Somewhere along the way, I realized that I liked creators more than I liked characters. It’s not a revelation for the rest of you, of course – Or, at least, it shouldn’t be – but I remember, back in the late ’80s, early ’90s, realizing that seeing the names of certain creators (Mostly writers, although even earlier, I can remember thinking that John Byrne’s X-Men was somehow more enjoyable than Dave Cockrum’s) on the cover of a book almost guaranteed something approaching quality, and thinking “Does this mean I’m a snob?”
It doesn’t, of course (My first two followed writers? Grant Morrison and Peter David. I don’t think the latter qualifies me for the snob label, really), but I did experience some guilt dropping titles when new creative teams came aboard – I still do, in some cases. But part of following creators is also that you end up finding things that you never would’ve discovered otherwise, purely because the creators are looking for something new. A case in point: Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.
I first discovered their work in 2004, I think, when Larry Young made a point of ensuring that I read a copy of Ursula, their first English language book, published by Larry’s AiT-PlanetLar. I might be fudging details, because Fabio was also working on Kirsten Baldock’s Smoke and Guns at the same time, and every now and again, I’d see pages from that on display at the Isotope and just be hypnotized by them and the wonderful way they looked, but I know that Ursula was definitely the first finished book I read featuring either creator (Smoke and Guns came out the following year, again from AiT-PlanetLar, and really, if you haven’t read it, you really should; it’s great); it was also good enough that I decided that I had to buy Rock’n’Roll, their next project, even though it was imported from Brazil and in another language, and for whatever reason, it convinced me that these were people I should make a point of following anywhere.
Anywhere, it ended up, was Image, as Casanova debuted and introduced me to Matt Fraction – although, perhaps, Five Fists of Science had come out just slightly earlier? – which resulted in another creator crush, and Dark Horse, who put out a collection of their short stories called De:Tales which is still, Vertigo’s Daytripper aside, my favorite work of theirs, filled with sentiment and warmth and magic and romance. From there, of course, their stars ascended, with work on The Umbrella Academy, more Casanova, Sugarshock and Pixu, and the wonderful Daytripper.
Looking at it like that, trailing the creators from publisher to publisher and genre to genre, there’s a great sense of… I don’t know, discovery connected with the whole thing: I found not only Moon and Ba, but also Matt Fraction and Gerard Way, some wonderful magical realist comics, some fun young adult stuff and whatever sense of familiarity and understanding and retro Casanova feels like, to me. Instead of leaving me a snob, following creators opened me up to all manner of things I might not have discovered otherwise.
Which, really, is better than continuing to buy X-Factor even though I didn’t really like Scott Lobdell’s stuff.
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