Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I heed the sweet siren-call of nostalgia!

I have railed against nostalgia on this very site before, but it's not all bad. For some reason, I found myself missing things the other day. Here's what I miss:

Comics coming out on Friday. I don't know why, it just seemed neater.

Cheap comics. Yes, it's silly to whine, and I buy more comics today than I used to, but a 300% price increase in 17 years (which is when I started buying comics) seems a little much. Also, I could afford to give a title a while to tell a story. Now, if it doesn't grab me in two or three issues, it's gone. It could turn out to be a really good story, but the price forces me to have a short attention span.

Claremont-esque writing, with lots o' subplots brewing for months and years and not everything getting wrapped up convenient six-issue chunks. It was kind of frustrating reading Claremont's X-Men or Amazing Spider-Man, but ultimately rewarding and (dare I say it? I dare, I dare!) more realistic. Real life does not get wrapped up in time for the trade paperbacks!

Titles that are the specific property of a writer (or writer and artist) that tells one grand story and then ends, never to be seen again. I thought this was the future of comics in the 1990s, and I could not have been happier. Morrison's Doom Patrol sort of provided the template, but DC got stupid and continued it without him. But it helped spawn Sandman, Starman, Shade the Changing Man, Preacher and Hitman, Invisibles, Transmetropolitan ... Such a grand list of comics! (I don't even like all those comics, but I love the concept.) Those kinds of things have always been around, of course, but it seemed, for a little while, that it was the future. Where are all those dudes now? Out of comics or writing superheroes for the Big Two. Depressing.

Big-ass crossovers that you could actually afford (see "cheap comics). I have no interest in either Big Two crossover, because there are so many titles, each costing three bucks! Sheesh. I own every annual from the Armageddon 2001 crossover (I'm not proud of the fact, but I still own them) because you could take a chance on them and not feel totally cheated if they weren't very good (a sad fact with much of the Armageddon 2001 crossover, unfortunately). I LOVE crossovers, but these bloated monsters DC and Marvel are pushing on us don't do anything for me.

The sense of discovery. Now, thanks to the Internet and fanzines, you can find out everything you possibly want about a comic months before it comes out. Hell, you don't even have to read something to have an opinion about it. I try not to have an opinion about Countdown to Infinite Crisis, but because of everything I've read about it, I feel like I've read it, and that's weird. I remember picking up the first issue of Trident back in the day, with stories by Gaiman and Morrison and a bunch o' others, and all I expected from the book was what was promised by the cover. I knew nothing about it. I remember looking through back issues for Tim Sale's Amazon simply because one friend recommended it, not because I had read all about it on the Internets. The comics are still good, but the sense of discovery, of thinking, "Wow! I found this all by myself!" is gone.

Finally, annuals. What the hell happened to annuals? The last annual I think I bought was Morrison's X-Men one, the one with beautiful art by Yu and the cool story about Xorn (where there are NO clues that he's Magneto, despite what Grant says). Some of my favorite stories are in annuals. A host of X-ones, my favorite probably being the Horde annual. Moore's "Mortal Clay" was in an annual. The aforementioned Armageddon 2001 (okay, not the best example, but they were still annuals). Peter Parker and Mary Jane's wedding took place in an annual. Avengers Annual #10 is a freakin' brilliant comic book (the first appearance of Rogue, with Claremont writing and Michael Genius Golden drawing). I suppose they fell prey to the upward spiral of prices, but I still miss them.

Okay, I'll stop being gloomy now. Cool books this week. More on them mañana. Anyone got anything they're nostalgic for?

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11 Comments:

Anonymous John DiBello said...

Anyone got anything they're nostalgic for?

More levelled at Marvel than anyone else: comic book covers that draw me in and intrigue me to read the book, not random interchangeable pin-ups.

5/25/2005 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Let's not forget the marvelous JLAntarctica annual. But usually, annuals suck. But Ultimate Marvel is apparently bringing them back.

And I could've sworn I saw some clues about the Xorn/Magneto thing in that Annual.

5/25/2005 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger frinklin said...

I totally miss the cover blurb. Not only do most mainstream covers suck -especially Marvels-, but they never say goofy/cool stuff anymore.

And I never, ever go to buy my comics on Wednsday. I buy them on Friday, because that's the day God meant us too buy comics.

5/25/2005 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I forgot about the great covers of the past. Yeah, the ones these days are kind of dull. Cheesecake shots of lithe chicks. And cover blurbs are way cool.

"The day God meant us to buy comics." Amen, brother! I still buy mine on Wednesday, because I don't trust my store to have things in stock that I didn't order.

5/26/2005 12:15:00 AM  
Blogger Lex said...

Morrison's X-Men annual was a really good story. I remember really enjoying the interaction between Domino and Wolverine. And that's where I first saw all the cool ways Morrison was moving the X-Men concept forward, like the X-Corporation and those villains who were harvesting mutant organs to become like mutants. Cool, cool story.

And that annual also debuted the horizontal page style that died quickly after that.

5/26/2005 01:12:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Silver-Age style conceptual Originality.

Comic Writers who like writing Science Fiction better'n writing Soap Opera.

Team Up Books. (Although they did bring back Marvel Team-up! (YAY!) But the art turned me completely off the series forever. (BOO!)

Genre Diversity from the Big Publishers.

Steve Gerber.

Yeah, I know we got the current Steve Gerber, but I really miss the old Steve Gerber.

Annuals. Back when Annuals were cool. And Guest Starred ALL the Avengers. And had a Steranko cover. And, like, eight pages of pin-ups.

