Thursday, October 02, 2008
Brave New World
Well things change apparently, and the name for this site couldn't be more apt, as I really have gone across the counter. Yep, I no longer work in a comic shop.
Well many reasons really, a combination of personal and work related, but over-all I guess I was just ready to get the fuck out of small-town mentality Banbury and all the reasons I had to stay in said town (work, friends, house, gf) all went tits up and were no longer worth the time or effort tbh.
Probably would have stayed for the job, but after three years of being promised partnership into a comic shop I spent 11 years RUNNING (not working in, but running) for minimal wages it really no longer seemed worth it.
Still, I can't complain, been a good year despite its tumultuous start. Done some traveling, got some writing done, still fighting to be published, need a job soon, running short of money etc... etc...
What job do I go for? Tried working in a gym for a while, but fuck me was that a boring job, at least in the comic shop there was always something to be done, someone to talk to or at the very least something to read. At the gym, you had to invent ways to look busy, no point getting all your work done (and more) so you can read a book for half an hour after lunch (no lunch breaks, sit at the counter!), nope, walk around holding a cloth, don't man the counter to serve clients as that would be stupid. Honestly, if you feel you need to film your staff from four different camera angles to check up on them, just get rid of them and hire someone else because for £5.50 an hour to clean toilets, urinals and showers, it really isn't worth it at 28 years of age.
Would it be worth getting another job in a comic shop? Maybe temporarily, the shop in Canterbury (Whatever comics) is a decent shop with really nice owners, and it would definately be the place I'd plunk down my cash if I had to pay for my comics.
Couldn't leave a comic shop for another comic shop though. Too incestuous.
So what to do for a job hmm?
So why am I writing on this again? Don't know really. Kind of need a place to vent as I feel like I'm existing in a vacuum at the moment, I had no illusions that leaving small town mentality behind wouldn't ostracise me from my friends, and I know that leaving a town like that behind means you can never go back as you'll always be resented as "the guy who tried to leave", so you'll either be the guy who failed or the guy who thought he was better than small town.
Maybe I've been stuck indoors writing too much, which really wouldn't be a bad thing if it led to me getting something published. It seems a few of my friends are doing quite well in the industry now and even my ex-girlfriend has just had a book published, which is excellent and all but just highlights my personal failure to do so.
But coming back to the job thing, I worry that if I HAVE to get a job I will be looking for a career as I am too old to be doing the retail thing for minimum wage, and if I get a career I wonder how long my writing will continue, until time becomes a factor and I leave it behind. That would suck.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Pen-ultimate Post (not a new Mark Millar title)
An average length entry on this site takes about an hour - maybe two - to get right. I didn't want to compromise my writing by getting slack and just throwing articles out, and I feared that towards the end this is what was happening.
It's been fun, but after all it was only a blog.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The Hypocritical Avengers
This is my first Blog posting for Sid's blog, as he mentioned he wanted some new blood. Actually now I think about it, I'm hoping he meant to make the Blog fresh, and he didn't want me to knock off a blood bank…
I've been racking my brains for the last month or so, trying to think what I can make it about - what is hip, cool and all around a good topic. I found one.
The idea came to me after reading Bendis' Mighty Avengers issue #1. A very funny book, I thought. Though one thing stuck in my craw. The one thing almost EVERY Avenger ever has said is "Avengers don't kill." And in Stark's new Superhero-centric America, surely this will have been hammered into every registered hero.
So what happens in the first issue of the latest Avengers project? The Avengers kill.
I'm not just talking about Ares. The Wasp even kills one of the Mole creatures by flying through it's temples at high speed. So whilst all this killing is happening, what's going through Stark's mind? Surely not "New team of Avengers here, going to keep up the code hammered out by me, the Pym's, Thor and Banner all those years ago.", right? But that's what he wanted the team to do! Ms Marvel being in charge or not - he wanted the Mighty Avengers to uphold the morals and things that the original team did.
But it's not just the Mighty Avengers. How many teams and single heroes have decided they wouldn't kill? Wolverine happens to be on two teams that have a no-killing policy - though one of those teams seems to have killed Jean Grey more than once.
When the Hand ninja's disolve, what's happening to them? Oh, they must be dying. At the hands of the New Avengers - again more than once - loads of the Hand were disolved.
Spider-man himself went and killed Morlun. Sure he was half-posessed at the time, but is that really an excuse?
They have had other killers on Avenger's itterations, too. Ares is the latest, Wolverine was the last - they've had Moon Knight... All have blood on their hands, and still break the 'golden' Avengers rule.
It's not just Marvel. Sure, most of DC's kill-happy "I don't kill." characters were Pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths versions, but it's still something to think on.
