Classic EBI #53: Year One

In today’s Everything But Imaginary column, I take a look at the new Wonder Woman costume, debuting in today’s Wonder Woman #600, as well as a look back at other superhero costume changes over the years. You can check that out over at Comixtreme.com — EBI #357: “Wonder”Ful New Togs.

In today’s classic EBI, it’s time to look back in time at the first anniversary of Everything But Imaginary. From March 10, 2003…

Everything But Imaginary #53: Year One

Well my friends, here we are. One year ago, I took my first tentative steps out into the big world of Comixtreme and gave you your first helping of Everything But Imaginary. Okay, technically, it was one year ago on Friday, March 12, but my column comes out on Wednesdays, so we’re partying now. Wednesdays just happen to be the most eagerly-anticipated day of the week for comic fans, after all. Sure, some people say that’s because Wednesday is the day the new comics go on sale, but we here at Everything But Imaginary Global Headquarters like to think we have a little something to do with it as well.

How long have we been here? Well, when we started, Firestorm was Ronnie Raymond, Robin was a guy and Janet was considered the relatively wholesome member of the Jackson family, right after Peter. My how times change.

The purpose of that first column, 52 whole weeks ago, was to talk about what makes good comics good, how to make bad comics better, and what it will take to make our little niche artform a mass medium again. That in mind, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year dispensing advise, so while you guys are enjoying your cake and punch (Brandon Schatz is serving it in the corner over there), I thought I’d take a little time to look back at some of the things I’ve said and see if anyone’s bothered to take my advice.

• Way back in the very first EBI, “Love Spandex-Style,” I wrote about romance in the world of comic books. Back then I said that “It’s starting to look like the most promising love story in comics will soon be between Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf.” Well, flipping through recent issues of Fables shows us that love affair has progressed — Snow White is, in fact, pregnant with Bigby’s… child? Litter? (Help us out here, Bill Willingham.) Of course, since they were under mind-control when she actually got pregnant and now Snow White doesn’t even want to talk to Bigby, things aren’t as rosy as they once were. Still, things are better for them than Blue Boy and Red Riding Hood.

Interestingly, the second-best love story in modern comics is still underway in Dork Tower, where despite the best machinations of his friends, Matt McLimore still hasn’t come together with Gilly the Perky Goth. As silly and goofy as this title is, John Kovalic has created some real touching, heartwarming characters, and when it was revealed in Dork Tower #27 that Gilly is going to Europe for grad school, I actually shouted at the comic. This is going to be part of the newest ad campaign — “Dork Tower: It’s Scream at the Comic Book Good!”

• In June Diamond Comics president Nick Barrucci went off on the problems in the comic book industry, and his venting sent me off on a four-part rant about things that comics screw up, which frankly, I still consider some of my best work. In those four parts I dissected the state of the comic book store, story structure, public perceptions of the comic book industry and trying to get women to read comics. Out of those four categories, the only change I’ve seen is that I’ve got my friend Ronée reading comics again, and she’s writing her own column here now, so I couldn’t be prouder of that.

• On Aug. 6 I presented, “Waddling Towards Gethsemane,” my first in-depth look at Disney comic books, which was met by a resounding yawn here on the site. I guess I should have expected that, this isn’t a Disney crowd, but I maintain that stuff like Uncle Scrooge makes for a great all-ages comic book that most of you would enjoy if you could put aside the stigma of it being a “kid’s comic” and just read it. I also urged Gemstone, the company now publishing Disney comics, to shift Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories into a lower-priced format (it’s $6.95 an issue now) that kids could enjoy. Thus far, no luck, but I’ll keep trying. (2010 Note: As it turned out, it took a change of publishers to get that price point dropped.)

