Readers Answer: Why Not Just Superheroes?
I was going to do a more detailed roundup/summary/analysis of readers'
responses in the "Why
Just Superheroes" comment
beat me to it. (Plus, I don't want to steal Ed
's thunder in case he decides to write a column about
this.) I will say that I wasn't trying to browbeat superhero fans
into diversifying their reading material. I was just wondering
why anyone would want to read only superhero comics. I'm trying
to think back on my own comic-buying habits and remember if there was a
time when I only read superheroes. I can't think of such a time,
but that doesn't mean that there wasn't such a period in my
comic-purchasing past. (I have a really poor memory, so I may be
forgetting my shameful superhero-only phase.) The closest I can
come up with is when I was little and my parents used to buy a lot of
my comics for me. But even then my parents would buy me
non-superhero comics such as Turok
or other Gold Key
comics and I would devour those along with any and all funny books.
I guess I don't understand the mindset of being interested in only one
genre in any medium. (Not saying it's wrong, just that -- as
someone external to that mindset -- I have trouble fully entertaining
the notion.) I enjoy film, but I don't limit myself to just
action movies. I enjoy prose, but I don't limit myself to
mysteries alone (or fiction alone, for that matter). Then again,
maybe "omnivorousness" across different media is rarer than
"specializing" in certain genres: As Jennifer de Guzman points
out, there probably are people who are only interested in reading
Danielle Steele romances or Dean Koontz thrillers. And obviously
everyone who saw Pirates of the Caribbean
in line to see The Barbarian Invasions
So, I don't have any answers, but I thank you for sharing your thoughts
with me. Maybe Ed can pull some better, deeper insights out of
your responses if he ends up doing a column on this topic. (Hint,
So, No Changes For Power Girl, Then
Well, the advance buzz
on Claremont and Byrne's JLA
arc doesn't look good, but there's always Gail Simone's upcoming arc to be excited about, and not just for the Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez art. Over on Usenet
, Gail revealed her secret plan for her storyline:
I'm putting them all in wet teddies.
I think I'm on to something here...
Shaggy Man? TEDDY!
Starro? FIVE-ARMED TEDDY!
Then the JSA show up, and it's TEDDY-FIGHT IN THE JLA POOL!
Man, the numbers will be HUGE.
Fans immediately expressed disappointment that Jim Lee was not drawing this arc.
Ed Asks: Why Just Superheroes?
reviews two upcoming small press books, Street Angel
and Baraka and Black Magic in Morocco
preordered both of these and, based on Ed's descriptions of the books,
it sounds like I'll enjoy them. At the end of his reviews, Ed
wonders why great books like these don't find more of an audience in
the Direct Market:
These books demonstrate the diversity in the I/SP
scene that I keep
babbling on about. Really, I have a hard time coming to terms with the
fact that superhero comics are the sales giants of the contemporary
comic book industry. Name one other entertainment medium that a single
genre or theme dominates the majority of the market, if you can. It
doesn’t happen with the music industry. It doesn’t happen with
television – despite the glut of “reality”-based programming, a variety
of genres are still well represented. It certainly doesn’t happen with
movies… Imagine someone who only watches the romantic comedies of Tom
Hanks – while that example may be possible, there aren’t enough of
those people to make the movie industry decide to only produce Tom
Hanks romantic comedies.
So, if you’re one of those
dyed-in-the-wool superhero fans unwilling to leave the world of capes
and tights for more diverse pastures, why is that? For once, I’m not
saying it to be snarky – I really want to know, and I’d like to hear
reasoned responses from those of the “mainstream” set. Hit up the Subsurface
Communications message board or e-mail me
and let me know. I’ve got plenty of hypotheses of my own, but I’d like
to hear it from those people who buy nothing outside of the big four
I'd be curious to know people's reasons for only consuming superhero
comics, too, so write in or comment below if you have some insight into
this phenomenon (based either on your own preferences and buying
habits, or on speculation about others' motivations).
Corporate-Speak Quote of the Day
"Outsiders was conceived as an edgy book, without a Code seal. ('Edgy'
is a tool we want our talent to be able to use creatively in service of
telling a good story.)"
DC had no comment on whether 'character development,' 'plot,'or
'dialogue' were tools DC allows its talent to use in service of good
"They're My Sister's Comics, I Swear!"
Forgot to mention earlier one of my favorite blog entries recently, Steven
looking back at an
old Archie comic
. Boy, did reading this story
ever take me back. I was never an Archie
but my younger sister was and I used to read her comics when I was
bored. Wait, I guess I was
I just never self-identified as one. (That was probably my cover
in case any of my friends ever caught me reading Archie
"It's not mine! It's my sister's! I was just checking out
how dorky it was!") Now I'm older and more mature, so I can own
up to my fondness for old Archie
Steven, I always liked the stories illustrated by Harry Lucey
best. I didn't know Lucey by name back then, but I could always
recognize his style when I came across it. Lucey's figures and
compositions were so fluid and expressive. Just look at these two
Marvelous! Aside from the wonderful art, the story ("These
Changing Times") is a lot of fun too. And Steven's analysis
of the story
is not to be missed. Go
! (Thanks for the memories, Steven. (And thanks to
Johanna (who regularly reviews
on her site) for linking to Steven's post!))
"Nothing Ends...Nothing Ever Ends"
Given all the recent writing
devoted to this book in the comics blogosphere, Watchmen
is looking like a shoo-in for Best Comic of 2004.
Channeling Your Comments
I was thinking back on something Johanna had written not too long ago,
about how one thing she didn't like about blogs was how comments get
lost as the posts they're attached to fall off the main page.
Well, I don't know if this'll make Johanna like blogs any better, but
HaloScan provides a feed for comments, so I've added a link for the
for this blog to the right. This way you'll
know if someone has commented on an old entry.
And now that I'm getting more into this channel syndication thing
myself, boy, it sure would be nice if other BlogSpot and HaloScan users
activated and published the links to their
feeds (hint, hint).
When The Thoughts Don't Flow
There's a longer post I've been working on, but the words just aren't
coming. So let's look at what others are writing about:
Former mangaphobe Dave Lartigue has gotten over his
is now reading
(and enjoying) plenty of manga
. He's even started
work on his
own Manga Stack of Intimidation
. (Hint: It's more
impressive if the manga is actually stacked. Don't ask me why; it
just is.) Of course, not
all manga is wonderful
, and Dave
runs up against one that he finds
damn near incomprehensible
. Despite Dave's claim that I
him about Trigun
, I've never read the
manga, so he must have me confused with someone else. Anyway, I'm
glad to see that Dave is reading manga and judging each book by its own
relative merits rather than prejudging all manga based on sweeping
is right: Jim
on a roll yesterday. While I'm baffled by
his excitement over Bendis' Daredevil
, his review of New
contained one of my favorite lines in recent
memory: "That's what carries the Jordan story across the Stupid
throws it on the Stupid Bed for its Wedding Night of Stupid
Bliss." Go read. It's a great review, and enough to make me
reconsider my thought that maybe I'd pick up this series when it was
collected. (Jason Kimble
didn't enjoy New
much either, although for different reasons, mainly
clunky narration and uneven story execution.)
Also from Jim
: A suggestion that superhero comics should be seen as
"the literature of ethics."
The core question of the superhero story might be phrased
as What do we owe other people?
The problem is that comics have typically answered the question before
they've barely asked it: "With great power must come great
responsibility!" Really? Are you sure about that? And how much is
"great," anyway? What part of my life can I keep back for myself?
