Thursday, May 18, 2006

Not Retconned Yet

*taps microphone*

Hey there, I thought I should pop in here and greet anyone that has stopped by from Comics Should Be Good, The Legion Omnicom, or any of the other sites that have taken notice of this blog in the last couple of days. It seems my post on DC's Showcase books got linked here by Harvey Jerkwater. And folks, it only takes one link.

I still haven't decided if my hiatus here will be just temporary or permanent, but it's nice to get noticed all the same. My problem with this blog was that I tried to approach it with some discipline, and disciplined is something I'm not - either as a writer or in general. I'd much prefer to just sit down and blog whatever crosses my mind. That was a problem here. If this blog returns, it's going to be a bit more free-form.

Since we're here, I'm going to take a look at a select number of the DC collected editions announced for the last quarter of the year.

    Enemy Ace Archives Vol.2 - who knew?
    Writers: Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert
    Artists: Joe Kubert, Neal Adams, Russ Heath and Frank Thorne
    Collects stories from STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #143-145, 147-150, 152, 158, 181-183 and 200
    $49.99, 196 pages

    Probably not getting this one (too rich for me), but good stuff and I have a friend who is a HUGE Enemy Ace fan. Why not buy one for him, too?

    Holy shocking covers, Batman!
    Writers: John Broome, Ed "France" Herron and Bill Finger
    Artists: Carmine Infantino, Joe Giella, Bob Kane, Sheldon Moldoff, Murphy Anderson and Sid Greene
    Collects stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #327-342 and BATMAN #164-174
    $16.99, 552 pages

    Yeah, probably the best place to start this one. I'm still holding out hope for a Batwoman collection someday. A faint one, as you can imagine.

    Writers: Dave Wood, Ed "France" Herron and Jack Kirby
    Artists: Jack Kirby, Roz Kirby, Marvin Stein, Bruno Premiani, George Klein, Wallace Wood and Bob Brown
    Collects SHOWCASE #6, 7, 11 and 12 and CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #1-18
    $16.99, 540 pages

    Kirby is a master, and his stories are very good. Still, I'm also looking forward to seeing more of Bob Brown's work on this title.

    Writers: Mike Friedrich, John Broome, Ed "France" Herron, Robert Kanigher, Jack Oleck, Len Wein and Gerry Conway
    Artists: Neal Adams, Jerry Grandenetti, Leonard Starr, Bill Draut, Carmine Infantino, Frank Giacoia, Murphy Anderson, Wayne Howard, Vince Colletta, Jim Aparo, Tony DeZuñiga and Jack Sparling
    Collects SHOWCASE #80 and THE PHANTOM STRANGER #1-21
    $16.99, 544 pages

    The lack of the B&B team-ups indicates they are considering this one a "mystery" title rather than a superhero one. That's fine with me, though it will shortchange us one 1950s PS story that was only reprinted in B&B.

    Writers: Dennis O'Neil, E. Nelson Bridwell and Elliot S. Maggin
    Artists: C.C. Beck, Kurt Schaffenberger, Bob Oksner, Dave Cockrum, Alan Weiss, Dick Giordano, Don Newton, Tenny Henson, Bob Wiacek, Vince Colletta, Tex Blaisdell, Bob Smith and Joe Rubinstein
    Collects stories from SHAZAM #1-24, 26-35
    $16.99, 560 pages

    As I have pointed out elsewhere, I'm not sure this book (which stretches into 1978 coverdates) proves anything about the Showcase program. Not to be morbid, but several of the creators of the post-1975 issues are now deceased - Bridwell, Schaffenberger, Newton, Colletta. Whether that was a factor is unknown, but it's very odd all the same.

    Writer: Paul Levitz
    Artists: Joe Staton, Steve Mitchell, Bob Layton, Bob Smith, Bruce Patterson, Jerry Ordway and Mike DeCarlo
    Collects DC SUPER STARS #17 and stories from BATMAN FAMILY #18-20, WONDER WOMAN #271-287, 289-290 and 294-295
    $19.99, 224 pages

    This was a surprise, though a pleasant one. I'll bet people will be surprised by the amount of cheesecake in these strips. They're still entertaining, but Helena had a definite clothes problem in her solo stories.

