Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
“This will be our… Independence Day!” Join with me, fellow Americans, as we celebrate the anniversary of that movie with Will Smith and Bill Pullman! I don’t know why this country makes such a big deal about it every year, but… … Declaration of what?
So, leave it to the holiday weekend when no one’s reading for a (compared to recent weeks) double-sized Brunch filled with links to actual content, rather than just other links. Onwards!
ITEM! So, Casanova is being rereleased by Marvel through its Icon imprint. Casanova, for those of you who have accidentally stumbled on this blog because you were looking for Bolivian fondue recipes, is, for my money, the best comic book of the 21st century. Written by Matt Fraction, drawn by twins Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, it’s a psychedelic superspy comic, though that description sells it short. It’s the book that landed Fraction on the map, and now will be put in front of a wider audience via Marvel. I implore you to buy it, or we can never be friends. Laura Hudson and Caleb Goellner, over at ComicsAlliance, have conducted a fantastic, sprawling interview with Fraction on the subject of Casanova (and, uh, some spoilers in the article. Just sayin’, fondue lovers):
The book – when I had a chance to write it, I never thought I was going to write another comic book. I thought, well this is it — they’re going to let me do six issues. I’m going to be a guy who maybe every couple years writes a comic or graphic novel. So I wanted to write the book I wanted to read. If you never got a chance to do it again, if you never got a chance to speak through this particular microphone again, what would you say? I wanted to have everything I ever wanted to read in a comic again. I wanted to write the book that was perfect for me, that didn’t exist, that had everything I ever wanted to read in a comic again. If it found an audience, great. And if not, it didn’t matter because I wasn’t sticking around – look at me, who was gonna give me a job?
I’ve never made a dime off it. I have no money in my bank account that came from “Casanova.” And what money did finally come, which didn’t start coming until Volume 2, goes to [artists Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba]. I didn’t make any money on “Five Fists [of Science].” The only money I made off “Last of the Independents” came out of the [film] option. These are the financial realities. So when people say, “you should just go write your creator-owned stuff!” — I wish I could be Robert Kirkman and get that kind of attention on my creator-owned stuff, but ultimately the reality is that I don’t want to work in advertising anymore. I want to work in comics
The comic so nice, I’ll buy it twice. I only double-dip for the stuff I really love. (This time, though, I think I’ll wait for the collection. A nice hardcover, mayhap? To better bludgeon the people who refuse to read it.)
I was actually working as an assistant editor at Vertigo when that first one was coming out, and I remember meeting Eddy [Edvin Biukovic] and all those other Croatian guys, like Esad Ribic and Goran Sudzuka, for the first time. They came through the Vertigo office that first year on their way to San Diego, and a week later they all came back with these statues, all that stuff you go out to San Diego for. They were total fans. It was great to see them so happy. They were really cool guys, and when they saw that I drew, they were really supportive of that. I think I got a thank you card from Eddy, and it said something like “Hey Superboy, keep drawing.” It meant a lot to me at the time. I was in my mid 20’s, trying to break out from Vertigo and become a freelancer, and to have encouragement from a guy like Eddy was great. And to later be working on Human Target, after he’d passed…I felt like I had something to prove there. I wanted to keep up the quality that he’d brought to it. I owed it to Eddy.
On fashion in comics (timely!):
Even down to the color, Batgirl’s bandage dress is exactly what’s on the rack. It’s all referenced, down to the shoes. Fashion is always horrible when you make it up. You’ve got to be specific. It’s not worth trying to recreate something from scratch, because you’re not going to do it right, and it’s going to look like 80’s John Byrne comics where everybody is wearing generic versions of stuff. Fashion is all about the details, the little things, and you can win someone over on that kind of level. Whenever my friends and I are looking over comics, we’re always disappointed when someone doesn’t take that extra step. It’s just stupid: you should have done it! If you have any sort of pride in what you do, if you don’t go that far, you’re going to end up with an audience that doesn’t care. Even if 90% don’t appreciate the reference, the 10% that do…that’s who I’m drawing for.
RANDOM THOUGHT! There are too many comics coming out in September. I’ve got to find a way to, say, cut my list in half. And yet, some months, it’s a struggle to find anything worth buying. Grr. I guess my purchase of the next Hellblazer trade will depend on how good the current trade winging its way to me in the post as I type this will be! But I also need/want Batman: Unseen. And Guerrillas. And Jim Rugg’s Rambo mini-comic. And Spider-Man: Fever. And Serenity: A Shepherd’s Tale (I can wait for the softcover on that). And a dozen other things… You know what would help? A career.
