CrossGen

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CrossGeneration Comics
Type Comic publisher
Industry Publishing
Founded 1998
Founders Mark Alessi
Headquarters Tampa, Florida
Key people Mark Alessi
Gina M. Villa
Barbara Kesel
Mark Waid
Ron Marz
Products Comics
Owners The Walt Disney Company

Cross Generation Entertainment, or CrossGen, was an American comic book publisher and entertainment company that operated from 1998 to 2004.

The company's assets were acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2004. In July 2010, Marvel Comics (by then owned by Disney) announced plans to revive CrossGen titles.

History[edit]

CrossGen Comics, Inc., was founded in 1998, in Tampa, Florida by entrepreneur Mark Alessi. Later creators such as J.M. DeMatteis worked freelance, with CrossGen publishing finished properties.

In 1999, the company acquired the Orlando-based multigenre fan convention MegaCon, from founder James Bretibiel.[1] Breitbiel then became CrossGen's Marketing and Distribution Director.

In January 2000, CrossGen Comics, Inc. debuted with CrossGenesis, a sneak-peek at the CrossGen universe. It gave an outline of the universe, worlds and characters of CrossGen’s flagship titles that would be released six months later. Mark Alessi and Gina M. Villa, head of creative departments, wrote a history of the Sigilverse before any comics were written.[2] The head creative team consisted of Barbara Kesel, Mark Waid and Ron Marz. Unlike other comics companies such as DC Comics and Marvel Comics, which mainly rely on freelance writers and artists, most of CrossGen's talent were salaried employees of the company and worked out of its headquarters in Tampa. The company's publications covered a variety of genres with characters inhabiting a single shared universe.[3][4][5]

The cover to CrossGenesis #1

First wave[edit]

The first wave of CrossGen titles included:

The protagonists of the first wave of CrossGen comics were linked in commonality by the Sigil each character had received. It was a branding on their body, a marking that granted them unusual powers. The Sigil, and the story of the Sigil-Bearers, was a prominent aspect of the narrative.

Following titles[edit]

In November 2000, the Homeric myth The First was released and, steadily over the next three years, CrossGen released many more titles. Crux (based on the Atlantean myth), Sojourn (an epic fantasy in the style of The Lord of the Rings), Ruse (a Victorian detective story), and Negation were released in 2001. In the following year, the horror story Route 666, the wuxia comedy Way of the Rat, and the samurai drama The Path were released.[6] The company enjoyed great initial success, with fifteen Harvey Award nominations in 2002.[7]

In 2003, other titles were released expanding the fictional universe: the sword and sorcery epic Brath; Chimera, a limited series about a Sigil-bearer on the far reaches of the Universe; the pirate adventure El Cazador; and two other titles that would explain the origin of the Sigil-bearers, Solus and Mark of Charon.

Titles such as Negation and Crux blended genres. Although most CrossGen titles shared common elements (such as a Sigil, the presence of a Mentor and a member of the god-like First), the titles rarely crossed over with each other. There was one company-crossover event, the Negation War, but it was never concluded.

CrossGen Entertainment, Inc. (CGE)[edit]

CrossGen Entertainment Logo

In 2003, CrossGen Comics, Inc. changed their name to CrossGen Entertainment, Inc. (CGE) and formed eleven wholly owned subsidiary companies, which represented its broad-based entertainment products and offerings. These companies were to act independently of CGE, functioning as interior business units while all working towards CGE's overall goals. With this arrangement, all current and future projects would be managed and guided by Crossgen’s founding principals. They consisted of:

  • CrossGen Intellectual Property, LLC: CGIP held all CGE content intellectual property (IP).
  • CrossGen Technologies, LLC: CGT held all CGE technology IP and managed technology IP creation, development, production, and application.
  • CrossGen Publishing, LLC: CGPub published all print projects, including CGE Ancillary, Code 6, CrossGen Universe, and foreign publishing.
  • CrossGen Media, LLC: CGM is responsible for feature films, television programs, video games, websites, merchandise, and additional interactive products.
  • CrossGen Productions, LLC: A subsidiary of CGM, CGP was to produce feature films and television programs.
  • CrossGen Interactive, LLC: A subsidiary of CGM, CGI was responsible for interactive publishing, video games, and role-playing games.
  • MegaCon, LLC: MGC managed the MegaCon convention.
  • CrossGen Education, LLC: CGEd published educational materials.
  • Comics On The Web, LLC: COW was responsible for internet publishing, including Comics On The Web(tm).
  • Code 6 Comics, LLC: A subsidiary of CGPub, C6C published Code 6 publications.
  • CrossGen Comics, LLC: A subsidiary of CGPub, CGC published CGU print publications.

