2015: THE PIPELINE YEAR IN REVIEW
As is tradition around these parts, we take the last week of the year (roughly) to look back at everything we've covered here at Pipeline World Headquarters over the previous 12 months.
I looked back at every column from 2015, surprising myself at (A) how much stuff I've written, (B) how much of it that felt like it was 2 months ago was really January, and (C) all the stuff I forgot I had read, let alone written about.
In addition to that, a couple of reviews I looked up to include in this column turned out to have been published in 2014. Yup, time flies quickly in comics land.
With no further ado, let's get to the Year in Review.
LOTS OF RE-READING
In 2014, I started two different "Epic Re-Reads" of series past: the Todd McFarlane issues of "Amazing Spider-Man" (see the full list here) and the Frank Miller/Jim Lee "All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder" series (see the full list here). In 2015, I finished them both off. I even had a brief return to "The McSpidey Chronicles" with a look at a penciled version of "Amazing Spider-Man" #298 and how it compared to the printed version. Here's part one and part two of that.
A mini-reread came in the form of "Mister Majestic," (part 1, part 2) centering on the great run of issues by Joe Casey and Ed McGuinness, but also covering the classic "Wildstorm Spotlight" story that preceded it by Alan Moore. One of these days, I'll have to finish the series off completely with a look at the final issues of that series and perhaps even the later DC miniseries that attempted a "re-boot" the character.
I dipped into a lot of '90s Wildstorm stuff this year. I re-read all of Scott Lobdell and Joe Casey's "Wildcats" run and reviewed a good chunk of it. Some of what I read later on in that series with "Wildcats 2.0" came in handy in comparing Dustin Nguyen's art then versus what he's doing today with "Descender." And I noted where Joe Casey predicted the future in Wildcats 2.0.
At the end of the year, I started a new re-read with the J. Scott Campbell era "Gen13" comics. It just started in November, but so far we've covered the original five issues miniseries. You can flash back to 1994 with us here:
For shorter looks into the past of modern comics, Pipeline also covered Marvel's '90s "Nomad" series, Mike Wieringo's art on the '90s "Rogue" miniseries, the early issues of Scott Lobdell/Chris Bachalo's "Generation X", and Erik Larsen and Jeff Matsuda's story throwing Wolverine into space.
Finally, just to prove my fandom and how long I've been doing this, I took a look at how many different editions of the same Uncle Scrooge story I own.
I REVIEWED SOME NEWER STUFF, TOO!
Eric Canete's series at Image Comics, "Run Love Kill," got two write-ups this year. The first part centered on his use of music on the comics page. The second part was a more general appreciation for the art and coloring on the second half the series.
Another Image series, "Alex + Ada" wrapped up. I enjoyed the whole run, though I didn't talk about it much. I did make sure to cover that last issue, though.
Skottie Young (with Jake Parker) did an awesome job on the first "Rocket Raccoon" collection.
Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen joined art styles in "Spawn" to initial mixed reactions from me.
Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin's "The Private Eye" leapt from the web to a gorgeous printed edition earlier this month.
I also had what I think was the internet's first review of "Paper Girls" #1 last month. Speaking of which, the next issue of that series is out next week.
I watched some movies and TV shows this year. Sadly, I haven't gotten to "Jessica Jones" yet. But I did see these:
- "Daredevil" on Netflix
- "Avengers: Age of Ultron"
- "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", Season 2
- "Waking Sleeping Beauty"
- "Big Hero 6" on Blu-ray
And, finally, Disney is bringing DuckTales back. I’m still not sure whether to be excited or scared by that, but I better figure it out soon because I know they're staffing up now.
THE ON-GOING WORLD OF FRANCO-BELGIAN COMICS
I didn't do too much with the world of Franco-Belgian comics this year, but a couple of major developments sure made that world more interesting to me.
First, Comixology began translating French comics on its site. Delcourt's stable of titles is diverse and deep, and Comixology has been bringing fresh weekly batches of titles to market for the last few months. (There was a follow-up to that column.)
Second, I discovered Izneo.com, which is basically the Comixology of French comics. They even accept PayPal and American accounts. With frequent sales, an easy web interface, and loads of interesting titles, I've spent more on digital comics there than on Comixology this year.
Then, Izneo started Europe Comics, a website highlighting the English language translations of titles in their catalog. There's no excuse now not to try one of those beautiful albums.
