Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CrossGenesis - A CrossGen Comics Retrospective


I mentioned CrossGen as the number one item on my list of Top 10 Things I Want to See From the Disney/Marvel Acquisition and was surprised how many people actually remember and have read CrossGen comics. The entire Disney buyout had me thinking about CrossGen and I've been banging out a post for it since the announcement. This required hours of research (aka re-reading old comics) and hard work (aka coffee), but I'm pleased to bring you my CrossGen retrospective, which you can find after the jump!




CrossGenesis - The Rise & Fall of CrossGen

Founded in 1998 by Mark Alessi, CrossGen was as an answer to the problems in the comic industry at that time. Rather than the male-dominated, superhero-only comics, CrossGen branched out into a wide variety of genres, from sci-fi and fantasy to samurai and detective comics.

Along with a focus on new genres, CrossGen changed the way comics were made. Unlike Marvel or DC, who relied solely on free-lance talent, CrossGen employed their creators with guaranteed salaries and benefits and moved everyone to their complex in Florida to work in the same studio. These exclusive contracts may sound like the norm now, what with how Marvel and DC lock up high profile talent, but, back then, it was unheard of to have that many people on paid salaries.

Additionally, CrossGen started up a mentorship program whereby they fostered new, up and coming talent, such as Steve McNiven, who mentored under Brandon Peterson and Bart Sears at CrossGen when he was first breaking into the industry. For an idea of how well the program worked, McNiven was quoted as saying, "The stuff that I learned in the first month here was more than I learned in three years of doodling on my own."

Early on, CrossGen innovated and grew at a phenominal rate. However, in 2003, a scandal involving freelancer payments blew up, nearly destroying CrossGen as readership dropped off and, more importantly, Barnes & Nobles and Borders stopped stocking their titles while simultaneously returning unsold merchandise, effectively wiping out any financial reserves the company had. By 2004, the company was in bankruptcy.

In November of 2004, the Walt Disney Company bought the assests of CrossGen, with an eye to exploiting the Abadazad property, which they went on to make a series of light novels with. Disney also licensed out the rights to CrossGen's catalogue of comics for reprint purposes to Checker Books, who have done very little in terms of getting CrossGen trades out to readers.


CrossGenesis - The Comics

Below, you'll find a sampling of some of my favourite comics from CrossGen with brief descriptions and what I liked about them.

Sojourn


Sojourn was probably my favourite CrossGen comic and the one that first got me interested in their line. It was a Lord of the Rings style fantasy book that, while not original in concept, was unique in its execution.

Created by Ron Marz and Greg Land, Sojourn is a tale of a medieval fantasy world that was conquered by an evil tyrant named Mordath. In fact, Mordath had conquered this world 300 years ago, but was killed by a legendary hero using a mystical arrow. Raised from the dead through the power of a Sigil, the mysterious mark that grants CrossGen characters their powers, Mordath used his newfound life and power to retake the world. The story picked up with Mordath triumphant and our hero, the beautiful female archer, Arwyn, seeking revenge for the death of her family at the hands of Mordath's orcish hordes.

It was very much the typical Homer's Odyssey quest story as Arwyn attempts to kill Mordath, fails and seeks out the missing pieces of the legendary arrow that slew Mordath the first time. The book was unique for it's strong female lead, world building, beautiful art and the fact the only sigil bearer was the villain.

In regards to the art, Greg Land, now more well known for porn faces and tracing than the quality of his craft, was actually phenomenal on this title. He still heavily referenced his work and you can probably find several examples of his references online in the many hate threads about his current work, but you can easily see he did not trace during his time on Sojourn. Character appearances are consistent from panel to panel, there's flow and composition to the work and it's easy to see why he became a super star so fast after his time at CrossGen. Shame how he fell so far from his earlier work.


The Path


Another comic I was interested in before actually having read anything from CrossGen was The Path, a samurai epic heavily influenced by Lone Wolf & Cub, just about any Kurosawa Akira film and other Japanese literature. It told the story of two brothers, a warlord and a pacifist monk. The warlord was gifted with a Sigil early on in the story, but struck down by the god-like First. As his brother died, the sigil passed to the monk, who swore vengence on the gods themselves.

In addition to this compelling premise, there's war between the Japan and China-like countries, mad emperors, betrayals and some beautiful artwork by Bart Sears. It's still one of my favourite comics and I was sad to see this one cut short.


Ruse


Ruse was a comic I had absolutely no interest in. I still wasn't someone that really paid attention to creators on books and just read whatever looked good to me. Detective/mystery comics patterned on Sherlock Holmes were not high on my rather limited comic reading palete at the time, but this title came in the Edge anthology (see below for more on Edge and Forge anthologies) and boy am I glad it did because it was fantastic.

