Robot 6

The Middle Ground #77 | Boom goes the …

Quick, pop quiz: Who is the only publisher to be releasing monthly material from both Garth Ennis and Kurt Busiek right now? Clue: It’s also the only publisher to be putting out regular work from Alex Ross, Scott Beatty and Phil Hester. So why aren’t more people paying attention to Dynamite?

This isn’t me arguing for Dynamite as a publishing line, because I’ve (a) done that before, and (b) come to realize that a lot of people seem to have made up their minds about Dynamite a long time ago, based on the publisher’s earliest offerings, and not come back to check anything out since. I admit, I get comps from Dynamite, so it’s very easy for me to pay attention to their line, and I’m not going to pretend that I’m a fan of all of it. Things like the former Dabel Bros. books aren’t my kind of thing, and I still struggle with the T&A content of books like Warlord of Mars, Vampirella or the Red Sonja books, but there are some great books that I suspect are completely overlooked coming out from them, what with Kirby Genesis, the recent (much better than it had any right to be, and very 2000AD-ish) Robocop Vs. Teminator: Kill Human, and the not-so-recent-but-I-just-got-around-to-reading-it Sherlock Holmes: Year One series, to name but a few (One of the things about getting the comps, I’ve discovered, is that I sometimes miss a month or two, and then end up waiting to read a storyline once it’s been completed, in one big chunk. Strange but true). But, no, what I’m really talking about is the talent base that Dynamite has quietly grown up over the last few years.

With both Marvel and DC having settled into what is becoming a more and more insular talent pool in terms of writers (DC is, admittedly, seeming to branch out more with the second wave of New 52 hires, but Marvel still feels like it’s based on a variant of the old boys network, for better or worse) there’s something refreshing about seeing writers like Busiek or Hester or Ande Parks and Eric Trautmann–really good, reliable writers who just may not be in favor for whatever reason with the Big Two (Although I remain convinced that Hester should’ve been given his pick of New 52 books after the work he did rescuing Wonder Woman, same as Chris Roberson)–putting out work that’s enjoyable, solid and not entirely dissimilar in tone to “mainstream” comics (which is to say, action/adventure/occasional comedy) month after month. I’m not sure if it’s by design or accident, but Dynamite has also ended up with a (growing) family of writers, all of whom have shown a willingness to juggle series, genre and scale as needs be without breaking a sweat.

And Dynamite’s artists … well, Tim wasn’t entirely wrong when dissing Johnny Desjardins in his CBR column last week, because his David Finch stylings are limited, at best. But there’s a wealth of artistic talent at Dynamite that really does deserve to be seen. After all, Francesco Francavilla and Paul Renauld both made their U.S. debuts with the company, and other cover artists producing regular work for the publisher include the aforementioned Ross, Joe Jusko, Ryan Sook and Mark Buckingham. The interior artists may be less familiar, but there are some great people working there, including Aaron Campbell, Daniel Lindro, Jack Herbert and my pick for the “I can’t believe he’s not been stolen away by DC for a Justice League International book yet” award, Carlos Rafael.

It’s an odd thing to applaud, I guess; the idea that Dynamite has this team of great creators doing really good work that not enough people are paying attention to. But it’s true; I get that not every book is going to appeal to everyone, and I get that the publisher has a lot of baggage purely from publishing so many licensed titles that people have preconceived notions of. But look past whatever prejudices and preconceptions you have in place, and Dynamite puts out work by a lot of people whose work is not only ready for prime time, but way better than what’s already being pushed as the Next Big Thing in mainstream comics.

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Comments

16 Comments

George Bush (not that one)

November 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Busiek rocks!

My problem with Dynamite is simple: almost every interior artist they have is unimpressive.

Comics should have good interior art. A good cover doesn’t hide the fact that reading the story is no fun with mediocre interior art. I’m not saying that these guys have no potential, just that they aren’t what I expect when I read a Kirby comic or a Busiek comic.

Good writing can only do so much, it’s a comic book, the art should feel on the same level, most of this stuff just doesn’t feel up to the writing.

There are seasoned guys out there who DC and Marvel aren’t using. Cheaper to use unknowns? Well, then there’s the problem.

I’d pay more attention if Kevin Smith wasn’t there. That is to say I want to and would gladly read a Green Hornet and a Six Million Dollar Man comicbook but…

I do love their Zorro book though and I’ve recently checked out their Kirbyverse. The only real problem I have with it is I think taking the Marvels/Kingdom Come route with it might be a mistake.

One word: derivative! The entire line does not have one new character. All the work is based on the past for these characters. I don’t pick it up because you have to peel away a lot of the crust before you get to the good parts. Plus: they need to learn that customers care about if a book comes out on time.

I’ve enjoyed a few of their books, but most of the time I think the interior art is subpar. When I’m really curious about a Dynamite book now I make sure to find an art sample online.

I have been enjoying the new Kirby book and have followed The Boys in the trades. I like both, but would agree with other posters that the main problem has been the interior art on many of these books.

After a few issues of Super Powers, I stopped buying them due to poor interior arts.

To me Dynamite has branded them as Alex Ross cover party and the land of Kevin Smith unproduced movie scripts. I read The Boys, and I tried SuperPoers but all the other titles don’t really appeal to me – not into extended franchise licensed books.

Look, if all you guys think that Dynamite is being derivative, then you’re right about one thing:

It, along with the Big Two, have had a problem with new character creation. Why? They think it’s too risky, and when they have no confidence in the new character(s), the books don’t do so well in the marketplace, and they suffer. Couple that with how the more overexposed/iconic standbys have been so ingrained into the public conciousness that the companies don’t put any effort into selling the public on new characters. So if you want to have a market filled with non-derivative books and old standbys, it’s very simple: call for newer concepts, newer characters, and encourage creativity and risk. Take away the companies’ fear of failure, and you have successful attempts at backing, with confidence, newer and newer creations.

Got that so far?

“Hester should’ve been given his pick of New 52 books after the work he did rescuing Wonder Woman, same as Chris Roberson”

I could not agree more, Graeme.

If any of you folks calling for non-derivative comics didn’t buy Garth Ennis’ Battlefields series from Dynamite, then I am mad at you.

All kidding aside, are you as judgmental about using pre-existing characters when it comes to the big two?

Dynamite Rocks! I have more books of theirs on my pull-list than any other publisher right now. True I only buy about ten books a month anymore but still.
I do wish they had more dynamic interior art but their stable of artists are still pretty good.

Thanks for the kind words (though I have to chuckle at the comment in regards to the “T&A content” of Red Sonja and Vampirella; Sonja’s more covered in armor than she’s been since BWS drew her in Conan, and the Vampirella fans would pay cash money to have me horsewhipped through the streets because I (gasp!) put pants on her).

Much appreciated!

-E

They do some good reprint collections too:

Borderline and Tales of Terror by Carlos Trillo & Eduardo Risso
Black Kiss and Power & Glory by Howard Chaykin
Curse of The Wedigo by Mathieu Missoffe and Charlie Adlard

I agree that some of the interior art in their books is sub par. But I thought the stuff in Project Superheroes first chapter was pretty good. Black Terror I thought also had decent interiors.

And I think Bionic Man is underrated. I’m not a fan of Smiths comic stuff but Bionic Man is a lot of fun.

It bums me out that people aren’t checking out Dynamite more. That means cancelled books most likely. But if they just got more consistent with the interiors they’d really catch on I think.

I love Dynamite books…the Green Hornet got me reading comics again. Hester should be on a batbook…and artist Nigel Raynor should be on a top book as well.

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