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The Sun Shines On Malibu

The Sun Shines On Malibu

Thanks to all who participated in or attended my Malibu Comics Retrospective panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2012!

The event was even more dynamic than the above image would indicate!

Our far-ranging look back at Malibu Comics concentrated on the origins of the company, Malibu’s willingness to try something new, the company’s legacy of creator rights, and Dave Olbrich’s infamous “squirrel story” (which he had forgotten, until Tom Mason filled him in).

Tom Mason, Chris Ulm, Dave Olbrich, and Scott Rosenberg, courtesy of the Longbox Graveyard Instagram feed

I was a little too ambitious with my agenda and the later days of Malibu — including the launch of Image Comics and the Ultraverse, and Malibu’s sale to Marvel — got short shrift. We continued the talk in the hallway outside the meeting room, but it’s safe to say we had more to say than we had time to say it in. Maybe we’ll reconvene for another presentation at a future show.

We didn’t get a chance to show it at the panel … but here are the television commercials used to launch the Ultraverse twenty years ago!

You can view the slides assembled by Chris Ulm for the panel over at Slideshare. Plenty of Malibu goodness there (and you can find most of those images at my Malibu Comics Pinterest gallery, too!)

You can also read about the panel over at Comic Collector Live and Bleeding Cool.

And a couple videos have turned up, first from YouTube, Part 1

Here is Part 2

There is also this video on Facebook.

Thanks again to all who attended or participated in the panel, and thanks to San Diego Comic-Con for hosting our retrospective!

Longbox Graveyard author Paul O’Connor flanked by Horace Austin (left) and Keith Callbeck (right) — thanks for attending the panel, guys!

Tom Mason On The Malibu/DC Comics Deal That Wasn’t

“The DC deal was first in the wind when Paul Levitz approached Scott Rosenberg at a WonderCon distributor party in 1994. It was one of the last big open bar con parties. In May of that year, at an impromptu Board of Directors meeting with Scott Rosenberg, Chris Ulm and me and our investment partners WSE in Tulsa, it was urged that we pursue Paul ASAP. A secret meeting was arranged at the Universal Hilton in Universal City between Scott, myself, Dave Olbrich, Chris, Paul, Bob Wayne and Bruce Bristow. This was followed a short time later by a secret dinner meeting at a Chinese restaurant in Woodland Hills, where the prior participants were joined by Lillian Laserson, DC’s then in-house legal person. All were in agreement that a deal should proceed. DC even picked up the check.

“Shortly thereafter, the potential acquisition was turned over to Warner’s Mergers & Acquisitions department in Burbank for due diligence. The M&A people would come into the office after hours and scurry out with boxes of files & records so that a potential deal could be kept secret. Negotiations continued throughout the summer and as Malibu’s sales fell (because at the time the industry was in a state of free fall as the investment bubble was bursting), Warner kept lowering its offer – we suspected they were trying to find that magic number where they could acquire the company for the cheapest possible price before Malibu’s finances were permanently damaged. And Malibu needed to be sold. The company was losing $200,000 a month. WSE was pushing hard to get back their investment and Malibu’s once-strong video game division had collapsed (because of rapidly-changing game platforms and mismanagement) and the comic book portion was holding up both halves of the company.

“The potential sale to DC was still a secret by the San Diego Con that year, and it looked like a deal was about to happen. Ulm and I had a not-so-secret breakfast meeting with Paul at the convention and he really wanted the company and wanted to grow it. One thing that was clear was that he was less interested in the characters and the Ultraverse and more interested in the organization itself – how things were run, how fast we could get things done, and ideas for what the company wanted to do next, beyond the Ultraverse.

“After the convention, we took a few people on staff into our confidence and held an off-site retreat to figure out ways we could work together with DC. Aside from restoring, we hoped, market confidence in the company and benefiting from the kind of business stuff people don’t really think of (access to new markets, better printing discounts, increased overseas sales, potential for greater newsstand/bookstore space, plus DC’s trade collection policy that collected stuff and kept it in print), we had a couple of short-term boosts that we wanted to fiddle with. I believe it was an idea from Hank Kanalz about bringing in Green Lantern (this was when GL was still a much lesser character in the DCU) for a line-wide crossover event. None of us were interested in Flash, Atom or Hawkman. The GL idea never made it out of committee and was never pitched to DC, because the winds were about to quickly change.

