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Random, frivilous comics thoughts mostly ignoring the untimely passing of an excellent cartoonist

by  in Comic News Comment
Random, frivilous comics thoughts mostly ignoring the untimely passing of an excellent cartoonist

So, Mike Wieringo died. There’s nothing much I can add to that besides rote platitudes. I liked his work a lot, but like a lot of the cartoonists who have passed away recently, he wasn’t one of my absolute favorite creators, so I’m not feeling deep, personal sorrow or anything; besides, I’ve got fatigue from that sort of thing after having to dealt with this guy’s death and all of the lurid, horrible things involved in it, not to mention all of the other pro wrestlers dropping dead lately that I grew up watching on TV. It’s become so common place that WWE runs death notices on their website next to promos for their various cable shows. But enough about my other favorite genre involving spandex clad men hitting each other.  

It’s a shame to see such a talented guy die so damn young, on both a basic human level and a selfish, comics-centric one (I never got to see him do a run on the Hulk!) I try to ignore but still have to acknowledge, just like when someone like Eddie Guerrero died (I’m sorry about the wrestling references). But I can’t, in good conscience, do a eulogy for the guy, because he didn’t mean that much to me other than being a cartoonist I could rely on to draw aesthetically pleasing comics; I’ll direct you to Abhay’s excellent post at the Savage Critic which features the words of the man himself for that; I’m sure you can find a lot of good, heartfelt tributes from people profoundly touched by the man with a simple internet search.

Now, on to the promised frivolity!
Cassanova’s back; I am happy. It’s that simple. Despite a new, almost overpoweringly blue, art style from Fabio Moon, its still a hell of a ride; the kind of thing that makes you happy that they still make single issue comics. I’m sure it would still read well as a trade (my pal, the misanthropic Tadhg, dug the first volume (or album) that way), but I enjoy the periodic charge of manic ideas, genre bending, and high energy action too much to “wait for the trade”. Sure, the $1.99 Slimline format makes that feel like a steal (and, I have to say, I probably wouldn’t have tried it in singles if it was $3 or $4 a pop), but that’s only really icing on the cake at this point. Give it a try if you haven’t alraedy; it will only set you back $2 if you, for some reason, do not enjoy it. I won’t presume why, but I think it means the awesome center of your brain is off balance. Also, you might not have a soul. This is just conjecture, mind you.

I’m also really enjoying World War Hulk. So much so that I decided to not only not wait on the trade, but to buy some of the tie-ins. Not all of them mind you; I am neither rich or foolhardy enough to buy Heroes for Hire or Ghost Rider just because Gladiator Hulk will be slapping them around for a couple of panels. But I’ve enjoyed the Greg Pak written Incredible Hulk issues a lot, and maybe a couple of the ancillary titles. Not Frontline, though, because seriously; has anyone ever liked one of those comics? Ever? At all? I will buy a dozen copies if Sally Floyd or whatever her name is gives the Hulk the same “You don’t understand America” speech she gave Captain America, and he is left to consider it in stunned silecne… before promptly punching her in to orbit. I’m guessing that may be too obvious to actually be printed. Or brilliant; I’m never sure which is which anymore.

I barely paid attention to the San Diego Comic Con news this year. I watched G4’s televised coverage, but that was just indicative of how little comics matter in the context of the event anymore. I can’t be entirely sure, but I think that after they cut away from their interview with Joe Quesada, G4’s comic book gal Blair Butler pushed him out of the way to talk to Dane Cook and Jessica Alba; that was just the vibe I got off the thing. Not that I blame them for focusing their coverage on the movies and other things that part of actual mass medias in America; that’s what the majority of the people watching televised Comic Con coverage were surely tuning in for and if I cared at all about comics centric coverage, I would have checked CBR’s, or some other site’s*. It’s just kind of bemusing that the comics have been marginalized at a show called the San Diego Comic Convention. 

I did happen to read the news that Darywn Cooke was leaving the Spirit to work on some creator owned projects and, as sad as I am that I won’t be getting a (semi) monthly dose of the man’s art, I can’t say that it’s a huge loss.

As enjoyable as his work on the series was, it verged on the generic at times; it was good, solid action/adventure/superhero story telling with gorgeous work from the tremendous trio of Cooke, J. Bone, and Dave Stewart. It just wasn’t anything more than that. It certainly didn’t have the epic sweep of their work on the New Frontier, not that a monthly adventure comic could, and it could never hope to match the verve and creativity that the best stuff Eisner and his legion of assistants turned out. I found a lot admirable about it: it featured satisfying, self contained stories that made it worth reading as a monthly; it didn’t rely on shock tactics to keep your interest; and most of all, it was, well, good, solid adventure comics with gorgeous art. All laudable things when most mainstream comics can’t even manage a couple of them at a time, but I’m still okay with Cooke moving on to do his own thing. I seem to remember he was primed to do that after New Frontier anyway, and it should be interesting to see what he can do outside the throwback superhero niche. If nothing else, maybe they’ll use the Eisner-esque 7 page format for the next creative team/teams, which they implemented in the fill-in issue that I actually liked more than any of Cooke’s work with the character/concept (which Burgas did a good job of talking about, in between rounds of goat buggery). Really, I’m just hoping for more Kyle Baker parody goodness, and the Spirit was a pretty good vehicle for that.

So, it feels like to wrap up this ramble, because the only other comics related thing I have to talk about is the Essential Conan volume I finally got around to reading, but Geezer Greg does a better job talking about that stuff than I do, despite the notable handicap of being very old.** So go read his stuff now.

*Not that there are any other comic sites worth reading. Or that I would. Put down that club, Jonah!

** I kid because I care. And because I’m pretty sure Mr. Hatcher, whom I have the utmost respect for, is okay with it. And, moreover, I don’t think he could catch me in a foot race if I did anger him. Because he is a decrepit octogenarian. Unless he had one of those damn Rascal Scooters. Then I’m pretty much boned.

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