Posts Tagged ‘J. Michael Straczynski

22
Jul
13

All New Showcase Episode 292: San Diego Comic-Con 2013

AllNewShowcase2This week, Blake decides it’s high time the Showcase got a new coat of paint, a slightly amended format, and a much snazzier archive page. Welcome to the first episode of the All New Showcase! In this episode, Blake explains the reasons for the change before sitting down with Kenny and Erin to talk about all the news from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con International. Witchblade Vs. the Darkness, the Simpsons meeting the Griffins and the Planet Express crew, Riverdale swaming with zombies, JMS taking on the Twilight Zone, new series for Harley Quinn, the return of Nightcrawler, Avengers 2 gets a title and Man of Steel 2 gets a guest-star! This and much, much more in the first All New Showcase! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

And what’s cool this week? For Kenny, it’s Pacific Rim, for Erin it’s the works of the late Richard Matheson, and for Blake it’s The Argonauts!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

All New Showcase #292: San Diego 2013

Superman-Batman

15
Jul
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 270: San Diego Comic-Commentary

Comic-Con weekend is here, and although Blake and Erin aren’t in San Diego, that’s not going to stop them from pontificating about all the news from the con. The aftermath of Avengers Vs. X-MenNeil Gaiman returns to Sandman! A slew of new Image comics, the titles and release dates for Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Phase 2…” and is it possible the greatest Marvel villain of them all could be… Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz? Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!
Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

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24
Aug
11

Classic EBI #105: Getting in on the Ground Floor

With next week’s historical realignment of the DC Universe, I thought today would be an appropriate time to look back at the DCU that was and give a proper send-off to those books, characters, and creators that I’ve enjoyed in recent years that I think deserve a fond farewell.

Everything But Imaginary #412: The Old DC Farewell Party

Going back in time, though, we look at my column from March 9, 2005. This week, I talked about how hard it can be to get into long-running series, and made my recommendation for a book I thought could be the Next Big Thing. I still think it’s a great book, and it lives on as a webcomic…

Everything But Imaginary #105: Getting in on the Ground Floor

In theory, a new reader should be able to jump into a long-running, iconic series at just about any time and get into the action. This isn’t true in practice, of course, but let’s talk about the theory for a moment. In theory, Spider-Man comics should be perfectly accessible to people who just start reading because they love the movie. In theory, people who want to try Fantastic Four should be able to hop on to that title as soon as the new writer takes over. And in theory, if you’re one of the three people on Earth who doesn’t know Batman’s origin, just stick around, because it seems to get recapped every other month anyway.

The reason for this is that these characters have been around for decades and have become part of the constantly-expanding mythology of comic books. Amazing Spider-Man does not tell one complete story, it tells hundreds of stories in short installments that have been added to by hundreds of writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, letterers and editors over the years. So if you missed the beginning of the current story, or if you don’t like it, all you’ve got to do is wait around for the next one to start.

This is not true of all comics, however. In the last few decades, there has been an increasing focus on comics that tell one, extended story, usually the product of a single cartoonist or a single writer collaborating with multiple artists. A comic book series with a beginning, a middle and an end — as opposed to comics like Superman, where you know you’re in a state of perpetual middle.

Now because these single-story series can almost never involve an iconic character, and often are done by a creator who is relatively unknown as the series begins, the titles that fit into this category quite often start off small, with a handful of readers who spread the word. The book gains critical acclaim, rolls on, and eventually may be known of as a classic. But only those handful of people who were there at the beginning got the story the way it was intended. Others scrambled for the trade paperbacks or scoured the back issue bins, or sometimes just jumped in the middle. It’s impossible to predict which of these series will take off, so the speculation doesn’t really work.

Perhaps the best known example of this kind of comic is Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Gaiman, at the time, was a little-known writer with a handful of credits to his name who pitched a series about the Jack Kirby incarnation of the Sandman, the one who lived in a sort of space station and monitored people’s dreams. DC liked the idea but, alas, that Sandman was already in use in the title Infinity, Inc., so they asked him to create a new character.

Fast-forward 75 issues and you have one of the most acclaimed comic book series of all time, about the King of the Dreams, his undying siblings, the power of story and imagination and everything else. It’s regarded as a classic. It’s the only comic ever to win a World Fantasy Award. And most importantly (for purposes of this discussion), it’s a book that DC let Gaiman end when his story was done.

Dave Sim’s Cerebus took this form of storytelling to the extreme, setting out to do a 300-issue series that would chronicle the entire life of his aardvark hero, and he succeeded. He riled up a lot of people, got a lot of people mad, but he told a tale that, like it or not, is unparalleled in scope in comic book history.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to get in on that ground floor. A few years ago, thumbing through the Previews catalogue, I noticed a new series in the works from the Vertigo imprint about fairy tale characters living in the modern world. The premise intrigued me and the writer, Bill Willingham, was somebody I’d grown to respect for his work on various Sandman Presents projects. So I put Fables in my pull folder, reasoning I could just ditch it after the first story arc if I didn’t like it. Oh, but I liked it. It’s now my favorite comic every single month, and when I listen to people talk about how great it is and other people ask when they can start reading it, I just smile because I lucked out enough to get into it from the very beginning.

