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Pipeline Previews, October 2003

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Pipeline Previews, October 2003


Let’s try something different this month.

Instead of the usual monthly round-up of books that look interesting, I’m using this month’s PIPELINE PREVIEWS as a jumping-off point for all sorts of tangential points, questions, and reviews.

As always, I encourage you to pick up a copy of PREVIEWS for yourself. Take a flip through it and pre-order what you see in the catalog that strikes your fancy. Although this is a relatively slow month — between convention season and holiday shopping — there’s still plenty of good reading material in there.


I like to be optimistic about comics, because I think there’s a lot going our way right now. Every now and then, though, some number crunching is startling. Dark Horse has this ‘exciting’ blurb in the FRAY TPB solicitation:

“All of the first 7 Fray comic books have gone to second printings with the first issue enjoying a third printing. Combined sales have reached over 200,000 copies!”

Do some math: That’s less than 30,000 copies apiece of a comic written by the creator of a TV show with a fervent following in the low millions. That’s in a comics world in which the top 12 or so comics sell better than 70,000 copies. It took multiple printings to get there, too.

Still, it is a really cool storyline from Joss Whedon with break-out art from Karl Moline, who has since joined up with CrossGen for ROUTE 666. I haven’t read the last couple issues yet, but the first six were entertaining and energetic enough to recommend this. If you’re a super-Buffy fan, of course, there is a signed and numbered hardcover edition for the paltry sum of $80. The rest of us can just deal with the $20 paperback.

Dark Horse is also attempting another anime tie-in, with the comic book version of popular anime series, TRIGUN. Each 360 page black and white digest-sized volume will run $15. I’ve only seen a couple episodes of the television series, but it is entertaining and imaginative in its own right. There’s nothing better than a gunslinger animated in Japan.

Here’s another topic of discussion I had with some friends the other day: How should a retailer order JLA/AVENGERS? Do you take the combined orders for the two individual titles and figure that’ll satisfy everyone, giving subscribers enough copies plus a few extra from the overlap for casual fans who are sucked in by the spectacle of the mini-series? Is the excitement there for a book that started its life nearly twenty years ago? The thing was announced better than two years ago already and it’s just coming out now. Doesn’t that kill the spin cycle for it? Is this destined to be the best-selling book of the year when it carries a $6 price tag for four straight months? That wasn’t a problem for Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT STRIKES BACK mini-series, but didn’t that one bring in more outside interest that this series likely will? I’m glad I’m not a retailer for decisions like that. DC is soliciting the second issue of the mini-series for October.

LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION is a 56 page adaptation of the forthcoming animated/live action movie starring the likes of Steve Martin, Jenna Elfman, and Brendan Frasier. It’s not a bad value at $3.95, so maybe some kids somewhere will pick it up. I haven’t picked up a movie adaptation in comics form in a decade, probably. I remember buying the original BATMAN movie book and STAR TREK V, since it was written by Peter David and came off the original script. The rock creatures were in the comic book. They didn’t make it to the big screen. The Archie Goodwin/Walter Simonson ALIEN adaptation is a book of legend at this point, but have there really ever been any other great adaptations, or are these books just a shameless money grab that are ultimately futile?

I remember some of my earliest back issue bin-diving being for John Byrne’s SUPERMAN books. At that point, the DEATH OF SUPERMAN was just around the corner and I was really enjoying the Big Blue Boy Scout’s adventures. It made sense to go to the “new beginning” from just a few years back. I did manage to pick up a bunch of them, but I never got them all. DC is going trade paperback happy these days, though, so now you’ll get a new printing of Byrne’s six issue mini-series, MAN OF STEEL as Volume 1. Volume 2 collects the first issues of the three monthly series right after that. (The MAN OF STEEL series wouldn’t start for a few years yet.) The creator list is strong: Byrne, Jerry Ordway, Terry Austin, Dick Giordano, and Marv Wolfman. The stories are classic Superman, and reasonably priced. If you’re trying to get excited for the upcoming Superman revamp that DC seems intent to put together, this wouldn’t be a bad start. Chuckle at the fashions, thrill to the adventures.

In the meantime, take a look at the interview CBR has up right now with Chuck Austen to see his plans to turn Clark Kent into Peter Parker.

Ed Benes pulls off a neat trick on the cover of BIRDS OF PREY #60, clothing Black Canary in her trademark fishnet stockings — worn underneath two leg casts. How nice of the doctor to let her put them on before he applied the casts.

Rick Leonardi begins his run on BATGIRL with the issue shipping October 22nd. Leonardi is still one of my favorite overlooked artists in comics. Right up there with him is Phil Winslade. I also can’t wait to see where Leonard Kirk pops up next.

