Reality comics:  Not as bad as it sounds
With "MIGHTY 7 #1," Stan "The Man" Lee is rolling out a new kind of story that he's calling the world's first reality comic book.
March 21st, 2012
10:20 AM ET

Reality comics: Not as bad as it sounds

Hello again, fellow comic readers!

You probably know who Stan Lee is , even if you don't read comic books.

Lee is the co-creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor and the Avengers, just to name a few of the feathers in his cap.

This week’s pick is a new book, a joint venture between Archie Comics, A Squared Elxsi Entertainment and POW!Entertainment, that Lee co-created - with fellow writers Tony Blake and Paul Jackson, and art by Alex Saviuk, Bob Smith, John Workman and Tom Smith - “Stan Lee's MIGHTY 7."

The first issue, titled, "How it all Began!" is a sensational new superhero book that, as is the signature of all Archie Comics, is fun for the whole family.

The comic tells the story of what happens when a crew of alien prisoners and their jailers blast across the galaxy and their ship lands at the feet of Stan “The Man" Lee himself. And that's where the real ride starts. FULL POST

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

New Comic Wednesday: March 7, 2012
Who is the Fairest of them all? Vertigo Comic's Fairest #1 written by Bill Willingham, art by Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning
March 6th, 2012
05:25 PM ET

New Comic Wednesday: March 7, 2012

Hello again, fellow comic readers!

This week’s pick is all about the politics of being pretty in a fairytale world.

“Fairest #1”, written by Bill Willingham on the Vertigo imprint is a lot of fun to read. It's a humorous extension of the universe Willingham helped create in the long-running comic book “Fables," another Vertigo title. (Vertigo is owned by DC Comics, which, like CNN, is part of parent company Time Warner.)

What is “Fables?”

There are five answers to that. It's a comic book about characters of fairy tales and nursery rhymes coming together under a truce to survive in modern-day New York City. It's a story about a war - both ground war and a war of attrition - between these inhabitants of Fabletown and the overwhelming forces that oppose them. It's a lovingly crafted melodrama (which is not a bad thing) detailing the passions, losses, betrayals and revenges of dozens of characters. It's a story of political intrigue and secrets. And it’s a high-adventure romp across an endless array of vibrant backdrops and colorful enemies.

In addition to being an excellent entry point into that world, "Fairest #1" sets itself up as something of a character anthology, featuring a rotating cast of awesome female characters from "Fables." FULL POST

New Comic Wednesday: February 29,2012
The DC universe heroes form up in DC Comics Justice League #6.
February 29th, 2012
09:54 AM ET

New Comic Wednesday: February 29,2012

Hello again, fellow comic readers!

When DC Comics canceled almost every book it published last August and relaunched with a few dozen new titles or reworked classics – the so-called “New 52” - it was the biggest story to hit the world of comics in quite some time. (Like CNN, DC Comics is owned by Time Warner.)

The New 52 roll-out offered consumers same-day digital distribution, gave a lot of relatively unknown writers and artists a chance to play for the majors, took some real chances on some lesser-known books and even rolled the dice on some creators who once strode the comics landscape like kings but had since fallen out of public favor.

The first book I recommended in this column was “Justice League #1,” the flagship title of the effort. It turned out to be one of the titles they took no chances on the art and writing whatsoever. FULL POST

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