I really like this. It reminds me of Johanna's contention that
superhero comics should be about issues of justice. I'm wondering
if this type of analysis has ever really been applied to superhero
comics. About the only thing that comes to mind is Frank Miller
discussing Daredevil's Catholicism, and even there I'm not sure how
well ol' Hornhead represents Catholic ethics. (Now I want to
write a comic book series that recasts characters as different ethical
schools of thought. And in classic Marvel style, the heroes will
mainly sit around angsting about how to proceed: The Kantian will
try to figure out which maxims he can will into universal laws; the
Aristotelian will try to determine the mean in every situation; and the
Utilitarian will puzzle over what constitutes the greatest good for the
greatest number. Meanwhile, the Hedonist runs amok!)
linked to an
early posting of Marvel's full solicitation copy for April
it's revealed that, after Morrison leaves, the development of the
relationship between Scott Summers and Emma Frost will be entrusted
Best Backhanded Compliment of the Day
"If you ignore his tin ear for dialogue, his goofy politics, and his
over-the-top pronouncements--sometimes a lot to ignore, I'll
admit--you'll find, in Ultimate X-Men
and The Ultimates
at least, some of the giddiest, oomphiest, least intelligence-insulting
superhero action comics of the past decade."
, knowing my
interest in Prophecy Magazine
), wrote to let me know that the Prophecy home page
updated with the following info:
Prophecy Anthology, Volume 1 Releases March 15th, 2004
Prophecy Anthology will make its debut on March 15th, 2004, featuring a
collection of sequential art by artists such as Shannon Wheeler, Scott
McCloud, Sho Murase, Yuko Shimizu, Nathan Fox and Bernie Mireault.
The anthology will be shipped on March 15th to Prophecy Magazine
subscribers as well as to customers who pre-purchased the anthology.
The book will release in comic books stores nationwide the first week
in April, 2004, through Diamond Distribution. For more information
regarding the Anthology, check out our What's Inside
Sure enough, searching through Diamond's
text file for April orders
, there it is:
SEQUENT MEDIA PUBLISHING
SPOT FEB04 2592 PROPHECY ANTHOLOGY
VOL 1 (C: 4) $30.00 = $
Thanks for the info, Johanna. I'm a bit surprised by the price,
but I'll wait to check out the full solicitation in Previews before I
make a decision about getting this. It would have been nice if
Sequent Media had provided more info about the book on their site (page
count? dimensions? format? full contents?), especially if they're
expecting people to buy it right off their site. Why is it so
hard for companies (not just comic companies) to put together a
competent, professional web presence? (Ignore me: I QA web
applications for my day job, so stuff like this makes me cranky.)
Well, you free-loading bastards haven't been stuffing the tip jar, so
I'm forced to sell off my comics on eBay. Just kidding. I'd
been unloading my collection on eBay already, but I'd gotten lazy about
putting up new listings for quite a while. This weekend I was
trying to find a particular series and I realized how much crap I have
that I need to get rid of. This week I'm running five auctions:
Check out my auctions if any of these comics interest you, or if you'd
like to see how bad I -- Mr. Critical Of Everyone Else's Marketing Hype --
am at writing my own sales copy. And check back in the future to
see my other auctions. I won't advertise my auctions here again,
although I will activate the auctions link on the right. Finally,
as a special bonus to readers of this blog, mention that you saw the
auction here and I'll give you free
Media Mail shipping
(U.S. only) if you're the winning bidder.
Grotesque Anatomy finally has a news feed
mainly because Blogger finally supports one. They're using the Atom format
which is described at AtomEnabled.org
as "a universal personal content publishing standard." I'm not
sure how universal Atom is, however, since my old version of NewzCrawler
support the format. I upgraded to 1.6.3 and it seems to handle
the Atom feed fine. If the feed doesn't work with your news
reader, I apologize but I don't think I'll be able to help troubleshoot
the problem for you. Hopefully it'll work for people who like
this kind of thing (hello, Johanna!) since I figure they're most likely
to keep up-to-date with the latest versions of various software.
"If It's Truly Essential, They'll Be Willing To Pay More For It"
Marvel's April solicits aren't officially up yet, but, as always, you
can find their listings in the text
on Diamond's site. Most of the"new" projects here
have already been plugged on Newsarama (another Daredevil mini; another
Spider-Man ongoing; the crappy-looking Marvel Age: Fantastic Four), but
there was something I hadn't heard about before: Two new
Essentials are coming out (DD v2 and Tomb Of Dracula v2), but their
price has gone up two bucks from $14.99 to $16.99.
Riding The Bloodstream Wave
Expert hallway navigation hits the mainstream! Yes, GoMemphis.com
covers the phenomenon that is Bloodstream
for the link.) This article gave me so much joy, so
much laughter. Example:
|"Clothes grace the character on the
cover of Adam Shaw’s 'Bloodstream #2'."
Sadly, pants were not an article of clothing that decided to grace
Amber with their presence. (Nor would the top agree to cover
This was another great line:
Shaw said he hopes readers will appreciate "Bloodstream"
for its humor and psychological foundation as well as for its action,
as Amber searches for her past while trying to elude the goons who want
to return her to the secret biotech lab where she was transformed into
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! "Uber-stripper" -- oh, that's
rich! What, can she lap-dance with the sexiness of ten strippers? And "Goon-Eluding Action!" may just supplant my fascination
with "expert hallway navigation."
Finding Meaning By Making It
Eve Tushnet has written a
wonderful analysis of Watchmen
. Although it's
one of my favorite works of sequential art, I can't recall reading much
commentary on this seminal work, certainly not anything this
good. I particularly liked Eve's tracking of various themes and
motifs, especially the notion of imperfect, relativistic perception and
interpretation: "[T]he comic is full of Rorschach tests: What do
you see?" My only quibble with Eve's analysis would be with her
take on some of the psychological makeups/motivations in the
book. Eve writes:
Rorschach's denial of any intrinsic meaning to the patterns
suffering in life, in his speech to Malcolm, is more obliquely in
conflict with his actions at the climax (in which he seeks to uphold an
absolute vision of justice that implies conformity to a preexisting,
objective pattern), but again both moments feel utterly true to life.
To me, this doesn't really seem to be a conflict, even an oblique
one. I think people who come to doubt that life has any intrinsic
meaning can be more motivated to create meaning where none
exists. We also see this in Malcom's actions after his optimistic
"bleeding heart liberal" belief system has been shattered due to his
interactions with Rorschach: Helping strangers on the street, he
says "In a world like this... it's all we can do, try to help each
other. It's all that means anything." (This reminds me of a
fallacy commonly heaped upon atheists: Because we deny the
existence of God, life can have no meaning for us. Wrong.
Life has the meaning we choose to impart on it through our decisions,
actions, and relationships -- in much the same way that made-up fiction
gains meaning. The pattern doesn't have to preexist for us to
attempt to create and conform to it.)
I also saw Doctor Manhattan's actions at the end as more consistent
than Eve did. For me, Manhattan's revelation that human life had
value stemmed more from his appreciation of the patterns and structures
that govern and/or emerge from human existence. Just as Manhattan
was curious to tinker with the inner workings of watches when he was
young (and human), now he plans to experiment with life itself. This
would help explain why he is sympathetic to Veidt's actions at the
end: Like him, Veidt sees the patterns and attempts to
understand/manipulate them. Veidt is a fellow watchman/maker.
By the way, here's the
blog entry of mine
that Eve was referring to. (And,
Eve: I'd love to see you follow up with the thoughts you weren't
able to get to in this essay. So many people seem to remember Watchmen
as only bleak or depressing that I'd love to see you tackle the use of
humor in the work.)
Street Angel Parody Shocker!
Over on Shawn Hoke's "The
, Jim Rugg stops by to clarify what his intention was
with that back cover
I'm not sure what you mean by
joke? It's really going to be the back cover of issue 1.
