This is isn't exactly "Epic" news, but it's sort of related. Marvel has announced that they'll be launching a new imprint called "Icon". It will publish creator-owned non-Marvel-Universe material, much like the original Epic did, and like many expected the recent incarnation of Epic to do. The first books to come out under Icon will be Brian Bendis' Powers and David Mack's Kabuki, both snagged from Image. Bendis and Mack have both been doing a lot of work on Marvel-owned material in recent years, which points out the goal of Icon: giving star Marvel-friendly creators a chance to "do their own thing" without going to other publishers. So it probably won't be a place for "unknowns" to get their stuff into print. It is a bit ironic that this is the only aspect of Epic to re-emerge following the regime change at Marvel, because the "creator-owned option" was one of the first aspects of it to be dropped. It'd be interesting to see what the terms of the contracts are; I bet they're not as restrictive as the Epic creator-owned contract was, because I can't see Bendis or Mack going for that... at least not with pet titles of theirs like these.
It's dead, Jim. Every announced series has either concluded or been canceled. See below for more info. In addition, the Epic section of the Marvel web site (including "hidden" files that supposedly no one out here in the real world even knew about) has been deleted from the server. More information about Epic shut-down.
Epic Anthology Canceled
Various sources have confirmed that the "quarterly" anthology that was to publish the few approved Epic series, has been canceled after a single issue. Only one installment of Strange Magic, Young Ancient One, and Sleepwalker was published.
ACTOR one-shot Canceled
Marvel has announced that the one-shot featuring Spider-Man and Hulk stories, intended as a benefit for ACTOR (A Commitment To Our Roots, a charity to aid impoverished Golden/Silver-Age creators) has been canceled, due to "timing" problems. They'll still give ACTOR the money they would have received if orders for the book had been fulfilled, and the creators (including Bill Loebs, who has been a recipient of ACTOR assistance) are all being paid for their work.
Gun Theory Canceled
Retailer orders for the last two issues of Gun Theory have been canceled; I haven't heard what the reason was. While it's possible that these were "will resolicit" cancelations, the series is probably just canceled. The series was originally described as creator-owned. Unless Daniel Way is given special release from Epic's creator-owned contract terms, Marvel would retain publishing and exploitation rights to the material for the next five years, after which Way would regain those rights.
Phantom Jack Escapes!
Mike SanGiacomo has reported that Marvel has released him from the contract which gave them ownership of Phantom Jack. He's taking the series to Image, where it will be an ongoing-as-long-as-it-sells series.
In early September, Epic changed their rejection letters, apparently streamlining the process (because rejections seem to be coming more quickly of late), and also making Marvel's legal department more comfortable. Instead of a variety of form letters intended to indicate where the writer needed improvement, they appear to be sending out just one standard rejection letter. Although there is a reference to "proper paperwork", the letter does not actually state that the script in question was rejected for that reason, and sources at Epic have confirmed that the "forms" sentence was no more than what it says: a reminder. This letter gives no specific reason for the rejection, which is the kind of form letter publishers usually send in response to blind submissions. Since Epic was closed to submissions in October, rejection letters have been coming at an accelerated pace. Some submitters have received variations on this letter, sometimes inviting them to submit material for non-Epic publication, or identifying an editor to contact in the future, which allows them to get past the general ban on "unsolicited submissions".
Crimson Dynamo penciler Steve Ellis is being replaced starting with #3 by newcomer Joe Corroney. The series will continue through #6, then "go on hiatus", reportedly to accomodate writer John Jackson Miller's schedule. Whether it will return later is douobtful.
Two one-shots written by newcomers were approved through the open-submissions process, and were announced on 9 August in Chicago: The Northwood Saga and an untitled Spider-Man "what if?" (both described below). Northwood will not be published through Epic; the status of the other is unknown.
Before the Epic web site was removed, a clever fan provided me with a link to the unpublished page of approved artists. Their samples have been removed from Marvel's web site, but they included:
Marvel has announced that ACTOR Presents Spider-Man & the Incredible Hulk (by Bill Loebs & Ron Marz (w) and Dave Simons & Dan Jurgens (p), featuring - self-contained stories starring Spidey and the Hulk) has been cancelled due to "difficulties over timing and production". It was intended to be a benefit for A Commitment To Our Roots, and Marvel is going to donate the amount ACTOR would have received if the book had actually been shipped and sold. The freelancers involved (in particular Bill Loebs, who recently lost his home due to financial difficulties) are being paid for their work.
Mike SanGiacomo has announced that Marvel has returned the contract which had transferred ownership to them of Phantom Jack (a non-Marvel-Universe, character-focused superhero series about a journalist who can turn invisible, penciled by Mitch Breitweiser). He has reached an agreement to publish the series through Image, as an ongoing series (sales permitting).
Marc Campbell, one of the two writers to be approved for Epic through the open-submission process, has announced that his The Northwood Saga (a high adventure swords-and-sorcery story, set in its own universe) will not be published by Marvel. Apparently he's retained or regained the rights to it, because he reports that he's pursuing other publishers for it.
Chris Eliopoulos' creator-owned series Desperate Times, previously announced as an upcoming Epic title, will not be coming out through Epic. He explained that, although Marvel is interested in branching out into other genres (like "cartoon" humor) it's not going to happen right now, and more importantly, they don't want to publish creator-owned books (such as this one). The series is instead returning to Image, which published several issues of the series before it went on hiatus. It's bimonthly and ongoing, starting in January 2004.
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