I hope this has been thought provoking, and not just ranting and raving. I'd hate to get off to a bad start. Those are my thoughts on the subject, now let's hear yours in the comments
Saturday, February 24, 2007
One Year Later almost One Year Later
The plan to reinvigorate the entire DC line by moving the entire universe a year forward in time opened up new and exciting ventures, put the characters through various changes of pace and gave newcomers a great jumping on point following the interest surrounding Infinite crisis (IC). It seemed the perfect time to be reading DC, or to start reading DC.
Being the objective optimist I am, I have to say it was one hell of a big failure. But it didn't have to be. Lets look at the titles individually, bear in mind these are the comics that I have read. Aquaman and Manhunter may very well be the best comics in the world but I haven't read them so I couldn't possibly comment.
Batman / Detective Comics: Failure
Why: All the 8 issue "Face the Face" story-arc did was put all the characters in the Batman Universe back in exactly the same place as they were before. The interesting story potential of Two-face being "cured" was rushed as quick as possible, as was the intriguing Hush story-thread of Riddler knowing who Batman was. The only thing sets this into the 1YL sphere is Batman is apparently a bit nicer than the Pre-IC Batman, but in this case it seems "a bit nicer" means "less monologue", and if people didn't like long meaningless exposition in caption form then both Wolverine and Chris Claremont would be on the street looking for jobs, because lets face it now, neither of them are the best there is at what they do.
Anyway, Robin has been adopted, because we didn't see that coming and (for now), Riddler is a good guy, or at least an anti-hero merc detective.
Thanks to poor-planning, newcomers to the bat books had to commit to both books immediately after IC, instead of being able to select Detective or Batman. Which I guess would have been fine if they intended to keep the two books crossing over as an ongoing narrative, but straight after the 8 issues they split the books up again. *sighs*
Eventually, it got better. The excellent Paul Dini is crafting some fine, self-contained detective stories in the flagship Bat title, while Grant Morrison and Kubert #1 have taken the helm of Batman and run in an interesting direction, with the introduction of a supposed son and heir to the bat-mantle. Only to be plagued by late shipping and fill-in content (which still beats skip months, at least from a sales perspective).
Superman / Action Comics: Failure
We'll leave the Bat universe to examine the Supes core titles quickly. This is easy, cut and paste the above dissection of the bat books and change a few key words.
Again, the 8 issue story immediately following 1YL shipped in both Supes and Action before the books segregated into their own thing, confusing newcomers who may have wanted to pick up one or the other. When all is said and done, we are back pretty much where we left off pre-1YL, Superman has his powers back but now without much examination of what could have been an interesting chapter of Clarks life (largely skipped over in 52 as well), the only real difference being the public know that Luthor is a bit of a bastard really.
Eventually, it got better. With Kurt Busiek doing some fine stories with Carlos Pacheco in Superman (even if some of them have been a little fill-in feeling) and Richard Donner with Geoff Johns and Kubert #2 running in an interesting direction, with the introduction of a supposed son and heir to the supes-mantle. Only to be plagued by late shipping and fill-in content (which still beats skip months, at least from a sales perspective).
What the fuck were they doing hiring Bruce Jones? He bored the fuck out of just about everyone on the Hulk and then they stick him on Nightwing. A fate quite literally worse than death for Dick Grayson. had they killed him in IC (as they were going to) at least it would have had meaning.
I felt consistently embarrassed at stocking this title, never mind selling it to customers whom I consider friends (who surely were only buying it as part of their run and not because they enjoyed it), and the fact that I have them sat in a box, bagged and boarded, in my house because I don't want a gap in my numbers disgusts me to my core. In fact, fuck it, time to sell them if I can.
It got better with the advent of Marv Wolfman (original Crisis writer and Beast Machines story editor), but it was a case of too little too late for the character no-one knew how to use.
While we're here, why the hell did Jason Todd survive IC? That was the perfect chance to un-punch his shitty rebirth.
the fact that I've fallen 4 issues behind on this book speaks volumes about its content. So he's got a new, more Bruce Timm-centric costume, okay. That's a change I suppose.
Having just read the newest issue (#159), it's not bad, and certainly not a failure. As well as having a new costume, Tim has also been adopted by Bruce, other than that he has not changed much as a character (seemingly back in Gotham after a stint in Bludhaven, a move which was probably okayed before the powers that be decreed Nightwing would survive IC)).
This lack of change is a good thing, as I wouldn't want to see Tim becoming a brooding bastard after the death of another parent / loved one. This guy has suffered more tragedy than Bruce has, but steadfast refuses to let himself be a victim - except in the contradictory Teen Titans. More on that later.
So all in all, this book can be judged a success, even though it doesn't seem to be on the same quality level as the Bill Willingham run and the sales figures reflect no new readership.
Not terrible, but after months of waiting to find out if Bruce was the Father of Selinas child (the daughter in question is even named Helena, like in one of the Pre-crisis (1986 crisis) alternate universes), we find out the father was the now deceased son of slam Bradley. Who? What? Move along.