Jim says that he's going to be checking back in
that thread to answer any questions people might have about Street
Angel, so stop over and chat with the man! (Me, I want to
know if we'll be seeing a basketball match between the pirates and the
ninjas. Something like that would have the potential to rival the
Comedy Gold Standard of Monty Python's soccer
match between the
Greek and the German philosophers.)
I once did a mini comic called StrikeForce:
Bigfoot (a color version is
available at Modern Tales Longplay) and needed 3 pages to round out the
signatures. So I did fake pinups that aped the styles of Julie Doucet,
Mike Mignola, and Rob Liefeld. People seemed to get a kick out of them
and I enjoyed doing them.
For Street Angel I couldn't decide on what to
do with the back covers.
I like seeing guest pinups. So I decided to ape various cartoonists'
styles for the back covers. Issue 1 is a Jim Lee ape because Jim Lee
drew the highest selling comic of last year. Issue 2 is Dan Clowes. I
haven't decided on issue 3 yet (I draw the covers after the interiors
are all finished).
The Jim Lee maybe isn't as Jim Lee-esque as it
should be. Everyone
seems to see the Image style more than his particular style. I think I
botched the coloring.
I don't know if I'd call it a joke. Maybe some
cartoonist's attempt at a cool pinup? Or how about a dedicated,
up-and-coming cartoonist trying to give his readers the best bang for
their comic-book-buying dollar? Or...maybe a...well you get the idea.
Is anyone offended by it?
Blogging by Bullet Point
You know the drill.
- Street Angel Watch: Alan
David Doane liked the first issue of Street Angel,
giving it a 4.5/5 rating and predicting "[i]t's bound to be one
most talked-about books of the year." Over on Broken Frontier, Shawn
Hoke (not a permalink) interviews Jim Rugg, artist and co-creator
of Street Angel. Based on everything I've read and
seen about this book so far (well, except for that
back cover), I'm glad I pre-ordered it. (One interesting
thing about Street Angel is what a Rorschach test the
art is: ADD sees traces of Adrian Tomine and Charles Burns; Shawn
sees an early Dan Clowes influence; Johnny
B sees a hint of early Mike Allred; while I see splashes of Steve
Rude and Marcos Martin. What does it all mean? Who knows!
But it all adds up to some purty art.)
Collins clarifies his
love of Tim Russert
position that comics journalism could use improving. While I can
sympathize with the frustration underlying Sean's fantasizing, I think
in the end
I agree with Steven
Wintle's take on this matter: Raising the standard of comic
interviews, yes; grafting the model of political journalism
Isabella reviews several comics, among them two books I thought
looked interesting but ultimately passed on (Batman: Child Of
Dreams, The Bloody Streets Of Paris). Based
recommendations, I might check these out at some point. Tony also
outlines how he would do Batman if he wrote the character. It
sounds more in line with how I remember Batman being in the 70s than
how the character is currently portrayed.
- You thought the "2003 in Review" pieces were over and done
with? Wrong! Comic Readers has a whole slew of year-end
wrap-up articles, including focuses on Mainstream,
Press, and more Mainstream.
- Kind of tying into my
thoughts about Marvel, John
Firehammer (not a permalink) thinks it would be a good thing if
it's true that Marvel is clamping down on more mature versions of their
heroes so as not to interfere with possible movie versions of the
characters. Personally, I have mixed feelings about this.
My original point was simply that Marvel doesn't do a very good job of
delineating its different imprints because, well, they don't really
have different imprints—it's all just multiple versions of the
same superheroes. I don't have a problem with "edgier," "more
mature" takes on superheroes; I just think they should be clearly
distinguished from the "regular" superhero stuff. So if Marvel
isn't able to brand different projects so that they're easily
identifiable, maybe it is better for them to bring their entire line to
the same level.
On the other hand, I get nervous any time
Hollywood starts dictating the creative direction of other media, be it
comics, books, TV, or even video games. Plus, I really wanted to
see Peter Bagge's version of the Hulk (which I assume would have been
distinctive simply by virtue of being Peter Bagge's version of the
- Staying on the "What's Wrong With Marvel?" theme, Steven
Grant got some interesting responses to last
week's anecdote about a teacher being told by a student that
Marvel's comics "suck." While one reader suggests somewhat weakly
that not all kids think that Marvel sucks, another confirms
that his students do all think Marvel sucks and he tends to
agree, mainly because Marvel offers nothing new or imaginative.
Finally, I ran across this exchange about manga in Diverging
Comics' "State of the Comics" address
(an "Independently Minded"
(?) round table discussion
with "three very diverse comic book fans"):
DIVERGING COMICS: So what about the continued
proliferation of Manga, in those same bookstores?
GREG MATIASEVICH To an exclusion of everything else?
STEPHEN LIN: Man... I was in Borders the other day
and they had a huge shelf of manga! Placed in between trades and RPG
DAVID HOPKINS: Manga is so huge. It is in an
industry all to itself.
GREG MATIASEVICH: I think we need to educate readers
to know that Manga isn't everything
STEPHEN LIN: It's a Yu Gi Oh and Pokemon generation
DIVERGING COMICS: Again, it's a matter of crossing
over. Just like with american comics.
GREG MATIASEVICH Comics aren't one genre
DAVID HOPKINS: Exactly. But shoot me now if we have
to create a freakin' card game for every cartoon or comic book we
STEPHEN LIN: These are the same kids getting obese and
diabetic in front of the PS2 who probably haven't read any books in
their lives other than Harry Potter.
So anyway: What about the continued proliferation of manga in
"Tell Me About Your Mother, Mr. Wayne."
Locking on X-Men writers and domination fetishes
reminded me that
there was some Locking goodness I'd been intending to blog.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Nick
Locking on Batman vs. Midnighter
Batman will obviously win. Everything Midnighter does takes
panels more than Batman because Midnighter is decompressed. Hence,
Batman has a massive speed advantage and will have pinned Midnighter to
a wall with batarangs before Midnighter has had a chance to gaze in
wonder at the spectacle of Gotham City.
"Gone through *pant* this fight *pant* a million times -- SLOW DOWN,
considers a possible career change
Dr. Nick Locking, Phd. I will resolve your psychological
issues by comparing them with Batman's.
War! What Is It Good For?
isn't enthusiastic about the just-announced "War" theme for
this year's SPX Anthology
predicting "Not since the Comics Journal's Special Edition on
Patriotism will there
have been a collection of political cartoons as predictable and
inessential as this bad boy." I can certainly understand Sean's
pessimism: When I first heard about last year's "Travel" theme, I
expected to be inundated with grating accounts of alt-cartoonists
backpacking through Europe. However, the actual book turned out
to be much better -- and much more diverse -- than I had hoped.
So while I can see how the "War" theme could go horribly wrong, a part
of me remains optimistic.
Prediction: Yes, many people will submit typical anti-war pieces,
but hopefully the editors will be able to assemble a package that
represents varied viewpoints. In any event, I'm sure the SPX
Anthology will continue to remain one of the best values in comics
(usually ten bucks for close to 300 pages), as well as a great
introduction to creators many comic fans (myself included) would never
have known about otherwise.
Fan Confused, Threatened by Superhero Comic Lacking Slutty Heroine
I know finding bizarre message board threads is Graeme
's schtick, but I
stumbled upon a doozie while stopping over at the Pipeline boards to
thank Augie for mentioning this blog in today's
. A poster with the handle "peabody77"
with the previews of Street
YUCK! Street Angel = FLOP!
A superhero comic, with a $3 price tag, without COLOR, without a slutty
heroine, and they expect people to give a $#!%?!?
What kind of baffoon kids themselves into thinking anybody in this day
and age will LOOK AT anything like SA, much less BUY it?
I hate to be a nay-sayer, but this is just plain laughable! I looked at
the preview pages and wanted to puke. THIS is the "creative, in-control
creators'" answer to the drek from Marvel and DC?
