Things To Love About Comics Right Now

I’m not sure if it’s Saga or the general infusion of indie #1 energy, but it seems like there might be some light at the end of this comic’s tunnel. Let’s just take a moment and talk about some of the most awesome things in and around comics these days, ok?

 

Animation

While this doesn’t strictly apply to comics, has there been a better time to be a fan of superhero animation? DC is cranking out consistent quality with their direct to video offerings, but there’s also new shows like Young Justice and The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. And soon we even have Ultimate Spider-Man on the small screen too! If 3 good shows alongside the occasional movie wasn’t enough, there’s also Netflix, which has entire runs of shows to be seen again or for the first time. This isn’t a sales pitch, I just can’t think of a time when it was more convenient to enjoy the best animated TV shows derived from our favorite characters.

 

Public domain

Public domain is a funny thing. As far I understand it, the entire point is to protect creators up to a point while still allowing ultimate creativity to flourish. The current corporate structure of media has stifled that to a degree, there are some amazing tales being told utilizing the rich tapestry of available characters. The old standby is Fables, which is still going strong and continues to test new arenas to tell stories such as the Cinderella miniseries or the newly release Fairest. Willingham et al. continue to pay respectful homage to tales of old while consistently innovating the mythos to keep archaic stories fresh enough for modern audiences. It’s an impressive balancing act made all the better by the quality of the final product. And while we’re unlikely to see Superman showing up as public domain any time soon, the discovery of nearly 500 new fairy tales shows there is an endless variety of tales to incorporate, more than justifying an ongoing series for years to come.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the newest addition to the public domain corral: Peter Pan. It shames me to admit it but I read all of Peter Panzerfaust #1 without realizing the homage, but upon hearing the connection have been in awe of its craft and subtlety. These are the kinds of comics that will keep the medium moving forward in all the right ways.

 

Crowd-funding

Seems not a week goes by without someone e-mailing the iFanboys about how to handle a book they no longer enjoy. Usually the answer is some form of “drop it, come back later when it’s good.” The general philosophy is that we vote with our dollar when it comes to the books we buy. This idea is a bit obscured by the direct market, but there are avenues available to the modern comic fan that allow direct participation in a way undreamt of a mere decade ago. First, there’s the digital market, no pre-orders, unlimited availability, buy what you want, when you want, and theoretically the publishers see each and every individual purchase rather than a store’s order form months in advance. That’s some power purchasing power, my friends. But what I really want to talk about are the crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is based on the crazy idea that people will pay for things that they want, even if that particular things has yet to be made. With enough planning and skill a team can offer a book based on promise alone and get enough money to make it. This is a huge shift from the old days when mini-comics were made in the wee hours of the morning to then be Xeroxed on the office copier hoping not to get caught by the boss. It always seems like a bit of a risk to support a particular project, but I’ve done it a few times and have yet to be disappointed. I could truly see this as the new wave of how indie comics get made and new talent gets their start. It seems like a far more sustainable model then how things were before, so let’s hope it continues to produce good comics, promote new talent, and forward innovation!

 

iFanboy

It may seem like so much mutual back-patting, but I can’t avoid mentioning iFanboy on the list of things I love about comics. Remember that years before I was a writer here I was a fan, and I never would have agreed to Ron’s crazy idea to come aboard had I not believed in what these guys were and are trying to do. They’re so dedicated to creating an exceptional comics site it makes me tired just thinking about my own meager endeavors in the science outreach world.

Now that I’m living in a city where I don’t really have a comics community on the ground, I have grown to appreciate the virtual community in a myriad of unforeseen ways. Yes, there are negative people in the community here, but by and large the atmosphere of positivity and joy surrounding comics is fun and infectious and keeps me coming back to this site above all others.

 

Comics fans owning it

I couldn’t care less if comics were ever “cool” in any legitimate sense. That’s only so much noise. But never have I felt like comics were something to be ashamed of and kept in the basement. I have a bookshelf that is directly across from my front door full of a diverse arrangement of comics I enjoy. I want that to be the first thing people see when they walk in my home.