My favorite example of this kind of story, though, has to be Jeff Smith’s Bone. This was one where I was lucky enough to get in relatively early, with issue #13. I picked up the trade paperbacks of the first 12 issues and I was set to follow the Bone cousins for about the next ten years in their adventures through the valley, against the stupid, stupid rat creatures and the Lord of the Locusts and unravelling the mysteries surrounding Thorn Harvestar.

When this remarkable series finally reached its conclusion last year, I told as many people as would listen to pick the thing up, to get the trade paperbacks or the color reprints or the big mama-jama one-volume edition.

But last weekend it occurred to me, as much as promoting Bone is a good thing, perhaps it would also behoove me to try to find that next big thing, that new comic that nobody knows about yet but is rife with potential, and tell people about it while they still have time to get in on the ground floor.

That thought came to me because I was reading that next comic nobody knows about yet. And it’s Runners by Sean Wang.

Published by Serve Man Press, the first Runners miniseries, Bad Goods recently concluded its five-issue run with the promise of more to come. The basic premise of this miniseries is that a group of outer-space runners — a crew that transports cargo from one planet to another — discovers a mysterious blue woman that they suspect may have come from the vats they’re transporting, meaning someone is using them in a slave ring. Despite that kind of heavy premise, the comic is really a rip-roaring, old-fashioned sci-fi adventure, with plenty of lighthearted moments, wonderful artwork that’s just begging to be made into an animated movie, and some of the coolest alien designs I’ve seen in a very, very long time.

While I was reading those first five issues, though, I felt like there was something deeper here. It read as though Sean Wang has serious plans for this title, and he was just sort of easing us in on the lighthearted stuff before launching into the full-on space opera that this title has the potential to become. I haven’t felt that way about a comic in a long time.

Not, in fact, since those early issues of Bone where we had a goofy cow race disguising the fact that the valley was about to be plunged into war.

Yeah. I think it could be that good.

So I’ve got to thank Sean Wang for passing the first four comics into Ronée’s capable hands, I’ve gotta thank Ronée for letting me read them, and I’ve got to thank the manager of BSI Comics for going to great lengths to snag a copy of the final issue for me. Otherwise, I may never have known about this comic.

And I may never have had the chance to tell you to try it out. The first five issue miniseries is available at the www.SeanWang.com, and a trade paperback is in the works… and Wang promises that the story will continue. I can’t wait.

So how about an assignment, folks? Kind of like with my “best comics I’ve never read” columns, I want you guys to suggest some of the best new comics out there, ones you think nobody knows about yet but that you want people to try because you see real potential. A miniseries can qualify if it’s the sort of thing that’ll be a series of miniseries, or it can be an ongoing, but let’s say anything less than 12 issues into the run. Anything beyond that and it’s not really the ground floor anymore, is it?

And check out Runners: Bad Goods! It’s worth the hunt.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: March 2, 2005

From the ground floor to the skyscraper, last week’s favorite is kind of the opposite of what we talked about this week, the final issue of a comic that told one story from beginning to end. Although the title was hurt by a forced hiatus to deal with some legal matters, Rising Stars #24 ended J. Michael Straczynski’s epic in real style. The story is resolved, questions are answered, and things all really come full-circle. In typical Straczynski style, this final issue was really more of an epilogue than the actual finale, but it did give us something I never thought we’d get — the truth about the flash that gave the Specials their powers. And it was a simple, beautiful explanation. Now that this series is over, now that people can read the whole thing, I feel confidant that this will make its way alongside the acknowledged masterpieces of the superhero genre.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginnerand 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. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.comand visit him on the web at Evertime Realms.Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

01
May
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 219: Thor and Free Comics

The boys are back this week to talk about the big movie coming to theaters this Friday. The guys discuss the coming Thor motion picture, the character’s history, and favorite runs with the Mighty Avenger. Then, it’s time for our annual Free Comic Book Day preview, where we run down all of the books available at a shop near you next Saturday! In the picks, Mike liked Captain America: The Captain Saga, Blake is down with Super Dinosaur #1, and Kenny digs Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #8. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 219: The Mighty Thor

09
Jan
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 204: 2010-The Year in Review

A little later than they would have liked, but Blake and Kenny are coming at you this week with their look back at 2010 in comics and geek culture. In this mammoth episode, the guys dish on big events for the publishers, the characters, the multimedia properties, and take a look ahead into 2011. It’s the biggest Showcase of the year! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by the Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 204: 2010-The Year in Review

21
Nov
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 197: A Thanksgiving Quickie

With the Thanksgiving holiday this week, the Showcase boys have been a bit busy, so once more, Blake dashes off a quick conversation to sate your appetite. This week, he gets into the growing conflict between original graphic novels and monthly comics and talks a bit about Disney/Marvel corporate synergy before throwing you over to some bonus content from his newest project. Have a great Thanksgiving, everybody, and don’t forget you can contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by the Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 197: A Thanksgiving Quickie


 

14
Nov
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 196: Life, Death, and a Pet Rock

The Showcase boys were ships passing in the night this week, so Blake flies solo for an e-mail answering, reviewifying episode! He talks about the first few weeks of the new hit show The Walking Dead, talks a bit about J. Michael Straczynski leaving monthly comics and the new writers on Wonder Woman and Superman, then talks about four new releases this week: Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #1, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1, The Thanos Imperative #6 and the epic Tiny Titans/Little Archie #2. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by the Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 196: Life, Death, and a Pet Rock

Inside This Episode:




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