Pipeline: Pipeline, Issue #111

Tue, July 20th, 1999 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

TIME FOR CONFUSION

I took a look at Daredevil #7 today. Not to read it. Nope, I'm going to wait until I have the time to sit down and read all 7 issues in a row of Kevin Smith/Joe Quesada/Jimmy Palmiotti's so far entertaining story.

Nope, I looked at the corner box on the cover. Issue #7 is labeled as the May 1999 issue of the title. DAREDEVIL #1 was labeled as the November 1998 issue. So, 7 issues in 7 months, right?

Er, no.

I keep a database of books I buy at the comics shop and the date I bought them there. Here's what my records show:

Those 7 issues came out on the following dates: 10 Sep, 07 Oct, 04 Nov, 16 Dec, 27 Jan, 28 Apr, 07 Jul. They are cover dated November, December, January, February, March, April, and May.

Interesting correlation there, wouldn't you agree? They start 2 months ahead of time and end 2 months behind time. It's a neat trick if you can pull it off, though, I suppose.

PROCESS JUNKIES

It was probably Elayne Riggs over on USENET who coined the term "process junkie." I admit to being one myself, especially when it comes to writing. I love reading about how people write. I love reading scripts.

So you can imagine how happy I was when I received a press release from Larry Young about his forthcoming ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE book. Here's the relevant excerpt:

THE MAKING OF ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE gives you a glimpse of the comic book production process by collecting all in one place the scripts to the critically-acclaimed five issue mini-series, pre-production sketches, proposal notes, and even the mini-comics that started the whole thing!

I think this a wonderful idea. Marvel tried something for a while last year called ROUGH CUT, which seems to have been forgotten. They published the pencils and the script to given issues all in one package. It was wonderful stuff. They did it for books such as Dan Jurgens/John Romita Jr.'s THOR #1 and Mark Waid and Ron Garney's CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINEL OF LIBERTY #1. It was entertaining and highly informative, but seems to have been dropped. I imagine the cause was low sales.

Now Young is stepping out on a LONG ledge here by reprinting 5 whole issues' worth of scripts. This is a huge risk. I really want to support this idea, though. If it works, could you imagine who might imitate it? Young has some ideas:

"THE MAKING OF ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE fulfills a childhood dream, and, dare I say it, a void in the marketplace. I'd personally like to see the same sort of script collections from WATCHMEN and TRANSMETROPOLITAN, for example."

So would I. The WATCHMEN scripts might be space-prohibitive. From everything I've heard about Alan Moore's scripts, the first two issues of that venerable mini-series would probably fill 128 pages. But wouldn't it be a kick?

Another thing I'm happy to see happening is writers arriving at cons with scripts for sale. I recently purchased a YOUNG JUSTICE script from Peter David at the MSG Con a couple of months ago. I hope it's catching on. I'd love to buy a few more from some other writers in San Diego next month. (To anyone who attended the Chicago Con: Were any writers doing this?)

It's an advantage artists have that they can go to these conventions and pick up a few extra bucks by selling sketches or even original art. The only thing writers have is their scripts. And those are so easily reproducible so cheaply, that by selling a few at $5 or $10, you could make a few bucks really easily.

I haven't read the ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE mini-series yet. It just concluded with issue #5 last week. But you can bet I'm going back now to find those issues so I can enjoy this book when it comes out.

SURPRISE BOOK OF THE MONTH

It may be a little pricey at $10 for 68 story pages, but it's well worth every penny. MANHUNTER: THE SPECIAL EDITION collects the series of back up stories (and 20-page conclusion) starring MANHUNTER from the early 1970s. It was written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by "new talent" Walter Simonson. It was ahead of its time; exciting, thoughtful, and gripping.

Picture some of the conspiracies generated in shows like THE X-FILES or VR.5 or NOWHERE MAN. Picture one man rising up against that conspiracy. Add in some super-heroics, some ninja stuff, some romance, and some family intrigue. Top it off with packed, dense pages, interesting art, verbose writing, and a new twist in every story. You get MANHUNTER.

Even better yet: Walter Simonson drew the final MANHUNTER story over Goodwin's notes after Goodwin's death last year. It's a silent story and it's included here. You can see how Simonson's artistic style has evolved in the past 25 years. This is wonderful stuff. I recommend it without reservation.

There is also an introduction from Goodwin on the occasion of the series' reprinting ten years ago, and a brand new afterwards by Simonson, both of which give interesting insight into the story and the way they told it. I'd guess it would probably be best if you waited to read the story before the text pieces. Just in case.

SWAP TIME

Is Rob Liefeld's cover to SUPREME: THE RETURN #2 a swipe from Bryan Hitch's THE AUTHORITY #4? At first I didn't think so. Plenty of people have done close-ups on faces for covers before, right? And the smoke coming out of the nose of the character on SUPREME's cover might be coincidence. But the identically shaped black lines emanating of the nostrils from the two covers have me convinced that it's a Liefeld swipe. Maybe we should just let those fine folk over at the Swipe of the Week page decide. I keep wavering back and forth, myself.

[An inside source has since proven to my satisfaction that this cover couldn't be a swipe. It's just coincidental. More details in PCR #112.]

QUICK BITS OF BUSINESS AND REVIEW

I received this from TOP 10 co-artist Zander Cannon this week:

…my contribution was, starting on page 13, that of layouts and character designs. Gene's background assistant up until that page was Barbara Schultz, and the designer of most of the city's overall look was Emil Castenada.

As far as I'm concerned, it was great work all around. Thanks for the info, Zander!

PROMETHEA #2 was a little bit of a disappointment after its stellar first issue. I admit to being half-falling-asleep when I read it, but it seemed to be more straight mystical super-heroine adventure stuff. After the powerful first issue, I was expecting more. Maybe I'll like it better if I get the chance to reread it with a more awake mind. =)

CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS II is not my type of book. Even with Chris Claremont writing it and Oscar Jimenez drawing it, it's just boring. I don't get many thrills from these mindless tests of strength. It bores me. Nothing will come of this, will it? On the other hand, I don't mind seeing Marvel publishing this. It's the type of thing that a certain segment of comics fans will enjoy and will debate endlessly. So if raises discussions and provokes debates, more power to it. There was a time when I, too, probably would have enjoyed this.

Nowadays, I just look at it and think what an incredible waste of good talent it is. I miss Jimenez on a good monthly book. He'd do great work on a regular book, if he could keep the deadlines at bay. Maybe after this he'll do just that.

Vertigo published FINALS #1 by Will Pfeifer and Jill Thompson. I described it in a previous column and just wanted to add that the first issue didn't disappoint me. I hoped for a little more outright black humor, but I really shouldn't complain about a plot getting in the way of a good humorous story, should I? It'll be interesting to see which direction it will go in the second issue.

Finally, special thanks to David Groenewegen, whose "Venting My Spleen" column two Friday's ago in the CBEM #221 was inspired by my on-going series of direct market columns over in Pipeline 2. I have to say I agree with just about everything he said, and some of his thoughts mirrored ones of my own from future columns.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

Coming this Friday to Pipeline2, a general discussion on all things DC-related. There's a lot of interesting DC stuff coming out of the recently-concluded Chicago WizardWorld Convention, as well as in their PREVIEWS listings which come out this week. They've also made a series of questionable editorial decisions in the past week. (Great, I go from the Direct Market discussion to the lunacy of blaming the media for school shootings. I'm just asking for trouble.)

Also: An update from Steve "WHITEOUT" Lieber on what he's up to next!

So for a round of quick and interesting bits of commentary, come back here on Friday for Pipeline2!

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