Tag Archives: Warren Ellis

Upgrade or Downgrade? Hellblazer: Original Sins

19 Sep

by Mike Hansen

Hellblazer: Original Sins (1st printing)

Hellblazer: Original Sins (1st & 2nd DC Comics printing)

Occasionally, I’ll buy more than one edition of a graphic novel. Sometimes it’s by accident (which is surprisingly easy when one has thousands of books!); sometimes it’s because the newer one looks like a better version…

After a big move five months ago, I’ve finally gotten around to organizing my comics again, and I’ve discovered a LOT of duplicate material in some of my books. So as a Public Service, I thought I’d share what I know, so you can make a more informed decision on which books to buy. I’m a giver.

I’m starting with DC/Vertigo’s Hellblazer books, as I’ve managed to amass most of them over the last 21 years. It’s one of the best horror comics series of all time, so if all you care about is whether it’s good the answer is YES. Hugely imaginative, massively influential, the stories of John Constantine remain as potent today as they did when they were first published over the last 26 years. Even the character’s creator, Alan Moore, has praised the work of writers Jamie Delano and Brian Azzarello on the series, despite his general hatred of DC Comics.

the 1993 Warner Books edition

1993 Warner Books edition

(It’s a shame that DC decided to incorporate its “mature” characters back into its New 52 superhero line. If only DC knew how to properly manage its intellectual property and branding, instead of taking an “all or nothing” approach to its company-owned material, draining the life and power out of ideas that now fall far short of their potential. I’m grateful that a large enough audience exists for the “real” John Constantine so the Hellblazer stories can continue to be reprinted.)

I’ve given DC Comics a hard time a lot lately (because, let’s face it, that company has done a shit-ton of stupid things in public in the last few years – hell, in the last few weeks), but the company hasn’t survived for over 75 years by being stupid all the time. The DC of today doesn’t Continue reading

A tribute to Karen Berger and Vertigo

4 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Even though this news was expected for a while, it’s still a gut-punch now that it’s happened.

From today’s DC press release:

Karen Berger, Executive Editor & Senior Vice President of DC Entertainment’s Vertigo brand, has announced she is stepping down from her post after nearly 20 years at the helm of the award-winning literary imprint. She will remain on through March 2013 where she will be assisting in the transition to a new leadership team which includes veteran staffers whom she has mentored over the years.

First off: congratulations to Ms. Berger for her decades of amazing work in comics. She remains one of the best working comics editors (along with Bob Schreck, Diana Schutz, and a very short list of others). Few editors in comics history have had such a range of success or depth of influence. I’m eager to learn where she lands and what she does next: the sky truly is the limit.

I owe a lot of my evolution as a comics reader to Berger and the Vertigo line. For most of the 1980s, I was a Marvel zombie. The only reason I branched out of superhero comics was thanks to Archie Goodwin’s Epic Comics line at Marvel, with Groo the Wanderer and Elfquest first getting my money only because of the Marvel name on the cover. Those titles led me to search out other non-superhero material, and by the end of the ’80s I was a dedicated reader of titles like Usagi Yojimbo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Aliens, and more.

But as wonderful as those titles were, at that point there were still few comics titles that had the literary aspirations that I was unknowingly missing. There were plenty of other terrific comics out there, but many of them were still seen as “underground” at that point (like most of Fantagraphics’ amazing output), and I was still a few years away from finally discovering essential material like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Matt Wagner’s Grendel. But the Vertigo line arrived at the perfect time, as an antidote to the Image Comics revolution that led to often poorly written and edited Image titles, and several years’ worth of even worse Image ripoffs from Marvel and DC.

Thanks to a well-marketed launch effort, I gave Vertigo a shot for the same reason that I’d given Epic a shot years earlier: this was a major effort at non-superhero comics from one of America’s biggest comics publishers (though DC, like Marvel, was and is focused almost exclusively on superhero properties). I tried almost all of those initial Vertigo books (Sandman, Death: The High Cost of Living, Shade the Changing Man, Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol, Enigma, Sandman Mystery Theatre, Hellblazer), and after that first month of eye-opening work I never looked back. (It probably helped that Vertigo debuted right as I was transitioning from high school to college!)

The sophistication and quality of the Vertigo launch led me to try many other publishers’ non-superhero comics in a way that Marvel’s Epic never had (probably in part because of my age and the era): Bone, Strangers in Paradise, Madman, Sin City, Cerebus, Beanworld, The Crow, Flaming Carrot, The Dirty Pair, Milk and Cheese, Martha Washington… it was a whole new Golden Age of comics, and Vertigo opened my eyes to it. (I was lucky to live near a comics shop that carried virtually every comic published every month – it was a great time to be a comics reader.)

And oh, man – the titles that Vertigo published over the years: The Invisibles, Preacher, Transmetropolitan, We3, Fables, The Unwritten, 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man, Stardust, Kill Your Boyfriend, Seekers: Into the Mystery, The Filth, Goddess, reprints of Moonshadow and Blood: A Tale, and so many more blew my mind over and over. I am absolutely filled with gratitude for Berger, her impeccable taste in comics, and her talent at mentoring other editors to maintain the line’s quality.

