Thursday, December 29, 2005


With the madness of the holidays fading into the realm of ever-more-distant memory by the day, my wife and I finally had a chance to go out last night to see King Kong.

I loved much about it but three hours and some spare change later was very ready to leave the theater.

In particular, Kong himself was great: savage yet noble, ferocious yet tender, completely CGI yet also completely realistic. Same goes for the various dinosaurs and bats and giant insects and millions of other creatures on Skull Island.

Also particularly good was Naomi Watts although I thought her character was a terrific pain in the ass. She was brave and had a lot of heart, sure...but she kept perpetually getting herself into danger. I actually thought Kong was too good for her. After about her six millionth time trying to escape, he should have let her go and stopped saving her from whatever creature was trying to eat her next. It would have made his life much easier (and longer) if he had been a little less selfless and worried a little more about himself.

Jack Black was OK, his character was unlikeable but he restrained himself from going completely over the top. It would have been cool if Kong stomped him into a puddle at some point. Adrien Brody is lost on me. I know he won an Oscar for that Nazi movie I never saw (I don't watch movies by Woody Allen or Roman Polanski) but he's a weird looking guy, all sharp angles with beady eyes. It's distracting to me. I would have liked his character better if he started out as more of a coward and overcame his fears (and came into his own) in order to save Naomi Watts on Skull Island.

I also think that because we all know how the movie is going to end before it even starts, the movie loses a little something. No matter how magnificent Kong is, knowing he's going to end up as bullet-riddled street pizza takes a little tension out of the whole ball of wax.

As long as Kong is, running time wise, I thought it was missing out on a few story beats. I hope there's a director's cut coming on DVD at some time, I think it could have used another 45 minutes to fill in some blanks. Like Narnia, I felt that it put the relationships out there but didn't necessarily earn them. Meaning much of the heart of the film felt flat to me. I wasn't swept away in the story, I admired it from a distance.

Kong though...Kong is the man. You will definitely believe that a giant gorilla can fight dinosaurs, get chloroformed, reluctantly star in a broadway show and fall to his tragic death. All because he fell in love with the girl from The Ring.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Being overwhelmingly swamped with work and holiday preparations, I decided to post another old comic book pitch onto the blog because it's faster and easier than thinking of something semi-interesting to write.

Back in 2001, DC Comics was looking for a new direction for their Superboy comic. At the time, I was the inker on the book and was pretty up to date with the continuity. A different editor at DC, one that I'm friendly with, helpfully suggested that I try to enlist a co-writer and pitch something together so that I'd have a chance to be taken more seriously.

Geoff Johns, who at the time was still cutting his teeth in comics, agreed to pitch something with me. I remember we had a few conversations on the phone and then I went off and wrote this, Geoff thought it was good to go, and we threw it to the Superboy editor.

It all amounted to a hill of beans. Even having Geoff on board, the pitch was never even read by the Superboy editor. The book was given to the writing due of Jimmy Palmiotti and Dan Didio (whatever happened to that guy, anyway?), I was fired off the book to make room for a new art team, and the rest is history.

However, this pitch is noteworthy because it contains ONE BIG ASS IDEA. Luckily, Geoff was eventually able to put it into play elsewhere and it's become an important story in the context of the DC Universe.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays. Catch you on the flipside of Christmas.

Prestige one shot
Keith Champagne and Geoff Johns
With the 100th issue of SUPERBOY fast approaching, the timing couldn’t be better to shake things up for Superboy. To redefine the character in a way which opens up intriguing new possibilities and directions for future creative teams to explore.

SUPERBOY: THE FAMILY TREE is a story that will make fundamental changes to the character of Superboy; changes that will make him the black sheep of the SUPERMAN family, adding a layer of tension to his relationship with Superman. Changes that will force Kon-El to reevaluate the way he thinks of himself, giving him a long-term inner conflict to resolve, as well as an immediate goal to accomplish.

SUPERBOY- For years, Kon-El has known that he’s an amalgam of Superman and Paul Westfield, a mixture of Kryptonian and human DNA. Superboy has long ago come to terms with the fact that he’s cloned from an evil man. He’s overcome his genetically tainted beginnings and established himself as a first rate hero in the DC Universe.
Or so he thinks…

AMANDA SPENCE- last seen explosively decompressing in space, Amanda is back with a vengeance. She’s come up with an ingenious plan to bring her father, Paul Westfield, back to life; a plan that will turn Superboy’s world upside down.

DEATHSTROKE THE TERMINATOR- The deadliest mercenary in the DC Universe has just been hired to capture Superboy. He doesn’t plan to fail.

ARMAGEDDON- cloned by Amanda Spence when her plan for Superboy goes awry, Armageddon is also an amalgam of Kryptonian and human DNA. In this case, a teenager created from the DNA of DOOMSDAY and LEX LUTHOR, implanted with the mind and memories of Paul Westfield.

LEX LUTHOR- what secret connection does an unsuspecting Lex share with Superboy?
(I've deleted an additional character name/potential wrinkle here in case Geoff ever decides to use it in Titans)

Amanda Spence has an idea: if Superboy was cloned using her Father’s DNA, she, in turn, could clone her father using Superboy’s DNA. In fact, the same memory implant and accelerated growth technology featured in the ‘Our World’s at War’ storyline would make it a breeze to restore her father to life.

Amanda hires Deathstroke the Terminator to capture Superboy, and for once, the deadliest mercenary in the DCU actually completes a job successfully. Having acquired Superboy, Spence sets her plan in motion. She culls Westfield’s DNA from The Kid’s human/kryptonian mix and begins to grow herself a new father.

Imagine the surprise of everyone involved when, after accelerating the new Westfield’s growth a few years, she realizes that the clone looks nothing at all like her father. There’s only one possible answer: Superboy wasn’t actually cloned from Westfield.

