Monthly archives: December, 2009

Looking Ahead Digitally

The start of a new year is upon us.  It’s a good time to look ahead of what 2010 might hold.  Vaneta Rogers over at Newsarama put together a nice article the gathered quotes from editors and publishers from around the industry looking at their outlooks on the new year.  I found this to be far more interesting then looking at the creative outlook for 2010.  Creatively it will just be more of the same mix of good and bad like 2009.  The publishers have far more interesting challenges ahead of them in the new year and the biggest challenge for them all is digital.


Numbers and Meaning

The Beat has a interesting look at various sales chart related things.  It helped shed some light on something I have been wondering as well as helping to illustrate some of the differences in the costumers between comic shops and book shops.

The part that shed some light for me are the numbers from Brian Wood’s trade sales on his series Northlanders.  Basically the book is doing healthy numbers in trade despite low sales on the monthly books.  This is the pattern for Vertigo books in general but it’s tricky for fan like to find proper numbers for sales.  My main concern being that I want to know that the Vertigo books are doing well as well knowing what “doing well” means in terms of numbers.  Looking at Northlander’s numbers is a good way to get a feel for how the Vertigo line is doing.  According to Wood, Volume 1 trade has done 18,783 and Volume 2 so far has sold 9,073 to the direct market.  Now Northlanders is a book basically about Vikings and a their way of life.  It is well written and the artwork is very good but the subject matter strikes me something that would not exactly sell well for an ongoing series.  To make a long story short the trades are doing healthy numbers in the direct market and while Wood could not give actually numbers outside the direct market he did note that they are significant and not too far off from the direct market.  I’m glad to know this as it helps show the Vertigo books are still finding their market.   (more…)

Beasts of Burden

The fourth and final issue of the Beasts of Burden mini series came out this week.  I thought it a good time to look at the title as a whole as Dark Horse plans to collect the mini series and the original shorts that first appeared their horror anthology series into one hardback sometime in 2010.  I’m a long time fan of Jill Thompson’s art work and that was all the incentive I needed to check this out.

Beasts of Burden is about a group of mostly dogs and a few cats that help protect their town, aptly named Burden Hill,  from supernatural forces.  It’s classic horror comics just with talking animals as the good guys and a healthy dose of humor to keep things from being too dire.  One of the strengths I found with the book was the balance of the characters.  Each dog and cat have a distinct personality while taking advantage having them being different breeds so it’s easy to tell them apart.  Jill Thompson’s really shines through here.  It’s easy to see why she won an Eiser for best painter back in 2004 for the first anthology installment of this series.  While I think it’s great that Thompson has found success with her children’s books, I’m very happy to see her working on something that geared for a older audience.   (more…)

Doombin Bits

Duane Swierczynski

Swierczynski answered some reader questions over at CBR mostly regarding Cable.  Everything happening in Cable is leading into a X-book event called “Second Coming” in March which Swiercynski will write.  Sadly it does not sound like he will writing more Cable after that, but it’s hard to say since he could only say he would be writing a X-office related mini series but no other details.  The saddest news from this is when asked about Iron Fist he said there are no plans involving him despite the fact that he would still love to write more Iron Fist.  He even mentioned wanting to do a years worth of stories of just Orson Randall (the Iron Fist with the guns), which is something I have wanted to see.  I sure hope Marvel does something about this.  It’s bad enough letting Iron Fist go to waste, but even worse that one of their best writers wants to do more with the character and they have no plans for it.

Checking in with Manga (more…)

X-Factor, Cable, and Oz

I’m finding it interesting how fractured Marvel seems of late from a creative perspective.  The negatives are more obvious especially with Siege bearing down on us, but there are some very clear positives within Marvel as well.  You have to dig a bit but they are there.  With that in mind I thought I would look at three of the books I have enjoyed from Marvel this past week.