Written by Mark Waid and with art by Butch Guice, this title was set in the Victorian-era and focused on a Sherlock Holmes-like detective named Simon Archard and his assistant, Emma Bishop. In terms of critical acclaim, Ruse was nominated for five Eisners and won one for Best Colouring. It was also noted that after Disney bought CrossGen that a script had been written for a potential Ruse movie, though not much else had been heard about it since the initial announcement.

All in all, this was a book I would never have read from the Big 2 nor sought out on my own, yet ended up loving and, like many CrossGen books, regret seeing it end due to the bankruptcy.


Crux


Crux was described as the JLA - Crossgen style, and was about a group of reluctant heroes that set out to uncover the mystery of the missing human race.  To be frank, I wasn't impressed with previews or the description of it.  If it had not been included with the Forge anthologies,  I would never have actually read what would end up being one of the best books coming out of CrossGen.

Written by Mark Waid with art by Steve Epting, it had some high production values, an interesting and engaging cast of characters, all unique in powers and personalities, and explained what happened to Earth, the origins of the people handing out all of these Sigils and expanded on the threat of the Negation.  However, none of this got in the way of the story of these characters.  You didn't have to read this or a million other titles to understand the universe spanning implications of the reveals (it did add to it though if you were reading more than just Crux) and it was all just some new and interesting stories that I ended up loving.  Can't believe I was so turned off about it going in and still lament the series abrupt ending.


Negation


Oh, Negation, you hold a soft spot in my heart.  It's like a cross between Thunderbolts (pre-Ellis) & Prison Break, featuring dozens of characters spanning the multiple worlds built up in other titles, but never required you to read those other comics to grasp the concepts of each character.  For example, they had magic users from Mystic's world, Orcs from Sojourn and even a member of the First from The First.

This ragtag group of characters were all captured by the Negation and spirited away to a prison world where they were experimented on as the Negation tried to learn everything they could about these beings from another universe in preperation for a universe-wide invasion.  The first arc introduced us to the characters and dealt with their escape from the prison and, from there, we had friendships, betrayals, backstories and learned a great deal about the threat of the Negation, including their god-like Lawbringers, all in a 'on the run' story as the reluctant group of characters had to band together to survive in a harsh, unknown universe not their own.

Written by Mark Waid and Tony Bedard wtih early cosmic artwork by Paul Pelletier (you know, the guy from Nova and War of Kings), it was a sci-fi adventure with some great characters.  Many of the characters from Negation are still favourites of mine, such as the Moonstone-like member of the First, Evinlea, or defacto "team" leader, Obregon Kaine, who reminded me a lot of Captain Benjamin Sisko from Deep Space Nine.  This was a sci-fi story made up of a mishmash of characters I would probably never have read or found from either of the Big 2 and one of my favourites from CrossGen's extensive line-up.


Brath


Set in the same world as The Path, I was immediately drawn to Brath for its Gladiator and Braveheart-like premise and striking art by Andrea Di Vito, who is currently making his mark on several of Marvel's titles.

Written by Chuck Dixon, Brath took many of the themes from Gladiator and Braveheart and weaved them into its own comic book world that, again, I hadn't really experienced in a comic book format at that point in my comic book reading habits. While I'm not sure how well it holds up with the obvious references springing to mind as I re-read it in preparation for this article (Planet Hulk, while good, suffered from the same deja vu type of feeling due to the heavy influences from the same films), I'm still enjoying re-reading it in preparation for this article, so it must have done something right.


Meridian


Another comic I had no interest in based on the premise. Sure, the art by Josh Middleton and, later, Steve McNiven was pretty to look at, but this was a bright and cheery looking comic that seemed aimed at female readers more so than the typical Big 2 reading comic book fan that I was at the time (and still am, to an extent).

Written by Barbara Kesel, Meridian was set in a fantasy world with floating islands and revolved around the trials and tribulations of a teenage girl named Sephie, who's parents were killed by her evil Sigil bearing uncle. Sephie, who also received a Sigil, must deal with the new responsibilities her powers and the death of her parents have thrust upon her, love and growing up. It's very much a Spider-Man-like origin dealing with power and responsibility built on the deaths of loved ones and newfound powers.

What's unique about it, aside from the beautiful art and world building of the title, is that this isn't a male hero in female form. She's not the typical femme fatale (god I hate that description for any character). She's just a normal person who's gender didn't define the book like many of Marvel's or DC's female heroines' gender does. I was actually a bit ashamed judging the book as a "girl's book" before having read it and still look back on it with fond memories. If only one book came back from CrossGen, I'd be more than pleased if it was Meridian.


CrossGenesis - Forging New Ground, Both Online and Off

Digital Comics


Digital comics initiatives are few and far between these days. Marvel has made a half-assed attempt at it with their subscription based, Flash reader-only Digital Comics Unlimited, which seems to be named just for an acronym to spite DC, but, otherwise, there's no real online presence for comics. Longbox is about the only one that looks like it has its head on straight in terms of how digital services work, using an iTunes-like model, but it lacks the clout of the Big 2 and its long term sustainability is suspect.

