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FX #1 Review – Strangest Comic Out There?

I don’t mean the content, of course. I mean the bizarre genesis of the title. John Byrne put an offer out awhile back that, for a certain sum, he would draw a full comic book featuring whatever the purchaser wanted. You want to see, like, the Flash team-up with Ghost Rider? Byrne would draw it for you. Well, Wayne Osborne took Byrne up on his offer, only Osborne wanted Byrne to draw one of Osborne’s own creations. Osborne then shopped the book around, and IDW Publishing agreed to publish the comic, now as a six-issue mini-series! Pretty strange (and awesome), huh?

But was the issue any good?

I thought it was a decent first issue.

frm_feat_187-FX1cover__001.jpg

The artwork of the book is, by far, the draw of the comic. The old-fashioned superhero nature of the comic fits Byrne’s style perfectly, and Byrne really delivers the goods, especially with his depiction of the hero’s powers.

FX is about a young teen who is accidentally (or not so accidentally, we don’t know just yet) given strange powers that allow him to do basically anything he thinks of (sorta like a Green Lantern ring without a Green Lantern ring), such as if he pretends to fire a bazooka – he actually DOES fire a bazooka.

Or, like below, when he imagines he’s a spaceship (click on all images to enlarge)…

frm_feat_187-FX-08_001.jpg

He and his best friend are the only ones in on the secret, and, naturally, the boy decides to become a superhero by the name of FX.

He fights this villain called Silverback, and it also allows Byrne plenty of room to cut loose, with good effect…

frm_feat_187-FX-20-21_001.jpg

Overall, the issue is certainly a fun book, but it’s also pretty darn generic. There’s the girl the hero likes, and the bully who picks on the hero. Heck, if you add in the initial homemade version of a costume before the real costume at the end, FX has a decent percentage of Amazing Fantasy #15′s plot (which IS a fine plot, of course, but, well, come on now).

Also, I don’t like how the villain, Silverback, is introduced like we’re supposed to know who he is – “Oh, the zoo? That’s where Silverback is being held!” And nothing more about him. In fact, there literally is NOTHING said about Silverback, and why there’s this giant, talking gorilla bad guy. And it’s not like Osborne is against dumping exposition on us, as he isn’t – he just figured “talking gorilla, that’s enough – folks’ll get what I’m going for,” which IS true to a certain extent, but it was still disappointing.

The cliffhanger is interesting, I suppose, but also seemed pretty routine, as well.

Anyhow, if you’re in for some old-fashioned/generic fun superheroics with some strong John Byrne artwork, then FX is for you!!

That’s not enough to recommend the comic, but I will say it WAS a fun comic to read (and I really dug the art).

41 Comments

Pat(sadly)NotLoika

March 19, 2008 at 5:19 pm

I gotta say, that second page you posted is about as good as any page I’ve seen Byrne do in a long time.

But, I can’t wait to see his reactions to the numbers on this. The evil retailer conspiracy shall be mentioned soon…

The punching one?

Yeah, that was a really nice piece of work. Like I said, it seems Byrne was given a lot of room to cut loose, and it really shows.

Fun but not recommended? Cue Byrne-board bashing in three… two… one…

In the punching one, is the kid making ‘bionic man’ noises to make a bionic arm?

Jon Byrne sucks!!! I mean, who does he think he is?

;)

In the punching one, is the kid making ‘bionic man’ noises to make a bionic arm?

Yep, that’s it, exactly.

It’s a cute bit (that they set up earlier in the issue).

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 19, 2008 at 6:53 pm

That’s some lovely art, best Byrne work I’ve seen in a long time.
It’s like when I got The All New Atom and couldn’t recognise the work as his, if I didn’t know I’d never have picked this as the same artist from The Atom.
The gorilla is awesome.

That Bionic Man thing IS cute. Enough so you can forgive a little kid making an off-the-cuff reference to a 30-year-old TV show.

(Though to be fair, I’ve not read it, so maybe the setup Brian mentioned takes that into account)

Do we know how much this writer guy paid for this? Like, he’s surely in the hole, right?

