Pipeline: Pipeline2, Issue #112

Fri, August 17th, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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PIPELINE AT WIZARDWORLD

I changed my mind. I know I said on Tuesday that I wasn't going to do it. Then I looked at the final schedule for the con a couple of days later and realized that it could be done. Pipeline will be updated on both Saturday and Sunday with daily Con Journals. If you can't be there, Comic Book Resources is your next best bet. We'll have updated news through the weekend, and I'll be giving daily Fan On The Floor-type accounts.

Be sure to stop back tomorrow and Sunday to keep up with everything that's going on in Chicago.

Now for some even more exciting news:

THE COPYBOOK TALES TPB: MARCH 2002

[The Copybook Tales]I sang the praises of J. Torres and Tim Levins' coming-of-age story here a back in March. It was in preparation for the trade paperback compilation of the series that had just been solicited for May. For various reasons, that printing was cancelled. Now the book is in the capable hands of the gang over at Oni Press, who are announcing here today that they're going to print with it in March 2002. Here's the release information:

ONE LAST TIME AROUND THE SPINNER RACK.

ONI PRESS TO REPRINT TORRES' & LEVINS' FAN-FAVORITE COPYBOOK TALES

This March Oni Press is teaming up with creators J. Torres (ALISON DARE, SIDEKICKS) and Tim Levins (GOTHAM ADVENTURES) to bring the duo's fan-favorite and critically acclaimed COPYBOOK TALES back in the form of a comprehensive trade paperback. The story of Jamie & Thatcher, two guys trying to break into the comic biz, COPYBOOK originally appeared as a 6-issue miniseries from publisher Slave Labor Graphics.

"COPYBOOK was the first thing of J's that I'd ever read and it definitely made an impact," said Oni Editor in chief Jamie S. Rich. "Jamie and Thatcher's story is so engaging and easy to identify with, it's easy to lose yourself in it. It's not hard to see why J. and Tim have gone on to have successful careers in this industry."

"It's nice to be able to look back to the beginning," Torres said. "COPYBOOK was a very personal project for both Tim and myself. Even though we've both made leaps and bounds artistically since then, I still think the work holds up."

COPYBOOK TALES follows Jamie and Thatcher through their ups and downs, their leaps forward and their occasional setbacks. When Jamie starts going through his childhood "copybooks," journals he'd kept of his misadventures, the two finally find the inspiration they need to burst onto the scene. While the story is rooted in the culture that has arisen around comics, there is more to it than that.

"COPYBOOK TALES isn't about comics as much as it is about relationships and growing up," concluded Torres. "It's a story about living out your dreams, no matter what it takes and I think that's something anyone can relate to."

COPYBOOK TALES is a black-and-white trade paperback with 240 pages of story and art. Shipping to comic book stores this March, it has a brand-new color cover, as well as all new material.

Very exciting stuff, and I'm sure more details on the project will be forthcoming as the publication date draws closer. I think this is definitely a case where patience will be rewarded.

AND NOW FOR SOME REVIEWS...

[Jingle Belle: The Mighty Elves]While we're feeling the Oni love here at Pipeline World HQ today, let's take a look at one of their recent titles.

Oni released JINGLE BELLE: THE MIGHTY ELVES last week. It's written by creator Paul Dini and drawn (and nicely hand-lettered) by J. Bone, whose work can also be seen these days on ALISON DARE.

This one-shot tells the story of Jingle's new hobby -- ice hockey. It's more a form of work release than a hobby, really, but Jingle relishes the role. It's right up her alley: Lots of violence, aggression, and attitude. Jingle is the revitalizing force on Santa's team of perennial losers, and she brings the team all the way up from the basement of the Bi-Polar (North and South Poles) Hockey League with her single-minded attack style. Hockey is an amazingly easy sport, it turns out, when you spend most of your time in the penalty box.

Paul Dini packs the 28 pages of the story with plenty of sight gags, character bits, puns, and action. If you liked Tiny Toons, you'll like this book. It's the same level of humor much of the time, with some more mature touches. It's the perfect pilot script for a Jingle cartoon. Dini keeps things moving in the story despite taking the time to include all the gags you could ask for.

J. Bone's art is, as always, well suited for the story. His stark black and white art is extremely easy to read. He can draw a wide variety of funny animals, and still draw an expressive Jingle in both facial and physical expressions.

