Pipeline

Tue, August 11th, 2009 at 2:28pm PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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THE RETURN OF ONE-LINERS

* While I am a fan of the idea of digital comics and downloadable content, gadgets like the iPhone have never been the answer for me. The screen is just too small, and the format is too unwieldy for the last 70 years of comics to fit properly. The ultimate answer is still a cheaper color Kindle with better resolution.

In other words: while we're on the road, we're nowhere near the destination yet.

Still, those pinning their hopes on the iPhone as a content delivery mechanism had to have chills sent up their spine by this report from The Unofficial Apple Weblog last week:

"TUAW has learned that Apple has begun rejecting all e-book submissions because "this category of applications is often use for the purpose of infringe third party rights. We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store." […]

At the same time, Apple has been rejecting applications from content providers who do in fact own the rights to their materials and can prove those rights. A colleague who spoke on the condition of anonymity related that a project he developed for a national content syndicate was rejected without recourse. He still got paid for his work but the application languishes without an outlet."

Doesn't sound good for any comic publisher on the iPhone right now. . .

* DC's "The Spirit" comic came to a close last week, but did any artist ever choose to draw an issue in the Eisner style involving no panel borders? I know the original comic strip did stick to a three tier system, mostly, but when I think of Eisner's art, I look more towards his original graphic novels and the way the story flowed through a page without the need for formal panel borders. There were obviously panels involved, but nothing so obviously lined out with thin black strands of ink.

* I think I know why I'm loving the second volume of Lewis Trondheim's "Little Nothings" autobiographical blogging so much: the man is as neurotic as I am. He can just draw ten times better. And the watercolors are beautiful, as well.

* There's some weird sort of order to the way last week saw the release of the third printing of "Chew" #1, the second printing of "Chew" #2, and the first printing of "Chew" #3. It's the kind of thing that blows my mind, and causes most everyone else to yawn and move on. But, then, I was also entertained the previous week at the nearly $4 price tag on "Marvel Zombies 4" #4 of 4. Comic Geek Speak hit its 666th episode last week, too.

* Belated Happy Birthday to Paul Dini. If I do the math right, Dini was the age I am now when he was writing "Tiny Toon Adventures."

I've written "Freak Force" fan-fic. ::sigh::

* I plan on repeating that gag in two years when the math works out for "Batman: The Animated Series."

* Maybe I should start a "Comics By The Numbers" blog and find every set of numerical oddities trapped in comics that I can. . . Wait, no. Someone would ask me to explain the numbering patterns on Marvel titles, and my head would explode when I got to "Hulk."

* Good for Marvel for doing this 70th anniversary "frame" on their covers. Getting Jimmy Cheung to do the frame was a smart idea, and it's a nice throwback to the 50th anniversary frames. The problem is, the frame is used so awkwardly in the publishing schedule that it seems like more of an afterthought and a gimmick than a real publishing plan. It shouldn't be the "variant" cover. It should be "the" cover for one issue of every series Marvel publishes.

* I don't have time to read the whole thing or do a formal review, but I've had a lot of fun looking through the "Saga of Solomon Kane" phonebook from Dark Horse. For just $20, you're getting two solid inches of amazing black and white line art from the likes of Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, and some names I've never heard of but whose art styles are really cool. I didn't even know these comics existed before I held them in my hand.

The Robert E. Howard library is not my thing, but they produced some jaw-droppingly beautiful artwork in the 1970s. Check out the similarly-formatted "Conan" material from Dark Horse for hundreds of pages of more material in a style hat you don't see on the stands today.

* Would it even be possible to create such an art centric anthology series in today's market? I'm reminded of baseball's problems with pitchers. For various reasons, pitchers don't pitch nearly as many complete games today as they did 50 years ago, or even 30 years ago. Pitchers are trained to last six innings or, out of the bullpen, just an inning or two, at best. Today's artists are barely capable of producing a single comic book every month. Is the advent of computer coloring and computerized printing leading to such worries over minute details on the page that it's the functional equivalent of baseball lowering the mounds, shrinking the strike zone, and creating a hostile environment for artists to produce quality work on a monthly basis? Or am I horribly stretching my metaphors?