ITEM! Ed Piskor looks at “The Art of Cause and Effect in a Solitary Comic Panel”, citing examples from Schulz, Herge, Clowes, Miller, Gibbons, and more:
One of the things I like most about this panel is that, if you look at it a certain way, you are witnessing time move from the bottom of the panel (with the character throwing) to the top of the panel (the broken window). This idea of witnessing time pass through action in a single image might be what excites me most. Clowes could have easily drawn one panel with the character throwing, and another panel with the projectile breaking the window, but the approach he took is much stronger.
It’s a neat look at something we just don’t consciously think about when we read or talk about comics, but it’s an integral part of the comics language– bringing the fourth dimension into a static two-dimensional image, skipping that third dimension altogether! And really, who needs it? It’s part of what Scott McCloud talks about in Understanding Comics, about the work being “done” by the reader.
ITEM! Matt Seneca wonders which characters will become the cultural comics “immortals” of our recent era:
Just as the guard changed in the ’40s for Eisner and Kirby, in the ’60s for Crumb and Steranko, and in the ’80s for Moore and Panter, it seems to me that we’re living in the beginning of another turn of the page. Heaven knows what the current post-Kramers Ergot, post-Grant Morrison generation will have brought to the medium by the time another one steps up to be counted, but maybe we can find some indication of where things are going by looking at some more of the characters that seem likely to reach iconic status over the next chapter of comics’ narrative. Whose work is soon to pass from life into history? What characters will tomorrow’s stars cut their finer teeth by copying?
ITEM! Colin Smith can write faster than I can read. This week, he tackles Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s Authority run, and how the eponymous Authority is so darn cheery compared to today’s superheroes:
But if the scale of the violence, and the presentation of some small portion of it, can be pushed away for the while, the remainder of The Authority is charmingly conservative, if not conventional, fare. It now reads as if Mr Ellis and Mr Hitch had decided to serve up some fiercely traditional and two-dimensional fare sweetened with a few dollops of large-scale mayhem and artistic dynamism, as if the joke was less on the superhero as such and more on the deeply stuck-in-the-mud mainstream consumer of the genre.
ITEM! Vince Colletta vs. Marvel editorial, circa 1987– the “lost” letter:
Marvel Editors…you are the droppings of the creative world. You were destined to float in the cesspool till urine logged and finally sink to the bottom with the rest of the shit but along came Jim Shooter who rolled up his sleeves and rescued you.
ITEM! In light of the new Spider-Man casting, Rich Johnston asks– was Andrew Garfield drawn by Steve Ditko? U-Decide!*
* I am still making U-Decide jokes. How many years has it been?
ITEM! Seen the new Wonder Woman outfit? Like the jacket? Then have I got the Tumblr for you– all about Superheroes Wearing Jackets! None of the Harras-era Avengers have yet appeared.
ITEM! Cary Bates fills us in on the Superman V that could have been (no giant robot spiders in this one):
“A split-second before his atoms would’ve been permanently disintegrated, they are sucked into a bottle-city a few rows over… Kandor,” he said. “There he is ‘reborn’ as a mortal man, where he gets to reconnect with his Kryptonian roots as he begins the arduous process of rehabilitating himself and eventually escaping from Kandor to resume his battle with Brainiac.”
In short? Much crazier than the one with Richard Pryor.
ITEM! Jeffrey Klaehn interview two-fisted comics author Chuck Dixon about his varied career and views on the industry:
[Trades/GNs] aren’t the future. They’re the present. Today the sales of trade paperbacks and manga dwarf the sales of the monthlies. The periodical comic book is no longer profitable. It only exists to offset the cost of the material for a trade paperback. And as time goes on it offsets less and less of those costs. I think a shift to a compilation magazine like CrossGen’s is going to have to happen.
The Big Two, with their household name franchises, could get this done very easily if they cared to. Marvel is doing this in a limited way with compilations of some of their all-ages books. For the most part, the industry’s innovations are all reserved for the direct market and they aren’t interested in selling to a mass appeal, casual readership.
ITEM! Gavok at the 4th Letter has a theory about Max Lord that is cool enough to pass along. DC will almost surely veer wildly from this kind of sense-making, though, right?
OBLIGATORY SIMS BLAH BLAH THIS JOKE IS STALE: This week, Sims counts down the best Superman panels of all time. Only one of them features Superman smoking ten cigars at once. That is all.
ITEM! The dude at Golden Age Comic Book Stories shares some of his favorite Drew Friedman pieces, including this little ditty:
Anybody look familiar?
AXE COP MOMENT OF THE WEEK: The bros are back in town. In honor of the July 4th holiday, Axe Cop looks back on his family history:
Phew. That’s all she wrote, folks. By “she” I mean “the Internet.”
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