So, here we are, later than planned (again – sorry, smashing yet another world speed record for resolution breaking) blinking in the optimistic light of another New Year. 2011 is still fresh minted. A gleaming, untarnished brightly shining slab of un trampled time stretching out before us almost blinding us with possibility.
Of course at time of writing I have yet to buy a single comic – having missed my weekly pilgrimage to my LCS last weekend – so I can’t imagine this wide eyed optimism will last longer than the first Batbook I crack open next week*. This means that very soon indeed I’m quite likely to be back to being my regular grumpy self with yet another half empty glass. My cheerfulness window is always limited, so I thought I should seize this rare and golden opportunity to look to the future through some rather rosier lenses than usual.
I’ve moaned a lot about comics over the last year. Let’s be honest, there’s been an awful lot to moan about. But all that moaning has come at a rather high cost – I ran out of space and time to celebrate all that was good. I don’t want to make that error again, because there is a serious about of good stuff out there that is set to continue into 2011, so if I have a New Year’s Resolution, it is to ensure that these columns are not only regular, but regularly positive.
Rather easy at this time of year of course because the other great thing about looking forward at the dawn of the new year is the sure and certain knowledge that somewhere in the year to come there is at least one comic that you as yet have never heard of, but which will, by the time the planet’s orbit has gone full circle have become utterly indispensable.
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when I’d never read an issue of Scalped, The DMZ or Fables. Now they are the comics I reach for first when they turn up in my (almost) weekly bag of goodies from my LCS. While it would probably be stretching a point to say that they’ve changed my life** they have become an important part of it. Who knows what wonders will turn up in 2011? The anticipation is almost as much fun as the surprise, whenever that eventually comes.
Then of course, there are the titles that will end in the next twelve months. Some may fade into unlamented obscurity – I’d list a few pertinent examples from the past here, but sort of by definition I can’t think of any – while others will leave a gaping hole that will not be filled by anything less than something of the calibre of those giants that have already left their mark. Preacher, Sandman, perhaps above all Transmetropolitan***.
There was a time when my ear was close enough to the ground to know which great works would be likely to draw to a close in the next year or so. These days not so much, but it seems to me that Terry Moore’s excellent Echo is drawing to a close, and if it is I’ll really miss it. On the other hand, I felt like that about Strangers in Paradise, and of course everything that was good about Strangers, the plotting, characterisation and cleanness of line were followed up in Echo, which has been a constant delight.
Who knows, if Echo does end, perhaps Moore’s next opus will be the next life changing comic! He’s certainly good enough to write something life-changing.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s been maybe five hundred or so since I last mentioned Batman – what’s going on?! Those of you who are sick of my constant moaning might well be feeling something akin to relief. Well, don’t worry, I’m not going to go on about it***, but given the state of revolution the Batbooks are currently in, I can hardly exclude Bruce and the gang from any look ahead.
I’ve been taken to task before now for my negative reaction to the latest changes in Gotham and I agree that no long running character can afford to stagnate or rest on its laurels. The “slabbing”***** of comics is just as pointless and abusrd when you do it metaphorically as it is when you do it literally. I don’t want to see the Bat set in aspic – I loved the introduction of Tim Drake (although I think it came a little too soon after the death of Jason) and I thought that the arrival of Damien on the scene was also great – and something I’d been waiting for since I read Bride of the Demon on the train between Glasgow and Doncaster back when I was still in school.
Looking forward to a year – and probably more – of Batman Incorporated however doesn’t fill me with joy I’m afraid. I can’t help but feel that the whole concept is just wrong. I’ll go into my feelings about this in a column at a later date. I’d do it now, but my hatred of the whole thing is so instinctive I’m holding fire for a bit to let the thing bed in. Who knows, maybe, in the hands of good writers with good ideas it’ll evolve into a form that works, and I’ll end up eating my words. I doubt it, but I owe it to the professionalism of the creators to give such a radical change a chance.
I still don’t like it though – and they can’t make me!
As with so many other things, we shall have to see what happens. One thing is for certain though, however bad the worst comics are this year, there will be no shortage of excellence either. The start of a New Year****** is a time for optimism, not for doubt, so let’s look to the future in that spirit and bask in the glow of a year that , thus far at least, not one single comics publisher has managed to screw up yet.
How long will that last, do you reckon?
*Unless of course there’s been a sudden and radical change of direction since my last purchases. There won’t have been.
**Not the way that say, Sandman, Preacher or Transmetropolitan did.
***Still, for me, the greatest work by the greatest writer of the last twenty years. Nothing that Ellis had done since – not even Planetary – has quite matched it. When you consider the quality of the stuff I’m saying it’s better than, if you haven’t read Transmet yet, you must surely see that you absolutely must. Go now. If the comics store is closed, bang on the door until they let you in.
****Well, not now at any rate, although you’ll not be surprised to learn that I will be returning to the whole Batman Incorporated concept in a few weeks. I’m still trying to stop myself hyperventilating at the thought of it.
*****Do people still do that?
******And yes, I know that the point in time we choose to label as “New Year” is arbitrary and culturally specific – hell, a a teacher I tend to work in “School Years”, which means that the real New Years day for me is actually September 1st, but what the hell, you all know what I mean.