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The Middle Ground

The Middle Ground #136 | Wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you

The cost of comics - Like, the actual monetary expense of making and distributing these damn things - is a source of constant curiosity/wonder/horror to me. I am arguably the furthest thing from business minded in some ways (Read: Most ways), and I admit to looking at sales figures and shaking my head at times, wondering how publishers managed to break even on certain titles, or even if they actually did.

The Middle Ground #135 | Standing on the shoulders of Titans

Sometimes, you see the announcement of a project that, although you are quasi-convinced that it's likely to end in tears, you can't help yourself but be grateful for it happening in the first place, and also hoping against hope that it succeeds against the odds. To wit: The news that Titan Publishing is launching a new line of creator-owned comics aimed at the American Direct Market but created by British creators.

The Middle Ground #134 | The promise of things to come

As December (and 2012 in general) draws to a close, the holiday season is now officially in full swing, and that means that it's time to think about the next year about to begin, and also maybe get a little greedy in the process. With all that in mind, here are five random things that I'd like to see from 2013's comic books.

The Middle Ground #133 | Built on shifting sands

The first time I read Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske's Change, I was distracted by all the things I didn't like about it; the similarities to the stories that influenced it, the use of language at certain places, a knowing tone that seemed smug on first read-through. I'd read - and disliked far more than I'd expected - Kot's earlier Wild Children, and that had made me suspicious of Change even before I got to the first page, I think. And then I re-read it.

The Middle Ground #132 | At knockdown prices

Ah, the joys of comic book sales. With everything that appears in your local store on a weekly basis, you could be forgiven for overlooking some treasures waiting for you in the back issue bins or the graphic novel back stock shelves, but when the sales come along, it can be a gift: Not only a reason to dive into the back pages of things you might've missed, but also a chance to get them for less money than you would've paid the first time around.

The Middle Ground #131 | The numbers game

For some reason, I keep reading and re-reading Jim Zubkavich's breakdown of indie comic economics over and over, as if at some point it's actually going to make sense to me. It's not that I don't understand the math as he presents it, but more than my brain refuses to comprehend the scale of the unfairness of distribution of wealth when it comes to comic books.

The Middle Ground #130 | Thank you, friends

This isn't a "Best of 2012" list, because (a) 2012 isn't finished yet, and (b) every time I attempt to put "Best of" lists together, I inevitably end up forgetting something that I utterly adore and feel guilty about it afterwards. Instead, inspired by Thursday's upcoming holiday and the fact that you might be thinking about buying things on Friday for some reason, here are five things in comics from this year that I'm thankful for.

The Middle Ground #128 | Redrawing the ground beneath your feet

This week sees the release of Rogue Trooper: Tales of Nu Earth Vol. 3 in the UK, a collection of the final days of the original run of 2000AD's cloned science fiction soldier. Re-reading the book this weekend, it struck me how little the kid who read these strips at the time they were published appreciated some of the greatness they offered, how oddly ahead of its time Rogue Trooper was during the period these strips came from, and how surprisingly educational this book is for wonks like me who like to see how the comics sausage is made.

The Middle Ground #127 | A galaxy far, far away

You know that it's possibly time to abandon all hope when one of the first thoughts you have when reading the news that Lucasfilm has been purchased by Disney is "But what will that mean for Brian Wood's new Star Wars series from Dark Horse?"

The Middle Ground #126 | Introduction to Recommendations 101

The other day, a friend was visiting and asked for something to read in a somewhat half-hearted manner; I gave her The Nao of Brown, fairly confident that it'd be her kind of thing in terms of tone and theme (and entirely confident that the art would bowl her over), and then started thinking about gateway comics. What makes a good introduction for newcomers to the entire comic medium?

The Middle Ground #125 | Everything old is new again, again

Whether it's re-released previous print work with all-new material included, or using digital to release work that never even made it to the print stage in the first place, this past week has been one that has suggested that, yet again, old indie comics could find themselves resurrected by digital.

The Middle Ground #124 | The problem with reality

My problem with diary comics, I think, may be that I read them in the same way that I do other comics, and then end up feeling guilty when I judge the central character - i.e., the person creating the actual comics - for decisions they've made or things that they say. It's not even as if they know that I'm thinking such things, but nevertheless, I find myself feeling bad for being so unsympathetic to such talented people.

The Middle Ground #122 | This is the subject of the day

The notion that we rely on independent companies to save comic history is something that crept inside my head at some point last week, and refuses to leave. It's an idea that I wrestle with - almost literally, one that I want to try and defeat, just throw to the ground and finally deal with once and for all - a lot, and yet no matter how much I want to say "No, that's stupid!" it returns, whenever I turn my back, tapping me on the shoulder and saying "Well, actually…"

The Middle Ground #121 | Know the signs

Okay, I admit it: I'm sold. Thing is, I couldn't tell you exactly when I got sold, and that's a strange part of the charm. I can remember enjoying, but not loving, the first X-O Manowar reboot issue, and then finding that the new Harbinger was far closer to my sense of a good thing, but it maybe wasn't until Bloodshot that I realized I was - by accident, almost - all in. The new Valiant, it seems, is a cumulative process.

The Middle Ground #120 | While we wait

The plus side of something being creator-owned is that, in most cases, that means it's also creator-controlled; the more practical and technical aspects - release schedule, pricing, etc. - are something that creators have some level of input into, even if not final say over. Which is, let's be honest, a pretty great thing… well, until it means that you have to wait for the good stuff, of course. Which is to say: I can't tell you how glad I am that Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth's Stumptown is back this week.

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