Monday, February 13, 2012

And meanwhile, as an art form, comics have never been better!

You know what?  Screw both DC and Marvel.  All the talk about the health of the industry centers around whatever those two companies are doing.  Well, logically so because they're the big players.  And they do put out some good books here and there.  They've got some great talent working for them.  But screw them.  I'm sick to death of discussing the future of the medium as if it totally hinges on whether or not the New 52 brought in new readers (it didn't) or The Avengers will make millions that will be forever denied Jack Kirby's family (it will).

The form itself is stronger than ever.  You don't have to be concerned with whatever new books come out this month and how they sell.  Step back and look at comics as a whole.  You can draw from the entire history of comics for your entertainment.  You can cross oceans and experience comic culture in Europe and Asia.  There are millions of comic book stories out there we haven't even read yet.  Dark Horse puts out some amazing books, both new and reprinted, American and international.  Fantagraphics publishes all kinds of amazing titles like Love and Rockets, Buddy Does Seattle/Jersey, Wandering Son and huge books containing entire years worth of Peanuts strips.  Don't forget Charles Burns's Black Hole from Pantheon.  Have you read that yet?  Dan Clowes's Ghost World.

There's a new book on Alex Toth coming out, but in the meantime there's Torpedo and Zorro.  Viz puts out some fantastic Japanese comics like Nana to name only one.  People are putting out their own comics online or through print-on-demand publishers.  If you must-- and you know where to look-- you can download practically every comic ever printed for free.  People are spending their free time scanning entire runs of books and putting them online and they're not charging anything for this!  Others are translating and localizing Asian comics and making them available totally for free, too!

Flesk recently printed an incredible book collecting Al Williamson's entire Flash Gordon-related output, compiled and edited by Mark Schultz.  There are Alex Raymond reprints.  There are Creepy and Eerie archive books (or even Vampirella if that's your taste), Vanguard Productions has a massive book of Frank Frazetta strips, Fantagraphics put out a softcover version of their Blazing Combat book, there are Hal Foster books, Carl Barks books, books like the amazing Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, Wendy and Richard Pini have their entire Elfquest saga online for free, Image has tons of stuff available, Drawn and Quarterly with Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant (one of the best things ever to exist in this world or any other) plus books by Lynda Barry, Oni Press, Slave Labor Graphics, Top Shelf Productions, Knockabout Comics, Archie Comics and Checker Book Publishign Group with their Gold Key Star Trek reprints and more.

And more and more and more.  I'm just tossing out some things off the top of my head.  I love comics.  If DC and Marvel went away today, I'd still love comics and I'd still have plenty of comics to read.

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