• Of greater interest, that same week I premiered my “Favorite of the Week” feature in EBI, where I singled out, in my opinion, the best title released that week. Since then that honor has been won the most by Mark Waid’s Fantastic Four, which won (appropriately enough) four times. Fables scored three times, JSA, Avengers and Superman/Batman won twice each, and single wins have been recorded for Flash, Ultimate Spider-Man, Sojourn, Sandman: Endless Nights, Scion, H-E-R-O, New X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man, Uncle Scrooge, Arrowsmith, Dork Tower, PVP, Plastic Man, Superman: Secret Identity, G.I. Joe: Cobra Reborn, My Faith in Frankie and Legion. Scott Williams gave a fifth nod to Fantastic Four the week he sat in during the Great Comixtreme Column Switch, although had I written the column that week, the winner would have been another Mark Waid title, Empire.

• Aug. 13 brought us “Tripping the Light Fantastic,” in which I took a look at fantasy comics. More imporantly, though, this was the first column in which I specifically mentioned that I wrote a novel, the superhero-comedy Other People’s Heroes, in the body of the column instead of just the disclaimer at the end that half of you don’t read anyway. This is particularly significant because the book, the superhero-comedy Other People’s Heroes, is still very much available from fine online booksellers everywhere and I have a car note to pay off. (2010 Note: This is no longer the case. The “still available” part. But starting tomorrow, you can download the audiobook!)

• Following in the footsteps of the fantasy column, on Aug. 27 I took a look at science fiction comics with “To the Stars By Hard Ways.” The significant thing about this, of course, is that CrossGen comics took a blurb from this column and put it on the cover of their fantastic book, Negation, which was the first real evidence I had that people besides my friends, family and Doug Norris were actually reading this column on a weekly basis.

• On Nov. 12 I wrote what remains to this day the most popular column in the series, “The Best Comics I’ve Never Read.” The reason this was so popular, I think, is because I let you guys tell me what to do for once. I asked for suggestions as to some great graphic novels I haven’t read that I should pick up and I got flooded with answers. The column was so popular that I brought it back just a few weeks ago after discovering a few gems like Hellboy and The Liberty Project, and I intend to revisit the topic every few months, whenever I’ve read a few of the books on the list.

• With the new year, as happens from time to time, came the month of January, and with January I presented the first-ever Everything But Imaginary Awards, in which I and you, my slavishly devoted readers, made our selections for the best comics of 2003. I’m still amazed at some of the votes I got (particularly the person who voted for The Ultimates as best all-ages title) and I’m still heartbroken that I had to disqualify Sentinel from the category for best cancelled comic on the grounds that it hadn’t actually been cancelled yet, because clearly a lot of you really loved that book. Don’t worry, it’ll be eligible for that category next year.

So that just about brings us up to date on things here at Everything But Imaginary International Headquarters. I like to think we’ve learned a few things. I like to think we’ve made a few points. I like to think there is a silent majority of female comic book fans who read this column every week and are strategizing to meet me in a bar the next time I go to the Chicago Comicon.

Mostly, I like to think we’ve had some fun. Thanks to Doug and Jason for giving me a shot here at the first place, Craig Reade for showing me the ropes, Andrea Speed for not using those same ropes to strangle me, Ronée Garcia Bourgeois just for being her and everybody else who’s read and responded to this column over the past year. If you’ve enjoyed it, tell your friends! (If you didn’t, tell your enemies!) And come back next week, because if there’s one thing I know about the second year of a column, it’s that it almost always follows the first one.


Vertigo’s side-splitting miniseries My Faith In Frankie narrowly took the prize for my favorite comic last week (just squeaking past G.I. Joe Reborn). In the third issue of this (sadly) four-issue limited series, Mike Carey and Sonny Liew continue their tale of a woman in love, the god who has always watched over her, the demonic man who is stealing her affections and the dumbfounded best friend who just wants to know what’s happening. This is a wonderful romantic comedy/fantasy, and I don’t know what I would rather see, a sequel or a trade paperback collection. I’d really like both, because I love these characters and want to see more, and because I suspect this is a book that would really find its much-deserved audience in the secondary market.

Blake M. Petit is the author of a novel, the superhero-comedy Other People’s Heroes, the stage play, The 3-D Radio Show, and a regular column in the St. Charles Herald-Guide. If you’re thinking about getting him flowers for his anniversary, he likes lilacs. E-mail him at Blake@comixtreme.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at Blake@comixtreme.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

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