My esteemed colleague here at iFanboy, Paul Montgomery coined the Joshables term, and I’d be loathe to disappoint him more than I already have, so Joshables shall be the term for this combination of brevity and indecision, when one topic isn’t enough.
First Issues You Didn’t Like
I’ve been thinking about first issues lately. There are usually a couple new ones every week, and there’s just so much weight and importance given to the first issue than to any other. Perhaps on some finite series, the last issue is more anticipated. But usually your audience is in for the ride either way. A first issue has to first convince people to buy it, sometimes based on almost no information, and further has to convince people to buy the next one. And buying the second issue, for many fans, implies the purchase of several succeeding issues, and more money to be spent. For me personally, my mood going into a first issue really has a lot to do with how I receive it. There are just some weeks when you’re feeling crappy, or feeling like you don’t have enough money, and those are the weeks that a comic creator doesn’t want his first issue to come out.
My best example of this was when the first issue of Scalpedcame out. I don’t actually remember my emotional mindset, but I’m surprised I even bought it. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t actually give any Vertigo release an automatic purchase. I try to give them at least a glance, but I don’t buy everything. Over the course of the 2 or 3 issues I’d read (I’m thinking of giving that another shot as well, with fresh eyes), I hadn’t really liked Jason Aaron’s previous effort, The Other Side, that much. So when I read the first issue, I went in defensive, prepared not to like it, and looking for reasons not to have to subscribe to yet another title, because there are only so many waking minutes. This is not a good state to try and start something, and I nearly missed out on what has easily become one of my favorite series.
Of course, with the things I really love, I don’t very often get into it immediately. I watched the first episode of The Wire, and I didn’t feel the need to continue to check it out again for years. I didn’t love the first issue of Powers when I read it, or the second. It was only later that it clicked, and I got on board fully. I remember the first time I listened to OK Computer, arguably one of the greatest albums of the 90′s, and I didn’t get it.
So what’s the point? The point is, maybe you read some first issues, and as time goes on, people started talking more and more about it, and you’ve got this idea in your head that it wasn’t really all that great, and people must all be out of their minds. I’m saying, go back, and give it another shot if you have a chance, and you might find that maybe it was for you, but you just didn’t know it yet. I think this is especially true for a book like Watchmen, which gets built up so much, and is often read with too many expectations. But go back a second, or third time, and things might be different. Obviously, you can’t do that with everything, but sometimes it’s very worth it.
Golly We’ve seen 2 issues of Phil Hester’s Golly out from Image Comics, and I’m hearing rumblings from people wondering what we think about it. I wasn’t on the show the first week it came out, and for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like there was much to mention when the second issue appeared a week or so back.
The basic premise is that the main character, Golly, a semi-worthless greasemonkey working in a traveling carnival, has an out of body experience, and is told by an angel, represented by a giant triangle, that he’ll have to seek out and stop evil forces, and will be given the sight to do so. There are all sorts of rednecky jokes, and his dead best friend speaks to him from the grave via a PBR can, and that’s about the shape of things. It’s fairly lighthearted, and Golly races junky cars, has a mullet, and is kind of stupid. It’s a pretty interesting setup.
But, truth be told, I’m not that into it so far. I thought the first one was OK, and thought I’d see if the second one grabbed me any more, but it really didn’t. It wasn’t that it was bad, but rather that it just wasn’t really speaking to me. One thing that does sort of get to me is the joke of “poor white trash.” While I think this book will probably end up showing their redeeming values, it’s just a joke I’ve had enough of. They don’t use the term, but it’s implied, and that tends to turn me off.
There certainly is a measure of wanting to know what happens next, and Hester isn’t a bad writer at all. He’s plotting it well, and giving us an ensemble cast of characters, and pacing the whole thing fairly well, but in the end, I think this book just isn’t for me. Maybe I’ll read one more issue and see what I think then, but it would have to be one hell of an issue.
If you’re thinking of trying out something new, or you just have a thing for prison stories (you sick monkey, you), maybe you want to take a look at Corrective Measures, out from Arcana Studio, by Grant Chastain and Fran Moyano. It’s the story of a prison for supervillains, located 30 miles off the coast of Florida. A Christian fundamentalist named Payback, who’s sort of like a Punisher for Jesus, arrives at about the same time as a tough as nails corrections officer named Jason Brody. From there it progresses we see some of the hard choices faced in the world of prisons. Good and bad are ambiguous, and Chastain seems to have a good understanding of this. As a first time effort from both writer and artist, it’s fairly well done. The mysterious characters are probably the most interesting aspect of the story, since you don’t quite know where anyone stands, just as you don’t in real life, but unlike real life, in the world of the supervillain prison, the stakes are very high, and survival is a day to day affair. The world created here is very full and thorough. There might be supervillains, but the superheroes are only mention in name, and make no appearances. While I think the writing is strong enough, and the overall concept is fairly original, there are tropes of prison stories in there that will feel familiar, especially if you’ve watched Oz or The Shawshank Redemption. There’s an Aryan character, and a Muslim leader, and an old timer who can’t get paroled. You’ve seen all these before. But after the initial set up, there’s all sorts of places this can go, and it feels like this six chapter first volume leaves things open to continue.
Artist Fran Moyano, from Spain, does a pretty good job with the layouts and storytelling. Since we’re mostly dealing with humans here, and there are no costumes to help, I wasn’t ever unclear about who was who, which is huge. There are some issues with figure drawings, in that there are times when proportions just look a bit off, and the work is a bit short of the quality you’d see in a bigger, mainstream book. But it did the job, and I wouldn’t hold that against the title if the story sounds intersting to you.
But if you’ve got a jones to try out something new, and give some new creators a shot, this might be a good book to know about. You can read the first chapter for free on their website, if you’re curious.