I remember when Paul Dini started JINGLE BELLE. I thought it was cute, but it didn't really capture my interest a whole lot. The one constant in the character's relatively short existence, though, is that it's always getting better. With every new iteration of her, the gags get funnier, the set-ups become more natural, and the stories more enjoyable. Those earliest adventures have already been collected in trade paperback form, but this issue is as good a place as any to start off reading this series. All you need to know is that Jingle Belle is the rebellious teenaged daughter of Santa Claus and away you go. The stories hold up well even when it's not the holiday season. Dini's tales aren't all Christmas stories, although the pokes at the commercial nature of the holiday and the children's mythology surrounding it are always there.

I read more comics than I could possibly ever review here. Every now and then, something slips past the Pipeline radar that deserved a mention but didn't get one until it was too late. In order to prevent that, I'm reviewing the first issue of CYBERNARY 2.0 right now, even though the book is two or three weeks old by now.

CYBERNARY 2.0 is a six part mini-series from WildStorm comics, based on a character that hasn't been seen in that universe for a while. The last I remember seeing her was in the short-lived SAVANT GARDE series, that was cut so tragically short due to low sales. (It was written by a pre-CrossGen Barbara Kesel and drawn by the highly underrated and much-missed-in-comics Ryan Odagawa.)

This first issue introduces us to a new cybernetically-enhanced female Cynerbary, in the wake of post-destruction Gamorra Island. (You may remember it as the island that THE AUTHORITY crashed their ship into.) Writer Joseph Harris clues you in to everything you need to know about the story as you go along. The flashbacks and exposition are blended neatly into the script, without overwhelming it. The issue isn't terribly plot-heavy. It serves well to set things up for the next five issues and give us a glimpse of the type of story this will be.

Cybernary is the daughter of the late leader of Gamorra, Kaizen Gamorra. She's about to be a pawn in a larger scheme to revitalize her country and distribute power to a strong underground force. How will she react to this, and how will she be brought into it? That's what the rest of the series is about.

Eric Canete draws the issue with the inks of Juan Vlasco. Canete hasn't been seen much since he did the short-lived MISTER MAJESTIC series with Joe Casey after Ed McGuinness' departure. He followed McGuinness to the Superman family for one fill-in issue. (While I thought it looked great, a lot of the Superman traditionalists were less enthused by Canete's angular style.) He also did a beautiful prestige format Ladytron one shot with Joe Casey that was beautiful to look at.

His sense of design is fully evident here, with a number of wonderfully detailed architectural bits of business and busy backgrounds. His characters may sometimes look a little awkward or stiff, but that's a part of his art style. He's got the design sense and the technical wherewithal to be the artist on a great looking Humanoids-style album. I would love to see his renderings on a larger size paper. For now, I'll have to settle with the next five issues of the series.

[Detective Comics #761]Perhaps my favorite book from last week was DETECTIVE COMICS #761. I think it's the strongest of the main lineup of Batman titles right now, with Greg Rucka writing and Shawn Martinbrough penciling. I love the limited-color style of the book. This month it's a purple and red with grey setup. Have to give WildStorm/FX credit for being able to make it work and the whole DC Batman Editorial team credit for sticking with it, even under some intense pressure from ignoramuses who believe that they're being cheated by paying full price for a book with only two colors. It's as ridiculous and small-minded as those who would complain that the animated-style books are cheating them because the inkers aren't crosshatching.

Rucka is starting to really look comfortable with writing comics. I say this because he's starting to experiment more and more with the forms his stories take. It's not all linear straight ahead panel-to-panel storytelling. This issue features two predominant storylines with one other subplot brewing alongside. Rucka brings them all together in a story titled "In Thirty Days." The issue takes place over the course of a month, as Batman tests Sasha's abilities to join the Bat team, and internal affairs conducts an investigation of the Gotham P.D. Rucka and Martinbrough work together beautifully to move the story along. The focus shifts seamlessly from page to page as it needs to. Sasha's training in the Bat Cave is shown on one third of most pages while the investigation into the police department takes the form of a more traditional multi-panelled page on the other two-thirds. The two plots weave nicely about until the end, which delivers with a nice twist and a trail that leads slightly farther back than you may have expected.

The relationship between Sasha and Bruce Wayne is also developing nicely. Now that she's in on the secret, she's having a difficult time coping with the millionaire playboy routine, while craving more of the Dark Knight action. (Wow, I didn't mean for that to sound so dirty...)

As if that wasn't enough, Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke's SLAM BRADLEY backup feature continues. It's eight more pages forming the penultimate chapter introducing the new CATWOMAN comic book. Everything fits well together here, from Cooke's tireless page designs to Sean Konot's moody lettering and Matt Hollingsworth's dark colors. I think the CATWOMAN book, judging by the previes I've seen, could turn out to be the surprise hit book of the year. We'll see soon enough, though.

