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

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

CREATORS TITLES IMAGES GALLERY

CrossGen Comics, Inc. was founded in 1998, by Tampa, Florida-based entrepreneur Mark Alessi who sought to create a comic book universe that was uniquely varied but also connected by a common theme.[1] In July 2010, Marvel Comics announced plans to revive CrossGen titles.

History

In January 2000 CrossGen Comics, Inc. debuted with CrossGenesis, a sneak-peak at the CrossGen universe (informally referred to by fans as the Sigilverse). It gave an outline of the universe, worlds and characters of CrossGen’s flagship titles that were 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.[1] The head creative team consisted of Barbara Kesel, Mark Waid and Ron Marz. The company's publications covered a variety of genres with characters inhabiting a single shared universe.[2][3]

CrossGenesis

The cover to CrossGenesis #1

First wave

The first wave of CrossGen titles included:

  • Sigil a military science fiction space opera.
  • Mystic a magical fantasy fiction.
  • The folklore-esque Meridian.
  • Scion a King Arthur type adventure series.
  • CrossGen Chronicles a series detailing the untold history of the Sigilverse.

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 Sigilverse narrative.

Following titles

Shortly after, 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, a Tolkienesque fantasy; Ruse, Victorian detective fiction; and a key title Negation were released in 2001. In the following year, the horror fiction Route 666; wuxia comedy Way of the Rat; and the samurai drama The Path were released. The year 2003 saw the release of numerous titles that would expand the Sigilverse in the build-up to the Negation War. 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 key titles that would address the growing issue of who created the Sigil-bearers, Solus and the 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)

Crossgen Logo New

CrossGen Entertainment Logo

In 2003 CrossGen Comics, Inc. changed their name to CrossGen Entertainment, Inc. (CGE) and formed 11 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.

Of the eleven, three of the subsidiaries would have an impact on the industry more obvious than most: CrossGen Comics would continue to publish the current Sigilverse titles, Code6 Comics would publish material created by others outside the Sigilverse; and COW or Comics on the Web would establish CrossGen as a frontrunner of Internet comic book subscriptions.

CrossGen Comics Entertainment, Inc. (CGE)

Crossgen Entertainment Logo

Crossgen Entertainment Logo

CrossGen Comics Entertainment, Inc. (CGE) was set up to take over the publishing of the current Sigilverse titles and any other non-Sigilverse title. 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

Code6 Logo

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)

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

In 2003, CrossGen found itself in a scandal over free-lancer payments, exposing systemic financial problems. 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). 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.

CrossGen filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and ceased publishing, leaving titles such as Sojourn, Negation War, Brath and many others cancelled mid-story. One of the most detailed posts about the CrossGen bankruptcy was on Comicon.com's "The Pulse."[4]

In July 2004, Disney Publishing had been interested in licensing CrossGen content, but upon discovering the bankruptcy began seeking to acquire its assets instead. 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.[3]

CGCreators.net was created to attempt to track the subsequent doings of various staff associated with the company.[5] 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."[6] 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."[7]

As of 2008, various CrossGen domain names and URLs are now held by cybersquatters.[8]

Revival

On July 24, 2010, Marvel Comics' editor-in-chief Joe Quesada announced at the San Diego Comicon that Marvel (by now, also a Disney-owned company) would revive CrossGen titles.[9] On December 16, 2010, Marvel announced that Ruse and Sigil would return in March 2011 as four-issue miniseries.[10] Both have completed their run, and a third Crossgen title, Mystic, will kick off in August. [11]

Controversy

Though Alessi rapidly built CrossGen into a major player in the comic book field, former CrossGen editor Mark Waid was scathing in his indictment of Alessi's management style in a 2009 interview with Ain't It Cool News. He described his tenure as a CrossGen editor as akin to being "first mate on the Pequod" , and described Alessi as a "spoiled eight year old with a checkbook" and "the biggest bully I've ever met in my life--and, coming from a lifelong comic book geek, that's one hell of an indictment." According to Waid, Alessi would scream at illustrators "till he was red in the face" if some minor detail displeased him, and often went so far as to make "grown men stand in a corner" or "send them home for the day." Waid summed up the company's existence by claiming that though CrossGen produced some "good books... none of them were issued by CrossGen so much as escaped from CrossGen."[12]

Company structure

Unlike other comics companies such as DC Comics and Marvel Comics, which rely on free-lance writers and artists, most of CrossGen's talent were salaried employees of the company and worked out of its headquarters in Tampa. Later creators such as J.M. DeMatteis worked freelance, with CrossGen publishing finished properties.

