With the end of Geoff Johns’ tenure on Green Lantern and Grant Morrison’s upcoming farewell to Batman, a fan’s thoughts turn naturally to other extended runs. Marv Wolfman wrote almost every issue of New (Teen) Titans from the title’s 1980 preview through its final issue in 1995. Cary Bates wrote The Flash fairly steadily from May 1971′s Issue 206 through October 1985′s first farewell to Barry Allen (Issue 350). Gerry Conway was Justice League of America’s regular writer for over seven years, taking only a few breaks from February 1978′s Issue 151 through October 1986′s Issue 255.
However, in these days of shorter stays, I wanted to examine some of the runs that, despite their abbreviated nature, left lasting impressions. At first this might sound rather simple. After all, there are plenty of influential miniseries-within-series, like “Batman: Year One” or “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” where a special creative team comes in to tell a particular story. Instead, sometimes a series’ regular creative team will burn brightly, but just too quickly, leaving behind a longing for what might have been.
A good example of this is found in Detective Comics #469-76, written by Steve Englehart, penciled by Marshall Rogers and inked by Terry Austin (after Walt Simonson penciled and Al Milgrom inked issues 469-70). Reprinted in the out-of-print Batman: Strange Apparitions paperback, and more recently (sans Simonson/Milgrom) in the hardcover Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, these issues introduced Silver St. Cloud, Rupert Thorne, Dr. Phosphorus and the “Laughing Fish,” featured classic interpretations of Hugo Strange, the Penguin and the Joker, and revamped Deadshot into the high-tech assassin he remains today. Tying all these threads together is Bruce Wayne’s romance with Silver, which for my money is the Bat-books’ version of Casablanca. It’s the kind of much-discussed run that seems like it should have been longer. Indeed, I suspect it’s one of the shorter runs in CSBG’s Top 100 list.
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A guest-starring role last month in Kevin Keller #6 was only the beginning for actor and gay-rights activist George Takei. Now the Star Trek veteran and his husband Brad Altman are teaming up with Dick Tracy.
The storyline began Jan. 13, when a lake was drained to reveal a forgotten World War II internment camp and a sealed bottle containing a nearly 70-year-old murder confession. Needing an expert on the camp’s history, Detective Tracy turned in yesterday’s installment to George Tarawa (later spelled “Tawara”), who’s clearly based on Takei. Today, Altman’s character is introduced.
“The story has a WWII internment connection, and we are truly honored to be a part of it,” Takei wrote on his Facebook page. He said the storyline will continue for about two months. Like the character in the strip, Takei and his family were interned by the U.S. government during World War II, held first at the horse stables of Santa Anna Park before being transferred to Arkansas and then back to California.
Artist Joe Staton and writer Mike Curtis have been the creative team on Dick Tracy since March 2011.
As a newspaper broadsheet it was always able to do so literally, but now the alternative comics anthology pood has folded in the unfortunately metaphorical sense. Writing on the pood blog, co-founder and co-editor Geoff Grogan says the publication’s fourth issue will be its last.
Through pood, editors Grogan, Kevin Mutch, and Alex Rader published a wide array of challenging, often unfashionable altcomix work, by creators ranging from Jim Rugg to Hans Rickheit to (in the anthology’s fourth and final issue) DC and Dick Tracy artist Joe Staton. But Grogan says that the project, always a labor of love, was a quixotic one in today’s marketplace: Its unconventional newsprint format, uncommercial contents, and budget-necessitated lack of a dedicated PR person made it impossible to generate enough revenue to continue the series.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5′s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.
If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).
Apparently so, according to the just-released Thursday panel schedule for Comic-Con International:
5:00-6:00 First Comics: The First of the Great Independents Is Back with a Fury!— Legendary ’80s independent publishing powerhouse First Comics is returning when the world needs it most, not unlike the promised return of King Arthur. And the assembled Round Table of extraordinary comics creators are here to tell you how they will once again be rocking your world with comics entertainment from the cutting edge. Panelists include Ken F. Levin (Wanted, The Boys, First Comics co-founder and director), Joe Staton and Nick Cuti (E-Man), Bill Willingham (Fables), Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition), Brian Mullens (founder of DaQRi; QR director), Alex Wald (art director then and again), Susannah Carson (A Truth Universally Acknowledged; First Comics YA editor), and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (The Tarquin Engine, The Last Sane Cowboy). Moderated by Larry Young (The Black Diamond; First Comics director of production). Room 23ABC
First Comics was an independent comics company that published titles like Dreadstar, E-Man, Jon Sable, Badger, Nexus, Grimjack , American Flagg! and other titles back in the 1980s. It’s an interesting mix of folks on the panel, including several names that were associated with First back in the 1980s.
