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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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Where I'm At -- It's been nearly two years since the ill-fated launch of "The New Comic Book Galaxy," and while my posting here has been pretty limited the past few months, the site is never far from my mind. Other than my kids, it's probably the most rewarding thing I've ever been involved in, and if anyone is even still reading this, believe me, I really regret that the site has not managed to regain any momentum in calendar year 2007.

This came to mind this morning for a couple of reasons...firstly, I realized that the site's seventh anniversary is this September, and it hit me how unexciting that prospect is to me, and likely anyone else, because of the slow petering out of the vitality that once resided here. Second, one of the columns slated for "The New CBG" back in '05 was a series of pieces on the now-defunct but much-missed Albany, NY comics shop/indy publisher FantaCo. Former FantaCo employee Roger Green was to have written the columns for the new version of this site, but that never came to pass for one reason or another. He mentions that in passing in this terrific remembrance of the Counterfeit Cerebus incident at FantaCo (and other shops) in the 1980s. I was really looking forward to Roger's FantaCo columns, and even though they never materialized, I still read his blog daily and love his personal, intimate writing.

But it never quite made it to Comic Book Galaxy, and soon after "The New CBG" launched, things started going wrong and a lot of momentum was lost. I don't know if I could have somehow prevented it, if so, I apologize. As I say, I feel the absence of a vital, alive Comic Book Galaxy as much as anyone.

For months I have told myself I will somehow get it back together, the magical combination of inspiration, vision, passion, fascination and free time. Oh, and, money. That's always an issue, isn't it?

My passion for comics is as strong as ever, I promise you. But everything else has been lacking, and to be totally honest, I can't see any light at the end of this particular tunnel. A number of factors suggest themselves as contributing causes.

* I write all day for money. This is a big part of the inertia that has settled in. I just don't feel like writing about anything by the time I get home in the evening, and even if I did, the kids expect dinner and help with their homework and sudddenly it's 9 PM and damn, yawn, tomorrow's another day.

* The sense of urgency I felt when CBG was created in 2000 has diminished. This is actually quite a good thing, in my opinion. Back in the days when Marvel and DC could still be called "mainstream comics" without sneer quotes around the term, artcomix -- you know, the good, worthwhile comics published by folks like Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Top Shelf, Pantheon, First Second, etc. -- needed help. I'd like to think Comic Book Galaxy was at least in some small way a participant in the total revolution that has occurred in the comics artform in the past few years. I don't know that we need to push as hard as we used to, I think the tipping point has passed, maybe around the time Time named Fun Home the book of the year, correctly. But seriously, it seems like a lot of the work I thought we were doing has come to fruition, all to the betterment of good comics.

That all said, man, I miss being "Alan David Doane: Comics Blogger." If you loved or hated this blog in its heyday, there's no denying it was a blast to write, and I appreciate every reader who read what I had to say, especially those who found actual value in my opinions from time to time. Believe it or not, I still have opinions, and I still want to share them with anyone who wants to know what I think, but after all of the above, I really am left kind of scratching my head wondering how to recreate this blog so that it still in any way matters in a world where Dirk, Tom, Johanna and a select few others really have good blog writing about comics kind of all sewn up. And I don't bother to read the shitty or otherwise aggravating blogs anymore, because really, I'm 41 years old and who has the time to spare for that sort of obnoxiousness?

When I started this blog post, I thought maybe I would come to some sort of conclusion about the fate of Comic Book Galaxy. I haven't, really, but it's been kind of a relief to share with you -- whoever you may be -- what has been going on and where I am at, vis a vis comics and this website. The one thing that I have learned while talking to you (myself, really, but you know what I mean) is that a new approach is called for. None of the old methods seem to be working for me anymore. I miss having a dialogue with comics readers, and more importantly I miss having a dialogue with comics. So I can promise you that I am thinking about how to renew that public love affair, but, I'm not promising dinner and a movie, not just yet.


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