Superboy takes advantage of the resulting confusion to escape, but he’s left with one gigantic question: Whom is he really cloned from?

Kon-El enlists Serling Roquette to help him find out. Together, they confront the one man who may be able to provide answers: Dabney Donovan. The insane geneticist taunts Superboy with a list of names he may have been created from: Guardian, Lex Luthor, Bruce Wayne, Hal Jordan, or The Joker. Donovan also drops an additional bomb: (Deleted plot point here, sorry.)
In the meantime, a distraught Amanda Spence searches through her father’s belongings, desperately trying to find anything that will help salvage her ruined plans. What she finds is a vial containing a scrap of bone belonging to Doomsday. Her twisted mind quickly forms a plan to kill Superboy once and for all.

Superboy and Roquette are on the move. They travel around the DCU, obtaining and testing DNA samples of the various suspects. Some, like Guardian, are easy. Others, like The Joker, are terrifying. Still others, like Lex Luthor, are almost impossible. Nevertheless, one by one the various suspects are eliminated until only two remain: Lex and Bruce Wayne.

Simultaneously, Amanda Spence has completed her newest creation. She’s combined Doomsday’s DNA with the cell sample she culled from Superboy, creating a being she’s named Armageddon. On top of that, she’s implanted her father’s warped mind and memories into Armageddon, bringing Westfield back to life in a new, incredibly powerful body.

Serling performs the last two tests while Superboy anxiously awaits the results, which is when Armageddon chooses to strike. Kon-El is completely overwhelmed and outmatched. Ironically, it’s only the DNA results that save Superboy’s life. When the test confirms that Superboy was cloned from Luthor, Armageddon chooses to let Kon-El live, to suffer before being put out of his misery.

Superboy is rocked by the information. Westfield was a minnow compared to a shark like Luthor. How will Superman react, and is there any hope for Kon-El to grow into a hero when at his core, he may be evil through and through?

A few days later, a nervous Superboy meets with Luthor. Throughout their conversation, Kon-El desperately searches for a shred of decency in Lex; even the smallest bit of good in Luthor’s black soul would give Superboy hope that, possibly, Lex’s evil wouldn’t taint him.

Finding none, Superboy chooses not to disclose his secret to Luthor. Instead, he begins to search for (deleted), who may be his only hope for salvation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The next Brad Pitt?

Someone...ANYONE...tell me my boy isn't a future movie star.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Critical Response

While on my lunchbreak, I thought I'd take a few minutes to respond to some of the feedback I've read about JSA #80. As I've said in interviews all along, whether you liked or hated this arc, it was all my fault so I'll take the blame and throw my two cents into the hat.

The first two issues of JSA that I wrote were remarkably well-received. The third has been pretty much split down the middle with most of the negative comments revolving around the deaths of the characters of Hector and Lyta, otherwise known as Dr. Fate and his wife, Fury.

As some people have speculated, their deaths were indeed editorially mandated. I believe there are big things coming up for the character of Dr. Fate during and after all this Crisis business and, unfortunately, as a direct result Hector and Lyta became expendable. While their deaths were inevitable, the manner in which they died were left up to me.

That's where most people seem to feel the ball was dropped. People aren't happy that the two were written off so quickly and in such a minor fashion; that Lyta and especially Hector, one of the integral characters of the series, deserved a better end than what they got.

And you know what? You're right. They did deserve better. They deserved a whole six-issue story where they could have gone out in a blaze of glory. What they got was a 4-page subplot spread out over 66 pages of story.

Climb aboard my rocket ship and let me take you back in time a few months, let's say...mid summer.

I'm hip deep in plotting out two major storylines for this arc: Dr. Fate's last battle with Mordru (not my choice for villain but I had a lot of fun with him) and Jakeem's misadventure in the Fifth dimension. Either one is enough to carry three issues of story on their own so doing both plotlines justice is going to be tricky. All told, I've got 66 pages of story to workwith and a ton of plot points and character beats I'm stitching together to form the story. On top of that, it's a little nerve wracking stepping onto a book so intricately linked with THE MOST POPULAR WRITER IN COMICS TODAY. Not that I ever have but I'd imagine it's like dating a girl when her last boyfriend was a porn star. problem. I'm more excited than anything else and having a great time putting things together. I'm even pushing at this point to try to get John Byrne to pencil these issues as an extra treat. As an aside, I couldn't be happier that Don instead chose to come back to the book to draw these issues, it was a great swan song for both of us and he did an amazing job.

My phone rings and I'm told that, by the way, Hector and Lyta need to die and Fate needs to evolve into the Kingdom Come, Nabu version of the character by the end of the story. I think to myself, "Cool! That's one way to make sure my storyline doesn't get lost in the shuffle."

I start to put some ideas together, take a look at the clock and realize that it's problem time. Because I don't have any extra pages allotted to do it. This story is already packed to the gills.

So I did the best that I could, which was to cut four pages from Jakeem's storyline and give them over to Hector and Lyta. Maybe if I was a better, more experienced writer I could have come up with something better. Personally though, I firmly believe thatI should get an Eisner for managing to get the job done with only four pages to work with. On top of that, I snuck in a cameo by Dream and even left the death scene open enough that, although I was told Hector and Lyta were being written out permanently, there was still an untold story there. Their bodies are still out there, preserved in the snow, so maybe they'll cheat death in some way or form eventually. Not to give any die hard Hector and Lyta fans false hope but I even got an email from Geoff Johns the other day saying the same thing.

It's comics, after all. Anything can happen and eventually...usually does.

The other main criticism I've heard is that people were left wondering how Johnny Thunder, who died a while back, now seems to live again in the Fifth Dimension. Well...I guess we all know what ground those four extra pages would have covered now, don't we?

