Funnybook Babylon

May 10, 2012

With Two Left Feet, It’s Hard To Walk The Straight Path

Filed under: Articles,Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 3:00 pm

I. Everybody Talking About Changing the World, the World Ain’t Never Gonna Change

In the summer of 2011, I came up with a plan. I would collaborate with Chris Eckert on a post previewing DC’s relaunch of its line of superhero comics, and write a series of brief posts in subsequent months that would discuss the creative successes and failures of the initiative. I was cautiously optimistic about the initiative in the first few months, despite some early disappointments. Even a month ago, I still cared about five or six of these books. I was going to write a post on Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins’ Wonder Woman and Francis Manapul’s Flash and follow that up with a post on the two stand-out miniseries of the post-relaunch period at DC – Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Jamal Igle’s the Ray and James Robinson’s Shade.

I’m not sure that I can do that anymore without acknowledging my growing concerns about reading books from either publisher. I don’t think I can pretend that controversies about DC’s attitude towards the creators who work on the books it publishes don’t have an impact on whether I will buy (or can recommend) their books.

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March 16, 2012

New 52 Brand Management Musings, or what happens when the cat wakes up.

Filed under: Articles — Jamaal Thomas @ 12:00 pm

Six months after DC’s historic line wide relaunch, it’s become clear that the artists have taken over. The four best books from the first wave — Wonder Woman, Flash, Batman and Animal Man — all have talented writers, but with all due respect to Messrs. Azzarello, Lemire and Snyder, the art is the primary appeal. It’s all about Chiang, Manapul, Capullo and Foreman.

Quick(ish) confession: I have a troubling tendency to attribute the authorship of corporate superhero books to the writer by default, particularly when the art’s mediocre. Sure, I spend time thinking about the choices made by the pencillers, inkers, colorists (and sometimes the letterers), but tend to consider them contributors to the writer’s creative vision. It’s an easy and astonishingly lazy way to read comics, but that’s the way they seem to marketed most of the time. Still… no excuse.

The writing has only been interesting to the extent that it serves the needs of the story that the artists are telling. Batman‘s entertaining because of the contrast between Capullo’s post post Bronze Age art and Snyder’s horror/thriller inspired writing. Animal Man is great because of how Lemire’s absurdist gothic horror prose complements Travel Foreman’s body horror. I love Wonder Woman and like Brian Azzarello, but without Cliff Chiang’s spare, expressive art, the story loses some of its meaning: it goes from a gripping tale of a warrior struggling with family and identity to a pretty standard superhero book. Chiang strips the book of the artifice that’s bogged down earlier volumes while retaining the iconic quality that’s central to Wonder Woman. His action scenes are plausibly staged and brutally efficient in a way that grounds a story steeped in Greek mythology. Tony Akins does a nice job and all, but it’s an entirely different book in his hands.

The other books I’ve sampled from the first relaunch wave have been maddeningly inconsistent. The first few issues of Action Comics and Batwoman were pretty good, but painfully slow pacing, reduced page counts and questionable storytelling choices have wasted much of that early promise. Williams is growing as a writer, and Morrison still shows some flashes of brilliance, but there’s something missing from both books.

So, some thoughts on the new 52 books:

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January 9, 2012

An Aperitif

Filed under: Articles — Jamaal Thomas @ 1:00 pm

I’ve been meaning to write about comics for about two months, but life got in the way. Family, work, holidays… you know the spiel.

I haven’t stopped reading comics (as evidenced by my Twitter feed), but between the controversies about salaries and work conditions at Marvel Comics, the Kirby (and Ghost Rider) litigations, diversity in mainstream superhero books and day and date digital comics, I’ve found it easier to simply disengage from the debate for a bit. I think we’ve been having the same conversations about the comics industry for the last twenty years, and nothing really changes. We’re still asking Marvel and DC to improve working conditions for creators and to respect their creative rights. We’re hoping that they treat the writers, artists and editors who were responsible for creating their most valuable intellectual property with kindness, respect and honor. We want them to realize that attracting a workforce with diverse backgrounds and experiences will foster innovation and lead to more interesting and original stories. We want them to learn how to effectively market and sell their product to a wider audience, many of whom will never set foot in a comic store.

