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Pipeline, Issue #449

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Pipeline, Issue #449

LOTS MORE ONE-LINERS

Prepare for whiplash. There is no way to arrange this motley assortment of links, quick thoughts, and one-liners. Hopefully, we’ll spur on some conversation despite that.

  • Did you catch last week’s edition of the Pipeline Comic Book Podcast? It’s about seven minutes long and a four megabyte download. In it, I discuss the reasons for the Top Ten release list, along with a review of the new YOUNGBLOOD MAXIMUM EDITION release, and more. New podcasts are scheduled for Tuesday nights.
  • Artists I’d most like to see doing a European style album graphic novel: Lee Bermejo, Brian Hitch, Adam Hughes, Guy Davis, Jim Lee, Mike McKone, Mike Deodato, Mike Wieringo, and a few other people not named “Mike.”
  • I’ve returned to the podcast-listening habit in 2006, and I’m busy sampling all sorts of things. I haven’t been a regular listener to much for a few months, and the scope of things has certainly grown in that time. For one, there are a lot more podcasts. More importantly, there are a lot more interesting and well-produced podcasts.

    At the top of that list in the world of comics is John Siuntres’ Word Balloon. His podcast features interviews in the half hour to hour long range with comics creators discussing the span of their careers. I’ve listened to shows featuring Mike Wieringo, Chris Eliopoulos, Mark Waid, Chuck Dixon, Jeph Loeb, and Greg Rucka so far. They are interesting and easy on the ears.

    The most impressive thing, by far, is how Siuntres gets something new out of his guests. I’ve read interviews or talked to all of these people before. After awhile, they become a lot like Hollywood actors — they face the press and answer the same questions over and over again, subconsciously forming a script in their head to answer the same old, same old. Not so here. The conversations are free-wheeling and Siuntre is smart enough to be quiet and get out of the way to let his guests talk.

    The only tricky part is in figuring out who to listen to next. Geoff Johns? Gene Colan? Walter Simonson? John Ostrander? Decisions, decisions. . .

  • Listening to some of those interviews helped me come to another conclusion about the writing I do here. I’m officially making it a Pipeline Policy Statement (because I love alliteration) that INFINITE CRISIS is not to be the subject of as many jokes as possible. I started arriving at that conclusion a couple of weeks ago, just because I didn’t want to repeat myself and sound bitter or spiteful. But after listening to Loeb and Rucka speak at length about the project and all the work that is going into it, I gained a new respect for the concept.

    Don’t get me wrong — it’s still not made for me and I’ll be skipping most of it. But there’s a certain level of craft behind it all that I can appreciate, and the enthusiasm for it on the creators’ side can’t help but be a little infectious. I hope it does well for DC and its creators — and the characters, too. In the end, though, it’s all subject to the whims of editorial. If Dan DiDio is run out of town on a rail tomorrow, it can all be rewritten at the drop of a hat.

    That’s the harsh cruel side of comics that I’ve seen at work two or three times too many in the 17 years that I’ve read comics. That seed of doubt and cynicism comes from living through previous publication cycles. I can’t help but see Marvel following DC down a very similar road, though perhaps not quite to the excess DC is perfecting.

    Only time will tell, but I’m not going to be lobbing verbal grenades for their own sake in the meantime.

  • In his interview at WORD BALLOON, Greg Rucka discusses the odds of the 52 project succeeding. He thinks there’s a 15% chance of “total catastrophic failure.”

    Keeping that in mind, let’s play a game. Two questions:

    1. Which issue of 52 will be the first one to ship late?

    2. And how many weeks late will it ship?

    Or

    0. No issue of 52 will ship late. The 85% probability will hold true, just like pocket Aces always wins in poker. ::cough::

    Keep in mind that there will likely be four skip weeks over the course of the year. Those months with 5 ship weeks will get a breather for the creative teams if they choose to take it. We’ll see how they plan it when PREVIEWS starts soliciting the issues.

    (Update: Please ignore that last paragraph. The math in it stinks. They might skip the skip weeks, but that would only produce 48 issues in one year. I was overthinking it.)

  • I bought a grand total of 448 comic books in my weekly trips to the comics shop in 2005. In 2004, that number was 813. In 2003, I was at 805. A few things contributed to the diminished number. Yes, I did get comped on a few more titles in 2005 than 2004. That cut down on a few books I’d otherwise purchase, but it’s a lot bigger story than that. It’s switching to the trades and the after-effects of that. It’s remarkable how a series’ importance in your mind can shift higher or lower with a six month wait. You find out which books you miss and which ones are mere habit. As you trim the habit fat, you wind up with a more enjoyable reading list, less unread comics, and more money in your wallet.

    The average price of a comic that I purchased in those three years has also steadily risen, from just under $3 in 2003 to $3.33 last year. These stats don’t include graphic novels; that’s not skewing the numbers. There were just a lot more $3.50 and $3.95 books last year, from one-shots like Marvel’s DREAM POLICE, to mini-series like IDW’s GRIMJACK: KILLER INSTINCT, and series like DC’s SOLO. That skewed the number up in a year when I bought less than 35 comics with a cover price less than $2.50.

