Pipeline

Tue, October 14th, 2008 at 2:28pm PDT | Updated: October 14th, 2008 at 3:13pm

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist
8

INTRODUCING THE NEWEST ADDITION TO THE PIPELINE FAMILY

Alexandra Erin De Blieck was born on 10/08/08 - indeed, she was delivered on new comic book day. Somewhere, I'm sure 10/08/08 is a magical mystical number. I probably should have bought a lottery ticket or something. While her mother was in labor (for nearly a day), Daddy got some reading time in, but this isn't really the time or place for a "Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller" review, as much as I'd love to talk about it now.

This is about my new daughter, who is by far the cutest future-comics-reader in my family.

Thanks to one and all for your well-wishes. Thanks to those behind the scenes here at CBR who've picked up my slack while I figure out which way is straight again. And thanks to my Twitter friends for keeping me busy in those slower moments in the hospital last week. Free hospital wi-fi rocks!

But not even a baby can stop me from doing this column weekly, so let's get on with the show!

PROPOSING A NEW MODERN MASTERS

I talked about TwoMorrows' "Modern Masters" series of books a lot this summer. But how cool would a "Modern Masters" for writers be? It would be even more of a textual interview book. The art wouldn't be front and center. To that end, the larger pages wouldn't be necessary. It would necessitate a format change. Put it more in the format of a standard mass market trade paperback, or Dark Horse's collections of "Playboy" interviews, or the "Powers Script Book," or "The Comics Journal" compilation of writer interviews. You can do spot illustrations with that format. Throw a cover or two in at the top of each chapter discussing each series. Include a script at the end of the book, for a writing sample. Include a bibliography. Make it as much a reference as a long interview.

Writers would have to have been around the industry for at least 10 years and written at least 150 comics in that time. Should be easy. Think of it as those long "The Comics Journal" interviews, but focused more on superhero writers, I suppose.

The first name that comes to mind for this series is Fabian Nicieza. I know that many will say he's not quite a "master," but it would be a heck of an interesting interview. He's edited, packaged, and written comics for all audiences. He came up through Marvel in the 1980s, he thrived in the boom years of the early 1990s and has some crazy stories from it. He headed up a line of comics. And I've always had a soft spot for his writing. I don't know how you could possibly cover everything he's written in less than 200 pages, though.

I'm not going to go through a list of obvious names here, or ask for your suggestions on this one. I don't want to put any carts before any horses. I just wonder if it's something people would enjoy, given all the talk lately about how the writers are carrying and selling comics these days. Or is it the art that carries the current "Modern Masters" books to a degree I hadn't considered?

PREVIEWS FOR DECEMBER 2008 - PART TWO OF TWO

We covered the front half of the catalog last week. Now, let's take a look at the treasures in the last 300 pages or so.

Boom! is nice enough to come out with a hardcover edition of Kathryn and Stuart Immonen's "Never As Bad As You Think" webcomic. It'll be 64 color pages for $15.99. Immonen's art is worth the price, and I'd pick it up based on that alone. I really should sample the webcomic first, but I'm never on the computer enough to delve into all the interesting webcomics I see links to.

"Hero Squared" also returns, with a new three issue mini that promises to be the series finale. Artist Joe Abraham is back with J.M. DeMatteis to wrap things up.

Gee whiz, but Boom! and Dynamite Entertainment are publishing a lot of stuff these days. . .

Disney Press is collecting Sonny Liew's Alice in Wonderland series, "Wonderland," as a 160 page hardcover book. I only ever saw the first issue, but it's some beautiful work and I'd love to grab the rest of it in one fell swoop like this. It'll run you $20.

Call me a geek, but the four page foldout after page 288 of all the "Previews" covers from the past 20 years was a real kick. It looks like my first edition of the magazine was November 1991, but there are a lot of fun memories right down the page. I used to keep all my "Previews" catalogs, but finally gave up on that and tossed three large boxes' full of them a couple years back. These days, I don't keep more than the most recent three or four. It's the only disposable part of my comics collection. Even with the majority of the listings being available on-line, there's still something fun about ripping through those pages in search of something new and exciting.

Fantagraphics' next issue of "The Comics Journal" features an interview with Brian K. Vaughan, talking about "Lost" and the "Y" movie and some comics, too.

Gemstone has a big birthday celebration with "Walt Disney's Comics and Stories" #700. They've blown up the size of the issue to 80 pages, so it'll run you $10 this month.

