Thursday, April 06, 2006

Back to Blogging

Okay, so now that plok's publicly called me on the carpet for missing a couple days' worth of updating* I figure I'll add my two cents to Jake's Hypothetical 15 meme. The basic concept is that paper shortages force the number of monthly comic book titles to only fifteen, and I have to decide what is going to be published and by whom. Without further ado...
  1. Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. "But Jack's dead," you say. Any time I play these hypothetical games, I figure that it's all just blowing smoke anyway. I mean, what really are the odds that I will ever be in a position to hand-pick the only fifteen comic titles produced in America and who's working on them? It's a total pipe dream. So, if I'm pipe-dreaming anyway, I'm going to whip out the bring-em-back-from-the-dead machine I whipped up last night. Stan and Jack on the FF forever. Nuff said.

  2. The Spirit by Will Eisner. C'mon, that's just incredible stuff; how could you not want to see more of it?

  3. The Fourth World by Jack Kirby. Okay, I'm technically breaking one of Jake's ground rules by having Jack draw two titles, but he was cranking out four or five titles a month for several years there. I figure he can handle two books easily enough. Even if he is dead.

    Fine. If Jack can't draw it, I'll have him supply plots and broad direction to Walt Simonson. Almost an editorship position. Walt writing and drawing, though, with direct input from Jack.

  4. Brave and the Bold by Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams. The title would cycle mainly through Green Arrow, Flash, Green Lantern, and Black Canary stories. Some team-ups, some solo bits. Something not unlike what Mark Waid and Tom Peyer did a few years back, but with that classic O'Neil/Adams collaboration.

  5. Marvel Team-Up by Dan Slott and George Perez. First of all, we need a team-up style book to be able to cycle through Marvel's cache of characters. Secondly, we need some really versitile talent who can tackle any character with relative ease. Since Slott is proving to do such a dynamite job on Thing with all that, I'm going to put him here. (Hey, add The Thing to your pull list if you haven't already!) And by making Perez the artist, that just means we can pack in that many more heroes into one book!

  6. World's Finest by Mark Waid and Jim Aparo. You know, I've never been that keen on Superman or Batman as characters, but I think you'd almost NEED to have them in print. So, I'm taking a tip from the Golden Age and throwing them in the same book together. As for the creative pairing, I'd be curious to see what a great Superman writer would do when working with a great Batman artist.

  7. Groo by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier. First off, I don't think it'd be wise to do just superheroes. We need some humor books as well. And anyone who can take a one note gag and keep making it funny for over 100 issues deserves to keep doing it, in my opinion.

  8. American Frontier by John Ostrander and John Severin. This would be a Western book that touches on all the great Western heroes. Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Jonah Hex, Two-Gun Kid, Lone Ranger... everyone. (Hey, it's my fantasy world; I can assume that all the legal issues are easily overcome.) Ostrander has proved several times over that he writes a darn fine Western, and Severin... well, I'll be damned if he doesn't draw some of the grittiest, earthiest characters I've ever seen. I'd love to see this especially if Ostrander created a new character to hook the series on, and have him meet up with all the classics in one serial novella.

  9. Archie by Dan DeCarlo. I'm not partial to the character myself, but I think he is a necessary part of the comic book landscape. And DeCarlo... well, he is the guy who really defined the Archie look.

  10. Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassady. Need I say more?

  11. Spider-Man by Gerry Conway and John Romita, Sr. I almost forgot that, by my own thinking noted earlier, I should probably be sure to include a Spidey book somewhere. Who better to work on it than the definitive Spider-Man artist and the guy who killed Gwen Stacy?

  12. Steve Ditko Showcase by Steve Ditko. Okay, for those of you who want to complain that Ditko is "the definitive Spider-Man artist" I'm giving him his own book. Everything by Ditko. Whatever he feels like doing. Guaranteed great material.

    Crap. Only three titles left!

  13. Romance by Trina Robbins and Dave Stevens. I need a romance genre book, so that's why this is here. Robbins doing classicly inspired but modern "girlie books" and Stevens drawing gorgeous women. What's not to love?

  14. In Times of War by Joe Kubert and Jim Steranko. This would be similar to my Western book in that it would include all the great modern war heroes: Gen. George Patton, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sgt. Frank Rock, Sgt. Nick Fury, Col. Robert Hogan (Hogan's Heroes), etc. Mostly WWII stuff, but forays into Vietnam, Korea, etc. Both Kubert and Steranko would write and draw their own stuff, either doing half-issue stories each, or alternating storylines.