That Bionic Man thing IS cute. Enough so you can forgive a little kid making an off-the-cuff reference to a 30-year-old TV show.

(Though to be fair, I’ve not read it, so maybe the setup Brian mentioned takes that into account)

Yeah, when the kid gets the powers, it knocks him out, so he is put into the hospital for awhile. His friend brings him a couple of seasons of The Bionic Man (they call it something else, like The Cybernetic Man or something like that) on DVD to his friend to watch while recuperating.

Do we know how much this writer guy paid for this? Like, he’s surely in the hole, right?

I believe the number that was mentioned on Johnston’s column awhile ago was $20,000.

Don’t hold me to that, though. ;)

As for whether you’d be in the hole if you spent $20,000 on this, I dunno.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 19, 2008 at 8:11 pm

You’d hope someone would only spend the money on getting a book made if they could afford it – nerds can’t be that bad that they’d bankrupt themselves to make a book right?

Is IDW covering the costs on the other issues, or is it a bit of vanity publishing?

Oh, I’m sure Osborne can afford it (okay, I’m not SURE, but I figure), I’m just saying I dunno if he is in the black or not.

You can be in the red and still “afford” it, ya know? Like when people invest in Broadway plays they know will most likely lose money.

Hey, I’d toss a good chunk of money away to write a book with a well-known artist by an up-and-coming company.

Who knows? Maybe after that, IDW says to me, “Hey, write this tie-in to the new Str Trek movie.” Then maybe Dark Horse says, “Hey, you did that well, do a Star Wars mini series for us.” Couple years later, “Can you write a backup story in the new Spider-Man annual?” And so on.

Right, that, too.

But would you really toss $20,000 for the chance of being “discovered”?

Plenty of people sink money into dreams that are destined to fail, nerds included.

$20,000 is a little steep for my particular blood, but if I was in a better financial situation, I’d seriously consider it.

There’s a better than average chance I’ll be paying off credit card debt until I die anyway. Might as well be able to say I took my shot. :)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 19, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Plenty of people sink money into dreams that are destined to fail, nerds included.

Then again if your dream was to have John Byrne draw a comic you wrote, then he’s already lived his dream and everything else is a bonus.

Do we know how much this writer guy paid for this? Like, he’s surely in the hole, right?

I doubt it.

It’s fair to say that Osborne picked up Byrne’s tab for issue #1. But it’s obvious that IDW paid for the publishing, coloring and lettering. I imagine that Osborne himself will get a paycheck from IDW; and that IDW will pay Byrne for issues 2 through 6.

All in all, not a bad investment.

The real shame here is that I’m just finding out about this, NOW!

I mean,

I don’t care too much about Byrne, but I’d rather support this type of project than… I don’t know… something lame like Kiss Ass, Kill Ass, Kick Ass? (What was Millar’s book named?)

Somehow, I doubt he’s gonna make even close to $20,000 off of the project. All in all, it’s a terrible investment. Maybe a worthy cost in his eyes, but still a bad investment.

I guess it’s an investment in his future as a professional writer.

By my calculations, and I’ll admit I used a lot of estimates; he’ll make around $15,920 for all six issues. Plus, he’ll be able to take the $4,080 Byrne “contracting” loss, as a tax deduction (which he can carry forward for 5 years, or even carry back 2 years.)

If he already has a full time job, he could start matching retention to loses this very April.

All in all, and at the very least, he should break even. Plus, he’ll have 6 published issues in his resumé!

People forget, but before Bill Willingham penned Jack of Fables, he wrote Pantheon for Lone Star Press and Elementals for Comico. Not that they were great; but they were something.

If I’d known it was a limited series with all five or six issues guaranteed to be drawn by John Byrne, I would have added it to my subscription list. Instead, because of the three-issues’-notice policy of my LCS, I was afraid if I added it, I’d be committed to issues past the Byrne issues.