Image Comics is releasing the third oversized hardcover edition of LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. There are a lot of great books out there that haven’t been seen in awhile that could do well in this format, I think. Certainly, anyone reading this column right now can think of two or three series of mini-series they’d like to see in a $15 oversized edition. It reminds me a bit of the CrossGen model. Part of the smarts there is that CrossGen pays once for its material and can print it over and over again — in single issues, trades, Travelers, on the web, giveaways in magazines, overseas, and who knows what else. LEAVE IT TO CHANCE is a series that’s been published in the monthly format and the trade paperbacks — and even an early regularly-sized hardcover. Now in its third or fourth printing style, the creators don’t have to worry about paying for anything more than printing and distribution costs. There’s no more creation fees. It’s all profit. It’s a good idea, and done with a great book.

Robert Kirkman premieres WALKING DEAD #1, a new monthly ongoing series from Image. You know, it just isn’t an issue of PREVIEWS with at least one new series from Kirkman.

Marvel is releasing WOLVERINE #6 as a special self-contained story titled “So, This Priest Walks Into A Bar…” It guest stars Wolverine’s buddy, Nightcrawler. This is usually the spot where I talk about that great Scott Lobdell story in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS featuring the two, but I won’t do it again here. Suffice it to say, these two characters have a great history and I’m interested in seeing what Greg Rucka and Darick Robertson do with it next.

To start capitalizing on the next Spider-Man movie, Marvel is releasing a six issue mini-series called DOCTOR OCTOPUS: NEGATIVE EXPOSURE. It’s drawn by Staz Johnson, who’s best remembered as the creator that one guy used to show up at all the Batman panels in San Diego for to ask, “When will Staz draw ROBIN again?” It was quite comical back in its day. I guess the joke has run its course already. You never know, though. I’m sure he was there this year, but with a new question.

Paco Medina is the new artist on VENOM, starting with issue #6. Medina did a great job on the sadly overlooked SUICIDE SQUAD revamp last year. He might just be up there on that list with Winslade and Kirk. Can’t wait to see what he can do with this book. It has two issues this month, as do all the Tsunami books.

CEREBUS is up to issue #295 in October. Wow. Say what you will about Dave Sim, but he’s shown remarkable perseverance in putting this book out over the years. He’s also one of the best letterers in the fields, which seldom is acknowledged. Gerhard’s attention to background detail is likewise at the top of the field, but often without comment. Politics do funny things, sometimes.

Avatar’s FRANK MILLER’S ROBOCOP marches along to its fourth issue in October. Take a look through one of the issues of this series, if only for the amazing eye candy that is Juan Jose Ryp’s art. This man has a remarkable Geoff Darrow-like eye for detail that certainly drives the colorists nuts on this book. Any comic he illustrates is automatically worth looking at.

An uncharted island with zombies invades CrossGen’s SOJOURN #28, leading to two inevitable remarks from the peanut gallery: First, Greg Land will be drawing beautiful women in less clothing than usual. Secondly, Zombies Are The New Pirates Are The New Monkeys. Look out for Ninjas in 2005. And I’m sure Randy Lander would then predict robots in 2006.

Both Don Rosa and William Van Horn have stories in UNCLE SCROOGE #323, which makes the $6.95 package look affordable to everyone for a change. It also includes a Carl Barks reprint that hopefully won’t be as muddied and washed out-looking as all the other Barks stories have so far in the Gemstone run. WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES has a Mickey Mouse story drawn by Cesar Ferioli to balance out the Name Creator-heavy US issue this month.. Honestly, I’m not being snarky; I like Ferioli’s Mickey art enough to think that it all works out.

NOW COMICS has returned, with a monster trade paperback collecting RALPH SNART ADVENTURES. Good for them. I remember picking up their THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS comic in my earliest years of collecting. (In fact, somewhere around here, I have the movie adaptation to GHOSTBUSTERS 2 from NOW.)

There’s only one problem I have with their ad on page 341. The headline proudly proclaims this to be the third incarnation of “an innovative company.” Soon after that, it hypes the next book release, VESPERS, as being written and illustrated by the NOW’s publisher, Tony Caputo. The caption under it says that he also wrote a book called HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH YOUR OWN COMIC BOOK. Do you really want to take that advice from a guy who has had to recreate his comic book company no less than three times?

On Tuesday, I’ll get back to some straight-on comics reviews. I have literally piles of comics surrounding me at the moment. I’ll just grab a stack and we’ll see what I come up with this weekend. It’s hardly a scientific process here at Pipeline World Headquarters.

Various and Sundry is picking up steam again. This week, I’ve had thoughts on BIG BROTHER 4, trendy teenage fashion, the latest “It” people in Hollywood, word on some movie trailers, and other random linkage.

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.

Somewhere around 500 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.

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