“Shortly after the retreat, there was some kind of Oregon-based convention that was affiliated with Dark Horse. Word had apparently been around the con that Malibu was close to a deal with DC. That prompted a post-con call from Marvel’s then-head Terry Stewart to Dave Olbrich and ask if the rumors were true. Marvel wanted in and, we were told, been instructed to buy the company to keep it away from DC (the reason why would make a good panel discussion). Because of various time factors, Marvel then had 7 days to do the due diligence that Warner had been doing for several months.

“And now…I’ve said too much!”

— Tom Mason, former VP Marketing for Malibu Comics

(For more inside information on the secret history of Malibu Comics … including the birth of Image Comics and the fate of the Ultraverse … be sure to see Tom at Longbox Graveyard’s Malibu Comics Retrospective panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Thursday 7/12, from 2-3PM in Room 32AB!)

Longbox Bulletin!

Longbox Graveyard #36

Three senses-shattering news items for Longbox Graveyard readers in this week’s Longbox Bulletin!

Lois Lane gets the scoop — and so do you!

ITEM! Longbox Graveyard will be hosting a panel presentation at WonderCon!

While normally a San Francisco show, WonderCon is taking a one-year vacation to Disneyland while Moscone Center South undergoes renovation. Since this puts the show just up the freeway from me I will be attending — better yet, I will be presenting! My panel — Triumph of the Second Screen — is scheduled for Friday, 03/16/12, 4:30p.m. – 5:30p.m., in Room 208AB. We will be looking at some of the new and original intellectual properties coming out of the iPhone space, and while the panel primarily concerns the world of Apps (in my secret identity, I am a founding partner of iPhone publisher & developer Appy Entertainment), I hope any Longbox Graveyard readers attending the show will drop by and say hello. I plan to be at the show all day Friday and likely Saturday as well so there should plenty of time for us to get acquainted. Please attend my panel!

J. Jonah Jameson says get the story at Wondercon!

ITEM! Even if you can’t get out to WonderCon you can still hear the Voice of the Longbox thanks to the Stash My Comics Podcast!

Matt and Steve were kind enough to have me on the show so I could extoll the virtues of Silver Surfer #3! Click HERE to listen to the podcast … and leave the guys some feedback saying you’d like to hear more of my ravings in future podcasts so they will consent to have me back! And while you are over there, be sure to check out many articles and reviews at the Stash My Comics site, as well as the 100% free comics collection database service they provide!

Jimmy Olsen listens to Stash My Comics — and so should you!

ITEM! There’s a behind-the-scenes Longbox Graveyard interview over at Comic Book And Movie Reviews! My thanks to Jay for being a gracious host and giving yours truly the minor blogging celebrity treatment!

Mouse on over to Comic Book And Movie reviews to learn the sordid secret origin of Longbox Graveyard … then stick around to enjoy the cavalcade of news, views, and reviews on the site (which posts more content in a day than I can manage in a month).

Great Caesar’s Ghost, that’s a lot of content!

BONUS ITEM! And since we’re in a linking mood, let me close this Longbox Bulletin with a friendly plug for two of my favorite people.

Tom Mason is an old pal and long-time comic book collaborator, who has been kind enough to post some thoughtful comments here at Longbox Graveyard (his recent comments regarding the way Malibu comics structured their creator-friendly contracts are especially worth a read). Tom is funny, insightful, and a font of funnybook knowledge, and he frequently holds court over at Comix 411mouse on over and check out Tom’s column.

Last and NOT least, if you aren’t reading Mars Will Send No More, then you’re missing out on one of the most unique and eclectic corners of the comic book blogosphere. Whether he’s enthusing about dinosaurs, Jack Kirby, or cosmic heroes like Warlock, there’s always something interesting on the boil at Mars’ site, which features full-length comic book treasures from the Bronze Age era that I so esteem. Mars has been one of the earliest and most loyal supporters of Longbox Graveyard, and his site belongs in your reading rotation. Check him out today!

NEXT WEDNESDAY: #37 Panel Gallery: Steve Ditko’s Strange Faces

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