Bear in mind, that with that 20k investment for publishing rights, he also has bought 22 pages of original art that can be sold as individual pages or as a lump amount.

Whether he actually makes a return on his investment would only be determined if he chooses to actually sell all of his pages, right? Just like the only way a speculator actually cashes in on his comics is if he sells them.

It looks like Mr Osborne is working at two purposes: collecting original art AND creating an intellectual property. If nothing else, he looks to offset the cost of a MASSIVE commission by selling some funnybooks.

The cost per page of FX looks to be around $900. I wonder what Marvel or DC’s page rate would be if they were purchasing the physical artwork itself in addition to the reproduction rights..?

This is the most extreme form of “comic fans think they should be comic writers” I’ve ever seen. The thought of all that money going to THIS rather than, I dunno, helping people in need, just turns my stomach.

And before anyone says it, I know that’s mostly my issue, and it’s totally unfair of me to put my financial neuroses on other people trying to live their dream. I just see 20K and think of how many books for school libraries that would be. Or actual nutritious meals . . .or, you know. It’s on me, though. This guy doesn’t have to think like that and good luck with his dream. I just can’t take it.

Am I the only one who couldn’t figure out how old this character is supposed to be? On the cover he looks to be about 30 years old. On the first few pages he seems to be 10 or 11. In school, the bully seems to be 16′ish and if he’s into girls to be crushing and for her to have a serious boyfriend, I’d guess they’d be in junior high or early high school … but then I couldn’t see kids that old still running around playing ‘army men’ with sticks like they were in the first scene.

I found the whole thing rather trite, really. Certainly not especially like the comics I grew up reading in the 70′s and 80′s, other than the most ham-fisted of cliched situations.

Like that $20,000 was ever going to go to people in need anyway.

The only interest I have in Byrne’s work anymore is if someone else is writing it, so I’m giving this a shot.

As for how the money is spent, well, I’d rather see someone spending money to pursue a creative dream than buying a speedboat or sandrail or breast implants or a Picasso, so more power to Mr. Osborne. Every dollar anyone spends on discretionary stuff — like comic books or even computers and internet access — could be spent on charity instead.

Comic geeks seem to have endless money these days. Look at the prices original are is getting.I saw where a Byrne X- Men cover went for $32K and was labeled a “steal”. Didn’t the page with the first appearance of Mary Jane Watson just go for over $100,000?

If this were fiction it would probably turn out to be a clever publicity stunt where the old pro was helping to generate interest in his young protege by staging the whole thing…

As long as Glamourpuss #1 exists, I can’t really figure any generic superhero comic, no matter how unique its genesis, can be even considered in the ballpark for ‘strangest comic out there.’

Wayne is a big fan of Byrne. So this was:

(1) a dream come true, in the sense of having one of his childhood heroes draw his own character

(2) a dream come true to get a comic book professionally published. Not sure, but it may (or may not) be his hope to get noticed . (Wayne owns his own business).

(3) He gets the original art, and he is a huge original art collector.

Wayne’s a good guy and I don’t begrudge him living a dream in the slightest. I hope it works out. At the worst, he has a six issue mini-series to cherish.

I thought it was a pretty inspired idea. and a fun, somewhat old fashioned but in a good way, read. Byrne was firing on all cylinders pretty good here.

“This is the most extreme form of “comic fans think they should be comic writers” I’ve ever seen. The thought of all that money going to THIS rather than, I dunno, helping people in need, just turns my stomach.”

You know for a fact the writer of this book donates no time, money, and effort to helping others? Following a dream doesn’t automatically mean all other worthy activities are excluded.

“I guess it’s an investment in his future as a professional writer.
By my calculations, and I’ll admit I used a lot of estimates; he’ll make around $15,920 for all six issues. Plus, he’ll be able to take the $4,080 Byrne “contracting” loss, as a tax deduction (which he can carry forward for 5 years, or even carry back 2 years.)
If he already has a full time job, he could start matching retention to loses this very April.
All in all, and at the very least, he should break even. Plus, he’ll have 6 published issues in his resumé!”

