The Middle Ground #134 | The promise of things to come
As 2012 draws to a close, the holiday season is now officially in full swing, and that means it’s time to think about the next year, and also maybe get a little greedy in the process. With all that in mind, here are five random things that I’d like to see from 2013’s comic books.
More Dustin Harbin, please
As much as I’m trying to stay away from the traditional, nightmare-to-put-together “Best of the Year” lists that I always, always mess up by forgetting something I adored and then feeling guilty about it for far too long afterward, it’s worth reminding people that Boxes by Dustin Harbin blew my little mind this year, and made a connection with me in a way that most comics just … don’t. Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, I can always check up on what Harbin’s up to, but I admit: Part of me hopes that there’s a sizable graphic novel project that he’s working on in secret, ready to unveil next year and show the world more of what he’s capable of.
Al Ewing takes over the world
Whether it’s his 2000AD work — which in 2012 has featured the hilarious Zombo, the psychedelic Zaucer of Zilk and the spectacular Dredd crossover “The Cold Deck” — or his amazing reinvention of Dynamite’s Jennifer Blood into something far more layered, vital and interesting than creator Garth Ennis had considered, Ewing has proved himself to be a writer worth paying attention to this year … and yet, it feels as if not enough people are paying attention to him. I can only hope that 2013 is the year when that changes, and everyone realizes what 2000AD fans already know: that Ewing is possibly the most exciting new writer in the mainstream these days.
Actually, I’m being very greedy with this one: I don’t just want more Monkeybrain, I want more people to look at what works about Monkeybrain (Spoilers: Talented creators doing new stuff that they own and are passionate about, for a price that makes it easy/enticing for new readers to sample) and try the formula out for themselves. But back to Monkeybrain for a second: If there were some kind of “Best New Publisher of the Year” award, Monkeybrain would get my vote easily. Just look at the line-up of titles it has published in just half a year of existence, or the creators involved, and, really, who else comes close? There are long-standing indies that should be jealous, for that matter, not to mention Marvel or DC. May 2013 see Monkeybrain go from strength to strength, and let’s see other people try to learn from their success, too.
New Grant Morrison at Image, and elsewhere
Image’s 2012 has been particularly impressive, hasn’t it? From the raft of titles announced at Comic-Con International and New York Comic Con, it looks as if its 2013 will be similarly big, but what I may be most interested to see from the publisher is something that’s not actually been announced yet: the next Grant Morrison project. Morrison was, for the longest time, my favorite comic book writer and even if he’s slipped from that position in recent years, I think his work is still interesting at worst and visionary at best … which may be why I was so disappointed in Happy, his first Image book. Happy seemed obvious and pandering in a way I find rare in Morrison’s work, but I know he’s capable of more, even now; his Action Comics, for example, remains far and away my favorite DC book in recent years. With that (and Batman Incorporated) wrapping up early next year, I’m hoping that whatever Morrison’s following Image (and other publisher?) creator-owned books are, they have a little bit more fire, a little bit more surprise, and a lot more passion inside them.
Kevin Huizenga returns
I may be mistaken, but aside from a reissue of Gloriana and Alla Prima, 2012 was devoid of new work from Kevin Huizenga, which selfishly seems like a bad thing to me. As the Hernandez Brothers are to many, so Huizenga is to me, with his every release an event and cause for excitement. At the start of the year, he talked about working on finishing Ganges and the eventual collection of that series, and I can’t wait to see more of that: The formal play, the existential pondering and just the sheer strength of the cartooning on show in his Glenn Ganges work is something that I fall for every time. Just knowing that there could be more Ganges en route always makes the future a better place to want to be.