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Friday, February 06, 2009

"Hey, What Are You Reading?" -- It was as recently as two or three years ago that I was astonished by the discipline of friends of mine in comics that started "waiting for the trade," eschewing monthly floppy comics in favor of their sturdier, often more handsome collected versions. I had been making weekly treks to the comics shop (in one form or another) since I was 8 or 9 years old, and the thought of actually waiting months, or even a year or more, to read stories I could read in serialized for right now (well, once a month), seemed beyond the limits of my imagination.

Then bad writers seemed to take over superhero comics, packing once-beloved titles with mediocre (or worse) stories, often tied into "events" that mattered not a bit to me, whether it was House of M, Infinite Crisis, or any one of a dozen other gimmicks that drove me away from current-day superhero comics. These "events" are designed to increase sales, but in my case, the proliferation of truly lousy comics just made me throw my hands up and give up on the North American corporate-owned superhero comic as something I needed to keep up with on a weekly basis.

So it's always a weird moment for me when someone asks -- and they do, from time to time -- "What are you reading these days?" I genuinely have to think about it to remember what I've read recently that I enjoyed. More often than not it's a standalone graphic novel, probably of the artcomix variety, but of course the person asking my opinion is usually a superhero comics fan and is interested in knowing what I think is good in that neck of the woods. "Nothing much at all," would be the answer these days, of course.

But there are regularly-published titles that still jazz me up -- just, very few of them are monthly. The Scott Pilgrim series of manga-sized books is as good as comics get these days, completely deserving of all the hype it gets, and better than sex, pizza and the new Battlestar Galactica combined.

It's easy to take Love and Rockets for granted after all these years, but the new annual format provides an amazing slab of great comics. There are no better living comics creators than Los Bros -- a few equals like Clowes and Ware, but no one is better. Do I love the idea of waiting a year between "issues?" No, of course not. I'd like my L&R fix weekly if possible, and there was a time a decade ago or so when it seemed like that was actually happening -- but I'll wait that year, knowing that in the end I'll be rewarded with comics that are among the best and most entertaining ever created.

I'm looking forward to the Cold Heat collection from Picturebox -- I was just starting to "get" the floppies when they canceled it, due to Diamond's inability to properly market and distribute single issues of non-superhero comics. Frank Santoro (one half of the Cold Heat creative team) is pretty amazing if you like artcomix; Storeyville was superb and Incanto, a mini-comic he did, was beautiful and mysterious.

Then we come to the actual, traditional stapled, floppy, monthly-type comic books. Godland from Image, Buffy from Dark Horse and Criminal and Incognito from Marvel/Icon are about the only monthly floppies I still bother with. I am, indeed, waiting for the trades on Conan (not as transcendent as it was under Busiek/Nord, but still very good, and fun to read, adventure comics).

I'd talk about the horror/detective procedural Fell if I thought it was ever coming out again. And speaking of Warren Ellis, I wonder if the last issue of Planetary will be published this decade.

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Blogger Tucker Stone said...

according to what Ben Abernathy said yesterday, Planetary drops for real this year. Cassady is working on the art right now.

08 February, 2009 23:28  
Blogger Alan David Doane said...

Well, that's a good piece of news. Thanks, Tucker!

09 February, 2009 05:08  

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