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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

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.

Emitown

Graeme McMillan

It’s a weird week for new releases, with everyone but Marvel taking it easy and pulling back on massive hauls in order to give our wallets a nice holiday break (unless you’re a Marvel completest, in which case, yowza. Look out). That said, if I had $15, I’d put it towards the special 200th issue of What If? ($4.99), the first issue of event tie-in Chaos War: X-Men ($3.99) because I’m curious how Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson handle Marvel’s version of Blackest Night, and the second issue of Scott Snyder and Jock’s Detective Comics run (#872, $3.99), because I was really happily surprised by how much I enjoyed the first.

If I had $30, I’d put Chaos War and What If? back on the shelf, and get Emitown ($24.99) instead. I’ve heard really great things about this print collection of Emi Lenox’s autobio webcomic, and I like the idea of seeing 2011 in by discovering a new cartoonist to love.

Splurging, I’d go back to Marvel, with the brand new Ka-Zar collection by Mark Waid and Andy Kubert ($19.99). I missed out on this series back in the 1990s, but as a fan of both fish-out-of-water stories and Mark Waid stories, something tells me that this might be right up my street.

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Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs | On the Case with Holmes and Watson

Sherlock Holmes and a Scandal in Bohemia

We’ve been talking about comics for kids a lot lately in this column. I want to continue that conversation this week, but from a different angle. Let’s face it, we’ll never all agree about whether Marvel and DC superhero comics should be focused primarily on children or grown ups or if both, in what ratio. A lot of things complicate that discussion, including the origin of superheroes as children’s literature and the varying levels of nostalgia that grown-up fans attach to that.

But what if we flip that coin over? What if we take something with origins in grown-up literature and make it for kids? Does that change the arguments? Do characters created for one demographic always have to be written with that demographic in mind? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s true for superheroes and I don’t think it’s true for Sherlock Holmes who’s the focus of Graphic Universe’s new series On the Case with Holmes and Watson.

To be sure, Sherlock Holmes isn’t the most dramatic example of a “mature audiences” character being used for a kids’ series. He’s not exactly Ripley from Alien or Ash from Evil Dead. But he’s also not standard reading for 4th to 6th graders, the target audience for the On the Case series. And if Holmes can be rewritten for 9-year-olds, why can’t Superman be rewritten for 39-year-olds? The question shouldn’t be whether or not it can be done though. I predict that we’ll read few if any comments advocating that Holmes is a grown-up character and that he shouldn’t be adapted for children. What we need to be figuring out is how to tell the story so well that neither group feels unwanted.

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Huizenga does Holmes

from "Professor Moriarty" by Kevin Huizenga

Elementary, my dear Ganges! Wildly acclaimed, prodigiously talented cartoonist Kevin Huizenga has taken a break from chronicling the vagaries of our daily existence in his series Ganges and (the late, lamented) Or Else to take on the greatest detective in literary history and his arch-nemesis. (No, not Batman and the Joker, but I like the way you think.)

At his blog, Huizenga has posted a two-page comic featuring the first and final face-to-face confrontations between none other than Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. The strip is part of the Famous Fictional Villains show at St. Louis’s Mad Art Gallery, curated by Huizenga’s friend, fellow cartoonist, and occasional collaborator Dan Zettwoch. The opening reception for the show — which features baddies ranging from Macbeth‘s witches to Alien‘s facehugger, interpreted by Zettwoch, Huizenga and over a dozen other artists — takes place tonight from 7pm to 11pm.


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