from the unpublished Fatale #0.
Of all the Shooter companies, Broadway was the best. I have all the books except for one of #2 of Shadow State. I love that each book had lots of story and events in each issue. You had big plans for Knights on Broadway which were never realized. Bummer.
I'd love to hear more about Star Brand as well, but I love anything you throw our way. I'm sure you'll get to it when you get to it.
I have a question about your days at Marvel:
You guys had a softball team and used to play DC comics, back in the day. Apparently, this no longer happens. Was this kind of company interaction and frolicking a good thing, and do you think it hurts both companies that they don't get out and "play" with each other more?
Any stories about those softball games?
I would love to see more articles in the same format as this one covering all the other series you've created. I'd be especially interested to read the story behind Star Seed followed by Star Brand.
I assume you had more free time during your Broadway period than during your VALIANT period because you were able to play basketball.
I had assumed that Broadway's "unorthodox package," as you put it, was devised by your team. I generally liked the format.
My only offhand objection is the treatment of the titles on the cover. The "Broadway Comics" logo is larger than the title, giving the impression that the comics were titled Broadway Comics. Repeating the title in small print doesn't have the impact of large titles like Time or Newsweek … or the Fatale and Star Seed logos that appeared later on.
My favorite aspect of the Broadway format was Newsfront. I'm glad you highlighted it and Harry Broertjes (whose writing styles were spot on) in this post.
I've been wondering for years who the guy on the TV in Fatale was. Now I know!
How far did you plan Fatale? And how many unpublished issues were there? I'm wondering how she could balance wearing a "crown of thorns" while being a woman of action. It's a problem that other ruler-heroes like Namor and Black Panther have faced. How would Broadway have handled it differently?
"Fatale on TV"? Never thunk it, but I should have expected it. After all, you were funded by Broadway Video Entertainment …
My least favorite Shooter enterprise. I tried to like these books, but simply couldn't connect with them. Artistically I felt Broadway had the least punch.
But it was easy to see they were trying to make good comics, so I bought them. All but Fatale. Can't abide "babe" books. If saw them all as softcore pornography and nothing more.
I missed out on Defiant and Broadway when they came out. I'll have to get up to speed. A quick online backissue search shows that while the collected edition might be pricey, individual issues of "Fatale" are really easy to come by. The cover of #3 looks like Fatale was channeling Phantom Lady.
Bought pretty much each issue of all that Broadway produced. I had to go through several buy points, and I had a pull list at two stores and a couple issues/titles I recall having to really 'hunt' down, but all in all, I enjoyed the run Broadway had. ORCA kicked a few dozen out here and there also.
Broadway was the company whose comics I wanted to read but could never find. A year later, I had a comic pull list and it wouldn't have been a problem, but by then they were already gone.
That being said, I'm putting a nice little collection together in back issues.
Cool! Broadway was "my" Jim Shooter publisher, since I came to late to US comics to get early Valiants and, for some reason, Defiant never made it to Brazil, where I lived.
Couldn't get all Broadways either (never got a single issue of Knights on Broadway, for example), but Star Seed and Fatale were easier to come by and I have even the Fatale TPB!
I really liked the characters and missed them terribly when they vanished.
Was the part of Jim Shooter played by Tommy Lee Jones in that first photo?