Some Franco-Belgian albums have a single page gag format I enjoy, which I think American publishers should consider as a format and a marketing hook.
Reading some of those comics made me realize something about the way manga readers are influencing modern comics and why that isn't at all a bad thing.
If you need help learning to read French, I found one neat trick with Twitter to help.
Once again this year, Christie's held an auction of Franco-Belgian art. This year, I was able to drag the family into New York City to visit the gallery set up at the auction house. It was amazing to see original art by the likes of Peyo, Schuiten, and Uderzo in person. The auction brought in over $5 million. I didn't buy a thing, proving both my strength of willpower and modest bank account size.
I DREW SOME STUFF
I really got back into my art this year. I've always been a drawer, but never taken it too seriously. Over the course of this year, I focused on it a bit more and had several breakthroughs on drawing things. It doesn't mean I'm a good artist yet, but it does mean I feel more comfortable with some of the things I'm drawing, and newly uncomfortable about the things I can't. Knowledge is both a blessing and a curse.
It started back in January with a proposal for "The All New All Different Avengers" that would live up to that name.
I found some old anthropomorphic drawings I had done twenty years ago.
I went digital. I talked first about the Huion tablet I bought back in the spring, and then the Yiynova monitor I picked up a couple of months ago that's my main drawing tool of choice these days. (It was a decision made after a lot of thought. And I still wonder if the iPad Pro will change the game for anyone. I still see software being the issue there.)
Software-wise, nothing beats Manga Studio 5. Nothing.
I participated in Inktober for a second time this year, and covered the highlights of that effort in five parts. I was between the tablet and the monitor, so all the inking was with a real world brush pen.
I picked up inking tips from Jake Parker's on-line inking class.
Here's some "Star Wars" fan art I did for Sketch Dailies that got retweeted and seen more than just about anything I've ever drawn:
And, here, have some "I Hate Fairyland" fan art, too. I had fun knocking out some colors on the Cloudia piece there...
I covered some art books this year:
- Pascal Campion's "3000 Moments"
- "The Art of Big Hero 6"
- The Art of "Home"
- J. Scott Campbell's "Time Capsule 1994 - 2004"
And there's another one coming up in January, so stay tuned...
Other highlights and thought pieces that don't fit into neat categories:
- Marvel submissions rejections in 1991.
- When is the best time for a higher cover price?
- Here's a freeform -- almost meditative -- column I did called "Introspection: Comics Over Time" that I still think about, even when I'm not sure what it all means.
- 15 Panels from 15 Comics. And the leftovers.
- Advice to a Young Letterhack in the 1990s, because why not?
- Comics Post-Mortems
- Is Valiant the new CrossGen?
- That "Batgirl" Variant Cover that got so controversial it had people calling me a Social Justice Warrior. It also had the longest chain of comments I've ever seen on Facebook for this column.
- The Purge II and the even bigger Purge III (part one and part two). The latter saw me get rid of almost 5000 comics, while still feeling cramped by boxes around the house.
I don't know what's coming up. That's half the fun of it, isn't it?
Wait, I do know one thing: In July, I'll write Pipeline #1000. That blows my mind.
I think there will be more art to share. Some more animation stuff will leak in, just because I see such a strong kin-ship between the two industries these days, with plenty for the comics world to learn from the animation world. I have another idea for an "Epic Re-Read" that would have a completely new format. I believe I'll be reading more Franco-Belgian comics, some of them in actual French. I have a half-written column I found in my archives while putting this column together that I forgot I hadn't finished, so I have that up my sleeve...
I believe Pipeline is one of the most art-friendly columns on the net. Coming from a time when so many columnists were frustrated comics writer wannabes looking to make a name for themselves (not me) to a time when the common complaint seems to be that internet reviewers ignore the artists, I'm proud to focus strongly on the art, coloring, and lettering in comics. That's not going to stop anytime soon.
I used to aim for reviewing the most number of collected editions I could in a year. That's not my thing anymore, though I still enjoy reviewing interesting comics. It does often feel like the superhero comics world is moving away from me, but I'm not an anti-superhero snob.
If doing a podcast again was at all feasible from a time perspective, I'd jump all over that. I have a couple ideas there that are killing me not to run with.
It does feel like Pipeline is in a bit of transition again, though. Where it ends up, I don't know.
I can't wait to write this column next year to see where it went, though!
Happy New Year, everyone!