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MY FAITH IN ZOMBIES RENEWED

For a preview of “Marvel Zombies” #1, click here.

This week sees the much-anticipated release of Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips’ MARVEL ZOMBIES 2 #1. Thankfully, it’s as entertaining and engaging as the recent Zombie trend has been off-putting.

If you’re like me, you’re generally sick of the whole zombie thing. Marvel has worn out Arthur Suydam’s welcome with needless variant covers for far too long now. The zombies are the new pirates and the new monkeys thing has already passed us by. The surge to create zombie properties in the back of the PREVIEWS catalog has gone from quaint curiosity to annoyance. Only Kirkman’s THE WALKING DEAD has held any popular appeal as the trend peaked and busted.

There’s a reason MARVEL ZOMBIES was such a hit in the first place. It was an outrageous piece of alternate universe fiction that put favorite characters into an insane and very dark place. It was the kind of story you never could have imagined Marvel publishing. I still question their sanity for parts of it, but it was remarkable. (Can you imagine DC publishing a book where Batman gets his head sliced off for Aquaman to feast on? Me neither.) MARVEL ZOMBIES was a piece of crazed fan-fiction that hit a nerve in the comics community in a very good way.

I’m happy to report that this follow-up mini-series picks right up in tone right where that first one left off, gives us a thrill a minute. Kirkman writes zinger after zinger for this book, leaving no page without a punchline or a shocking moment, from Hawkeye’s disembodied head to the heroes in space looking for a new planet to feast on — with surprising results that will give you either a chuckle or a small lump in your throat. I don’t want to spoil it, but it makes perfect sense and cracked me up all at the same time. Just when I thought he couldn’t top eating Galactus, Kirkman pulls it off.

There’s enough story in here to hang it all on with some additional groundwork being laid with the Black Panther’s appearances. And Sean Phillips shows off a different side of his art than what we’re used to seeing in CRIMINAL right now. This is far looser and crazier material, as fits the material.

MARVEL ZOMBIES 2 #1 hits stores this week. I wouldn’t blame you for waiting on a hardcover collection, but I think there’s enough material in here to make for a very satisfying read on its own.

ONE YEAR AGO. . .

It was actually closer to 14 months ago now that the comics industry died. You may remember the sounds of all the retail store doors slamming shut, of all the Marvel Zombies eating their last brains and retiring to the video game industry, and the internet officially breaking in two and slip-sliding away.

Yup, it’s been over a year now since Marvel announced a delay in CIVIL WAR. It was a fun ride while it lasted, but once the next issue of the biggest crossover event in modern comics history got pushed back by a couple of months, fingers started to point and camels’ backs broke from those last straws placed atop them all. Readers vowed they were done with Marvel and tsk tsked Quesada and Co. in shame.

They stuck to those vows the way any husband does to Elizabeth Taylor.

On a more serious note: At the time, I wondered what would happen to all the associated titles whose next issues were delayed, but which were still done on time. Would those precious extra weeks mean that Marvel would stockpile comics and never have another late book in 2008? Would it mean we could see books double ship in January, once the delays and tie-ins were over?

BWAH-HA-HA.com!

The weekly “One More Day” event is now well into its second month, with no ending planned until Thanksgiving, two months past its original schedule. Frank Cho’s MIGHTY AVENGERS took full advantage of the delay and, well, the first six part storyline is still dribbling out, eight months later. CAPTAIN AMERICA shipped one issue in the first four months of the year so the death would tie into the current releases, though everything’s been on schedule since then.

No monthly titles double shipped. Did production just kinda slow down on them in the last year? Are creators working on two books at once while we’re not looking? Heck, Marvel’s future events are already being pushed back, as Bendis recently announced ULTIMATE ORIGIN being pushed back by a half year because another writer can’t finish his tie-in book in time.

At least WORLD WAR HULK is on time.

On a completely unrelated matter, that WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL came out a couple of weeks ago. I guess the ex-Marvel folks who left for DC have now moved to where? Image? Poor things.

