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Tue, July 29th, 2008 at 3:04pm PDT | Updated: July 29th, 2008 at 4:04pm

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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SAN DIEGO 2008 NOTES

While so many of you were gathered together at the San Diego Convention Center over the weekend, I painted the new Pipeline World Head Quarters. And painted. And painted.

I missed a spot. So I painted that again, too.

We all have painting war stories, though, so I won't bother you with mine. But, really, why do people insist on painting over electrical outlets? Did they just forget their medication? Do they like face plates stuck to the walls?

In any case, I took sporadic breaks to keep up with the news out of Comic-Con International San Diego. There was an awful lot of it to digest, as always, and more still coming out. Some of those panels likely won't see write-ups until later in the week. For now, though, here are my thoughts on the news I've read so far:

"Parker" Art by Darwyn Cooke
  • Darwyn Cooke doing crime noir detective thriller original graphic novels? Count me in.
  • The announcement from Marvel of "X Infernus" probably explains the premiere edition hardcover collection of "Magik: Storm and Illyana" that's coming up, don't you think? Neither Marvel nor DC do things willy-nilly. There are publishing plans in place. We need to carefully consider the next oddball premiere edition hardcover that Marvel announces. It might offer a clue to the next not-yet-announced event.
  • Hey, wasn't S'ym in that original "Inferno" crossover? Will he be back, or do we have to settle for a new character named "Gerh'rd" this time? (Thanks to the three of you who got that joke.)
  • There is no better choice to write a comic based on "The Incredibles" than Mark Waid. Period. As we approach a year since his death now, wouldn't Mike Wieringo have been an awesome artist for the book? Imagine a reunion of the "Fantastic Four" team on a comic that's an awful lot like the Fantastic Four. Now I'm sad.
  • The news that Geoff Johns is dedicating himself to bringing "The Flash" back to its former glory gives me the first hope for the title in a long while, shy of that one Mark Waid misfire.
  • Kevin Smith is returning to write a DC mini-series. DC is just troll-baiting with this announcement, right? It's too easy a punch line to write. That said, I liked the concept of a comic book character whose power really would be impossible to stage in another medium.
  • I don't hold out much hope for all the "animated comics" all the companies suddenly want to put on-line. But, then, they're not aimed at me. They're for the "civilians." If it brings them in, then let's make more.
  • I have an idea for thinning out the Hollywood herd. Comic-Con International should only allow presentations and displays done in connection with comic books. Unless the movie has a comic book license associated with it, it can't come to San Diego. On the other hand, Hollywood has a relatively cheap workaround for this. They can buy licenses to nearly-unrelated comics just to have that piece of paper to present their trailer in Hall H. Hollywood made "I, Robot" without really referencing the Asmiov book, after all. On the bright side, it's more money for comic creators. And I bet you'd see more creators getting paid to do comic adaptations of films -- likely through WildStorm.
  • That last bullet point so did not solve the problem, did it?
  • The biggest news from the convention for me is Devil's Due grabbing the Humanoids license. At last, there's a chance to see translated editions of those European albums here in America again. They're doing the smart thing in leading off with books done by American creators, including "I Am Legion," with art by John Cassaday. The second part of that story never saw print in America, after DC printed the first.

    The second release will be "The Zombies That Ate the World." I got a copy of this in San Diego a few years back, and translated it from the French myself to read it. It's a fun sick little book, with beautiful Guy Davis artwork. The crazy thing about it is, I just picked it off the bookshelf at random a couple of weeks ago to flip through. Nice timing.

    Oddly enough, they're also planning on serializing "Olympus," the album put together by Geoff Johns and Butch Guice. That's already been printed here in the States in its entirety by DC. I don't think it sold very well, so perhaps using Johns' current star power will pull more people to the line of comics.

    As excited as I am about this, I'm worried that the format will kill it again. Serializing an album into two or three monthly comics isn't a bad idea. Reprinting the Eurocomic pages in the shrunken American format, though, could kill it. I hope the eventual collected editions are done up right, in the full size European album format. (Hardcovers would be a nice bonus.) My fingers are crossed.
  • "Image United" sounds like a neat concept for Robert Kirkman to work with the rest of his Image partners, but I get the feeling the novelty will wear off quickly. It's more of a publishing stunt than a publishing event, but we'll see. I'm rooting for him to prove me wrong here. Besides, anything that gets Todd McFarlane to the drawing table is a good thing.