That's not entirely true. I originally was going to give Johnny Thunder a much larger role in this story, to the point where I even cliffhangered the first issue on his surprise appearance. As I wrote the second issue, though...I changed my mind. For a dead guy, I got to thinking that Johnny had been in the book an awful lot lately and I cut him way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back. It wasn't his story, it was Jakeem and the Thunderbolt's.

As far as how he's alive in the Fifth Dimension in the first place...who says he's alive? I have a theory about The Thunderbolt and Johnny Thunder but I'm not going to share it publically because I hope to use it as some point in the future, maybe in a Classified arc. This crackpot theory of mine explains why, after he died, did Johnny seem to temporarily merge with the Thunderbolt (who then reverted back to his original form over the next several issues) and also explores other characters, like Saradin, who had wielded the Thunderbolt's power and were also present in the Fifth Dimension.

I'll give you a hint in the form of a dialogue exchange I left on the cutting room floor. In the spirit of Christmas or whatever.

JAKEEM: Johnny? We've got room for one more. You coming home?
JOHNNY THUNDER: Thanks, Jakeem...but if you ask me, it sure does look an awful lot like HEAVEN around here.
JOHNNY THUNDER: You'll see...someday.

On that note, I've got pages waiting to be inked and a life waiting to be lived. Thanks to everyone for all the message board posts, private messages and emails. For three months, I felt like the King of the Prom.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Aeon Flux

Haven't had much time for blogging over the past week, give or take a couple of days. I actually have a little list of topics to eventually get to, covering a variety of different topics, everything from movies to comics to profiles of people I admire to life to Gracie Jiu Jitsu, just to name a few.

I slipped out a few nights ago to see Aeon Flux at the local theater. I vaguely remember the cartoon from a while back. I only saw it a few times but from what I recall, it was ugly and made little sense. But I figured it was better than Harry Potter (how many movies will it take before those kids learn how to act?) so it became my flick of choice, almost by default.

Armed with my box of goobers and diet coke (a mistake by the concession girl, I never drink diet soda but I didn't feel like getting back in line to complain. Actually, there was no line, I wanted to sit down in time to see the previews), I settled into my seat and basked in the glory.

Or lack thereof. I can't really say.

Aeon Flux may be a fantastic movie, I really wouldn't know. Within about twenty minutes, I was so bored I fell asleep and slept through the bulk of it, waking up for about the last five minutes. According to some reviews I later read, I didn't miss much but...y'know, always take those reviews with a grain of salt and form your own opinions.

Between the tickets and snacks, it was a fifteen dollar nap. Good thing comic book artists make millions of dollars a year!

Also, I think I liked Charlize Theron more before she played that serial killer. There's something about taking a pretty girl and uglying them up for a role that just...takes away from that beauty. In the back of my mind, when I look at her now I feel like I got a glimpse of what she's going to look like in twenty years after she lets herself go and spends a little time in rehab. It's not a pretty picture.

There's a lesson in here somewhere but I'm not sure if I can find it. Maybe it's don't gain weight for a role unless your last name is Deniro. Or maybe it's that bad cartoons make bad movies. Or maybe it's to take my opinion with a grain of salt and form your own.

Or maybe it's all of the above.


Friday, December 02, 2005

JSA #80 preview

Well, it's almost that time again so here's the solicitation copy for JSA #80, shipping on December 7th. Instead of pasting in the Alex Ross cover, I scanned in page two from the issue. It doesn't spoil anything so I hope I don't get yelled at for doing so.

Written by Keith Champagne
Art by Don Kramer and Champagne

The final battle between Mordru and Dr. Fate rages to its shocking conclusion through the worlds of Kingdom Come and JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NAIL! Plus, the Thunderbolt vs. Jakeem to decide the ultimate fate of the Fifth Dimension! After this issue, two members of the JSA will never be seen again!

There's been a lot of speculation and some interesting theories as to which two members of the cast aren't getting out alive. Every character is somebody's favorite so apologies in advance to whoever liked these two the most.

If I was going to pretend to be psychic, I would predict that the comment I will most stumble across in reviews for this issue is that it feels like I crammed a four-part story into three parts. I don't think another whole issue was needed (although I wouldn't have complained at the extra paycheck) but I definitely could have used five more pages of story to open things up visually for Don Kramer and include some character beats that were left on the cutting room floor. Ultimately, though...I'm happy with this issue and the story arc in general. Like I wrote last month, it's not going to cure cancer but I think it's a good, solid funny book.

As most people know, this is my last issue of JSA in any capacity and the book moves into new and exciting hands in the coming months. Going out with this issue is about as good a swan song as one can get, I think. I'll miss this group of characters.

Hope everyone enjoys reading the damn thing half as much as I did writing it. The pleasure was all mine.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


In regards to my post last week, I didn't get a ton of questions asked so I figured I'd wait a few extra days to see if anything else trickled in. I figure it's safe by now to post my answers, I can't foresee any last minute urgent queries flooding in.

Someone named Tom asked who my favorite penciller I've worked with is, as well as my favorite book I've worked on. Pretty generic, safe comic question there. Thanks for playing, Tom.

I had a run on Superboy with Pascual Ferry that I enjoyed quite a bit, I felt our styles meshed pretty well. He's since gone on to superstardom at Marvel as I continue to toil in the trenches. But he's been my favorite so far. As far as favorite books go, I have a soft spot for Aztek: The Ultimate Man and Young Heroes in Love. I thought they were both different and interesting, although neither lived too long a life. As an aside, Dev "Dirty D" Madan, the penciller of YHIL, remains a good friend to this day. I like to think I'm Sammy to his Sinatra. Or maybe I'm Joey Bishop.

Mr. Chris Falloutboy, esq. asked a few posts ago if I listen to music while I work.