Awards | Barry Deutsch’s Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword has been nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as part of the prestigious Nebula Awards. “When the nice lady from the Nebula committee called me, she said this is ‘essentially the Nebula Award for young adult books’,” Deutsch writes. Although graphic novels are specifically mentioned in the Andre Norton Award guidelines, this appears to be the first time one has been nominated. The award was established in 2005 in honor of prolific science fiction and fantasy author Andre Norton, who passed away that year. The winners will be announced May 21 in Washington, D.C., during the Nebula Awards banquet. [SFFWA]
Passings | We’ll collect reactions later today to the sudden death of respected comics and animation writer Dwayne McDuffie — Comic Book Resources has remembrances from more than a dozen industry figures — but I wanted to go ahead and point to a handful of links: The Associated press obituary; a few words from Christopher Irving, accompanied by a beautiful portrait of McDuffie photographed by Seth Kushner on Feb. 13; the origin of Static; and a look at Spider-Man anti-drug PSA comics written by McDuffie. There’s also McDuffie’s message board, where he interacted candidly with fans on a regular basis. Two threads are devoted to the news of his death and memories of the creator they often referred to as “the Maestro.” The site’s administrator has posted a message last night on the main page: “Dwayne’s family and friends would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of condolences. They are much appreciated in this difficult time.” [Dwayne McDuffie]
Creators | Ruling that cartoonist Albert Uderzo can’t benefit from tax breaks extended to authors, French authorities have ordered the Asterix co-creator to pay $273,000 in taxes on the 24 books he and late collaborator late René Goscinny produced between 1959 and 1979. The country’s tax office asserts the extra tax exemption applies only to “people who have participated in writing the texts of the comic strip.” “This is an injustice and a scandal,” the 84-year-old Uderzo said. [The Telegraph]
Creators | Cartoonist Dick Locher is retiring from the Dick Tracy comic strip after 32 years, handing the reins to artist Joe Staton and writer Mike Curtis. Their first strip will appear in newspapers on March 14. “It’s time to move on to other things,” the 81-year-old Lochner tells Michael Cavna. “It’s time to do normal things with my family, to travel, to paint in the American Southwest.” [Comic Riffs]
Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15:
There are a lot of great periodicals coming out this week, so I’d have some hard choices to make. With only $15, I’d concentrate first on those with the cheapest prices: the first issue of Dark Horse’s new Mighty Samson ($3.50), Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #2 ($3.50), and Mouse Guard: Black Axe #1 ($3.50). I’m already a huge fan of both Atomic Robo and Mouse Guard and – based on its concept and vague memories of stories I read as a kid – hope to become one of Mighty Samson too. I’d spend the last of my money on Northern Guard #1, because I’m a sucker for Canadian superheroes.
If I had $30:
I’d add Doc Macabre #1 ($3.99), John Byrne’s Next Men #1 ($3.99), and Strange Tales 2 #3 ($4.99). “Doc Macabre” is an awesome name and I love Steve Niles’ pulp stuff, I’ve been waiting 16 years for that Next Men issue, and the Strange Tales book has a Kate Beaton story in which the Avengers go to a carnival. I’d pay five bucks just for Beaton’s deal, but it’s also got a Thing tale by Harvey Pekar (and yes, Harvey Pekar is in the story).
Comic-Con | Registration opened this morning at 6 PST for Comic-Con International following technical problems on Nov. 1 that forced organizers to shut down sales after only a handful of badges were purchased. Registration is for daily passes and four-day memberships without Preview Night. Those with the Wednesday preview sold out on the final day of this year’s convention (more could be released later, depending on returns and cancellations). Prices have increased slightly, from $100 to $105 for four-day memberships and from $35 to $37 for single-day passes ($20 for Sunday). Comic-Con International will be held July 20-24 in San Diego. [Comic-Con International]
Legal | Sankaku Complex wades into Tokyo’s resurrected “anti-loli” legislation, and finds the revised bill has been expanded to target manga, anime and video games that “‘improperly glorify or emphasise’ illegal sexual acts, such as rape, groping, BDSM, voyeurism, exhibitionism, etc., by extension including underage sexual activity as well.” The previous version focused on the depictions of “fictional youths,” a controversial term that’s been dropped from the legislation. [Sankaku Complex]