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The Watchtower - A thread for all comics


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What happened to comics for kids? 2000ad is definitely not for kids anymore, but there's hardly anything else around these days. I remember when I was little there were absolutely tons of kids comics around. I used to get Spiderman weekly, with my brother getting Planet of The Apes weekly (or maybe it was the other way around) from about the age of 5, then Star Wars Weekly, 2000ad and Starlord, as well as the funny comics like Beano and Dandy, Whizzer and Chips, Buster etc. And my local high street newsagent always had tons of DC imports for some reason, so I read loads of Superman etc. And newspapers were full of comic strips, but that seems to have diminished to just the odd (old / long running) single strip here and there.

My kids haven't shown much interest in comics. Maybe it's because they see me reading them, so they see them as something for adults, but maybe it's because there's so few comics aimed at them in the shops these days. They love reading, but even though I keep trying to push comics on them in the library (Asterix etc), they usually turn their noses up. My eldest has started reading Simpsons comics, which is a start I guess, and I persuaded her to try a copy of The Beano yesterday for a train journey over the weekend, but she never would have given either a second glance without my prodding.

I'm all for having grown up comics, but it seems like a big missed opportunity that there are hardly comics for kids any more. It's a little bit like football (with high ticket prices) - without hooking kids in while they're young there'll be no audience in years to come.

The market died a death in the early late 80's early 90's, and I encountered the same thing with my son, he wasnt interested at all in anything comic related until he hit 10 yr old. Then he asked me if I could get some Judge Dredd(after seeing the film of all things), so I started buying the case files for him, and then it was Marvel comics. But he's not into them anything like me.

Christ I was like you and having about 4-5 a week by the time I was 5.

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My kids haven't shown much interest in comics. Maybe it's because they see me reading them, so they see them as something for adults, but maybe it's because there's so few comics aimed at them in the shops these days.

You should try them with something from the Little Lit series - aimed at kids but created by a who's who of modern comic greats (Clowes, Ware, Spiegelman) with some pieces from older hands like Walt Kelly and Jules Feiffer. The art is exceptional, really varied and imaginative, and I think the stories work really well - some fairy story adaptations, some gross-out pieces, a little bit of nonsense, cautionary tales, flights of fancy...

I think the best on is the 'Folklore and Fairy Tales' volume, but if you go for the 'Big Fat Little Lit' "best of" you get most of that along with selections from the other books. I bought that for my niece (who's 6) at Christmas and although it was in competition with all manner of exotic toys it did seem to attract her attention - and of course she'll have it to read long after her battery-operated parrot has been shoved in a cupboard and forgotten.

But good as they are, they're not a real replacement for the glorious weekly comics we used to be able to soak up. I fondly recall the 'broadsheet' comics - one was Topper and the other might have been Beezer, great big fold-out affairs that felt like a real luxury, the comic equivalent of The Times. I'd like to read one of those now to see the effect the size has on the art, because back then we used to have some real artists working on those pages.

Nowadays it seems kids' comics are mostly licensed and about free gifts and low page-counts, presumably with lots of features and competitions and other filler items rather than strips. I expect things were just better back in the old days. Nostalgia's a dangerous game to play, but the evidence seems incontrovertible.

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Anyone know if there's any way to get hold of TPB 2 of the Alan Moore run on Swamp Thing? It seems to have been out of print for a couple of years now, quite frustratingly. I've read the first TPB and a murder of crows, but I really want to read the rest as orderly as possible...

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Anyone know if there's any way to get hold of TPB 2 of the Alan Moore run on Swamp Thing? It seems to have been out of print for a couple of years now, quite frustratingly. I've read the first TPB and a murder of crows, but I really want to read the rest as orderly as possible...

This is the colour one I have:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Swamp-Thing-Love-D.../dp/0930289544/

I think the content is the same. There's one for just over a fiver on the Marketplace there, but the price goes up steeply further down the page.

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cheers!

