Pipeline: Pipeline, Issue #357

Tue, June 22nd, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

PREVIEWED NO MORE!

Because I lost the order book, I didn't include the usual rundown of canceled or resolicited materials in the latest PREVIEWS catalog for June's Pipeline Previews. Since the new catalog comes out this week - and a new Pipeline Previews follows next Friday - I thought it would be a good idea to do the "Previewed No More" right now while I have the newly found book in front of me.

I'll begin with Blue Line Productions, which put SKETCH MAGAZINE #24 on the "Will Resolicit" list. Usually, this means the issues are running late. I'm sure we'll see them eventually. Since this past month's PREVIEWS also includes a cover story on Greg Land with a CrossGen cover, I would imagine the mag is running a bit behind right now. It also means that Blue Line is probably producing more comic material featuring CrossGen characters than CrossGen is this summer.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is running late with their Savage Dragon "F- Censorship" t-shirts. It's far too easy a joke to make about an Image character being late, isn't it? Should that really stop me? Good news, though: The next issue of SAVAGE DRAGON is off to the printers.

CrossGen has canceled most everything, including reprints on a couple of books that just sold out. Their only solicited hardcover book ever, WARRIOR WOMEN AND MYTHIC MEN was one of them. With reports of CrossGen's bankruptcy surfacing this weekend, it's no surprise.

Dark Horse canceled the trade paperback edition of GALACTIC. The Rocket Comics line can't die off fast enough, it would appear.

DC lists 33 sold out volumes. It'll be interesting to see how many of them go to additional printings.

Devil's Due had a GI JOE hardcover in the works. I didn't know about that. It's G.I. JOE Volume 1: REINSTATED. Previews canceled the book, not the publisher. Interesting.

Harper Collins once solicited a book titled HOW TO MAKE LOVE LIKE A PORN STAR. It was, of course, a hard cover. It's been canceled by the publisher. What it was doing in PREVIEWS to begin with is another story all together.

Previews canceled IDW's contribution to Free Comic Book Day. Weird.

The first two issues of LAST STRAW MAN at Image are now solicited as "Will Resolicit." Damn shame. I saw some previews of it at Jim Krueger's table in Philadelphia this year and really like the looks of Brett Weldele's art. Should be a cool book whenever it arrives.

For Marvel, Previews canceled ASTONISHING X-MEN #1 VARIANT EDITION. So there you have it - one less different cover off the streets from Marvel's big event book of the year.

VENOM VS. CARNAGE #2 is listed as "Will Resolicit." That was a quick retreat.

Pipeline Previews returns next Friday, with the books scheduled to ship (mostly) in September. "Previewed No More" will return then, assuming there's anything worth talking about.

NOW I'VE SEEN ALMOST EVERYTHING

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, this Father's Day. As happens in New Jersey on such days, all the classic cars come out to play, cruising up and down the highways between a mix of motorcycles and SUVs carrying their families on weekend excursions. Even in my hometown, there are a few classic cars, including one of the original General Lees from THE DUKES OF HAZZARD.

Batman drives in the slow lane.

But imagine my surprise this weekend when I drove past the 1960s Batmobile on Rte 208 in Wyckoff, NJ. George Barris would be proud.

That's right, Batman drives 50 MPH.

I didn't have my digital camera with me, so I had to rely on the iffy quality my cell phone gave me. Here's my photographic proof that I saw the car. Trust me when I say the sky was a bright blue one that day.

DECOMPRESSED STORYTELLING HAS GONE TOO FAR

My goodness, it's even sucked in Chris Claremont. You people have been berating him for so long for daring to write dialogue-heavy books, that he's finally given in and written decompressed stories. Check out this page from this week's EXCALIBUR #2.

It's three panels and five word balloons. Two characters talk. Content-wise, it's the equivalent of two characters saying hello. Yes, there's characterization in that brief bit of dialogue, to be sure, but is it a full page's worth? Fifteen years ago, this would have been the first two or three panels across the top tier of the page. Today, it's a full page. What a waste.

The lettering is nice, though. I'm sure Tom Orzechowski was grateful for the quick page to turn around.

YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD BE COOL?

"Inside the Actor's Studio" with comic book creators.

I suppose the closest we come to it now is Mark Evanier's panels at San Diego Comic-Con, or some of the lengthier THE COMICS JOURNAL interviews.

I also note in the new COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE (now a magazine) that Heritage Comics has bought up the old Stabur video series of interviews by Stan Lee. They're re-releasing them two and three to a DVD for $15 per. Featured creators include Todd McFarlane, Chris Claremont, Sergio Aragones, John Romita Jr. and Sr., Rob Liefeld, and more. These interviews were all done at the dawn of Image. I haven't watched any of the videos in a long time, but I remember enjoying them at the time. There's nothing on the web site about ordering it, though.