    Writers: Joe Kubert, Bob Haney, Robert Kanigher, Frank Robbins, Archie Goodwin and David Michelinie
    Artists: Joe Kubert, Irv Novick, Doug Wildey, Dan Spiegle and Jack Sparling
    Collects stories from STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #151-204
    $16.99, 560 pages

    I LOVE THE UNKNOWN SOLIDER STRIP! Definitely buying this one.

Thanks again for dropping in on my parallel world. Leave a comment if you liked it. Oh, and I'll try to be back, too.

Monday, May 08, 2006

When I'm 64

I can see a wave of white anti-matter on the horizon, so don't be surprised if this blog either goes into early retirement or becomes a 404 message one day. I'm not saying I'm definitely giving it up, but certain matters and my spectacular lack of motivation to post here seem to point to Earth B being retconned again.

Before I fade out, I'd like to share with you a few thoughts about the comics industry as a whole. There's been a lot of discussion lately about the "old days" vs. current comics. Now, I buy mostly old stuff these days, but it wasn't always this way. When I returned to the hobby in 1990, I was all aboard on buying new books. I did my duty for years as a faithful reader. But as time went by, I found myself enjoying new comics less and less. There's a sense of "been there, done that" about the whole thing and I couldn't justify shelling out the dough for books that didn't do it for me anymore. If I'm going to continue as part of this hobby, it's going to be based largely on nostalgia because that's the only aspect of it that really resonates for me nowadays.

Of course, as I look back at books from 30 years ago and realize they are the only ones that truly mean anything to me now, I start to wonder what this hobby will be like in 30 more years. The answer, I suspect, would not be to the liking of many people that comprise current comics fandom.

Comics fandom is still a baby boomer driven fandom. I fall outside of that demographic, but I'm no kid anymore myself. Say, where are the kids in comics? Oh, most likely in the bookstore reading manga. But manga isn't "real" comics, you say? It is to them, sparky.

No, I'm not pulling a "Think of the children!" gambit regarding content. I'm saying "Think of the future!" instead. Not the short term future, mind you. Actually, I suspect that will be fine. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if there is at least one more "boom" in the comics industry as we know it.

But if there is such a boom and it goes bust, I think it will be the biggest single collapse in the relatively short history of the American comics industry. I would venture to say that such a collapse would rearrange every single thing about the industry. That is, if it doesn't destroy the one we know entirely.

I think the comics industry is playing in dangerous territory by skewing their main product older and older. There are still "kids" comics, but they might be even more ghettoized than ever. Comic books as we know them cost too much for what they deliver and no longer appeal to most kids from a storytelling standpoint. While there is clearly money to be made in the here and now with this approach, where will we be in 30 years?

In 30 years, the kids of today will be the middle-aged fanboys and fangirls. They'll be the ones with all the money. We're going to be the old folks - those of us who manage to make it that far. Can the comic book industry sustain itself on the goodwill and cash flow of senior citizens who likely will have more pressing concerns than what happens to Batman or Spider-Man next month?

Somehow, I doubt it. The American comic book as it exists now may be driving itself towards extinction in a short-term bid to stay alive. Without building a viable future fanbase, the superheroes are inching ever closer to becoming relics of a bygone age. There will always be comics, and there will probably always be superheroes. I'm just not sure the way things are now is the way they will always be. It's tougher and tougher for all periodicals with each passing year, and comic books are nothing more than disposable culture designed to appeal to a greying and ever-shrinking hardcore fan group.

People have been predicting the death of the comic book longer than I have been alive. I won't say they are doomed. And hey, I could turn out to be completely off-base and everything skips merrily along as if nothing ever happened. It's possible things will be as they've always been.

I just wouldn't call it likely.

If you enjoy current comics, I am happy for you. Also grateful, because you are doing more to keep the industry alive than I am. And if you're making comics, more power to you! I hope you find success. Just always be mindful that we are living in a house of cards and one gets taken away with each passing year. Unless we do something drastic, it's going to fall down around us.

I'm not sure there's a point to all of this. It's just the kind of thing I think about when I'm not pondering whether I should fill out my run of Strange Sports Stories sooner or later.

I'll still be lurking on the fringes of the comics blogosphere, probably commenting at Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin from time to time. Oh, and if you found you enjoyed this little exercise, I can always be found at the LiveJournal on the sidebar over there.

With that, I bid farewell to anyone who happened to be reading. Thanks, and see you around.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

For Creating Fire Alone

You know who I think is highly underrated? E. Nelson Bridwell, that's who.