Sunday, May 16, 2004

It was a year ago, almost to the day, that I went to St. Mark's Comics with Omar and got hooked on comic books again. "Hooked" in that crackhead sense, apparently, as after buying a legit box for them, I've realized the sense of control I thought I had over what, and how much, I was buying turned out to be a severe case of denial.

For some reason, I thought the long boxes held 100 comics and was surprised when my nascent collection didn't fill it completely. So I counted...and realized I've bought over 200 comics in the past year!

Zoinks!

I'm still pretty selective about what I buy, mostly avoiding the speculator mentality, especially in regards to the variant cover schemes. What surprised me most was the number of different titles I'm really enjoying and happily buying on a regular basis. The Losers and Gotham Central are still tops on my list, but I've branched out quite a bit over the year and am buying upwards of 15-20 comics a month!

One of the things I've noticed over the past year are certain names I've come to recognize as regularly writing stories I really like. Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker are amazing on Gotham Central. Andy Diggle's The Losers makes me jealous, though his take on Swamp Thing is, so far, a bit too far out for my tastes, though well-written. Paul Jenkins' pitch-perfect Spectacular Spider-Man has kept me hooked even after born-to-draw-Spider-Man artist Humberto Ramos left the book.

It was Jenkins' spin on G.I. Joe in Cobra:Reborn that made me think the new G.I. Joe: Reloaded was going to be a good one, but it bombed badly in its first regular issue, which Jenkins didn't write.

That's one of the good and bad things about finding writers you like: you tend to follow them onto other books. Much moreso than artists, I think, as a strong story can save average art but even Jim Lee couldn't make some of the stuff that gets published worth buying. That might be the writer in me talking, though.

The good side is obvious, especially if they have some range and can pull off different genres, like Greg Rucka, who actually got me to buy my first ever Superman comic (Adventures of Superman #627) and as a result, I've now added it to my regular list. Which is, of course, the bad side and how I've now ended up buying twice as many comics each month as I'd ever intended.

Then there's the case of a writer you feel like you should like and give them every chance to win you over, but to no avail. Case in point: Neil Gaiman. After his less-than-satisfying novel, American Gods, I thought maybe comics were his strong suit and followed up his mini-series 1602. Unfortunately, the same problems that plagued American Gods popped up in 1602: interesting ideas and great moments ultimately hobbled by sloppy plotting, tedious exposition and an unsatisfying climax.

Some of the comics (and writers) currently on my regular list, in something close to an order of preference:

Gotham Central, Greg Rucka & Ed Brubaker
The Losers, Andy Diggle
Conan, Kurt Busiek adapting from Robert E. Howard
Bite Club*, Howard Chaykin
NYX, Joe Quesada
Teen Titans, Geoff Johns
Ultimate Fantastic Four, Brian Michael Bendia & Mark Millar
Spectacular Spider-Man, Paul Jenkins
Wolverine: The End*, Paul Jenkins
Batman: Death & The Maidens*, Greg Rucka
Batman: Gothic Knights, A.J. Lieberman
New Mutants (Reloading next month as New X-Men: Academy X), Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir
Batgirl, Dylan Horrocks
Daredevil: Father, Joe Quesada
Enginehead*, Joe Kelly
Micronauts, Dan Jolley

(* mini-series)
While I came across some of these while revisiting old favorites (Micronauts, New Mutants), several of them were unheralded discoveries that I stumbled upon while browsing. Gotham Central, in particular, stands out in that regard as it was an interview with its regular artist, Michael Lark, that got me curious. His passion for the book was so palpable, I went out and bought the first 7 issues that had already been published before reading a single one of them! It's now up to issue #19 and getting better and better each month.

For others, it was the artwork that caught my eye, but it's the writing that keeps me coming back, ie: NYX, Bite Club and Enginehead - the latter of which, after two issues, I'm still not sure what I think of it!

FYI: Free Comic Book Day is on July 3rd. Visit your local comic book store and pick up a few. There's something for almost everyone's tastes being published these days and I'd bet money that you'd be surprised to find something you liked.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tony here: I'm glad to hear there's someone else who doesn't adore Neil Gaiman. While I kinda liked the original Sandman series, that's all I've been able to really enjoy -- and since I don't really read this sort of thing much anyway, I think even that was more of a fluke.

Dyanna said...

Boys... pfft.

Shappy said...

I find myself buying more mini-series and elseworlds type stuff than following any one title. It's easier to get the trades these days. Still, it seems to me that you need to come visit the small press stuff with me in June!

Dan Diaz said...

If you hadn't already, pick up Marvel Knights 4. I'm liking it a lot better than Ultimate Fantastic Four. Thanks for the recommendation concerning Spec. Spider-Man. Your right, Jenkins is top notch.