No problem. My Swamp Things really need sorting out, I've got a scattershot collection of the Titan B&W volumes, the first DC collection from the 80s, that Love & Death I linked to from the 90s, a few key original issues (Rites of Spring, Loving the Alien and so on) that I couldn't bear to get rid of, and then PDFs and CBZs of the later "post-Gotham" story up to the end. One month I'll crack and just order all the current collections so I've got a proper set, but so far I've stopped short in favour of buying stuff I don't already have.

Love & Death is astounding stuff, though - the 'revelation' issue is cracking horror, and it's closely followed by the superb trip to Hell with Etrigan. And I think Rites of Spring is in there, too. Far out.

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What happened to comics for kids? 2000ad is definitely not for kids anymore,

I don't know about "any more". Maybe you are overestimating how shockable kids are, and are forgetting what it was like to be a kid yourself.

I got the tpb collection of the first Slaine stories yesterday and read it today. This was printed in the early 80s first, and there is a lot of very graphic violence, and sexually suggestive or disturbing imagery. Much more so than I remember there being when I read it as a kid. But I read it all back then, and I turned out ok.

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I don't know about "any more". Maybe you are overestimating how shockable kids are, and are forgetting what it was like to be a kid yourself.

I got the tpb collection of the first Slaine stories yesterday and read it today. This was printed in the early 80s first, and there is a lot of very graphic violence, and sexually suggestive or disturbing imagery. Much more so than I remember there being when I read it as a kid. But I read it all back then, and I turned out ok.

I read it first time round as a kid, and turned out OK too )

I'm not really talking about what's acceptable or not for kids to read - more about whether or not a section of the population is being 'served' by the comics industry.

What I mean with 2000ad is that back in the 70s / 80s it was aimed at kids. They may have pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable, but the real point is that they were writing it with kids in mind, and it was sold on the kids shelves. I don't think the 2000ad of today is being created with kids in mind, or being aimed at kids. I suspect that the bulk of its readership has grown up with it, and the comic has grown up accordingly. It's not on the kids shelves in the newsagents, and there's enough swearing and sex in it to suggest that they presume most of their readership are adults.

I think it's pretty cool actually, the way the comic has changed slowly over time, but I doubt they're picking up too many new readers as kids. Maybe they can survive on the core readership indefinitely, or maybe they pick up new adult / comic fan readers through word of mouth.

It just struck me that there doesn't seem to be much in the newsagents that would have got me into comics if I was growing up now, which has got to be a problem for the business in the future.

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Since the manga thread is full of people talking about episode 4,628 of 'Robot Schoolgirl Ninja Explosion Get!' I thought I'd come in here and recommend some Junji Ito stuff.

He's one of the few manga authors that does genuinely scary work. I've been reading Uzamaki and today I picked up the first of his Museum of Horrors books, which are being released by Dark Horse in a right-to-left reading format.

His work is very grotesque and Lovecraftian, featuring all kinds of squishy and unnatural permutations of the human body. Perfect for bedtime reading, as long as you don't want to get any sleep... Bwah hah hah!

In other news, I got Modern Toss Vol.2 and a big book called 'The Art of Brian Bolland' which I have yet to unwrap. Must delay gratification!

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I bought the first tpb a while back and wasn't too fussed by it. It's worth sticking with then?

No. Personally I think if you didn't like the first few issues of Y then you really shouldn't bother. It was an exceptionally strong title throughout its run but everything that makes it work so well is given to you in the first couple of story arcs.

To be frank, if you don't buy into the concepts or characters after the first issue then I doubt you'd enjoy the rest of the journey.

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I've acquired every Star Wars comic ever made, mainly for a mate.

As I'm not fussed spending the rest of my natural life reading through them, which are the best? I've read Shadows of the Empire and really enjoyed that, some weird Vader vs. Maul thing and a What if...? style one of A New Hope where Leia is a Jedi, Vader turns good earlier etc. It was only passable.