CLOSER OGN

[Closer]Sit back. There is an actual book review coming in a minute.

At the San Diego convention each year, reviewers scour the showroom floor looking for "the next HEROBEAR," which was in turn, "the next BONE." It's that breakout book that they want to share with the world in advance.

On the 'net, in general, we compare everything to WATCHMEN. After all, if you don't aim for the best, why shoot at all? Irony, thy name is comics: When J. Michael Straczynski made a reference to WATCHMEN in describing what he's trying to do with RISING STARS, he came under assault for being presumptuous and the book was attacked for not living up to the promise. After all, it's our duty to make those comparisons and not the creators, no matter how tangential.

I think there's a lot wrong in the attitudes outlined in the previous paragraph. For starters, not every book has to be WATCHMEN, like not every movie has to be CITIZEN KANE. The comparisons -- both serious and comic -- are eerily similar. I say this all to lead up to this point:

CLOSER is not WATCHMEN. It is, however, diverting and entertaining, a solid book that brings an interesting horror/mystery to life in an exciting way. You could almost picture it as a slightly more cerebral episode of HBO's late TALES FROM THE CRYPT, told with actual characterization.

Antony Johnston, Oni's OGN Go-To Guy, writes a story that includes a high concept, interesting characters, a cute Goth lead, and a solid murder mystery with a fantastic twist. The British sense of humor pervades the book, my favorite moment being Gothic Girl's profane reaction to the sight of a large staircase she needs to climb. But there's also a lot about the book that reminds me of Warren Ellis' style of writing. The high concept of the book deals with near-future tech using grounded tech of today. It's just far enough ahead and imaginatively twisted to be fantastic. Merge it with a tight knit group of intellectuals, someone new enough to poke a hole in all of them, and you get either an Isaac Asimov short story or the latest Ellis three issue mini-series.

The story is satisfying and complete. That's all you need. Heck, in the industry today, that puts it ahead of about 90% of the comics made today. I don't need every story I need to be revolutionary. I just want to be entertained. And as someone who's not really a horror fan, I was entertained. Yes, there is some blood in the issue, but this is not a slasher flic or a Rob Zombie comic.

Mike Norton and Leanne Buckley get the art credits and do the story justice. Johnston was smart enough to take the book's size into account while writing the story, and that much is obvious from the art. The pages are made up of four page panels at the deepest. most pages run two or three. This gives the artist space on the page to breath, and Norton and Buckley use it well. It's detailed enough to be interesting, but not distracting. The grey tones and duotones used in the art are very effective. It doesn't look like every other overly Photoshopped black and white independent book that's out there today. It's unique, and sticks out in a good way for it.

CLOSER is an entertaining horror book, with roots in science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. The creators do a good job in hooking the reader and dragging him (or her) through the entire story to the end, throwing in a few good surprises along the way. They perfectly utilize the format of the book, and for that deserve the kudos.

CLOSER is available next week for $14.95 in the digest sized format from Oni Press.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO PIPELINE

I didn't notice it, but a funny thing happened a couple of weeks ago. Pipeline Commentary and Review turned seven years old.

I have no grand pronouncement to make in honor of that. I just felt like marking the moment. Thanks to all of you for however long you've been reading, whether a couple of weeks or since the earliest days on USENET. And thanks to CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland for putting up with me for so long, particularly in San Diego every year.

Can Pipeline run another seven years? It tires me out just to think about it, but I'm sure it will. I never know when to quit.

CORRECTIONS

The artist on SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN this month is Michael Ryan, not David Ryan. Thanks to Russell S. for catching that one. It's what I get for writing a review right after DISTRICT X, a book that almost requires your first name to be "David" to keep your job.

The coloring on GLOBAL FREQUENCY #12 was done by the team of Art and Ellen Lyon, from Gene Ha's ink washes. Special thanks to Scott C. who pointed me to Gene Ha's website, a veritable treasure trove of information. Armed with the website of his original art dealer, I'm afraid I might do some real damage.

Pipeline Commentary and Review returns next Tuesday, and will include a review of AiT/PlanetLar's next release, URSULA. I'm thinking there'll be another ONI OGN reviewed, too. Stay tuned.

Also, don't forget to vote for your Comic Book Idol, either!

Over at Various and Sundry this week, I went on at great length about web browsers. The new version of Firefox came out this week and it's a beauty. I made my decision about not buying a hybrid anytime soon and explained why. Also: The SCHMO blog, upcoming Looney Tunes DVDs, widescreen winning the DVD wars at last, a review of David Mamet's SPARTAN, the Jean Luc Picard DVD set, and some non-DVD stories, too.

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 500 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 or so are also still available at the Original Pipeline page.

I really should add something new here. Do you even read this far down, dear Pipeline reader?

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