SHADES OF BLUE #3 is now out from Amp Comics. I reviewed the first issue a couple of months ago. I thought it had an interesting story possibility, but that the art was so considerably lacking that it distracted terribly from the story.

Now, new penciller Cal Slayton has joined the writing team of Jim Harris and Rachel Nacion and things are looking up. Slayton's artwork is very cartoony, but doesn't try to be anything else. He gets the story done, complete with a small smattering of backgrounds. His characters may look stiff at times, but they are consistent and easy to tell apart. His storytelling is limited right now only by some lack of ambition to do more backgrounds and more complicated shots. He manages to work around that quite well in the meantime.

The story in the third issue centers on Heidi and her life at school. It's very honest and true to the experiences of many high school students, as I recall, complete with sarcastic comments and pessimistic views of everyone around her. It's the dialogue that shines throughout the issue, though it isn't as strong as Daniel Clowes' GHOST WORLD characters. This dialogue feels as though it's trying a little bit harder to sound right, but coming up short.

Overall, the book is a lot of fun, with a lot of entertainment value, and art that is definitely worth a look now. The writing side of the creative team, from what I understand, will be at WizardWorld this weekend. Stop by and give their stuff a look.

Trevor McCarthy begins his run as regular artist on NIGHTWING with that title's 60th issue. It's better than I expected. After runs by Scott McDaniel and Greg Land, McCarthy has a lot to live up to. He's not nearly there yet, but this first effort indicates that he might have what it takes to grow into the role. McCarthy's style is much closer to McDaniel's than it is Land's. It looks slightly more manga influenced, but it's a far cry from J. Scott Campbell or Joe Madureira.

He's particularly good at the costumed crime fighting. His weakness comes in drawing civilians, where sometimes the heads and necks look a bit off-kilter. Dick Grayson can sometimes appear a little too Asian, and heads often look too small perched atop long necks. On the other hand, McCarthy does a good deal of work with facial expressions and keeps things interesting to look at, in general.

Dixon's story, in the meantime, is a good one of expectations and detection, as Grayson gets knocked down a peg or two and is introduced to his future on the police force. The bulk of this issue is spent with Dick in civilian clothes. Only the opening bit has any real action. The rest is a day in the life of a Bludhaven cop and how he can be tested from within. It's a good introduction to what promises to be a fruitful chapter in Grayson's crime-fighting career.

A PAIR OF ODDS AND ENDS

First of all, a bit of a correction to something from last Friday's column. I mentioned the disappointment that GLORY #0 was from Awesome Press. I characterized it mistakenly as coming during one of Awesome's bankruptcy periods. The record should show that neither Awesome nor any of Rob Liefeld's publishing permutations ever went bankrupt. An investor pulled out once, and a marketplace softened. But Awesome, itself, was never financially bankrupt.

Secondly, America West -- the official most reviled airline of the Pipeline staff of one -- is at it again. Special thanks to Russell Smith and John Mason who forwarded along the actual news articles. I saw it on television one night, but being able to quote ABCNews.com is a lot easier:

Aug. 5 - Eleven-year-old Krista Spears and her 8-year-old sister Sierra were on their way home to California after visiting their father in Texas when America West employees put the children on the wrong plane leaving them at the wrong airport.

It's the third time in less than a month that the airline misplaced children. The sisters, traveling alone, were meant to catch a connecting flight in Phoenix to their final destination of Lindbergh Field in San Diego. They ended up at Ontario International Airport, 100 miles northwest of San Diego.

[...]

On July 14 the airline made the same mistake when an 11-year-old girl flying by herself from Los Angeles to Detroit crisscrossed the country for 18 hours.

A week later, a 10-year-old San Diego was put on a later connecting flight after his original flight to Ohio was canceled, but the airline failed to inform his father of the more than five-hour delay.

America West announced that after Sept. 10, it will only carry unaccompanied young children on nonstop flights.

Better late than never, I suppose. Thankfully, I'm flying another carrier to Chicago this weekend.

Don't forget to stop back tomorrow and Sunday for looks at WizardWorld from within. I'll be a back again after that on Monday with more con wrap-ups and a smattering of pictures from it. Stay tuned...

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 250 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.

This year, you can still catch me at WizardWorld in Chicago this weekend and at the Small Press Expo in Maryland this September.

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