Pipeline

Tue, July 8th, 2008 at 2:38pm PDT | Updated: July 8th, 2008 at 2:42pm

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

IF WORLD WAR II WENT TO GROUND

"Storming Paradise" #1, on sale now

"Storming Paradise" is Chuck Dixon and Butch Guice's alternate history tale of World War II. It starts off with a bang, as a mistaken decimal point leads to an unsuccessful nuclear blast that kills the scientists responsible for it. With that option no longer on the table, the American government and military commanders green light their back-up plan: a land invasion of Japan.

I've never seriously studied World War II, not even in college. We had the most basic overview of the war whenever we got to it. I'm likely missing half of the references in this issue because of that. The book seems firmly planted in its time and references a great many names and locations without explaining them. It's too early to tell how much that matters to your overall enjoyment of the book. Perhaps a trade paperback edition of this book might include a few text pages in the back explaining some of the background and history used in crafting the story. That might even make it very attractive to libraries looking to buy comics.

This is a six issue mini-series. This first issue is little more than a tease. It's very scattered, as Dixon's script jumps around the world, introducing the main players in the story, but never getting much deeper than two pages of teaser. I'm interested in how this all turns out because the high concept appeals to me, but the first issue doesn't give you much to go on: The troops are mobilizing. Some known names appear. And then it's the end.

Butch Guice's art is pretty, as always. He knows where to draw the line (pun not intended) between photorealistic and Photoshopped. His characters look and act very human. I'm sure there's a great deal of photo referencing going on with his art, but it's not a distraction. Instead, his line work is the star, looking slightly scratchy and all the more interesting for it. The comic has a very cinematic feel to it, with some nicely composed wide angle panels to tell the story. When the action gets going, I'm sure we'll see some spectacular work.

For now, though, the series is mostly tease with some great promise. This is a book aimed at the bookstores and not the direct market. I can't wait to see where it goes, but you might be best advised waiting for the collection next year.

SKETCHES

I promised you a Michael Turner sketch in this week's column, so here you go:

I picked this one up at the Pittsburgh Comic Con of 2002. Turner had just sat down at his table to sketch, so the line wasn't that long. I remember they set up a TV for him in the booth so he could watch an NBA playoff game. I don't remember him paying all that much attention to it, though.

My slightly embarrassing moment related to this sketch: My sketchbook theme was of characters at the South Pole or in the snow. Turner was working on "Fathom" at the time. I had read the first issue, but was otherwise ignorant of the series. I quipped something about how frozen water might not work the best for him. And that's when he pointed out that he had a character based in a frozen kingdom, or something like that. He drew her. He didn't give me a hard time for not knowing that.

I could do an entire column on "awkward creator interactions at conventions." I won't, though, as I don't have the guts to display my occasional lapses in judgment in public like that.

In related news, I won't be doing an autobiographical comic anytime soon. . .

Also in Pittsburgh, Ed Brubaker sketched this:

Kinda portentious, don'tcha think?

IMAGINING ABSOLUTES

Looking at my comics collection spreadsheet I originally talked about last week, I started pondering what "Absolute" editions DC could come out with next. In light of the apparent "Superman For Tomorrow" volume in 2009, what's left?

With books like "Ex Machina" and "Y The Last Man" going into a more "omnibus"-focused route, the pickings are slimmer. Here are some ideas, some of which I think we've discussed in Pipeline before:

"Absolute StormWatch": Collecting the early issues from Warren Ellis and Tom Raney. That's never been in hardcover before.

"Absolute Superman/Batman": Two volumes should collect Jeph Loeb's entire run nicely. The series acted as an artist showcase for the likes of Carlos Pacheco, Michael Turner, and Ed McGuinness.

"Absolute Superman: Birthright": Part of me think the time for this book has passed, but with Leinil Francis Yu getting high-profile assignments at Marvel right now, it could sell.

The one I'd REALLY love, but will never happen:

"Absolute Flash," by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins: I'm not sure how it would work. "Absolute" volumes collect stories with definite beginnings and endings. Kolins' run on the title didn't really have that, I don't think. Still, his art was outstanding in those issues, filled with meticulous background detail that would show up even more nicely on the "Absolute" pages.

