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Wed, September 3rd, 2008 at 1:32pm PDT | Updated: September 5th, 2008 at 12:25am

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

PAYING SOME RESPECT

Though I gave them a bit of a hard time in last week's column, I really do enjoy the work that the "Webcomics Weekly" gang does. I've been a listener to the podcast since Day One, and I've read all of their comics at various times. "How To Make Webcomics" is a great reference for wannabe web cartoonists, though much of it is common sense, or stuff you've already heard them talk about on the show. On the other hand, not everyone listens to the podcast, and not everyone is gifted with common sense. (Have you ever been behind someone who can't figure out the Self Checkout line at a Home Depot or a supermarket? Point gun at UPC label. Repeat. Duh.) In any case, it's a valuable thing to have the accumulated wisdom compiled into one place like that book.

Above and beyond that, though, I respect them for what they do and how they do it. They're all entrepreneurs. They're all living their dreams. They're all working from home or their own office. They're not selling their souls on a daily basis to become automatons at some gigantic corporate entity to score a paycheck and watch their lives waste away. I don't mean it to sound quite so romantic; every dream has elements of nightmares to it, whether it's the classic freelancer issues of not getting paid by unreliable clients or not landing the next gig as quickly as possible. There's always the inherent self-doubt that the four cartoonists have discussed on the podcast before. And there's the uncertainty of what the future may hold. It's enough to drive you mad. But to create something of your own, run your own business around it, and set your own schedule? That's a beautiful thing to me. It's something I always aspired to, but something that was never quite so safe as selling my soul to corporate America. In the end, I'm a wuss. They're the smart motivated creators. And I admire the heck out of them for that.

NOBLE CAUSES: HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

At the Pittsburgh Comic-Con of 2001 Jay Faerber showed off his new upcoming project, "Noble Causes." Problem was, the book wasn't due out for months yet. So his artists put together a couple promo pages that they happily signed for one and all who stopped by the table. I even got Patrick Gleason to do up a Zephyr sketch in my sketchbook at the time. But now, eight years later, I came across those promo pages again. They're photocopied flyers, basically, though on heavier stock that simple copy paper. It's interesting to see how it all began sometimes. I can make out Gleason's autograph on the one sheet, but have no idea who the other names are. That might be original artist Billy Dallas Patton in there. Also, that NoblesWatch.com website on the flier isn't running anymore. Go to Jay Faerber's website for more on the series today.

NINE YEARS AGO

It was the first week of September 1999 that I bought these titles at the local comic shop: "Birds of Prey" #11: I wanted to make some comment about the glory days of this title and Greg Land's art, but then I noticed that Dick Giordano did the artistic honors for this story arc. Nothing against Giordano, but I was hoping to talk about the regular artistic team on the series. Oh, well. Still, it was a fun time for the satellite books in the DC Universe. I bought an issue of "Batman: Gotham Adventures" this same week with art by Craig Rousseau, and Chuck Dixon was still busy with "Robin" and "Nightwing." Those were, indeed, good times.

"Divine Right: The Misadventures of Max Faraday" #11: It's the forgotten Jim Lee title, isn't it? It didn't do very well, though I'm sure the issues with Gen13 characters on the cover did better than the others. Lee's art wasn't as crisp or as detailed through this series as it had been in "WildC.A.T.s" and even "Uncanny X-Men." While set firmly in the Wildstorm Universe (complete with John Lynch performing his usual Nick Fury-like duties), it couldn't attract the sizable audience that you'd think a book like this should, given that Lee was drawing it. The one good thing about that lack of attention is that I was able to buy a page of original Jim Lee art for fairly cheap from this series. The rest of his stuff is in the hundreds of dollars range. I got mine for under $100 -- and it's even from the sideways issue!

"Sam & Twitch" #1: This is the book that introduced a lot of people to the writing of Brian Bendis. If memory serves, this was right after Bendis won an Eisner for "Talent Most Deserving of Wider Recognition" the year that CBR's own Jonah Weiland was a judge. Jonah talked me into giving Bendis a shot, and I bought most all of the black and white trades from Bendis at a con appearance in New York City around this time. I'm not sure what order all those events happened in, but it was a good time. I had a lot of good reading in my hands there.

"The Uncanny X-Men" #374: This would be a good time to fess up that I confused my Kubert Bros. the last time I did this list. It was Adam coming on to start a run on adjectiveless "X-Men," not Andy. Tom Raney drew this issue, though. Jimmy Cheung drew one an issue or two later.

"Tom Strong" #4: We were just talking about the America's Best Comics titles on the podcast last week, as DC came out with a $5 sampler including the first issue of several ABC titles, including "Tom Strong." Still, you can't go wrong with a title featuring talking simians, robot pals, and Chris Sprouse's art.