The thrilling answer is...YES! Sometimes I do, other times I listen to DVD commentaries and things like that in the background while inking. When writing, I need either silence or very soft, non distractive music because I find that writing requires more concentration than inking. The bulk of mental problem solving when inking a page occurs in the first few minutes of staring at it. The rest is just bringing those solutions to fruition without spilling the ink.

Someone else named Chris asked me if I'm really, as often stated in interviews, the best looking man in comics.

The answer is ABSO-FRICKIN-LUTELY! I look like a cross between Brad Pitt and a retarded monkey which, in comics, can take a fellow quite far. By the way, scare me.

An aspiring artist named Sherman wanted to know how I got into comics and if he can send me some samples.

Well, Sherman...obviously being so ridiculously handsome and sleeping my way to the middle certainly helped. Aside from that, I went to the Kubert School, worked hard and sucked up to Andy Kubert. He passed my samples to Bob Harras at Marvel and the rest of my glorious career has unfolded from there. Tom Mandrake and Ken Branch also helped me quite a bit by giving me background inking work and showing me some ropes before that.

You can send me some samples if I can post my critique here. Up to you, brother.

Three people asked if I either do commissions or if I could do them a sketch and send it to them. The answer is no. I really, really, swear to God just don't have the free time although I do sketch at conventions just like everyone else. But really...go get a Jim Lee or someone cool. Don't waste your time with me.

And that's a wrap, folks. Like I said, not too many questions to answer which, in its own way, is a blessing. I don't have anything that interesting to say.

Thanks to Jesus Antonio for Sergio Toppi's name and the link he sent me. That guy is awesome!

Thanks for reading,

Monday, November 28, 2005

29 things you didn't know about CHUCK NORRIS!

My friend Dev emailed this to me today. It made me laugh out loud at least fifteen times out of twenty nine so I figured it was worth sharing. Viva Chuck Norris!!

1. Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

2. When Chuck Norris has sex with a man, it is not because he is gay, but because he has run out of women.

3. Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.

4. Filming on location for Walker: Texas Ranger, Chuck Norris brought a stillborn baby lamb back to life by giving it a prolonged beard rub. Shortly after the farm animal sprang back to life and a crowd had gathered, Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked the animal, breaking its neck, to remind the crew once more that Chuck giveth, and the good Chuck, he taketh away.

5. Macgyver can build an airplane out of gum and paper clips, but Chuck Norris can kill him and take it.

6. Rather than being birthed like a normal child, Chuck Norris instead decided to punch his way out of his mother's womb. Shortly thereafter he grew a beard.

7. Chuck Norris only masturbates to pictures of Chuck Norris.

8. Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

9. Chuck Norris lost his virginity before his dad did.

10. Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.

11. Chuck Norris's girlfriend once asked him how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. He then shouted, "HOW DARE YOU RHYME IN THE PRESENCE OF CHUCK NORRIS!" and ripped out her throat. Holding his girlfriend's bloody throat in his hand he bellowed, "Don't fuck with Chuck!" Two years and five months later he realized the irony of this statement and laughed so hard that anyone within a hundred mile radius of the blast went deaf.

12. Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

13. There is no chin behind Chuck Norris' beard. There is only another fist.

14. If you ask Chuck Norris what time it is, he always says, "Two seconds till." After you ask, "Two seconds to what?" he roundhouse kicks you in the face.

15. Chuck Norris built a time machine and went back in time to stop the JFK assassination. As Oswald shot, Chuck met all three bullets with his beard, deflecting them. JFK's head exploded out of sheer amazement.

16. Chuck Norris was the fourth Wiseman. He brought baby Jesus the gift of "beard". Jesus wore it proudly to his dying day. The other Wisemen, jealous of Jesus' obvious gift favoritism, used their combined influence to have Chuck omitted from the Bible. Shortly after all three died of roundhouse kick related deaths.

17. To prove it isn't that big of a deal to beat cancer. Chuck Norris smoked 15 cartons of cigarettes a day for 2 years and aquired 7 different kinds of cancer only to rid them from his body by flexing for 30 minutes. Beat that, Lance Armstrong.

18. There are no disabled people. Only people who have met Chuck Norris.

19. Chuck Norris has recently changed his middle name to "Fucking."

20. The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.

21. Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

22. Chuck Norris once lined up to kick the winning field goal of a high school football game. When the football went flat, he persuaded the referees to let him kick the field goal with a 3 month old child. Chuck roundhoused kicked the baby 60 yards through the uprights and then proceeded to bang every girl in the stadium.

23. When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready to attack. Chuck Norris has not had to pay taxes ever.

24. The original theme song to the Transformers was actually "Chuck Norris--more than meets the eye, Chuck Norris--robot in disguise," and starred Chuck Norris as a Texas Ranger who defended the earth from drug-dealing Decepticons and could turn into a pick-up. This was far too much awesome for a single show, however, so it was divided.

25. Chuck Norris recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Red Bull.

26. When Chuck Norris plays Oregon Trail his family does not die from cholera or dysentery, but rather roundhouse kicks to the face. He also requires no wagon, since he carries the oxen, axels, and buffalo meat on his back. He always makes it to Oregon before you.

27. Chuck Norris can make a woman climax by simply pointing at her and saying "booya".

28. Since 1940, the year Chuck Norris was born, roundhouse kick related deaths have increased 13,000 percent.

29. If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris you may be only seconds away from death.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

My apology to Paul...

A couple of days ago, an interview that I did with Matt Brady over at Newsarama was posted. The article mainly covers the last issue of JSA that I wrote that ships in a couple of weeks. Here's a link if anyone wants to check it out...

The feedback from the article seems pretty positive. Even fellow inker/writer Jimmy Palmiotti stops in to say a nice word. If I'm lucky, I will someday be half as successful as Jimmy is. The most negative comments seem to come from Paul, who proclaims himself a porn addict, and doesn't seem to care for my inking work.

