Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
In these last few years, my comics spending habits have changed dramatically. I buy fewer titles from comic shops and more original art and prints directly from artists, without my annual budget changing that much. I’ll blame social media for the shift: Once upon a time, original art sales were the preserve of agencies, and you couldn’t help but wonder where your money was really going. Now savvy artists can market themselves for free using Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., and then sell their own products with minimum fuss through a number of websites, like Redbubble or Society6, or by setting up their own storefronts using BigCartel or Shopify or a similar broker.
There’s a human side to this change, too. First through blogs, and now through Twitter and Facebook, social media means you get to know artists like you couldn’t even a decade ago. Barriers are broken; they invite you into their lives, you read as they fret about the day-to-day stuff. I suppose if I followed a load of farmers on Twitter I’d probably stop eating at McDonalds, but I don’t. I follow British comic artists. Buying art from ethically sourced, free-range creators now makes more sense to me than buying factory-farmed, battery-cage comics.
If you’re looking for an unusual handcrafted gift, minicomics and original prints are a good way to go. Many of them are beautifully produced, with unusual printing effects such as risography and die cuts, and they contain stories you can’t find anywhere else. As a bonus, the minicomics creator you support today may turn out to be the art-comix superstar of tomorrow, and you’ll be able to say you were one of the first to recognize their genius.
Here are six up-and-coming creators who are offering some very attractive mini-comics, prints, and other goods. You can get a lot of these things on Amazon and other mass-merchant sites, but the links here are to the creators’ own stores so you can support them directly with your Cyber Monday dollars.
Sarah Becan: You might know Becan from her foodie webcomic I Think You’re Sauceome, which recorded not just the amazing meals Becan ate but her mixed feelings about food and her body image. It’s a thoughtful read as well as an entertaining one. Her food posters, on themes like Sausages of the World and How to Poach an Egg, would make a colorful addition to anyone’s kitchen decor. Becan is also the creator of Shuteye, a comic about dreams nested inside of dreams, and The Complete Ouija Interviews, a minicomic (supported by a Xeric grant) based on “interviews” done via a Ouija board. “Printed in rich brown inks, assembled in a beautiful little perfect-bound volume, with a debossed feltweave cover,” this 192-page volume is an amazing deal for $10.
Last weekend I went to Comic Arts Brooklyn. I bought a lot of comics. Here are six that I think are really good, and I think you should try to find as well.
Comic book adaptations are a big deal — on the big and small screens and in video games. But there’s a number of popular franchises in modern media whose comic book origins have been forgotten and even de-emphasized by their owners. In this week’s Six By 6, I look at six concepts that are well-known by the world at-large who share a secret origin in sequential art.
Seeing films and television series adapted as comic books is nothing new, but in the past decade we’ve experienced a new phenomenon in which canceled TV shows are finding a second life, and a second chance, in comics form. In many cases, these properties pick up right where their television runs left off, such as in Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight and IDW Publishing’s recent X-Files launch. So with that in mind, we turn to six other beloved genre shows that deserve a comic-book revival.
Some might say we’re experiencing the Golden Age of superheroes in film, but in reality it’s just live-action catching up to animation. Warner Bros. Animation has been a trailblazer in that area, with 26 feature films based on DC Comics’ characters since 1993. And with the recent release of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, based on the 2011 Flashpoint crossover, we’ve come up with a half-dozen other DC series or arcs Warner Bros. could (and should) look to for future animated films.
Sure, everyone gets worked up about turning comics into movies, but what about the other way around? Cartoonists have been attempting to cram great works of literature or art into tiny panels since the birth of Classics Illustrated. But many of these adaptations, despite the noblest of intentions, fall horribly flat or fail to evoke a tenth of the original work’s greatness.
There are exceptions of course; comics that not only manage to capture or add to the spirit of the original work, but in a few cases are the equal or better of the source material. Here then are six such examples. Feel free to include your own nominations in the comments section.
It was about a year ago that Monkeybrain Comics, the all-digital, creator-owned comics publisher headed up by Chris Roberson and Allison Baker, burst onto the scene. A year later, they’ve published roughly two dozen titles, many of which have found print homes and one of which, Bandette, brought home a few Eisner nominations.
In celebration of their big year, we thought we’d list six of our favorite Monkeybrain titles, but we couldn’t quite narrow the list down that far, so you’re getting one bonus selection as well.
SPOILERS for Man of Steel, obviously
I’m not here to talk about whether or not Superman would’ve done that. As many have pointed out, that was already settled for mass audiences in Superman II. Instead, I’d like to offer six things that could have made Man of Steel a much better movie, regardless of whose Superman it represents.
This Sunday is Bloomsday, that special time of year when people around the world draw together to celebrate one of the finest works of English literature, Ulysses by James Joyce. Or they try to, anyway.
If you haven’t attempted to read Joyce’s magnum opus before, it can be a little rough going. In honor of the literary holiday, I thought I’d list six Joyce-themed comics you can read on Sunday in addition to (or, if you must, in place of) Ulysses. You wouldn’t think there could possibly be that many Joycean comics available to the casual reader but I assure it’s so. Steady on, stately, plump Buck Mulligan!