  • Last week was a scary release week of comics for me. Only one title shipped that’s on my current pull list. That title? SHE-HULK 2. I’ll have a review of the second half of last year’s SHE-HULK series next week.
  • I was mildly amused to see the Harlequin line of manga from Dark Horse is printed with pink ink.
  • The calendar I have hanging in my cube at work this year is not the usual FAR SIDE model, but the 16-month MICKEY calendar. Instead of stock Disney publicity art, they’ve blown up classic Mickey comic book panels to be each month’s art. Some months even include Carl Barks-drawn Donald Ducks. I’m not a Mickey expert but I imagine I’m looking at Floyd Gottfredson art here.
  • The rough sketch of the new Spider-Man costume doesn’t excite me, either, nor it doesn’t bother me. We all know it’s not really permanent, and won’t outlast the likes of Ben Reilly or the black costume.
  • Spline Doctors is a group of Pixar animators blogging about animation together. They’re also animation teachers, which means there’s a lot of interesting posts on the blog about the subtleties of character animation. Recent posts include the importance of gestures, characters that don’t blink, and scene acting.
  • DreamWorks animators appear to have a number of blogs, also.
  • Picked up a new digital camera last week. Why is this news for this column? You’ll see it this summer in the pictures I take during the San Diego convention. I kept the con in mind when it came time for new camera shopping. I take a lot of pictures of the panelists on the dais from my seat in the crowd. A good zoom is essential for those pics, and I’ve never had a very good optical zoom.

    Plus, I’m not the world’s greatest photographer. Too many of my photos come out a little blurry. Usually, the size you see them at on the web is too small to give away the blurriness, but it is often there. I also made sure the camera I picked up had an option to un-shake my shaky hand. The image stabilizer is mostly there for long-zoom photos, but I find it works even in normal photography.

    The winning camera for me, then, was the Sony DSC-H1, with a 12x zoom, image stabilizer, and 5.0 megapixels of fun. Maybe my next camera will be an SLR.

    I’ll take it out for its maiden comic voyage next month to the big New York City show. Stay tuned for the results.

  • In case you missed it last week: Amazon.com lists the ASTONISHING X-MEN hardcover for a May release.
  • Michel Gagne’s ZED returns for its seventh issue in May 2006. Gagne has posted a six page preview on his website.
  • Long delayed, Ovi (“Pigtale”) Nedelcu’s art book, DESENE: SKETCHES & SCRIBBLES is due out this week. There’s a ten page preview on his web site.
  • Derek Kirk Kim’s new web comic, “Healing Hands,” has been linked to from all across the comics blogosphere. I’m adding a link here, too, if only for the funny reference to Mario Kart in the first batch of panels.
  • Batgirl took over LiveJournal last week. I had to see a half dozen links to this before investigating it myself. It’s a beautiful piece of mass insanity. The sheer number of links on that page is mind-blowing.
  • A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned TRUTH, JUSTIN, AND THE AMERICAN WAY as one of the books I was looking forward to in March. Now, the book has its own website, complete with theme song, preview art, and more.
  • I don’t keep up with the STAR WARS comics much at all. I like the movies just fine, but I don’t have any thirst for more of it. I do have to point to STAR WARS REPUBLIC #80, though, for an example of some beautiful comics artwork. It’s all done by Doug Wheatley with Chris Chuckry on colors. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Cary Nord’s CONAN work, with wonderful painted colors over pencil artwork that is highly detailed and more influenced by European album art than North American superhero art. I’m sure it helps that Wheatley isn’t constrained by likeness issues with the characters in the book, but it’s a beautiful piece of work, regardless. Check it out; I think you’ll be surprised.
  • Over at his blog, Dorian runs through a recent issue of WIZARD to determine its informational content. I haven’t read an issue of WIZARD in months now, I’m proud to say. Sounds like I’m not missing much.
  • Finally this week: In the world of video games there’s a particularly nasty man who wants to destroy the entire industry. He has petty squabbles, lobbies for anti-game laws, and doesn’t think too highly of gamers.

    I can’t help but think of Dr. Wertham when I read quotes from him like, “put down the controller and get a life. Video gaming is an escapist activity and you’re being exploited by these companies. It’s not healthy; I worry about someone who would play Grand Theft Auto for ten hours a day. It’s a masturbatory activity, and it would be better if people put down the controller and went outside.”

    In a week when people were obsessed with laughing at the phrase “Virgin Comics,” I thought the quote was choice.

Next week: I’ll be looking a little at SHE-HULK’s previous series and, hopefully, a bit more.

The Pipeline message board is your source 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. Last week’s is forever posted over here.

Don’t forget about the VandS DVD podcast, while you’re at it.

Various and Sundry continues its link dumps, DVD talk, and more.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 600 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They’re sorted chronologically.

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