Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wednesday on Sunday

Wednesday Comics has struck a chord with many, and while actual sales figures are still hazy and there is the odd bored critical shrug, the comic has to be seen as a success.

This is hardly surprising, getting so many fine artists together on such a broad canvas was always going to produce the occasional slice of brilliance, along with a few inevitable mis-steps.

But in an ocean of the same old shit coming out every week, Wednesday Comics stands out. The format certainly helps, but the project lives and dies by the quality of the material in it.

Everybody has got their own favourite strip in the comic, and it has been interesting to see which stories find favour with which critics. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of love for the comics by Paul Pope, Kyle Baker and Joe Kubert, but every strip has something going for it, even if you have to dig around a bit to find anything nice to say about the Wonder Woman and Teen Titans stories.

Me, I love the fucking lot. Every single one of them. I dig the huge Metamorpho panels that are loaded with deceptive information, and I adore the simplicity of the Supergirl story. The Metal Men stuff is straight out of Average Tales #216, which is more than anybody expected out of DiDio, while the Demon/Catwoman and Kamandi work is satisfyingly basic. I could read pages and pages of Kubert artwork featuring Sgt Rock getting beat up, Green Lantern is Green Lantern and Lee Bermejo is way too stiff for super-punching, but he gives Superman a fantastic bemused face .

Flash and Wonder Woman are both doing something a bit different, but any clumsiness is still done with the best of intentions, so it’s hard to exactly hate. Same goes or the Teen Titans. We all love Azzarello, Riso and Pope, even if we don’t need it yet. The colours on Strange Adventures are fucking brilliant and make the story really pop on all that lovely newsprint.

The best so far is Hawkman, because of the thumbs-up scene in #3. (Or is it #2? I just read everything in an incredibly random order, which didn't help story cohesion that much.)

I haven’t been able to get to the comic shop in weeks, so I had the first three waiting for me in the store yesterday. Ten minutes after I bought them, I ran into a pothole in Auckland’s beautiful Onehunga and burst a tire, so it was off to the tire dudes to fix it. I had ten minutes to kill, and started to make a stab at these wonderfully chunky issues, but accidentally made somebody a comic dork for life.

A significant portion of the comic industry is devoted to finding new readers. I was always off in the sidelines on that argument, contending that quality work will always be enough to lure in new readers, and leaving the hard work of marketing to people who know what they are talking about.

But if you’re ever wondering how to get a kid hooked on comics, try this:

I’m sitting in the waiting room of the tire place, waiting for the repair, and the only other two people are a woman and her young son. About eight or nine, and he was bored shitless, wandering around the place, asking questions about everything and annoying the piss out of his mum, who was trying to read about Prince Williams’ girlfriend.

Soon he saw what I was reading and he made no secret of the fact he was fascinated. I gave him one of the ones I wasn’t reading. The only thing I heard out of that little guy for the next ten minutes were an occasional “Wow!” or “Look at that!” or “Who’s that guy?”

He seemed to really like Supergirl and Sergeant Rock.

Their repair was done first, so the kid had to give the comic back, especially when I told his Mum they cost nine dollars each. That killed any chance she’d be buying one in the near future, but I recognized the look on that kid’s face. I’d seen it before, in the mirror, years and years later. He only needed to look at one comic, and that was enough. He needed more.

I almost feel guilty for putting him through it.

* * *

Bonus Doctor Who comic review!

Doctor Who: Room With A Deja View
By Rich Johnston, Eric J and Kris Carter, published by IDW

Bloody good, actually.

Johnston has always been an entertaining part of the comic world, but that doesn’t mean he always knows what he’s doing. Some of his satire comics have been fucking awful, but I’m a sucker for a done-in-one Doctor Who, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Good thing, really. It might be the best original Doctor Who comic produced in America. It is still suffering from some appallingly amateur art, like many previous IDW Who comics. Eric J is okay, but still has a while to go, with some fairly terrible panels. There is a bit of enthusiasm in there, but that isn’t always enough.

(I wonder why IDW doesn’t make more use of British talent, accomplished craftspeople who have slaved on weekly comics for years and know what they are doing, and have probably grown up on the good Doctor’s adventures. I would love to see one of these IDW books drawn by Steve Yeowell or Clint Langley or Cliff Robinson or Paul Marshall or Henry Flint or Richard Elson. All of there guys have been doing some spectacular work in 2000ad in recent months and while Paul Grist’s recent welcome appearance was certainly a step in the right direction, there is some huge depth in British comic art to be tapped.)

Apart from that, I really fucking enjoyed Room With a Deja View. A good concept dealt with quickly and smartly. Johnston has a good ear for the Tennant dialogue and it all ends on a nice bit of basic philosophy: that death is not to be feared, because it’s just a change of perspective.

That’s always nice.

1 comment:

The Beast Must Die said...

Good on you Bob - snared another of them!

I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with you. Wednesday Comics is great, and grousing about it just makes me realise how basically comic readers will never be satisfied. I adore Busiek and Quinone's take on GL, a charcater I have zero love for. Their deceptively simple riff on the first Quatermass film, and general 'Mad Men' vibe is simply great. But I see alot of people being sniffy about it. Ahh well - as you say there is(should!) be something here for everyone.