* "Mayhem" #1 is now in stores. I can't wait to see what Tyrese Gibson has up his sleeve for the second issue. How could you top the promotions for the first issue? I'm thinking Cirque du Soleil and a sea of Stan Lee impersonators at the next major convention. ("Will the real Stan Lee please stand up?")

* Marvel has a deal with Old Navy coming up where you get a free comic if you buy a Marvel t-shirt. That sounds like a great deal, doesn't it? But why give out "Amazing Fantasy" #15? Isn't this the very reason "Ultimate Spider-Man" was created? An attempt to bring in newer (and younger) readers by introducing them to a modern version of the character? Even if you don't do "Ultimate Spider-Man" #1, which so famously features no costume in it, pick a latter stand-alone issue like the one with The Rhino in it (but not issue #13!).

Why give away a comic from 1963? Is that going to bring people into the shops? Or is it an attempt to cash in on people's craziness to own a vintage #1 reproduction?

Heck, give out an issue of the last year's worth of Amazing Spider-Man. There's good humor in there, a single Peter Parker, and lots of costume stuff. If that's who you want people to think of when they think, "Peter Parker," then that's what you should be promoting.

* With the biggest publishers pulling out of Wizard World's Chicago convention (under whatever name they want to use), the convention is poised to become a terrific independent comics creator's convention. All the "big names" at the convention comes from smaller to medium-size presses. Artist's Alley is suddenly going to be a hot spot. The wrestlers and the celebrities line up in Autograph Alley hidden in a corner, but all the action will happen with the retailers and smaller press folks. Can't you picture, in five years, the Chicago Comic-Con surviving as a summer-time big city independent artist con, run by Wizard? Crazy times.

More likely, though, it'll die or get sold off.

* I don't think I've mentioned this here before, but I should let you all know: I've decided to use Facebook as a more personal tool. It's the social network I'm using just for family and friends I've known off-line more than on. So if I've denied you as a friend on the service or unfriended you, that's why. It's nothing against you, personally. You're still welcome to follow me on Twitter, should my account ever get reinstated.

PIPELINE PODCAST FOR WEEK OF 02 AUGUST 2009

There won't be a podcast this week, but that just gives you time to catch up on last week's audio wonderment, right?

Tuesday: The traditional weekly Top Ten list gets interrupted again for a fire engine. That town is cursed, I tell you! Tyrese Gibson takes the top spot out of, perhaps, morbid curiosity on my part. Here's the whole breakdown:

  • 10. "Transmetropolitan" TP Vol 3 "Year Of The Bastard"

  • 9. "Justice League Cry For Justice" #2

  • 8. "War Of Kings" #6

  • 7. "Irredeemable" #5

  • 6. "Kaboom" Limited Edition HC

  • 5. "Warren Ellis Frankenstein's Womb" GN

  • 4. "Captain America Reborn" #2

  • 3. "Doom Patrol" #1

  • 2. "Savage Dragon" #151

  • 1. "Tyrese Gibson's Mayhem" #1
Wednesday: Obviously, I missed a couple of books that should have been in the Top Ten last week. That's why I talked about them and a whole bunch of other new releases the next day.

I'll be back next week, quite possibly with a review of something I read while on vacation. What makes for a good beach read? I have no idea, but I'll read something.

Last week's Denial of Service attack against Twitter did not originate from Pipeline World Headquarters, despite how annoyed I am by the fact that they still have me banned. Twitter was down? I never would have noticed; I'm not welcomed there.

My photoblog, AugieShoots.com is alive and running quite well, thanks. I can't wait to see what I came back with next week . . .

The Various and Sundry blog sputters along, with occasional updates not comics-related.

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

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

TAGS:  pipeline, mayhem, the spirit, marvel comics

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