    All of my speculation in last week's column about possible digital delivery from Image Comics was for naught. It was a fun exercise, but an awful prediction.
  • Amongst my notes for future Pipeline installments is "Whatever Happened to Frank Cho?" I was all set to run with that a couple of weeks ago when he popped up with a controversial Hulk cover. Now, thanks to the "Ultimate Universe Must Die!" panel, we know he's exclusive to Marvel and working on a new "Ultimates" series with Jeph Loeb.
    I'm just glad "Ultimate Spider-Man" isn't canceled. The rest is gravy.
  • All of the blog posts I've read and other con reports about even mundane panels having packed standing-room-only crowds scares me. Sometimes, I'm happy that I stayed on the east coast. Those moments are rare and fleeting, though. I'd much rather be at the convention center.
  • This might sound small of me, but I'm happy to hear about mainstream press people not getting access to panel rooms. It's their people who've caused all the traffic nightmares and over-attendance and general Hollywood-ification of Comic-Con. I love seeing it bite them in the butt.
MODERN MASTER SUGGESTIONS

I'm a big fan of TwoMorrows' "Modern Masters" book series -- book-length interviews with current artists. I've only read about half of them, but the other half are perpetually staring at me from the bookshelf, begging to be read. ("Please sit down, Mr. Cho. I'll get to you. I promise.")

It's been a strong lineup of artists, too, including the likes of Alan Davis, Walter Simonson, Mike Wieringo, Art Adams, Kevin Maguire, Frank Cho, Charles Vess, John Byrne, and many more.

In a recent TwoMorrows podcast (episode #10), the series creator and editor, Eric Nolen-Weathington, mentioned that he has creators lined up basically through next year. He also mentioned that some artists he'd like to line up for the series haven't worked out due to competing projects or a lack of interest. That's too bad, but understandable.

Still, let's play a little game. Who would you like to see featured in a "Modern Masters" edition? Obviously, they have to be alive and available for an interview. For the sake of narrowing it down a little bit, let's only include artists who have been published for at least ten years. Who does that leave us?

It leaves us an awful lot of artists. Many of the names, to be sure, have fallen under that Competing Project/Don't Wanna umbrella. But my first pass at this list includes Mark Bagley, Colleen Doran, Tom Grummett, Butch Guice, Gene Ha, Tony Harris, Brian Hitch, Adam Hughes, Dan Jurgens, Leonard Kirk, both of the Kubert Brothers, Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rick Leonardi, Steve Lieber, Todd McFarlane, Todd Nauck, Sean Phillips, Joe Quesada, Darick Robertson, and Stan Sakai. Admittedly, many would disagree with the word "Master" for a few of the names in that list. I still think they'd make for great interviews without sullying the name of the series.

Who am I missing?

RANDOM REMEMBRANCES (PART THREE IN A SERIES)

It's been a little while, but let's take another look at the spreadsheet charting 15 years of my comics collection. It's part nostalgia, part comics oddities.

When sorted by issue number, the first 39 rows are for comics with issue numbers less than 1. Some of them might be cheats. I numbered the individual "Deathmate" issues as #0s, even though they're technically colors and not issue numbers. (Here's the answer to that trivia question for you: Black, Blue, Yellow, and a "prologue.")

I have two different #0 issues for "Gen13."

DC's "Zero Hour" event has an impact on this, of course, with titles such as "Aquaman," "Batman," "Superman," "Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.," and "The Flash" crossing over. That issue of "The Flash" is often considered a high point of the series. And, lest we forget, "Starman" started with a #0 issue.

Image has a bunch, as you might have guessed. That includes the "Please Forget It Exists" "Lili" #0. But it also has mainstays of the Image Universe "ShadowHawk," "The Savage Dragon," "Youngblood," and "CyberForce." That was a special month of solicitations for them, as I recall. "Desperate Times," "Hunter Killer," "Supreme," "and "Invincible" did it on their own.

"The Maxx" and "Astro City" enter the list with 1/2 issues.

I only have two Marvel books listed with #0s: "Ultimate Vision" and "Generation X."

Wait, didn't Marvel do a month of -1 issues? Where did those go to? I wonder if the spreadsheet sorted them in some weird way.

Superman has crossed over with a lot of non-DCU characters over the years, hasn't he? I count books co-starring Gen13, Bugs Bunny, The Savage Dragon, and Tarzan amongst that group.

