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Friday, May 18, 2007

Recommended Reading, Comics Foundry and Cold Heat -- I was hoping some folks would at least read what I had to say in the previous post, but it's wonderful to read the comments people have posted. Thanks, everyone, sincerely.

And for anyone who may be wondering what I am reading and enjoying these days...

* Garth Ennis's PUNISHER MAX and...
* Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's CRIMINAL. -- The two best things Marvel is publishing right now. Both crime books, both created with a sense of wit, style and intelligence that is altogether lacking in corporate superhero comics at the moment. And while the rotating artists on Punisher vary in quality, Criminal's look, courtesy of artist Sean Phillips and colourist Val Staples, is visually arresting each and every issue. The graphic novel collecting the first five issues has just been released, too, so make sure you pick it up.

* John Porcellino's KING CAT CLASSIX. -- Honestly some of the flights of fancy and dream comics in this thick hardcover from D&Q don't do it for me, but the honesty and emotion evoked by Porcellino's autobiographical material more than makes this must-reading. It's comics for the ages, and belongs in the library of anyone who loves comics as an artform and wants to explore the outer edges of what is possible in words and pictures.

* THE COMICS JOURNAL. -- I've been telling people to read TCJ since I started writing about comics, so this is no surprise. But the magazine continues to be a highlight of my comics-related reading. There was a long stretch of years back in the late '80s and early '90s where the ONLY thing I bought in a comics shop was The Journal, and even after nearly 30 years of reading it, I still can't imagine ever getting tired of its excellent comics coverage.

* Craig Yoe's ARF FORUM. -- The third volume in Craig Yoe's exploration of the intersection of comics and art, from Fantagraphics. Joy and wonder on every page.

Also, while I have your attention...

I notice that the latest Diamond controversy is the monopolistic distributor's decision not to carry a print edition of the defunct online comics magazine Comics Foundry. Most people seem to want Diamond to carry the magazine, and while I am sympathetic to the idea that Diamond should let the marketplace determine the viability of publications like this, I have to say that I'm more or less in Diamond's camp. Prime Mover Tim Leong is clearly a YouTube whiz and has tons of energy and enthusiasm, but that never translated to a cohesive or even very entertaining online iteration of the CF idea. I doubt in print it would be any better. Leong seems to me to be another in the never-endiong line of people who REALLY, REALLY want to say something to comics readers, and yet really have nothing much to say once they get the chance. If this weren't the case, the CF online magazine would have been a lot more popular than it was.

On the other hand, on a related matter, Tom Spurgeon has reported that Cold Heat has suspended floppy publication after four issues and will be released instead as a graphic novel once it's completed. Diamond had originally declined to carry publisher Picturebox's publications. I'm sorry I won't have more Cold Heat coming to me on a regular basis, because it is surreal but high-quality comics fun. But in the current reality, a graphic novel makes much more sense. Floppy comics are not a dying medium, they are a dead one, with only loyal comics-shop zombies keeping the corpse animated. No one will ever remember the four issues of Cold Heat that were released, but if the rest of the story holds up, the graphic novel may very well still be inspiring awe and wonder a century from now.

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