DC tried creating Continue reading

Links: The Oatmeal update, Avengers, New 52, World War Z, etc.

12 Jun

by Mike Hansen

The cover of World War Z

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew Inman at The Oatmeal raised his $20,000 to spite FunnyJunk in only 64 minutes. He’s now at over $117,000.

Warren Ellis explains why he’s cool with Iron Man 3 using his ideas without paying him. (At least modern creators know what they’re getting into – too bad it doesn’t help the original creators that built comics in the 1930s-1970s.)

Liked the Avengers movie? Support the Jack Kirby Museum!

Were cave dwellers the first animators? Could be.

Speaking of animation – this is the greatest comics commercial I’ve EVER SEEN:

Why can’t DC’s New 52 commercials be that good? (And why are the currently running commercials advertising the upcoming collected editions almost exactly the same as the old ones? That’s a good way to get kids to tune out.)

Speaking of the New 52, it looks like Continue reading

Collected Editions: The Good, the Bad, and the WTF

30 Jan

by Mike Hansen

(Another long post, to make up for lost time…)

Congratulations are due to my friend Kris Shaw, who posted a YouTube video the other day that’s been getting some attention:

If you think those DC hardcovers are bad, DC’s New 52 Omnibus is even worse – check out pictures here.

Bleeding Cool featured the video (twice), and Dan DiDio at DC even had to respond:

Dan DiDio's Facebook response

Actions speak louder than words. Prove it, DC, and maybe you'll start getting my money again...

Kris is one of the readers who convinced Marvel to improve its collected editions over the last decade, and the results speak for themselves: sewn binding instead of glued, hardcovers that lay flat, dustjackets that no longer stick to the covers, and (for the most part) binding that doesn’t cause pages to loosen and fall out. Generally, Marvel has given its customers their money’s worth in the last few years. As for DC… Continue reading

Frank Miller: The Dennis Miller of Comics

14 Nov

by Mike Hansen

Miller at the 1982 Comic-Con

Frank Miller in 1982, when his greatest works were still ahead of him. (Image via Wikipedia)

I haven’t seen this big a left-to-right swing since [insert your own stupid Dennis Miller obscure reference here].

A week ago, Frank Miller wrote some ignorant bullshit about the Occupy Wall Street movement, in a post entitled, “Anarchy.”

A lot of folks have called him out – just check out the comments below his post for a taste.

Ty Templeton had the cleverest response: a comic strip letter from a master cartoonist to a writer who can barely be bothered to do comics – certainly not any great comics – anymore. Here’s a taste:

Ty Templeton Frank Miller Funnies

It would be so easy to tear Miller’s retarded rant to pieces, but why bother? Anyone on the planet with access to Google can decimate its entirety in seconds.

I’ve loved almost all of Frank Miller’s work. Virtually everything he’s created since becoming the writer on Daredevil over 30 years ago has been a masterpiece (excepting his two pointless Spawn cash-grab stories). I still remember when I was assisting his editor at Dark Horse, Diana Schutz, and opening the FedEx box containing the entirety of Sin City: Family Values – it was such a rush and a privilege to be one of the first to read it, to experience a master of raw communication at work. But that seems like a long time ago now.

It was even a treat to see Miller at play, doing masterful, stupid comedy in his “Lance Blastoff” strips and The Spirit film. But I don’t see that in Miller today, either.

How did Miller go from creating works of genius like this:

Frank Miller CBLDF

to obvious, pointless junk like this?

A Nice Thought by Frank MillerSuicide bombers are bad? Really? That’s the best Miller can accomplish these days?

If Miller really had balls, Continue reading

I Read SVK by Warren Ellis & D’Israeli

25 Oct

by Mike Hansen

Warren Ellis at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego

The hat protects the precious brain inside. (Image via Wikipedia)

Alright, stop what you’re doing, and GO BUY THIS COMIC BOOK NOW. Not later, now. I’ll know if you’re lying. Because SVK might be the very best comic book you read this year.

There is nothing like SVK. You will see things you have never seen before. And then you will see things you didn’t see the first time.

Because SVK is printed with an additional, invisible ink. And comes with a handy pocket flashlight to illuminate it (and no, you don’t need to be in the dark for it to work). For all I know, the light will cause blindness, cancer, and AIDS, but I don’t care, because this comic book is worth it.

You don’t need to believe me. Ask William Gibson; he wrote the introduction. And if the father of Cyberpunk, the man who sees the filthy future before the rest of us, digs this comic, that’s good enough for us humans.

Warren Ellis revisits the future Continue reading

Free Friday Fun (Plus One Non-Free-But-Still-Cool Thing)

16 Sep
The box art for the PC version of Portal.

Unless you're blind, you should get this. NOW. (Image via Wikipedia)

A few things to start our weekend – all without spending a dime! Continue reading

Dear Marvel: Now That Brian Wood’s Back…

15 Sep

We interrupt this website for some fanboy ramblings… (yeah, yeah, so what else is new)

Brian Wood 2012 Marvel teaser

So he'll be writing Power Pack, then?

Now that Awesome Comics Writer Brian Wood will be writing for Marvel Comics again, can the rest of his previous Marvel work (Generation X#71-75) be collected?

I talked about this briefly Continue reading

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