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Felix Dennis, who passed away this week at age 67, was the founder of a publishing empire that included the men’s magazine Maxim and the news magazine The Week, but he also has a place in comics history as one of the defendants in a famous U.K. obscenity trial that drew support of many prominent figures of the time, from John Lennon to Germaine Greer.
Dennis was one of the editors of the British satire magazine Oz, which published a mix of prose, art, poetry and comics. Stung by criticism that they were out of touch with youth, the editors in 1970 placed a notice in the magazine inviting schoolchildren to contribute to a special issue. About 20 teenagers came to London, singly and in groups, to create and edit a special “Schoolkids” issue. (One of those students, Charles Shaar Murray, described the experience 30 years later, and another contributor, David Wills, has posted the full issue online.) Although the “Schoolkids issue” was created by teenagers, it wasn’t necessarily created for them. On the other hand, teenagers were obviously already reading the magazine, as that’s where the call for contributions appeared.
(Warning: Potentially NSFW image below.)
Skottie Young revealed over the weekend that, after nearly six years, he has finished work on Marvel’s Oz series, his Eisner Award-winning collaboration with writer Eric Shanower and colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu. The final issue, The Emerald City of Oz #5, arrives Dec. 11.
“I’ve never been emotional about a book I’ve worked on,” Young wrote on his blog. “As an artist in today’s comic landscape, you get used to spending 6-8 months on one title and then moving onto another. The long run of characters being yours and yours alone is very rare. To come to work every day for nearly 6 years and spend time with the same characters in the same world is something I grew to love and depend on. Leaving it behind is bitter sweet. I’m excited face new challenges but a bit sad to leave one of the most reliable things in my life.”
Marvel’s adaptations of L. Frank Baum’s novels launched in 2008 with the eight-issue Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and continued with The Marvelous Land of Oz, Osma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, The Road to Oz and, now, The Emerald City of Oz. Although Baum wrote eight more books in the Oz series, this is the end of the journey for Young.
Whether there will be more Oz adaptations from Marvel remains to be seen. It’s certainly worth noting the publisher is releasing a new hardcover collection of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, complete with a new cover by Young, in January.
“A giant thanks to Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada, CB Cebulski, David Bogart, Axel Alonso and David Gabriel for being my champions,” Young wrote. “The word ‘cartoony’ can be a four letter word in our world and these gentlemen carved out a little corner for me to throw that four letter word around as loud as I wanted.”
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 start the new year off right with Invincible #99 (Image, $2.99). The build-up (or teardown?) to Issue 100 has been great, and honestly I never quite trusted Dinosaurus to begin with so I’m glad to see this finally boil over. I’m all ears – and eyes – for this and the next issue. Next up I’d get another Image joint, Prophet #32 (Image, $3.99). Kudos to Brandon Graham for being confident in himself enough – and choosy enough in his collaborators – that he’s stepping back and letting artist Simon Roy write and draw a one-off issue. And the story of a Prophet clone gone native sounds mighty enticing. Third in this week’s haul would be Punk Rock Jesus #6 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). I feel a slight bit of remorse at how fast this series has gone – it seemed like a whole lot of introduction, a brief second act and now we’re being pushed into the finale. Still, one of the best series of 2012 (with this finale sneaking out two days after 2012). Finally, I’d get James Stokoe’s Godzilla: Half-Century War #4 (IDW, $3.99). I’ve become big fans of Ota and Kentaro here, and Stokoe has really populated this world with all kinds of special and grotesque. Excited to see what comes up here!
If I had $30, I’d continue my mad dash through my local comic shop with two Marvel picks: All New X-Men #5 (Marvel, $3.99) and New Avengers #1 (Marvel, $3.99). All-New X-Men has been surprisingly refreshing for me; I always love Stuart Immonen’s, but what’s startled me is how fresh and unencumbered Brian Bendis seems here with the writing. On the New Avengers #1 tip, I liked Hickman’s other Avengers work so far but I’m even more interested in how artist Steve Epting draws this unique cast. Plus, I loved Epting’s first run on Avengers – leather jackets, people! Next up I’d return to Image and get Glory #31 (Image, $3.99). This is going to be a great collection when the whole thing is done, but right now we’re knee-deep in the series itself as Glory faces off with her sister Silverfall. Hey Rob Liefeld – this Silverfall character could be something special for more after this series ends! And finally, I’d get Manhattan Projects #8 (Image, $3.50) and anxiously await the big reveal of the secret powerbrokers in the MP universe. I can’t wait for Hickman to blow my mind.
If I could splurge, I’d buy the back-to-back first and second volume of Chimpanzee Complex (#13.95 each, Cinebook). Coming to America with no press at all, I found this in Previews a while back and have been excited by its potential: a Franco-Belgian comic that reveals the astronauts who returned from the moon in 1969 were doppelgangers, and the fallout from that discovery. 2010 meets Orbiter. Bring it on.
Tommy Kovac and Andy Hirsch’s The Royal Historian of Oz reminds me that there’s a fine line we have to walk as fans of comics and adventure stories in general. At least, this is how it is for me. You tell me if it’s the same for you. I first noticed it around ten or fifteen years ago when I was really into Star Wars and Star Trek novels. I loved both of those franchises and couldn’t seem to get enough of their characters, so I tried – really hard – to keep up with those characters’ exploits in every medium I could: films, TV, comics, and books.
The bad thing was that the book publishers knew it. They knew they had me and between Wars and Trek they published new books just slowly enough to let me keep up, but quickly enough that I didn’t have time to read anything else. It was the No Time for Anything Else part that was their downfall. Frustrated that I was only reading Wars and Trek stuff, I quit them. Cold turkey. I love my old, favorite characters, but not so much that I’m willing to give up discovering new ones. That’s the tightrope.
It’s the same with comics. Even though they’re much quicker to read, most of us have limited time and money to spend on them. We have to make choices. And every time we choose a licensed comic or one about a corporate-owned or public-domain character, that’s one less creator-owned comic we can read. This isn’t a post about how creator-owned comics are better than corporate ones (‘cause that’s certainly not always true), but it is a post about balance. I’m not advocating that anyone give up corporate or licensed comics; I’m just saying that we need to be thoughtful about our purchases.
After the break: Royal Histories or Fanfics?
Welcome to the first of hopefully many editions of “Food or Comics?”, the spiritual successor to our “Can’t Wait for Wednesday” feature. As we did in CWFW, we plan to share what new and notable comic books we’re excited to see in shops every Wednesday, but with one twist — a price limit.
Every week we’ll tell you what comics we’d buy if we had $15 to spend, if we had $30 and if we had some “mad money” (like a gift card) to blow on what we’re calling a “Splurge” item. Admittedly, this was a tough exercise, much tougher than I thought it would be, and a reminder as to why I buy my books from a place that offers a discount.
To see what Kevin Melrose and I would spend our hard-earned money on, keep reading …
If I had $15, I’d buy …
Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #1 ($3.50)
I admit that I’m picking this up as much for Dave Johnson’s cover as I am for the story, which recounts one of Abe Sapien’s first B.P.R.D. assignments: searching for an ancient relic in a sunken Soviet U-boat. It’s by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg, so it’s well worth the $3.50. (Dark Horse)