THE LINK BETWEEN COMICS AND PHOTOGRAPHY

I’ve been looking into some more serious digital photography lately, considering all the options and looking at what the appropriate SLR camera would be for me. While I’ve arrived at the Canon Digital Rebel XTi as my camera of choice for eventual purchase, it’s been a fascinating learning experience getting there. I’ve listened to countless podcasts, perused all the websites, read writeups in the magazines, flipped through books at the store, and subscribed to a few blog feeds. It’s fun to learn about the next step of photography above and beyond even my admittedly slightly-higher-end point and shoot photography. (A delightful Sony DSC-H1, it is.)

Some of the stuff I’ve learned is so obvious that it astounds me that people pay for books to examine topics like:


  • The rule of thirds
  • Don’t cut off hands or feet
  • Beware of tangents
  • Let your single image tell a story
  • Be aware of your focal spot
  • Frame your shots
  • Use foreground, middle ground, and background for added depth

A light bulb went off in my head after making that list. This is all basic material for a comic book reader, but not a newbie photographer. All of those bullet points are things comic book artists are taught, or learn on their own. They have to tell a story with each panel. They have to be careful about movement in that panel, where a characters’ limbs are in relation to the panel border, etc. Readers inherently capture that. Scott McCloud writes books about it.

Being an avid comic book reader and the type of guy who’s read countless “How To” types of books, I’m perfectly primed for an interest and an awareness of some basic photographic principles.

I find that fascinating.

My Flickr account is “AugieDB,” in case you’re curious. I can’t wait for the day I can throw some dSLR pictures up on there.

THE LINK BETWEEN COMICS AND THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

With great fun and more than a little schadenfreude, we laid witness this past week to the unraveling of the music industry. Oasis, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, and Jamiroqui all dumped their major label record deals to pursue their own distribution and money-making methodologies. Radiohead went a step further by putting their new album up on the web for sale DRM-free through a PayPal link — letting the user dictate the price they’d pay for an album. I’m sure the music industry looked on in shock and fear when the average price paid turned out to be far less than the $20 they would like to charge to help balance out the rampant piracy that iPods create. (That would be their concept, not mine or reality’s.)

The topper came on Thursday morning, when word spread that Madonna struck a huge deal — $137 million! — with a concert promoter to release her next three albums, promote her name, and manage her tour.

When the RIAA — who had their first and so far only major success in prosecuting one of their clients last week — can’t hold onto the Material Girl, you know they’re in troubler. Most sane organizations would see the loss of this level of talent as a wake up call. Perhaps, one might surmise, they’d realize that now is the time to rethink their business model. I submit to you, though, that the RIAA’s head is firmly wedged so high up into its own hindquarters that they’ll just keep suing their users, figuring they can make up the money by blackmailing people into paying them unchallenged fines to avoid costly court proceedings.

I’m reminded of seven Marvel Comics creators leaving the publisher and creating their own company to release their next comics. They’d take control of their own creative outlets, organize their own conventions schedules, publishing programs, and brand promotion. The big money, in the end, turned out to be in the licensing of properties and not in the comics, much as music artists have found touring far more profitable than CD publishing.

Marvel learned so much from that Image scenario a decade back that they went bankrupt and nearly destroyed the whole industry in the Heroes World debacle.

You see why I have faith that the RIAA will merely find bold new ways to blow it now.

Next week: An update on my hunt for downloadable digital comics. This time, we find a site that gives them away!

The Various and Sundry blog is still chugging along, even if nobody reads it. I try not to obsess over numbers, but I looked at the hits counter over the weekend and could hear the echo chamber reverberating. In any case, this last week of updates included another example of my newfound photography fixation, customer service updates, thoughts on the video game wars, the best t-shirt design of the year, a look at the Amazon Unboxed service, the weekly glance at what’s new on DVD, and a whole lot more.


Please tell all your friends to stop by for a visit sometime. Pretty please?


Everything else: Twitter, Tumblr Blog, The Pipeline Podcast, ComicSpace, and Google Reader Shared Items.


I’ve dropped MySpace off that list. It’s a spam magnet now and nothing more. I’ve given up.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 800 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They’re sorted chronologically.

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