But I’m really quite tame, a little bit of art in my office, but no statuettes, no dedicated library room. The people I really admire are the people that go all out, not in a creepy way, but in a way unabashed about their passions. Furthermore I’ve really come around on cosplay. I was never against it, if anything I had an interest in it, but I soon realized I couldn’t compete with the pros and decided that I could stand out equally well with a nice shirt at conventions. Cosplayers are easy to mock as an outsider, but I am so glad that their subgenre has gained a foothold and is something people are proud of. The costumes people put together are works of art, and the people creating that art deserve recognition of the craft, and I’m glad they’re standing up to take it.

Cosplayers are just one example, I’m sure there are many other comics sub-cultures I don’t have that same awareness of, but I’m a big tent kind of guy, the more the merrier. There are those nerds who want things to be theirs, I want things to be ours. Comics are great right now. For every piece of nonsense that gets you down take the time to think about two things that make you smile. The math will wind up in your favor.

What about you? What are some things you love about comics and being a comics fan right this second?

 


Ryan Haupt would like to thank Paul Montgomery for getting his head in the right place to write this column. Instead of promoting his own podcast, Ryan asks that you check out Fuzzy Typewriter, especially the episodes he’s been on.

Comments

  1. Amazon.com, Ed Brubaker, Scott Snyder, and BKV. Those are my favorite things about comics right now.

  2. Hey, I was the guy costumed at The Thing in that picture you used up there. Thanks for the recognition! We really do work hard on our stuff, and it’s great to see people appreciating it.

    Sure, it’s possible for some people mock costumers from a distance, but honestly, I think it’s more of a jealousy thing than anything else. They don’t have the guts to get out there and do something really fun and extroverted, and they’re envious that we can. Honestly, I don’t give a CRAP what other people thing. We get to do really fun and awesome stuff and have you SEEN the girls we hang out with?

    • That’s a pretty amazing costume dude! Great job!

    • That’s a great costume man.

    • Thanks, guys. We worked on it as a group, and split up the labor. I spent countless hours over at She-Hulk and The Human Torch’s house cutting patterns and sewing. I had a friend from Florida come up to help sculpt the “bulk suit” for underneath the rocks, and the design and sculpting of the rocks was an international effort between the USA and UK. It’s really an awesome thing when people from all over the place can come together with a common goal. It’s a pretty interesting hobby. We do charity work for children’s foundations to help bring kids with medical challenges their favorite superheroes, and I’m also involved in an indie film project called Avengers Assemble where I play Captain America (it’s comedy… think “The Office” but with the Avengers).

      All things considered, it beats wasting your days vegging out in front of the TV or your nights getting senselessly wasted in bars. 🙂

    • Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      Really, really impressive.

  3. Definitely the diversity of work available. Some of the classic stuff is great (Batman, Daredevil) but there are so many new stories besides capes and superheroes. Image, Vertigo and other smaller publishers are putting out tons of quality comics. Saucer Country, Saga, Manhattan Projects are all comics that take new and interesting stories and really shake up the kinds of stories that comics can tell.

  4. i’m excited for the potential of what kinds of stories can be told…and by that i mean just about anything. Creator owned combined with kickstarter and the internet…you can publish just about any crazy ass thing your mind can come up with and thats incredibly cool.

    There has been talk of a Kickstarter bubble coming, and i don’t know if thats true or not, but it creates a strange environment for creativity. Sometimes the public is more likely to support stuff that hasn’t been made yet, over stuff thats published and available to purchase right now. That’s so fascinating…as if kickstarter deals in hopes and dreams and the public is more open to that? I dunno..some sociologist will write a book about this someday

    • I have to say, its so easy to take for granted all the hard work that goes into the podcasts and website, but this really is a great community you guys have built and the community is really fun to be a part of and pretty level headed and positive. I’ve learned a lot about comics from this site so thats something else that i’m lovin about comics right now.

  5. Definitely my favorite thing about comics right now is Image, bar none. They are firing on all cylinders right now
    the upcoming slate of comic movies also look very promising and im excited to see if they deliver

  6. I love the weekly iFanboy podcasts (and the rest of the site too, of course), I love that superheroes still excite me, I love the indie explosion we are experiencing right now, I love how excited I am for Kapow Comic Con in May, I love that we live in a world where there is an Avengers movie coming out soon, I love the discussion (both online and in real life) that comics generate.

