"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
My first thought upon realizing that I hadn’t written here about Double Barrel was something along the lines of embarrassment, followed by excitement at having another venue in which I can tell you all to go and buy the thing, because it’s downright wonderful (anyone who follows me on Twitter will have seen me talking it up last week). If you take one thing away from this week’s column, let it be that Double Barrel is downright wonderful. Continue Reading »
Mastering Comics, the second comic-creating textbook by Artbabe and La Perdida creator Jessica Abel and 99 Ways to Tell a Story‘s Matt Madden, finally hit shelves last month, offering a remarkably thorough (and remarkably enjoyable, as well) lesson in what it takes to not only make a comic, but get it in front of readers, as well. It’s no surprise that it’s so wonderful; their previous collaborative effort, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, was similarly informative and entertaining to comic creators and the more generally curious alike, and the two have taught at New York’s School of Visual Arts for the past few years. I had a brief chat with the two about the release of the book, and what it takes to “Master” comics.
Reading Greg Rucka feel anxious about the timely release of his new Stumptown arc got me thinking about the strange, hypocritical and entirely arbitrary attitude I have somehow developed toward the shipping schedules of superhero books versus creator-owned comics. Warning: It may be ridiculous.
I spent a chunk of this weekend celebrating (memorializing?) this week’s end of Mark Waid’s Superman-Gone-So-Very-Bad series Irredeemable, re-reading the whole thing (and catching up, too; I’d gone to trades somewhere along the line, and had then managed to lose track somewhere around Vol. 7, so there were 10 or so issues that were brand new for me), and realized towards the end something that, in retrospect, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed before. Namely, Irredeemable was Battlestar Galactica for superheroes.
Looking through the previews of Archie’s New Crusaders revival the other day, I had this odd reaction that took me a while to work through. My first impulse was a sense of … dissatisfaction, perhaps, that it looked too “cartoony” and aimed toward kids, which was immediately followed by its own backlash as I remembered, oh, that’s right: that’s what they’re supposed to be.
Here’s just one of my strange internal contradictions that I can’t explain: Even though I was raised on comics – Asterix was a series that I re-read with such regularity that there was a time when the pre-teen me could’ve easily rattled off plot points from multiple books before going on to tell you what book they were from, what puns were used in characters names in that same book and what (if any) continuity plot points were included in said book that would affect another book in the series – the subject of “all ages” comics is something that I am woefully under-educated in. Luckily, that’s about to change and it’s all down to one book.
And in today’s response to the question “Can’t you ever just be happy about something?” the answer seems to be “Apparently not.” After all, I can think of many reasons why I should be more upbeat about the return of Devil’s Due Publishing — not least of which is the promise to pay creators monies owed from the last incarnation of the company — but, to be honest, the best I can muster is a mix of apathy and cynicism. Where’s the joy?
This weekend brings with it not only the promise of better weather – You should see the grim, grey skies outside my window as I type these words – but the annual wonder that is the Stumptown Comics Fest here in Portland, which is pretty much the one comic convention that I can’t bring myself to miss anymore.
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I admit; if you’d told me that my favorite comic of last week would’ve ended up being The Bionic Woman #1, I’m not sure that I would’ve believed you. That that’s the case, however, feels like the beginnings of a lesson about making this kind of book – and this kind of first issue – work for you in a way that I wouldn’t have expected.
One of the easiest ways to sell someone on a new thing is to compare it to something else that they’re familiar with; it’s no coincidence that high concepts are generally described as “It’s [Title X] meets [Title Y]” so often, because even if you can’t explain the complexity or appeal of something to someone who’s never experienced it, that kind of shorthand is nonetheless successful at conjuring some kind of idea of what’s going on. The problem with doing this, though…? Well, sometimes the comparison examples aren’t serving the purpose as well as you may originally think. Continue Reading »
There were, let’s face it, numerous warning signs about Buffy: The Vampire Slayer Season Nine, not least of all the way that Season Eight had turned out. But adding a second ongoing book to the line? Joss Whedon only writing the first issue instead of the first arc, because of his commitments to Marvel’s The Avengers? There was, it seemed, little possibility that the series could regain the support or excitement it had at the launch of Season Eight. And then, to quote Jarvis Cocker, something changed. Continue Reading »
I’ve never quite understood whether or not the whole notion of “artcomix” is meant to be an identifier, an insult, both or something else altogether.
That isn’t to say that comics can’t be art, because – well, come on, the idea that they can’t is just ridiculous. “Artcomix” as a thing, though, it makes me wrinkle my nose in distrust and wonder why we can’t just say “comics” for everything and get on with it. It’s not like there’s really a genre of comics called “Stupidcomix” and one called “Worthycomixthatyoushouldprobablyreadbutyou’llneverquitegetaroundtobecausecomeonreallysometimeslifeseemstooshort”; “art” isn’t even a genre, as such (Although there are, I guess, “art (house) movies,” but that, too, feels like too lazy a shorthand). It’s a thing in and of itself. Any genre can be (or have, or inspire) art, it’s not something that exists off to the side and stays to itself.
Here’s the thing: Considering how much that I love 2000AD and Judge Dredd, you’d think I’d be much more excited than I am about IDW Publishing’s announcement at WonderCon that they have the American rights for Dredd material. Sadly, I have enough of a memory to know that this might just lead to more fan heartbreak.
Oddly — actually, thinking about it, perhaps not so oddly — one of the more pleasant types of columns to write (and one of the more popular to post, it seems) are the mea culpa ones. You know, where I say “I thought [Project X] wasn’t up to much, and then it turned out to be awesome!” Well, this is one of those, kind of … but instead of it being “I was just downright wrong,” it’s a little more complicated than that.
There was something about Dark Horse Presents that left me vaguely uncertain when it returned recently; maybe it was the price point, or perhaps the first issue itself, which seems more filled with creators of yesteryear than the original incarnation of the title, but I remember being oddly suspicious of the book, as if it has done something wrong in disappointing me. The problem wasn’t just that I had fond memories of the original Dark Horse Presents, which I remember finding in occasional bursts at small comic cons and marts in Glasgow, looking through long boxes of titles that I’d never heard of before, but that earlier revivals of the title had only set the bar even higher for what a Dark Horse Presents should mean.
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 »