CrossGen Comics Entertainment, Inc. (CGE)[edit]

Crossgen Entertainment Logo

CrossGen Comics Entertainment, Inc. (CGE) was set up to take over the publishing of all existing comics properties. Its logo would appear on anything that came from CrossGen. It acted as a publisher for affiliated companies that would retain full ownership and control of their property and would reap the benefits of joining with a larger company.

Code6[edit]

Code6 Logo

Code6 was another imprint of CrossGen Entertainment created to publish titles set outside of the Sigilverse, such as The Red Star, Demonwars and The Crossovers. All titles published with the Code6 logo would be owned by both the creator and CrossGen Entertainment, Inc. with the majority of ownership going to CrossGen Entertainment, Inc. CrossGen would pay an upfront page rate and then split all rights and revenues 75%-25%.

Code6 is the Florida Police signal code for an escaped prisoner. It was used to describe the attitude of the creators working at Code6.

Comics on the Web (COW)[edit]

One of Crossgen's innovations was the sale of comic subscriptions via the Internet. Subscribers could view all of Crossgen's titles through a web browser. The web comics reproduced the fine color of the original, but the lettering was sometimes not quite legible; hovering over the word or thought bubble caused it to enlarge to a readable size, a feature developed in Flash by Gabo Mendoza of Gabocorp Studios. The online library was estimated at 160 issues and 4,400 pages by the end of 2002. CrossGen was among the first comics companies to publish online.

Bankruptcy[edit]

In 2003, CrossGen found itself in a scandal over freelancer payments, exposing systemic financial problems.[8] As this news reached comics fans, sales were affected and creative staff began abandoning the company (including co-founder Gina Villa, Brandon Peterson, and Ron Marz).[9] The root cause for CrossGen's financial collapse has never been publicly disclosed, but some industry observers have noted its difficulties became apparent shortly after the Borders and Barnes & Noble bookstore chains discontinued stocking CrossGen's trade paperback collections and returned huge numbers of unsold books for credit/refund, more than wiping out the publisher's optimistically low reserves against returns.

In late 2003 the company restructured, selling MegaCon to show organizer Elizabeth Widera.[10][11]

CrossGen filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and ceased publishing, leaving titles such as Sojourn, Negation War, Brath and many others cancelled mid-story.[12]

In July 2004, Disney Publishing was interested in licensing CrossGen content but, upon discovering the company's bankruptcy, began seeking to acquire its assets instead. Founder Alessi loaned the company $75,000, [13] but was unable to prevent the company's takeover; on November 15, 2004, Disney announced it had purchased CrossGen's assets for $1 million with plans to publish four prose hardcover novels based on writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Ploog's Abadazad.[5][14]

CGCreators.net was created to attempt to track the subsequent doings of various staff associated with the company.[15] It has since become defunct.

In 2006, Checker Books announced they had obtained the rights to publish trade collections of various CrossGen series, starting with Sojourn. A total of nine collected editions are part of the agreement: two for Sojourn, Negation, and Scion, and single volumes for The Way of the Rat, Sigil, and The Path. There are no plans by Checker Books for more traveler-sized collections.

