Good Work, Comics: Boy Bands and Shadow Edition

It’s getting tougher all the time, as Paul McCartney would’ve likely sung if the Beatles had reunited for a jaded comeback tour in the 1990s.

All you want in life is for Stephanie Brown to get just one bit of respect, but time and time again your dreams are shatteringly recoloured at the last moment. And you can’t even ease the pain with the thought of Nicholas Cage fist-fighting Sylvester Stallone anymore, due to that rumour getting shot down in flames and then inexplicably exploding in a poorly-edited action sequence. What’s a person to do in such a world as this?

When all around you, beloved character-actors are passing away and singers with a history of cultural misappropriation are finally facing their own music,  where are you to turn?

To comics, of course!

This week saw a whole bunch of interesting stuff happen for comics. Why, DC’s ‘The Source’ blog has this week been running a spotlight on Francis Manapul’s art, releasing new sketches, designs and layouts from the writer/artist. They are, to no surprise, spectacular.

DC’s blog has been decent for a while, but over the last few weeks something seems to have stepped up a notch, and the writing and content have really improved. The AV Club have also been raising their game recently, investigating the rumour that Locke & Key may be soon heading to the big screen, when not continuing their extensive lookback at Neil Gaiman’s Sandman run for Vertigo.

Have you ever considered the prospect of a hip-hop album inspired by Ras Al Ghul? Robot6 have found somebody who has. And if you’re a fan of lovely jumpers, Comics Anonymous’ report from Dundee Comic-Con should be right up your alley, with Grant Morrison looking smashing in a woollen number. Comics Bulletin had a great chat with Joe Keatinge, meanwhile, while iFanboy paused to reflect on a classic Doctor Doom moment.

Meredith Gran is raising  money to help the hurricane-hit Prospect Park, because that’s how Meredith Gran rolls. There was also a chance to celebrate the success of comics, while The Beat’s own Pamela Auditore interviewed Nate Cosby about the career choices of Sutton Foster. Hurrah!

We also got some new comics this Wednesday! Here are two recommendations from this week.

 

The Thought Bubble Anthology 2012

By: a whole load of people

I’ve already gone on about this book fairly endlessly, but I do so love a good anthology, and this is one of the best of the year. Something about the nature of anthology writing appeals to me more than anything else, because it emphasises craft above all else. Rather than splash pages and circular storytelling, you’ll find outlandish ideas and innovative storytelling in an anthology. Cramping a creative team forces them to think outside of a 20-page comfort zone – which is also a reason why I think 2000AD has been so successful for so long. In the Thought Bubble Anthology, every page is used, without waste, with something present and entertaining to latch onto.

With a stunning lineup of established creative talent sitting side-by-side with upcoming creators and competition winners, the biggest and most pleasant surprise is how there’s no lull in content.Readingthrough the stories without paying attention to the creative teams (although you’ll never mistake Skottie Young for someone else); you won’t have any idea which comics are by the seasoned pros and which are from new creators. That speaks to the depth and talent in the comics industry, to my eyes. There’s a never-ending range of new voices and ideas out there, and this book is a beautiful showcase for the medium as a whole.

 

Shadowman #1

By Justin Jordan, Patrick Zircher, Brian Reber, Rob Steen and Dave Lanphear

Valiant make their first appearance in GWC! With a rather incredible opening line-up of titles, the company have risen from nowhere to offer an exciting rebirth for superhero comics as a whole. While the other four titles are all pretty entertaining in their own right, Shadowman stuck out for me.

Playing out as a more streamlined, focused horror series than something like Witchblade (although keeping in the craziness of that style of storytelling), Shadowman #1 reboots the character and offers a new entrance point for readers. Justin Jordan writes a deep-rooted sense of history and mythology into his opening issue, setting up the world and characters while promising so much more to come. Not just that, but his characters are likeable and varied, sounding like fully-realised people who just so happen to be living in a world filled with secret supernatural madness.

It’s a really exciting book, too, which telegraphs certain reveals (not the amulet!!) while playing a lot of other mysteries close to the chest. On the basis of this opening issue, Valiant have got YET ANOTHER success on their hands. At this point, the company have a winning streak of five great books in a row. Still early days, but at this point the rebirth of Valiant must count as one of the greatest success stories of the year.

I’ll end, as ever, on a final note. And this week, that final note is ONE DIRECTION:

Drawn by Fiona Staples. Have a great weekend!

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