    Most of all I love that even though I sometimes look with exhaustion at my trades piled up to half my height, I still get that giddy feeling every Wednesday, knowing I’m adding to that pile, and that I have an entirely new universe called a story to explore.

  7. I love that I’m listening to the ifanbase and picking up new comics that feel NEW, like Prophet and Saga, and are so exciting, and picking up one’s I’d really never thought about, (Daredevil, Uncanny x-Force). The community here is something to love unabashedly.
    I love that Batman is coming out today.
    I love that C2E2 is coming up.
    I love that awesome FF gathering.
    I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch, here it goes, down into my belly.
    I love lamp.

    @SupernovaShock, that is beautiful, what materials did you use to make it?

    • It’s basically an underarmor onesie underneath it all, and we built a suit of foam rubber to give it the “bulking” effect. I’m already kind of a big guy (6’4″), but we wanted to go for unnatural hugeness. So we built the bodysuit and then some custom “huge foot boots” out of foam covered pirate costume boots (easier to walk in than you’d think). The “rocks” of the exterior were sculpted in sheets by a guy I know in the UK and shipped over and assembled here. The head and hands were molded as single pieces, obviously.

      As you may be able to guess, the sweating was UNBELIEVABLE in that suit.

  8. This is just one of many things I currently love about comics, but I gotta give it up to Image. They are on fire, plain and simple. I’ve never had so many Image titles on my pull list, and it looks like I’ll be adding even more in coming months. It’s really invigorating.

    A buddy and I got so excited talking about Image during our St. Patty’s Day pub crawl last weekend, that we toasted them with a shot of Jameson. To Image!

  9. Yea I would agree that there definitely seems to be new life breathed into Image. Great to see, and I agree that they have some cool new books coming out.

  10. “Yes, there are negative people in the community here, but by and large the atmosphere of positivity and joy surrounding comics is fun and infectious and keeps me coming back to this site above all others.”

    This place would be super boring without us getting a little negative sometimes. Some of those overly negative posters are my favorites to read.

    • I enjoy the negativity towards Marvel. I feel it, too. There is useless worthless bitching that plagues the internet, but Marvel is being taken to task for good reason. Maybe they will clean up their act.

      I’m feeling pretty positive about most of the other big companies these days, especially DC and Image, and IDW (loving the TF and Joe books).

  11. Awesome piece by Lars Brown.

  12. For the public domain don’t forget all of the public domain comics from the golden and early silver age that are being re-discovered and used by numerous creators. We’ve been building an encyclopedia of copyright-free comics characters here: http://pdsh.wikia.com/wiki/Public_Domain_Super_Heroes

  13. I’m loving that people are loving it.

    It’s a really great hobby/avocation/addiction/obsession.

    And this is a fun community to share that feeling of enjoyment.

    Cheers to you, Fellow Travelers.

  14. I honestly think the last 6-12 months have been the best time I’ve had reading comics since the mid-90s (when I was still enjoying twenty X-titles a month, still liked Spawn, and Sandman, Astro City, and Bone were coming out regularly).

    You’ve got a whole mess of New 52 titles that are still firing on all cylinders. Wonder Woman and Flash are far exceeding any expectations I’ve had for those characters’ titles in many years. And if the WORSE I can say is that I think Action Comics and Batman are a bit overrated and aren’t even close to Morrison or Snyder’s best work–that’s a problem I’m happy to have, because those titles are still perennial fun. Oh, and Batman Inc returns in six weeks. So DC’s rocking it.

    And on the Marvel side: Uncanny X-Force and Wolverine & The X-Men. This is the first time in over a decade that there is not ONE but TWO X-tiles that are very, very, very good overall. And Mark Waid’s Daredevil is doing the impossible by making a non-dark version of that character awesome. And there’s still one issue left of the criminally underrated Deadpool MAX to come out. And half of Casanova 3.0 left to go. And Hickman’s still doing very good work on three titles a month.

    Yeah, things are good right now.