Street Angel is a waste of time and effort on the creators' part, and
yet another loud declaration of the sad inability of indie creators to
get past their preposterious selves.
Make a book with a *cute* girl, with slicker artwork, in COLOR, and
then you'd have something viable.
Otherwise, why even bother?
The post is so outlandish that SLG Editor-in-Chief Jennifer
wonders if it was all a stunt by Street Angel
Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca to drum up interest in the book. Soon Jim
himself stops by:
To set the record straight I am not Mr. (or Ms.)
Peabody77. I am however curious why he/she has chosen to direct his/her
apparent indie-comic rage towards my book.
An amusing thread, but it's also a bit depressing to think that people
like "peabody77" really exist. (And not only do they exist, but
they also post the
on multiple forums.) At least some good came out
of it: Several people who hadn't even heard of Street
beforehand ended up preordering the book.
Besides, I don't see what "peabody77" is so upset about. It looks
as though Jim Rugg had the "slutty heroine" fanbase in mind when he did
the first issue's Image-style back cover:
Because Augie Demanded It!
To be fair:
Yeah, it's not a very good match, is it? It was the closest I
could find, though (white background, couple kissing).
I do wonder if having a strip running down one side of the cover is
going to become the de facto book design for any digest-sized
trade. Anyway, I'm looking forward to picking up the first Love Fights collection
DC in April Addendum
Something that didn't show up on DC's site yesterday was an advance solicit for JLA:
, a 96-page original hardcover graphic novel by
"super-hot" writer Peter Milligan and "cutting-edge artist" Rob
Haynes. "Super-hot"? "Cutting-edge"? I knew the
arrival of Michael Turner on so many DC books signaled the
Image-ification of DC.
DC in April
Thanks to Kevin
, we get to peek at DC's
a little early. Some stuff that caught my
- Nice to see that John Byrne's not afraid to use the old "floating
head" shot on a cover, even though this is the 21st century:
- DC has collections for JLA, Batgirl, Gotham
Central, and...a hardcover
for the first six issues of Superman/Batman?
Does Jeph Loeb have hardcover collections guaranteed in his contract
- Over on the Vertigo end, there are collections for Human
Target (5 issues for $10) and Fables (8 issues for $15), a savings of five bucks over the individual issues
in each case. Wait for the trade... wait for the trade...
- And Kevin's right: Timothy Green's art is very nice.
I didn't care for the sample artwork from Fraction, but
the stuff on Green's site is quite good. It looks like a cross between the styles of Tan
Eng Haut and Seth Fisher. Unfortunately, I see that much of the
most interesting-looking work was slated to appear in Prophecy
Magazine Anthology, which hasn't updated its site since Sept.
- Why does Wonder Woman look like a troll suddenly? Is this a
visual representation of new Action Comics writer Chuck
Austen's attitude toward women?
- Displaced CrossGen penciller Dale Eaglesham returns to DC as the
new series artist on H-E-R-O with issue
#15. (I'm glad to hear this as Dale is an artist whose work I
enjoy and H-E-R-O is a comic I look forward to each
- Speaking of CrossGen refugees, Ron Marz, Luke Ross, and
Brandon Peterson are all involved in Green
- Comic legends Alex Toth and Michael Golden together on a
stand-alone issue of Birds of Prey? I may have to
get this, even if Toth is only doing the cover and Golden is sharing
artistic duties with Mike Manley.
- Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips on an issue of Hawkman?
Man, DC sure knows how to get a jaded fan like me interested in
- Batman guest stars in the latest issue of Wonder
- Michael Turner's horrendous art continues on Superman/Batman.
- The new story arc in Batman is hyped as being "an unforgettable soon-to-be classic" by "a hot new
creative team." Publishers, please ban these phrases
solicitation-writing handbooks henceforth.
- Howard Chaykin and David Tischman write a Godfathers meets Dracula tale in the groan-inducingly named Bite
Strong continues to have fill-ins, but at least they're
interesting. This ish, Mark Schultz and Pascual Ferry assume
- Finally, the Arrowsmith/Astro
City one-shot is resolicited.
I can't believe that in April I may actually be reading issues of Birds
The votes are in. I had
"Should I buy The Moth Double-Sized Special
or wait for the trade?" and here's how you answered:
|Kill Jason Todd
I didn't expect this to end in a tie. So what does this
mean? That I should buy both the trade and the special?
Neither? That even dead, Jason Todd still drives comic fans into
a murderous frenzy?
Since the whole point of this exercise was to avoid making a
decision myself, I'll leave it up to the first person who breaks the
tie in the comment thread below:
UPDATE: Ed Cunard has spoken. His
verdict: "Buy the special. Why wait, if you're so excited.
And trades are killing the industry. :)" So be it!
Knowing of my
Johanna Draper Carlson kindly sent me the first issue of the
Based on the solicitation copy for later issues, I had hoped that the
comic might provide similar unintentional humor. Unfortunately,
the book is just flat-out bad. Johanna covered many of the book's
problems in her
, but here is a short list of my own complaints:
- Why does Vic suddenly look a lot sleazier (if not like a completely different character) starting on page
four? (I think it's because he's suddenly wearing shades and his
hair has gotten longer in back.)
- Isn't it a bad idea to be seen openly in the location where
you're abducting your test subjects?
- What kind of doctor would attribute the survival of one test
subject injected with a "synthetic blood substitute" to a feisty
personality? "Based on your reaction to the medication, I can see
that you're a Pisces!"
- Why use restraints that don't really restrain your subject?
(Ah, that's right: Because you want to depict her writhing
- I had to go back and count how many story pages there were
because it felt like nothing happened in this issue. (There were
22 pages of story.) Perhaps I'm getting spoiled by reading trades
more and more, but this can't be a good way to hook new readers.
Furthermore, as Randy Lander noted in his
"Snapshot" review, "the issue ends not on a cliffhanger or a big
revelation but in what feels like the middle of a scene." I
actually had to flip back to make sure I hadn't missed something:
Although the story stopped, there were still ten pages left
in the book, but they turned out to be mostly preview pages for another
scantily-clad female test subjects and too much green and red.
- Finally, the art in Bloodstream feels sloppy and
amateurish. There's no sense of depth to scenes: Everything
looks flat and in the foreground, perhaps because everything is
rendered in the same loose, blotchy manner.
Ah well. It looks like my interest in this comic was spoiled by
actually reading it. Even my hope of seeing some expert hallway
navigation seems dashed by the looks of the online
preview for Bloodstream #2
. Apparently Amber
will spend more time fighting a wolf in the snow than masterfully
maneuvering through corridors.
A Tale Of Two Publishers
interview with Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley
highlighted for me one of Marvel's biggest problems. Their idea
of diversifying comics is to do multiple versions of Spider-Man for
different target audiences. Yet more often than not, the same
readers end up buying the various versions of the
character. Aside from the failure to reach new readers, the
"multiple versions of a
single character" approach can end up backfiring in another way:
creates confusion about what audience the character is intended for.
Consider this exchange between Matt Brady and Quesada:
NRAMA: Exactly, but still, it seems that when a
Marvel comic that does push the envelope comes out, one of the quickest
responses a pundit that the media dusts off for the occasion drags out
the "comics are for kids" argument and that Marvel shouldn't be
publishing such material.
JQ: There's no question where I stand on this issue. Sure -
Marvel needs more all ages titles. We have very few, less than 10% of
our line can be classified that way. Not at the exclusion of anything,
but just because this is good content that can help grow our business
and industry. Just look at what Harry Potter has done for prose fiction.
Can you imagine the outcry if Harry Potter were featured in a novel
with "adult situations"? And it wouldn't be because prose fiction is
for children, but because that property has become so strongly
associated with children (even if adults do enjoy the books as well).
