It was, of course, that moment when talking to strangers that I dread, when said stranger finds out that I write about comic books for a living, and says “Do they still make those?” in a way that’s both entirely genuine and unsnarky and somehow more upsetting and offensive than if it had been the snarkiest, snippiest comment possible (I sometimes wonder what they’d do if I answered “No, I write about a dead art form that finished because you gave up on Super Friends all those years ago,” but then I remember that with the pop cultural landscape being what it is in these post-modern times, that that could theoretically be possible). After explaining that, yes, it’s a living and – in many ways – thriving medium, I got the inevitable follow-up question, which also happens to be the one I always enjoy answering: “So what would you recommend?” Continue Reading »
Whether by plan or happenstance, it looks like 2012 is likely to turn into the year when Image Comics is more relevant to the comic industry than it’s been since it was first founded 20 years ago. The publisher isn’t just at the center of multiple conversations about the future of the industry as it stands today, it’s on the “right side” of the argument in so many (if not all) of them. Continue Reading »
The unexpected thing about catching up on the output of the original Valiant line wasn’t that it made me more optimistic and enthusiastic about the upcoming relaunch of X-O Manowar and the entire Valiant Universe; part of me had been expecting that reaction based on the pedigree of those involved with the relaunch, if nothing else. What was a surprise, though, was that reading early issues of books like X-O and Harbinger made me think about the benefits of revivals and characters outlasting their original creators. Continue Reading »
One of the interesting things about the fact that Marvel and DC dominate comic book history – with a parallel stream for “alternative comics,” which is so vague as to include Robert Crumb, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Eddie Campbell and Marjane Satrapi, depending on who’s doing the defining at the time – is that everything else seems up for grabs. This past week, I found myself relying on the internet to find out about some of the 1990s publishers that have since gone the way of the fondly-remembered dodo, and the malleability of certain areas of history was brought home very, very clearly indeed.
Comics, as everyone is fond of saying as they quote Jack Kirby, will break your heart. It’s true; you don’t have to look far to find something truly depressing about the industry – not the medium, never the medium, which is as fine as any and better than many – that just makes you want to shake your head in mild despair, whether its creators having little control over their work or receiving little to no reward from their publishers even as their creations appear in much-hyped movie trailers filling up the internet conversations. But what truly broke my heart recently was looking at the sales figures of indie books in the Diamond sales chart. Continue Reading »
One of the most frustrating – and, almost as frustratingly, most common – things that happens in today’s comic market is realizing that so many comics only have one chance at grabbing attention/eyeballs/sales, and then they’re essentially left out in the wilderness for the most part while other, newer, things get the bells and whistles of publicity because they stand more chance of being The Next Big Thing by dint of, well, being newer and little else. Continue Reading »
As it turns out, April will see the release of one of those collections that I’ve always wanted, but had pretty much given up all hope of ever seeing, as Nick Abadzis’ Hugo Tate gets a complete collection and – hopefully – the comic world will realize what an amazing, important comic it’s been missing out on for so long. But the fact that this series is finally getting re-released and just might get the attention and treatment it deserves has me thinking: What other long-vanished projects need this kind of return?
(Warning: Strong Brit-centric suggestions ahead. What can I say? Most of my formative comic experiences were either British or Marvel or DC…)
I was never a Valiant reader; they came around when I was in one of my then-periodic outs with comics as a medium and an industry, which were generally down to either distaste for what was happening to once favorite characters (Hal Jordan had gone insane?) or a depressing lack of money that’d restrict my purchases to whatever Grant Morrison was writing and little else. But even if I’d been paying more attention, I’m not sure that I would’ve jumped in with both feet and hoped for the best. Continue Reading »
It makes sense, I guess, to try and mix comic books and pop music; the two share similarities, after all — both are relatively modern art forms, and both speak to something of an immediate response, even if the works in question benefit more from a more considered reading (or listening, in pop music’s case). But in so many cases, crossing the two together doesn’t result in some kind of contemporary pop culture now monster of zeitgeist and awesomeness, but something that just feels empty and unnecessary.
We’re only three days into 2012, but is it too early to predict a trend already? Probably, but the fear of saying something stupid has rarely stopped me in the past. Nonetheless, with the news that Bryan Hitch has ended his decade of exclusivity with Marvel to launch a creator-owned series with Image, is it time to wonder if this is the year where big names go indie again?
“Best Of”s are always a problem for me; I get plagued by the knowledge that I know that I’m going to forget something really important – The list of important things that I’ve forgotten in my life is both embarrassingly long and just plain embarrassing, trust me – as well as the fact that I’ve just not managed to read all the good stuff released this year. How can I claim that something is one of the Best 10 Whatevers of the year if there’s another something I suspect may be even better, if only I could finally get around to making time for it?
And yet… ’tis the season, isn’t it? With 2011 just days from crawling out the backdoor, ashamed at its behavior and hoping that no-one will think too ill of it in future, this is the point where everyone looks back and picks their favorite things of the past twelve months. “Favorites” is a far more accurate term; less definitive, true, and less likely to get hits because of that, but it’s more true to say “I liked these the most” than “These are objectively the greatest,” isn’t it? And so, in no particular order and with the warning that I will inevitably have forgotten something important and wonderful, five of my favorite books of 2011: Continue Reading »
Consider this my calling my own bluff. Awhile back, I opined that no-one online really spent enough time talking about independent books that were being solicited, meaning that when they were finally released three months later, your store might have missed out because you didn’t even know to pre-order. With the March Previews coming out a week tomorrow, I figured there was no better time for me to tell you what you should be pestering your retailer for from the February edition. Here’s my pick of the top five books you should be looking to pre-order. Continue Reading »
One of the weird things about writing about comics for a living — or, at least, part of a living — is that, at this time of year, you end up being asked for lists of the best comics of the year, or your favorite comics of the year and, if you’re anything like me, find yourself falling back in love with comics all over again as a result. Continue Reading »
When the 2012 Free Comic Book Day “Gold” titles were announced last week, you would’ve been forgiven for thinking that the Archaia release was either a mistake, practical joke or particularly egregious typo, but it wasn’t: The indie publisher really is putting out a 48-page hardcover anthology of strips for free. Beats a reprint of a year-old issue of Avengers, at least, right…?
If war is hell, then it stands to reason that future war should be future hell, of course. But, as one read through The Complete Bad Company demonstrates, the hell that’s on offer is a very old, very real one indeed.