The Hero Initiative is publishing a compilation drawn from their "The Hulk 100 Project." This time, see the covers featuring the Hulk drawn by J. Scott Campbell, Frank Cho, Joe Quesada, John Cassaday, and a ton more. The 128 pages will run you ten bucks, with proceeds going to the obvious charity.

IDW gets points for merely publishing a title like "Time Management for Anarchists." I don't care about the contents. The title, itself, is a winner. Jim Munroe and Marc Ngui bring it to you.

Pure Imagination Publishing has a second printing of "The Alex Toth Reader." It's a softcover reprinting of 160 pages' worth of Toth's older work for $25. I missed this the first time. I might grab it now.

TokyoPop's entire solicitation runs six pages. Remember not so long ago when it was practically a mini-catalog unto itself?

Page 342 is the fire sale on Virgin Comics. 11 collections are offered as "Stars of the Month." Get them now, before they go Liquid!

In the "Books" section, we have "Brush With Passion: The Art of Dave Stevens Previews Exclusive Slipcased Hardcover" listing. If you read that all in one breath, I salute you. It's 224 full color pages at a 9 inch by 12 inch format for $50. This edition includes 16 pages not seen in the trade paperback version.

"The Diva Code: Miss Piggy on Life, Love, and the 10,000 Idiotic Things Frogs Do." It's $17. I'm not sure I have any opinion on the book, but I loved typing out the title.

And didja know they're doing a Katchoo action figure? She's in the same lineup as a ShadowHawk figure. Crazy.

That's it for this month. With a little luck we might be doing this in podcast form next month. Cross your fingers.

FIVES AND TENS

There was a meme going around the comics blogosphere in the last month or two of various lists, often in fives. I seemed to have missed it, so I'm doing my own now:

10 Comics I Never Finished Reading (to my eternal shame):

  • "Y the Last Man"
  • "Gotham Central"
  • "Starman"
  • Alan Moore's "Swamp Thing"
  • "100 Bullets"
  • "Boneyard"
  • "Asterix"
  • "American Flagg"
  • "The Spectre" (John Ostrander/Tom Mandrake series)
  • Joe Casey's "WildC.A.T.s"

These are all books I followed from the beginning, but never finished reading to their ends for various reasons.

Those first four are getting DC Hardcover reprint editions, all of which I'm planning on picking up. So it's going to happen; I will read those series eventually. They're probably the impetus for this list.

I'm guessing the thrill of Joe Casey's "Wildcats" died once word got out that the book was cancelled and wouldn't be neatly wrapped up. I only missed reading the last two issues of the series, though they're sitting in a long box somewhere.

"Swamp Thing" is a case where I'm missing a trade in the middle of the run and for whatever reason never got it.

I'm working on "Asterix." I only have a half dozen books or so to go. Of all the books on this list, "Asterix" is the one I'm still actively reading as I go.

I've read the first year of "Flagg" and have the second year's worth of issues in a long box somewhere. I should get to those someday. I'm surprised we haven't heard any word yet about a second volume of the series coming out from either Dynamite or Image. Is it a bad sign that they're repackaging the material into smaller trades now? I hope not.

"The Spectre" was one I picked up in back issue bins. I read the first 50 issues very quickly, then missed an issue and held off reading the rest until I filled that hole. Never filled it, never finished reading it. So sad. Come to think of it, this is a series that would well in DC's Omnibus format. It's a solid run of comics from John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake, et. al.

"100 Bullets" and "Boneyard" are both titles I dropped for the trade and then lost momentum on. I think the odds are better of catching up on "Boneyard" than "Bullets" at this point. It's far less convoluted.

Sometimes, book slip through the cracks, for reasons unrelated to their quality. It's tough to discipline yourself to sit down and catch up on an ever-growing stack of unread comics sometimes. Maybe I've just shamed myself in public to start catching up on something.

5 Comics I Wish I Reread Every Year, Just To Remind Me How Glorious Comics Are:

  • "Watchmen"
  • "Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck"
  • "Top Ten" (first series)
  • "The Copybook Tales"
  • "JLA/Avengers"

Yes, that list is purposefully varied. While I am still mostly a superhero reader, it's not the only thing I read.

That said, I tried to come up with just one storyline from one title from either DC or Marvel, before realizing that "JLA/Avengers" could count for both of them, and give me a gloriously huge tapestry to read and absorb. (The Giffen-era "Justice League" was a close runner-up for this list.)

