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Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics
June 7, 2000 11:23 AM   Subscribe

Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics is out, as is the final installment of Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan : The Smartest Boy on Earth, making this the best week at the comic book store since, um, ever?
posted by jbushnell (19 comments total)

 
I'm certainly going to pick up a copy; I loved the other book. But I must say I sure hope he's got a viable way to "reinvent comics" because the industry is nearly dead now.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 2:25 PM on June 7, 2000


I'm about 1/2way through the book right now. It's interesting: rather than being an overview of "comics, the form" (like Understanding Comics, this one is an overview of "comics, the industry." McCloud's not deluding himself: the tanked industry pops up for the first time on page 10 and, necessarily, factors in heavily for the rest of the book.

I haven't gotten to his strategy for reinvention yet, but if I know McCloud, it's going to be Web, Web, Web.
posted by jbushnell at 3:16 PM on June 7, 2000


You know, arguably the '90s comic boom was sparked off by the Batman movie. The recent third trailer for the upcoming X-Men film looks pretty sweet-- I'm secretly hoping it'll be a big hit and the cycle will start again. Maybe this time around, retailers will be smart and use boom money to invest in their stores, instead of buying pricey promotional chromium editions and collectable plaster statues.
posted by wiremommy at 3:44 PM on June 7, 2000


Hear hear-- although I'd be one who'd argue the arguable point. I'd say the boom was more from Watchmen and Dark Knight stuff (mid- to late-eighties) which sparked a bunch of high-profile "comics are cool and edgy" articles which certainly didn't hurt the occurrence of the aforementioned Batman phenom to occur. (Although maybe the Watchmen / Knight stuff seemed more heavily weighted to me because that's what I was reading as an impressionable teen, so when the Batman movie hit, comics were already something I knew a lot about.)
posted by jbushnell at 5:32 PM on June 7, 2000


What about the smaller, mid-nineties boom in zines and minicomics? Was anyone making bank off the perceived increase in cultural value of Optic Nerve and Hate? Other than people who won Xeric grants and Dan Clowes' millions, which surely had to build a bunker for his OK Soda millions that he can go swimming in, a la Scrooge McDuck?
posted by snarkout at 5:38 PM on June 7, 2000


Wow, that was even more disjointed than I intended. Bad cut and paste! No biscuit for me.
posted by snarkout at 5:39 PM on June 7, 2000


Dan Clowes has got that Hollywood money coming in now, too, with the upcoming Ghost World movie. I don't think that actually answers your question, but, uh, I'm not sure what your question actually was (there was a question there, right?)

;-)
posted by jbushnell at 10:06 PM on June 7, 2000


I think my question revolved around whether or not Dan Clowes swims around in a bunker full of money, as Carl Banks' Scrooge McDuck did. The answer to that isn't obvious at all!

Speaking of Carl Banks, I wonder when Jeff Smith is going to put out another issue of Bone.
posted by snarkout at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2000


the question is, what's out there now that's worth reading, besides the irregular eightball? and is there a website that reviews alternative comics? and are there any mainstream books that are worth the paper they're printed on?
posted by sudama at 10:44 AM on June 8, 2000


Try Indy Magazine. It's indifferently updated, but has some good leads on the independents. More mainstream, but even more fun is Sequential Tart.

For an odd read, try Chester Brown's Louis Riel. It's, um, Canadian historical biography. Really.

posted by feckless at 11:42 AM on June 8, 2000


What I like to read: Eightball, Stray Bullets, Thieves and Kings, the mighty Evil Eye, Dork, some of Alan Moore's recent work (particularly The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Tom Strong). I'm hopelessly fanboyish about Warren Ellis' work, especially Planetary, which is probably my favorite book right now. (On a store owner recommendation, I picked up the first ish of Louis Riel last week, and it looks really good.)
posted by snarkout at 12:48 PM on June 8, 2000


Whoops. Forgot Chris Ware, but everyone knows about him already.
posted by snarkout at 12:49 PM on June 8, 2000


If you're talking "comics boom" you have to clarify yourself. The "independents boom" of the early eighties? The "graphic novels" boom of the late eighties? The "movie tie-in" boom of the early nineties (which saved houses like Dark Horse)? etc.
posted by dhartung at 12:57 PM on June 8, 2000


There was an "independents boom" in the early eighties? I know that's about when Cerebus started, but what else was going on then? (Please note that I'm too young to have been buying obscure comic books in the early eighties.) The mid-nineties uptick in independents seemed to correspond pretty closely with the brief spate of media interest in zines--a lot of minis were getting published, many of them quite good, and there seemed to be a pretty close correlation between people who would read Cometbus and Naughty Bits.
posted by snarkout at 1:34 PM on June 8, 2000


I haven't been watching to find out, but I still hope Stan Sakai is continuing to work on "Usagi Yojimbo".