  15. Heavy Metal by everyone else. Something of a cop-out answer for a finale, but this would be much like the classic Heavy Metal -- somewhat oversized and an anthology format. That way, we can still keep seeing work by all the great writers and artists who I couldn't give their own book to! We could squeeze in here a Roy Thomas/John Buscema Avengers story. Or a Karl Kesel/Tom Grummett Legion of the Superheroes one. A Fabian Nicieza/Mark Bagley New Warriors. A Marv Wolfman/Gene Colan Dracula. A Doug Moench/Bill Sienkiewicz Moon Knight. Mobius' Blueberry. Frank Miller anything. Richard Corben anything. Philippe Druillet, Paolo Serpieri, Bernie Wrightson, Wendy Pini, Roger Stern, Kurt Busiek, John Byrne, Alex Ross... The list goes on and on...

So, anyway, that's my list. With only fifteen books to work with, I obviously have to leave a lot of great material out, but I would hope my Heavy Metal would pick up some of the slack there.


* I've got a good excuse, though. I was doing some work for Marvel that will show up in an extra special FF Masterworks. More on that later, though.

8 comments:

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Damn! Good call on Groo. Can't believe I left him off my list.

Sean Kleefeld said...

I could never forget Groo. You could even say that I "groo" up it. :)

Seriously, though, brilliant stuff throughout the entire run. I still don't understand the fascination with cheese dip and mulch, but darn if it still doesn't make me laugh!

plok said...

My personal ultimate Spider-Man team is Conway/Andru...nothing like Ross Andru. Of course Spider-Man, there are a few non-overlookable people, Stan, John R., Ditko, Gil Kane...all of these are up there, but it's Conway/Andru that I remember the most fondly.

I've got to think over your list a bit more before giving more of a response...very interesting, a lot to think over. Mind you, in this scenario I kind of just assumed Archie and Groo would be being published anyway! But it's nice to see them mentioned.

Oh, nice call with the Kirby: Jack's clearly the obvious natural exception to the one-title artist rule, no question.

Sean Kleefeld said...

Kirby's pretty much the exception to every rule in the book! :)

As for not forgetting Groo and Archie, I wanted to make a point of not forgetting them. I think too many comic fans overlook the non-superhero genre material. It's part of why, I think, the industry isn't in better shape at the moment.

Gregg Allinson said...

I think too many comic fans overlook the non-superhero genre material. It's part of why, I think, the industry isn't in better shape at the moment.

Absolutely. It's funny- if you dig out a back issue of any old DC title from the '70s, you see house ads and subscription forms filled with romance, war, sword and sorcery (which, admittedly, is undergoing a bit of a renaissance with Kurt Busiek's Conan and Aquaman), and SF comics.

As I mentioned a while back, I got a big kick out of Marvel's recent Tales to Astonish Masterworks collection. Surely, a company presently linked to J. Michael Straczynski, Joss Whedon, Neil Gaiman, Peter David and Stephen King can come up with a credible horror and/or SF anthology? That would also be a great thing for artists who don't want to get tied down to a monthly project or do superheroes; Brian Bolland, Neal Adams, Berni Wrightson, etc.

plok said...

Yeah, kids love the science fiction...hand them some EC and they go nuts. So...?

Yeah, it's a mystery. You know, I never even thought of Adam Strange as a superhero when I was a kid, anymore than I thought of Buck Rogers as a superhero, but there you go, I guess...

Sean, some parts of your list freak me out! And other parts just ring a bell I really want to hear...for example, World's Finest, I used to devour this title as a kid, because obviously you get Batman and Superman at once, I mean what could be better than that? Very astute of you. As well, the very thought of an O'Neil/Adams BATB warms the heart, and the thought of getting to see George Perez on just a regular old series again, not an EVENT BOOK, is something I somehow completely forgot that I wanted to see, until you mentioned it. (And yes, that's exactly what I consider his Busiek Avengers stuff -- an EVENT) You cover your anthology bases nicely (although, no Gil Kane for the Westerns? Approve of the war-story Steranko, for sure), Groo and Archie are obviously needed...Groo's funny (when did "funny" become a rare quality?), and Archie...

