Climbing Inside Comics
May 6, 2012 5:22 AM   Subscribe

There are comics, print and online, and then there are comics reporters and comics critics finding obscure yet remarkable manga and strips. High-Low offers reviews of comics from a Comics Journal critic. The Comics Reporter recently published a list of upcoming comics events. Comics212 founded the Toronto Comic Arts Festival which is going on today. Comics Worth Reading weeds out the chaff so you don't have to. Comic Book Resources is a news source with columns and reviews. The Beat take a look at comics culture.

Check out the sidebar link lists on each of these sites for a springboard to comics and comic related info.
posted by netbros (8 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I am not a huge comic reader any more, but I do pick up the odds and sods that interest me.

That said Comics Should Be Good at CBR is something I real at least once a week, usually on Saturdays for Comic Book Urban Legends and The Line It Is Drawn.

So, I am going to spend a while reading these links. It looks as if at least one of these links will be bookmarked too.
posted by Mezentian at 5:47 AM on May 6, 2012

I wish that Marvel and DC editors would read these things and start treating their comics like real literature. I constantly hear how comics are "just comics" and should not be held to high standards, and surprise surprise, Marvel and DC comic sales decline year after year. To see how low their expectations have become, and what can be done to become mainstream again, read

It is often said that comics must decline because everyone plays on the computer instead. But computers are the best thing that ever happened to comics: they solve the age-old distribution problem. And what do young folks do on the computer? Read XKCD, Rage Comics, and share Internet Memes. Internet memes, in case anybody didn't notice, have the exact same format as Victorian newspaper comics. Just read Punch.

Comics are big. Comics can be art. I wish that marvel and DC would see that.

Thank for the links.
posted by EnterTheStory at 6:11 AM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

To see how low their expectations have become, and what can be done to become mainstream again, read

Jim Shooter's revisionist history (see: Valiant and Broadway Comics were great successes, you just didn't know it) and willful torture of Jack Kirby over the return of his artwork makes him the Vince McMahon of comic books.

(I'd add that he was burned in effigy once, but it was John Byrne doing the burning and there's a whole different kettle of fish there.)
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:31 AM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are very good comics being published by both Marvel and DC. Many are head-and-shoulders more 'literary' than anything that was being published when the industry was in its heyday. My own pet theory is that the sales decline reflects the contraction of distribution channels and limited marketing efforts that were made over the last twenty-odd years.

TCAF is an extraordinary event, and if you like indie stuff it is a fantasyland. Really different from a mainstream comic con.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:44 AM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

While we're on the topic of holding comic publishers to higher standards, I just came across this excellent Tumblr, Logo: Go / No Go, which critiques the design of comic logos and covers.
posted by oulipian at 7:23 AM on May 6, 2012

Ever since I exhausted the entirety of Ex Machina, Y: The Last Man, and Sandman using Comixology (the comics were digitized and uploaded to the service at the approximate rate of one per week over several months), I've been stuck with Fables and its offshoots and The Walking Dead, along with canon Buffy using Dark Horse Comics' dedicated app.

Fables, unfortunately, is starting to resemble a Randian screed, starting with Snow White's speech to Nurse Spratt in #100, and continuing in the most recent storyline with the revelation that the universe's equivalent of an "Island of Misfit Toys" is evil. Walking Dead has always seemed a bit talky, and as of #96 series writer Robert Kirkman seems to be struggling to find a storyline or subject that hadn't been done before. Buffy lost its grounding in relatable pathos/trauma with the transfer to comics media, and while Season Nine's initial villain and pregnancy/abortion storyline seemed a pleasant throwback, the twist that followed threw me off of the series again.

The most maddening thing about comics, of course, is that no matter the source or genre, they are usually released at the approximate pace of only one issue per month.

A week ago yesterday, I found myself across the street from what I assumed was a small comics store in downtown Salem. I walked inside, intending to purchase the new printing of the first twenty-four issue "Absolute Edition"-equivalent of The Walking Dead. They did not have it in stock (and did not even seem to know it existed), but they did have a very large manga section, encompassing at least fifteen feet of bookshelves, and I finally decided to put my toe in the water.

I gave a very helpful employee my sole criteria - that nothing I purchase contain stereotypical Japanese "pratfall" humor or Chibi characters, which I cannot tolerate - and she set me up with the first volumes of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Death Note, Gunslinger Girl, and the Korean title Bride of the Water God.

Kurosagi was fun (although one character reminded me a bit too much at first of the "pratfall" humor I so loathe), but I discovered belatedly that it was a Dark Horse title, available via their dedicated comics app. Given my love of portability and ambivalence to physical ownership, I'll probably end up following that series digitally.

Death Note was engrossing, but enjoyment of the first volume of that series seemed to require that I cheer the triumphs of an unambiguously evil character, and I honestly felt like a worse person afterwards for having read it. Further impressions here and here, with spoilers.

Bride of the Water God was very confusing, but I've decided to give it another chance after I finish the first volume of...

Gunslinger Girl. The premise - broken and dying girls "saved" and repurposed as assassins, conditioned to love their individual handlers, whom they see as older brothers - seems creepy and exploitative on its face, but there is no loli aspect; the characters and relationships, from what I've seen in the first seven or eight chapters, are rendered in an unexpectedly realistic and nuanced manner. If I have any complaint, it's that the translation is sometimes a little stilted, employing (I assume) direct methods where subtle rephrasings would give a more natural result.
posted by The Confessor at 7:36 AM on May 6, 2012

You should give Slightly Biased Manga a try.

I also enjoy Mindless Ones.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 7:52 AM on May 6, 2012

The Confessor - For a Sandman-ish tale of the collision of fiction and reality I would, TBH, give up on fables and pick up The Unwritten instead - much better.
posted by Artw at 7:53 AM on May 6, 2012

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