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Today on the site, TCJ regular Tegan O’Neil returns after a long hiatus (not just from this site but from comics) with a new column, wondering why Saga of the Sub-Mariner broke the fast…

The series has been reprinted in a volume entitled Sub Mariner & The Original Human Torch, spat out by Marvel in 2014 as part of their commitment to republishing everything they have in the most haphazard and piecemeal way possible. Ask any retailer how good a job Marvel does keeping books like Born Again and The Dark Phoenix Saga in print: the answer, not very good at all! And yet Sub Mariner & The Original Human Torch, reprinting The Saga of the Sub-Mariner alongside its sequel, The Saga of the Original Human Torch, is a book that exists, a book that you too can purchase if you should be so lucky as to stumble upon it for sale at a used bookstore. That’s exactly what I did, having purchased the book for $7 in Santa Clarita, CA. The actual list price is $39.99; however, should you feel the need to read these books in their original form you will pay significantly less.

In June I boxed up every book I owned and deposited them all in a storage unit in Dixon, CA. It was time for a change, time to be a person who moved about the world freely – as opposed to the person I had been for the previous decade, that is, a person tied down to a large private library, a student and teacher and writer who needed to own so many books. Life without a library has been a significant and pleasant change. But I needed a few books to carry around with me, still certain as I was in my heart that a person without a bookshelf is a person without a home. So I stuffed a small longbox with books I had been waiting for a quiet evening to enjoy and drove off, leaving all my Carl Barks, Charles Schulz, and Jack Kirby but taking the Thomases’ retelling of Namor’s origin. Priorities.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Chris Mautner takes to the Smart Set to decide whether or not the latest incarnation of Mister Miracle really deserves all the hype.

The release of the first issue of DC’s Mister Miracle, a 12-issue limited series written by Tom King and illustrated by Mitch Gerads, was heralded with the sort of hosannas that are normally reserved for church. The A.V. Club called it “dazzling” and “emotionally wrenching.” Entertainment Weekly declared it “by far the best comic on stands right now.” io9 dubbed it “one of the best comics of the year” and, in another article, said there was “no better way to honor [Jack] Kirby’s contribution to the comics world.” And Comic Book Resources went as far to breathlessly declare that “King & Gerads Have Redefined Mister Miracle, and Possibly Comics.”

You see where I’m going with this, right?

—Interviews & Profiles. Hogan’s Alley interviews Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden about How to Read Nancy.

Mark: I very much doubt that any honest 20th century newspaper cartoonist saw their work as “enduring art.” It certainly wasn’t intended as such, given the medium’s unambiguous 24-hour shelf life. (And for anybody who views anything as “enduring art,” I refer you to the beloved works of mid-century critical theorist/art crank Theodore L. Shaw, post-haste.)

While he may not have “intellectualized” Nancy (and I’m not sure we do that ourselves, exactly) in researching this book we came to learn that Ernie Bushmiller was highly self-conscious and downright strategic about how his work functioned and was read—down to a subliminal level. Conceptually, he wanted a strip that literally anybody on planet earth could read at a glance. “If a kid slips on a banana peel in Norway, he still falls down.” Visually, he wanted his strip read first on a crowded battlefield of competing funnies. “If I have to point an arrow to the gag, I’ll point an arrow to the gag…I want the stupidest guy in the world to get the gag.”

Henry Cherry talks to Gabe Soria about his new Murder Ballads book.

It came to me in Texas, a half-formed “What if?” My idea was to write a story inspired by Alan Lomax, the musicologist who first recorded Lead Belly, Son House, and Muddy Waters. The “What if?” was, “What if I grafted that onto a crime story, a noir tale?” That idea bugged me for years. I started writing a film script. I started writing notes: copious notes; notes, notes, notes. Over the years, I would open up the file on my computer and not look at it, like, “Nah, man.” It sat there and I didn’t really know what to do with it, and like 10 years after I first had the idea, I said, “Hey the ideal thing to do with this would be to have music with it.” That’s where Dan [Auerbach] came in. I texted him while I was walking down the street, “Hey, you know, I have this idea for this comic. Would you want to do a soundtrack for it if I ever got it off the ground?” And his one-word response to me was, “Duh.”

The latest guest on RiYL is Simon Hanselmann.

—Misc. For Print, Michael Dooley allows book designer John Lind to take readers through the process behind the new deluxe reissue of Frank Miller’s Sin City.

The basic format is essentially the original artwork scanned at high resolution and reproduced in four-color at 1:1 size. This result is books that don’t fit on standard shelves but are amazing to behold. I’ve been a fan and collector of all the various “artist edition” books since editor Scott Dunbier pioneered the format at IDW with Dave Stevens’s The Rocketeer back in 2010. Scott really did a tremendous service to comics—and to the history of this art form in general—by championing this type of book. Since then, some really terrific projects have come out from a number of different publishers. And this format really needs to be experienced to appreciate the value of the work that goes into its assembly. Bob Chapman, in particular, is doing these incredible vellum inserts in some of his Graphitti Designs editions.It’s deceptively simple-looking, but getting vellum to work is an art in itself.


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