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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #261

I have a proposition for you, my friends. As you well know by this column occasionally disappearing, I’m having scheduling issues– more to the point, I am swamped in this thing men call reality. Even more to the point– I’m looking for good men and women to do some fill-ins. I’ve let the readers decide the direction of the column quite often, though we’ve surely butted heads a few times– but now I’m letting the readers write the column. Let it be known that this blog is the ultimate interactive experience!

Anyway, I know there are Reasons you’d like to see that maybe I’m not a big fan of, or that I don’t know much about. If you’d like to write a Reason, pitch me ideas by dropping me an e-mail or leaving a comment or flying one of those planes with the banners dragging behind it or sending up smoke signals or whatever you’d like to do.

Quick one today– instead of talking about characters or creators, let’s talk about format. (Archive.)

9/18/07

261. Image Slimline

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Oh, Image Slimline format. How art thou awesome? Let me count the ways:

1. Great creators: Really, when Warren Ellis comes to your company and decides to invent a new way to publish comics, you let him. No one thinks about comics format more than Mr. Ellis. And when Matt Fraction pops in and says “Hey, that looks awesome. Can I do one?” you let him bloody do one. With Fell and Casanova, they’re giving us two of the best comics being published. And when paired with fantastic artists like Ben Templesmith and Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon, the result could be nothing but good comics. And that’s not all! Coming next year, Corey Lewis of snazzy books like Peng and Sharknife will be bringing us Pinapl, which sounds cool. More on that in this CBR interview.

2. Price: This is the big one though, isn’t it? Each Slimline book is only two dollars, which make them the cheapest new comic singles on the stands. Yeah, you’re getting 16 pages as opposed to 22, but you won’t notice. For two bucks, you’re more likely to try a book out and find out you love it. That’s what happened to me with Casanova, and it’s become my favorite series that isn’t All Star Superman.

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3. Content: As I mentioned in #2, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. Fell and Casanova are super-compressed masterworks that tell wonderfully dense stories in only 16 pages. And with Fell and Cass, you’re getting a story that stands on its own as a complete issue. In today’s world of long, drawn-out story arcs and infinite tie-ins, it’s great to find a single issue that stands as a complete experience. It also helps that the stories are actually good. Fell and Casanova both deserve their own Reasons, and will probably receive them one day.

4. Diversity: Look ma, no superheroes! Currently, the Slimline seems to house cool new twists on genres– with Fell, we’ve got a detective story where the edge is turned up to 11. With Casanova, the “superspy” genre is pumped up with amphetamines and set loose in a world that fears it, but needs it. Then there’s the upcoming Pinapl, which defies explanation but involves big action and vampirates.

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5. Backmatter: I love when writers talk about their process, and that’s why I love the backmatter. This is the stuff that hooks me– and it forces me to buy the singles, ’cause the trades don’t include it. Discussions on how and why the book is made, preliminary art, letters from smart readers– it’s all good.

I really want nothing more than to pen my own Slimline comic. It’s a marvelous format, and I hope to see it expand, as well as continue to blow me away with brilliant new comics.

Thanks to Ian Astheimer for doing my thinking for me and suggesting today’s topic. He knows what’s good.

14 Comments

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 18, 2007 at 8:52 pm

If you’re looking for reasons to love comics, I’d go with the nine-panel grid.
When done right, it is the ultimate narrative tool.
Moore is the undisputed master of it, but many others do it well too (Gerber does a great job in Tales Of The Zombie).
It condenses the comic,making it longer to read, yet it can also provide the perfect pacing – as all panels are the same shape/size, the writer and artist can control how long you spend on each panel by the amount of text or detail given to a panel.
Why it’s not used that much these days, I don’t know – I just assume to many creators these days are too scared to use it because they are girly men who prefer to frag ideas out.
(Of note: both the slimline books mentioned today have used it, particularly Fell.)

Also, spinning from Cassanova, is panels between panels, with just text and a single illustration – I love that technique.
Cassanova usually uses it to let you see what a character is thinking about the action, but it used to be used all the time.

I’d like to do one on Joe Kubert, given it’s his 81st Birthday today, and you haven’t done one yet, I think it would be a great idea.

Great entry, I love the slimline comics. Has Fell #9 come out yet?

Speaking of price, a great reason to love comics is the discount bin. Most of my comics spent their formative years waiting patiently in the cheap boxes to give me a 50 cent burst of joy. I love how discount bins make me laugh at price guides. They deserve a place in the 365 reasons (As might Joe Casey!).

I like the challenge of doing a column like this. If you want a column on, for example, Jack Knight/Starman, or my favourite series of all-time, Master of Kung Fu, then I’d love to have a bash.

If you’re looking for reasons to love comics, I’d go with the nine-panel grid.
……
It condenses the comic,making it longer to read

You are right, but at the time I first read Watchmen I thought that Watchmen’s nine panel grid was positively spacious after The Dark Knight Returns’s 16 panel grid.

Bill, I’m sure many people here would love to see their name in lights on this site. I know I would! You’ll find many helping hands for sure.
As for Reasons, I’d suggest a few off the top of my head :

Letters pages (bring ‘em back I say!)
Female creators
2000 AD / European comics
One-shots
Conventions
TPBs
Even glossy paper! (I know, but as I look back at my comics from the ’80s, I’m glad today’s stuff holds up well)
Classics Illustrated?
Biographical comics?
Blankets/Craig Thompson!!!
Scott McCloud
Novelist/ celebrity fanboys now working in comics
And lastly, College courses in comics. We don’t have those here in Oz. I’m sooo jealous!
That’ll do. For now. ;)

Ummm maybe you could tell us exactly what “slimline” is? I like to think I’m pretty knowledgable about comics but I’ve no idea what this is.

I can’t remember who has been covered, but I would love to write about:

Gene Colan
David Mack
The Maxx and/or Sam Kieth
Concrete and/or Paul Chadwick
Palomar (I would say Gilbert Hernandez, but I’m not caught up on his current work)

Thank you!

Ummm maybe you could tell us exactly what “slimline” is? I like to think I’m pretty knowledgable about comics but I’ve no idea what this is.

A line of 2 dollar 16 page comics published by Image. You can pretty much derive that from the column. I know because that’s what I did.

[…] No one thinks more about the comics form than Warren Ellis– of that I’m convinced. He’s constantly thinking of new techniques and formats to bring to comics– hell, he invented the Slimline format. He rose to the fore on both decompression and supercompression, and most people give him credit for inventing the “widescreen” comic. […]

[…] It also serves as the first example of a new comics format Warren Ellis proposed: that of the “Slimline” book. Each issue’s only two bucks, chump change in comparison to most comics, and the 16 pages of story are denser than your average comic. With the included backmatter– sketches, articles, letters, authorial rambling– it makes a great package. The collected edition doesn’t include backmatter, though, so snatch up the singles while you can! […]

[…] Walt’s art was fantastic as well, and quite different from his later work. I’d say the pencils are tighter and “tougher,” in a way– more lines, more grit. The storytelling is incredibly well done, and the page layouts– my God! Dense, elaborate, and beautiful. These are super-compressed stories, fitting 20 pages of material into 8 or 9 page, cramming information into every available spot. It makes for a very nice page aesthetic, and also a brilliant lesson in story compression. The guys doing Slimline titles for Image could learn a lot– I know I did. […]

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