Similarly, I think Marvel has become so associated with its superhero
characters -- characters that are already perceived as children's
material -- that the publisher itself is now seen in the eyes of the
general public as being "for kids." And Marvel doesn't do
much to disabuse people of this notion: Unlike DC, Marvel doesn't
have distinct, well-branded imprints such as Vertigo to act as
firewalls for "edgier"
projects. Marvel's idea of a mature line is to have some of its
more obscure characters swear and engage in anal sex. The fact
that the characters are obscure does little to insulate the MAX comics
from controversy, perhaps because at one point all the characters
appeared in the "regular" Marvel Universe and everyone still remembers
In contrast, look at DC. I've already mentioned Vertigo, but even
with lines such as the much-maligned "Focus"
(which has been lampooned as DC's "New Universe") DC takes
care to brand the books so they stand out from the regular superhero
titles. The covers for the Focus books feature eye-catching
artwork from Tomer Hanuka and a distinctive trade dress:
It's also instructive to look at the two companies and how they respond
when they decide they want to go after new customers. Marvel
decides to redo
old superhero stories
with some newer, flashier
forms an alliance with the publisher of European comics
Marvel reminds me of the proverbial carpenter whose limited tool set
causes him to see every situation as calling for the same
response. "We need comics for younger readers?
Superheroes! Comics for older readers? Superheroes!
For people who think superheroes are stupid? Superheroes!"
I'm not saying that all superheroes by their
nature are for kids only. I don't think anyone would read Astro
and think that it was intended primarily for
children. But I
do believe that Marvel's superheroes are thought of as being for
kids. Why is this so? A big part of it is probably
historical accident: Since kids were the ones reading Marvel
superheroes when Marvel first started out, the association between the
product and the audience stuck over time. And the fact that
Marvel licenses its superheroes for all kinds of merchandise aimed at
kids probably helps reinforce the connection. You probably don't
see many bedsheets or breakfast cereals featuring characters from
Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov
I'm not saying it's a bad thing that Marvel's superheroes are still
thought of as being mainly for kids. Often times good stuff aimed
at children will be enjoyed by adults as well, like with the Harry
Potter books or the Pixar films.
I'm not saying I'm against darker takes on classic characters. I
enjoyed Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns
as much as
comic fan. And I don't think Watchmen
affront to the memory of the Charlton characters.
All I'm saying is that maybe there's a reason why Marvel is repeatedly
the target of the "comics are for kids" line of thought whereas DC can
put out stuff
and The Filth
batting an eye.
Live by the superhero, die by the superhero.
Shonen Jump Sales: Now Divide My Enthusiasm By Two
Almost forgot to mention this: Last
I asked readers for help in determining what the actual sales
figures were like for Shonen Jump
. Helpful reader Mark
searched through the January 2004 issue of Shonen Jump
and found the following information from Viz's circulation report:
Page 302, down in the corner in teeny tiny print. I'm not
going to type the whole thing in, but for October 2003, they list total
paid circulation of 140,323 out of a total of 283,000 copies. The
average from February thru October shows total paid circulation of
150,961 out of 349,444 total copies.
Thanks for the info, Mark. And thanks to Matt
for first bringing this to my attention. I knew
newsstand magazines faced returns, but I had no idea returns could
account for half a print run or more. I'll definitely keep this
in mind when I read future press releases from Viz about the amazing
sales of Shonen Jump
. Not that I'm suddenly
declaring Shonen Jump
a failure. From what I
understand, Shonen Jump
's rate of sales vs. returns is
actually pretty good for a newsstand periodical. And Viz
maintains that circulation continues to rise. But I will
definitely mentally adjust those sales figures from now on.
I'm still left wondering: Why is selling half of your print run
considered a success in the magazine business? Why don't
publishers try to bring print runs more in line with actual sales
numbers? Is having half (or more) of your print run sitting
unsold on the stands considered the price of doing business (have to
allow for reading copies, which will get damaged/beat up)?
The Bloodstream Solicitation Watch
Written by Adam Shaw and Penny Register, art and cover by Shaw.
Dr. Evers plans to capture Amber, now a living vessel of the precious
Hemosyth technology, at her former place of employment, but she proves
to be a very lethal vessel.
Is there a moratorium on exclamation marks at Image or something?
I never thought I'd say this, but that copy could use more hype
And is it just me or does this cover look a little...off?
Amber might be a very lethal vessel, but she's certainly not a very
: Waiting for the trade pays off yet again: The
first six issues of The Walking Dead
are collected in a
single trade for only $9.95, almost eight bucks cheaper than the
I just realized that I haven't ordered The Moth Double-Sized
yet. It's still sitting in my online cart, waiting
to be purchased. The order cutoff date is coming up, so I have to
decide soon. At this point I'm not sure which way to go. On
the one hand, Steve Rude is one of my favorite artists, so I'm excited
to see a new project from him. On the other hand, I'm guessing
that this special will be collected in a trade along with the upcoming Moth
limited series once it's finished. And since the series is
coming out from Dark Horse, any trade would probably have spiffy extras
such as sketches or threatening letters from Marvel's lawyers.
So what should I do? Buy the special or wait for the trade?
Since I'm on the fence about this, I'm going to let YOU decide.
That's right: In the grand tradition of such stunts as "Should
the Joker kill Jason Todd?" the readers will determine the outcome of
this cliffhanger. Simply cast your vote via
comments thread. (Sorry, no 800 numbers.) Whichever option
gets the most votes is what I'll end up doing. I'll tally things
up this weekend and announce the result on Monday, January 19th.
Thank you in advance for helping make this decision for me.
The Case For Being Unable To Wait For The Trade
Also from Dark
Horse's April solicitations
STEVE RUDE’S THE MOTH #1
STEVE RUDE (A) and GARY MARTIN (W/A)
On sale April 21, FC, 32pg, $2.99
Warning!! Dark Horse takes no responsibility for bodily injuries
sustained while reading The Moth #1. The unbridled action spilling from
the pages are an understandable consequence of teaming (penciler) Steve
Rude, and (writer/ inker) Gary Martin together. So if you get punched
in the eye because you’re holding this comic too close, don’t come
crying to us! In this issue, The Moth runs smack into the face of
trouble, in the form of his archrival, Nestor the bounty hunter. Check
out the picture of Nestor, in the dictionary definition of the word
Steve Rude's The Moth
is an ongoing series? Why
wasn't I informed??
OK, according to this Dark
Horse press release
, The Moth
is only a limited
series. In that case, maybe I can wait for the trade after
all. Except I already pre-ordered the "double-sized" special, which I bet will end up being included in the eventual trade. Argh!
The Case For Waiting For The Trade, Part 284
Horse's April solicitations
MICHAEL CHABON PRESENTS . . .THE AMAZING ADVENTURES
OF THE ESCAPIST VOLUME 1 TPB
MICHAEL CHABON (W) , GLEN DAVID GOLD (W), HOWARD CHAYKIN (W/A), BILL
SIENKIEWICZ (A), KYLE BAKER (A), JIM STARLIN (W/A), GENE COLAN (A),
STEVE LIEBER (A), SCOTT MORSE (A), ERIC WIGHT (A), KEVIN McCARTHY (W),
MIKE BARON (W)
On sale April 28, SC, 152pg, FC, 8 1/4" x 5 1/2", $17.95
Master of Elusion, foe of tyranny, and champion of liberation—The
Escapist! Operating from a secret headquarters under the boards
of the majestic Empire Theater, the Escapist and his crack team of
charismatic associates roam the globe, performing amazing feats of
magic to aid all those who languish in oppression’s chains. The history
of his creators, Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay was recently chronicled in
Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of
Kavalier & Clay. The best of the Escapist’s adventures are now
collected into one volume for all to enjoy!