I feel like I’ve been trying to balance my love of some Marvel/DC books with my disdain for the management of both publishers for most of my life. They’re never going to change. Neither am I. That doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to rail against their unjust and/or shortsighted business practices, but… I guess I just need a break sometimes. Maybe it’s holiday malaise, even though this might have been the best holiday season since I was eight years old.

Quick comics update: (more…)

October 24, 2011

New York Comic Con 2011: No Fear, No Loathing, Just A Pleasant Experience

Filed under: Articles — Jamaal Thomas @ 3:24 pm

Another New York Comic Con has come and gone… The FBB crew ran wild during the annual pop culture festival that reminds us that we have the best and the worst hobby in the world. We drank, ate, schmoozed with creators and held our annual FBB/4L reunion sans David “Benedict Arnold” Brothers. We also drank. In the midst of all the fun, there were some fascinating announcements and developments. Let’s take a brief look, shall we?

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September 7, 2011

Imaginary Stories

Filed under: Blurbs — Jamaal Thomas @ 6:52 pm

This is going to be a quick one.

I’ve been thinking about canon, alternate takes on Marvel/DC properties, cultural ownership and the artificial rules of storytelling in fictional storytelling over the last couple of days. I’m still working through some ideas on the latter two, but I want to spend a little time on the notion of canon and the possibilities suggested by Jon Morris’s DC Fifty-Too Project. For the unfamiliar, Jon Morris, an independent cartoonist and creator of the hilarious Jeremy: The Complete Strip Collection, among others, was inspired by DC’s relaunch of its main line of titles. DC Fifty-Too was a challenge issued by Morris to 52 cartoonists to imagine their own version of a new title using DC characters. The results were spectacular, a reminder of the potential locked in DC’s vast library of characters, possibilities that will remain unrealized due to restrictions of continuity or canon or the conservative preferences of editors and readers. It was the same sense of loss that I felt after reading Brendan McCarthy’s pitch for a post-apocalyptic Jimmy Olsen book or James Stokoe’s brilliant Spider Nam idea. I’d love to read these projects, whether as one-shots or limited series or ongoings, and it’s a shame that none of these projects will ever see the light of day.

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July 30, 2011

Avenging the Week – SDCC Leftovers

Filed under: Articles,Avenging the Week — Jamaal Thomas @ 11:02 pm

With the flood of news last week from San Diego, its inevitable that some things will escape notice. Here are two overlooked picks from the San Diego Comic Con, along with some other ephemera.

At DC’s Vertigo panel, Derek McCulloch announced Gone to Amerikay, an original graphic novel about Irish immigration to the United States over the last 140 years that he worked on with Colleen Doran and Jose Villarubia. McCulloch described the book as a “historial epic with a crime story and a ghost story and a couple of love stories and all kinds of things in it”. Sounds intriguing. Here’s a preview:

gonetoamerikaypreview

Nate Powell, author of 2009’s Swallow Me Whole, a critically acclaimed comic about young siblings struggling with neurological disorders, premiered Any Empire, a new original graphic novel for Top Shelf Comics. In Any Empire, Powell explores childhood, fantasy, violence and the pervasive presence of military culture in America. Check out Chris Mautner’s interview with Powell for Robot 6. Any Empire is due in stores on August 9th. I can’t wait.

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I love his use of negative space.

One Soul. A book by Ray Fawkes that simultaneously follows the lives of eighteen individuals from a number of time periods from gestation to maturity one panel at a time and weaves them into a narrative about spiritual journeys. It’s the kind of narrative that would make an excellent prose book or film, but a comic book? Fawkes raises the stakes by telling the stories in a unique manner that brings a mosaic to mind. In the words of iFanboy’s Paul Montgomery, “every page is part of a two page spread of 18 panels. Each of those panels is devoted to one of the 18 characters”. Confused? Check out an excerpt below.

