I just read the best comic book of 2012, and it's 'Saga' No. 1
Writer Brian K. Vaughan and red-hot artist Fiona Staples unite for Saga No. 1!
March 13th, 2012
03:57 PM ET

I just read the best comic book of 2012, and it's 'Saga' No. 1

Hello again, fellow comic readers!

A tale as old as time unites with a story as fresh as a newborn through conflict and intrigue in this week’s pick, “Saga.”

Writer Brian K. Vaughn is known in comic world for books like “Ex Machina,” “Y the Last Man,” “Runaways,” “Ultimate X-Men” and “Pride of Baghdad.” Fiona Staples is an brilliant artist who has been producing excellent work for years now and really deserved a big breakout hit. Their latest offering this week is "Saga" from Image Comics, and it delivers on all fronts.

Other comics offerings would be satisfied with just having a story of star-crossed lovers who had to actually cross the stars to find each other. That is Saga’s entry point, and it only builds from there.

Daniel Dean of Titan Games and Comics in Smyrna, Georgia, agrees that it is one of the year’s best offerings. “I know it's only three months in, so this might affect how seriously you take this statement; nevertheless: This is the best single issue I've read in 2012.

“There are more ideas jockeying for place here, more things going on, more characters I want to spend time with than in an entire year's worth of output from other books I shan't name.”

Betrayal, treasure, war, science fiction, magic, monsters, gunfights, monster fights, a live birth, bounty hunters, robots and spaceships are all at work. This comic even has a monkey in it.

Any time we get a new book from Vaughn, I find it a welcome thing; he manages to infuse each character with an instantly engaging blend of personality and detail that suggests not just lives lived but a world inhabited.

“You could talk about how we're dealing with a milieu more far-out than anything he's worked with, and yet we're still intensely grounded in very human drama and emotion,” Dean said of "Saga’s" broad appeal.

“I could even talk about how ‘Y the Last Man’ was a benchmark title for Vertigo in a post-‘Sandman,’ post-‘Preacher’ world and how I thought ‘Ex Machina’ was even better or how I recommend ‘Pride of Baghdad’ to people all the time.”

But why just talk about it? Check it out for yourself - if you still can. Image Comics just announced that the 'Saga' No. 1 first printing is sold out, meaning the copies you'll see on your local comic book shop's shelves today are all there is until Image decides to generate a second print.

I think "Saga" is going to be one of those books we'll be hearing about for the rest of the year. It's just that good. Let me know what you think if you read the book. Disagree with me and Dean? Prove it!

So, until next week, go forth and read, my people. And the reading will be good!

Here are some of the other comics scheduled to hit the shelves March 14. Your local retailer will probably have these and others, so make sure to check with them for more details.

FULL POST

What happens when artists run the show
Art from the cover of "Spawn" #1 from 1992.
March 8th, 2012
01:21 PM ET

What happens when artists run the show

When Kyle Puttkammer opened his comic book shop 21 years ago, he didn't know he was witnessing an event that would change the industry forever.

“Back in 1991, there was a wave of interest in superstar artists," said Puttkammer of  Galactic Quest Comics, Games & Toys, which has two stores in Georgia. "All of these artists were generating a following."

Six of these superstars – Marvel Comics illustrators Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri, Erik Larsen, and Jim Valentino – left Marvel to create Image Comics. Their attempt to get full creative control sent shockwaves through the industry. (Whilce Portacio and writer Chris Claremont, of "Uncanny X-Men" fame also left Marvel at that time, but eventually withdrew from the Image Comics project.)

How important was Image in the 1990s?  The company made a "huge difference in our business," Puttkammer said.

(To be sure, Puttkammer noted that Dark Horse Comics allowed creative control six years prior to Image Comics' launch, but Dark Horse mostly concentrated on established franchises, with a few exceptions like Mike Mignola's "Hellboy.")

“Image was the first to say, we’re artists, we want to put our best foot forward when it comes to presentation," Puttkammer noted. "It might cost a little bit more but the paper quality’s gonna be better. It’s gonna be glossy, heavier stock."

The company was an overnight sales success.

"In the past, having that 'i' on a book guaranteed a strong seller," said Puttkammer. "A lot of Image Comics would get on the cover of Wizard magazine (which carried a price guide for investment comics). Retailers wouldn’t order enough. The price would go up in value. If you can take $2.00 and turn it into $20.00 within a year, that’s a no-brainer." FULL POST