However, these weren't the first forays into online comics. One of CrossGen's many innovations was their digital comics service, known as Comics on the Web (COW). It was a subscription based service, similar to what Marvel is currently using, that allowed users to view comics online in their browser for a mere $1 a month. Unlike Marvel, CrossGen's online service had a much more up to date selection of comics and featured roughly 160 comics before the service terminated in 2002 due to the company's impending bankruptcy.

Another online component of CrossGen that is overlooked was their website, which had 'Ask the Creators" sections for fans to interact with the people working on their comics, issue-by-issue summaries (this was a time before Wikipedia was updated the minute something came out and blogs were just starting to take off, so no real up to the minute reporting on niche titles either), and various other modern day features that people take for granted.


Forge & Edge Anthology Collections

My favourite innovation from CrossGen was their anthology collections, named Forge and Edge. These high page count (~200 pages), low priced (less than $10) and ad-free anthologies collected the entire line of CrossGen comics in two affordable and high quality trades that both acted as introductions for new readers and introductions to other titles for people reading only a handful of comics.

For instance, I had heard good things about CrossGen, liked the art and concepts, but had never really read anything non-super hero at that time. Liking the look of Sojourn, The Path and the odd bit of interest in one or two other books, I picked up a copy of Edge and was immediately hooked on these books I enjoyed and, by reason of their inclusion in the low priced anthology, read other titles I had little or no interest in and was subsequently hooked on things like detective or sci-fi comics that I would never have otherwise read.

While I wouldn't have bought every comic that came out of CrossGen, I definitely read everything that was included in both Edge and Forge and became a fan of more than the one or two I would originally have picked up on a monthly basis. Add the low entry price with these anthologies and I was actually feeling bad for getting so much content I loved for such a low price.


CrossGenesis - Reborn?

With Disney's purchase of Marvel Comics last month and the fact that they own a series of comic book properties, in the form of CrossGen's intellectual properties, already, it only makes sense for Disney to roll CrossGen into Marvel. The resons for doing this are several:

1) Marvel Works With Many Former CrossGen Employees

Steve McNiven, Mark Waid, Peter David, Steve Epting, Ron Marz, Greg Land, Tony Bedard, Paul Pelletier, Butch Guice, and dozens of others have all worked for CrossGen, several starting their careers there, and now work or have working relationships with Marvel. This makes it easy to relaunch many of the properties with similar creative teams or, at the very least, to promote a new trade relaunch of older material spotlighting key talent.

2) Foster Potential Movie Properties

Back when CrossGen was at its zenith, there was all kinds of talk about television and movie projects, particularly in the case of titles like Merdian, Sojourn and the like. Disney is currently hurting for new and unique ideas for movie development and, seeing as they own CrossGen and comic properties are currently hot in Hollywood, it would make sense to revive a few of these series, see if there's any interest and possibly develop several into movie or animation projects.

3) Home For Non-Super Hero Properties


Marvel, sadly, is all about super hero comics. However, they've recently started doing literary adaptations, such as with Dark Tower, Wizard of Oz and other projects. Much like DC has Wildstorm, Vertigo and other imprints, Marvel could diversify their line with a CrossGen label for these non-super hero comics. The Icon line could be folded into this as well if they wanted.


Conclusion

I hope you all enjoyed this look back at CrossGen Comics. I have a lot of fond memories of CrossGen and it was my first foray into non-super hero comics and one of the primary reasons, along with Ultimate Spider-Man, that I got back into comics in the first place. Those $9.99 Forge and Edge anthologies were a godsend back when the budget was tight and forced me to read books I "didn't want", but ended up loving anyways that came in the same volumes as Sojourn, The Path and my other favourites.

I was truly saddened to see the company fade away and feel if they had launched a few years later, post-Ultimate Universe when comics saw a resurgence from the speculator implosion, that the company would have survived to this day and carved out quite the niche for itself. I know the affects of its practice and cultivation of talent is still felt to this day, so that is one legacy the company will have. Here's hoping Disney will revive the long dormant properties by rolling it into Marvel as a new line of comics.

What about you? Have you ever read anything from CrossGen? What were your favourite titles? Feel free to share any of your experiences or memories of the now defunct company in the comments below.


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50 comments:

Mike said...

I really miss Crossgen, too. I did buy every issue from Day One and was heartbroken to see the company fold just as Negation War was getting good. Hopefully we can see a return for greatness for Crossgen.

Kirk Warren said...

Negation War was surprisingly good, all things considered (impending bankruptcy, etc). I loved teh Superman analogue in issue one and how things were set up throughout those first two issues before it ended (it only had 2 issues released if I'm not mistaken).

Klep said...

This sounds like some interesting stuff. Is it still possible to get the anthology trades you mentioned, or did they go when the company did?

Kirk Warren said...

@Klep - You might be able to find Forge or Edge anthologies/collections on eBay, but they'd be rare. Checker Books supposedly reprinted some trades of CrossGen series, but I've never seen any in stores. At this point, youre best bet is eBay or back issue bins at your shop for single issues.

