Saturday, November 7, 2009

Marvel's Dark Reign over this reader...

I am a big fan of Johnathan Hickman's work, and have been really enjoying his recent stint on Marvel's Secret Warriors title. Recently I realized that I had two Hickman comics waiting to be read, Secret Warriors #8 and the Dark Reign - The List: Secret Warriors one shot. I was thrilled with the realization that I was about to hunker down with two times the Hickman goodness. Well, I had just gotten through reading the issue of Secret Warriors and had cracked the cover of Dark Reign - The List, when I spotted the fine print at the bottom of the first page; that fine print explained that the events of this comic took place after the events of Secret Warriors #9, a comic which had not yet been released! Well, that sucked. I just didn't understand why the issue of Secret Warriors could be so late and that the one shot could still come out on time. Out of curiosity I went back and looked at the full page ad for the one shot and Secret Warriors 9 which had appeared in the back of Secret Warriors 8: to my surprise, issue 9 of the series had originally been scheduled to ship after the Dark Reign one shot! Well this really sucked and seemed kind of dirty pool for regular readers of the title. Why would Marvel schedule aone shot to come out on October 7th when the issue you would want to read before it was scheduled to come out on October 28th - a whole three weeks later!?!

My guess is that Marvel decided to have a Secret Warriors Dark Reign one shot and wanted it to come out then for reasons of shipping symmetry - the other one shoys were all coming out around the same time. Unfortunately this did not allow for the regular shipping schedule of the monthly Secret Warriors title which would be much later in the month. The upshot of this is that I had to put off a really cool book for a few weeks and Marvel found anew way to put off one of their readers...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

If I were editor on MY OWN dream comic book one-shot...

This post really owes its existence to one of my recent daydreaming sessions while riding the bus on my way home from work. I was reading a graphic novel ( I find them less conspicuous to read in public than individual comic books, for whatever reason) and I had just happened to reach the endof the book - it was the third installment of the Rex Mundi series collection from Dark Horse - and my thoughts started to drift towards all things comics, and I found myself speculating on who I would most like to see chronicling the story of my life. Well of course I quickly came up with a ridiculously long and unwieldy list of names of my favourite comics creators and soon realized that maybe I should limit the exercise to something more specific. So I did. I then decided to consider who I would most like to see chronicle my life story - for the present day. To further limit things, I decided that only those creators whose work I was enjoying on anything resembling a regular basis would be considered to be in the running, so to speak.

Well, that still left me with an ample - read too long- list of names from which to choose from. I limited things to only writers and artists; I do not mean to slight the contribution of inkers and colorists to the medium but really I am just too lazy to take things that far. I won't get into the process of elimination just suffice to say that it was a fun process and really an effective technique to get me to realize just how many gifted individuals work I am fortunate to be enjoying these days. I heartily recommend it. Anyway, without any further ado, I present to you the winners of the first ever, Stephen's Current Day One-Shot Winter Special:

Johnathan Hickman
Mark Millar
Ed Brubaker
Brian Michael Bendis

Choosing the four writers was tough, but choosing the four artists was not any easier - even though I had included a pin-up section and had decided that the Special would recieve the dual cover treatment! The four section artists that I settled on were:

John Romita Jr.
Charlie Adlard
Gary Erskine
Bryan Hitch

This was a fun exercise, however I didn't stop there: I decided to have some more fun with things by taking the liberty of pairing up the writers and artists into four teams. Here now are the four pairs that I finally setteld upon (and it may interest you to know that it was not as hard a decision to pair them all up as I thought it might, I guess some of these names just are a more obvious fit style-wise that I thought) :

Writer - Artist
Hickman - Erskine
Millar - Hitch
Brubaker - Adlard
Bendis - Romita Jr.

Now this part was probably the most fun; after the slogging through the choice of names, I found that it was just as challenging to pair the names up based on their styles. I have to admit that some pairins were easier to figure out than others. I felt that the Brubaker - Adlard combination was almost aninstinctual no-brainer for me. But that's just me. I also was excited about the thought of Erskine and Hickman working together on my favourite character, lol.

So why did I choose the creators that I did?

I have been enjoying Johnathan Hickman's work ever since I lucked out and stumbled upon his mini-series, The Nightly News, which had me hooked from the first issue. From there, I have followed his work rather closely through series such as Pax Romana, and more recently his work for Marvel, with series such as Secret Warriors and Fantastic Four.

Mark Millar is a writer who I have been enjoying all over the place for a few years now. I remember how anxiously I would wait for the next issue of the Wanted mini-series or the next issue of The Ultimates a few years ago. More recently, I have been enjoying his work on such stories as the Old Man Logan issues of Wolverine and even the less than critically acclaimed, Kick-Ass.