ONE SOUL PREVIEW 33 - 34

I admit it, this is a cheat – this book was announced at C2E2 and is currently available at your local comic book shop, bookstore or Amazon, but I found out about it during SDCC, so I’m including it anyway.

Other Interesting Links

One More Thing: On July 28th, the US Southern District granted Marvel Comics’ motion for summary judgment against Jack Kirby’s estate, concluding that Kirby’s work for the publisher from 1958-1963 were “works for hire” as defined by the Copyright Act of 1909. In 1972, Kirby signed an adhesive agreement in which he assigned any property interest in any of the works he created for Marvel to the publisher. The Kirby heirs sought to terminate his assignment of his federally protected copyrights in these works purusant to the Copyright Act of 1976. After negotiations failed, Marvel went to court for an official declaration that it owned the property in question, since the agreement signed in 1972 also contained an acknowledgement that the work Kirby had done for Marvel was as an employee for hire. The court decided that there were no material issues of fact and that Marvel was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Read the decision (pdf) here and commentary from Colleen Doran here. This is a tragedy for the Kirby family, but it’s hard to imagine a different outcome.

As Judge McMahon wrote, “this case is not about whether Jack Kirby or Stan Lee is the real “creator” of Marvel characters, or wheether Kirby (and other freelance artists who cerated culturally iconic comic book characters for Marvel and other publishers) were treated “fairly” by companies that grew rich off the fruit of their labor”. It’s important to distinguish between natural and legal rights – the court system is not the only (and sometimes not the best) way to resolve controversies. There are other ways.

Stephen Bissette (artist of Swamp Thing, horror anthology Taboo and Tyrant) recognizes this distinction, and advocates for a fan boycott of Marvel products:

“I don’t question the legal logic Marvel’s attorneys made, and the court decision reflects. However, nothing is being said about the conditions under which Kirby signed, and was pressured to sign, the contracts presented. I don’t think “extortion” is too unfair a word to use, particularly in the very public case of the Marvel artwork “return” contracts.

That is a moral issue here, and Marvel’s pattern of decades of effectively slandering, maligning, and dimissing Kirby and his legacy is, too.

If, in the 1970s, Neal Adams and Jerry Robinson hadn’t rallied around Siegel & Shuster, who had multiple signed settlement contracts with National Periodicals to wield against them, agreements they had signed over their lifetimes (agreements they and their legal reps—like Albert Zugsmith—had negotiated), nothing would have changed.

Adams and Robinson brought to the public the moral case, the moral outrage, over the treatment of the creators of Superman.

At that time, the legal matters were considered “settled.”

C’mon, folks: Jack changed a century, the medium, the industry, our lives, and Marvel.

Let’s change how the rest of this onfolding story goes.”

Read the whole thing. It’s an incredibly compelling argument. I’m tempted to say that this won’t make a difference. Marvel is an extremely profitable arm of a multibillion dollar media company and is far less vulnerable to collective action than it was fifteen years ago. I don’t know if readers would be willing to forgo entertainment for an abstract principle – the last boycott was about the quality of the books being published. I wonder if the majority of fans even know who Jack Kirby is, other than Stan Lee’s sidekick. I fear that any call to collective action will reveal the reactionary vein in comic fandom. I’m afraid that it won’t matter. But even if it doesn’t make any difference at all, I don’t know if I can justify continued economic support of an unjust system.

July 27, 2011

Fan Service – Setting the Table

Filed under: Blurbs — Jamaal Thomas @ 11:10 am

“Writers don’t do stories specifically to piss off fans. Writers write stories about which they feel passionate and invested. As a reader, you’re entitled to one thing and one thing only: a reading experience in exchange for your purchase. And if you like that reading experience, the expectation is that you’ll come back for more. But the audience does not and should never be in control of the stories. Writers are writers because they know how to do what audiences don’t know how to do—tell stories that affect you and move you. It’s way tougher than it looks. Storytelling isn’t a democracy, you don’t get a decision in how the stories go. All you get is your one vote, with your dollars or your feet.”