Anonymous said...

Other Crossgen titles work checking out:

Scion , great King Arthur style fantasy with excellent Jim Cheung art.

El Cazador , great Pirate action from Chuck Dixon and Steve Epting.

Frank said...

What an excellent post! I used to love Sojourn and Scion. You're correct, Greg Land was amazing on Sojourn and has not produced anything as good since. Such a shame.

Matt Ampersand said...

I once checked out the first book of Ruse from the library, but I had to return it before I had the chance to read it.

I'm surprised at how much work Mark Waid has done for this company, I thought it was just one or two titles.

Kirk Warren said...

@Anonymous & Frank - Scion was a title I never got into. I read it in Edge, but, even with Jim Cheung art and my love of fantasy works, it just didn't click with me like the other CrossGen works.

@Matt - This image of Waid probably explains some of the perks that kept him on as the senior writer.

fodigg said...

Aww, no mention of their sci-fi book, Sigil? That was a launch title! I stayed true to Sigil and Scion and thought they were great.

I do wish Cross-Gen had been more subtle about using the "cross-gen sigil" as a plot device. I'd rather it be incidental in its inclusion rather than be the protagonists' source of power in so many cross-gen books, but I LOVED that they were pan-genre in focus (as the name "cross-gen[re]" implies).

I would love for Disney to revisit some of these concepts.

Mike-El said...

I remember when Crossgen came out, and they had their mentoring program, I swore I was going to work there (I was, alas, not old enough to legally abandon my parents and move to Florida at the time however). So I emailed Barbara Kesel for advice, and she actually took the time to write back and tell me what I should be doing to start moving towards a career at Crossgen between then and when I was an adult. Such cool people working at such a cool company, it really is a shame that it's gone.

Eric Rupe said...

fodigg - I'm currently sampling some of Marz work from CrossGen and I HATE the fact that the Sigil stuff keeps popping up. I just try to skip that stuff as best as I can.

Anonymous said...

Good overview of the company. I would also recommend El Cazador, which published 6 issues right before the end.

Also, I think the actual name of the company was 'CrossGeneration', not 'CrossGenisis'.

Kirk Warren said...

@Anonymous - I just liked the way CrossGenesis sounded/fit with the whole rebirth I hope Disney/Marvel will bring to it (like with Genesis from the Bible). It's why I call it CrossGen Comics in the subtitle.

0xanathos0 said...

I'm wondering though; Will Disney do a reboot and bring new life to the crossgen series made, and will they bring in new series along it. It would be rather typical for a big company like disney to cash in on big success from the past. Not even to mention if they would take a closer look to it now, seeing as they had the rights to crossgen material for years, and never really did any significant new stuff with it...

Julia L. said...

What I loved about Crossgen was the variety. They tried nearly every genre from superhero to fantasy to mystery to spy thriller to pirates. You never knew what they'd try next.

The funny thing for someone who loves shared universes, I never really latched onto the bigger picture Sigilverse series of the Crossgen universe. It just never really grabbed me. The closest I got was reading Solus but that was more for George Perez's artwork than the story.

I came into Crossgen through Ruse. I loved Simon and Emma and their Victorian mystery/adventuring. I just wish they'd release the rest of the series in trade paperback, so I can plug the holes in my collection.

El Cazador introduced me to Steve Epting's artwork before Captain America. Hyperion actually released a trade of the existing Crossgen issues a few years ago.

I also loved the goofy short-lived Kiss Kiss Bang Bang series. Very 60s spy spoof, ala Bond & Austen Powers.

Kevin T. said...

Wow, this is a really useful post. I've only ever heard about CrossGen on the side, maybe seeing a cover getting neglected in longboxes or in my old high school's library. I never really knew what they were about.

But now I do!

Anonymous said...

Haven't read the full article yet, but I just wanted to say that I love these kinds of articles. A, as it seems, deep look in Crossgen then and now with lots of information and mixed with your own personal views.

Servando said...

I too must admit that i came into crossgen through Ruse and really liked what i read of it in the old Edge Anthology. Yet, i thought series like "The First" and "Mystic" were a bit lame. Sigil was alright from what i read but i probably should have read like from the first TPB i guess to get into it.

Btw, it's Yoyocool but i decided to take the Comic Should be Good Ethic and use my real name. Well, that my justification for using my gmail account.

Other than that, I agree with the people who said that the sigil plot device is a bit much. Also, i remember reading "The Path" first TPB and it didn't seem to impressive. Anyone else get that impression?

Mike said...

I loved the Sigil being a link across all them titles and the fact that they, like Valiant back in the day, had unannounced 'crossovers' that had other characters show up in other titles but it was by no means necessary to buy all the books (even though I did). Negation War was building up into a massive tale that would have resolved the Sigil-related plot threads, but unfortunately it never came to completion.

Kirk Warren said...

