So… Another San Diego Comicon has come and gone. As a funnybook fan, I’m supposed to be excited and hyped up for this sort of thing, and I guess I did follow the news out of San Diego fairly closely this weekend. There’s always the hope, after all, that someone will announce something really cool and exciting. And I did hear about some upcoming projects that piqued my interest. Like this one, for instance:
Word of a new Darwyn Cooke Parker adaptation, for instance, is always good news. And Slayground‘s carnival setting promises some especially striking visuals, always half the appeal of these books. Still, we knew another Parker volume was coming, so it wasn’t earth-shattering news.
And that’s my reaction to most of the stuff coming out of San Diego this year: lots of neat projects were announced and discussed, but very few of them really blew me away. The biggest news, I suppose, was the announcement that the follow-up to this summer’s Man of Steel won’t be a second Superman movie, but instead…
…a Superman / Batman crossover film (or World’s Finest, as the long-time funnybook dork in me insists on calling it). It’s an interesting choice, opening up the possibility for a DC movie universe of the type Marvel’s had so much success with, but threatening to squelch the thematic possibilities offered by Man of Steel. There is a glimmer of hope that the first film’s themes will be followed up, though: the announcement of World’s Finest was accompanied by a dramatic reading from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Specifically, the speech in which Batman gloats over having beaten up Superman in a fist-fight.
So Batman could take up the role I expected to see Lex Luthor fill in any Man of Steel sequel, that of the powerful human being who doesn’t trust the alien in our midst and decides to do something about it. Luthor could still fill that role, of course, and there’s the delicious possibility that we’ll see Batman working with him. But even if Bats is the sole operator against Superman, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll keep the films thematically intact. We’ll see.
Marvel also had movie announcements, of course, but on the whole I just don’t care. Marvel’s not offering intriguing new takes on their characters in film, and if all they’re going to offer me is escapism, I’d rather just read the funnybooks. But more importantly, the distaste I felt at the company’s treatment of the man who co-created all these characters was only made worse by their insistence on tacking the possessive onto the titles. I’m all for Lee and Kirby’s Avengers, but Marvel’s Avengers can kiss my ass. And sure, I know they wanted to differentiate their Avengers from the British Avengers…
…but it still rubs me the wrong way. So instead I’m going to talk about the only other San Diego movie announcement that piqued my interest: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I liked the first film in this Apes revamp, so I’m kinda looking forward to seeing if they can keep the quality up in the sequel. And… That’s all I’ve got to say about that. This picture’s really cool-looking, though:
Anyway… Back to the comics. One thing that’s usually worth paying attention to at San Diego is the Eisner Awards. Voted on by funnybook professionals, they can be a good indication of what those in the industry think of as the books to beat. This year it was all about individual creative visions that still fit comfortably into the mainstream. Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga was a big winner, for instance, taking home the Eisners for both Best New Series and Best On-Going Series, and Vaughn took the Best Writer Eisner to boot. Eisners also went to names like David Aja, Chris Samnee, and Becky Cloonan, all of whom do stylishly professional work with wide (though not lowbrow) audience appeal.
But you have to go outside the mainstream to find the biggest winner of the evening: Chris Ware’s Building Stories, which has four Eisners to its name: Best Graphic Album and Best Production Design, along with Best Lettering and Best Writer/Artist awards for Ware. Any new Chris Ware work is worthy of awards, of course. Though I’m not personally a fan of his writing, everything he does is still astounding in terms of its look and presentation, and this one is no exception:
In an industry that spawns very few original, innovative voices, Ware is invaluable, and I’m glad he got so much attention.
Very little attention, on the other hand, was paid to Marvel or DC this year. Marvel published the work of three Artist award-winners (one for Chris Samnee’s Daredevil and two for David Aja’s work on Hawkeye), with DC’s only mention being an award for Dave Stewart’s coloring on Batwoman (though, considering how very many books Stewart colors, it’s hard to really call that a clear win for DC). It’s interesting, then, that both publishers scheduled their corporate parties to take place at the same time as the awards ceremony. Whether that’s a case of sour grapes, corporate asshole strategy to de-emphasize the importance of the Eisners, or just poor planning, I couldn’t say. Still… Interesting.
At any rate. On to happier topics.
I was both surprised and thrilled to hear that Dave Sim will be finishing his Strange Death of Alex Raymond strip…
…and that it will be coming out from publisher IDW. Sim’s a life-long favorite of mine, in spite of his extreme (many would say misogynist) personal views on sexual politics. But he’s also a rather brilliant cartoonist and letterer, and a pioneer in creator-owned comics. So while he’s been making some extra cash doing covers for IDW, I really didn’t think I’d ever see him do anything but self-publish his personal work. But here it is. The Alex Raymond strip is a history of photo-realism in comics art, built around the story of Flash Gordon artist Alex Raymond. It started in Sim’s own Glamourpuss title, serving as a heavily-researched counterpoint to the controversial parody of fashion magazines and celebrity culture that was the series’ selling point. It turned out to be the Raymond pieces that made it worth buying, however, so I’m very happy to hear that I’ll get to see it finished.
On a slightly similar note, it was announced that the long-promised “sideways” Absolute Edition of Alan Moore and JH Williams’ Promethea may finally be released next year. Because the book made such extensive use of two-page spreads…
…it was proposed years ago to collect it with each spread done as a separate page, at a size similar to Frank Miller’s 300. That alone has made me curious about it, but now there’s talk of doing it with issue 12, which was drawn as one continuous side-scrolling sequence, as a sixteen-foot-long fold-out section. The sheer audacity of that has me saving up for this thing, in spite of the fact that I already own Promethea twice over (once in the original issues, and again in hardcover).
Also on the JH Williams news front, he unveiled some pages from his upcoming Sandman series with Neil Gaiman. I’d have picked that book up regardless, but images like this one of “flower Morpheus” really kind of seal the deal:
(As long as we’re talking Sandman… There was a bit of a sad moment at the end of the panel celebrating that book’s 25th anniversary with original series artist Sam Kieth. Go here to read about it: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/07/20/that-interesting-moment-with-sam-kieth-at-the-end-of-the-sandman-25th-anniversary-panel/ )
And finally, in the world of digital funnybooks, it was announced that Grant Morrison’s 18 Days would finally be seeing the light of day as a motion comic. It looks… about as ridiculous as any motion comic does:
I like the art. And I’m actually rather excited about the story. This is Morrison’s comics adaptation of the Mahabharata, the greatest war story in Hindu mythology, and the plans he’s laid out for its structure sound challenging and fun. But holy crap, motion comics are lame. It’s just EXTREMELY limited animation, a few steps below the things people were doing with Flash ten years ago:
I suppose you could save a motion comic with good writing and voice acting, but the latter doesn’t seem to be on display in that trailer. So this is somewhat disappointing news. Still… 18 Days will be available on YouTube starting in August, and I’m sure I’ll give it a shot. It’s bad form to complain about something that’s free, after all…
So. Kind of a damp squib of a San Diego Comicon for me this year. I mean, I’m sure it would have been fun to be there and all. But everybody’s so worried about their news being overwhelmed by the event itself that there’s not much in the way of juicy new stuff to hear about. Sort of like this post, I’m afraid…