Mark Thompson, the publisher of Checker Books, travelled to New York in 2007 and spoke with Disney representatives about reprinting further collections. No agreement has been made as of this time, but according to Mark Thompson, it's "a probable thing that's going to happen."[16] In a quick follow-up interview he expanded on things, explaining how difficult it has been to pin down what is considered 'full distributed' and to solve this they are "planning to propose to Disney that we 'catch up' by putting out omnibus collections."[17]

As of 2008, various CrossGen domain names and URLs are now held by cybersquatters.[18]

Revival[edit]

On July 24, 2010, Marvel Comics' editor-in-chief Joe Quesada announced at the San Diego Comicon that Marvel (by then, also a Disney-owned company) would revive a number of CrossGen titles.[19] On December 16, 2010, Marvel announced that Ruse and Sigil would return in March 2011 as four-issue miniseries.[20] Both completed their run, and a third Crossgen title, Mystic, kicked off in August 2011.[21] Two more books, Route 666 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, were announced during Fan Expo Canada in late August 2011, and were set to start in February 2012, but were never published due to low interest in the previously released series.

Titles[edit]

Sigilverse[edit]

The majority of CrossGen's titles took place within a shared universe, informally dubbed the Sigilverse by CrossGen fans. CrossGen published the following titles in the Sigilverse. Most titles are listed in order of appearances. Mini-series and one-shots associated with an ongoing title are listed thereunder.

Title Prequel Issue #1 Final Issue # Final Issue
CrossGenesis - Jan 2000 1 Jan 2000
CrossGen Chronicles - June 2000 8 July 2002
Mystic - July 2000 43 Jan 2004
Sigil - July 2000 42 Dec 2003
Saurians: Unnatural Selection Feb 2002 2 March 2002
Scion - July 2000 43 April 2004
Meridian - July 2000 44 April 2004
The First - Nov 2000 37 Dec 2003
Crux - May 2001 33 Feb 2004
Sojourn July 2001 Aug 2001 34 May 2004
Ruse - Nov 2001 26 Jan 2004
Archard's Agents: A Most Convenient Murder - Jan 2003 1 Jan 2003
Archard's Agents: The Case of the Puzzled Pugilist - Nov 2003 1 Nov 2003
Archard's Agents: Deadly Dare - April 2004 1 April 2004
Negation Dec 2001 Jan 2002 27 March 2004
Negation: Lawbringer - Nov 2002 1 Nov 2002
Mark of Charon - April 2003 5 Aug 2003
Negation War - April 2004 2 June 2004
The Path March 2002 April 2002 23 April 2004
Way of the Rat - June 2002 24 June 2004
The Silken Ghost - June 2003 5 Oct 2003
Route 666 - July 2002 22 June 2004
Brath Feb 2003 March 2003 14 June 2004
Chimera - March 2003 4 July 2003
Solus - April 2003 8 Dec 2003
El Cazador - Oct 2003 6 June 2004
El Cazador: The Bloody Ballad of Blackjack Tom - April 2004 1 April 2004
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - Feb 2004 5 June 2004

CrossGen collected several of the above titles in trade paperback format.

Compendia[edit]

CrossGen published two monthly anthologies, referred to as compendia, that reprinted several titles from the main shared continuity. Each issue contained between 6 and 11 issues.

  • Forge (13 issues, reprints of Crux, Meridian, Negation, Sojourn, The Path, Route 666,
  • Edge/Vector (13 issues, reprints of The First, Mystic, Ruse, Scion, Sigil, Way of the Rat, and Solus)

After 12 issues, Edge was renamed Vector due to a trademark conflict with another company. A third compendium called Caravan was never released.

Roughly halfway through the run of the compendia, their format changed from standard comic size to a half-page sized digest format, usually with a higher page count. CrossGen later used this compendium format to collect runs of single titles, such as Meridian and The Path, to reported success.

Promotional and related titles[edit]

  • CrossGen Sampler (a free promotional comic which included several pages from each of CrossGen's first five titles)
  • CrossGen Primer (a promotional comic bundled with an issue of Wizard Magazine)
  • Wizard CrossGen Special (a later promotional comic bundled with Wizard Magazine)
  • CrossGen Illustrated (softcover book with art and information on several Sigilverse titles)
  • Pre-release Reader review copies of the first issue of several series, some in black and white.

