Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Lurks in the Longbox? #29 - Omega Paradox Returns!

Omega Paradox #2-4 
Moonstone Books
$4.99, color, 54 pgs. (#2/3 King Size Special)
$2.99, color, 32 pgs. (#4) 
Writer: Ian Ng
Artists: Mark Sparacio, Abe Melendez Rivera

Omega Paradox #2-3 was reissued as a "King-Size Special" at last year's Motor City Comic Con.

The Omega Paradox team of Julian, Solarra, Malice, Gemma and Grinder continue their quest to locate a mystical device called the Eye of Ancev.  After rescuing Quintoro, the guardian of the Eye, they are ambushed in the Temple of Neak Prel by mercenaries that have their own plans for the Eye.  Team Leader Valerius believes the Eye is “the greatest power in the universe,” so it becomes imperative to retrieve it before it falls into the wrong hands.  Valerius’ agenda is clear, as he usually shows more concern about retrieving the Eye, than he does about the welfare of his own team.  
Co-Creators Ian Ng and Mark Sparacio have promoted Omega Paradox at several comic conventions.

As the story progresses, the team gradually becomes a more cohesive unit.  Despite their differences, their genuine concern for each other starts to become apparent.  During the series’ development, the creators promised that one character “may hold the key to keeping the universe together."  Does the finale of the first story arc confirm that character’s identity?  Well, it does ends with a great cliffhanger leading into the next story arc, but I'm going to refrain from any spoilers...  
Sparacio, Ng and Rivera have done an incredible job building these characters and their universe, and the artwork just keeps getting better.  The good news for fans?  It's just getting started.  Sparacio has already provided details on the next story arc, which will be released this upcoming summer as a 128 page full color graphic novel.  Writer Ian Ng has already completed the script for three out of the four chapters of the story.  If that's not enough, the entire original series is being compiled into trade paperback format later this Spring.  The trade edition will feature completely re-mastered colors by digital painter Abe Melendez, and will include the special "zero" issue in addition to all four issues of the original series. 

As you may remember, I also had the pleasure of interviewing the entire creative team for the lead article in the January 2012 issue of Comics Buyer's Guide Magazine.  If you're new to the world of Omega Paradox, check out the link below for the online version that will bring you up to speed, and then please "like" the Omega Paradox Facebook page for preview artwork and updates.  Also "stay tuned" to the Secret Identity Comics blog for more reviews and news about Omega Paradox!

My interview with the Omega Paradox team was originally featured in CBG #1685.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Very Sad Day

Today I received some very sad news.  While not a total surprise, it still came as a shock to read the following press release that was forwarded from my editor at Comics Buyer's Guide Magazine today:

"January 9, 2013 – Krause Publications, a division of F+W Media, Inc., announced today the closure of Comics Buyer’s Guide effective with the March 2013 issue. The Company cited general poor market conditions and forces working against the title’s sustainability including the downturn in print advertising and the proliferation of free content available online for this highly specialized industry."

“We continuously evaluate our portfolio and analyze our content strategy to determine how well we are meeting consumer and Company goals,” said David Blansfield, President. ”We take into consideration the marketplace we serve and the opportunities available for each of our magazine titles. After much analysis and deliberation, we have determined to cease publication of Comics Buyer’s Guide.”

I suppose in some ways the writing was already on the wall.  Print media has been in a downward spiral for several years now, and in all fairness, CBG was still around longer than many long running national publications, like U.S. News and World Report.  They even outlasted Newsweek by just one month.  

However, despite obvious issues like "general poor market conditions," there were other factors, perhaps smaller in scope, that gradually eroded away at the magazine during the last few years.  Perhaps one of them can best be described by two horrible words:  Call Center.

Like many corporations, the parent corporation made the decision a few years ago to outsource subscriber services to an outside call center, or "help desk" operation that would handle all subscriber issues, such as payments, replacement of damaged issues, and subscription renewals.  I think it's fair to say that the call center had their share of issues.  I've literally lost track of how many Facebook friends have sent me messages or posted on my wall that they cancelled their subscription to CBG after countless problems with missing issues and damaged copies.  If you've ever worked for a call center company, you know that help desk employees usually follow a "script" combined with a multi-step process that mandates how calls are handled.  There was a bizarre glitch somewhere in their process, because if you reported an issue as missing, the response was usually that no copies were available, and your subscription would be extended by another month.  However, when you had a damaged copy, it would be replaced within a few weeks. 

Gone were the days when you could call Krause Publications directly, and talk to a friendly employee that would have that missing issue in your hands within 3 days or less. 

For contributors like myself, this announcement was especially upsetting.  For myself, CBG has not only been a great magazine to read each month, but was also my "voice" in the industry.  It was a wonderful community for more than 42 years, and I was honored to be part of that community. 

There will be more updates in the coming days, but for now, I would like to thank Editor Brent Frankenhoff and Senior Editor Maggie Thompson for the opportunity and pleasure of writing for Comics Buyer's Guide, the "World's Longest-Running Magazine About Comics," for these past three years. 

There's just one more issue left - Don't Miss It !