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.
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. 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.
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.
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)
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 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 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.
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."[dead link]
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.
CGCreators.net was created to attempt to track the subsequent doings of various staff associated with the company. 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." 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."
Though Alessi rapidly built CrossGen into a major player in the comic book field, former CrossGen editor Mark Waid, now editor-in-chief of Boom! Studios, 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."
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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||-||-||5|
|Snake Plissken Chronicles||-||-||4|
|Rob Zombie's Spookshow International||-||-||3|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Wizard's CrossGen Special" 1 (#1). Wizard Magazine, CrossGen Entertainment (published October, 2001). 2001.
|last1=in Authors list (help); Check date values in:
- ↑ Reid, Calvin (2004-11-15). "Disney Acquires CrossGen's Assets". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Brady, Matt (2004). "Disney Buys CrossGen Confirmed - Abadazad Plans Named". Newsarama. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
- ↑ Contino, Jennifer. "News: CrossGen Files Chapter 11," Comicon.com's The Pulse.
- ↑ The CrossGen Creator Watch
- ↑ Mark Thompson on Checker's CrossGen Reprints, July 17, 2007, at Newsarama
- ↑ Checker and the CrossGen Reprints - update, Newsarama, July 31, 2007
- ↑ Pipeline #576, Comic Book Resources, June 24th, 2008.
- ↑ AICN Comics Shoot the Messenger: Q&A with Mark Waid, Apr. 27, 2009
- Myth Conceptions – Crossgen[dead link]
- Timeline of the CrossGen Universe
- Checker Book Publishing Group, who are reprinting some of the CrossGen material
- CrossGen Comics: A New Kid on the Block, May 5, 2000
- CrossGen Continues Worldwide Expansion, July 26, 2002
- CROSSGEN CEO MARK ALESSI ADDRESSES COMPANY FINANCIAL ISSUES, August 20, 2003, at Comic Book Resources
- CROSSGEN LAYS OFF STAFFERS, REORGANIZES, September 25, 2003, at Comic Book Resources
- CrossGen Signs With Endeavor
- Prequel Brath onlinehe:קרוסג'ן