[ Message Board · Trouble with Comics · Reviews · Essays · Interviews · Audio Interviews · Facebook · writeblog · A Criminal Blog · Kochalkaholic · FAQ · E-Mail ]

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Floppies of the Year -- 2003 was an interesting year in comics linguistics. It was the year that the general public -- the part that thinks about comics, anyway -- decided that they're all graphic novels, and the ever-dwindling mass of nerds who populate and support the nation's comics shops were torn between calling 32-page comics (and their stapled brethren) "floppies" or "pamphlets." Writer Steven Grant suggested "Pamfs," but I submit to you that that phrase is just never going to catch on. Sorry, Steven.

In any case, while my official Best of 2003 feature covered graphic novels, I've decided here in the last days of December, 2003 that I should also throw some love to the pamfs -- I mean, floppies that rocked my socks during the previous 12 months. So that's that with that, as Mr. Malloy would say.

Sleeper -- This "Eye of the Storm" title from DC/Wildstorm was far and away the best comic to look forward to every 30 days during 2003. Built on a foundation of paranoia, grief, misery and violence, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips injected an unrelenting sense of dread combined with a very human, grounded drama that made Sleeper absolutely addictive. Unfortunately, it appears at first glance to perhaps be more complex than it is, which may have put some potential readers off, I don't know. In any case, it's clear that this fantastic series did not receive the attention it deserved in 2003. Readers will have a chance to sample the book with this week's release of Sleeper: Out in the Cold, a trade paperback collecting the first six issues. It would be a real loss to comics if this series were allowed to disappear, so please give it a look. I guarantee you'll be as hooked as I am.

The Walking Dead -- We're only three issues in to this action/adventure series, and it's already established itself as a fun, engaging story about, well, I've tried to avoid the term as far into this sentence as possible, but, zombies. Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore's story bears some basic similarities to the excellent horror movie 28 Days Later, but Kirkman is concentrating more on the human side of the equation -- what would it be like for the remaining humans if zombies walked the earth? The Walking Dead is hard to pin down -- it has elements of science fiction, horror and action/adventure, but at its core Kirkman and Moore concentrate on the humanity of their characters, and that's essential to creating stories people read, enjoy, and remember. By far one of the best books Image offered up in 2003.

Promethea -- It's the end of the world, and apparently the ABC Universe created by Alan Moore, and no one in this mind-bending series is feeling fine. Reality is twisting and bending and getting closer every issue to breaking for good -- and Moore and his gifted colleagues are delivering a true "crisis" that puts other "end of the universe" stories in comics history to shame. The past few issues of Promethea have been so good that it's truly hard to put into words -- the sense of sadness, dread and chaos mixes with the very real depression I feel at the prospect of no more Alan Moore-written ABC titles to give the stories even more gravity. Promethea is possibly Moore's greatest achievement, and in these final issues, he's rewarding his readers by going out with the very biggest bang possible.

Love and Rockets -- The late-in-the-year release of Gilbert Hernandez's Palomar hardcover brought into stark relief how lucky comics readers are to live in a time when Love and Rockets is being regularly published again. Each issue provides a generous selection of short stories and serialized tales by Gilbert, and brothers Jaime and Mario. Los Bros. Hernandez are often cited as some of the best cartoonists in comics history, and for one very good reason: They are. If you haven't been reading the latest incarnation of their storied series Love and Rockets, you're missing out on stories filled to bursting with life, love, comedy and drama. If you're an adult who likes comics, there's literally nothing more you could ask for.

Gabagool -- By now you've probably heard something about this delightful little alternative title, but chances are you haven't sampled it yet. You should. Gabagool is about a group of friends and would-be bounty hunters who live in Bronx, NY (whatever you do, don't call it The Bronx!) and live out their days in geeky pursuit of pleasure. This year saw the comic make the jump from mini to full-sized comic, and the boys travelled on a hedonistic vacation that was hilarious and delightful. If you haven't picked up an issue of Gabagool yet, make that one of your new year's resolutions.