This thrilling volume of Michael Chabon Presents…The Amazing Adventures
of The Escapist collects the first two issues of the comic book and
features an original story penned by Michael Chabon, the comics
debut of novelist Glen David Gold, a new story written and drawn by
Howard Chaykin, the painted artwork of Bill Sienkiewicz, and a
wraparound cover by Chris Ware!
If I'm reading that right, that's some nice "bonus" material that wasn't in the original issues. So how does this TPB end up having fewer
pages than the two 80-page comics it reprints? Guess "80
PULSE-POUNDING PAGES" includes ads, huh?
Also: Spider-Girl To Feature 80% More Panty Shots
Thanks to Augie
for mentioning this blog in his column today. I did
want to respond to his comments regarding the cover design for the
"Marvel Age" imprint:
Jakala's Grotesque Anatomy
posted cover images of Marvel's new manga-wannabe imprint versus
TokyoPop's, just to show the similarity in designs. I don't think,
however, that this is Marvel trying to trick people into thinking their
books are TokyoPop's. I think it's a couple of other things. First, the
art reprinted on the cover is in a slightly different ratio than the
page size it's being printed on, so the horizontal strip is needed in
lieu of art cropping. You can see that happening in the oversized RED
STAR trades, as well as the ULTIMATE MARVEL magazines that were coming
out a couple of years ago.
But if you look at the cover art for Runaways
as though the Marvel Age edition of Runaways does
original cover image, at least going by what was shown online in the
February solicitations for Marvel:
That's obviously not a final cover image on
the left, since
there's no logo on it. And the ratio for that image is slightly
squatter than other cover preview images. But there's still some
cropping of the image on both sides. In any case, cropping or
reformatting images hardly seems like much of a barrier in this digital
And this is probably a grossly uncharitable misreading of Augie's
statement, but reading it I thought, "So what is he saying? That
there were only a handful of possible cover designs available for
Marvel to choose from? That it was inevitable that Marvel would
this look?" Funny how a single series such as Sandman
have about a dozen distinctive trade dresses over the course of its
publication in the bookstore market.
Anyway, I don't think Marvel will really be able to "trick" anyone into
reading anything they don't want to. Yes, I still think the
Marvel Age trade dress is suspiciously similar to Tokyopop's, but I
don't think it's going to fool manga fans into buying these
books. I think most consumers are savvy enough to distinguish
content from design, and content is really what's going to make or
break these books for Marvel. Sure, the new format might be more
appealing to readers who are used to the manga digests, but I think the
packaging will only allow Marvel to get their foot in the door.
They'd still better have compelling stories to complete the sale.
So until Marvel comes out and announces that the Marvel Age books will
have art flipped to a "right-to-left" format and sound effects
translated into Japanese, Make Mine Manga!
Waiting for the "Waiting for the Trade" Argument To End
links to Peter David
continuing to write about the "Waiting for the Trade" debate over on his
blog. In his entry, PAD warns readers that he doesn't care why
they don't care whether mid-list monthlies make it or not. So I'm
sure he doesn't care about the thoughts his writings inspired, but I
thought I'd share them anyway.
PAD writes: "When fans express concerns about comics, I try to answer
them. Fans complain about rising prices; I put my neck on the line to
try and keep the price of 'Captain Marvel' [down] as long as I
could." Ah, yes. The infamous "U-DECIDE!" stunt. For
what it's worth, I thought it was a nice move on PAD's part to try to
keep the price down on this series. But how well did that turn
out? The book relaunched with a new number one and was initially
priced at $2.25. But then with issue #8 the price jumped 33% to
$2.99 right in the middle of a two-part storyline. I'm not
suggesting that any of this was PAD's fault, but readers of trades
would have known up front what price they were going to pay for a
complete storyline instead of having the price shoot up without warning.
PAD writes: "[I]f fans want to help ensure the survival of new
series, they should consider buying monthlies." Except buying the
monthlies is no guarantee for the survival of a series. Even
before trade paperbacks became more regular, quirky series were
released and then quickly cancelled, despite devoted fanbases.
(One of my favorite short-lived series was Chase
Curtis Johnson and J.H. Williams III.) I recall many fans being
reluctant to try out "non-aligned" books out of fear that the comics
would be cancelled out from under them. If we're going to debate
how fan psychology affects comic sales, one could make a strong case
that this "learned defeatism" is more detrimental to the survival of
mid-list series than the so-called "Waiting for the Trade" mentality.
PAD expresses his gratitude for "those fans whose support of monthly
titles help provide the trade paperbacks." Perhaps he doesn't
mean anything by it, but this statement annoys me. Is he implying
that those who prefer to read trades are indebted to the monthly
readers who made the collected edition possible? Maybe I'm being
pissy or obtuse, but I really don't think readers of trades owe any
debt of gratitude to those who read the comic in monthly
installments. Conversely, when I buy singles, I really don't
expect to be thanked for making a future collection possible.
When I rent a movie or buy a DVD, I don't get all teary-eyed thinking
of the moviegoers who made my home-viewing experience possible.
When I buy a hardcover copy of a book, I don't get mad if others chose
to wait for the softcover edition without even acknowledging how my
purchase enabled their option. If the publishers of various forms
of entertainment decide they want to go after different audiences with
different formats, that's their prerogative. I think it's silly
to pit one customer base against another by declaring that one group
provided another's edition.
I still agree with PAD's assertion that the "Waiting for the Trade"
phenomenon likely makes it harder for mid-list titles to survive in the
current Direct Market system. But I think that's the crucial
qualification: In the current Direct Market system
Really, I think that mid-list series would continue to have problems
even if trades were abolished altogether. Look at the top
in the Direct Market: Ten X-Men comics. Six
Ultimate titles. Four Spider-Man series. There's so much wrong
with the current Direct Market system that it hardly seems fair to pin
all its woes on "Waiting for the Trade."
2002 in Review in Review
Since my attempt at a "Best of 2003" list is so late that it would now
qualify for nostalgia, I've pretty much given up on finishing it.
Instead, I decided to look back at my
picks from 2002
and see "Where Are They Now?"
10. THE POWER COMPANY
: Cancelled. Did not end on a strong
9. RAIJIN COMICS
: I dropped this manga anthology right before
Gutsoon announced that it was changing the publishing frequency from
weekly to monthly, a decision that didn't sit too well with many of
's more dedicated fans. Of the series featured
anthology, Slam Dunk
is the only one I have any interest
in keeping up
with. Gutsoon recently sent me some of their books to review,
though, so I'll be taking a fresh look at their titles soon.
8. SPX2002 ANTHOLOGY
: As I wrote last year, the SPX Anthology is
"one of my favorite
comics every year." This year proved no exception. For the
second year in a row the anthology had a unifying theme. This
time it was
travel. I was worried that this theme would be too limiting (I
expected many stories to be the sequential art equivalent of neighbors
pulling out their vacation slides). Instead, many contributors
came up with novel variations on the theme, including an account of the
1918 influenza's travels across the globe; a retelling of Prince
Cadmus' founding of Thebes as a travelogue; and a "Choose Your Own
Adventure"-style travel board game. A great bargain (290 pages
for ten bucks) and a wonderful introduction to many small-press
creators. (I'm especially excited about R.
forthcoming graphic novel, Nightfisher
7. CrossGen's COMPENDIA
: Yikes. I wonder if every
reviewer runs across something like this at some point: An
embarrassing favorite that causes one to shake one's head and wonder,
"What was I thinking?" Even more embarrassing, I ended my
description of why I liked CrossGen's Compendia with this fateful
prognostication: "With CrossGen's recent repackaging of the
Compendia line (smaller trim size and reduced cover price), I expect
that even more readers will become hooked on this winning anthology
format." Instead the Compendia became a huge financial drain for
CrossGen (Mark Alessi admitted this in response to fans angry that the
books had been solicited through a certain number but then cancelled
before that point) and stacks of remaindered copies can be found
littering used bookstores.