The first time I read "Watchmen," I loved it most for the way it played with the form. I liked the storytelling tricks, the structure, the grandeur of it all. The second and third times I've read it, I've focused more on the story and how Moore creates a whole world from scratch, populates it with a number of characters, and tells a complete generational saga in twelve issues spanning three distinct time frames. It's incredible.

"The Copybook Tales" is a great comic that speaks to me as a child of the 80s.

I've spoken of my love for "Top Ten" recently, and still think it's one of the most creative and dense superhero reads of the last decade.

And "Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck" is just the pinnacle of Don Rosa's body of work in adventure stories. He's done some great individual comedic tales, but this one is his masterpiece.

5 Things I Newly Remembered or Realized from Reorganizing Comics

  • Marvel Epic's "Troubled" had photo covers.
  • A box of CrossGen Comics can be used to kill small woodland creatures. Actually, with a properly set trap, you could clobber a moose with one.
  • With comics off the newsstand now, Marvel and DC don't print those colored bars at the top of their pages anymore. That's a big plus for full-bleed pages.
  • A comic here, a comic there. Pretty soon, you're up to 10,000 of them with nowhere left to put 'em.
  • No, I won't reread most of them. The ones I'll want to reread tomorrow are the ones I'll have decided yesterday to get rid of.

5 Absolute-style Hardcovers I Want to Buy That Will Never Be Made

  • "SuperPatriot" by Dave Johnson
  • "The Freak Force" Omnibus
  • "The Complete Gatecrasher"
  • "JLA: The Nail" 1 and 2
  • "The Alan Davis Omnibus"

Dave Johnson's original "SuperPatriot" mini-series was glorious. I'd love to see it again in an even larger format. I think adding the two follow-up mini-series to the collection would be nice, too, if the page count needs fleshing out.

I'm never getting a "Freak Force" trade paperback or phonebook, but I keep dreaming.

"Gatecrasher" deserves a new reading and review, I think. It's a lost piece of greatness from Mark Waid's bibliography, with Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. It was a fun and good looking book that didn't last terribly long. It came out through Wizard's failed publishing arm, "Black Bull."

With Dynamite now handling "Just a Pilgrim" -- Garth Ennis' Black Bull title -- can it be possible for "Gatecrasher" to find a new home, as well? Paging Boom!. . .

"The Alan Davis Omnibus" would collect his recent mini-series from Marvel. Think "Killraven," "Fantastic Four: The End," and "ClanDestine." Marketing wouldn't have a clue how to sell it, but die-hard Davis fans would kill to see all that work on larger page sizes.

That's the same reason for the inclusion of "The Nail" on the list, though it would be a lot easier to market.

5 Graphic Novels I'm Supposed to Have Read, but Haven't

  • "Black Hole"
  • "Blankets"
  • "Box Office Poison"
  • "Maus"
  • "Torso"

"Torso" is the last of Bendis' original black and white crime books that I haven't read. I bought it fairly early on, but never opened it up. Someday. . . I mean, I've read "Fire" but not "Torso"?!? What's wrong with me?

I own three of those five books, so there's hope for me, at least.

5 Mini-series I'd Like to See a Sequel For

  • Area 52
  • Daisy Kutter: The Last Train
  • Deadline
  • My Monkey's Name is Jennifer
  • Suicide Squad

"Area 52" was a fun and overlooked Image mini-series from 2001, featuring early art from Marvel mainstay, Clayton Henry. Written by Brian Haberlin.

"Deadline" came out a year later, from the mind of Bill Rosemann and art of Guy Davis. So pretty, and so much fun. I'm not sure if there was ever a trade paperback or not, but it's still well worth reading for Marvel fans. Now that Rosemann is back at Marvel, maybe he can do a sequel. I just don't know if shooting Kat Farrell into Space to interview Nova is really the way to go, though. (Rosemann edits those books, you see. . . )

I don't know where sales were on the recent "Suicide Squad" mini-series, but I thought the quality of it was high enough to justify another run at it.

Pipeline returns next week, with talk of comic auctions, a digital comics initiative I'd pay good money for that will never happen, an open letter to Marvel, and an old favorite that's found new life.

The Various and Sundry blog is updating slowly for the month of October. Just thought I'd warn you.

My Twitter stream is now a New Daddy stream of poop reports. I'm sorry. But some people find it funny.

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.

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TAGS:  baby, twomorrows, modern masters, freak force, don rosa

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