This past Wednesday, I picked up the latest issue of Wizard, issue #219, which was billed as "The Decade Issue," and promised to celebrate the past 10 years of comics over the span of the somewhat thin magazine. As I eagerly read through the articles, excited to relive the wonders and joys of the comic industry in the 2000s, I reached the end of the magazine and scratched my head. That's it? Even though you had the requisite Joe Quesada praise, kissing up to Hollywood and celebration of Geoff Johns (hey, even we're guilty of that one), it still seems like some things are missing…
Now Wizard, I know times are hard and the magazine industry is getting hammered by this thing called the "Internet." Hell, I may even be somewhat involved in the grand conspiracy to destroy printed media by helping to operate this fine website, but what you don't know about me is that I LOVE magazines. Which is why I buy your magazine every month. That said, I am sympathetic to your situation and am assuming that the things I felt you left out of this issue were because you were limited in pages you could print. I'm sure, given an unlimited number of pages, you'd have included everything worth noting. I thought you would have put these items that you left out of this issue on your website…but, well I know you're too busy promoting Jason Mewes appearing at your Anaheim Comic-Con there to actually put any compelling conent. So here, let me help…
I've put together the list of 10 things that I thought Wizard left out of their "Decade Issue." If you're a Wizard reader, just print this web page out and staple it to the back cover of your magazine and voila' you'll have the complete picture of the 2000s. If you're not a Wizard reader, well let me sum it up for you quickly: "Yay Marvel, Quesada and Bendis! Thank god Hollywood likes us! Geoff Johns is great! Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb are gods! We printed funny covers from Alex Ross!" That pretty much sums up the issue, so now that you're caught up let's begin shall we?
10 Things, Good and Bad, About the 2000s That Wizard Forgot – Part One
1. The Big 2 become the Big 3, then the big 4, then the big 5 and so on.
For the past 40 years, Marvel and DC Comics have been at the top of the comics industry, diving the fan base into two camps. But the 1990s saw the rise of other publishers, most notably Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics, giving creators more options and fans more books to enjoy. While the 2000s didn't really see any major change to the dominance of the top two publishers, the field of publishers behind them grew dramatically. Joining the ranks of Image and Dark Horse were:
- Oni Press - Oni has grown from an cute little indie publisher to a powerhouse with some insanely successful books and movie deals (See item #4 below). Oni has firmed up it's catalog with the likes of Queen & Country, Scott Pilgrim, Wasteland and many other projects varying from monthlies to graphic novels, becoming one of the most unpredictable and exciting publishers in comics.
- IDW Publishing - Rising to prominence with the success of 30 Days of Night, IDW has been gaining momentum by mixing licensed properties with creator owned work and becoming a quite interesting publisher taking on projects and risks that it seems like no other comics company would publish. They've ended the year strong with one of the best graphic novels to date, Darwyn Cooke's Parker: The Hunter.
- Top Shelf – Once a small obscure indie/underground publisher, Top Shelf has grown these past 10 years by producing quality alternative works, and most recently the source of some of the most promising talent in the comics industry with critically acclaimed creators like Alex Robinson (Too Cool), Matt Kindt (SuperSpy, which to be fair WAS mentioned in this issue of Wizard) and Jeff Lemire (Essex County Trilogy). Throw in The Surrogates, an awesome series that made the jump to movies and Alan Moore's new home (Lost Girls, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and Top Shelf has become a force to be reckoned with.
2. The Next Generation of Creators
Wizard spends an awful lot of time singing the praises of established creators of the 2000s like Jeph Loeb, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Brian Michael Bendis, Adam Kubert, Ed Brubaker and many others, which I completely agree with in terms of their greatness, but let's be honest – most of them have been around since the 1990s. But what's gotten me most excited for comics in the past 10 years have been the creators that broke through in these past 10 years like Rick Remender, Tony Moore and Jerome Opena on Fear Agent; Jonathan Hickman and anything he touches like The Nightly News and Pax Romana; editors turned creators like Pete Tomasi who is consistently delivering quality work in the likes of Green Lantern Corps; the epic work of Robert Kirkman who already seems like an industry vet despite breaking through within the past 10 years on the back of Invincible and The Walking Dead. I could go on and on, but if you ask me, the true story of creators in the 2000s was the ones we're going to be enjoying well into the 2010s
3. Indie Creators Move On
While I was surprised to see Wizard mention the ending of Dave Sim's Cerebus with issue #300 in 2004, but they failed to also mention that two other classic creator owned titles, Terry Moore's Strangers In Paradise and Jeff Smith's Bone, came to an end in the 2000s. But what's even more compelling is that not only that those titles came to an end, but without missing a stride all three creators started on their next projects, and with great success. Dave Sim continues to make you scratch your head (in a good way) with Glamourpuss, Terry Moore has taken a turn towards sci-fi/conspiracy thriller with Echo, and Jeff Smith crosses dimensions with a sci-fi/noir feel in RASL, proving that all three creators were not one hit wonders.
4. Scott Pilgrim Takes Over the World.
I was shocked that the words "Scott" and "Pilgrim" never appeared once in the entire Wizard "Decade Issue." Bryan Lee O'Malley's little digest formatted comic published by Oni Press throughout the 2000s has become, in my opinion, one of the most important comics of the decade. I've even gone as far as to call Scott Pilgrim the Harry Potter of comics. When a new volume is released, it's an event and I've seen people lining up at comic stores waiting to get their hands on the book. With a movie in the works and 5 volumes already in print, Scott Pilgrim is easily a story worth telling in the 2000s and could end up being one of the most important stories told from this past decade.
5. The Collector's Market Evolves
The 1990s saw a huge boom and bust in the comics as collectibles market, and Wizard was right in the middle of that with their price guide and unrelenting efforts at highlighting and celebrating comics as valuable collectibles. What's interesting about comics as collectibles in the 2000s to me was the evolution of the collectors market. First we saw eBay move in and take over the back issue market, then we saw the emergence of the Certified Guaranty Company, who (with the help of Wizard) will grade your comic and then seal it forever in plastic so you can never enjoy it ever again but sleep soundly knowing it has a grade of 9.1. Luckily for us sane people, the CGC has not become the standard, just another option for collectors who want to go that route. But the most suprising trend in collecting in the 2000s was the emergence of the hardcover market, with limited print runs of Absolutes and Omnibus editions driving prices up ridiculously (like Grant Morrison's New X-Men Omnibus fetching over $300 on eBay). I never would have thought that a reprint edition would then outprice some of the original issues of the comics being reprinted, but here we are.
Bonus! Here's some fun we had at the New York Comic-Con a couple of years ago, trying to open up a slabbed comic, and in the act, providing some commentary on what we think of slabbed comics:
And so concludes the first 5 things that Wizard left out of their Decade issue. Tune in next Tuesday to see the next 5 things they forgot which include such wonders like the creator of the decade, the rise of new forms of media, and the changes that could spell doom for the entire comics industry (you'd think THAT would be worth reporting, wouldn't ya?)