TWO LAST WRITER/ARTISTS
The UK's own Michael Wigg writes in with a well-reasoned suggestion:
"In my opinion, Bryan Talbot has been personally responsible for three of the best graphic novels of all time. These are, of course, THE ADVENTURES OF LUTHER ARKWRIGHT, A TALE OF ONE BAD RAT, and more recently HEART OF EMPIRE. The amount of time and energy put into each of these works is apparent upon every re-reading, and it is obvious each was a labour of love for Talbot (a description used many times by many reviewers).
"While my description of a graphic novel may not coincide with that of Diamond (since these were all originally released periodically as individual issues), I find it hard to describe them as anything other than GNs.
"Bryan is solely responsible for these three masterpieces, and while he has had the opportunity to work with many extremely talented writers (Neil Gaiman, Pete Milligan and Jamie Delano, in particular), it is always his personal work which impresses me the most. In my opinion, not only is he the most talented writer/artist around today, he is also one of the most talented writers and one of the most talented artists we have in the industry. And a Brit, no less."
David Gallaher, from the forthcoming THE COMIC READER magazine, writes:
"I didn't see Will Eisner on your list - yet you included Scott McCloud. Nothing against Scott, but shouldn't Will get Kudos at least for his endurance?"
Yes. Absolutely. If McCloud is on there, then Eisner deserves it, too. The truth is just that I've never read much of Eisner's stuff. I plan on correcting that this year, though.
And with Will Eisner on the list, I hereby bring this topic to a close. Feel free to discuss it on the message boards all you like, however.
One last comment on Scott McCloud, however: I visited his web site the other day and finally read "My Obsession With Chess." It's an autobiographical on-line comic about McCloud's relationship with the game of chess. Sometimes moving, sometimes surreal, sometimes strange, it's a wonderful example of the use of the world wide web for comics. It's not a simple grid layout. Well, it actually is, but not the standard left-to-right and up-to-down flow you'd normally expect. It doesn't use any fancy tricks of technology. There are no silly animations. There is no Flash content. It just makes the best use of the dimensions of the computer monitor and the layout of a web browser to make for an interesting reading experience. This is what an on-line comic should be. It's the Internet equivalent of a graphic novel.
It's a terrific strip and comes highly recommended. McCloud seems to be a bit obsessive about some things in his life. It's a trait I can sympathize with. It's happened to me on more than one occasion. There are certain things in my life I keep coming back to voraciously. Granted, I've never taken any of them as far as McCloud has taken chess, but I think it all falls along the same lines.
It's been a running thread in Pipeline these past couple of months: What line of comics could challenge the ABC lineup in quality? Some people put up the Maverick line, but I couldn't really take it seriously. It's always seemed to be to be a poor excuse to unite all of Dark Horse's non-licensed, non-manga properties under one label. Hell, I think it's redundant.
But COMICOLOGY Czar Brian Saner-Lamken wrote an eloquent defense of Maverick that does it justice. (What is it with all you upstart comics magazine guys writing me this week?!? ;-)
With his permission, I reprint it here for all of you to read. You may consider this the final word on this topic. I don't want to drag discussions out indefinitely. Brian writes,
"…it occurs to me that that my runner-up for best line after ABC is actually something of an "anti-line" -- Maverick, the creator-owned Dark Horse imprint.
"Marvel Knights has turned out some good stuff. But Maverick, while having neither a unifying vision nor uniform quality, would beat out Marvel Knights for me easily if I had to choose all-or-nothing either one. Maverick is really no more than a way to identify Dark Horse's creator-owned books, not as small or elite a group as Legend was and not even employing the same editors across the board. What you do get with Maverick, though, is stuff from Frank Miller, Sergio Aragonés, and that holy triumvirate of Gary Gianni, Mike Mignola, and Stan Sakai, who together make a pretty good argument for comic-book creators with alliterative names turning out better work than most.