  15. Eyeball Comix #3 an Tormentor Comics #1. Death metal horror abstract mini comics.

  16. I agree with everything you said up there tenfold. I feel the same way about iFanboy and what they provide as far as content here on the site. I’m stupidly broke all the time with raising two kids on my own and working forty hours for a very small wage, so it’s hard to buy the books I want to keep up on everything as well as spend money on art supplies to work on my own book.

    All that saying, I totally appreciate being able to keep up on all the latest and still feel like I’m involved in comics, and it’s actually helped me start buying again and really focusing on the books I would enjoy based on the reviews and conversations that take place here and on other sites like Wordballoon and Eleven O’clock Comics.

    I think another great thing about comics now is that it’s growing SO big in the public consciousness, but, still feels small and connected. Mark Silvestri said something to that effect on the last video podcast and how there’s a connectivity to what the industry has that no other media has. Go on film sites like AICN and you get really bogged down with the negativity, and here, a comics site, everyone is usually very positive and polite. The fact that more people are jumping in and that connectivity can still exist is amazing.

    I work with indie creators and know a few professionals and what’s really cool is that everyone is SOOO supportive of what you’re doing. It’s almost (and I say this with no knowledge of ever being in the forces) like being army buddies, or something. Pros love self publishing guys cause they were there once, and they know the excitement to come. Everybody isn’t having the same experiences, granted, but most people there, had worked, or are working hard in the craft they love, so the camaraderie is there. It’s really remarkable.

    Let’s hope we can keep the momentum going!

  17. I would say that my favorite thing right this second is being on the hunt to fill the holes in my collection. My husband and I have been searching like crazy for certrain books and when we find them it is like being a little kid on Christmas day.

    • That’s how I feel too. It’s so much fun looking for the ones I need and having money to buy them, unlike when
      I was younger. It’s great anticipating when the mail runs every day, and just browsing everywhere. I can’t wait to finish my Avengers and then start working on Amazing Spider-Man.

  18. 2 words: Christos Gage

  19. I just have to say that ifanboy picture of Ron,Josh, and Conner is amazing!
    Why don’t you guys have that up on the main page?!
    Also is that done by Brain Lee O’Mally? It certainly looks like his style.

  20. ok time for me to act like a misty eyed old man. Comics to me was alot of how i got through the last year. I very recently got into actively reading but I grew up on the animated series of all of the big named capes. I jumped on with the 52 along with a friend and basically lived on the wiki’s of DC and Marvel learning alot of the continuity. So i got up to university for the first time and i hated it. None of my friends came up to the college I go to and I didn’t have much anyone to talk to. One day I was walking to a event with a acquaintance and his roomate was with us to. His roomate and me started talking about batman and comics in general and just started really getting along and since then hes been one of the few friends I’ve had up here.

    So then I had to find a comic store and a great one up here is a mom & pop owned store and the owners are some of the nicest people you wanna meet.

    While i quickly fell out of some of the books I read and as always my favorite stuff is the Horror Genre books no matter what I loved the community. comics made me friends when I didn’t have many and this weekend I’m goin to a con for the first time in my life and I just hope for some nice conversations with people that share the same interests.

    I dunno about you guys but as much as Jeff Lemire wows me every week, and Scott Snyder continues to be disgustingly good, and no matter how many times I have a jaw dropping moment flipping a page in batwoman, I just come back to how much of a great community comics is. As much as we can bitch when a book is bad its all for the love of the medium and for this great community that I’m proud to call myself a part of.

    P.S. also lots of trades look AMAZING on a bookshelf in my dorm, JUST SAYIN

  21. I love the fact The Walking Dead on AMC is bringing people into the “graphic novel” section and they are discovering other things while looking.

    • I saw a guy order the first book at my store yesterday! I’ve only read the first issue myself and don’t watch the show, but I still think it’s cool that it’s bringing folks into the world of comics. There’s lots of good stuff out now, both superhero and non-superhero.

  22. I’m happy that there’s still some denizens around from the EC days; Feldstein and Davis. As well as from the MAD Gaine’s days: Jaffee and Aragonez. If you see these guys at a show, give em a firm shake and let them know how creative and wonderful they are. I’m sure I left someone out…..