So, which are the best? Rogue Squadron? Heir to the Empire? Any of the stuff set around the Old Republic or TPM? Help! =]

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I've just started reading Preacher. It's a bit grisly, but that vampire lightens the tone no end; brilliant character! Every time I talk about how much I like Sandman people said "Oh you should read Preacher next" and now I can see why, very similar styles/themes/level of intelligence in the writing.

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Since the manga thread is full of people talking about episode 4,628 of 'Robot Schoolgirl Ninja Explosion Get!' I thought I'd come in here and recommend some Junji Ito stuff.

Seconded, Ito is great. I've got some of the original English releases of the Tomie / Flesh-Coloured Horror books (much of them reprinted in Museum of Horrors) and they seem to be worth quit a bit now for some reason. The Museum versions are better, at any rate, so long as you can get used to the RTL presentation. I keep meaning to check out 'Gyo' but haven't got round to it yet, but I've waffled on about how great Uzumaki is on here before, and I see that's now been reprinted by Viz (the previous editions once again having become oddly expensive). As far as I can see you could pick the whole thing up for just over a tenner inc. P&P, which is a steal. It's a wonderful mixture of cosmic and body horror - it'd make a great project for Cronenberg, though the existing film version does a fine job and is well worth watching. Once refreshing feature of Uzumaki is that it's comparatively short by manga standards and comes to a proper conclusion - the three volumes form a whole and that's all you need. And it's crammed with memorable scenes, many of which shouldn't work at all - they'd be ridiculous in a lesser artist's hands, but Ito can get away with them. Good call!

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And it's crammed with memorable scenes, many of which shouldn't work at all - they'd be ridiculous in a lesser artist's hands, but Ito can get away with them. Good call!

It's amazing how Ito's art progresses through Tomie Vol. 1; at the beginning it's very amateurish but he rapidly improves through the first few chapters until he arrives at his current level. I wonder why?

Perhaps the first chapter was drawn a long long time ago when he was still a young amateur, then he took a long break to improve before continuing.

Perhaps he was given some assistants to help with the artwork after the editor of the series realised it was a hit - quite a few manga artists have people to do zip tone and background work.

Maybe he just had a disease to start with, or his hand got chopped off and was then sown back on again by a magician.

Or maybe he just got better at drawing over time.

WHO KNOWS?

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Does anyone know anything about making a living by writing for comics? Presumably it is possible.

I'm a comics fan but have never thought about writing one before, but I write stories and some people have suggested to me that my stories could be well told in graphic form.

I guess though that unless you're incredibly lucky and talented and want to write Superman for DC or X-Men for Marvel, it isn't a realistic career option?

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Dear Shakespeare; here's some stuff that might help you:

Read some comics scripts to see how it's done. Have a look at the re-release of 'Arkham Asylum' or the Sandman trade paperback 'Dream Country' to see how Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman write their scripts. Comics scripts aren't as regimented as movie scripts but there are still rules to follow.

Do not ever ever ever use an Alan Moore script as a template to show you how it's done as sending in a telephone-book sized script for your first 26 page story will ensure it's sent back promptly, probably with a note that says 'Who do you think you are? Alan Moore?'

Get yourself published and get representation. It doesn't matter what it is, but no big comics publisher will look at submissions from unpublished authors these days, especially if they don't have an agent. The websites for the big publishers have a section for their submissions policy that says pretty much the same thing.

I know some people that have sent their stuff in unsolicited and received polite rejection letters time and again. It's worth noting that the smaller publishers are more likely to give a personal reply (2000AD sent my friend encouraging replies) whilst DC and Marvel will usually send you a form letter.

Anyway, good luck! :D

PS Please investigate further into these matters as I'm only repeating things I've read or heard in the past regarding comics publishing; I'm just another enthusiast really.

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I've been trying to catch up on my comic reading recently (after pretty much ignoring comics for a decade or so from the early 90s), so I enjoy reading recommendations in threads like this.