"Absolute The Monolith": OK, that's just me and my unnatural love for the artwork of Phil Winslade. It'll never happen.

"Absolute The Spirit by Darwyn Cooke": This one should be a slam dunk for 2009. It's why I haven't bought any collections of the series to date.

"Absolute Justice" by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross. See the "slam dunk" comment above.

"Absolute All Star" Anything: Jim Lee's work is always Absoluted. The "Superman" volume is a little iffier, but I think they'll go for it.

"Absolute Batgirl": I'm thinking about the Scott Peterson/Kelley Puckett/Damion Scott run. The art was nice. The stories were strong. Two volumes should cover it. I think six of us might buy it, though. This is why I'm not employed by DC.

If they'd like to do "Absolute Batgirl: Year One" or "Absolute Robin: Year One," I'd be all over those, too.

"Absolute Top Ten": This is the one that would work the best. Imagine the original 12 issue series with all that beautiful Zander Cannon/Gene Ha art blown up onto larger pages. Imagine sorting through the backgrounds for all the meticulous details, background gags, and characters. It's the best of the ABC line for the format.

Friend of Pipeline Ron Richards pondered this thought last week, too. His "Astro City" idea is pure genius. Lots of suggestions are offered up in the comments thread there, as well.

YOUR FLIES ON THE WALL

A couple weeks back, we talked about the comics situations for which you wished you could be a fly on the wall. iFanboy (them, again) did the honors of polling our suggested situations. Your votes came back with "Grant Morrison Breaks Up With Marvel" as the lead vote getter. "Image Founders Quit" came in second.

I received a few more interesting suggestions via e-mail, and wanted to run them by you now.

Asif S. had three classics:

1. Steve Ditko telling Stan Lee he wanted off Spider-man

2. Kirby telling Stan he was off to DC.

3. Stan telling Kirby that Buscema would be drawing the Silver Surfer monthly.

I would want to add the conversation in which DC told Jack Kirby they were redrawing his Superman faces, but I get the feeling there was no such conversation. Kirby probably found out either through the grapevine, or when the printed comics hit spinner racks.

Dennis F. had a good "fly on the wall" story with Jack and Stan:

It was San Diego Comic Con 1992. Jack Kirby was there and he wasn't autographing books, due to his arthritis. As a friend and I were talking to him, a third friend who was a huge Kirby fan had wondered off. We couldn't find him. We were telling Jack that he would be sad he couldn't meet him, since he couldn't get anything autographed. Now this was not at a booth, we just happened to catch him out milling around.

Jack smiled and said "I wish I could meet your friend. I'll tell you what I can do one autograph, but don't tell."

My friend and I scrambled to find pen and paper. When we returned, Jack was talking to none other than Stan Lee. We overheard the entire exchange and the two patched things up, and let bygones be bygones. Then they shook hands and parted ways. Jack gave our friend his autograph. And he said he was glad he got to talk to Stan. We found out later that was the first time they spoke in years. . . I feel honored I was able to witness such an event. As you know, Kirby passed not long after.

He also suggested being on the wall for Jim Shooter's firing from Valiant. It's a story that Shooter's told before, but it might be interesting to witness it, first hand.

Finally, Rob G. had two suggestions from both ends of the spectrum:

1. Carmine Infantino making the decision to cancel Jack Kirby's "Fourth World" titles, early 70s.

2. Editors at Marvel taking Jim Lee's side in his dispute with Chris Claremont, causing the latter to leave the book after 15+ years, early 90s

That latter suggestion was a formative time in my comics fandom. I'd love to have been on that wall, too.