Re: Sigils - I always viewed them as the 'mutant' of the CrossGen universe. Instead of everyone having a magic stone or radioacitve waste landing on them or alien artifact or just born with powers for no reason, it was some overarching theme with these sigils.

Once the people received their sigil, it was pretty much 'forgotten' and we moved on, similar to how the origin of comic characters is usually a one story deal and then they just have powers and how they got them rarely ever comes into play again.


@Mike - I thought Negation War was more a response to the impending bankruptcy and a way to give people 'an ending'. I was really enjoying it, but I didn't think it left much room for continuing with the sigil theme or stories in other characters books once they found out about this universal war and other planets and other things beyond the scopes of their settings.

fodigg said...

@Kirk Warren

But the whole "there then forgotten" thing is what annoyed me about the sigils. We should have had some sort of basic explanation, which would have made the "sigilverse" far more relevant.

Barry Reese said...

Loved Crossgen. I miss it a lot.

lycorne said...

Meridian, Scion, Ruse, and Sojurn were my favorites in the CrossGen lineup and they were what got me back into comics in a period of my life where I was scoffing at the spandex-clad crowd. I was truly dissapointed when CrossGen went under, and I --like I suspect many others-- really hope Disney actually DOES something with the properties.

Wonderful piece going over the company, thank you for writing it. :)

Aaron Poehler said...

Marvel/Disney isn't going to do anything at all with Crossgen, much less relaunch any of the titles. It'll be the new Ultraverse--comics which also have a substantial fanbase that has been utterly ignored.

Anonymous said...

The reason Marvel hasn't published any new Ultraverse material is because of legal issues surrounding the Ultraverse, due to the fact that the core creators of the Ultraverse (James Hudnall, Mike W. Barr et al) get a percentage Royalty from any Ultraverse comics published. This is mostly Joe Quesada's problem that he doesn't want to deal with the Ultraverse, and he uses the old Malibu Contract (Which Marvel assumed when they bought out Malibu) as an excuse for not publishing any new Ultraverse Material.

Crossgen doesn't have any legal liabilities like that. I think if Marvel could reteam Tony Bedard and Paul Pelletier to finish Negation War, they could use that as a Launch point for the new Crossgen titles.

Anonymous said...

Excellent write up on some books that were quality all the way. CGE (as they eventually called themselves, given the issues with CGC grading group) was a great idea, but like so many great IDEAS, its actual development was not so great.

In MY opinion, Mark Alessi was the perfect example of too much dinero, and not enough brain matter. The company was developed far too rapidly, executed too many titles too fast, and simply lost focus on financial discipline. The original talent started bailing, and all was lost after that. I was WAY pissed when this happened, given titles like my favorite 'Sojourn' were left for dead, unfinished, and a fan base disillusioned. This really bothered me because I KNEW that Sojourn for example; was taking way too long to unfurl its greater tale, and that this was not a good idea for a new start-up company to endeavor to.

This specifically talks up the point that a NEW company should NOT try and endeavor into an EPIC tale form the start, because if all doesn't work out (wink wink) you leave people PISSED OFF WITH AN UNFINISHED PRODUCT!!! Sorry, but CrossGen was a great idea...and it ends there!

Kirk Warren said...

@Anonymous - I actually left the MarkAllesi stuff outof the article to keep it more focused on the comics and potential of a return. I've heard and read a lot of horror stories about his verbal confrontations with artists and writers. However, as many of them stayed with the company, I suppose it couldn't have been that bad.

Regarding the grand tapestry epic scope, I didn't think it was that big a deal. They only really scheduled Negation War due to the impending bankruptcy and hoping ot stir up some sales/hype. I dont think they ever really had the intention of 'ending it' or wrapping up the sigil stuff like they looked to be doing with Negation War. Could be wrong, though.

To me, it just gave a nice touch of connectivity that didnt require you to read everything. Sure, everyone had a sigil, but that's about where it ended in most similarities.

About money and talent, that was primarily due to the big book stores decision to stop stocking shelves with their books. It really did wipe out a lot of their operating money with the returns, lack of income from those sales and lack of future sales from those chains where these types of books sold more than in regular direct market comic shops.

Finally, on unfinished stories, I think they still hold merit. I still enjoy reading Sojourn, Ruse, etc, despite knowing theres no "end" to them. It's like saying Spider-Man stories are bad or getting upset because it doesnt have a definitive ending. The only one I'm actually disappointed over is Negation War since it was setup as a universe spanning 'finish' that would have answered a lot of questions. It was also shaping up to be quite good by issue 2 and I was looking forward to it. Such is life though. I wonder if Tony Bedard has the scripts for the remaining issues still. Would be interesting if he did and we got Pelletier (I think he was doing art, could have been Sears or someone though) to finish up the series.

Corey said...

Another thing CrossGen should be credited for, but seems to have been forgotten, is their aggressive trade paperback system. Ultimate Spider-Man quickly followed CrossGen's lead with consistently collecting every 6 issues, and it eventually spread to all of Marvel and DC, and is now pretty much standard practice for many publishers.

