FITS AND STARTS, BIT AND PIECES
- We're in a modified "one-liner" format this week. We'll be back to the normal 3,000 word epic columns -- I hope -- next week.
- When Steven Grant needs to run a shorter column, he gives you a full-length edition the next day and tosses you an Alex Toth story in the meantime. From me you get a batch of short thoughts in a completely disorganized fashion. Today, I must yield to Steven's superiority as a columnist.
- Last week's column about TwoMorrow's Gene Colan biography has brought in a few e-mail responses, including one from Mr. Colan himself! He was happy to report that the time he spent in Chicago was not wasted. In fact, he was so overwhelmed by commission requests that he ended up finishing them at home to spend more time with the fans of all ages at his table that weekend. It would seem the ESSENTIAL volumes from Marvel have opened up a number of younger readers' eyes to his work.
It's interesting to see how easily perception can influence opinions. At a Wizard convention, I don't expect any creator over the age of 40 to be noticed, let alone one who's worked in the industry for more than forty years. Wizard's fanbase is much younger and centered more on today's superhero comic books. While I did notice less of a buzz around Mr. Colan's table on a couple of passes by it, I probably never gave it a second look on the other times I passed by it when a crowd was there.
Just so I didn't leave you all with the wrong impression: The fans -- even at a Wizard convention -- came out for Mr. Colan and kept the buzz going. I still plan on inserting myself into one of those crowds at the next available opportunity.
- James Jean fans need to pick up the new ROLLING STONE magazine. It's the December 1, 2005 issue with Madonna on the cover. On page 117, there's a large image Jean did to illustrate the review of System of a Down's latest CD.
- I finally gave in last week and ordered some Bandes Dessinees albums. We'll see how far my rudimentary French reading skills get me before I become bored by the tedium of looking up too many words on Babel Fish. Or, perhaps, you'll be stuck reading reviews of TIGRESSE BLANCHE, LE PETIT SPIROU, and MELUSINE here soon.
- If you're looking for a Green Lantern dog bed -- and, really, who isn't? -- I hear there are still a couple left.
- In last week's podcast, I missed a couple of interesting new releases. DC released the first trade paperback collecting Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's LEGION series. This is one series I decided to wait for the trade on at the start. It's not on the best quality of paper, but it's perfectly legible. Also, the new issue of COMIC BOOK ARTIST featured a 200+ page tribute to Will Eisner. That one will take a long time to finish reading, but will be very much worth it.
- I also flipped through the ESSENTIAL X-FACTOR tome, but didn't pick it up. I didn't like the reproduction quality on some of the finer line work from Jackson Guice and Walter Simonson. In the end, though, I just wouldn't have the time to read it no matter how sterling the repro quality.
- I've reviewed the MAYBERRY MELONPOOL collections here in the past. For those of you looking for a good jumping-on point for this venerable webcomic, creator Steve Troop has the answer. The strip recently rebooted, and you can start reading the full color full page strips now.
- What's Chuck Dixon up to?
- Sometimes it can be for the best to review a comic when you have the chance to write anything about it, rather than when you have the time to sit down and write out a full review. If you keep putting off a review waiting for a large enough chunk of time to review it thoroughly, the comic becomes stale and dated. The rest of the web has moved on to the next big thing. That explains the next batch of mini-reviews, taken from the Short Box Chronicles II thread at the Pipeline Message Board.
- I read Paul Grist's BURGLAR BILL #1 - 4 recently, now available through Image Comics. I like Grist's stuff, because it reminds me so much of Dave Sim's. The lettering is a clear descendant. The storytelling styles and layouts are often similar. But there's no rampant misogyny and talking aardvarks to distract people. A lot of the work from this series is now more than a decade old, and the short backup stories are obscure and possibly older. But it holds up pleasantly. The first issue was a little confusing as Grist introduces all the characters in a slightly weird situation, but once I caught up, it was all good.
The whole thing reminds me of Rowan Atkinson's THIN BLUE LINE TV series -- a similar level of absurdity and humor, though the TV show clearly came years after BURGLAR BILL debuted. It also doesn't help that that Brit-com is the only reference I have for British police styles/tactics.
I think it's cute that Bill hasn't robbed anyone or anything yet by the series' fourth issue. There is one thing that bothers me about the book, though: It's scattershot. There's a large cast of characters with interweaving plots. It's too much, with not enough attention going to one plot. You never know which the dominating story of the issue is supposed to be until it's over. It's awkward that way. While I'm sure a trade paperback is inevitable for this series, I'm enjoying the periodic installments. They make me want to catch up on KANE next.
- ACTION COMICS #832 wraps up a storyline that was started about a decade ago, I think, when I last read the Superman titles regularly. Abnett and Lanning come in for a fill-in issue to clear that deck, long after most people forgot about it. John Byrne and Nelson stay aboard for the art, which looks as good as it always does on this title. The story isn't all that exciting, though. Superman is an incidental character and doesn't influence the plot a whole heck of a lot. It's like the plot was unfolding, and the reader is stuck on the sidelines watching it happen without every worrying about too much drama being injected into it. It's like someone at the Superman editorial office remembered an unresolved plot thread and wanted to close it as soon as possible before CRISIS impacted on the title. It had to be resolved at any cost.
- FEAR AGENT #1 is a great book. If Don Rosa worshipped Wally Wood instead of Carl Barks, this is likely the book he would have created. There's lots of cool stuff in there, including beautiful art from Tony Moore that's colored by the vastly underrated Lee Loughridge. Rick Remender's script throws you into a new world without overwhelming you with too much information, like so many other writers like to do. This one lives up to the hype.
- Congratulations to Jeff Lister for daring to be the closest to come to a negative review of ALL STAR SUPERMAN so far. It's a horribly overpraised piece of work, really, but lots of that is the usual kneejerk "Grant Morrison Is My Writing God" kind of thing.
And I like Frank Quitely's art, but his Lois Lane looks like a Grade A bimbo. If Jim Lee had drawn Lois like this, you'd be reading the snarky comments all across the blogosphere, in the newsgroups, and on message boards. I wonder why there's a double standard here.
- I take it all back. Not everyone is drinking the ALL STAR SUPERMAN Kool-Aid. Since they make a lot of the same points I would have made in an all-out review, I'll just link to the "Comics Should Be Good" review and leave it at that. Send your hate mail to them, not me.
- I learned a valuable lesson last week. If you're expecting lots of negative e-mails from your podcast, it would help to include your e-mail address in the podcast, wouldn't it?
- Not terribly long ago, I decided to stop teasing the next column, since things can so often go awry. Last week, I promised a review for this column that I just don't have to time to put together now. Sorry about that.
- That said, it's pretty likely that next week will be Pipeline Previews for February 2006.
- That delayed review will show up the following week.
- . . . unless I change my mind again.
Check the Pipeline message board for updates on the Pipeline Comic Book Podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes now, too! This week's podcast will show up over here this week. It should be up before midnight on 22 November 2005.
Don't forget about the VandS DVD podcast, while you're at it.
Various and Sundry continues its link dumps, DVD talk, and more.
More than 600 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.