MULTIMEDIA LINK DUMP

I've been listening to and viewing a lot of podcasts lately. Here are some highlights:

  • Funnybook Babylon looked into the Bill Jemas legacy at Marvel. Ah, those were fun times!
  • Dollarbin.net is hosting the audio of Tom Spurgeon's panels at Heroes Con. I've only listened to the Comics Journalism panel so far, but it's lots of fun for those of us "in the business," as it were. Also, Tom does a great job in guiding the discussion and asking follow-up questions. He does a very good job at being a moderator who can also comment without interrupting the panel, or looking like a buttinski.
  • This year's Wizard World: Chicago comics podcasting panel is now available on-line. I haven't had a chance to listen to this one, but I can't help but link you to it.
  • The iFanboy guys met up with Stan Lee for an hour-long chat at his offices. It’s a very fun hour, and Lee is "on" for it. The man knows how to work a crowd. As a bonus, there are a few interesting questions in there that elicited some fun answer from "The Man" that I hadn't heard before.
  • Fanboy Radio interviewed Todd McFarlane and While Portacio about their upcoming run on "Spawn." While most of it is standard "gosh golly gee, it's great to be working on this comic" kind of stuff you get in most interviews, there are interesting details on Portacio's recovery from health issues a few years back.

    I can't say that I'm excited by "Spawn" just yet, but I will be interested enough in it to check it out.

    That said, the most recent issue of "Spawn" features beautiful interior artwork by Mike Mayhew. It's a one-off story that, honestly, didn't do much for me. I found myself starting to tire of the narration and skimming text, but the art is beautiful. It proves that Mayhew is more than just a covers man.
    • THIS WEEK'S BLOGOSPHERE BLOW UP

      Is Alex Ross to blame for comics today? Or is the argument overblown?

      Slightly related: Pixar agrees that an over reliance on Photoshop and photo referencing is a bad thing. Check out the gag credit at the very end of "Ratatouille:"

      Our Quality Assurance Guarantee:

      100% Genuine Animation!

      No motion capture or any other performance shortcuts

      were used in the production of this film.

      How long before we see serious credits like that in a comic book?

      Off this topic -- but I have nowhere else to put it this week -- here's something I'm sure we'll see happen with one of the comics font foundries eventually: Font Diner is suing Cartoon Network for copying its fonts.

      THE PIPELINE PODCAST FOR 02 JULY 2008

      Here's the top ten list I pondered last week for about 18 minutes:

      10. The comics of IDW (lots of 'em)

      9. Astounding Wolf-Man #7, Brit #7

      8. Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen #2 (of 5)

      7. Complete K Chronicles TP

      6. Savage Dragon #136

      5. Astonishing X-Men #25

      4. Billy Batson And The Magic Of Shazam #1

      3. Jonah Hex #33

      2. Storming Paradise #1

      1. Walking Dead #50

      If you thought Marvel's 30 books a couple of weeks ago was bad, then you must have been impressed by IDW last week. They're a much smaller company and managed to time out just about every comic they make to be delivered to the direct market in one week. There were 14 releases from the small San Diego-based publisher. That included no less than four "Star Trek" comics, two "Doctor Who" titles, two John Byrne-drawn books, a couple of movie licenses, a few TV tie-ins, and a special edition $75 hardcover. Most impressive.

      Special note: New comics this week will be out on Thursday, July 10th. Or maybe Wednesday the 9th. My comic shop insists it's Wednesday. Things I've read on-line would suggest Thursday. I'm sure Diamond will update the date and shipping list officially after I hand this column in.

      If the new releases are out on Thursday, don't look for the podcast until Wednesday night.

      Pipeline returns next week for the 579th week in a row.

      San Diego is coming up later this month, but I'm not going. For the first time in years, I won't be doing daily Pipeline updates for the convention. All the big news will be handled by TMZ and Entertainment Tonight, anyway.

      The Various and Sundry blog chugs on with my very late review of Pixar's "Ratatouille", Link Dumps, Twitter posts, DVD releases, and more randomly chaotic nonsense.

      If you're really interested in what daily news bits grab my attention in the worlds of tech and comics and more, the best way to track is it at the Google Reader Shared Items. Several items are added to that page every day. I'm an RSS feed junkie.

      The only social network I use anymore is Twitter, for all my thoughts 140 characters at a time. People also are finding me on Facebook and Linkedin lately, though. I'm there, just not terribly active.

      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 800 columns -- nearly eleven years' worth -- are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.

TAGS:  pipeline, michael turner, ed brubaker, absolute

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