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The Middle Ground #77 | Boom goes the …

Quick, pop quiz: Who is the only publisher to be releasing monthly material from both Garth Ennis and Kurt Busiek right now? Clue: It’s also the only publisher to be putting out regular work from Alex Ross, Scott Beatty and Phil Hester. So why aren’t more people paying attention to Dynamite?

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The Middle Ground #76 | In the wee small hours of the morning

If ever there’s been a time where I’ve been tempted to have a column literally consist of “[Name of Comic]. You guys. [Name of Comic Repeated for Emphasis],” then it’d be today, because Ganges #4. You guys. Ganges #4. Continue Reading »

The Middle Ground #75 | The Other Half

I may not have grown up with GI Joe – I was in the wrong country for that; they were called “Action Force” where I was, which is just generic enough for you to not care that much when you’re the right age – but somehow, I’ve always believed that knowing really is half the battle. That phrase struck me yesterday, reading about the 2000AD/Rebellion deal with Barnes & Noble to fill the space left by their removal of DC Comics’ GNs from their shelves, for somewhat obvious reasons. I mean, it’s great that Rebellion has such shelf space for 2000AD material, but… will anyone in America really know enough about the brand for it to mean anything?

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The Middle Ground #74 | None More Extreme

My first thought when learning that there was going to be a revival of Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Comics line at Image was that I was an old, old man. We’d already reached the point where something so recent was old enough to have a nostalgia hook? And then I realized that we’re more than a decade since the last revamp of Prophet and almost as long since the last attempt at a Glory series. Continue Reading »

The Middle Ground #73 | Kindly Sign Me Up?

To absolutely no-one’s surprise, I keep circling around Archie Comics’ announcement of their revival of their Red Circle characters in something approaching a mix of confusion and awe. There’s something there that seems compelling, but I’m not quite sure if I can work out what it is, just yet. Instead, I’m just thinking in bullet points. Continue Reading »

The Middle Ground #72 | Internet fail, apparently

I’ve written before about my frustration with Previews, the monthly catalog that’s roughly the size of what we used to call “a phone book” — just think, one day phone books won’t exist, and yet we’ll still say that things are “like a phone book,” because that’s how language works — but this weekend, I realized: Previews is still better than the Internet.

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The Middle Ground #71 | Holy Terrible

There’s no way to get around it: Even in its reworked form, Holy Terror is a goddamn Batman story. Frank Miller’s long-awaited superhero vs. terrorist graphic novel finally emerges this week, and it’s everything you’d think it would be … including “visually impressive,” “disturbingly simplistic” and, to be honest, proof that terrorism seems to have worked in Miller’s case.

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The Middle Ground #70 | If you hang around, you’re going to get wet

The seemingly extraordinary sales success of DC’s “New 52″ relaunch this month is the kind of thing that excites me as a fan (Hey, I love the DCU, I’m sorry), and makes me curious when the other shoe will drop. After all, the kind of massive increase in orders that DC’s entire superhero line is seeing has to have an equal and opposite reaction somewhere else, right? That’s just sales physics.

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The Middle Ground #69 | Seven Decades Of Teenagerdom

It says something – although, I admit, I’m not quite sure what – that the book I enjoyed reading most last week wasn’t one of the “New 52″ from DC, nor was it the long-awaited return of Casanova from Marvel… Instead, it was The Best of Archie Comics, a collection of stories from the past seven decades of America’s favorite teenager. Well, apart from Justin Beiber, obviously.

I’ve written before about my secret, somewhat confused love for the Riverdale gang, but there’s something about reading such a chunk of history from the publisher in one sitting (It’s not only Archie stories, either – there’re Sabrina The Teenage Witch stories in there, as well as Josie And The Pussycats, the little-remembered That Wilkins Boy and even some Katy Keene) that’s weirdly compelling and addictive; I finished the 400+ page book and pretty much wished I had another one, as long if not longer, waiting for me immediately.

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The Middle Ground #68 | Forest, trees and other stories

I’ve been thinking recently – for obvious reasons – about the potential for new readers coming to comics, and whether or not that means increased sales for comics overall, or just for DC (and Marvel, who share the majority of shelf-space, as well as the majority of recognizable characters). And, in that slow process – insert your own jokes here – it struck me: Non-Marvel/Non-DC publishers have something that should be the greatest selling point of all: Non-superhero stories.

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The Middle Ground #67 | Double Duty

I’m kind of fascinated by Ardden Co-President Brendan Deneen’s comments at Comic Book Resources about sharing the Flash Gordon license with Dynamite Entertainment, if only because I’ve been wondering about “shared” licenses for a while.

For those who haven’t seen Deneen’s comments, he told CBR’s Kiel Phegley, “[T]o have someone else come along and start publishing the same character while we’re in the middle of our run … yeah, it stings. It kind of feels like someone stabbing you in the back. Sure, they’re technically ‘allowed’ to do this but that doesn’t make it any less lame on their part.” And … well, I can kind of see his point, on one hand; to have a recognizable brand as your central book is kind of a big deal for any publisher, nevermind a smaller one, and to see that enticement to readers go from being an exclusive thing to something being shared with a larger publisher … Well, that’s really got to suck.

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The Middle Ground #66: Who is Number One?

A funny thing happened while listening to a recent Word Balloon interview with Robert Kirkman; Kirkman talked about his desire to see Invincible continue with different creative teams after he’s done with the book, and I ended up thinking about the nature of work for hire in independent books.

Okay, so maybe “funny” wasn’t the right word.

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The Middle Ground #65 | On A Cigarette

If there’s one thing that the independent comic industry fails at as a whole, it’s self-mythologizing. Considering that the majority of the most interesting work (and, presumably, stories behind that work) since, oh, the mid-80s, say, have come from publishers that aren’t called Marvel or DC, why does it feel as if there’s an entire history of the comic world that is entirely missing from the collective consciousness? Continue Reading »

The Middle Ground #64: I Read The News Today, Oh Boy

Why aren’t there more news comics? Is that an odd thing to wonder, or to ask for? Probably; comics are generally fiction these days, after all, and non-fiction comics trend more towards autobio and self-reflection than looking at the world around us, but still. News comics. I think I want some. Continue Reading »

The Middle Ground #63 | Stan Lee Presents

Believe it or not, there’s not enough time in the day to read all the comics I want. I wish that wasn’t the case, believe me, but it is; sometimes, it’s so bad that there’s not enough time to even get to the store on a given week, which generally leads to me forgetting that things have come out, and missing an issue, which leads me to miss another issue, and all of a sudden I’m miles behind and deciding to wait for the collection. Which is to say: I’m sorry that it’s taken me this long to realize how great Boom!’s Stan Lee line is.

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