Yeah, exactly, if you weren't reading Catwoman before 1YL, you'll get nothing out of it now. Also, while I think of it, some of the villains in this book have been just awful, points for trying, but just awful.
The sales figures are worse than before 1YL, I think that's worth noting.
Forgive my excessive use of brackets, but some of this stuff is hard to decipher without footnotes.
Green Arrow: Break even
As with Catwoman, I returned to this title with 1YL. I haven't really clicked with Judd Winnick lately and dumped this book some time back, flitting in and out when the new Speedy turned out to be continuing Pedro's philanthropic AID's awareness legacy.
The allure of Oliver Queen as Mayor coupled with McDaniel artwork got me quite excited about this title...for about 3 issues.
It seems I much prefer Oliver Queen as a bit character, I like how he was used in ID Crisis and on the Justice League unlimited TV series, as I haven't enjoyed his solo book since the vastly underrated "Archers Quest" story-line by Brad Meltzer.
As with Batman, its seems Ollie spent his missing year going back to basics, and spent a year on an island re-honing his skills.
The quality of this title is fine, it certainly doesn't suck and is quite an enjoyable read, but it certainly doesn't warrant me continuing to collect it. The sales levels have held their course since pre-IC, so no harm no foul, it just isn't for me anymore.
The book is, was and probably always will be as average as you can get. If anyone ever asks you to recommend a really average comic, give them Outsiders. Its never really hit a slump because its never had a peak, and you need one to occur for the other to be noticeable. This book had a huge amount of support surrounding IC, including high-scale crossovers with Teen Titans and being re-launched with a new team including a major player from ID Crisis, and still fails to impress.
And Nightwing ALWAYS acts like Batman in this title, not like Nightwing.
Green Lantern: failure
You know all those annoying bastards who'd never shut up about Hal Jordan after they'd killed him off? I'm the same but with Kyle Rayner.
Kyle got me into GL, I find it much easier to relate to a kid who likes NIN and Greenday than a "I know no fear" womanising test pilot. Still, this Geoff Johns title started off okay, certainly not as well as the miniseries that preceded it but solid enough.
The problem is the stories all feel too isolated from the DCU, I know you could say that about any book but this one almost feels off in a universe of its own. Which I suppose is an advantage as well as a disadvantage depending on your POV. The re-absorption of Hal seems a ltitle forced in places, with some characters trusting and forgiven his past transgressions far too quickly whilst other meaningless characters hold a grudge seemingly only to remind the reader about Parallax every few pages.
My other problem with this book is it seems to have an A-list shipping schedule, when the creators on it are far from A-list (and I like Geoff Johns).
Come to think of it did this book even get labelled as 1YL? It had only just got going when the jump occurred. Either way, this title is far from solid.
Because quite simply, no one knows what to do with this book. The character was, as far as I can tell, introduced to serve as a showcase for Michael Turners artwork, and launched into her own title purely because the iron was hot and they wanted to strike.
This book has no aim or long term direction either as part of the DCU as a whole or as a singles title.
But she does wear an incredibly short skirt for a 15 year old, as sales figures reflect. Oh well.
Teen Titans: failure
And I really, really wanted this title to carry on its greatness. I loved this book pre-IC. I loved this books predecessor.
When I got into comics circa '95/'96, Superboy, Impluse and Tim Drake Robin all caught my attention at a time when I was only reading Marvel (and Gen 13 - I was a geek), I loved the interaction between the three and the fact that there was very little back story to any of them. When Young Justice was launched it was one of my favourite titles, and despite the darker turn Titans made I still enjoyed the title as the characters were still written true to form.
Where are they now?
Superboy is dead.
Bart Allen is deader.
Tim Drake is dead on the inside - at least in this title if not in his own.
I'm all for character progression and things changing, but the soul of this book is missing. I will stick with it for a while longer but the new writer after Johns has his work cut out for him if he wants to keep me coming back every month.
Worst of all, this comic was more assessable pre-crisis, now even seasoned DC vet's scratch their heads asking "who's Kid Devil"?
It also seems to have missed a few shipping deadlines. Not good Johns, just because Blade paid you more doesn't mean you can ignore your bread and butter. Or are you the only one of the supposed four writing 52 as I suspect?
Superman / Batman: failure
It was never great but it was always kind of fun, quirky and easy. What the hell is going on it nowadays? Verheiden's run on Superman made me anticipate his arrival on this book, now I am very close to cancelling it. I have also notice a steep drop in sales, this book now sells less units than it did pre-1YL. Bravo DC, bravo.
Birds of Prey: Pass
You know what, thinking about it I haven't read this book since issue #70 which is why I cancelled it last month on issue #100. Anyone reading it got anything to say, good or bad?
Non 1YL post-crisis books
So what about the books that didn't carry the 1YL gimmick tag? Books which were re-launched, not just repackaged, how have they fared in the new DCU landscape?