The Abadazad comic also deserves praise. That was excellent stuff.

BlaqueSaber said...

Ron Marz actually turned me on to this post after I began haunting him on twitter. While I really liked Sygil and Ruse no one has mentioned the two CrossGen imprints which produced CHIMERA some of the most beautiful artwork and layout I've ever seen along with a a light scifi tale with wiffs of Star Wars and Babylon Five.

P.S. I love that every few months someone mentions the ULTRAVERSE. It gives me hope for more Solitaire & Nightman...

Anonymous said...

Kirk,

no question the stories still hold GREAT entertainment value and merit. However, they (the CGE creators) planned this all out from corporate inception. To weave this universal tapestry of events; both common in connection to other titles, and diverse in specificity to a single title.

That's a LARGE endeavor (IMO) and for a start-up, not a wise tact. I respect your personal opinion of course when you say you personally didn't think it was "that big a deal" but I certainly did. For example, lets stay with Sojourn, when the title ended with issue #34 Arwyn hadn't even found all five pieces of the arrow. That's FIVE YEARS of story line and books, and you were essential still in the discovery chapters of this tale, LONG from a build up to the forging forward of the epic battle that was to come.

This is ridiculous to me, it is proof to ME at least, that they allowed this theorum (complicated epic tale) to dictate flow, and it became largess, and unnecessarily long when you look back at the idea.

Quickly to your Spidey analogy. If you don't mind, I think its not a real good example, i'll explain. The Amazing Spider-Man is a legend character (like him or not) he is almost a living, and breathing life form he's so popular. Spidey doesn't NEED a opus tale, that's already been done with the character (and it didn't stretch 5 years without completion) so we can read Spidey issue by issue. The dynamic aspects of Spider-Man are WELL established, so a single well thought out story, can be quite provocative, and entertaining. Spider-Man doesn't require and "ending" he is a reflective, and relatable, character to all, in effect, he lives WITH us, in our world, without much need for explanation.

Anyway, please forgive my outbursts :) great stuff my man, much appreciated.

Chers,

Bryan

Kirk Warren said...

@Anonymous (Bryan) - Not sure on the time frame of Sojourn's release schedule (CGE was always quite particular about release dates, even going so far as to print a public apology due to Diamond messing with shipping one time and making books a week late), but 34 issues isn't even 3 years. Dont think it was delayed enough for it to be 5 years long. Also, I could have sworn it was in interviews or Wizard or something that the book was scheduled for about 50 issues only (well, I guess it could be continued, but the quest for the arrow/Mordath was for 50). Wikipedia says 41, but I'm not sure if that's just due to the impending bankruptcy or what. Still, I'm pretty sure it was set as a finite series with some side stories along the way. Ambitious for a new company, but not unheard of either, especially compared to many Vertigo stories today taht are planned for X number of issues beyond miniseries length.

Regarding the sigil stuff, it probably wasnt the best idea, but I understand what they were attempting to establish and the hope for people to be drawn into multiple books instead of just the one sci-fi or fantasy title. I never had a problem with the sigils, personally, and don't think it detracted from stories all that much by having them as the impetus for each hero's adventure, but I can definitely see why it's aproblem for some. I'm also sure the books would have been just as good without them, but many may have felt derivative in 'mystery character gives them powers' or other cliche origins for every single book to explain the powers. It's a tough call either way as to the impact the sigils had. Youc ould claim more issues sold in the same way event books bring up the line at Marvel or DC or you could say it turned people away by thinking they have to pick up every title.

Anonymous said...

Kirk,

you're correct, I believe Sojourn ran perhaps 3 1/3 years? but i'll stillretain my position if you don't mind ;) Lets take ANY "big two" crossover you or I could possibly think of, and name even ONE that lasted more than a year? I don't think there was one? I could be wrong, but I don't think so? This is again, MY personal biggest issue (no pun intended) with Alessi and CrossGen. He, they, whomever, had a solid idea, created some quality characters, and story lines, but just didn't analyze the long term protocols throughly enough.

This is obvious to me, because I don't know for sure, but I believe (mistakenly perhaps) that NONE of the books ever finished their tales? That is insane that 5 years of a company and its launch into the market,and they had yet to finish even ONE story line? I think that's nuts, and a REAL good way to lose following, and $$$

I never heard nor read of the 50 issue claim, but I have no reason to doubt your knowledge of the subject. If that was indeed the plan, it as well was going to fail. There is no way (again, following the actual story) that this EPIC was wrapping up in 15 issues from when it was cancelled. That would have been a miracle, a tour de force of creative mastery, to take the tale from issue 35 and where we left off, and FINISH the story in 15 more books? Again, I think they were overwhelmed by the convergence of their ideas, and the actual scope of the stories they had created.

Cheers

B

Kirk Warren said...