X-Factor #200

X-Factor is a tough book to peg.  It unfortunately gets buried in the grab bag like list of X-books, even though it is different from the other books in the X-family.  X-Factor would probably be best described as writer Peter David giving strong character development to lower tiered characters from the X-universe.  Sadly the book has one major weakness that being unreliable and often poor artwork.  I think that makes the book a tough sell since readers have to look past rather bland art to see the strength of the book which is Peter David’s writing.  Issue #200 is a good jumping on point for new or lapsed readers.  It sets a new storyline involving the Fantastic Four where Valeria and Franklin Richards hire out X-Factor to find their missing mother Sue. (more…)

The Periodicals

The Beat has a rather interesting article on the debate between periodicals, as in the monthlies, versus original graphical novels.  It is in response to what Brian Hibbs wrote  in a recent column.  It is a curious debate as some think the monthly format is becoming obsolete.  From my perspective I thought it was obvious that the answer is a little bit of everything is needed.  Hibbs does a nice job of explaining why the monthlies are still important, which really comes down to a reliable and steady cash flow.  The collected editions and OGNs have value in addition to the monthly books, especially in recent years with traditional booksellers factoring in.  This is one of the reasons why I think DC’s new Earth One line is a good move.  They will be OGNs from named creators outside of the continuity that their monthly books are in.  It is something that is in addition to reliable monthly line, but it would foolhardy for it to replace the monthlies.

The comments in the article at the Beat are the most interesting part to me as John Jackson Miller weighs in with numbers and thoughts on the trends.  Miller wrote, (more…)


In a effort to get away from the usual frustrations of mainstream Marvel and DC, I turned to Image once again.  This week saw the release of the Olympus trade collecting the four issues mini series, and much like Chew the book did not disappoint.  Olympus centers around brothers Castor and Pollux.  They act as sort of agents on earth for the gods if anything escapes from Hades.  The story starts out with the brothers tracking down an escapee and sending him back to Hades but they forget to close the portal in time and much a bigger problem gets out.

Knowing that this was only a four issue mini series I expected the story would feel rushed as it had to pack quite a bit into a limited number of pages.  The pacing did not prove to be an issue as the story flowed at a nice pace, especially in the last half.  It’s a quick read but it doesn’t feel like a rush job.  It helps that the book plays off of Greek mythology, so in essence it has Greek continuity to act as back story.  Christian Ward’s art is rather unique.  The line work looks like the rough pencils many artists use to lay out a story before the proper art is done.  This could have easily made the art a mess that was hard to read.   (more…)

Spoiler Alert

Captain America Reborn sure is bad.

Bits of Interest

The past week has been rather uninspiring for me.  Last week’s releases made for one of those weeks where nothing was truly bad but nothing felt noteworthy.  Most of the good were things like the latest issue of Walking Dead, which almost seems pointless to review because anyone who likes it is already reading and any new readers need to go back and pick up the first collected volume and read it from the start.  Need less to say the past week did not leave much to blog about.  With the start of this week there has at least been some news of interest trickling in.


I could have sworn it was already announced over the summer that Matt Fraction would be taking over Thor at some point.  Apparently that was just a strong rumor as the LA Times blog Hero Complex has now officially confirmed that Matt Fraction with artist John Romita Jr will be taking over Thor starting in May with a Free Comic Book Day release.   (more…)

A Superman Approach to Foreign Policy

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post today compared President Obama’s Nobel Peace Price acceptance speech to a metaphor Klein had made early last year while at The American Prospect — “A Superman approach to foreign policy” — life ideally imitating art imitating life.

Superman and Captain America were superheroes of an odd sort: tremendously powerful beings whose primary struggle was often to follow the self-imposed rules and strictures that lent their power a moral legitimacy. Neither allowed themselves to kill, and both sought to work within the law. Given their strength, either could have sought world domination, and even if they didn’t, they could have been viewed with deep suspicion and even hatred by those who were convinced that they one day would seek world domination. It was only by following ostentatiously strict moral codes that they could legitimize their power and thus exist cooperatively with a world that had every right to fear them. Indeed, soon enough, both were forming communities of like-minded super beings (The Justice League for Superman, the Avengers for Captain America) and generally operating much like, well, the nation that birthed them. As Spiderman — a later hero who, like so many heroes, bought into the idea that rules and restraint separated the good guys from the bad guys — liked to say, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Superhero deviation from that moral code typically comes with an awareness of the moral implications — characters like Wolverine and the Punisher, who can rationalize their violence, still carry guilt with them and a sense of their own moral failings. They aren’t presented as the only ones in the Marvel Universe who have the guts and the courage to do what’s right.

Only in the real world are actions like “Weighing the consequences” and “forcing oneself to acknowledge the rights and freedoms of others, even when that’s inconvenient” considered “taking the easy way out,” while those who use their disproportionate power to dominate others are considered the real tough guys.

UPDATE: And here is The Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency from Matthew Yglesias via Brendan Nyhan. Good stuff.