Well, Paul, if it makes you feel any better, I thought I sucked over Sadowski's pencils, too. What was I supposed to do, though? Not work? I did the best I could but I agree with you there.

Anyway, Paul...because you're a porn addict, I've posted this picture just for you. I'm pretty sure this girl is a porn star, I found her picture on Howard Stern's website. Anyway, if she's not, she probably could be. Think of it as my own small way of apologizing for dampening your JSA fix for the last four years.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005


In the middle of another hectic week, juggling the inking chores on two books a month for the next six months, as well as needing to put the finishing touches on the proposal for a Batman project that I'm trying to get off the ground with friend and fellow JSA artist, Don Kramer. I also stayed up way too late last night finishing up an interview for that will run by the end of the week.

So I'm tired and busy although I'm looking forward to relaxing with family on Thanksgiving.

In lieu of not having much time to post this week, I thought I'd open it up and answer some questions. Anyone have anything they're curious about concerning the comics biz? Want to know who dies in Infinite Crisis? Want to discuss favorite books or writers or artists? Feel free to email me any questions at or leave them below in the comments section. I'll do my best to answer this weekend.
My question is: Does anyone know the artist for the piece I've posted with this entry? I believe he's Italian, although I could be wrong. I'd like to find more of his work though so somebody help me out.


Friday, November 18, 2005

UFC 56 predictions

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts competition, specifically the Pride Fighting Championships in Japan. Here in America, we have the Ultimate Fighting Championship leading the way. While my love for Pride runs deep, I'm also a fan of the UFC, which is presenting a new card tomorrow. There are three fights I find intriguing on the card so I thought I'd pick my winners.

Matt Hughes (pictured) is the greatest champion in the history of the UFC. He's also my favorite American fighter. He doesn't get the press that guys like Randy Couture or Chuck Liddell receive but neither one has been as dominant a champion as Hughes. Tomorrow night, he's fighting a guy named Joe "Diesel" Riggs, who likes his nickname so much he had it tattood in giant letters on his stomach.

The most interesting thing about Riggs is that he used to fight at 300 lbs and he's now fighting Hughes at 170. He's a legitimately tough kid but I don't think it's his time to shine yet. Hughes has lost before and he'll lose again but I don't think it's time to put money down against him. I think this one ends by TKO in the second round and Matt's hand is raised in victory.

The second fight worth talking about on this card is Rich Franklin versus Nate Quarry. I had never heard of Quarry before the Ultimate Fighter TV show and I've only seen him fight a couple of times. He's got heavy hands and likes to use them. I guess he's a good ground fighter, too...but I've never seen him grapple so I can't really say.

In the end, I don't think it really matters. Rich Franklin is a great fighter in his prime, he's the 185 lb champion and I predict he'll end the night with his belt still strapped around his waist. I'm going to pick him by KO in the third round.

Finally, probably the most intriguing fight to me personally on this card is Sean Sherk versus Georges St. Pierre. This one is a pick 'em. Really, either guy could take it. They're both top, top guys in the world and they're fighting to establish who the number one contender to Matt Hughes will be.

I'm a fan of both guys. St. Pierre is dynamic, fast, explosive, and well rounded. Sherk is strong, methodical, and forces his will on the other fighter until he wears them down and out.

I guess in my heart, I want to see Sherk win this one. He's been out of the game for a while and I'm rooting for him to come back and reestablish himself at the top of his weight division. As much as I like Georges (and I won't be disappointed if he wins, either), Sherk is in a strange sort of underdog position here; not because there's doubt that he could win the fight, he more than has the skill to get the job done. I guess it's because he's been more or less blackballed for a couple of years. I'm sure it's been a frustrating time for him and I'm hoping to see him make the most of this new opportunity and really shake up the weight division.

So I'm picking Sherk by decision after three hard rounds.

There are a few more undercard fights, including Jeremy Horn versus Trevor Prangley, that look good. Honestly, a lot of the UFC's cards fail to live up to the hype. So I've got my fingers crossed that these three fights deliver. If they do, it'll be a fine night of martial arts action.



Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Royal Flush Gang

The road to building a writing career in the comics field is often bumpy and littered with pitches that, for whatever reason, failed to earn that elusive and almighty green light from the powers that be.

Case in point, the below pitch that I presented to DC last year featuring the corniest, hokiest supervillains of all time, The Royal Flush Gang. Initially inspired by HBO's Sopranos, the idea then mutated in its own direction.

I pitched this to Stephen Wacker, who liked it and passed it up the chain of command to Dan Didio, who in turn killed it because basically, it was a comic series featuring the corniest, hokiest supervillains of all time. That and the fact that my name in comics isn't big enough to guarantee anyone would buy it, although I'm working hard on that second part. And I gotta tell you, those are two valid reasons.

Recently, I gave this to a friend as a model for how to structure a proposal he was writing. After reading it, he commented that he recently saw the Royal Flush Gang on the Justice League cartoon, treated in a very similar fashion to what I've written here. It wouldn't surprise me, nor would it be the first time that ideas I've pitched have popped up elsewhere. It happens way more often than people might think.

So without further adieu, here's the pitch. If you think it sucks, let me hear it.

A six-issue series by
Keith Champagne

It’s all a matter of perspective.
From the outside looking in, the Royal Flush Gang is a quaint, silver age gimmick. A team of five bad guys dressed up as an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten—the hand that makes up a royal flush in poker, robbing banks while flying around on giant playing cards and getting their asses kicked by the Justice League of America.

From the inside out, looked at with a more modern spin, it’s a whole different story. The Royal Flush Gang isn’t just a group of lame super villains: It’s a family tradition that spans multiple generations.