@Bryan - I think they had a few miniseries or shorter series that finished up, like Abadazhad (spelled that wrong probably ahaha), but, you are correct int hat they didn't "finish" a story.

Where I disagree is the point that you view each series as a finite story with an ending that needed to happen quicker. I look at each book as a Marvel or DC-styled offering. They have arcs that finished up, but the book was designed to last indefinitely or with a possible ending if need be (they clearly got caught with their pants down and couldnt finish many or any comics due to the bankruptcy) in most cases.

take Negation. One arc was the escape from the prison they were all being held in. That's an easy trade that can be read and has a start and ending. There's more to the series, but you could read that arc and have a fully functional adventure and be satisfied, but also wanting more. From there, you have their on the run adventures, a meet up with a Lawbringer, Evinlea's betrayal, etc all making up stories and arcs, but also building towards more. Similarly, Sojourn worked for me in arcs and with an overarching story. Even Meridian had arcs that gave full stories that grew the character, but also built towards a showdown with her uncle. They could be read alone or together, similar to how Marvel and DC run their trade programs.

I suppose we have to agree to disagree on whether the finite or non-finite nature of the stories was the biggest problem with the books or not. You obviously had problems with it. I didn't. All I know is I was enjoying the ride for as long as it was going on in most of the books and would love to see some kind of continuation.

ComicsAllTooReal's Chris said...

I miss the CrossGen so badly. I can't believe I have most of the books and they're still kind of my treasure hidden in my closet.
I felt cheated when the entire set fell apart. That was so so so sad.
And now, it is buried in Disney's basement.

Anonymous said...

Hey, really want to thank you for this article, I was still pretty young when CrossGen came out and never read any of the titles (as I barely read any comics outside of the standard JLA/X-Men/Batman type stuff at that age) but I recently read this article and it stuck in the back of my mind. Not long ago I was at a local second-hand shop and noticed some of the Edge and Forge tpb's on a shelf and it reminded me of this, I bought the first couple volumes of each and am really enjoying them.

One question though, I noticed (at the same shop) that the later volumes they had were in a digest-size, did they switch exclusively to this format later or (with enough legwork and looking around) can the later volumes be found in standard size?

Thanks a ton

Kirk Warren said...

@Anonymous - They did indeed switch to the digest format. It still had 200+ pages, but kept the high gloss pages and dropped the price to $7.95. I think it was around volume 9 or so. You could still get the actual trades for each series in standard size, but I believe this was an early 'manga initiative' on CrossGen's part. They passed the savings on to fans, so I didn't mind too much, though the art wasn't really suited for the smaller size, as manga is typically layed out with the smaller format in mind. Still, can't complain too much for that. You pay $24.99 or something for a 250 page tome these days.

Hadoken13 said...

Oh man how I loved reading the first 8 volumes of forge. I found them in an old book shop years ago and bought them all at once.
When I had read the 8th one I looked online to see about buying the rest. But I was put off by the fact that the company went belly-up.
I recently bought the remainging volumes of forge and am considering buying edge. I would give anything to see the stories finished off, not in an abrupt fashion, and would buy them immediately.

Anonymous said...

I loved the CrossGen line. Sigil, Sojurn, Ruse...good times. I really hope Disney/Marvel does something with these great characters. Thanks so much for this article. Im going to dig into my longboxes and re-read the series now!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone from Marvel or Disney addressed questions about Crossgen? It seems odd to have such a commodity and not make the connection.

The Crossgen line was one of the top five comic events in my opinion. (The current Bendisrun --Civil War, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, Siege -- of Avengers, including Captain America, is another great one, for those who haven't followed it.)

IF, and only if, there was significant support for the project, I would love to see this come back, with some of the original artists/writers, if possible. Meridian, Ruse, Path, Scion, Way of the Rat, Sigil, Negation, and Sojourn all deserve continued life. Route 666 might also have great potential if a zombie-crazy, werewolf v. vampire-obsessed culture.

Stefan said...

Well, I loved reading this. I am still hoping for some kind of closure on Negation War, I read somewhere that issue 3 was drawn yet never published.. Í'd love to see it.

Also, Crossgen brought me back into the comicbook world. And i actually was a big fan of their 'slow' world/story building way. I would not have ventured to the other big two if Crossgen hadn't lured me back in.

So, let's hope for an reignition of the cosmic energies of Crossgen...

I feel it growing warmer already...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the retrospective on CrossGen it was a really unique company that created a lot of great books and innovations. One innovation that I didn't see mentioned though were the DVD collections of digital (and narrated!) comics that CrossGen released. They released two volumes of the following five titles...Negation, Sojourn, Scion, Way of the Rat, and Meridian. I started buying them recently as an introduction to CrossGen's comics. Below the product info from Amazon which describes them better than I can. They They are all very much worth picking up and are fun to watch...

Published comic books with professional voice-overs, original music, vivid stunning effects and high-end sound design to create a unique DVD product on par with a major motion picture release.

