Pipeline

Tue, December 23rd, 2008 at 2:28pm PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

NO TOP TEN LIST FOR ME

Given some of the rumblings in the blogosphere these past couple of weeks, I'm content with not doing a Top Ten list. I did one or two in years past, before realizing that the beasts are inherently arbitrary, and that people create and read them on a capricious basis. I switched to "Favorite Ten" list, which seemed more fitting and honest.

There has never been a year when I've been able to read all the comics I'd like. There has certainly never been a year where I've read three quarters of the books that make the "serious" Top Ten lists. How can I declare a "Top Ten" list, when I haven't read the entire pool of potentials?

But you know what? That doesn't bother me. I read what I like. I enjoy comics. I have my gripes and my disappointments and my annoyances and things that I wish would happen but don't. (More European reprints and less mega-crossovers are at the top of that list.) In the end, though, I read a lot of books I want to read, experiment with a few new ones based on word of mouth, discover new favorites, drop books past their prime, and have a good time. No lists are necessary. Comics is an ever-changing thing.

That's how I've managed to write this column for 11 years and collect comics for nearly 20. If it isn't fun, why bother? Why wallow in misery? Why continue to buy a title years after it ceased being any good? Why buy a "serious" comic just because some self-appointed echo room of tastemakers have told you that you're supposed to read it and that you're not a comics fan if you don't?

If comics don't excite you, move on to something else. If you can feel the excitement lagging, try something new. Maybe your tastes are changing. If you're enjoying comics, don't feel guilty because you're not reading what you're "supposed" to be reading.

Life's too short.

Go ahead and look at those Top Ten lists out there. Read the reviews of those titles. If something interests you, give it a shot. But, for heaven's sake, don't think yourself any less a comics reader because you haven't read someone's favorite depressing autobiographical/slice-of-life tomes.

WHAT I HAVEN'T READ

Each week, I add to a running list I keep of graphic novels and collections that I would like to read. These are the books I buy through Amazon when I have the time and money. I've learned in the past couple of years that there's never enough time to read everything, so I don't buy it anymore. That's just wasteful. Now, I buy them as I want to read them or add them to the collection. There's just too much stuff coming out to keep up with it all.

Here, then, is a small sample of the books I haven't yet read completely, but would like to. I've removed from this list the books I've read in other formats but would like to own in hardcover, like "Daredevil: Man Without Fear," for example.

  • "Aetheric Mechanics" OGN
  • "Alex Toth Edge Of Genius TP Vol 2
  • "Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard" SC
  • "Archer & Armstrong First Impressions" HC
  • "Astonishing X-Men" HC Vol 2
  • "Astro City: The Dark Age" HC Book 01
  • "Batman Ego And Other Tails" TP
  • "Camelot 3000" HC (Deluxe Edition)
  • "Flight" GN Vol 05
  • "Freakangels" HC Vol 1
  • "Genext" TP
  • "Green Manor" GN Vol 2 "Inconvenience Of Being Dead"
  • "Kyle Baker Nat Turner" HC
  • "Local" HC
  • "Love And Capes" TP
  • "Sky Doll" Premiere HC
  • "Superman Kryptonite" HC
  • "Teen Titans: Year One" TP
  • "Terry Moores Echo" TP Vol 01: "Moon Lake"
  • "Too Cool To Be Forgotten" HC
  • "Treasury Of 20th Century" Vol 01: "Murder Of Lindbergh Child"
  • "Will Eisner's Expressive Anatomy For Comics" SC

That's not even half of the list. Now do you see why I find Top Ten lists so arbitrary?

Here's my question, then: From that list, which book do you think I should read first? Drop me a line. I might have some gift cards to spen, post-Christmas.

100 BULLETS: ANOTHER IDEA

Alternate idea for a comic with a title of "100 Bullets:" The series focuses on just one protagonist. He is given a briefcase with a gun and 100 untraceable bullets inside. He's a man on the run. There's some overall storyline going on across 100 issues. But the trick here is that he only uses one bullet an issue. Will that be enough to help him evade the mysterious men tracking him down, bring down the corrupt government that's targeting him, avenge his dead wife, and restore his good name? Or something similarly comic book soap opera-esque.

Remember the ticking clock of the power levels in "Spawn?" McFarlane didn't pay it much attention for too long and eventually did away with it, but what if the countdown was the entire point of the series?

Will our new "100 Bullets" protagonist survive? Will his victory be Pyrrhic? Will be succeed?

One of the tricks is to find new ways to make firing one bullet seem fresh and exciting each issue. You can vary up when the bullet is fired. Make it the last panel one month, the first panel the next month. What if the bullet isn't fired, but is used as a distraction? Or maybe the gun is out of site, and our hero lights a fuse on the gun powder he's poured out of the bullet? If a story presents itself that revolves around the threat of a gun going off (Russian roulette, say) but never does, can the protagonist then use two bullets the next month? The monthly comic is an arbitrary limiting agent of the writer, not the character.