I picked up the 1st Sandman volume last year some time, which I thought was so-so, but a big deal was made by the editor in the introduction that the first few issues were a bit rubbish, and it got amazing in later volumes. No problem, I like nice neat sets from volume 1 on my shelf :rolleyes: So I finally got volume 2 this weekend and read it this week.

Hmm... I wasn't really impressed with this one either. There were a few moments of brilliance, but overall it felt a bit sloppy, arbitrary, even incoherent in places. The ideas felt a bit half formed, rushed maybe - like they'd work better if they were recycled in a later work with more thought behind them. There were about three points in the book where one of the main characters said something like, "I don't understand what's going on," and I though, "yep, me neither!" It didn't help that I thought the art was awful (I'd call it fanzine quality in places), and the colouring dreadful. I really wanted to like it, as having another 10 volumes of brilliant, unread comics to look forward to would be lovely, but it hasn't grabbed me at all. Does this volume count as part of the "rubbish early issues" before the series gets good, or will I not like the rest if I didn't like this one? How does this compare with Preacher, which seems to be the other big recommendation on here?

On a happier note, I finally read 'The Last American' last night, which I thought was excellent. I've had the last two issues sat unread on my shelf for about 15 years (since they first came out), but I've only just got around to picking up the first two on ebay (for 1p!). Beautifully drawn, superbly written, very cinematic and atmospheric. Perfect.

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Can't say I was ever a huge fan of The Sandman. I read it from the start when it originally came out, but it became a bit too airy-fairy for my liking. It seemed to be the comic you were supposed to adore, but it always seemed to have a touch of the emperor's new clothes about it.

At the same time, I'm not a fan of Preacher. Like Sandman it's well-written, but it doesn't engage me in any way. I think they're both a little 'lazy' in terms of what they offer, and never really pushed the envelope. Of course not everything has to push the envelope, and it's a bit rich calling either lazy as they were monthly titles well above the tragic average, but the characters in Preacher seemed to be cut from a very simple cloth and their stories were dull. It disappointed me because I really enjoyed Ennis' earlier works like Troubles Souls and True Faith.

I'm not really that keen on Steve Dillon's art, which doesn't help my Preacher appreciation much. I was reading in Bryan Talbot's excellent book of comic book anecdotes, The Naked Artist, that Dillon was renowned for the speed with which he could turn out pages, and I think that has something to do with why I don't get on with his work, although I've enjoyed plenty of rushed 24-hour comics. Ah, who knows? It's just not for me.

I'm afraid where Vertigo is concerned I don't really like much beyond Grant Morrison's stuff and the early Hellblazers. There's probably other stuff I've forgotten.

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The thing about Sandman is that the whole 70-odd issues add up to one big novel, but the main problem is that Neil Gaiman didn't realise this until he was already about a quarter of the way through it. By the time you reach the end, everything has been swept up into a massive narrative that spans all of time and takes in just about everyone who ever lived (this is possibly an exaggeration) including you.

I was in the unique position to start reading Sandman at the end; I went to the comic shop and picked up the book that looked the longest, which happened to be 'The Kindly Ones', in which the whole story comes to a climax. Funnily enough I loved it and began to work my way through the rest of the books in no particular order. Unfortunately none of the other books seemed quite as good as that one, and I can easily see how you might be put off by the first couple of collections.

However, the first book does contain '24 Hours', which is still one of the most disturbing comics I've ever read.

Ste, it's worth picking up the rest of the story (some comics shops even rent out their stuff like libraries; or at least OK COMICS in Leeds does.) I'd give it up until 'Brief Lives' and if you still don't like it then at least you gave it a try.

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I've been trying to catch up on my comic reading recently (after pretty much ignoring comics for a decade or so from the early 90s), so I enjoy reading recommendations in threads like this.

I picked up the 1st Sandman volume last year some time, which I thought was so-so, but a big deal was made by the editor in the introduction that the first few issues were a bit rubbish, and it got amazing in later volumes. No problem, I like nice neat sets from volume 1 on my shelf :D So I finally got volume 2 this weekend and read it this week.

