It being just a couple of days after Independence Day and (by strange coincidence) the bulk of my friends birthdays, I’m sharing my gift list of independent comic books (as well as the weird types of people I matched up to those books.) People with a vague interest in comic books often come to me asking for recommendations so maybe this list will be useful to you in your future gift giving.
The New York Five, a four-issue mini-series from Vertigo that picks up where Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly’s The New York Four from DC’s Minx volume left off nearly two and half years ago finally releases this Wednesday, January 26th. As someone that was a big fan of the digest-sized original, and someone that searches high and low for quality comics that are also female friendly, I was excited to get a sneak peek of The New York Five #1 (check for that advance review in a special second installment of She Has No Head! tomorrow). Even better though, was getting a chance to talk with Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly about their return to these great characters.
Kelly: So as I understand it, the original plan was to do four books – each one featuring a different character (Riley, Merissa, Lona, and Ren) – I think the most obvious question is can we actually expect to get more of this mini-series, or should I just count myself lucky that I got this one?
Brian: Well, I think Ryan and I feel like the lucky ones! Seriously, a book like this coming from a place like Vertigo is not going to be a chart-topper, but Ryan and I do know how to make pretty good comics together, and I feel this is a pretty positive show of support on DC’s part to let this happen. When Minx ended, we already had contracts signed to do a sequel book, and over these last couple years everyone involved has helped figure out what to do about that – in terms of length, format, imprint, etc. What THE NEW YORK FIVE is, is something kind of unique for DC: a creator-owned, black and white, no ads, 32-pages of story comic for $2.99.
I honestly can’t say if we’ll get the chance to do more after this. I approached this new FIVE series with the assumption that we won’t, so we don’t run the risk of leaving readers hanging like we did at the end of THE NEW YORK FOUR.
Ryan: Yes, lucky is the right word. The New York Five is a unique and strange object–A 32-page, black and white, serial drama about living in New York, published by DC Comics for $2.99. I’m honored to have the opportunity to do this book, and I’ve tried to repay the favor by making the best art I can.
I’ve talked pretty openly about my love for Brian Wood’s new DV8 mini-series Gods & Monsters, from the fact that I think it feels both modern and also somehow like a throwback to really good superhero character pieces, but it’s also been one of the inspirations for why I’ve been talking so frequently about how much I’d like to see more independent creators given a chance to show what they can do on more mainstream characters. Not that DV8 was ever totally mainstream, but there’s no reason why DV8 can’t emerge as a powerhouse of a title from Wildstorm, if done right. And with able assists from Fiona Staples on covers and Carrie Strachan delivering beautiful colors, Brian Wood and Rebekah Isaacs are doing it SO right. The way I feel a lot more indie creators could if given the chance to run wild on a title the way Wood and Isaacs have cut loose on Gods & Monsters.
Brian Wood is a goliath in this industry so it feels strange to call him independent, but if you look at his body of work, that’s exactly what it is. Wildly independent. It’s honed to his own vision and his own personal standards, which as far as I’m concerned, are well above that of most comics out there. Brian Wood puts out awesome book after awesome book ranging from ongoings like the epic Northlanders and DMZ to totally alternative superhero-ish tales in the excellent Demo; to literary short fiction made into comics in the form of Local; to now breathing new life into some 1990’s anti-heroes almost forgotten in DV8’s Gods & Monsters mini-series.
It’s all exceptional stuff. Brian Wood, for my money, is one of the great comic creators and writers of our time, so I was pretty excited when he agreed to talk to me about DV8, a comic that I really hope will pave the way (eventually) for a new direction for superheroes.