Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Checking in

Yeah, I've been pretty quiet on here lately and I guess I should apologize for that. There's a lot going on in my life that has me down and I've been trying to avoid going all negative and ranty here. I think the web already has enough of that.

So trying to stay positive by touching on a few of the books I've read lately. I'm up to date on DMZ and Scalped. Still enjoying both books (Scalped more so) but I do think knowing both books will be coming to an end does help. For some reason as much as I'm enjoying them I do feel they both need to come to some closure at some point (fairly soon). Atomic Robo volume 5 was great, as usual. Lucille by Ludovic Debeurme was pretty amazing but I didn't realize going in that this was just the first book so I guess I'll have to wait for the next one. I also had a Nathan Fillion filled weekend by re-reading the Serenity books (recently released as two hardcovers) and the Castle graphic novel (seen on last night's episode).

In terms of new books I decided to check out the first two volumes of iZombie. I wasn't sure what to expect from it and a few issues in I wasn't really blown away but by the end of the first volume I was intrigued enough to really want to read the second volume. I'm still slightly on the fence with the series but I'll be picking up volume 3 when it comes out.

I meant to read Habibi on the weekend but it got put aside for some lighter reading. It's currently on the top of my "to read" list. And at some point I plan on doing a Sandman re-read. I borrowed them through my first reading so I'm picking up the new editions that are coming out (I'm a little obsessive compulsive and I'd kind of like a consistent set and not a mix of various editions). So that plan may get put aside until they all have been re-released.

So that's it for me at the moment. And I'm open to suggestions on other books to read.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Readers

I'm probably the last person to be bringing up DC's 52 reboot as I'm not reading them (other than Justice League) and I'm not going to be a new DC reader, I'm just not interested. But I've been reading plenty of comments on them from new and old readers and among the compliments and complaints there are a few things I'm picking out (whether they're true or not). One, the books don't seem to be all that new reader friendly. If it's not Superman or Batman then new readers have no idea who these characters are and the reboot books don't seem to be origins or introductions to the characters. They are the start of a new story but readers without the history may be feeling lost right from the start. And there doesn't seem to be any closure within the issues (with maybe a couple exceptions). This can be jarring to new comic readers who are expecting a contained story. I think they expect like a TV show or movie that there will be some sort of contained story in the issue even if it is part of an ongoing larger story.

So I think about when friends ask me about getting into comics and what to read, my first reaction is usually "well what would you be interested in reading?" Are they in to horror, westerns, sci fi, romance, or do they really want to give superhero stuff a try? And then I go to books/stories/characters I feel they can get into easily and this is usually not Marvel or DC. Unless they say "I saw Thor and really want to read Thor comics" I just don't go there. I find any character who has a story going back to the 1960's can be a little daunting. I usually go with ones where they can go into a comic shop, bookstore, or Amazon and grab a TPB or two and figure out if the story is for them. So I go with Invincible, Elephantmen, Atomic Robo, Walking Dead, Chew, Sandman, Fables,... And it's easy to direct them to volume 1. Where do you direct someone for Marvel or DC characters? The "essential" volumes? More recent TPBs? More recent "relaunches" of the character (if they have one)? I'm just never sure.

It has me thinking, would DC's reboot have been better served by having single issues or even initial TPBs that contained full stories that actually introduced the characters (either through origins or just self contained stories that at least told you who they are). Would it benefit DC (or even Marvel) to put out such books? A confined "All you need to know about Spider-Man/Thor/Captain America/Superman/Batman" comic (either single issue, TPB, or digital comic they can get from their sites. And I'm not talking those 2-3 pagers that don't really give you any actual story. Because as it is I'm still directing any potential new readers elsewhere.

But that may just be me.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Two page spreads

One thing I'm curious about is how the two page spreads (specifically those in the Justice League books by Jim Lee) look on the iPad and iPhone. It can't be that great a reading experience. I'd say two page spreads are more for the benefit of print versions. But here's the thing, they really aren't (in most cases).

Now this is just my opinion of course and there are exceptions (I seem to recall some great two page spreads in MiracleMan, Sandman, Return of the Dapper Men, etc) but I found in those exceptions they fit the story more. They gave us a large view while moving the story forward. In Justice League 1 you have a double page spread of Batman jumping out of the way of gunshots from helicopters, is that really worthy of a two page spread? In issue 2 it seems (I've only seen the unlettered preview) you have Batman and Superman squaring off in a two page spread. Yes, it shows off some pretty artwork but does it really tell the story effectively or is it just trying to cover up a lack of substance with some eye candy?

And aside from that, it keeps me wondering about making comics for print and digital yet again. The talk about going digital seems to gloss over what this means for some artists. Many artists don't look at making comics as a panel by panel thing, for them the whole page (and all its panels) fits together as a work of art. So you'll have panels blending into one another, overlapping (in art or dialogue), and other little "tricks" that require you to see the full page at once to get the full reading experience. Currently, tablets and smartphones are smaller than printed pages and often lose detail when pages are shrunk down to fit them (especially the phones). Computer monitors are usually better (though they have to be sufficiently large enough). I guess the assumption is that either artists will have to stop doing stuff that works better in print or that technology will eventually find an answer or that the majority of comic readers (especially those going to digital) won't care.

I tend to go with the last option for the most part, I don't think there's that many readers who actually care about this stuff. It's too bad in a way as I find it nice to see artists who know how to really tell the story effectively through their art but I accept that I can be in the minority and that there's a larger audience who just want their glossed over pretty pictures. I guess it's like all other forms of entertainment (TV, movies, books, etc) where what I might consider high quality doesn't always bring in the money and the audience wants their sex/violence/explosions/"reality" TV/"leave your brain at the door popcorn blockbuster"/glittery vampire with abs/whatever else sells. And who am I to say what is right or wrong for them to like/spend their money on.

Though I also know of some artists who are considering these things and being pulled in many directions. So hopefully they can find a balance or a solution and that technology continues to expand the possibilities for them.