Hmm... I wasn't really impressed with this one either. There were a few moments of brilliance, but overall it felt a bit sloppy, arbitrary, even incoherent in places. The ideas felt a bit half formed, rushed maybe - like they'd work better if they were recycled in a later work with more thought behind them. There were about three points in the book where one of the main characters said something like, "I don't understand what's going on," and I though, "yep, me neither!" It didn't help that I thought the art was awful (I'd call it fanzine quality in places), and the colouring dreadful. I really wanted to like it, as having another 10 volumes of brilliant, unread comics to look forward to would be lovely, but it hasn't grabbed me at all. Does this volume count as part of the "rubbish early issues" before the series gets good, or will I not like the rest if I didn't like this one? How does this compare with Preacher, which seems to be the other big recommendation on here?

Volume 3 (Season of Mists) is where Sandman really kicked into gear for me, it seemed like that was where Gaiman found his feet with the series and it started to make some kind of coherent sense.

I absolutely loved Sandman, and I even love the opening arcs of the story when I go back to them now, even though like you I was underwhelmed when I first read it. But, I do know a lot of people who persevered with it and it never really took hold, so I guess it's a marmite thing.

If you have read 1 and 2, I would recommend reading 3 and then leaving it there if you still aren't enjoying it.

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Read Phonogram today - I imagine this has been discussed on here but with the search fucked I'm not going to look back through 100 pages...

I was impressed with it, more impressed than I was expecting to be. The premise sounded a bit wanky on paper and at first I thought Dave Khol was just going to be a Constantine rip-off - Ok, so Kohl mostly IS a Constantine rip-off (and I loathe the way he is drawn with a smarmy grin to the camera, just about every panel he appears in throughout the start of the story) but there was enough interesting ideas to keep me reading to the end and to find it all very enjoyable. Of course it helps that the setting and premise of the story resonated with me absolutely (in particular the Riche Manic-obsessed ex-girlfriend, which a lot of guys who were teenage indie losers at the time can probaly relate to) Gillen was obviously addicted to NME and Melody Maker and the bands they hyped up the love for at the same time I was. It was interesting to see a commentary on Britpop done this way. Does anyone know if there are still plans to put out a sequel?

There were loads of little touches I really liked but one that sticks in my mind was the headers for the letters in the letters pages - a phrase or snippet of text from each letter used as the header, out of context and therefore looking slightly ridiculous and random - exactly like Amiga Power used to do!

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Does anyone know if there are still plans to put out a sequel?

I picked up the first two issues of this, but missed the rest (I get to a comic shop about once every two months), although I finally found the remaining four for sale online, and I'm waiting for them to arrive before I read it all in one go.

I think KG is currently writing a second series - see his blog...

He reads the forum, so maybe he'll tell us more if he drops by this thread.

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Why do the Ultimate Fantastic Four have such a hard-on for moleman?

Haven't read Ultimate, but he was the first enemy for the FF. So it claimed in their (truly awful, wank-along-with-Stan-Lee) 45th anniversary issue, anyway. I'm no expert.

Actually, now I can't decide if the 45th anniversary issue was awful or brilliant.

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I've been trying to get a hold of Simone Lia's "Fluffy" comics for a while and can only find the collected version.

So, I emailed her directly and she not only was amazingly nice but sold me the comics at a nice price and said she'll sign them for me too.

Lovely. I'm eagerly awaiting the post now so that I can get stuck into it. Lovely stuff.

I had a look at the previews on her site and yeah, that looks nice. Some great backgrounds in contrast to the cartoony characters and a good sense of pacing. Never heard of her before, so that's a result.

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Do not ever ever ever use an Alan Moore script as a template to show you how it's done as sending in a telephone-book sized script for your first 26 page story will ensure it's sent back promptly, probably with a note that says 'Who do you think you are? Alan Moore?'

He's not joking.

http://home.insightbb.com/~fourcolorheros/...chmenScript.pdf

http://fourcolorheroes.home.insightbb.com/...jokescript.html

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