Additional titles[edit]

In addition to its Sigilverse comics, CrossGen published a number of additional titles:

Title Issue #1 Final Issue # Issue Count
Abadazad March, 2004 May, 2004 3
R.A. Salvatore's Demon Wars: Trial by Fire January, 2003 May, 2003 5
R.A. Salvatore's Demon Wars: Eye for an Eye June, 2003 Nov, 2003 5
The Crossovers Feb, 2003 Dec, 2003 9
Lady Death: A Medieval Tale March, 2003 April, 2004 12
Lady Death: Wild Hunt April, 2004 May, 2004 2
The Red Star Feb, 2003 July, 2004 5
Space Ace Sep, 2003 Nov, 2003 3
Dragon's Lair August, 2003 Nov, 2003 3
Masters of the Universe - - -
Masters of the Universe: Icons of Evil Aug, 2003 Oct, 2003 3
Masters of the Universe: Rise of the Snakemen Oct, 2003 Jan, 2004 3
Masters of the Universe: Encyclopedia Jan 2004 Jan 2004 1
John Carpenter's Snake Plissken Chronicles June, 2003 Feb, 2004 4
American Power N/a - never published - -
Tales of the Realm Oct, 2003 May, 2004 5
Snake Plissken Chronicles - - 4
Rob Zombie's Spookshow International Nov, 2003 July, 2004 3

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Weiland, Jonah. "Battling Conventions? Talking with the NY Comic Con and MegaCon Organizers," Comic Book Resources (June 10, 2005).
  2. ^ CrossGen, Wizard Magazine (2001). "Wizard's CrossGen Special" 1 (#1). Wizard Magazine, CrossGen Entertainment (published October 2001). 
  3. ^ Contino, Jennifer. "CrossGen Comics: A New Kid on the Block,", Sequential Tart (May 5, 2000).
  4. ^ Reid, Calvin (2004-11-15). "Disney Acquires CrossGen's Assets". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 7 June 2007. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b Brady, Matt (2004). "Disney Buys CrossGen Confirmed - Abadazad Plans Named". Newsarama. Retrieved 7 June 2007. [dead link]
  6. ^ "CrossGen Continues Worldwide Expansion," Scoop (July 26, 2002).
  7. ^ "Newswatch: From Zero to Fifteen: Newcomer CrossGen Zooms Past Marvel and DC, Second Only to Fantagraphics in Harvey Nominations," The Comics Journal #242 (Apr. 2002), pp. 23-24.
  8. ^ Dean, Michael. "Complaints from Unpaid Freelancers Shine Spotlight on CrossGen Cash-Flow Problems," The Comics Journal #255 (Sept. 2003), pp. 13-15.
  9. ^ Yarbrough, Beau. "CROSSGEN CEO MARK ALESSI ADDRESSES COMPANY FINANCIAL ISSUES," Comic Book Resources (Aug. 20, 2003).
  10. ^ "CrossGen Sells MegaCon To the Show's Director," ICv2 (November 19, 2003).
  11. ^ Dean, Michael. "CrossGen at a Crossroads," The Comics Journal #257 (Dec. 2003), pp. 5-15.
  12. ^ CrossGen Files For Bankruptcy, www.comicbookeresources.com, 20 June 2004
  13. ^ "Newswatch: Alessi Pumps $75,000 into CrossGen," The Comics Journal #263 (Oct./Nov. 2004), p. 37.
  14. ^ "Newswatch: CrossGen Assets Sold," The Comics Journal #264 (Nov./Dec. 2004), pp. 44-45.
  15. ^ The CrossGen Creator Watch
  16. ^ Mark Thompson on Checker's CrossGen Reprints, July 17, 2007, at Newsarama
  17. ^ Checker and the CrossGen Reprints - update, Newsarama, July 31, 2007
  18. ^ Pipeline #576, Comic Book Resources, June 24, 2008.
  19. ^ Rich Johnston (2010-07-24). "Marvel To Publish CrossGen". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  20. ^ Ben Morse (2010-12-16). "Enter Crossgen". Marvel.com. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  21. ^ "Mystic (2011) #1 | Comics". Marvel.com. Retrieved 2013-10-19. 

References[edit]