Your numbers are way off, red Ricky. Wayne Osbourne is paying John Byrne $20,000 per issue. The coloring and lettering is coming out of Wayne’s pocket, Byrne paid for John Workman to pay for the lettering on the first issue only. IDW is only paying for the printing and distributing and they get a percentage of the profits after those costs are taken care of.

For Wayne to make $15,920 in profit on six issues, every issue would have to sell over 28,000 to break even. Remember, Diamond takes a big cut and returns to IDW only about 35% of the cover price. It would be very difficult for Wayne to make any profit off the first run, he’s going to have to go the trade route to recoup his money and hopefully make some kind of profit.

First of all, I’m glad you thought the book was fun. I was going for nostalgia instead of cliche but I can see where it might look like that. Silverback’s story will be told at a later date. I guess I could have used the bus ride to clue you in a bit but I didn’t want to just throw the information out there. Chalk it up to being green – this is the first comic I’ve ever plotted/written. Hopefully, I’ll get better. But I’d be happy to answer any other questions about it.

This should preemptively answer a few though. FX is pretty much a tribute to everything I loved as a kid. The main two characters are nerds/geeks who love comics and watching old TV shows and movies – hence the Six Million Dollar Man reference and, of course, the giant talking gorilla. There will be other tributes along the way and I left those to be inferred from the reading. Hopefully, that will shine through the story. But first and foremost, I wanted it to be fun every step of the way. So, ask away…….

WO

The first issue was very good, Wayne. I hope you have much success with the book!!

Wayne Osbourne is paying John Byrne $20,000 per issue.

Ouch! That is a big hole!

…err …I mean, oh wow! So John is making $120 grand for six months worth of work! Nice.

And they said the era of the Comic Book Artist as a Rock Star was dead!

In any case, I just wanted to mention that if Osborne is keeping the original artwork, then the $20 grand will have a “Work for Hire” component and a capital asset component. Assuming there is a loss, only the work for hire aspect of the equation will be available for the carry forward tax deduction I mentioned earlier. The remainder will be considered “the book value” of the artwork. If the artwork gets sold (after more than a year has passed); the difference between price and book value will be subject to the capital gains tax (which is considerably less than ordinary income tax).

ps: And just in case, I thought that IDW becoming “Diamond Exclusive” meant that they would get at least something better than 35%. I mean, I don’t see how Diamond is helping expand or fight the current “shrinking market”, so you would imagine that IDW had something to gain by going exclusive.

[...] Brian has already gone over how this book exists, so I’ll just get to the nuts and bolts of it.  Osborne’s story concerns a boy named Tom who, while playing with a friend of his, gets bonked on the head with a stick.  He lapses into a coma, but wakes up no worse for wear and able to create “effects” with his mind – if he thinks about holding a bazooka, one appears and he can blow shit up.  As you can see from the cover, if he imagines he’s in a plane, he can fly.  He uses this power to fight that chap on the cover, a rogue, apparently intelligent super-ape named Silverback, and draws the attention of some other nefarious baddies.  When paired with Bryne’s art, this is about as old-school superheroing as you can get.  If that’s your thing. [...]

Wayne, Wayne, Wayne. I am sick of hearing about Wayne! What about me? Working on FX has been a dream come true for ME too. I have been a huge fan of John Byrne’s artwork for a long time and getting a chance to color his work professionally is nothing short of amazing.

Being the colorist, I have gotten to see all the art and read much of the script. Give this series a chance and I promise that you will find an all ages comic that is pure FUN!

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, you may continue to talk about Wayne. :-)

I really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t blown away, but it was really fun and enjoyable.

And, Greg, I actually did enjoy the coloring — it’s simpler and has more flats, which is actually a lot more visually pleasing than a lot of the stuff at Marvel and DC.

I know Wayne, and he is a true comic fan. He is not hurting for money, so I wouldn’t worry at all about whether he lost or made money. I’m sure he’s not that worried about it. :)

FX was a fun read and that splash was absolutely gorgeous.

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