Wildcats -- Writer Joe Casey has produced a lot of bizarre, self-congratulatory crap over the past few years -- and one exquisite, cerebral action title. Wildcats concerns how one super-powered being wants to transform the world through corporate branding, and with the help of artist Dustin Nguyen, this DC/Wildstorm title has been a joy to read. Wildcats has almost always been about deconstruction, from the moment Jim Lee and company handed the title off to Alan Moore. Since that divine occurance, the book has almost always been interesting, but it's never been better than it has under the care of Casey and Nguyen. 2004 will see a new artist on the title, and I'm apprehensive about the change, but for over a year now Casey has done a fine job making Wildcats a riveting read, and I hope that continues in the new year with a new visual style.

Dark Days -- Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith recently wrapped up their six-issue sequel to 30 Days of Night, building on that original series and creating an even more grim and surprising story. Vampires vs. humanity is the basis of the tale, and Niles, as always, approaches his story from surprising angles and with great narrative confidence. The final moment of Dark Days was dark, indeed, and a great reminder that in the world of independent comics, literally anything is possible.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume Two -- As the movie inspired by Volume One failed to ignote much interest in summer movie-goers, the true excitement was in the pages of this perverse take on War of the Worlds. The League bands together to defy martian invaders, but is torn apart by internal treachery. This worthy sequel featured two especially noteworthy moments, the lovemaking of two of the lead characters, and the horrifyingly funny demise of one team member by another, leading to my favourite line of dialogue in any comic this year. As long as I live, I will never forget how funny it was when Mr. Hyde said "I saw to his end." Alan Moore's genius will sorely be missed in 2004.

Smax -- If it seems there's a lot of Alan Moore on this list, that's because he wrote a lot of the best comics that saw the light of day this year. Smax was especially surprising, because I think most readers were expecting a lighthearted sequel-of-sorts to the sublimely wonderful Top Ten. Instead, what we got was a harrowing examination of the origin and culture of Officer Jeff Smax, along with enough dead-on mockery of fantasy stories to make any Tolkien fan blush. One of the biggest surprises of the year was just how good, and how complex, Smax turned out to be.

Planetary -- The list of disappointing Warren Ellis comics from the past couple of years is quite long. He got the idea of "Pop Comics" into his head and wouldn't let go until quarter bins were filled to bursting with subpar efforts like MEK, Tokyo Storm Warning and Reload. On the other hand, Red with artist Cully Hamner showed how good the idea could have been. But longtime Ellis readers were most excited about the return, at last, of Planetary. The series picked up without missing a beat, the highlight of the year probably being a jungle adventure that ultimately revealed itself to be an unexpected origin story full of passion and excitement.

Wanted -- The occasional excesses of writer Mark Millar ("Think this 'A' stands for France?" was the clunker line of the year) often seem to cloud the fact that he is quite accomplished at plotting superhero comics, and the early returns on Wanted seem to indicate that readers get it: Wanted is filled with action, perversity and profanity, and the stunning, dynamic art of JG Jones. It's not a quantum leap from Millar's The Ultimates, but it definitely improves on the formula and is likely to be the superhero book everyone is talking about in the next few months.

Shonen Jump -- The manga section in my local Borders has recently undergone a massive expansion, and that's not because they're losing money on it. I bought my first issue of Shonen Jump, a bargain-priced manga anthology, well, today, actually. But in a year when this jam-packed upstart comic magazine outsold the leading "mainstream" comic by a factor of five, I thought it was long past the time I should give it a look. Factor in the price differential -- at five bucks, Shonen Jump costs double what Jim Lee's excreable Batman did -- and you can be certain that 2004 will be the year manga dominates even more, as the more short-sighted comics shops continue to turn away thousands of potential customers and further seal their own fates.

Reinventing Everything -- 2003 was the year James and Amy Kochalka welcomed their new son Eli into their family, and one of the beneficial results of that was this introspective, revelatory two-issue mini-comic. I enjoyed Reinventing Everything more than just about anything else I read this year, and I strongly recommend it as one of the best examples of why James Kochalka is one of our best living cartoonists.


Post a Comment

<< Home





Banks are regarded the best option for making a safe investments as well as having world wide accepted creditcard. People are not only facilitated by loans but also provided debt management consolidation by the leading banks. Students can also get loans as well as apply for student loan consolidation. At the same time high flying insurance companies also contribute to the any one’s life through offering different plans of life, health and dental insurance. Along insurance of life one can also enhance its home security through installing latest home security systems.

This page is powered by ADD.