So for those who get tired of my Shonen Jump
something you can throw back in my face whenever I start to get too
: Still an excellent series. It's been
interesting in recent issues to be reminded that the ABC line is a
shared universe (although one with little time remaining).
5. SUPER MANGA BLAST!
: The tedious "Hypernotes" installments
completely killed my waning interest in this manga anthology, although
plan on reading Club 9
and What's Michael?
in collected form.
4. OH MY GODDESS
: 2003 saw three new trade paperback collections
(Hand In Hand
, Mystery Child
, & Traveler
for one of my favorite
manga series. I like this series so much I don't even flinch at
prices nearly twice that of other manga books. (Mystery
carried a price tag of nineteen bucks, although it did run
3. THE FILTH
: To be honest, I can't remember much about this
series, although I do remember enjoying each individual
installment. Someday I'll go back and re-read the whole series
end-to-end and see what I make of it. Or at least that's what I
keep telling myself.
: Finished reading this series in 2002, but it
was interesting to note how many other people discovered this and
enjoyed it in 2003. I think someone even referred to Uzumaki
a great example of a "gateway manga."
1. SHONEN JUMP
: Yet another manga anthology that I loved in 2002
but dropped in 2003. And with Shonen Jump
, I'm not
continuing to read any of the series in collected form. I'm
still sending my niece and nephews a gift subscription, though, and
they've recently written to make sure I renew their subscription for
I also looked over my list of the TEN
MOST DISAPPOINTING COMICS OF 2002
. With many of
those books, they either ended or I stopped getting them
altogether. I gave a second chance to just one series --
Morrison's New X-Men
-- and was much more impressed with
hardcover volume. Also, a year ago I had this
advice for myself: "It looks as though I bought too many
comics that I was ultimately unhappy with, so perhaps I'll be more
selective in my superhero picks in the future." In 2003 it seems
I was able to follow my own advice: I dropped
several superhero books that I had been getting more out of habit than
anything else (JSA
) and I was less
patient with series that
didn't hook me right away (Outsiders
, Teen Titans
and not just with
superhero comics either: Lone
, Blackburne Covenant
, and others were all
dropped early on, even if I was only an
issue or two away from having the whole series/storyline. In
think my comic-buying habits were healthier than in the past
(especially if one ignores the amount I spend on comics each
month): I worried less about "completeism," and superhero titles
began to represent less and
less of my purchases. Looking back at the comics I read in 2003,
I think there was more diversity there, and overall I enjoyed comics
much more than I had the year before. Let's hope I can look back
at my choices in 2004 and say the same thing.
Hitting Me Where It Hurts
Asked to provide an example of a cancellation that can be attributed
directly to the "Waiting for the Trade" phenomenon, Peter
offers up the following (scroll down almost to the bottom of
Well, a fellow named Martin Maenza over on the Byrne
"Power Company" qualifies. He wrote, in part:
"One of my favorite titles of recent years was Power Company by Kurt
Busiek and Tom Grummett.
"The book only lasted 18 issues. But, it was some of the best 18 issues
I've ever read of a series. Very good stuff.
"Problem was: many folks on the DC boards kept saying "I missed the
first couple issues - when is the trade coming?" When told no trade was
in the works, they opted not to pick up the book. The book sales slowly
dropped which lead to cancellation."
I don't know if the people on the DC boards represent enough of a
mindset to have affected the book's bottom line. Furthermore, this
would be an extension of the "waiting for the trades" phenomenon into
the equally intriguing, "No trade? Then I won't start buying it"
phenomenon which I was alluding to earlier.
Ultimately, I don't know if he's right or not, but it's his opinion and
directly addresses your question, so I thought you'd be interested.
As many know, Power Company
commonly referred to it) was one of my favorite superhero comics of the
past few years. That's not to say it was the best according to
some objective standard. While I think there was a lot about the
series that was worthwhile, I also acknowledge that several issues were
clunkers. (Back when I was assigning numerical scores in my
reviews, I think I gave one issue -- #14? -- a rating of 4/10.)
And even die-hard PCo
fans acknowledged that the series
got off to a rough start, which was further complicated by the fact
that there were several "starts" for the series -- the "flashback"
one-shots focusing on individual characters; the "flash-forward"
preview story at the back of JLA
#61; and the opening
storyline of the ongoing series proper. Many of these factors
(especially the seven one-shots coming out in the same month, which
many fans saw as a money-grubbing stunt) were cited by fans (and
non-fans) in unofficial post mortems as being the true death knells for
the series. (There was also a 25-cent price increase with issue
#7, which corresponded with a 10%
in estimated orders from the previous issue.)
Yes, I do remember seeing people posting on the DC boards asking when
there would be a trade for the series, but IIRC many of those queries
were from fans who did actually start reading the series around the
time of the series' "revamp" (around issue #8) and couldn't find the
earlier issues in their shops. Like many other mid- or low-list
simply wasn't being carried by a lot of shops,
or not in sufficient quantities to have leftover shelf copies. I
know this from personal experience: Having dropped PCo
after the first issue (due to an attempt to give up comics completely,
which obviously didn't take), I decided to try out the book's new
direction. I liked it enough to seek out the back issues I'd
missed. I think I had to go to five or six shops before I'd found
the six issues I was missing. Other posters complained about
similar experiences in their areas, so many hoped a trade could fill
Of course, there was also the hope that a trade could be used to bring
in completely new readers, but my memory is primarily of "latecomer"
fans asking for a trade of earlier issues. And I'm sure there
were people who had passed on a new series (especially one with the
perceived barrier of the one-shots), figuring they could always pick up
the trade if word-of-mouth was good. But I think PCo
suffered from many more problems than simply being a victim of the
"Waiting for the Trade" mentality.
This has been your self-indulgent post lamenting the loss of an
unpopular and critically-unacclaimed comic book series for the day.
has softened his position on fans who wait for the trade, recognizing
that (much as I argued above with respect to PCo
deferring their comic book purchases for a later time and a different
format is just one of many problems facing most series nowadays
(scroll to the middle of the page):
So, as I said...I haven't blamed "primarily"
anything on the trade
waiting audience. It's another hurdle. It's just not one that I was
expecting. I had people tell me they stopped reading "Supergirl"
because they didn't like the storyline. Okay. I can deal with that (and
did so, successfully...not that it mattered in the long run.) When they
tell me that they *do* like the book but won't buy it regularly because
they'll wait for another format...that caught me a little bit by
surprise. Guess I should have seen it coming, but I didn't.
That's pretty much all I've been saying. Not disputing people's "right"
to buy what they want. Not contending that it's the consumers'
"problem" that my job has been made that much harder. Just saying,
Okay. Yet another hurdle.
Ah well. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.
I can certainly sympathize with that and wish PAD the very best of
luck. Hopefully, with one hurdle out of the way (a trade for
is coming out, but PAD goes into much more
the many other obstacles still facing this series in the full post)
PAD's book will be discovered by more of its intended audience.
(That Comicon thread is still going strong. As of today it's
eight pages long. I haven't read through all of the recent posts,
but Kurt Busiek does stop by again to make some more good points on page
If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em
(Or At Least Trick Their Customers Into Mistakenly Buying Your Product)
reports that an
astute Newsarama poster
noticed some similarities between the
covers for Marvel's "Marvel Age" books and those from another company:
"Wow. For a second I thought I was looking at Tokyopop
books. Way to rip off a cover design, Marvel!"