Shadowpact / Checkmate / OMAC / Secret Six / Trials of shazam: failures
I haven't bothered reading every issue of these titles. They were all launched on the back of Countdowns success, but the only reason countdown worked was because it was leading somewhere. After IC was all said and done, these books didn't feel like they needed a place in my comic reading pile. The 80 page Brave New World promo from DC was an excellent book, because for just $1 it showed why you didn't need to spend $13 a month.
Ion / GL Corps: failures
Quite simply, I don't need three Green Lantern books a month. Everyone has done their best to turn Kyle Rayner into a whiny cunt since the return of Hal, obviously trying to make Hal look good on a curve. Despite the foreshadowing of the return of the multiverse in 52, Ion has completely failed to keep my attention.
GL Corps was easy maths for me: I didn't enjoy the miniseries + I don't like any of the characters = I don't spend $3 a month on it.
Blue Beetle: failure
Not for me. If I thought the Hispanic lead was done for the sake of storytelling and not to fill a racial quota it would have been a bit better, but as it was it didn't do anything for me that I hadn't seen done before, and it didn't attempt to do anything better.
Despite the annoying incentive variant ordering scheme, this comic has been most enjoyable. It has its problems: I don't really like the fact that 4 issues in, after we already knew the team roster, we were still being shown flashbacks of the roster meeting between Bats, Supes and Wonder Woman - talk about perfunctory.
Also, for the sake of newcomers it might have made more sense to focus less on a character building story line like with the Red Tornado, it might have been better to hit the ground running with lots of JLAction.
Despite those flaws, its still one of the first comics I read every month so it's doing something right for me.
Probably the star of the line for me.
I've never read JSA consistently, I read the autopsy issue tying into ID Crisis and most of the key issues tying into IC and decided to check out the re-launch.
Despite not knowing much about any of the characters, I was immediately drawn into the story in the first two issues, and whilst the third issue was a bit slower and wildcats son seemed a little forced, I think great things are in store for this title. Currently our 5th highest selling DC book in store. Not bad for a bunch of octogenarians.
Bats / Supes Confidential: Failure, but only to me.
I don't get it. Diggle and Portacio are hardly the stars you need to launch a new Bats book, and whilst the team of Cooke and Sale intrigues the hell out of me (and a great 2nd issues of Supes Confidential) nothing screams "wait for the HC" more than that creative team. Setting these books on the fringes of continuity are a great way of telling me they are not really needed.
However, sales are fairly strong and response seems positive. So it might just be me trying to save money.
JSA / JLA Calssified: Failures
I'm still not over the shitty Ellis JLA story either, as far as I know he was contracted to do it and didn't really want to, so I can excuse his failings on this one. I nearly went a column without mentioning Ellis. The last time these books had anything important to say was the four issue Power Girl run that launched the JSA series, because at least that built towards IC.
Flash: Biggest re-launch failure since the clone saga...or maybe Electric powers Superman.
Although the storytelling picked up towards the end of the first arc, I don't think anyone wanted to see Bart Allen used in this way.
Bart was formerly Impulse, and a slight increase in maturity and a bullet wound from Deathstroke caused him to rethink his place in the Flash mythology and repackage himself as Kid Flash. It was a nice advancement for an interesting character which could have led towards years of interesting series, but DC went and pulled the trigger on this re-launch and ruined everything.
The fact is, there were still more Wally West stories to tell, DC knew this and by not killing him off that only made it worse , as its made the entire series seem incredibly transient.
There were plenty more Kid Flash stories to tell, and by prematurely ageing him four years seemed a cheap insult to the people who have watched his progress since his first appearance in the good 'ol Mark Waid Flash run.
The set up for the Flash family at the end of IC was epic. The speed force gone, Wally lost in the future, no-one knew what the future held. If only people knew it was this.
At this point no-one knows if it would be worse if DC carried on and tried to make this work, or if they bit the bullet and admitted this sucked and pulled the plug. I smell a retcon coming.
Summary: One Year Later = failure
The entire line failed to hold peoples interest and more importantly, dollars and pounds.
Where did One Year Later go wrong?
Its biggest failure is indicative off the times: The problem was quite simply that of not enough lead time.
It's the same thing that has led to delays in Civil War, Astonishing X-men, Ultimates, ASBARTBW, WildCATS, Authority etc...etc...
If the powers that be had organised it so that the core Supes and Bats books had skipped their 8 issue reintroduction arcs and gone straight to the good stuff, with no delays and A-list creators we'd be looking at four very solid titles, both in sales and quality. If DC had the luxury of times to spend the man hours restructuring all the DC books we'd be looking at a line that would outclass Marvel.
As it was, very little lead time and a little weekly event scheduled to begin as soon as IC ended - no doubt to counter Marvels juggernaut Civil War (whom interestingly enough rushed the CW project with very little lead time to compete against DC, go figure) - ended up draining all the vast resources of the DC editors.
