Friday, 24 November 2006

The Re-Addiction of Fizzy

One of the most irritating things about getting back into comics after about 10 years is the plethora of cool stuff I’ve missed. It’s costing me a fortune to catch up.

Thankfully, there are torrents available on most popular comics so I’ve been able to catch up with a few long running titles I otherwise would never have read.

The availability of these torrents for me at least give the lie to the notion that copyright “piracy” for want of a better expression kills the medium it shares with other users.

I have spent a significant amount of cash recently on titles I would never have bought had it not been for the availability of early issues on the net.

In many ways, comics are the ideal medium for internet sharing. Small and easy to download, comics are also hard to track down if they’ve been out for a while.

A factor that puts people off comics is that fact that when they come to the medium, they feel they’ve missed too much to just dive into most titles – they’ve missed the beginning of the story.

This is a fact acknowledged by Marvel, who deliberately “re-launched” a number of heroes, (most successfully Spiderman) in the “Ultimate” series, a title specifically designed for more casual comic readers. The idea is you can pick any issue up and you won’t have missed too much.

But most titles really have to be read from the beginning, so it’s either expensive trade paperback collections or the even more expensive practice of collecting back issues.

Well, not anymore. I’m sure the availability of comics online is of concern especially to the larger publishers, but as I’ve said about TV in the past, it’s as much an opportunity as it is a problem.

Most of the people in comics who are any good are also fairly prolific. One of the busiest over the last 10 years has been 30 year old writer Brian K. Vaughan.

A film school graduate, Vaughan manages to do all the things that are difficult to pull off effectively in comics extremely well.

Vaughan has exposed the myth that there is nowhere left to go in super-hero comics and has created three best selling titles with simple yet ingenious high concept premises which illustrate this perfectly.

“Ex Machina” asks the question: “What if a superhero felt he could do more good as a politician?”

“Runaways” asks: “What if a bunch of teenagers found out that their parents were an evil cabal of super-villains?”

And “Y: The Last Man” asks: “What if you really were the last man on earth?”

All these fun ideas could still be shit as comics of course, but Vaughan is also an adept and witty writer of dialogue and has been blessed with the rare skill of being able to genuinely develop individual characters in the pacy manner the limited pallet of the 24 page regular comic book demands.

I haven’t read many comics books where all the bases have been covered quite so well.

Media icon Joss Whedon agrees with me there and is set to take over writing duties on “Runaways” in the near future after his successful stint on his own X title, “Astonishing X Men”.

I’ve also just finished reading an impressive run of “Powers” by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.

I’ve said before I was a bit non-plussed by this much-hyped title when I read it initially, but the scope and imagination involved in the “Forever” storyline blew me away. The writing in this instance more than matches the clever stylistic touches it always had and took the whole series on to a new level.

I’ve recently finagled a bunch of Bendis’ “Daredevil” run which I’m looking forward to reading now all the more.

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