Recalling The Origins of Pipeline


Happy tenth anniversary to Heidi MacDonald and The Beat. Seeing her recent look back at San Diego from 2004 got me in a nostalgic mood. I couldn't find my pics from 2004, but I did trip across something else that's pretty cool in a nostalgic way. Let's go back to when Pipeline joined CBR in 1999!

These are some of the images used when Pipeline first moved to CBR. The files are dated May 16, 1999 in my archives:

Seeing the crossbar-I in "Pipeline" on that second one makes me cringe today. In 1999, I likely didn't see it...

Sometimes, I miss that bold purple and yellow color scheme.

Here's the early sketch of what became the Pipeline logo:

Christopher J. Hicks, of "Mister Blank" fame, designed the logo, as he does all CBR logos, as far as I know.

You know how you can click and save the HTML of an entire web page and store it locally so it can be recreated at a later date? That's an awful way of saving a website. These days, I'd recommend printing the page out to a PDF or just taking a screen shot. I suppose those options weren't open to me back in 1999, and I lost all of the images on the page when I saved it as HTML.

But for historical purposes, here's Pipeline's introduction to CBR from May 13, 1999:

The big news at the time seemed to be Spider-Man appearing in a "Got Milk" ad. MC2 was still a thing at Marvel. ("Spider-Girl" was still three cancelations away from really being canceled.) Also, the CBR Links database reached the 1846 mark. I hate to think what such a database would look like today. I guess we just call that Google, right?

One last period picture that I found in the same directory:

From 2000, here's a poster I had hanging in my bedroom from the original Gorilla creators in San Diego the previous year. I don't know if I still have that poster, but it looks like it was signed by Mark Waid and someone over in the Tellos section. Not sure if it was Todd Dezago or Mike Wieringo, though. The image is too small to tell.

Underneath that, you'll see Tux the Linux Penguin, a beanie baby-like squirrel (because I like squirrels), and a college graduation dragon gift that reminded me a lot of the Mozilla mascot at the time in some way. They sit atop my Windows box at the time with a Babylon 5 wallpaper, by the looks of it. Looks like I had WinAmp running in the upper corner, too.

My computer set-up today (which is far too messy to take a picture of) includes an "Invincible" poster and two of Todd Klein's prints hanging on the wall behind my two computer screens.


While on vacation last week, I stopped in at the CBR offices in North Hollywood ("No-Ho" if you're in the know) for a visit. It's an impressive set-up, and I'm jealous that other people get to work there every day and not me. I think I need to talk Jonah into opening a Northern NJ office and studio...

Some quick pics:


  • You wouldn't think that Rob Liefeld's inks would work terribly well over Todd McFarlane's smooth line, but it does. This is a reversal of what used to happen on those early "New Mutants" covers, where McFarlane's inks smoothed out Liefeld's lines. Liefeld points out on Twitter that this cover was inked by him at McFarlane's house.
  • Clydene Nee is still having some health issues, and here's where you can help!
  • "Groo" hardcovers are getting closer. Hang tight. Cross your fingers for a San Diego announcement.
  • Mark Evanier also has the best idea for those heading to San Diego in a couple of weeks: Get the Stan Sakai benefit art book! Get lots of signatures. I know it's what I'd do if I were going.
  • Melanie Gillman teaches us all a thing or two about the color palette. Such simple, yet strong, advice on a little understood part of comics creation.
  • Having just visited there last week, seeing the original Disneyland prospectus at BoingBoing this week is good timing. I can personally vouch for the fact that the "Disneyland Emporium" is still there. It lightened my wallet significantly.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #311: "Mysteries of the Dead"

Spider-Man fights the lions at the New York City Public Library, then a building that attacks and kills a man. After a pep talk from Mary Jane, he confronts Mysterio and beats him by punching out a circuit breaker.

This is a crossover with "Inferno." For those of you who weren't around for that X-Men crossover, New York City had been taken control of by hellish demons, and lots of things around the city came alive that shouldn't otherwise have done so. This is the first of three issues tying into the event, and they only get more bizarre. Just wait until we get to issue #313...

Inferno explains the lions at the top of the issue, though the Golem-like building that attacked was more Mysterio's doing. We know that part was Mysterio, because it included fog and Spider-Man making an excuse for the fog to help deflect from the obviousness of what was going on to any reader who had already seen Mysterio on the cover.

Spider-Man-in-costume scenes bookend the issue, with Peter Parker going on a guilt-trip over the man he saw killed (but who was really an illusion, so don't worry.) Turns out Dr. Swann at ESU is back on the job after proper punishments, and Mary Jane's career brings the couple to a publicity party for Le Derriere jeans. While they do appear to be very tight, high-waisted jeans, we only see one person's backside while wearing them, from a distance. It's like McFarlane missed the gag.

McFarlane gets to draw some of those demons/aliens he seems to enjoy with this issue, disguised as movie props and illusions in Mysterio's lair.

But while his "normal people" art is at times inconsistent or outright awkward, his superhero work is top notch in this issue. The Golem looks awesome, and provides a great bundle of rubble in his final fall. The library lions look great, complete with proper texturing -- a smooth concrete shine.

Spider-Man vs. Mysterio at the end makes for a great pair of posed pages, as word balloons cascade around the pair. McFarlane even got to play with the wonky page layouts here.

One other thought: When did speedlines become commonplace in North American superhero comics? I seem to recall they became more popular when they were brought over from manga, which happened in the late 1980s, primarily through Jim Lee and maybe Art Adams. McFarlane used them an awful lot, sometimes in places where they made no sense to add any action to a panel. Here, they make sense, though:

Coloring is by Bob Sharon and Evelyn Stein, though I couldn't tell you who did what.

Rick Parker had fun with the sound effects in this issue. The best is the building falling to the ground with an earth-shattering "BRAKLASH" sound effect. I'm not a big fan of Parker's lettering -- it's awfully inconsistent in this issue -- but I liked his sound effects moments.

Felix the Cat Watch: Harry Osborn's son is holding a Felix stuffed animal in his crib.

Next issue: Hobgoblin! Green Goblin! It's the kind of fight McFarlane was born to draw!

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