Tom Brevoort, Marvel Senior Vice President of Marvel in response to a reader question asking “why [] writers persist on doing controversial directions/stories that are disliked by fans?”

Sean Collins of Robot 6 singled this quote out as part of a growing creator backlash against ‘fan entitlement’, including some comments from Brian Lee O’Malley about George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series and some…interesting comments made by Grant Morrison in his new book Supergods. It’s a weird faux trend that gives creators, journalists and critics an opportunity to attack their favorite straw man – the entitled ‘bad fan’ who we all use to externalize our insecurities around comics fandom. There’s a lot to say about this trend, but let’s focus on a very basic point – the question above illustrates fan confusion, not entitlement.

There’s nothing particularly controversial about Brevoort’s response. He was simply stating a truism in the kind of brusque fake tough guy way familiar to long-time sports fans. I picture WFAN’s Mike Francesa putting Vinnie from the Bronx in his place.

One could imagine a more responsive, if somewhat simplified answer to the reader’s question – for the most part, writers of mainstream Marvel Comics don’t persist in writing books that most readers actively dislike. Marvel is your typical profit-seeking enterprise in the business of selling comic books that readers want to buy, which creates a disincentive to publish widely disliked comics. But I suspect that this reader knows this already. So, a more precise response – what makes the reader think that fans don’t like those ‘controversial’ stories? Which fans is he referring to?

A lot of fans assume that they know what fans want. It’s understandable. They’re fans. Who would know what a fan would want better than a fan? They assume that their views and preferences (and those of the other fans they know, whether in real life or on the internet) represent those of comics fandom. It’s a comforting lie. As readers of these books, we need to come to terms with the fact that we really don’t know anything about what other readers want. We can look at sales charts as an imperfect proxy for fan preferences or dredge up anecdotes about the people who frequent our local comics store or who we interact with on social media, but we’ll still be unable to identify reader preferences with any real precision. I don’t know what book this reader was referring to, but there’s a very real possibility that he’s talking about a book that has a widespread audience. The world is bigger than your store, your neighborhood, your friends list.

I know how it feels. I thought the end of Civil War was a cop-out, Secret Invasion a waste of an intriguing premise, and that One More Day was a solution to a non-existent problem. Many, if not most of my friends agreed with me – if I posted an incisively cutting comment about any of the above on Twitter, in an online conversation or in my local comic store, I’d get nothing but positive reinforcement. But my village is not the world. The truth – and granted, this is relying on the imperfect proxy of sales charts – is that all three of those books were immensely popular and in all likelihood, the majority of readers enjoyed them. It’s always dangerous to assume that we know more than we actually do, to universalize our limited experience – and that applies equally to creators who have bad interactions with misanthropic fans. A guy on a message board who’s unfairly critical of the last volume of the Scott Pilgrim series of books doesn’t represent anyone other than himself.

I guess that if I was in Brevoort’s shoes, I would’ve told the reader to chill out and to remember that the book they hate may be someone else’s favorite book. If he (or she) doesn’t like a particular book, there’s always another one that might be preferable. I know, I know, it’s more fun to mock people who don’t ask good questions.

One other thing – It’s tempting to conclude that those who disagree with you are the ‘bad fans’ – the marginalized ‘other’, those who buy comics out of a pathetic sense of obligation, or as a sad investment or because they’re obsessed completists. Those people are out there, but we all need to deal with the fact that reasonable people hold a broad range of opinions. There are people out there who don’t like King City, who didn’t think Asterios Polyp was a work of genius, who weren’t blown away by Mark Waid’s first issue of Daredevil. I think those people are mad. But that’s not really true. To paraphrase film critic Mark Kermode, other opinions are always available. More on the Great Strawman Witch Hunt of 2011 later.