That's not to say that it was a complete failure, sometimes something good can come from a bad situation. If it wasn't for the nazi's then we wouldn't have fuel efficient cars. The biggest success, arguably of the year was, of course 52.
52 was an excellent experiment of form: Could a weekly comic, which featured no Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman (as a dubious selling point!?!) and no regular art-team, find a foothold in this market of special events, re-launch's and variant covers?
52 was by no means the first weekly comic. Action Comics was weekly for a long time, but struggled to hold its place. Superman was essentially weekly for years, when they had a continual story running through all four monthlies and the quarterly, which meant that 52 issues of Superman comics shipped, 1 a week all year round. Thanks to a numbering triangle it wasn't too difficult to keep track of, but in the long run it led to terrible attrition as newcomers couldn't find an entrance point into the series.
So what made 52 different?
The unique selling point was its allure of "the missing year of DC", which is why One year Later had to happen, but the thing that separated 52 from other weekly series, and the reason why I think it has held its readership so long, was that the end was always in sight. Think about it - it's 42 issues in now, if the next 5 were shit I'd almost certainly stick it out to the end.
So 52 was a blinding success...or was it?
The question with 52 is can the same success be repeated?
Marvel say no, through their lack of competition. Whereas DC say yes with a very clever marketing strategy.
After 52 ends - in fact the week after - countdown starts at issue 51, counting down each week to a somewhat ambiguous "event" at #0. And with the arrival of the name Countdown comes a $3 price tag, gone is the attractive $2.50 price point.
One other thing, DC have changed the goal posts a little in the process, in order to get the full story of 52 you need to buy a four part miniseries entitled World War 3 (obviously discounting the Morrison penned WW3 arc in JLA).
So now we have a new question. Has 52 stumbled at the last hurdle? Or will this 2nd Countdown prove that lightning can strike twice?
-Sid Beckett - thinking that was far too long and someone really should start paying him for this stuff or he'll stop doing it again.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Preacher- 'The Yellow Rose of Texas'?
I think Preacher is one of the top 3 three books pimped out of comic connections (if we ignore Glyn and Batman: Hush), along with Transmetropolitan and Scott Pilgrim, well in my experience anyway. All of these are deserving, but in my 3 years of buying at the shop I only had 4 volumes of the Preacher Saga, thankfully I knew a guy who I could borrow my missing volumes off and in a week where I seemed to be actively looking for distractions I read the whole thing, I should of really been preparing for a presentation.
So what did I think of the whole thing?
Well I came away having enjoyed, that’s a given, but I felt it really wasn’t as great as everyone makes out. I tried to explain it to Sid a week or so back but I really couldn’t figure out the specifics of why, all I managed to really verbalise was that it was possibly the best Ennis I have read but not the best Vertigo book I’ve read. So I’ve had a week now over the giftmass period with it in the back of my mind to try and figure out why I didn’t rate it as fantastic and slowly these pieces of understanding have started to piece themselves together in my mind.
Firstly I think the first two thirds of the main series were fantastic, it was gross, funny, and importantly intelligent, all the makings of a book that by rights I should love. But it’s everything else that dragged the book down for me from this.
Firstly the tie ins, I’m sorry but these were a huge waste of time in my opinion, you can argue they added background and you can argue that they weren’t necessary for my reading. The point is they were in the volumes, I read them in order, and each time I reached one I got more frustrated. They just feel like cash ins without the energy behind the main series, never really adding anything, I felt nothing for the Saint of Killers origin, The Good Old Boys was just plain awful and taken as a satire I think it’s even worse, One Man's War and Tall in the Saddle were the indulgent cash ins in my mind, but I will concede to The Story of You-Know-Who, which did raise a lot of smiles from myself.
But if I ignore these, my big problem comes with the run up to the conclusion of the series and the eventual ‘twist’ that came slamming into the narrative like a brick wall that I had seen for the past issues but couldn’t avoid. It was this ending that brought down the series, and as old as the book is, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it, which you all should do, because aside from the problems I have with it, I still think it’s a great read.
I began reading the series feeling as if the whole think was this epic film in my mind, it had these strong characterisations and a fantastic story to tell, volume two’s ‘All in the Family’ is possibly the best character arc of a comic I have ever read, but when the conclusion hit it just left me feeling that the end was just like a badly written episode of Buffy.
I guess I possibly came into it expecting more than I should of, but it was something I couldn’t escape from, everyone seems to love this book and I always have it recommended to me. I think it could also come from the speed I read it, I didn’t want the story to end, and when it did and in the way it did, that could only have increased my negative view of it. If I was to have read it month by month I would have been ultimatley have distanced the story to it’s earlier issues, but when I only read them six days earlier it becomes very easy to draw a comparison.
Even with all my criticism though I can’t figure how it could have been done better, the conclusion is what had to happen, and it’s execution is fine, I just feel that it was on a very different level to the rest of the series. Hopefully when I come back to reading it in a year or so I can approach it again and with all the build up in my mind gone, read it and see how it stands then.