In the Royal Flush Gang, younger family members earn their stripes and move up the ladder, taking on the personas of retiring members (for example, Jack becomes the new King or Ten becomes the new Queen, etc.), or forcibly ‘retiring’ members in order to take up their personas.
In other words, The Royal Flush Gang is a family of super-villain Mafioso. Put even more simply, it’s ‘The Soprano’s’ dressed up as playing cards.

It’s Old School versus New School, Silver Age versus Modern Age, father versus son, with the future of not only the Royal Flush Gang, but also of the entire family on the line.
Even during the best of times, it’s not easy being King. Providing leadership to a family of criminals is a hard, thankless job that requires unflinching strength of will, eyes in the back of the head, and a flack jacket to deflect the constant backstabbing.

For the Royal Flush Gang, the best of times was a long time ago. After making a splashy, debut years ago, the team has slowly hit the skids, their various schemes (mostly related to accumulating wealth) consistently foiled by the Justice League, to the point where the group has become almost a punch line in the super villain world.

So The King has taken the Royal Flush Gang to ground, forcing the group to lay low while he begins to think broader, to plan their future on a larger scale. It’s become obvious from repeated failure that there’s no long-term benefit to playing the super villain game. It’s time for the family business to evolve or die.

For the next generation of the family, neither option is especially appealing.
Lead by the King’s son, the children of the original Royal Flush Gang decide it’s time to reshuffle the deck and start playing the game by their own rules. This should be their time in the sun, not a time to hide in the shadows. To that end, without the original King’s blessing, they splinter off and form their own faction: A newer, edgier Royal Flush Gang consisting of:

ACE OF BLADES: An unstable, fifteen-year old serial killer with a knife for every occasion and a hair trigger temper to match.

KING OF PAIN: The son of the original King and leader of the New Royal Flush Gang. Ambitious, intelligent, and ruthless, his apple may not have fallen far from the tree but, nonetheless, has most likely outgrown it.

DRAG QUEEN: The most reluctant member of the gang, Drag Queen is actually King of Pain’s brother, recently released from prison and forced by the new King into the humiliating role of Queen for reasons of his own.

SUICIDE JACK: Impossibly deadly, he’s the coolest hit man in the world; the kind of guy who would have fit in perfectly with Sinatra and the Rat pack, although he has no idea who they were.

TEN: Literally, a ten. The most beautiful girl you’ve ever seen, she’s everything a man could want. Unbeknownst to anyone, she’s also the brain behind the King Of Pain, a powerful telepath secretly pulling his strings.

More ruthless and deadly (and successful) than their predecessors ever were, the new Royal Flush Gang begins to attract the acclaim of the criminal underworld—as well as the attention of the superhero community. By doing so, they carelessly jeopardize the delicate schemes of the original King who, in three clever moves, is poised to wipe out all competition and transform the alien city of Haven into the new gambling capitol of the world; all controlled by the King and his family.

With the King’s master plan threatened, the original Royal Flush Gang is forced out of the shadows, determined not only to stop their own children, but also itching to show this cocky new generation how the super villain game is supposed to be played.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Where the 'magic' happens...

Not a lot of time for blogging over the past week, things have been pretty hectic.

This is a picture of the artwork-producing section of my office. It's pretty stripped down and basic, no bells and whistles to speak of. I've gone to great pains over the years to simplify everything down to a bare bones approach: A drawing table, a lamp or two, cabinet to store artwork, a little tray to hold my pens and brushes and ink, and a file cabinet for various other things (it's mostly filled with DVD's). The whole mess is guarded by Dragun, my trusty Shogun Warrior which I got for Xmas when I was six years old. I think I've had him longer than anything else I've owned.

My drawing table is covered with hastily-scrawled phone numbers, most of which are anonymous. I usually forget which number belongs to who after a while or the ones that have names attached get smudged out.

A larger area of my office has been carved out as a writing station, which is generally better put together than my drawing area but still could hardly be called pretentious. I have a couple of pages of original art ( John Buscema and Steve Rude) on my wall, along with a couple of swords, a framed letter from Mark Gruenwald, and a JSA poster I produced a few years ago. Throw in a TV, radio, DVD player, bookshelf and Futon and that's my office in a nutshell.

It would be pretty easy to throw together something more extravagant, maybe one of those cool hydraulic drawing tables and a fancy flat file, a nice leather sofa or whatever but...really, why? My office is simple because it doesn't need to be anything more. The work would look the same regardless of how plush the chair I sit in is.

There's just more important things in life to worry about.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

Fan mail

When I made my comics writing debut last year with an issue of Legion, one fan was nice enough to create and send to me (care of DC Comics) an original art card, a reinterpretation of a classic Gil Kane cover, that tied in to the story I had written. He included some kind words on the inside about the issue. It was a nice piece of fan mail and I kept it. I have it on a shelf in my office to this day.

The other day, one of my editors at DC forwarded me some more fan mail, this time relating to a story point in JSA #79. I'm withholding the name of author but I was so blown away by this letter, I wanted to share it. Here it is, with my comments following...

"Dear the good creators of Dr. Fate at DC Comics,

For over 20 years now, I have been hypnotized by the magic and greatness of Dr. Fate. Ever since the day Dr. Fate had his debut in More FunComics and the Justice Society, it was clear to me that there would be no other superhero that would be as great as him. From Kent Nelson toHector Hall, I read every comic ever made concerning Dr. Fate.

I even have a vivid memory of the day I had gone to Universal Studiosfor the first time at the age of 12. After seeing numerous t-shirts onsale with the more popular superheroes a la Superman and Batman, I had searched recklessly for a Dr. Fate shirt. Sadly, none could be found and the remainder of my summer vacation had been miserable.