Now THERE was quality.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:50 PM on June 8, 2000


I think Usagi Yojimbo is gone.

Bone took two years off to work on development for The Movie, but is now back. Read all about it.

As for "what's good": yes to Chris Ware, yes to Eightball (Clowes' theoretical swimming pool full of money notwithstanding), I'm partial to the (wussy) Optic Nerve, too. Any work by Jim Woodring or Julie Doucet. There's a handful of truly superb minicomics out there, from Carrie McNinch's Assassin and the Whiner to Abel Brekhus' Big Questions to John Porcellino's King-Cat Comics to Nathan Thrailkill's Gray Noise to any of Jeff Levine's work... I'm sure there are reviews and contact information for these minicomics out there on the web *ahem* somewhere...

And when I talk "comics boom," I suppose I mean the boom in the number (and profitability) of the retail stores out there, which seems to have begun with the thriving indie culture in the early 80s (Cerebus, Turtles, etc.), which was then kept alive through the various other booms DHartung mentions above, and which seemed to officially come to an end in the mid-90s with Marvel's bankruptcy and the consolidation and collapse of much of the distribution system (which I'm hazy on, as I wasn't reading many comics then).
posted by jbushnell at 7:06 AM on June 9, 2000



While I think that most of the stuff from the early 80s boom is eminently forgettable, it was the best time for Cerebus. And how could we forget Love and Rockets, which changed alt comics forever?

I'm not a fan of Dan Clowes or Eightball, generally speaking, but there are some highlights, and no, I'm not digging them out to enumerate (not that anyone asked).

Comix I always recommend:
Berlin by Jason Lutes -- from what I hear a collection of the first 8 issues will be published to premier at SPX2000

Dear JuliaA collection of Brian Biggs's four part story has recently been published by Top Shelf. Read it.

HicksvilleCollected issues of Pickle by Dylan Horrocks -- I've got the Pickle issues but have been having a hell of a time tracking down the collection

Strangehaven Gary Spencer Millidge -- another collection (first six issues) intriguing enough to drive me insane to get the rest.

I would say that there's an unnoticed expolsion of alt comix going on now -- check out the SPX2000 site for lots of details. A big part of the upsurge now is due to the recognition and increasing availability of excellent comix from around the world. But most of it is nothing you'll find in shops that rely on the DC/Marvel tidal waves to stay in business.
posted by elgoose at 9:55 AM on June 9, 2000


The best Clowes is the collected Ghost World. Also good, I'm realizing now, is the collected From Hell. Dave Sim (of Cerebus) is the one who raised the question of whether serial form is the best way to read a long, complex story. Since then, when things have been appearing in serial form, I tend to wait it out and just buy the collected versions. I did it with From Hell, I did it with Ghost World, and I'm now doing it with Cerebus.

Ware's Jimmy Corrigan is coming out as a collection, too, from a big publisher (HarperCollins?), it'll be good to read that way. Before this final issue came out I sat down and read all the previous ones from start to finish and it resonated so much more totally as a *story*.
posted by jbushnell at 10:39 AM on June 9, 2000



I found From Hell didn't work in serial form, primarily because the lousy comix shop I bought from didn't have a few issues. Optic Nerve has, in my mind, degenerated from its halcyon days as a mini. And I've often seen Berlin on the shelves, but I've never picked it up (after a painful experience of trying to figure out what the hell was going on in Bacchus, I'm reluctant to jump in in the middle), but I will on your recommendation.

I know people who dig Ariel Schrag's work, but it never did it for me. I like Desert Peach, but I never remember to buy it, so I obviously don't like it that much.

MeFi: Consumerism with a Purpose.
posted by snarkout at 11:50 AM on June 9, 2000


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