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Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: Fringe Benefits RIP

by  in Comic News Comment
Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: Fringe Benefits RIP

One of my favorite people in the comics biz is DC editor Rachel Gluckstern. I know Rachel from when we both wrote for Comic World News and I love her enthusiasm for awesome comics. It was probably about this time last year that Rachel wrote in a DC Nation article that her goal for the year was to bring about a comic with talking gorillas riding dinosaurs and – sure enough – before the year was out she’d done it. Only she and writer Sholly Fisch had gone one better and made them cowboy gorillas riding dinosaurs… in space.

Those, my friends, are the kind of comics I want to talk about. They’re the kinds of comics I want to read. I also love deep, meaningful comics that make you think and feel; I just don’t see why they can’t have pirates and lion-men in them. The comics that really get me going are the ones with gorillas riding dinosaurs. The ones with people punching sharks in the face. With remote-controlled polar bears.

When the Great Curve first moved to Newsarama, I figured that a lot of our readers were going to be superhero fans. And since we already had Tom and Carla covering DC and Marvel on a weekly basis, I naïvely and foolishly volunteered to talk about Everything Else. I fumbled around for a definition of the kind of books I wanted to cover and finally settled on “fringe.” As in, “not mainstream.” As in, not Marvel or DC. I was trying to avoid using words like “independent” or “alternative,” because they come with lots of baggage, but in hindsight “fringe” didn’t work any better.

Because the thing is, if the Newsarama blog was ever something that catered primarily to superhero fans; that soon changed. Hell, the whole comics culture changed – or maybe just my perception of it – and the Everything Else category was no longer fringe at all. I became dissatisfied with the name Fringe Benefits because it seemed to imply that I was out there on the cutting edge of comics digging up new stuff to recommend and I never really thought that was true.

But… new year, new blog; new column.

I don’t have any pretension about the comics I like being undiscovered territory for you guys. What I hope to do is to highlight the coolest comics and maybe get some discussion going about them. I’d love it if doing that will introduce new readers to worthy comics like Femme Noir or remind everyone how awesome Atomic Robo is, but I’ll also be happy if we just get a bunch of people talking about how much they still love Hellboy.

Unfortunately, I still don’t have a name for the kinds of books I’ll be discussing here. That may be worth a contest or something in the future. But in general terms, we’re talking about adventure comics with a heavy bias towards independents (i.e. not corporate-owned). Though if there’s a cool DC or Marvel book that I feel is being ignored, I’ll try to get JK to let me talk about that too. (I still feel bad about never finding a forum to praise Russell Lissau’s writing on The Batman Strikes).

There’s a lot of cool stuff out there and a lot more coming (I’m looking expectantly at you, Amber Atoms and Johnny Monster). I’m going to get back into the habit of going through Previews every month looking for promising new series and collections and I’ll invite you to help out by mentioning things you’re looking forward to that I missed. I’d love to see this become an interactive column.

But mostly, I want this to be a celebration of great adventure-comics. Comics that are bursting their staples and glue with fantastic ideas come to beautifully illustrated life. Comics that epitomize what Atomic Robo’s Brian Clevinger was talking about when he wrote my favorite quote from last year, “Sorry, hypothetical reviewer, you can find your decompressed comics filled with turgid dialog elsewhere. We’re too busy making a robot punch other robots to bother with that junk.”

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