Friday, 13 April 2007

The Weekly Shop #6

I've recently discovered Back Issue, a bimonthly magazine for nostalgiaholics from TwoMorrows Publishing. It's a cracking read jammed full of features on the comic creators of the silver and bronze age. I was reading an interview with Sal Buscema and Steve Englehart from issue #20 yesterday in which they reminisce about their classic run on Captain America.

It's clear that these boys had it a lot tougher than their modern day counterparts, as Englehart says: The famous thing Roy Thomas said to me when he hired me was, "If you can turn this in on time and make it sell, you can keep doing it. And if you can't, we'll fire you and get somebody else."

Englehart admits that he had no idea where he was going from one issue to the next, but he was never late. Ditto Buscema who worked on several titles at once: "I may have been doing two or three issues a month at that time, maybe even more" he says.

Now I don't want to imply that old comic creators are good and new comic creators are bad, because its clear that some very fine comic creators are plying their trade today, but there must be a lesson to learn from the old school - particularly the artists - who met their deadlines.

I mean does anyone out there remember what's happening in the Ultimates? A book which has been rendered unreadable by its ridiculous delays. Or Astonishing X-Men? Another one which I still buy but have given up reading until the run is done. Or All Star Batman, when the hell did the last issue of that come out?

At least All Star Superman, which turned up this week after a three month hiatus, is built on stand alone stories. That makes it more palatable, but it would still be better if the darn thing shipped on time!

Anyway, ranting aside, it is good to see All Star Supes again. Despite being notoriously slow Frank Quietly is one of my favourite artists and his work with inker Jamie Grant makes this comic one of the nicest looking books out there.

Enough has been said elsewhere about Grant Morrison's homage to the weird world of silver age superman, so I won't burble on too much about his scripts. Suffice to say it's good to see Superman going back to his wacked out roots in a book which should delight kids as much as it does adults dosed up on class A's.

Even with a guest appearance from Bizarro, All Star Superman isn't my book of the week though. That's because my two favourite mainstream Warren Ellis comics also hit the shops.

Thunderbolts #113 is another knockout issue. Ellis's take on Norman Osborn is superb, a man so utterly, utterly mad that even the psychos in the team he oversees are worried about his state of mind.

Not for the first time, the latest issue features Green Goblin on the cover.

Bit of a cheat since Osborn hasn't gone goblin yet, but hopefully it's only a matter of time.

The other Ellis book is of course New Universal #5. I heard somewhere that despite a leap in reader numbers over the first couple of issues that sales figures were declining on this one now. I know this happens with the majority of new titles, but I had hoped this book would continue to pick up readers because its an honest to goodness piece of comic excellence.

The latest issue introduces Emmet Proudhawk, a native Indian shaman who also works for the CIA. As with all the other main players he appeared in the original New Universe.

Like all Warren Ellis's work, New Universal crackles with intelligence. Even if you don't like Salvador Larocca's celebrity smattered art (and I do by the way) then you should be picking up this book.

I Also picked up Tales of the Unexpected #7. As per usual I made a vague attempt at reading the Spectre story, but it really was too horrible and I soon found myself heading for the the DR 13 backup which rivals All Star Superman in the weird and wacky stakes.

This months highlight: an awesome panel in which a flying pirate ship stops to ask directions from a bunch of skyscrapers...

Surreal comic brilliance.

2000AD is getting more enjoyable as I pick up the plot of the various ongoing story lines. This week's issue featured a decent little Future Shock story and some nice Ezquerra work on Judge Dredd

Sass is the word mutie!

I understand that the mammoth Dredd origins story which is currently running has fallen prey to delays because Ezquerra has had trouble meeting deadlines. That contradicts what I was saying earlier and shows that even old school greats miss deadlines. To be fair to Ezquerra though he is pushing 60, so I think he has more excuse than some of the young guns at Marvel and DC.

2000AD Extreme features a bunch of Dredd stories culled in the main from the 1980's annuals. Again there's some terrific Ezquerra art on display here in a story from the 1983 annual in which Dredd confronts a gallery of his most notorious villains. Notorious Dredd villains drawn by Ezquerra = Thrill power overload...

The only disappointment of another otherwise excellent edition is the cover which isn't one of Brian Bolland's better efforts. Considering that 99.9% of Bolland's artwork is godlike in its genius, the powers that be should be showered with rigelian hotshots for coming up with a rare dud from the master.


Ben said...

yeah, old ezquezzzras probably late from knocking out dozens of american comics.. his art work is still fantastic though.
new universal losing readers, thats a great shame. its very good.
that dredd judged by all his old enemies is a great story, one of my faves as a kid. i spent a lot of time copying the art from that one.
yeah, what could possibly hlding up ultimates? are they endlessly redrawing the pages? i re read the first couple of volumes yesterday, its top stuff. im of to the comic shop sunday, running a little late.

Dom Sutton said...

Hi mate. The problem with the ultimates has been Bryan Hitch's slow pencilling.

Agree with you about the first volume. I'm sure the second volume is good, but I gave up reading it. When the final issue eventually comes out I'll read the whole lot.

These delays make me want to give up monthly comics altogether and just read the graphic novels.

Ben said...

its what they want you to do,(so they can tap the bookshop market) that and move over to digital delivery..(which will suck Galactus cock)
i like monthlies cos you get a nice mix of flavours. i tend to gobble back the trades and skim them a bit. I tend to pour over individual issues and concentrate a bit more. Still. Im not decided whether i enjoyed walking dead when i read it as trades or now when i get it monthly.. you feel the filler issues a lot more on the monthlies.