"One of the things that the Maverick line has in its favor is that it has a minimum of advertising, often nothing more than a Dark Horse house-ad page somewhere at the end and possibly another house-ad page spotlighting other issues of the series at hand. This leaves the back cover open for a nice simple logo or panel reproduction, and the inside covers free for just about the best-designed credits pages that you'll see outside of trade paperbacks and hardcovers. I don't like ads in my comic books, even while realizing that they're often a necessary evil, and I really don't like it when they're practically shouting at you to spoil the mood. How many times have you had a story stop cold because of an ad on the facing page? Why those otherwise lovely Millennium editions that a certain 65-year-old publisher is turning out have jarringly anachronistic advertisements for movies, videogames, or acne formulas on the back covers, when so much care has been taken to include more appropriate ads hyping similarly themed new and reprint material inside, is way beyond me. So bravo for those folks with creator-owned books at Homage or ABC who have the clout to get the interior ads shoved to the back, and double-bravo for the Maverick line for turning out elegant packages that prove that single comic-book issues need not look disposable."
Thanks, Brian. Now everyone go double-check with their retailers to make sure they ordered enough copies of COMICOLOGY for next month. Then tell them to order another half-dozen, for good measure.
A BRIEF LOOK AT PREVIEWS
Jay Hosler's CLAN APIS gets the trade paperback treatment in May. 160 pages for $15. It's a great deal for a great series giving an anthropomorphic look at the life cycle of a bee.
I've finally figured it out! Everything Cavewoman eats goes right to her breasts! You know how you just want to pop off the top button of your pants after Thanksgiving dinner, for a little extra breathing room? I think the picture on page 211 shows Cavewoman's equivalent in action. Her top - little more than a bikini top - is busting open. Must have been a big dinner.
FRANK CHO ILLUSTRATOR is a 96 page hardcover book filled with pin-ups and other artsy bits from the creator of LIBERTY MEADOWS. At $30, it's a little pricey, but in this comic market, it's probably a steal. I'll take one.
The BABYLON 5 MAGAZINE closes out with its 24th issue. That's the sad news. The good news is that it's a 100-page issue, with loads of neat features. It's the last vestige of B5 fandom I'm associated with, so I suppose after this, it's over for me, too. (Well, I'll always have the videotapes and I'll keep campaigning for the DVDs.)
Mark Salisbury's WRITERS ON COMICS SCRIPTWRITING book gets an American edition in May, as well. I reviewed this book months ago, from the original British edition. The American edition seems to be the same exact book, but a lot cheaper - $15. It comes complete with interviews and script samples from the likes of Warren Ellis, Peter David, Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Joe Kelly, Dan Jurgens, and more. It's well worth the price and anyone who seriously wants to study or try the art of comics scriptwriting should buy this one. It's on page 301.
SAVAGE DRAGON hits the 75th issue in spectacular form, with a 48 page issue. Dragon changes the timeline. This ain't the kind of thing that will wrap up in a 6 issue storyline, folks. This one's for keeps. Imagine all those alternate-earth storylines from DC or Marvel had actually counted for something. That's what this issue will be the start of.
At long last, DC resolicits for the much-anticipated SUPERMAN & BUGS BUNNY mini-series written by Mark Evanier. And in the Avoid-At-All-Costs category, the softcover edition of the collected UNCLE SAM mini-series is also solicited.
Finally: Quite possibly the most anticipated book for me in this issue is coming from Marvel: NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. It collects Jim Steranko's 1960s 19-issue run of STRANGE TALES for $20. I haven't read these issues personally yet, but from all accounts they form a textbook of sequential storytelling techniques. It ought to be interesting to see how it holds up, more than 30 years later.
All of that, of course, is the tip of the iceberg. There are lots more goodies to be had. Take a look.
A Very Special Pipeline2. It's an idea so screwball I don't even want to discuss it just yet. I just hope I can pull it off. You'll have to wait and see. Be here next Friday for that one. It's high-minded, high-concept comic talk.
Tuesday's Pipeline Commentary and Review, of course, will be more of the same comics reviews and spur-of-the-moment commentary. Not that it will be any less engaging than Pipeline2, mind you. Just stop by. You'll see.