The first time that I can remember reading Ed Brubaker's work has to be his early series, Lowlife. When I met him at a Seattle comic convention a couple of years back and asked him to autograph my collected edition of the series, he was a bit taken aback (in a good way) to see someone carrying one of those books around. I guess you never completely escape your early efforts, lol. (Much) More recently, I have been enjoying Brubaker's work on both Daredevil and Captain America for Marvel, as well as his creator owned series, Criminal, and his recent mini, the Marvels Project.

With Brian Bendis, it seems as if one moment I had no awareness of his work at all, and then the next I was enjoying his work in various places at once; with both Daredevil and his creator owned series, Powers, I found myself really taken with his work. Now I have been loyally following his work on his various Avengers titles and Marvel one-shot comics for the last few years - even his less than well received Secret Invasion mini for Marvel a year or so ago. Regardless, I still find myself enjoying his stuff enough to keep on coming back without much hesitation and you would know that that says a lot about his writing if you knew how finicky I can be about my books these days.

So the artists.

I remember John Romita Jr's earlier work on the Uncanny X-Men back when I was a teenaged comic fan, and the funny thing is that I wasn't too crazy about his work at the time. I suppose part of it is the fact that at around the same time I was enjoying the likes of Paul Smith working his magic on the book as well as the occasional 'fill in' issue by one Barry Windsor Smith or one Alan Davis. That is some mighty fine 'fill in artists', eh? Anyway, as time went on I obviously warmed up to his work; recently I found myself reading Amazing Spider-Man for the first time in years because of his run with J Michael Straczynski. Since then I have enjoyed his work on the Eternals mini and Wolverine and other books and recently have been reading Kick-Ass in large part because he is on it.

I have been a fan of Charlie Adlard ever since his work on the Mars Attacks miniseries for Topps comics in the late nineties; from there I enjoyed his work on the X-Files series, Shadowman, various one-shots, and now as the regular artist on the Walking Dead series.

Gary Erskine is a personal favourite of mine and I am pleased to finally declare my appreciation of his work in some kind of venue (even this less than mighty blog, lol). I first saw Erskine's work in the pages of Marvel UK's first Knights of Pendragon series. As with Romita Jr. I wasn't a huge fan of his work on first sight, mainly because the inking over his pencils was very rough and lost a lot of the details of his pencils. Soon enough however, his work really grew on me and I was hooked and keeping an eye out for the next time I could enjoy his art, which was usually in one miniseries or another. From books such as Hypersonic (for Dark Horse) and The Filth (for Image), or his work on different Terminator books for Dark Horse to his fill in issues on series near the ends of their respective runs, such as Firearm or Blaze, I have followed his progression. The only series that I have held off from reading so far have been Army at Love and the Thunderbolts, only because the premise of both books has not grabbed me at all. Also in the case of Thunderbolts I believe he was mainly only the inker on various issues.

Bryan Hitch. When I first saw Hitch's work on a book it was one of those Marvel Uk titles from back in the early to mid Nineties and at the time I thought that he was pretty much trying to be an Alan Davis clone. He has sure come a long way since then. I don't think that I have enjoyed the art as consistently on any regular series or maxiseries more than Hitch's runs on the Authority and the Ultimates and Ultimates II; it was this fact that made it so hard for me to even consider reading the recent Ultimates III series when I heard that he would not be on the book - that plus the fact that Millar would not be writing it either.

So, since the last time I checked most comics still came with covers and in many cases multiple covers, I decided that it would be appropriate to choose acouple of cover artists. Also, what special would be complete without the obligatory bonus pin ups that we have all grown used to seeing in the back of many a comicbook through the years?

For my cover artists, I went with a couple of artists that I didn't see doing a complete story in the comic. I won't get into the whole deadline thing, but suffice to say that I thought it would be a safer bet to only commission them for their cover work at this time - what an asshole, eh? lol
For the covers I setteld on two perennial cover artist favs of mine:

Alex Ross and John Cassaday

Both artists have become known as being able to consistently deliver awesome covers and both are already favourites of mine so it seemed a natural fit in both cases. Both of these gentlemen are reasons that it is so easy for me to buy as many Dynamite comics as I do.

As for the pin up artists, I decided to go crazy and shoehorn in as many of my remaining favs as possible. the list: (drum-roll, please)

Michael Golden
Howard chaykin
Paul Smith
George Perez
Tony Harris
Mike Mignola
Matt Wagner
Frank Miller
J. G. Jones
Jerry Ordway

Whew! What a list and I am soo sure that I will remember somebody else -just as soon as this is posted! Well, don't you wish that all of the tough decisions in life were like this? Anyway, If anyone out there has been motivated by this, please feel free to compose your own similar lists and send them to me and I will be pleased to post them to this blog - with your permission, of course.