Each DCB contains a five to eight issue comic story-arc and at half the cost of the printed version, the value speaks for itself. Plenty of extra material is packed in as well: trailers, character biographies, original sketches, a documentary about how comics are made, and bonus chapters.

microftx said...

I still have my collection of Sojourn and am now reading all of the Scion series from start to finish. Those were magnificent stories and art. I truly hope the writers and artists continue them.

Anonymous said...

I just got to know about Crossgen and it hit me up big time with the Negation. I bought them all and still buying them. The more i read each one of them, the more sadness i get when i know they're all gone. Why can Marvel continue the story of each one of them...I really hope they do because a unique comic like those should never fade like it did. I wish to see the end of Negation War which it left me unsatisfied.

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littlewolvie said...

Thanks for the memories!

نبضة قلب said...


الاول سيو افضل اشهار المواقع فى محركات البحث تعمل على تسويق المواقع وارشفتها باحدث وسائل السيو فهى تقوم بتهيئة المواقع لمحركات البحث لجلب الزوار والعملاء
ومن اقسام الاول سيو قسم الخدمات المنزليه مثل افضل شركة تنظيف شرق الرياض
وافضل شركة تنظيف شرق الرياض بالاضافة الى افضل شركة مكافحة حشرات شرق الرياض وتغطى خدماتها شرق وشمال الرياض فالاول افضل شركة مكافحة حشرات شرق الرياض تستخدم اقوى المبيدات الحشرية
واسعارها في متناول الجميع ومن الهام التاكد دائما من خلو منزلك من تسربات المياه حتى لا تتعرض لمشاكل مثل انهيار وتصدع المبانى الاول افضل شركة كشف تسربات المياه بشرق الرياض تستخدم اجهزه الكترونية اكشف التسرب بالذبذبات وتغطى كافة مناطق الرياض فهى افضل شركة كشف تسربات المياه شرق الرياض

شركة تنظيف كنب بالرياض

الاول شركة تخزين عفش بالرياض
توفر افضل المستودعات لتخزين الاثاث والعفش التى تتوفر بها كل عوامل الامن للحفاظ على الاثاث وتقوم بتغليف الاثاث قبل تخزينه للمحافظة عليها فالاول افضل شركات تخزين العفش بالرياض ونوفر سيارات لنقل الاثاث من اى مكان داخل المملكة .

بالاضافة الى خدمة نقل عفش بالرياض فنحن نمتلك اكبر اسطول نقل بالرياض يوفر لك افضل خدمة نقل اثاث بالرياض
بالاضافة الى ان اسعارها في متناول الجميع فهى فالاول شركة نقل عفش بالرياض رخصية بالمقارنة مع باقي الشركات بالرغم من جودة عملها ودقة المواعيد فهى تقوم بتغليف العفش للحفاظ عليه اثناء النقل وتقوم باستخدام سيارات مغطاه مخصصة لنقل العفش للحفاظ عليه من اضرار الشمس والامطار والاتربة فالاول افضل شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض وتغطى كافة مدن المملكة


وتوفر الاول عدة ارقام شركات شراء اثاث مستعمل بالرياض لتغطية كافة الاتصالات وللمتابعة مع العميل اثناء نقل الاثاث المستعمل

نبضة قلب said...


تعد شركة الرحمة افضل شركات التنظيف ومكافحة الحشرات بالرياض والممكلة فهى توفر افضل عماله مدربة على جميع اعمال التنظيف للمنازل والفلل والشقق والخزانات بافضل المنظفات العالمية العالية الجودة وارسعارها في متناول الجميع
افضل شركة تنظيف منازل بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش بالرياض

شركة جلى بلاط بالرياض

كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض

________________________________
خدمات التنظيف تحتاج الى عماله ماهره لتقوم بها في اسرع وقت نوفر افضل العمالة الفلبينية والمصرية والهندية لتتم عمليات التنظيف وجلى البلاط على اتم صورة وباسرع وقت وبارخص الاسعار
افضل شركة تنظيف بالرياض

افضل شركة تنظيف شقق بالرياض
افضل شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض
افضل شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض
شركة تسليك مجارى بالرياض

__________________________________
وان كنت تريد ان تتخلص من الاثاث القديم الذي يسبب لك الازعاج فشركة الرحمة تقوم بشراء الاثاث الستعمل فهى افضل شراء اثاث مستعمل بالرياض

نوفر افضل مستودعات تخزين الاثاث وافضل سيارات نقل الاثاث بالاضافة الى خدمات تنظيف الخزانات وعزل الخزانات والاسطح باتصالك بالرحمة توفر على نفسك التعب والمجهود في التعامل مع غير المحترفين وصرف الكثير من الاموال فالرحمة افضل شركات التنظيف ومكافحة الحشرات بالرياض وبشهادة عملائنا
افضل شركة تنظيف خزانات بالرياض
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شركة تخزين اثاث بالرياض

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