plainly and simply parasitical on the obvious or univocal reading

Monday, September 13, 2004

How About That? It's My First Meme.

I'm doing my small part to contribute to the Brilliant But Canceled lists that are spreading through the comics blogs, originated by Casey Parkman and ADD. Honestly, most of the work I consider brilliant wasn't so much canceled as it just ended. But there are a few things, and actually probably a few more that I'm forgetting, that I could stick into that category. So here's my list, with some hopefully brief justifications.

American Century--Howard Chaykin writes good trash. I can't be sure with this series how much is him and how much is this Tischman guy, but overall I like what I've read. The adventures are complex and tense-but-funny. And I like that the book is usually a little bit low-key on the whambam action in favor of quietly setting up intense situations.

Let's face it: the concept of a suburban Jewish guy in the '50's leaving his life behind to go off on pulpy adventures is pretty much a non-starter in the direct market. Somehow AC still managed to last 27 issues. But it was doomed from the start, and met its end barely selling at all. At some point soon I'll acquire the issues that I don't have for a quarter apiece, though, so I can't stay mad forever. And soon enough Chaykin will be writing the same book with different details, and I'll buy it because I'm a sucker for the stuff.

Orion--I have to say I'm a little shocked not to have seen this on anyone else's list. I am referring to the Simonson series that ended a couple years ago. Man, that was an exciting book, done by the one true heir to the Kirby legacy. Another series I'll purchase in its entirety for a quarter apiece, I'm sure. People for whatever reason were just not interested enough in this title to keep it going.

Firearm--Yes, I am aware that the Ultraverse was just unbearably awful. But the people working on the books tended to be talented, and James Robinson was easily the best writer working on an Ultraverse title. Firearm rose above the rest of the garbage to be not only the best of the Ultaverse titles, but also one of the few books I remember actually enjoying in that early to mid '90's period. In the midst of a poorly conceptualized superhero universe was dropped an English take on American detective fiction, and it worked. When the non Marvel/DC superhero universes started dropping like flies, Firearm was in with that lot and met its end I believe when Malibu was acquired by Marvel.

Conan Saga--Wha--? A reprint series? Yes, a reprint series. Here's why. Not every story printed in Savage Sword, Conan the Barbarian and Conan the King was particularly good. Conan Saga did the kind work of taking all of the best of the Thomas/Buscema Conan work, as well as some of the old Barry Windsor-Smith illustrated stories and putting them all in one series so that one need not wade through the useless work. When I was in my Conan phase, I personally preferred the reprints of the '70's stuff to the new '90's stuff. And why wouldn't I? I'm not entirely sure why or when this series ended, but it was an excellent way to get much of the best Conan comics from the golden age of the...Hyborean...age...yeah.

The Nimrod--Trondheim is without a doubt one of the world's greatest cartoonists. It's a shame that more of his work is not available in English, though it's not much of a surprise. This was Fantagraphics' contribution to the Anglification of his oeuvre, translated by Kim Thompson himself. Well, needless to say, a French comic about a guy living his life, drawn with animals and published in black and white was not going to sell well enough to justify the work of releasing this in the US, and so it ended. To this day I am mystified by the idea that comics about regular people doing regular things are the ones that are considered to be impenetrably artsy.

Crime Does Not Pay--Pure trashy delight. This series began in 1942 and ran crime stories from the point-of-view of the criminals, always ending in the death of the protagonist. It was pulpy, melodramatic, garish, well-illustrated and a hit on the stands. Indeed, this is the only comic on my list that ended because it sold too well--so well that rival publishers had to destroy it and others like it through devious means. Yes, this book, like so many others in its day, was a victim of...the Code! Dah Dah Daaaaaaaaaaah!

So there's my list. Thanks for indulging my nerdy side a bit.

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