Yesterday, my son, Guy, turned 10. As a present, I passed down a collection of all my More Fun Comics, a collection of Dr. Fate miniseries and Justice Society #79. I had been as excited as he was until Isaw the picture...

At first, I had believed that it had been a simple printing error but after I had contacted several members of my Dr. Fate fan club, I had soon discovered that this particular picture had been no accident.

It was indeed Dr. Fate without a visible body.

I was not able to react to this picture. Tears had formed in my eyes but were unable to drop at this monstrosity. Images of my life zoomed pass me as I sadly remembered the glory of Dr. Fate and his illustrious blue body. At an immeasurable amount of disgust, I ripped apart JusticeSociety #79, and my childhood and heart along with it.

You editors at DC Comics do not have the ability to imagine the amount of havoc this one comic has caused me. Not only have you spit on the spirit of Nabu but you have also raped my heart. I believe I have no choice but to no longer purchase any DC Comics until this catastrophe upon Dr. Fate is erased. I beg of you to reconsider the transaction that has just occured. Not only for Dr. Fate and the Justice Society, but also for the sake of mankind."

It was signed, "With Disgust..." followed by the author's name.

So...I honestly don't know if that letter was written as a goof or meant in a serious way. I hope it's a joke but with comics, you just never really know for sure.

I would like to say that in the chance that the author reads this, please contact me. You can leave me a message right here on this blog and I'll get in touch with you privately. I seriously would like to make you a Doctor Fate T-shirt because whether you're joking or your heart is really deserve it either way.


(above artwork by Alex Ross.)

(please do not reproduce, in whole or in part, any of the above letter without the permission of myself or the author.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Fire in the hole

To complete my trifecta of comic-related posts, I thought I'd announce my next official assignment. I don't know if it has been made public yet and I'm also not sure if anyone really cares but I'll be taking over the inking chores on FIRESTORM for DC.

I've done some random fill in work on the book over the past few months, a few pages here and there and a couple of covers to help keep things on track deadline wise. I was really surprised at how good Jamal Igle's pencils are. Before working over him, I was aware of his name but didn't really know his work. But I gotta say, he's REALLY good and I'm looking forward to digging in and seeing how our styles will blend.

The best part of being an inker is working with different artists. It's a process of adaptation and growth, kind of molding the way I like to do things to fit the way the penciller wants things to look. It usually takes me 3 or 4 issues to really start to get in the groove over a new artist and those first few months can be scary as Hell. And at that point, things will either have clicked and the team will be producing beautiful comic art or a pink slip will most likely be soon to arrive.

So here's hoping I don't get pink slipped.


Monday, October 31, 2005


Here is the cover and solicitation info for JSA #79, which arrives in comic stores this Wednesday, November 2nd, followed by some comments by me.

Written by Keith Champagne
Art by Don Kramer & Champagne
Cover by Alex Ross

Amid the ruins of Dr. Fate's tower, one half of the JSA fight for their lives against Mordru, free from his imprisonment in the Rock of Eternity. Meanwhile, the rest of the JSA battle to save the Fifth Dimension from the iron grip of...Jakeem Thunder! • 32 pg, FC

How about that gripping solicitation copy, huh? Writing that stuff sucks because you want to keep it short, intriguing, yet not give away any story spoilers or details.

Well, anyway...the response to the first part of this story was pretty overwhelmingly positive. I say overwhelming because I was bowled over by the nice reception. I wasn't sure how the fans of the book would respond to an issue written by someone who wasn't named Geoff, and rightly so. Also, like every writer, I have my own insecurities about the work itself. There are always sequences that, reading it with fresh eyes, I wish I could go back and rethink.

But everyone seems to have liked part one so I'm excited for the second chapter to reach stores this week.

Of the three issues that I was lucky to write, in many ways #79 is my personal favorite. I'm very proud of all three but in terms of pacing, I felt this was a good, strong issue. When I got my copies a couple of weeks ago and read it in color for the first time, I felt very...satisfied, I guess is a good word. Not that there's no fault to find between the covers, far from. Overall, though...I feel pretty confident saying that this is a solid comic book. It won't cure cancer but it should bring on a smile or two.

Don Kramer was also really in his groove here. I think he was feeling it as he pencilled and it really shows. And John Kalisz is amazing. If only the inks didn't suck.

So let's see what the rest of the comic reading world thinks.


Thursday, October 27, 2005


Because I'm racing the deadline clock today, I'm resorting to a quick work shot in order to post something to America's favorite new blog.

This was the back cover to ARMOR X #2, pencilled by Aaron Lopresti and inked by me. It's the only bit of artwork that I contributed to the book.

ARMOR X was a four-issue series that was published earlier this year by ATP Comics and Image Comics. It's written by me and drawn by a very talented artist named Andy Smith. The book is the story of a high school loser named Carson Deeds who stumbles across a suit of high tech, possibly alien body armor. He then goes on to live out every revenge and power fantasy he's ever had until, slowly, it all gets a bit too real for him to handle.

The book ends with a big twist and not everybody makes it out alive.

ARMOR X was a lot of fun to write. It's my first creator-owned comics work and, because all of the characters are named after people in my life, it's a special little project to me. I like to imagine that in 20 years, I'll look back and read it and it'll be a little time capsule of my life right now. As an added bonus, I like to think I built two new friendships through the production of the book, one with Andy and the other with Stephan (who published it). They're both quality human beings and as easy to work with as they could possibly be.

ARMOR X didn't sell gangbusters but was reviewed pretty strongly. We're doing a volume 2 for next year, a couple of months after the first series is collected into a trade paperback. I've already written bits and pieces of it, random scenes, some of which probably won't even make it into the final book. But it's twisted, in some ways darker, and in its own way should end with as big an impact as the first series.

Keep an eye out if you like this kind of thing.