I'd read it, at least.

BLASTS FROM THE PAST

After sorting through Warren Ellis' "StormWatch" run last week, I've been flipping through the first eight issues of the original series from 1993-1994. I haven't read the stories, mind you. I've only been enjoying the signs of the time. Let's take a look at some of the prime material in those issues:

From StormWatch #2 (May 1993): I think I had a scan of this back during this column's celebration of Image's tenth anniversary. But it strikes me as especially funny here, given that J. Scott Campbell drew pages for "StormWatch" #0 a few months later. I had forgotten that.

Marvel frowned on the idea of a "GenX" comic from a studio that built its reputation doing X-Books, and so "Gen13" was coined. In the next issue, the new name and logo were used. But here's an early look at the original title logo.

StormWatch #3 (July 1993): Would you hire a colorist who responded to an ad written in purple type on top of an orange-yellow-orange gradient? Would anyone be able to read that ad, to begin with? Perhaps WildStorm needed to hire a designer first?

StormWatch #1 (March 1993):

"Their Love Will End All Time "

It also nearly ended the Direct Market.

I didn't scan in the ads from WildStorm Fine Arts for Steve Dillon "Preacher" pages. The prices were so low (compared to what they're probably worth today) that I'd only depress the comic art collectors in the audience.

But I saved the best for last, though it comes later, with "DV8" #7 in May 1997:

WildStorm beat George Lucas to "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" by more than a decade! Just look at the shape of that alien in the background!

QUICK THOUGHTS

* The Watchmen USENET archives has been found. Revel in the level of comics discussion c. 1987.

Thanks to Ben for passing that along.

* What takes a more twisted mind to understand than a Grant Morrison script? A Dan DiDio interview segment! The whole thing deserves a proper fisking, but I'll just highlight this answer from DiDio, in which he explains why "Batman R.I.P" ended in the Bat title without really ending the story:


But as I said, because we live in the world of collected editions, we needed a conclusion in the Batman series, so that we could collect it properly within Batman, without having to bring in segments of Final Crisis to complete the story.

Ladies and gentlemen, we need to coin a new phrase: "Blame the trade."

When Joe Quesada faulted "The Dark Knight" for having too many endings, I chalked it up as a cross-town rivalry issue. Now I wonder if he wasn't confusing the Batman movie with the Batman comic publishing plan.

PIPELINE PODCAST FOR 17 DECEMBER 2008

I like how this episode came out, complete with two top tens. I couldn't help myself. Here's the gag top ten list the podcast opened with:

10. "Comic Shop News" #1122
9. Dark Knight Joker Poker Set (resolicited)
8. "Wizard Anime Insider" #64 (2009 Preview Cover)
7. "Femforce" #146
6. "Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Guilty Pleasures" TP Vol 2
5. "Tales From The Crypt" HC Vol 5 "Yabba Dabba Voodoo" (Collectors Edition)
4. "Tarot Witch Of The Black Rose" #45 (Signed Edition)
3. "Vincent Price Presents" #4
2. "Betty & Veronica" #239; "Betty & Veronica Digest" #190; "Jughead's Double Digest"
#146
1. "Armageddon Now WWIII" HC

That is quite the motley assortment of releases, don'tcha think?

Here's the more typical stuff:

10. "End League" TP Vol 1 "Ballad of Big Nothing"
9. "Stormwatch PHD" #17
8. This Week in Kirkman: "Brit" #11, "Walking Dead" #56
7. "Compleat Next Men" TP Vol 2
6. "Beanworld Holiday Special" (One Shot)
5. "Supergirl" #36
4. "Secret Wars" Omnibus HC $99.99
3. "Hellblazer" #250
2. "DCU Holiday Special" 2008
1. "Armageddon Now WWIII" HC

Yes, Rob Liefeld grabbed both #1 spots. I thought it would please everyone that way.

Merry Christmas! Happy Channukah! New comics might be delayed next week, but Pipeline will not be! See ya then. . .

Don't forget to check out my Google Reader Shared Items this week. It's the best of my daily feed reading, now with commentary!

The Various and Sundry blog carries on, with the end of the world, Twitter compilations, podcasting thoughts, and more.

My Twitter stream is like my public e-mail box. I check it daily, looking for responses and new conversational threads. Heck, you're more likely to hear back from me if you ask me something on Twitter than my own e-mail box. Crazy.

And I have two special projects on the way, with announcements to be made at a later date. . .

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:  pipeline, gen13, wildstorm, stormwatch, deathmate

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