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Rolling With The Punches - 3

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“The reason that the average age of comics readers is increasing, trade paperback sales are becoming the dominant focus and monthly periodical sales remain sluggish in the American comics market is because publishers have priced these books out of the range of children, and if you don’t interest them when they’re young you’re sure as hell not going to convince them twenty years later.”
---me.


PRE-MATCH SMACKTALK:

So does anybody even read these damn Soapboxes? I mean come one, what’s more exciting than reading the crap some hack like me is spouting off week after week. Tell you what, why don’t you print this installment and take it with you into your next trip to the Land of the Indisposed. I guarantee you it’s better than reading the ingredients to toothpaste… okay, maybe not toothpaste, but it’s definitely better than the Shampoo (those things are full of filthy lies I tell you… glistening, soft, shiny hair my ass!). Come on people? Are you out there? Drop me a line here (click on my name at the top!) and let me know if I’m pissing you off. If not, I promise to try harder!


ROUND 1:

Welcome back Rob Liefeld. You know it’s a Rob Liefeld book because it has the word “Blood” in it, not once but TWICE. That’s right, as reported on over at Newsarama, it’s Youngblood: Bloodsport and it’s a fistful of smack-action in the Image-style as the team faces a fate worse than death… oh wait that’s right. The nineties are over. According to the venerable and respected Mr. Liefeld this return to the Image-Extreme/Maximum/Awesome Universe will debut in October as a four-issue miniseries, but he’s not going to revive any of those names. Rather, Arcade Comics is the new publishing venture and home of this sure-to-be-classic. Now, understand that Arcade Comics isn’t Liefeld’s new publishing company as he assures us that Awesome Comics is a live and “waiting in the wings.” Yeah, sure it is. However he has been whoring out most of his properties over to Avatar so who the hell knows what he’s doing.

Of course, the last time Liefeld promised a prominent relaunch of his Youngblood characters, or some other “blood”-y derivative, nothing really came of it. In fact the last two hundred and seventy-three times Rob has made a major announcement in the comics field nothing has come of it. Maybe he just likes to see his name in print. If so, I’d recommend he just write a fan letter to Erik Larsen (that dude must print every letter he gets in the longest letters page out there (now that Dave Sim has replaced his with the rantings of a madman, namely himself!)).


ROUND 2:

“Excuse me Mr. Comics Shop Retailer. Has that Image 10th Anniversary Hardcover come out yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Well isn’t it Image’s fiftieth anniversary now?”

“Yeah, but apparently one of the creators (who shall remain nameless but so clearly identified by sideways remarks and innuendos) is too busy right now trying to acquire the toy license for the new X-Treme Care Bears movie coming out from Disney (damn they’re getting desperate) this summer.”

“Oh. Well, how about Spawn #119?”

“They rescheduled it again, but he did just announce that the special anniversary Spawn #500, which is solicited to ship next month, will be a double-sized epic and he promises to pencil AND ink one of Spawn’s fingers on the first page!”


ROUND 3:

WildStorm’s newest imprint “Eye of the Storm” debuted recently and both of the premiere issues have met with much critical abuse. Automatic Kafka #1 premiered this past week to mediocre sales and terrible reviews. The most common review I read was that it was absolutely impossible to follow the story and that Ashley Wood was a completely horrid sequential artist. Hmmm. I read the thing and not only did I have absolutely no problem reading it or following what was going on, I thoroughly enjoyed it. So either I’m a freakin’ genius or there’s something wrong with everybody else. But then I figured it out.

Our best-selling books are Spider-Man and X-Men books. These books are intellectually steered toward teenagers (at the most). Hmmm, so that would be the equivalent of the old Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys mysteries in complexity. Well, AK doesn’t appear to be written for that audience. In this case, Mature Readers means more than just nekkid girls (though it does have plenty of those) and cursing (that too). It’s about a more sophisticated approach to storytelling where you don’t pander to the lowest possible denominator. If James Joyce had catered to Joe “X-Men Fan” when he was writing Ulysses it would’ve turned out a lot more along the lines of such seminal classics as Amelia Bedelia and Pippi Longstocking. There’s nothing wrong with those books per se, but for an adult sophisticated reader with a sophisticated palette, they just don’t hold the appeal or depth as Ulysses. This tells me that American comics readers (and yes I’m stereotyping here and this may include other countries as well), are lazy and stunted in their reading development. Challenges frighten them so they crawl back to their adolescent literature. I got no problem with reading at the level you’re comfortable with, just don’t slam a book that confuses your limited capacity just because you don’t have the comprehensive skill to discern the flow of the narrative. Simply state: “I’m not ready for this book yet. I’m only at the Spider-Man level. I enjoyed the Watchmen for the surface story but was unable to discern the underlying themes. I hope to work my way toward From Hell but I’m scared.”

It’s okay to be scared. You just have to think a little more. Don’t’ be afraid. It’s okay. You can do it.

Now this isn’t my way of saying that Kafka is on the level with the best this industry has to offer. It’s too soon to tell. I’m just defending it because it’s not what the reviewers are saying it is. It does make sense and it’s setting itself up in a pretty intriguing way so far.

Oh and before you get your panties in a wad, I’m not saying that Spider-Man and X-Men and their ilk are bad products and that you shouldn’t be reading them. I’m reading them and enjoying the hell out of them. They’re just on a different level than Kafka and Transmetropolitan and Queen and Country and other works that prefer to challenge the preconceived notions of what a comic book has to be. It’s like judging an apple based on the qualities that make a good orange. It just doesn’t work, so knock it off. There’s a reason the Emmys separate comedies and dramas for recognition. Think about it.


ROUND 4:

I don’t like to name names, but I was reading a prominent columnist’s column (duh!) and he was talking about the new Weapon X one-offs. Well, this particular columnist was saying that he’d never really cared for Deadpool and so he didn’t see how this character could support five one-shot books featuring him.

Eh?

Deadpool has NOTHING to do with the Weapon X one-shots or the ongoing series. The only thing I can figure is that this columnist is referring to the four-part Deadpool: Agent of Weapon X mini-series within a series and inferred the rest from that. But I mean come on! We all make mistakes from time-to-time but this was absolutely heinous. And I want to know what kind of editors he has to go through who didn’t catch this. I read it three or four times to see if I was reading it right, but this guy really thought all those one-shots were spinning out of Deadpool and I think he thinks they’re related to the new Agent X. So this guy is a representative of this industry to the masses at large? Who screwed the pooch on THAT one?

Further proof that nothing and no one is safe from my all-consuming rage. Or something like that.


ROUND 5:

Finally got my copy of Halo & Sprocket #2 and I absolutely adore the innocence and wit of this book. Published by Slave Labor Graphics’ Amaze Ink, this little book is the kind of story that should be reaching out to the non-superhero crowd. Why I’ll bet even WOMEN would enjoy this series (such as it is so far!). It has a very clean and crisp art-style with an engaging cast of characters, consisting of a normal everyday woman and the angel and robot she lives with. That’s it, and yet the book manages to poke fun at virtually everything we do in our daily lives. Think of the humor found in the everyday foibles of humanity as explored in the early seasons of 3rd Rock from the Sun and you’ll have an idea of it.


POST-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE:

Hello? Is anybody out there? Hello? I’m talking to myself here aren’t I? Dammit.


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