But through my views of its tie in’s and final conclusion I still think it’s a great and crucial read, and of corse it did leave me with a number of thoughts on the HBO project though.
Having had it already said that the whole think was pitched with an almost ‘look here 66 issues and the special tie ins, perfect 7 series structure’ attitude, if it really is taken as an issue an episode, or even the majority of an episode, the adaptation of the The Good Old Boys will be so jarring that it will probably put of a lot of viewers, the only way I can see this working is as a last third added along with some shorter Preacher episodes.
If we ever reach Salvation without it being cancelled, it’s going to make one awesome series, however different it would appear that the show has turned to viewers, with the whole concept changing for a good while.
As most people are already thinking I guess, the projects next hurdle is it’s casting.
And finally, the elitist within me will be really pissed if they start selling ‘Fuck Communism’ lighters so that anyone who likes the show owns one.
So I guess I’m open to any comments you all have, I can’t be the only who had problems with the conclusion can I?
Incidentally these things are starting to turn into my negative view on books and ideas Sid really enjoys looking back at my other posts, this, Kingdom Come, Whedon on Runaways. Thankfully we both agree on Fables.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Where have we been?
I'm trying to figure out the future direction of this site, in the last few months it started to feel a bit arbitrary. I know what I don't want the site to be. I don't want the site to be a comic-book news site, I don't want it to become a review site, I don't want it to be solely a soap-box site and I don't want it to become a glorified advert for stuff I sell in store.
There are hundreds of comic blogs out there which are called blogs, but could just as easily be entrys on a comic forum.
So, while I ponder the future of www.acrossthecounter.co.uk, I leave you with a comic strip of Scott Pilgrim that you probably wouldn't have found otherwise.
(Click to enlarge obviously, if any one of you leaves a comment saying it was too small to read, then may Matt Fraction turn up at your house and rewrite all the dialogue in your favourite comics in his recently acquired - yet already tired - faux-Ellis style)
Monday, October 09, 2006
Return to Oz
So I figured, if I've had this much fun revisiting an old favourite, why not do it with more. Here's how my list is looking.
Grant Morrisons New X-Men - to call it anything less wouldn't do it justice. I wasn't a fan of this when it was coming out, but I have a feeling I am really going to like it second time through as I am less bothered about "what X-Men should be" and more interested in reading a good story.
Transmetroplitan - Because I have only read it the once, shockingly.
Sandman - The new Absolute edition is just around the corner and re-coloured. I don't think I ever finished this series first run through so they'll be some new stuff for me too.
Ennis' Hellblazer - The definitive Contantine to my mind, and Ennis at his absolute finest. Even better than Preacher, but not as accessable to the new reader.
Y The Last Man - only five issues left. When I have the entire run, time to do it all.
Fables - About time I returned to Fables Town, probably the first four Tpbs or so.
Dark Knight Returns - See if I have warmed to it yet, I've never been overly impressed with this groundbreaking series.
Batman No Mans Land - The Tpb exorcised the gumph from this epic series, boiling it down to the essential storylines.
Bendis' Daredevil - Because it was just so, so good.
We3 - Stupid amounts of fun.
So there we have it, what about you people - what have you been meaning to go back to and re-read?
Friday, October 06, 2006
Norwich, my current home of comics
Sorry about this coming up later in the week, no one told me how much actual work there is to do at University
Now I’m in Norwich, actually a lot of you probably don’t know who I am, I mean Sid’s the guy you see most days, I was the dirty brown haired teenager you might have seen hanging around.
So now I’m studying Film and English and I’ve left Comic Connections behind (you better be keeping up with my pull list Sid), and I thought that would generally mean the majority of my comic access would be left behind.
Except that’s by far not the case it seems.
Firstly my Campus has a Waterstones, and this shop is filled with a fairly decent variety of trades, from Marvel Zombies to Sandman to Maus to the Acme Novelty Library and a sprinkling of Manga.
Secondly the actual Library of Norwich has a fairly decent variety of trades available.
Thirdly, and while this isn’t actual comics, one of my film lecturers and seminar readers is a big comic/anime fan. I was talking to her when I saw in her office, not only is her room decorated in Studio Ghibli posters, but also Spider man, Paul Dini’s animated Batman, and a big Michael Turner, she even said “He can’t draw feet”. She wrote her Docerterate-? On Princess Mononko.
So from that you could easily come out thinking that Norwich is a fairly decent town to keep up my comic love, and yeah, in those aspects it is I guess, but then this place also has a Local Comic Shop
I really need to get you pictures of this place so you can see what I mean about this place.