Back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My EX-favorite wasn't pretty.

Alexandru Lungru came out roaring, knocking James Thompson down with a huge right hand about seven seconds into the first round. If I wasn't down and out from food poisoning, I would have jumped off my couch and cheered. He then pounced on Thompson, trying to finish the fight on the ground but to no avail.

Two minutes in, clearly gassed out, Lungru answered a volley of punches from Thompson by turning his back to him and trying to hide in the corner. The ref quickly stepped in, seeing that Lungru had lost his fighting spirit, and stopped the fight.

Your winner after two minutes and some spare change: JAMES THOMPSON

I also feel that the Sakuraba/Shamrock fight was stopped way too soon. Possibly even suspiciously so. And Sakuraba is my real favorite but I gotta call a spade a spade.

I hope Pride doesn't begin following suit with the UFC's policy of premature stoppages. Let the fighters go until there's no controversy involved in a stoppage. Saku and Shamrock are both legendary warriors and neither one needs a tainted win or tainted loss on their records.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Beware maniacs with chainsaws...

I was at the gym this morning and saw a guy who had lost one arm working out. He was riding the exercise bike while I was doing my cardio. It didn't seem like it bothered him at all but I caught myself thinking, "Poor guy. That must suck."

I think one of my new goals is to make it through life without losing an arm or a leg, any fingers, toes or other appendages or needing to have any of my organs replaced. A lot of it is out of my control; who knows what could decide to break down inside any of us at any given time. But I'm a pretty clean fellow. I don't drink, smoke or drug. I work out regularly, I don't drive like a maniac (it's the other guy you have to watch out for), and I don't take too many unnecessary risks in my everyday life. I do love soda and I have jumped out of an airplane but so far, I'm surviving in fairly good shape.

So hopefully, my odds are good. It would be nice to go out with everything I came in with. I think that same thought would apply to most of us and I'm sure that, now that I've put it out there, I'll walk out the door and into some maniac with a chainsaw.

Stranger things have happened. Just not to me.



Thursday, October 20, 2005

And in this corner...

Meet James Thompson.

I've seen him fight one time, against Alexander Emelianenko who knocked him out in less than 10 seconds. Thompson charged at him, Emelianenko dropped him with one punch and the fat lady started singing.

Now he dares challenge my NEW FAVORITE FIGHTER (at least until next week)??

Actually, I read an interview with Thompson today and was surprised at how well (and soft) spoken he was. He seems very dedicated to evolving as a martial artist.

Not that it's going to help him at all. If he was fighting anyone else...MAYBE. But not the mighty Alexandru.

This one is gonna be ugly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

my new favorite

This is Alexandru Lungu. He's my new favorite MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter.

From what I understand, Alexandru is actually a very decorated Judoka (judo player) in his native Romania. He's even beaten a couple of Olympic Judo gold medallists. This Sunday, he's fighting a fellow named James Thompson (who should legally change his last name to Steroids), in the Pride Fighting Championship ring in Japan.

I've never seen Alexandru Lungu fight and I can't wait to watch him lumber around the ring. Actually, I'll bet he's surprisingly graceful for his size.

Win or lose, this guy is my new favorite.


treading water

So...I've got a blog.

Now all I need to think of are some different topics to write about.

It's actually harder than I thought it would be. Not a ton of things happen to me on a daily basis because I work alone in my home office much of the time. So it's not like I can complain about annoying coworkers, although I have been known to annoy myself from time to time.

I could write about what it's like to work alone at home most of the time but that's really not that interesting and besides, I hate talking about work related stuff.

I could write about hobbies but I don't have the time right now to get into much.

I could write movie reviews. For instance, even though Elizabethtown wasn't a great movie, it was just sentimental enough to get a thumbs up from me. And even though Keira Knightley got a little naked in Domino, it was still an incomprehensible mess of a movie.

So while I think of something to write about, here's another picture of my boy, Jack. It's funny how when I look in the mirror, I don't think I look too monstrous but when I see myself in pictures, I look like the Frankenstein monster.

Luckily, Jack doesn't have that problem. He looks like his mommy.


Monday, October 17, 2005

My Dear Son Jack

This is my favorite picture of my son, Jack. At a little over a year and a half, he's easily the coolest person I know.

I've learned (and remembered) many things about life thanks to Jack. He's the best kind of teacher, patiently guiding me by example instead of sitting me down and lecturing me for hours on end. When I grow up, I hope to be half as zen as he is now. As we get older, we seem to lose our ability to exist in the moment. Everybody's head swims with responsibility and worry and life becomes full of distractions.

I started keeping track of these little life lessons and realizations in the form of a book of letters that I'm writing for Jack, which I plan on giving him on his twenty first birthday. Writing a novel isn't really that daunting when you break the work up over a twenty one year period of time. It's not exactly what a person could call an overwhelming workload, even a monkey could do it.

Of course, any random monkey is probably a better writer than I am but my heart is in the right place.

My hope is that when my son grows to become a man, he'll be able to know me not as just his father but also as the person I am. There is more to all of us than just any single role that we fill. I'm also a brother, son, husband, friend, artist, writer, dreamer, asshole...the list goes on and on. I'd like him to see every facet of me eventually.

And if he does a good job at teaching, he might even like me when he gets to really know me.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Welcome to Champagne Wishes

Never before has one person had less to say.

In otherwords, I have no idea why I started this blog except that I was on hold for an extended bit of time with the utilities company and putzing around the Internet, saw this thing, and said to myself, "why the hell not?"

I'm sure I'll publish infrequently and when I do, the topics on hand will be of limited interest. Or then again, maybe I'm just setting my sights low in case I really am as boring as I secretly fear.

One way or another, I guess I'll find out. I'm going to go think about something to write about and get back to you.

Whoever you are.


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