1. Boom Boom #2 by David Lasky: Lasky has done enough Joyce-themed comics to fill at least a thick-sized pamphlet if not an actual book (and really, at some point I need to devote a “Collect This Now!” column to those works). But if you’re looking for just one comic to read this Bloomsday, I would strongly recommend starting here, with the second issue of Lasky’s ’90s-era one-man anthology. In Issue 2, Lasky tells various anecdotes about Joyce during his time writing Ulysses, but his method is both inspired and unique. He apes specific, iconic Lee/Kirby comics, especially Fantastic Four #1, imbuing Joyce’s comparatively mundane life with grandeur and heroism. Even after all these years, it’s still a pretty boss idea. Once you’re done with that comic, consider picking up Lasky’s “Ulysses” minicomic adaptation as well.
Voting for the 2013 Eisner Awards concludes Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop talking about them. Last year, I had the privilege of being an Eisner judge, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. This year I’m back to being a civilian, and that means once again I can complain about the judges’ choices. Let the games begin!
Actually, I thought the selections were pretty good, and I’m happy that the judges decided to continue having three categories for young readers, as we did last year. However, children’s and YA graphic novels are a burgeoning sector of the market, and there’s a lot of good work out there. Here are six graphic novels that I would have been arguing for this year had I been in the judging room. And incidentally, all of them are good reads for adults as well.
Little White Duck, written by Na Liu, illustrated by Andrés Vera Martínez: This book deserves the Eisner for the beautiful art alone, but the story is wonderful as well. It’s Liu’s tale of growing up in China in the 1970s, and she starts with her parents mourning the death of Chairman Mao. The view of Chinese life in the Communist era is very different from what we are accustomed to; Liu writes matter-of-factly about the hardships (their family had two children, so she was not allowed to go to school) but also the joys of family life. It’s a very personal and three-dimensional perspective on an era we often view in flat black and white, and both Liu and Martínez are master storytellers.
In March, DC Comics debuted Constantine, a new series focusing on the hard-living occult detective John Constantine. No big deal, right? Not so. For more more than two decades, the character was one of the pillars of the the publisher’s “mature readers” Vertigo imprint, starring in the long-running Hellblazer.
Following brief minor dalliances in some event titles in 2010 and 2011, Constantine was made a key figure in the New 52 title Justice League Dark. The aforementioned Hellblazer ended earlier this year with its 300th issue, paving the way for a full-fledged transition of the Liverpudlian warlock into the realm of superheroes. Readers greeted the new Constantine series with both hope and trepidation, and although the first issues are out — so is the jury.
With that in mind, it’s interesting to look at other characters that have called Vertigo home, and how they might fare in the DC Universe of the New 52. Some, like Constantine, crossed over with a bang, while others like Lucifer Morningstar and Kid Eternity, not so much. For this installment of “Six by 6,” I pinpoint six characters or teams that could possibly make the transition well. Please note than many of Vertigo’s best-remembered series aren’t wholly owned by DC but rather in creator-participation deals like Preacher, Transmetropolitan and 100 Bullets; so while the idea of Spider Jerusalem reporting on the state of things in Gotham City might be amusing, I’ve left those off the table for reality’s sake.
Debuting in 2001, Marvel’s MAX line was an attempt to draw a clear line between its vaguely older-teen comics and distinctly “adult” titles featuring some of the well, edgier, characters from its library. The imprint largely excelled at that, with the flagship Alias, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, and Garth Ennis’ takes on Nick Fury and the Punisher. However, in recent years it’s become a shadow of its former self, existing solely to carry Ennis’ recent return to Fury, and the noble but ill-fitting Wolverine MAX. But that doesn’t mean it can’t have a revival.
In today’s Six by 6, I look at six characters that straddle the fence separating “popular” from “popular enough to carry their own series in the long-term” that would do well to take a trip to the MAX line. Some are no-brainers, while others might surprise you.
Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, the day that current and hopefully potential comic fans flock to their local comic shop to sample a buffet of comic choices from publishers large and small. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into this time around, from previews of new or upcoming stuff — like Marble Season and Superman: The Last Son of Krypton #1 to first issues of brand new comics — like The Strangers #1 and Aphrodite IX #1. There are original comics, licensed comics, kids comics, anthologies … basically something for everyone.
Some retailers will offer all-you-can-eat options, while others might have limits on what you can get … so if you have to make a choice, here are six comics we’re particularly looking to sink our teeth into.
One of the most symbolic moments of Superman is when he changes from his guise as Clark Kent to become the Man of Steel. The idea that the wearing of a costume imbues some kind of unquantifiable power is a key part of what makes superhero comics work; otherwise, they’d just be adventurers and action heroes.
But speaking of change, changes in superhero costumes have become as much a part of the comics as the heroes themselves. From Superman’s early days with his golden emblem to the modern “S” today and on through to other years (including Batman’s countless wardrobe changes), the design of a superhero isn’t static and a redesign has proved, many times, to be just the thing to make a character work.
In this week’s “Six by 6,” I pinpoint six of the most dynamic and powerful redesigns in superhero comics. Redesigns that saved a character from obscurity, put them in a new light or simply simplified what was already there.