Comic Book Heaven
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Comic Book Heaven. Been catching up on some different comic book series in the last month since X-mas. Here’s a little rant on comic books – the old fashioned kind. Here’s the list:
The Bulletproof Coffin #6
King City #12
Deadpool MAX #3
I finally read The Bulletproof Coffin #6. The finale. I gotta say that I liked it. But I’m such a fan of this series that I don’t expect you to believe me. Is this propaganda? Did Kane and Hine pay me to write a five-star review? Something to be Google searched and referenced in some futurepast?
I’m incapable of writing anything critical about The Bulletproof Coffin. And I mean about its context in 2010/2011. I wish I had a grad student’s tenacity to explain how I think this comic is “just right” for this Comic Book Golden Age that we are living in these days.
I think the book’s power is drawn from using the language of comics itself – a self referenced set of symbols. And they are Pop symbols—Jungle Girl, Noir Men in Hats, Zombies, Costumed Heroes, Comics—which all sort of write themselves & propel themselves forward. So the “comics-within comics” bends the straightforward whodunit/time-machine storyline like a House of Mirrors. So at the end the entire bejeweled reflection of BC’s comic book universe spins away into the pure white of the last issue’s glossy back cover in a Mylar bag. Finished. The End. The end of the series and the end of Comics. That’s the “just right” feeling for me. It comes from believing that comics as we know them are changing faster than we care to admit. We’re in denial that comic books are not going the way of the dodo. Pamphlets and Wednesday afternoons at the shop, I mean. The end of The Bulletproof Coffin seems to say it better than I can. It’s Over! The times they are a’ changin’. So track down those back issues, True Believers, don’t wait for the trade.
Beyond “The End of Comics,” the end of The Bulletproof Coffin makes me think about how a couple of my favorite series of last year have ended. King City ended. Batman and Robin basically ended now that Morrison left the book. (Big Questions ended but somehow that doesn’t count in this round-up.) Alan Moore’s new series is almost over and he was thrown under the bus for real for the first time in memory. Something is happening. The end of The Bulletproof Coffin also makes me think about this Golden Age and how we the fans are in on most of the gags – are so informed about what is going on. It’s weird.
But is this a resurgence of the comic book serial or a death rattle? I was trying to imagine what a King City collection is going to look like. It’s gonna be huge and prolly expensive. I can’t even imagine what a Big Questions collection is gonna cost. So even though there are all these pamphlet series I love – the reality is that most of my friends haven’t read them because they are hard to track down. Shit, King City was hard to keep up with and I worked in a comics shop for most of last year. Just making sure the shop would “put one in my bag behind the counter” wasn’t guaranteed.
So, when the collections of King City and The Bulletproof Coffin come out is everyone gonna go bananas? Is anyone going to be able to afford Big Questions? It reminds me of when Dash’s Bodyworld was fist released. Everyone was blogging about waiting for the book to come out to read it – that they didn’t wanna read it online – and then when it did it was like everybody just griped about the format and/or the price. It was easier when everything just existed as comic books and only blockbuster hits got “collected” in a trade. The game was to collect the comics. That’s what the stores and knowledgeable schmoes like me were for. Now stores are mostly just middlemen for Amazon. I ask Bill at Copacetic to order me things just to throw him the business even if I can do it easier myself. Sux.
I know, I know, I’m going on a buncha different tangents. It’s just that I was thinking, “Wow, look at all these comic books. I like reading serials.” And then I was realizing that most of my stack was “over.” One more issue of Neonomicon. And it’ll be years before another Crickets or Uptight comes out. So really my big stack of serials was stalled and I just didn’t know it. What? You think Kyle Baker will stay on Deadpool indefinitely? I doubt it. What else is there to read? I mean, I read mainstream stuff a lot just to have something to read. I haven’t gotten hooked on any webcomics yet. I’m okay with going down with the Wednesday afternoon ship. (I made a bet with Jordan Crane that DC will stop publishing serial comic books within two years.)
This is when I think putting out – or trying to put out – a 48-page “album” or “annual” every year is best. Something like Prison Pit or Powr Mastrs. CF has almost managed to put out one a year since 2007. Johnny Ryan is on schedule – one a year. Going to Angouleme last year made me realize that the annual “album” is best. And that self-contained works sell better than a serialized works. I also noticed that most popular North American cartoonists who trucked in short stories were not very popular in France. But cartoonists who do long-form self-contained works were popular. Maybe they know better.
Labels: inside baseball