Titles

Sigilverse

Complete list of titles

Main article: Sigilverse

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.

TitlePrequelIssue #1Final Issue #Final Issue
CrossGenesis-Jan 20001Jan 2000
Crossgen Chronicles-June 20008July 2002
Mystic-July 200043Jan 2004
Sigil-July 200042Dec 2003
    Saurians: Unnatural SelectionFeb 20022March 2002
Scion-July 200043April 2004
Meridian-July 200044April 2004
The First-Nov 200037Dec 2003
Crux-May 200133Feb 2004
SojournJuly 2001Aug 200134May 2004
Ruse-Nov 200126Jan 2004
    Archard's Agents: A Most Convenient Murder-Jan 20031Jan 2003
    Archard's Agents: The Case of the Puzzled Pugilist-Nov 20031Nov 2003
    Archard's Agents: Deadly Dare-April 20041April 2004
NegationDec 2001Jan 200227March 2004
    Negation: Lawbringer-Nov 20021Nov 2002
    Mark of Charon-April 20035Aug 2003
    Negation War- April 20042June 2004
The PathMarch 2002April 200223April 2004
Way of the Rat-June 200224June 2004
    The Silken Ghost-June 20035Oct 2003
Route 666-July 200222June 2004
BrathFeb 2003March 200314June 2004
Chimera-March 20034July 2003
Solus-April 20038Dec 2003
El Cazador-Oct 20036June 2004
    El Cazador: The Bloody Ballad of Blackjack Tom-April 20041April 2004
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang-Feb 20045June 2004

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

Compendia

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

  • 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

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

TitleIssue #1Final Issue #Issue Count
AbadazadMarch, 2004May, 20043
R.A. Salvatore's Demon Wars: Trial by FireJanuary, 2003May, 20035
R.A. Salvatore's Demon Wars: Eye for an EyeJune, 2003Nov, 20035
The CrossoversFeb, 2003Dec, 20039
Lady Death: A Medieval TaleMarch, 2003April, 200412
Lady Death: Wild HuntApril, 2004May, 20042
The Red StarFeb, 2003July, 20045
Space AceSep, 2003Nov, 20033
Dragon's LairAugust, 2003Nov, 20033
Masters of the Universe---
Masters of the Universe: Icons of EvilAug, 2003Oct, 20033
Masters of the Universe: Rise of the SnakemenOct, 2003Jan, 20043
Masters of the Universe: EncyclopediaJan 2004Jan 20041
John Carpenter's Snake Plissken ChroniclesJune, 2003Feb, 20044
American PowerN/a - never published--
Tales of the RealmOct, 2003May, 20045
Snake Plissken Chronicles--4
Rob Zombie's Spookshow InternationalNov, 2003July, 20043

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wizard's CrossGen Special. 1. Wizard Magazine, CrossGen Entertainment. 2001 (published October, 2001) 
  2. Reid, Calvin (2004-11-15). "Disney Acquires CrossGen's Assets". Publishers Weekly. http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA480111.html. Retrieved 7 June 2007. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Brady, Matt (2004). "Disney Buys CrossGen Confirmed - Abadazad Plans Named". Newsarama. http://classic.newsarama.com/pages/CG_Disney.htm. Retrieved 7 June 2007. 
  4. Contino, Jennifer. "News: CrossGen Files Chapter 11," Comicon.com's The Pulse.
  5. The CrossGen Creator Watch
  6. Mark Thompson on Checker's CrossGen Reprints, July 17, 2007, at Newsarama
  7. Checker and the CrossGen Reprints - update, Newsarama, July 31, 2007
  8. Pipeline #576, Comic Book Resources, June 24th, 2008.
  9. Rich Johnston (2010-07-24). "Marvel To Publish CrossGen" (in English). Bleeding Cool. http://www.bleedingcool.com/2010/07/24/marvel-to-publish-crossgen/. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  10. Ben Morse (2010-12-16). "Enter Crossgen" (in English). Marvel.com. http://marvel.com/news/story/14857/enter_crossgen. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  11. http://marvel.com/comic_books/issue/38267/mystic_0000_1
  12. AICN Comics Shoot the Messenger: Q&A with Mark Waid, Apr. 27, 2009

References

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External links

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