July 25, 2011

2800 Miles From San Diego: The FBB SDCC Round-Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jamaal Thomas @ 3:48 pm

Well, the 2011 edition of the San Diego Comic Convention is finally over, and if you’re anything like me, you have a RSS reader filled with dozens of announcements, previews and panel recaps from the Con. It’s a little overwhelming. Here’s a round up of the most intriguing announcements out of the Con this year.

All of the information below is cobbled from the enterprising folks who covered the Con in person – Laura Hudson, FBB4L co-chair David Brothers, Andy Khouri, Chris Murphy, Caleb Goellner and FBB alum David Uzumeri for Comics Alliance; Kiel Phegley, Dave Richards, and the rest of the Comic Book Resources news team; and Rich Johnston, Mark Seifert and Brendon Connelly for Bleeding Cool. I’m consistently amazed by the hard work that they do each year to provide us with news and capture the Con experience.

Let’s Go!
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January 28, 2011

Top Ten Pamphlets Bought in 2010 Not Named Daytripper of the Year: Part Two

Filed under: Blurbs — Jamaal Thomas @ 9:57 am

We celebrate New Year’s all month long at Funnybook Babylon. Here’s more of the top ten pamphlets of 2010 not named Daytripper.

6) Amazing Spider-Man #630-633: “Shed” (Zeb Wells, Chris Bachalo, Emma Rios: Marvel Comics)

“Shed” was the highlight of a great year for the Amazing Spider Man title, as the long-running Gauntlet plotline (in which Spider Man is not only tested in battle with his greatest enemies by the Kraven family, but by crippling personal and professional setbacks) and the “Brand New Day” era drew to a close. Shed is an understated story about restraint, simultaneously one of the subtlest and most terrifying mainstream comic book stories of the year.

TASM 630022

Zeb Wells begins to subvert the classic Marvel/DC monstrous doppleganger narrative from the first issue. The first story starts in a conventional manner. Spider Man and the Black Cat bust a robbery. Dr. Connors — the nefarious Lizard — continues his struggle against the reptile within under difficult circumstances (estranged from his family, sexually frustrated, disrespected by his boss). Peter has boring family problems. Chris Bachalo plays with black and white backgrounds in a vaguely intriguing way. At this point, I figured that this would be another story in the Gauntlet saga that finds an inventive way to reintroduce a classic Spider Man villain. Maybe the Lizard would be more powerful, or more intelligent. By the middle of the issue, Wells gave readers a hint that something would be different, by giving a character a premonition of how the story would end that perfectly matched reader expectations. We all know how a Lizard story ends. Connors goes wild as Lizard until he’s confronted by a family member or loved one. Even when a writer pushes against the limits of this narrative, we know that they will stop short of the edge. The vision of a happy ending is a warning to the reader. This will not be a classic Lizard tale.

TASM 630014

Over the following three issues, Wells and Bachalo tell a taut horror tale that comes remarkably close to inverting the traditional Spider Man story. I’ve read a lot of stories in which Spider-Man’s struggled or even failed against an antagonist, but this feels different. Almost all of his assumptions about the Lizard are incorrect: even at the end, he still thinks that he’s fighting a mutated Curt Connors. All of his time-tested strategies for defeating a super villain prove completely ineffective. It feels like he’s always five minutes too late. There is no banter. In the end, Spider-Man doesn’t achieve his goals via a prolonged action set piece, he wins by outthinking his opponent and in one key moment, refusing to act: surrendering to a vicious mob in a dark nod to a famous scene from the second Spider-Man film.

TASM 633012

It’s a refreshing departure, particularly when I realized that Shed featured relatively few trademark Spider Man feats of acrobatic violence.

