PIPELINE AT FIVE — A LOOK BACK AT A LOOK BACK
If you were away on vacation last week or had an ISP outage, you missed a celebration of five years of Pipeline. Five columns in five days offered 7 different chances to win free comics, looks back, and wonderful art from Pipeline favorites. Monday’s column contained the Pipeline FAQ, to which we’ll be adding at the end of this column. Tuesday’s column was the more traditional look forward at the comics due out that week. Wednesday through Friday, the columns took a look back at some of the highlights of the past 5 years. Each column also had your chance to win some free comics, as well as some beautiful art in honor of the occasion. Here’s who helped out last week:
Monday: Chris Eliopoulos
Tuesday: Tom Beland
Wednesday: John Gallagher
Thursday: Tracie Mauk
Friday: Steve Lieber
If you missed any, please click on those links if only to check out the beautiful art. Each piece can also be clicked on if you want to see them in more detail.
The Pipeline Daily madness is behind us now. At least, it’s behind us until the big convention in San Diego during the first weekend in August. In the meantime, I’m going to stick with two columns a week, thanks.
The comic book giveaways are all still open for entries as of this writing. I’ll be closing them down on Wednesday night, 19 June, at 8 p.m. EDT. I’ll draw the winners and announce them in Friday’s column. So get your entries in today.
Thanks, also, to everyone who passed along their kind wishes on the anniversary, both in your contest entries and in separate e-mails. Yes, I read and appreciated them all.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again now: I love hardcover books. The past few weeks have been a goldmine for the format. I’ve got KABUKI: SCARAB, DAREDEVIL: YELLOW, and ORIGIN all lined up for me to read. I’ve already breezed through DD, so let’s talk about that one a little bit.
For those who might be coming in late, Marvel originally presented DD: YELLOW as a six-issue mini-series with story by Jeph Loeb and art by Tim Sale. They went back to Daredevil’s origins and crafted a remarkable love story between Karen Page and Matt Murdock. That’s the mostly-hidden arc for the series. What you see is a lot about Matt taking up legal studies in an effort to avenge his father’s murder, some early superhero hijinks, and the start of Nelson & Murdock. The thing that the story keeps coming back to, though, is the love triangle between Page, Nelson, and Murdock. It’s the focus of the doomed ending of the fourth issue and the heartbreaking ending of the fifth. It’s the point of contention between Nelson and Murdock, and it’s the part that grounds the story to a level of normalcy. It’s not all super powered heroics, and even those bits cross over into the romance. But that’s OK. It all fits. Murdock has to learn to balance his career and his vigilante-ism. In fact, it’s about the only missing point in the book for me: How can a man who’s passed the bar and knows the law inside and out also engage in a form of vigilante justice at the same time? It’s probably the most fascinating part of his character, but something that would require a book of its own. This was not the place for it. It’s also something that’s being touched on in the current DAREDEVIL series.
Loeb and Sale have been working together long enough now to know each other’s strengths. Loeb can create snappy dialogue and a story with heart. Sale can inject it with the right amount of mood and a strong sense of realism or surrealism, depending on what’s needed. In the case of DD: YELLOW, it’s definitely a realistically-drawn story. You will believe every brick is on that building and that every ceiling tile belongs on the ceiling. You believe that because Sale isn’t afraid to draw it and, even more remarkably, the pages don’t clutter up with it. Indeed, the larger format to this hardcover only helps to bring out the detail. The larger format is a big aid to the storytelling. On some of the full-page splashes, you’ll think you’re looking at an art book.
Sale’s art hasn’t looked this impressive since SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS. In DD: YELLOW it’s his use of the ink wash technique that sells the book. Not only does it look impressive, but it also helps set the book in the past with its murky and muddy tones. The story takes place not just at the beginning of Daredevil’s career, but also at the time that the origin was created, in the early 1960s. From the cobblestone streets to the fancy dresses and the period hairstyles, Sale leaves no stone unturned. Sales’ inkwash (combined with the meticulous colors of Matt Hollingsworth) helps to sell the book as looking a little “older” and realistic.
I remember picking up the hardcover printing of Loeb and Sale’s BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN. I said at the time that it was the standard of what a comic book (book with a capital “B”) should be. It looks like a normal prose book. It’s got a nice dust jacket. It prints a large story. It fits well on your bookshelf. It’s reasonably priced. SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS and BATMAN: DARK VICTORY followed the same format. Now, we can add a book from the competition to that same section of bookshelf.
Marvel has one-upped DC in recent months with their hardcover program. Not only do they create attractive hardcovers that are nicely designed, but they pack them with bonus material at the end where available, and even print it on larger paper. Right now, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN Volume 1 hardcover is the single best use for the format. Books like DAREDEVIL: YELLOW may be smaller, but they’re no less impressive. This book includes a little behind the scene piece on the making of the comic, including a look at the original script, some pencil sketches, and the final ink washing.
But it’s still the story that takes the show. DAREDEVIL has had a lot of good ones lately. Heck, even the Frank Miller run is available again. For a character that was all but written off a few years ago, it’s been a heck of a comeback. DAREDEVIL: YELLOW is a great addition to the collection.
(The book, I should add, contains one of my favorite funny sequences in modern comics. In the third issue, Matt Murdock takes on a pool hall filled with some wisecracking college kids. Not only does the blind Murdock turn around and demolish the punks in a round of billiards, but he deflates their barbs with his own series of Helen Keller jokes. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies of all time, Steve Martin’s ROXANNE, where Martin’s character reels off a list of 21 jokes about having a large nose as a means of deflating the bully at the bar. That movie, of course, is based on CYRANO DE BERGERAC.)
PIPELINE FAQ UPDATE
Joe Blankenship, Jr. asked a question in e-mail that I thought I should answer here. It is, after all, a relatively Frequently Asked Question around these parts:
How do you pronounce your name?
With great enunciation.
It’s pretty much how Chris Eliopoulos had it in last Monday’s column, just so long as you make sure to use a hard ‘G’ sound in my first name. The last name is two syllables. The first is either “dih” or “dee” or “duh”, depending on what part of the country you’re from. It doesn’t matter to me. I even mix it up sometimes. The second half rhymes with “week.” It’s simply “bleek.”
This Friday: Some more comics reviewed!
More than 400 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They’re sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.
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