Ironic Distance from the material. 'Specially in Superhero comics. Seems like since...say... 1977 or so, everybody's TERRIFIED to write stuff that they think could be perceived as "Silly."

Screw 'dat.

Superheroes are INHERENTLY silly. I miss the days when the writers weren't afraid to admit it. And I want me some Streaky the Super-Cat!

Bill Siekiewicz. Slash! Scribble! Blot!

Sandman.

Kirby. Some days I think about how nobodies even *tried* to match the imaginative and intellectual scope of New Gods and Eternals. And it puts me in a bad mood all day.

The Black and White Boom.

Tales of the Beanworld.

Heck, Eclipse in General.

Superhero comics not written by comics fanboys.

"More levelled at Marvel than anyone else: comic book covers that draw me in and intrigue me to read the book, not random interchangeable pin-ups. "

Oh good God yes.

WORDS ON COVERS!
Comics that told a whoooole story in one issue. (In other words: Non-Claremont style writing. :))

But, heck. I do sorta miss Claremont/Byrne, and Claremont/Miller.

Cerebus and Bone.

I get nostalgic pretty fast.

Stan's Soapbox.

Earth C minus.

Crappy Charlton Horror comics with ONE story by, like, Ditko or someone that makes it all worthwhile.

Geez. I could be here all day.

5/26/2005 02:37:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I could go for cheaper comics, if only so my students could actually get them. I'd prefer Claremont-style storytelling to stay well in the past, though.

Silver-Age style conceptual Originality.

And Julie Scwhartz slash-and-burn, start anew heroes.

Ironic Distance from the material. 'Specially in Superhero comics. Seems like since...say... 1977 or so, everybody's TERRIFIED to write stuff that they think could be perceived as "Silly."

Bingo. Rarely found these days, but abundant in Invincible, Amazing Joy Buzzards, the Goon, and Plastic Man. Unsurprisingly, some of my favorites.

Superhero comics not written by comics fanboys.

Holy crap, yes. Yes yes yes. Could be the number one dumb going on in superhero stuff these days. Bleah. You could also change "by" to "for."

5/26/2005 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger Matt Brady said...

I think there are some "comics that are the specific property of a writer, that tell one grand story and then end" these days. For instance, you have Ex Machina and Y: the Last Man (and maybe Runaways) from Bryan K. Vaughan. Or The Losers from Andy Diggle. Fables by Bill Willingham might also fit. And the obvious choice right now is Morrison's Seven Soldiers. But you could also add some Alan Moore stuff, like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Top Ten. How about Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead? He says in the lettercol that he wants to keep writing for a hundred issues or so, but I think he's got one big story that he's telling. I guess I noticed this one because that seems to be what is interesting me in comics right now, so I'm trying to mention the ones I like.

5/26/2005 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike T said...

"Bill Siekiewicz. Slash! Scribble! Blot!" - Perfect!

I miss the "Marvel Comics Group" bar across the top and the framed covers, where the action was contained beneath the title in a tidy box.

Yes, I miss Cerebus too

Kull - kinda like Conan Extra Stout

I miss the times when my grandmother would take me to the corner store and offer me a choice of a Hot Wheel or a couple of comics. Have you noticed how Hot Wheel prices haven't changed much in 30 years and comics prices have skyrocketed?

I remember buying my Claremont/Byrne X-Men at 7-11 - maybe a new generation will turn on to comics with Marvel's new push into variety stores.

5/26/2005 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Matt: Yeah, there's still a lot of those kinds of titles out there, but it seems like they're not getting the pub that the others did. They seem like more of a sidebar these days, whereas ten years ago it seemed like that's where comics were heading. I love those kinds of comics, and maybe it's still heading that way, but the progress has slowed.

5/26/2005 11:05:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Joe Rice--

"And Julie Scwhartz slash-and-burn, start anew heroes."

Yeah!

This might be askin' a lot from poor little superhero comics, but we're in a new millenium now.

Let's have some New Myths, that relect and challenge our current culture. We're in a world that's changing so fast, and it seems like the basic form of many of the old Silver Age myths doesn't really apply.

We need us some Third Millenium myths. Morrison's doin' his part, but it doesn't seem like anyone else has really grocked this, yet.

Joe-
"Holy crap, yes. Yes yes yes. Could be the number one dumb going on in superhero stuff these days. Bleah. You could also change "by" to "for."

Both. Yeah. Superheroes are so damn polarizing. You're either "With" or "Against" them.

If we're going to recontextualize the concept of the superhero to reflect the here and now, we need some folks writing superhero comics who Don't Give a Damn about superheroes. Writers who aren't emotionally invested in the whole superhero universes and the history of those universes... Who can honestly judge What Works and What Doesn't in superhero fiction.

The whole current system... Where people with an already formed emotional investment in the material are writing EXCLUSIVELY for people with an already formed emotional investment in the material isn't a model that can survive.

I agree completely. Slash and Burn.

Greg --

"Matt: Yeah, there's still a lot of those kinds of titles out there, but it seems like they're not getting the pub that the others did. They seem like more of a sidebar these days, whereas ten years ago it seemed like that's where comics were heading. I love those kinds of comics, and maybe it's still heading that way, but the progress has slowed."

Honestly, I'd like to see both major companies adapt the Indy Comics/Book Publishing Model. Instead of shitting out NEW product every month, have it done when it's done, give the writer's the copyright, and make it good.

5/27/2005 01:41:00 AM  

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