"Wildcats" #5: Remember how Travis Charest returned to "Wildcats" and didn't last very long at all? This is right after that. Scott Lobdell and Joe Casey co-wrote the issue, which featured art by Bryan Hitch. I forgot he ever drew this book. Speaking of artists I forgot about who worked on this series: Issue #7 was done by the late Carlos Meglia. Joe Casey and Sean Phillips began their great run with issue #8.

"Young Justice" #14: This was part of the "Day of Judgment" crossover. Nope, I couldn't remember that one, either. Peter David and Todd Nauck lasted over 50 issues together on the book, and it's a memorably fun run. A year later in the first week of September, "WildC.A.T.s" was up to issue 15. "Sam & Twitch" moved ahead 13 issues. "Young Justice" came in at 11. Others that had new issues exactly a year later were all exactly 12 issues ahead. Maybe the Big Two's publishing plans aren't as slippery as we think of them? Or maybe 1999/2000 was just a very good year.

CORRECTIONS AND UPDATES AND QUICK THOUGHTS

* The "Guess the Artist" blog I mentioned in last week's column comes from Ferret Press. It's still running to this day, and I just spent a lot of time perusing the recent archives to catch all the pages I had missed. Special thanks to Chad L. for pointing the way to FerretPress.com/weblog.

* A couple of weeks ago, I said that DC should put out a "Spirit" trade paperback to go along with the movie. Those $50 hardcovers are not going to sell to casual movie fans, no matter how the movie turns out. Turns out, they've already published a "Best of Spirit" collection in 2005, and it's in my library! Whoops. Neil Gaiman wrote the introduction for the book, which features 22 classic stories by Will Eisner. Maybe we'll see a second printing of the book in the next "Previews," which will cover December 2008's publications.

* Not too long ago, I predicted a $3.99 price point for comics by the end of the year. It hasn't happened yet, though we do have one more round of solicitations to go. Marvel gave us all a scare last month, when they announced several of their October titles would be $3.99, but with extra pages. That's not the new format, so don't be alarmed. I asked Marvel about this and confirmed that they are "committed to the $2.99 price point."

* I really enjoyed the latest issue of "Wolverine." I hope you did, too. I hope it's something you want to go back to and read over and over again, particularly since the next issue isn't coming out until November. I have no problem with that, so long as Steve McNiven keeps up this art style. It's beautiful. "Wolverine" 68 is also proof that Marvel doesn't use the Comics Code Authority anymore. That many penetrating wounds would never pass muster.

* So DC is doing "Omnibus" presentations of "Y The Last Man," "Ex Machina," and "Starman" at the moment. Is "100 Bullets" the easy lock to get the treatment next?

PIPELINE PODCAST FOR 27 AUGUST 2008

It was a mammoth week last week. It looks like everyone had to meet their profit sheets by month's end, so everything got pushed out the door. Darn you, August, for only having four ship dates! So I made a Top 15 list. You might call this cheating. You might call it an inability to make tough decisions. That's fine by me. It's not like I'm running for office or anything here. The final podcast ran over 24 minutes, and can be yours for the small net neutral price of 15 megabytes or so.

Here's the list:

15. "Brave And The Bold" HC Vol 02 "The Book Of Destiny"
14. "Fear Agent" TP Vol 04 "Hatchet Job"
13. "JLA Deluxe Edition" HC Vol 01
12. "Foundation" TP
11. "Daredevil By Bendis Omnibus" HC Vol 01
10. "Runaways 3" #1
9. "Terry Moore's Echo" TP Vol 01 "Moon Lake"
8. "Wolverine" #68
7. "Final Crisis Rogues Revenge" #2 (of 3)
6. "Mighty Avengers" #17, "New Avengers" #44
5. "Ambush Bug Year None" #2 (of 6)
4. "Guerillas" #1 (of 9)
3. "Suicide Squad: From The Ashes" TP
2. "Ultimate Spider-Man" #125
1. "Family Dynamic" #1 (of 3)

I realized the day after posting the podcast that I made a big mistake. I went on and on, lavishing praise on Stuart Immonen's art for the chase scene through the city of New York in a recent issue of "Ultimate Spider-Man." Unfortunately, I fell into the classic computer programmer's trap of being "off by one." It was really issue #124 of the series. Please mentally go back in and remove all the references to "123" and replace them with "124." Or, if you're a programmer, try this: Pipeline Podcast =~ s/123/124/g; Thanks. I feel much better now.

I've been organizing some comics lately as I set up the new Pipeline World Headquarters. Next week, I'll talk about how things are getting organized on my bookshelf.

The Various and Sundry blog is still up and running. It's my personal blog wherein I talk about everything that isn't comics. That means video games, DVDs, television shows, computers, tech, and general nonsense.

I'm still terribly busy on my Twitter feed of late. It's where all the cool kids are!

The daily news bits that grab my attention in the worlds of tech and comics and more can be found at my Google Reader Shared Items. Several items are added to that page every day. I'm an RSS feed junkie.

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.

TAGS:  noble causes, pipeline

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