I also appreciated Wells’s willingness to engage with his premise by the end of the story. On one hand, “Shed” is a story about the triumph of human decency, from the Christ-like faux sacrifice of Spider Man to the subplot featuring Aunt May, over the reptilian darkness within. Mammalian propaganda if you will. On the other, the end of the story reminds us that shame and guilt don’t necessarily deter someone from engaging in wrongdoing. I’ll admit, on the first read, I thought that Shed presented a moral universe in which commonly held values about shame, nudity and murder were treated as essential to the human experience. Even though I suspect that we’re meant to assume that the Lizard is either dishonest or delusional when he talks about “killing” Connors, I thought the scenes where the Lizard realizes that he is unclothed and needs to be dressed and where he feels shame for Billy’s death, which seems to come from the fact that murder is wrong, not that killing ones’ offspring is wrong, didn’t resonate. Upon further reflection, I think that Wells was aiming for something a little more complex: the Lizard was disoriented when the mammalian part of his brain began to reemerge, but the end of the book suggests that he had successfully integrated his two selves, with potentially unpredictable long-term results.

Untitled2

I wish that I could buy a Bachalo-pencilled title every month. He combines kinetic (and coherent) action scenes with uniquely expressive characters to tell a compelling story, no matter the quality of the actual writing. Bachalo is in absolute control of every page, using all available space to move the story forward, set the mood or focus the reader’s attention. Everything is layered with meaning.

TASM 633005

The first time Spider Man confronts the Lizard in “Shed”, Bachalo gives the reader a stylized version of a classic scene: the two foes confronting each other in a pile of rubble. The Lizard is big, almost alligator like, but has the familiar slacks and lab coat. His mouth is closed. Even though he poses a threat, there’s almost something docile about his appearance, as if he’s just a strangely mutated man.

As David Brothers observed in his great piece on Bachalo , the image below doesn’t just focus the reader’s attention to the two figures in the panel, but underlines the severity of the threat faced by Spider-Man. Bachalo shows us a Spider-Man overshadowed by the redesigned Lizard, who has transformed into a giant humanoid reptile. This Lizard is utterly inhuman. He/it doesn’t just want to defeat Spider Man. He may want to devour him.

TASM 010

I could’ve easily picked a number of Amazing Spider Man arcs for this slot — “Grim Hunt” itself and “Origin of the Species” come to mind — but there’s something else that puts Shed over the top.

Untitled

This is the moment when Shed became more than a flawlessly executed superhero book. The Lizard finally sees the world from a ‘mammalian’ perspective and realizes that even in his evolved state, he had been viewing the world through a blinkered perspective. It’s a tragic moment that calls back to classic monster movies. In a perverse way, it’s almost moving.

5) Batman & Robin (Grant Morrison, Frazer Irving, Cameron Stewart, Andy Clarke, Dustin Nguyen: DC Comics)

Batman & Robin is the perfect blend of clever ideas that inspire annotations and almost flawless storytelling. Morrison puts on a clinic with fully realized characters, pitch perfect dialogue and thoughtfully constructed action scenes, particularly the ones depicted by Cameron Stewart, Andy Clarke, and Frazer Irving, who turned in some of the best work of their respective careers this year. Yeah, Morrison’s grand Batman narrative is great fun, but that sense of relief you felt when Bruce returned in issue 15?

Batman And Robin #15 023

It only matters because Grant’s writing makes the reader feel invested in the characters and care about the stakes in the world he created.

Coming Soon : The third part of the Best Pamphlets of 2010 Not Named Daytripper! More cool pop-culture things in 2010!

January 10, 2011

Top Ten Pamphlets Bought in 2010 Not Named Daytripper of the Year: Part One

Filed under: Articles — Jamaal Thomas @ 8:13 pm

There’s something ridiculous about year-end top ten lists, especially when they’re written by non-professional critics. Ordinary folk like me probably haven’t read a representative sample of books published in any given calendar year due to budget limitations, established genre preferences and a lack of time. The date restrictions also feels artificial – many of the books I enjoy most in any given year weren’t actually published that year. My real top ten would probably include Zot!, Eddie Campbell’s Bacchus, Tomb of Dracula, Jar of Fools, Mesmo Delivery and the six part Scott Pilgrim saga. In 2010 alone, I know that I missed out on Pluto and Duncan the Wonder Dog and all the cool things on Douglas Wolk’s list. I stopped reading Scalped after the first trade and am about two trades behind on DMZ. I don’t read manga, which should probably disqualify me from writing or talking about comics at all. In short, any “Best of 2010” list I can come up with would be woefully incomplete.