I think Batman leads the way for most self-contained mini-series. It's an enormous list, including subtitles like "The Ankh," "Harley and Ivy," "Tenses," and "Death and the Maidens."

Has anyone read "Just Imagine Stan Lee's Crisis" lately? Does it bear any resemblance to "Final Crisis," do you think? Might Morrison be channeling Stanley Martin Lieber? The two appeared together on a panel in San Diego this weekend. I doubt this topic came up.

I have three different comics titled "Captain America #29." Remarkable. All came out since the year 2000. And we wonder why so few new titles make it to issue #100 these days. . .

I bought five issues of "Justice League Europe" at four different comic book stores, three of which are no longer in business. It might be four, though. I'm not sure if that comic shop in The Bergen Mall is still open or not. Anyone shop there? As the mall is being renovated and "upgraded," I fear that such a mom-and-pop shop doesn't stand a chance anymore, if it is still around.

Jae Lee is busy working on Stephen King's projects now for Marvel, but he's done some other interesting books, such as John Byrne's "Namor" and a couple of mini-series: "Hulk/Thing: Hard Knocks" and "WildC.A.T.s Trilogy."

Mike Kunkel's "Herobear and the Kid" debuted at the 2000 San Diego Comic-Con. The fifth issue of that mini-series came out in November 2002, almost a full year after the fourth issue. Mike Kunkel's "Billy Batson and the Power of Shazam!" is on a monthly schedule. Once again, I am forced to cross my fingers...

"Superman Adventures" is the only Superman book I've ever lasted more than thirty continuous issues in a row buying in the course of this spreadsheet. I think there might be a slightly longer run from just before that time frame.

Books with #1 issues that I'd like to see #2 issues of:

  • "Avengers" #1.5: This one is a cheat, but any excuse to have Bruce Timm doing an Avengers comic is fine by me.
  • "Batman: The Ten Cent Adventure:" The world needs more cheaper comics, right?
  • "Bone 10th Anniversary Edition": Originally published in 2001, I'd like to see a second issue in 2011, with a Smiley Bone PVC figure attached.
  • "Danger Girl 3-D Special": More 3-D!
  • "Dead-Pool and Widdle Wade": Too cute for words. I need to show off some scans from that issue sometime.
  • "Dream Police:" I know, I'm one of the only three people who enjoyed JMS' one shot.
  • "I Am Legion": Devil's Due will be getting to this in 2009, it looks like. Wishes do come true!
  • "Lisa Comics": Eisner Award nominee and everything.
  • "Splitting Image": I'm still ticked off we didn't see that 3-D issue published.
  • "The March Hare": Keith Giffen creator-owned comic. "A List Comics" printed the first issue in 1999, then nothing followed it.
  • "Titans of Finance" from Alternative Comics. I think there's plenty of material since this book's original 2001 publication date for a second issue, don't you? Google/Yahoo could fill a six issue mini-series at this point, though it hasn't had an ending yet, and likely won't for years.
THAT PESKY PODCAST FOR 23 JULY 2008

In case you missed it last week, it's not too late. All episodes of The Pipeline Podcast are archived for your listening pleasure. Last week's episode (16 minutes, 4 MB) for new comics released on Wednesday, July 23rd is no exception.

Here's what the top ten list looked like:

10. "Flight" GN Vol 05
9. "Comic Book Tattoo" HC
8. "Modern Masters" SC Vol 18 John Romita Jr
7. "War Heroes" #1 (Of 6)
6. "Mini Marvels" TP Vol 01 "Rock Paper Scissors" Digest
5. "Liberty Comics A CBLDF Benefit Book" (One Shot)
4. "Uncanny X-Men" #500
3. "Glamourpuss" #2
2. "Ambush Bug Year None" #1 (of 6)
1. "American Flagg Definitive Collection" HC Vol 01

The "American Flagg" hardcover looks great and printed beautifully. It's well worth the wait.

Quite the list, don't you think? The publishers really wanted stuff out in time for San Diego. And how nice of them to publish a "Modern Masters" edition just as I was thinking about the series (see above). Great timing all around!

Next week: If there's any comic book news next week, we should discuss it.

It's a great week for DVD releases, with "Tiny Toons" and "Freakazoid" finally showing up on the silver platters. The Various and Sundry blog covers that and more. There have been a lot of link dumps lately, as that's all time has allowed. But there's lots of interesting links in there I think you might like.

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

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