I mean there must be like a list of rules a comic shop should abide by
1. The guy working there shouldn’t have that body smell lingering around his counter
2. Make it as bright and accessible as you can
3. Make it inviting, make the issues easy to get at
4. If your going to have back issues, keep your boxes clean and your sections well labelled
5. The guy behind the counter should be friendly, even if it’s just as going as far to say hey when you come in, then if you look a bit lost or out of your depth they should offer some conversation and help.
Thankfully this shop didn’t break all of these conventions but it didn’t go far.
Ok so until I can manage to get a few pictures let me set the scene for you, this place is on street level, it’s bright outside, I walk in and the room in essentially a rectangle, but hey it’s not the size of your shop, its what you do with it right?
So the store is set out like a rectangle, you know, with stuff running along side the wall, and an island in the middle, one side had monthly comics on racks along with more recent trades on the wall along with a fairly decent setup on clear plastic shelving for the stores manga. The back wall then had a selection of trades, but then you look down towards the floor, yeah that’s it, ragged brown boxes holding old issues of independent magazines and over sized comics like 2000AD. Then lining the third wall we have the back issues, a fairly decent size, with pegged back issues hanging along the wall, and guess what? That includes one of every issue of 52 so far, sure it looked nice, but isn’t there a better way to use your space, I mean really. And the back issue boxes themselves were a bit damaged, the section dividers must have been written a while back because the black pen was fading. Plus when you run out of issue in the section, why keep a blank section there?
Oh and that island in the middle of the shop? A good portion of it was made with stacked long boxes, classy.
So I glanced around a bit, the selection wasn’t that bad, a nice spread of trades and graphic novels, but by no means the same as CC, but then that’s not the shops fault, I mean if they don’t get enough customers to sell that many there’s no reason to carry that many right? SO I give up looking at some of the trades and back issues and move along to the monthlies just to see what sort of variety they had, I mean I’m not going to buy them, mine are hopefully sat in a pull box under the counter. But guess what, while there is a fairly decent array of comics, they’re all bagged up. That’s really inviting to outside readers that. I mean this shop is shaped like a rectangle for gods sake, you can see everything from the counter (or at least you should) but here’s the big problem with the shop.
The counter, and for a number of reasons too.
First of all, you only have one natural source of light in your shop, what do you do? Well apparently you build your counter in front of it. Not only that put it’s a pretty high counter, Its coming in at chest height, that alone isn’t a bad think really, I mean CC has a high counter, but if someone’s sat behind it they’re sat on a stool, not for this comic shop, as I look around the guy is sat on a chair typing on a computer, he sure as hell can’t see me very well from there.
So I buy a copy of Wizard, yes toilet reading I know, but at least it’s some form of comic stuff to read as I have lunch.
As I walk up the street to see where I can get lunch I spot another shop, this time with a just as ‘wacky’ title, Kulture Shock. Now while the place doesn’t deal in monthlies, it does sell a lot of trades, manga, anime and books. And you know what? It’s a fantastic set up for the shop, the whole place has giant windows along one side, and the counter is by no means in the way. There is a clean feel with a nice clean wooden floor, spin racks and universal shelves. Hell I looked in the Neil Gaiman section, not only was there a selection of his comics, but his CD’s too, not just the latest music one, but recordings of his readings. The staff was friendly and chatty and best of all the shop had plenty of space to walk around in.
And guess what I found today, a very nice book shop, goes by the name of Borders, not only do they have a whole shelving row dedicated to graphic novels, about 2 thirds of the variety of what’s in Comic Connections (A lot less Vertigo complete series runs), they also had spin racks full of the latest monthlies, and while they were bagged and boarded, the top hadn’t been taped down and the guy working there said it was fine to take them out and give them a bit of a read. They had some great variety, they stocked a lot of manga, but then everything from Pyongyang to Runaways digests, to Scott Pilgrim, to Judge Dredd.
Now this is the sort of shop setup that you really hope can attract some readers. Plus as a student, today I got 20% off, I could have bought more, but there are plenty of monthlies I’ll need to pick up when I come back to Banbury for a little bit.
So I walked out with a book of 500 Comic Book Villains and the pocket essential guide to Alan Moore, along with a ton of English literature books.
My conclusion has been drawn I guess, Norwich is certainly not a comic dead end, just stay away from the local comic shop, trust me, just head down to boarders, it’s cheaper, brighter, more accessible, the people working there are a lot more attractive and its a lot more inviting. And most importantly, you can buy your monthlies on the Thursday, just like anywhere else.
I guess I should have been fighting for the little guy, but the little guy dug himself into a hole, the chain store really is the better option.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Why V would never work.
If it is the truth. That's for you to decide, don't spam my blog with pro-Bush or anti-Bush sentiment.
I am merely using life as a metaphor for comic books, no-one should do the opposite (besides, comics are for kids).
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Although nearly everyone missed it when it started, people soon began to take notice of The Authority and Planetary by the (then) still fairly obscure, yet industry-wide respected Warren Ellis (because as a Time survey revealed this week, who you drink with is more likely to advance your career than anything else).