Oh, come on: I think this is just another typical exaggeration on
the part of a Newsarama poster. The Marvel Age covers look nothing
like Tokyopop's cover design:
In other news, Marvel now reports that the name of the imprint will be
changed from "Marvel Age" to "Kyotopop."
of Breakdowns fame is always good, but his smackdown of John Byrne's
most recent idiocy really made me smile:
John Byrne would rather you buy his work in monthly issues
or not at all, and if you’re not the direct market pig getting his
weekly feeding at the specialty shop trough, then fuck you, apparently.
What I’m getting from these comments is that Byrne wants to control how
you buy his stuff, to the extent that he’d rather turn away those who
would potentially buy it in a format not of his choosing, i.e. the
trade paperback. Here’s a thought: maybe not everyone is aware of every
goddamn comic coming out every week, or they’re sick for a while, on
vacation, or were going through some financial difficulties, or are
even new to comics, and they find that his run on JLA or something is
in its third issue. If the shop doesn’t have the previous issues, is it
now wrong for them to wait for the trade? Mr. “Don’t Be a Mind Reader”
has decided that the only reason people buy trades now is because it’s
KEWL to do so. Hmm. Can’t think of a less likely explanation offhand,
nor can I think of many comics trades that project “kewl” at all.
There's more on why Byrne is wrong, as well as several new comic
reviews and a look back at the Good Graphic Novels of 2003 (how fitting
that Byrne is mentioned in the same column as this list). Go
But Does It Feature Wacky Hijinks?
looks really nice: 8 ½ Ghosts
Tommaso. Garsh, that art sure looks purty [click for larger
image, and see the Pulse's interview for additional samples]:
This comment from Tommaso caught my attention:
THE PULSE: What are some of the toughest challenges to
TOMMASO: That fact that I'm working in a still form. I can see
a lot of gags in my head playing as a movie would, but when they need
to be transcribed into a comic form, they often fall to pieces.
Sometimes I can change the action, but other times it just doesn't work
in ink on paper at all.
It'll be interesting to read the comic and see if any of that comes
across on the page. I would think that comics would have their
own advantages in doing comedy (ability to exaggerate details, for
example), but I suppose controlling the timing of a gag could be
tricky. Now I'm going to be looking for all the gags that fall
flat in the comic!
Marvel Age: Threat or Menace?
I really don't know how to read the news about Marvel's new "all ages"
. Well, OK, I know how to read part of it: The
regurgitation of old storylines with "newer" art and "fresher" dialogue
exposes Marvel's creative bankruptcy. 'Nuff said. But
insofar as Marvel is willing to take a chance on newer (read: not
decades-old) properties that stand a chance of appealing to younger
readers, I'd like to be optimistic. True, so far the titles
slated for collection (SENTINEL, RUNAWAYS) aren't exactly new, but then
neither is most manga when you get down to it. What matters is
that the concepts aren't immediately perceived as ancient and may
actually interest children.
It's also nice to see Marvel willing to experiment with formats a
bit. The "Tokyopop-sized collections containing five or six
issues each, reprinted in full color, with a $7.99 price point" sound
like a decent bargain. I just hope that Marvel is serious when
We’re dedicated into making sure these get into the right
hands, and not sitting back and just throwing this out there, seeing
the shops order maybe two copies each, and then we’ll move on to the
next thing. We really want to work to get these into the hands of the
kids who should be reading comics.
Given Marvel's scattershot approach to new initiatives recently, you'll
forgive me if I don't hold my breath.
And this is just ugly. Ugly and sad.
This is one interview where bracketed "stage notes" would have been
helpful. Marvel’s Manager of Sales David Gabriel said, "It will
have a little bit of a manga feel to it, but not so much that someone
will look at it and think we’re bringing the Mangaverse back."
Did Gabriel manage to say that with a straight face?
HELP: Make Me Look Smart
Spiraling out of my
on Matt Maxwell's resolution for Shonen Jump
Boosters, he and I have been going back and forth in the comments
thread wondering how to figure out the actual
for the popular manga anthology -- you know, how many copies are
actually being purchased by customers rather than returned to the
publisher. We know that actual sales data for mags is tracked (in
order to establish circulation figures for ad sales) but I couldn't
find anything on Shonen Jump
in the free portion of the Audit Bureau of Circulations
(although I did learn that the OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAZINE has a paid
circulation of 344,731). So I'm stumped. Anyone know how to
figure this out? Anyone from Viz want to volunteer the
info? Heck, even general info on how newsstand sales operate
would be greatly appreciated.
Please forward all replies to me via email
and I'll pass
interesting info as though I came up with it on my own. Thank you
I Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us
Ever wonder why the "Comic Books = Superheroes" correlation seems so
prevalent and persistent across the collective pop culture
consciousness? Part of the reason may be that comic book readers
(who should know better) perpetuate the stereotype in their excitement
to be taken seriously.
(described in his bio as a "East Coast based journalist
and award-winning columnist") writes his first new Guttermouth column
for the recently-redesigned Comic
and wonders, "Are comics a fringe subculture no
longer?" In the end, Phillion concludes that comics are gradually
becoming part of the mainstream, declaring "[c]omic books might be a
popular target for parody, insult and scorn, but as far as I can see,
they’re also sort of taking over the world." His evidence?
All the movies based on comic books being made. Or more
specifically, all the movies based on superhero
Phillion lists established and rumored movie properties including
Spider-Man, X-Men, Hulk, Punisher, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and
Iron Fist. Because of course recent movies based on comic books have
focused on superheroes
Aside from the narrow focus on superheroes, the other major problem
with Phillion's argument is that his examples don't support his
conclusion. Just because people are going out to see superhero
movies doesn't mean that people are more interested in comics, or that
they're starting to give them more respect. All it means is that
people aren't adverse to seeing movies with superheroes in them.
Marvel's claims to the contrary, the release of movies based on their
characters does not seem to have led to a significant boost in sales
for the corresponding comic books. Heck, Phillion's own
experience demonstrates how it's possible to be into superheroes
without being interested in (or even aware of) comic books: He
writes that he loved superheroes as a young child, but didn't start
reading comics until later.
Now, if I were trying to demonstrate that the general public might be
growing more open to comics, I think there's another emerging
I'd point to instead... [NOTE: If your name is
Peter David or John Byrne, please do not click on the link above; it's
only going to upset you.]
Commenting on Someone Else's Resolutions for Others
Broken Frontier's Matt
(not a permalink) has a list of New Year's Resolutions for
various members of the comic book industry. One that confused me
resolution for "Shonen Jump
I hereby resolve to remember that the lion's share of
Shonen Jump are sold on newsstands (and on newsstands,
if you're only
returning fifty-five percent of your run, you're doing GREAT).
Who was disputing that Shonen
does the bulk of its business on newsstands? Looking
every month, it's obvious Shonen
's numbers aren't coming from the Direct
Market. If the point was that newsstand sales operate differently
than Direct Market sales, I don't see how this downplays the
impressiveness of Shonen
's success. After all, Viz has managed to steadily
increase sales of their anthology whereas Marvel's attempt at a
newsstand comic magazine (Ultimate Marvel Magazine
fizzled in less than a year.
Other than that, I really liked his list. The only change I'd
make would be the addition of a resolution for one more comic book
I hereby resolve to pay in full (ideally including interest) the
freelancers who remain unpaid for their work. I also promise to
apologize for any insults or insinuations I leveled against the wronged
parties, and for the many missed deadlines I promised to make payment
I'd almost forgotten about this situation, but then I saw the headline "CROSSGEN '03 NEWS ROUND-UP
" over on
The Pulse. I assumed it was a round-up of The
Pulse's coverage of the freelancer story, since that was the biggest
news involving CrossGen last year, but it's really just a
self-congratulatory press release touting CrossGen's achievements and
accolades from last year. I know it's only natural for a company
to want to pump up the positive aspects of its record, but it's hard
for me to muster much enthusiasm for a company that has treated its
creators so poorly.
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