But…. I like list-making. So, here’s part one of a two part look at ten books published as single issues in 2010 that I found especially intriguing and/or moving that are not Daytripper (which I’ve written about ad nauseum):

10) Philip K. Dick’s Electric Ant (David Mack, Pascal Alixe: Marvel Comics)

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January 7, 2011

Avenging the Week – Succumbing to Peer Pressure

Filed under: Avenging the Week — Jamaal Thomas @ 10:39 am

After a lengthy winter hiatus, Funnybook Babylon is back for 2011!

Apologies for the unannounced break – a wedding, work responsibilities and the holiday season conspired to keep me away from regular blogging for the last two months.

This week we’re going to embrace convention with part one of my randomly selected Cool Things in 2010 List! In the next week, we’ll take a look at the Top Ten Pamphlets (series or limited) bought in 2010 Not Named Daytripper of the Year, the Top Five OGNs of 2010 and other fun things.

10. Daytripper

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I may be in the minority, but 2010 was a pretty good year for comics. Chris Ware’s “Lint” was a modern classic and the best book of the year by far. Darwyn Cooke exceeded expectations with The Outfit, his latest adaptation of Donald Westlake’s Parker novels. David Hine and Shaky Kane pushed the limits of comic book storytelling with The Bulletproof Coffin (check out the first issue here). Brandon Graham’s King City brought back memories of when comic books could still surprise.

At the end of the year, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s Daytripper was the book that truly haunted me, that still lives on in my imagination. Daytripper is a laconically paced post-modern fable about one man’s (Bras) journey in life. Each issue took place over a short period — ranging from a single day to about a week — in a different year of the man’s life, focusing around a moment that helped define him as a person.

On one level, the brothers are telling us a series of archetypal stories suffused with magical realism, but their naturalistic approach to character development and dialogue set the book apart from other good Vertigo books. The brothers also collaborated on the art, which is nothing short of breathtaking. Dave Stewart is on coloring, and turns in another masterful job.

I don’t think that any book this year affected me as personally as Daytripper. I saw parallels to my own life throughout this book, ranging from Bras’s evolving relationship with his father, his career challenges, and his tumultuous love life. I know this sounds like a worn cliche, but Ba and Moon did an amazing job of capturing the sense that life is a journey: the son worships his father as a child, feels lost in his shadow for a bit, reconciles himself to his father’s legacy, and as an old man finally understands him. In the end, Ba and Moon tell a deceptively simple story with amazing art, which is all I can possibly expect from a comic.

Although all four of the books I cited in the first paragraph were more formally ambitious, when I think about the comics published in 2010, Daytripper will be the first that comes to mind. (more…)

October 12, 2010

FBB NYCC 2010: I Promise I’ll Buy the Trade Edition

Filed under: Articles — Jamaal Thomas @ 10:30 am

The Con is over! Here’s a round-up of the best (and worst) news the Con had to offer.

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October 2, 2010

Avenging the Week pt. 10 – The One Before the New York Comic Con

Filed under: Avenging the Week — Tags: — Jamaal Thomas @ 3:50 pm

Daytripper, Hulk, and a tardy response to Shield critiques. As always, spoilers below.

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August 25, 2010

Avenging the Week pt. 9 – Raised on Robbery

Filed under: Avenging the Week — Jamaal Thomas @ 8:43 am

And we’re back, with looks at S.H.I.E.L.D., the new Power Man mini, and Thunderbolts. Plus: Brief Recommendations, Miscellany and Links of the Week! Spoilers abound!

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July 25, 2010

Avenging the Week – San Diego Special

Filed under: Avenging the Week — Jamaal Thomas @ 5:50 pm

So, another San Diego Comic Con’s come and gone, filled with tantalizing news and previews of the comic books, films, television shows and videogames that we will all discuss during the coming year. I’m here to provide you with a guide to some of the more interesting announcements and previews buried in the four day flood of information.

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