Although neither book hit the crazed inflated sales heights of title's like WildCATs and Gen 13 from the original Wildstorm / Image launch, both books grabbed a load of attention, kicking Ellis' career off to even greater heights, re-establishing Bryan Hitch as an A-list creator and putting John Cassady, Mark Millar and Frank Quietly on the map. So much so that I really don't need to tell you what they've work on since you probably know.
Both book's have re-established the super-hero industry. Some people will disagree with this; but they did. Authority caught everyone's attention, and as Millar says during his bow-out: "even the people who didn't like what we were doing followed suit".
All good things must come to an end. Due to some poor executive decisions, Authority eventually faded away into poor sales and obscurity, although along the way it spawned the succesfull albeit hollow "Kev" spin-off series (how this one-joke, piss-take turned out to be the best thing about the Authority over the last years is anyone's guess).
Planetary of course is still going on, produced by on semi-irregular schedule by it's original creator's, and as we speak is rapidly heading towards it's conclusion. In many ways the title is a victim of it's own success, as both creators became such important players in the industry that they weren't able to produce the book on a regular basis, which in turns has affected sales. Thankfully the integrity of the book has never suffered, and I am sure will be considered one of the classic Tpb collections in the years to come, alongside Preacher and Transmet.
Over the years I have been a massive fan of Wildstorm. Gen 13 was the first non-Star Wars comic I put on my pull list, and both Authority and Planetary pulled my attention back away from the big two, during a period where I was pretty much only reading Marvel and DC it was a breath of fresh air. So it's nice to see the big Worldstorm launch treating the properties the way they should be respected, with some heavy A-list creators coming on board.
The initial line up consists of several titles, these are the ones I've found most interesting.
Jim Lee makes his triumphant return to Wildcats, and he's bringing along an impressive new collaborator: superstar writer Grant Morrison! The man who redefined the JLA and Superman — and created groundbreaking works The Invisibles and WE3 — now brings his considerable talents to the Wildcats.
The WorldStorm rollout continues with the return of the most dangerous super-group on the planet! Grant Morrison, the universally acclaimed writer of All Star Superman, Seven Soldiers and Wildcats brings his talents to the new bimonthly series THE AUTHORITY, featuring art by Eisner Award-winner Gene Ha (TOP 10)!
Garth Ennis presents The Midnighter, returning from a mission in war-torn Afghanistan, is accosted as he enters the Carrier. Something is terribly wrong; these unseen assailants take him down too easily and then drag him though the teleportation door to an unknown location. After regaining consciousness he is given a cryptic choice: either kill a mass murderer or die! Art by Chris Sprouse.
Not to mention Gen 13, Stormwatch and Deathblow, which all hold varying degree's of interest and at least one selling point each.
So all in all, excellent talent and three books to definitely check out. It looks like someone has really taken the time to make sure this Worldstorm relaunch event is going to be big business, and something that will catch the attention of the entire industry.
With the financial backing and support of DC and Warner Bros, what could go wrong? All they need is a killer title to launch the series, something to hit the ground running and build momentum for the entire line, show people that thing's are going to be done properly this time around, and look at the killer titles above, any of the top 3 could launch this universe and show people what to expect.
Instead, the line was launched this week, with the following:
Fan-favorite artist Whilce Portacio's legendary special forces team returns in classic fashion, aided and abetted by acclaimed writer Mike Carey (HELLBLAZER, LUCIFER)!
This is not a bash on Mike Carey (although I have never been the biggest fan of his work, I know a lot of people are). Just because I don't like a guy, doesn't mean no-one else should.
I've never been a big fan of Whilce Portacio, I remember him doing weird thing's with peoples necks (in his art, not like, in the street), and something about him going mental. He also did fill in's on some of the Heroes Reborn stuff which left me less than enamored. Still, he was one of the early Wildstorm guys, so it's only right that he should be here.
I've never read Wetworks before. Until now:
Reading this was the comic book equivalent of a shrug.
I'm not going to just do a review because there are a million sites and blogs out there who do reviews and I like to think this site is a little more than that. The writing and art were solid enough and the story made sense to a complete novice like me - without having a forced patronising run down of all the characters and their powers - yet was still not enough to warrant be caring enough to pick up issue 2.
To summarise, the comic is alright. You know what though? Marvel Team-Up was alright. Robin is alright. Birds of Prey is alright. The first issue of an entire Universe reboot needs to be a little more than alright.
And thus my point still stands: Why this book? Out of the titles available they decide to start with this? Personally, I would have started the launch with a bang with WildCATs - you can't really get a bigger selling point than those two creators, and from that people might have decided to check out the rest of the line, which is exactly what books like this and Stormwatch need if they are going to break the 30k mark.
I can't see anyone picking this up and thinking "I must get the entire line", I guess most will flick through it at the comic shop and just decide to wait 'till WildCATs.
Anyone have any ideas why this came first?