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A View From The Cheap Seats:
Odds and Ends By Rich Watson
Short column this week. Not a whole lot to talk about except for a few things…
This is turning into the year for comebacks. Last month I told you about the return of Marcus Lusk’s Tales From The Bog. Now, a recent trip to the Comicon.com message boards finds that Craig Taillefer is reviving his book Wahoo Morris. This title, following the adventures of a rock band, was originally self-published, then picked up by Image in 2000, but lasted only three issues. In the posted press release, Taillefer said about the previous run, “The move to Image seemed a logical one for Wahoo Morris but didn’t quite work out. It also seemed logical to start out by reprinting the self published issues before doing any new material. A lot of new stores and readers were turned on to the series because of being with Image but unfortunately there were not enough to continue under the Image banner.” The June Previews will list, under his old imprint name Too Hip Gotta Go Graphics, Wahoo Morris: The Singles Collection, a three-pack containing the first three issues, as well as Wahoo Morris #4, both due in August. In addition, the first issue can be read gratis at wahoomorris.com.
Hopefully this time it’ll catch on better. If you’ve never read it, it’s a light and pleasant real world kind of story, focusing on character relationships in much the same manner as Strangers in Paradise, Fade From Blue, and Private Beach. There’s also a small supernatural element that is hinted at here and there, and with any luck, will be expanded upon. And the artwork is exquisite – realistic yet expressive and lively. So be sure to pre-order this one.
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WE GET LETTERS:
While Fandom Assembled continues to lament over the disappearing letters columns in the corporate books, CrossGen VP Gina Villa did something recently which I thought extremely valuable. In her editorial in this month’s CG hype page “Can’t Get Enough” (within all the CG universe books) she announced that she would attempt to bring back the lettercols on a bi-monthly basis due to heavy reader demand, however she also carefully outlined what criteria she uses to determine what makes a letter printable. Once you get past the irony that it took the threat of removing the lettercol for letters to arrive in an appreciable volume, I find it great that Villa spelled out her terms. Letter writing in general is somewhat of a lost art in this digital age, and far too often most lettercols are just ass-kissing sessions anyway – even when the letters are genuine. (And yes, the editorial practice of forging letters goes back to the Silver Age at least.) Now here you have Villa saying to the fans, okay look, you want the lettercol back, well, this is what we expect from you. Whether it’ll work remains to be seen, but you have to admire the fact that while she’s willing to listen and respond to her constituency, she holds them to a standard and expects them to meet that standard.
Personally, while I have nothing against lettercols in principle, I don’t believe they’re essential to comics anymore. The Way of the Rat lettercol is often quite hilarious, but I’m still dropping the monthlies in favor of the TPBs because I think the book reads better that way, and that’s what’s really important – the story. Trade paperbacks are the future (though I doubt monthlies will disappear completely), and I have yet to see lettercols collected in them. There’s a reason for that. Regardless, I thought it was very cool to see this kind of back and forth between publisher and consumer, which is rare.
INSIDE THE MATRIX:
After writing my previous column on rude people at movies, I thought perhaps it might help if I went to an earlier showtime instead of mid-afternoon. So when I went to see The Matrix Reloaded, I caught a 12 PM show, the earliest one at the theater I saw it in. Wouldn’t you know it, though – the theater was still near full. This time, however, it wasn’t so bad. There was a guy directly in front of me who talked on his cell before the trailers started, but that was it for him once the film started (which was good, because he was a fairly big guy and I didn’t relish the thought of confronting him). There was a crying baby, but it was on the far side of the large theater, so I was able to shut it out. And the movie rocked – but you probably already knew that.
Two books I picked up from Free Comic Book Day were Rocket Comics: Ignite! (Dark Horse/Rocket) and Metallix (Future). The former is a sampler of the forthcoming science fiction imprint from Dark Horse. Of the three featured stories, I liked Stuart Moore’s “Lone” the best (telling the story from the bad guys’ POV was smart), though none of them really got me that excited. Keith Giffen’s “Syn” was bogged down in technobabble and the human/machine conflict didn’t seem pronounced enough. Perhaps if Syn actually looked human, I might be more sympathetic to her situation. And I suppose the kiddies will like Tom Peyer’s “Go Boy 7,” but the art looked too much like a bad Weiringo/Ramos imitation. As for Metallix, I remember being somewhat intrigued over the formation of Future Comics, especially with their attempt to self-distribute their books (a plan that failed), but from what I saw of their stuff it looked like the same old same old. I had hoped I was wrong when I read this, but it looks like I wasn’t. Cool concept – a morphing suit of armor shared by multiple wearers with different skills – but David Michelinie’s script is cliché-ridden and expository and reads like a B-grade action movie. None of the other Future samples within this edition impressed me much either, which is a shame, because I have respect for the Future founders – Michelinie, Bob Layton, and Dick Giordano – and I’d like to think they’re capable of better…
Beware the Creeper (DC/Vertigo) is a reimagining of the DCU Creeper character, remade here as a woman in 1920’s Paris. I’m not sure where exactly this is going so far, but that’s bound to change soon. Jason Hall sets this up like a mystery, with a large cast of characters, both fictitious and real, but I’m still waiting to see how the hook – the Creeper character herself – will come into play. Cliff Chiang’s art is beautiful – clear, sexy, and with enough detail to make it specific to this time and place. Let’s see where it goes from here…
The Key Issue of Sigil (CrossGen) integrates a familiar story element into it – familiar to CG readers, anyway. This has proven enough of an enticement to get me to keep reading – that and Dale Eaglesham’s stunning art. Sam, the main character, always struck me as a Captain Kirk-kind of guy, although under Chuck Dixon’s writing (based solely on this issue), I didn’t get that sense. Still, I liked the story and especially liked the ending, so I’ll stick around for now and see where it goes…
Greg Rucka’s current storyline in Gotham Central (DC) must not be missed. This book has been impressive from the get-go, using the bizarre and often larger-than-life superhero setting as a backdrop to tell NYPD Blue-type police drama (much like the equally phenomenal book Powers). The current story has invited much conversation, as it involves a homosexual cop getting outed as part of a scheme by a criminal. Rucka deals with the immediate repercussions of this situation in a way that makes it relevant and intelligent, while advancing the plot at the same time. And Michael Lark's shadowy, crisp artwork is the perfect fit for this kind of series. This book has been one of the highlights of the year so far and it continues to get better.