Well, Archie's obviously unique. Although I'd suggest that you don't want an all Dan DeCarlo Archie, because the great thing about those Digests is that they reprint a lot of really old Archies too. And what's good about this is that Archie is always obviously the same, the whole thing about Archie is the endless recycling of its basic Archieness, if we as superhero geeks think we tire tire of seeing the Rhino too many times, or Spider-Man in a new costume...sheesh, have we got it easy! Because Archie is one exceedingly long variation on one very simple theme, and it never ends, it's the extended guitar-solo of comics.

But! This means that kids who read Archie have an opportunity to really notice the different eras of Archie, too, and I think that's good. A friend's daughter was (still is) an Archie reader, and it was possible for me to have pretty entertaining conversations with her about the changing artists in Archie even when she was pretty young...I like to think Archie helped her to develop her sense of taste about cartooning in the same way superhero comics helped me to develop my own, which isn't so far-fetched a thought when you consider the similarity of the many creators/one property setup that both Archie and (say) Batman enjoy...

I dunno. Thought it might be a point.

Steve Ditko Showcase: great idea! Also the more I think of it, the more partial I am to a really wide-ranging western title, Tom Mix, Jesse James etc., I think as adults we forget that there's often a valuable pedagogical aspect to comics as far as history is concerned...Romance also grabs me in a big way, and finally the Heavy Metal thing...you know what I remember fondly, that Heavy Metal would be good for? Crazy Roy Thomas projects like John Carter, Ring of the Nibelung, stuff like that that used to surface and then sink all the time at Marvel...I'd like to see things like that again. Also, hey, anything that brings an awareness of cartoonists from other countries into the North American market has got to be good, so: nice choice.

Well, this was somewhat lengthy I guess, but I thought since I nagged you I was obliged to do better than a desultory comment.

How I wish we were in this paper shortage, sometimes!

Sean Kleefeld said...

Surely, a company presently linked to J. Michael Straczynski, Joss Whedon, Neil Gaiman, Peter David and Stephen King can come up with a credible horror and/or SF anthology?

Well, the current problem here is that anthology books generally don't sell very well. At least from a Marvel/DC perspective. That's why Marvel's not even trying a Marvel Comics Presents or anything like it. There's just too broad of a reach for something like that these days. (At least, that's what my comic shop manager contacts tell me.)

no Gil Kane for the Westerns?

You know, I'm not a big Gil Kane fan. I respect his work, certainly, there are a lot of artists out there whose illustrative style I like more. I actually bought that horrendously bad Slap Leather thing a while back, knowing full well that it was a bad story, precisely and solely because it was John Severin drawing a Western. But Kane, I wouldn't do that for.

Although I'd suggest that you don't want an all Dan DeCarlo Archie... the whole thing about Archie is the endless recycling of its basic Archieness... Because Archie is one exceedingly long variation on one very simple theme, and it never ends...

Well, that's pretty much WHY I put DeCarlo on Archie by himself. With the exception of the very earliest Archie stories (from his Pep Comics days) there's not a whole lot of variation in the artistic style. Certainly not enough for a youngster to pick up on. So rather than potentially confuse a child by portraying something that doesn't look very Archie, let's give it to the guy who really became "the good Archie artist" (to paraphrase Carl Barks' title).

How I wish we were in this paper shortage, sometimes!

GAH! No thanks! Think of all the great stuff that's being published already that would have to get thrown to the wayside. Even in my anthology listing, I didn't mention Brian Wood, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, J.M. DeMatteis, Joe Casey, Mike Ploog, Eric Powell, Frank Espinosa, John Romita Jr., Phil Hester, Stuart Immonen, Frank Cho...

Seriously, I go into the comic shop every week, drop $20 and rarely pick up everything that I'd like. Admittedly, some of the books I get are out of habit more than actual quality, but not many. I love comics as a medium and, as much as I'd also love to see some of my dream projects a reality, I wouldn't want to see them if I had to sacrifice the wealth of other great things that are out there.

Gregg Allinson said...

Well, the current problem here is that anthology books generally don't sell very well. At least from a Marvel/DC perspective. That's why Marvel's not even trying a Marvel Comics Presents or anything like it. There's just too broad of a reach for something like that these days. (At least, that's what my comic shop manager contacts tell me.)

Yeah, that's probably true. Still, I can't help but think that you could market such a title in Starlog, Asimov's, etc. Might not bring in that much of a new audience, but every time a non-comic reader enters a comic book shop, that's a good thing, IMO...