Saturday, February 28, 2009

The indie snob's secret


Since my role on Fobcomics is that of indie snob, I generally don't review more mainstream work here. But I've been borrowing some DC from Ben and since I don't have anything else to say at the moment, you may want to read my take on (Batman, Lex Luthor, Blue Beetle, Joker) or (Watchmen, Red Son, JSA). If not, fine. That's why I didn't post it here in the first place.


I was just sayin'.....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We're Not Dead Yet!

The day after I received a surprise Kindle 2 in the mail, asks "Could Kindle Kill Comics?" They're trying to make me feel guilty. The answer to their question?


If you ask me, Kindle-like technology (except in full color, of course, and likely made by Apple, as the Newsarama article suggests) will be what saves comics. Just about every other day someone is lamenting the poor state of the comics industry in light of the recession, and meanwhile Marvel is raising the price of its monthlies to $3.99, which means it won't be long before DC follows. More and more people are waiting for the trade because it's simply not economically feasible to buy the floppies at four bucks a pop, but with the current publishing model monthly series hardly last long enough to make it into trade form.

So tell me again how technology that potentially makes monthly comics cheaper to produce and therefore to sell is a bad thing? I can't say I'd consider switching to electronic comics if they were only available online where I have to sit in front of a computer and rot my eyes away, but the Kindle is slick--it really is just like reading a book (or a comic book). Just imagine: you sell the monthlies at $0.99 each, maybe give a discount for annual subscribers, and suddenly people can buy more comics. People who could maybe afford ten bucks a month but didn't want to throw that away on two and a half comics can now get ten comics for their money. By all means, keep producing the paper copies as long as there's demand, but that's no reason not to offer alternatives. Kindle will not kill comics any more than VHS killed movies.

Personally, I would love to have my comics delivered weekly via WhisperNet to my Kindle (again, assuming full color). I'd have my entire comics collection at my fingertips for perusing whenever I want, without the hassle of lugging around long boxes everywhere I move. I wouldn't feel obligated to resell my monthlies to replace them with sturdier trades or, because that's economically stupid, to skip the monthlies and wait for the trades.

C'mon, people! Get with it already. I'm giving you two years to offer electronic delivery of my favorite comics and if not, well, then I might just find another addictive habit to waste my money on.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Best American Comics (2008)

Best American Comics 2008.

All hail Lynda Barry! I've never been a huge fan of her work, but I have to say that her editing is impeccable. With any collection of this size there will be pieces I can't agree with, but over all this is a marvelous collection. Best one so far from the BAC series.

A few books I liked from the qualifying period appeared in the top-100 but didn't make the final cut. Some I think were mistakes (eg, The Blot) some I liked but won't fight over whether they were "better" (eg, Robot Dreams and Bookhunter which you must click on and go read RIGHT NOW), but none of which change the worth of the collection now sitting on the bed beside me.

Some highlights:

    Burden by Graham Annable: A good brother cleans up the bad brother's mess. But it doesn't mean how it sounds.

    The Thing About Madeline by Lilli Carré: A fine demonstration of existentialism that doesn't suck. That is, in fact, darn good.

    Seven Sacks by Eleanor Davis: It's hard to narrow down which pieces to choose as "highlights", but I really liked this weirdly metaphoric ferry story.

    The Saga of the Bloody Benders by Rick Geary: I've read some of Geary's Victorian murder tales before (two here), but this one is a cut above. Perhaps it's just because I don't already know about the Benders, but their story was genuinely intriguing and I need to find the book so I can read the whole thing.

    Will and Abe by Matt Groening: This was the funniest thing in the book, bar none. And it was written by Matt Groening! Who is never funny in print! Remarkable!

    Turtle, Keep it Steady! by Joseph Lambert: Best musical comic ever? Don't know. Haven't read anything that remotely competes, though.

    Berlin by Jason Lutes: No wonder everyone talks about Jason Lutes.

    Graveyard by Sarah Oleksyk: Generally, modern comics realism doesn't interest me. But what I've seen from Oleksyk so far reminds me of what it can be.

    George Sprott by Seth: I have a desire to like Seth more than I do. This was a huge help in meeting that goal. This look back at one man's life is nuanced and impressive and all I've heard Seth to be.

    American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang: Although I was disappointed with excerpt, I'm happy to have a chance to plug this book again.

Great collection. I'm sold on the new lead editors and am hoping for the best for Charles Burns's selection about ten months from now.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Comic of the Year 2008: The Blot by Tom Neely


This post may be way overdue and this book technically came out in 2007 but, but the beautiful nightmare that is The Blot is by far the best comic I read in 2008. I just sat down to reread it and it is truly astonishing, technically and artistically.

The Blot is a master's course in the art of comics. Someone who had never seen any other work of comics could, after studying this book sufficiently long, be expert enough to create great art. Neely's brilliant use of layout and the way he manipulates appearance and his mastery of human form make the book a technical marvel.

The Blot by Tom NeelyBut the story, opaque as it is, is the true treasure here.

Bringing an antiquated cartoon style into a horrific tale of men and gods only heightens the unsettling sense of uncertainty and confusion. As disaster builds upon disaster and pleasure leads to rejection and pain leads to redemption, this starkly unreal tale digs deeper and deeper into my soul.

This book's accomplishments are difficult to quantify because I simply don't know what to compare it to.

When I've written about this book before (here), and I am no closer now to arriving at conclusions.

But this read --- I read so slowly, examining each image closely. Chris Ware (in a recent introduction) (he sure does write a lot of introductions, doesn't he?) said the comics creator probably, on average, spends 1000 times on a comic compared to the time a reader spends.

If the time I spend on The Blot grows longer at this pace every time I read it, and if I keep returning to it as I anticipate, I may well end up spending more time on it than Neely has himself. Who can say.

Certainly this work deserves that kind of attention.

This book is a masterpiece.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If only I had more time...

...I would tell you why Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #3 is one of the most enjoyable comics I've read in a long time. I will say this: Geoff Johns has done pretty much exactly what I (and everyone else) expected him to. And as much as can be said for letting dead characters stay dead, bringing favorite characters back to life sure makes for a happier story than killing them off.

Also, Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade #3 was another of the most enjoyable comics I've read in a long time. And both on a single Wednesday!