When it comes to the profusion of comics and the ever-expanding bulk of Previews, I am generally a “let a hundred flowers bloom” kind of guy; I’m very happy that American comics have reached the point where there are so many different kinds of publications for so many different kinds of readers. But every explosion is followed by an implosion, and as someday it may happen that a victim must be found, I have a few suggestions for more or less common varieties of comics that I would be happy to see quietly disappear.
Comics about ’80s media properties. Look, I know it’s only a matter of time until somebody commissions an ongoing Teddy Ruxpin series, but just stop.
Auxiliary superhero titles. Any superhero series designed to carry stories about its title character that “don’t fit” in that character’s main series or to “showcase different talents” or to “purge inventory” is a series that the world could do without. The current incarnation of Web of Spider-Man ends next week, and while it had its moments, especially that storyline where Spider-Man fought a character who was basically post-1970 Steve Ditko as a super-villain, it should generally have had a big sticker on its front cover reading “Warning: Not As Good As Amazing Spider-Man, So Don’t Get Your Hopes Up, Cheese.” This goes double for any tie-in to an “event” comic that has clearly been tacked onto the production schedule after the fact, and triple for apropos-of-nothing one-shots and miniseries about characters who’ve got a movie about them coming out sometime in the next year or so.
(More on Techland: Emanata: The High Cost of Comics)
Oversized hardcover reprints of mediocre newspaper comic strips reproduced from what looks like microfiche that somebody dropped a sandwich on at some point. Conan: The Newspaper Strips, I am looking at you.
Thinly disguised movie proposals. If your screenplay didn’t impress anyone, dividing it up into panels is not going to help. And dumping three genre tropes from this year’s popular motion pictures into a jar and shaking them until they congeal into an elevator pitch (“it’s like ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ but with vampires in ancient Rome!”) not only doesn’t make a good movie, it doesn’t make a good comic book.
Revivals of long-forgotten comics that weren’t so hot the first time. I don’t care if you can get Alex Ross to draw the cover of every issue of your new Fatman, the Human Flying Saucer series.
More specifically, any additional Green Hornet-related series. There is no such thing as the commutative property of Kevin Smith’s cachet.
Licensed titles based on TV shows in which the characters are obviously drawn from photographs and video freeze-frames of the actors. Very few bearable comics have ever come of this approach. TV adaptations are already pretty suspect–the one good one that comes to mind was Dean Motter’s The Prisoner, which played pretty fast and loose with its source material, and that was more than 20 years ago. Note, though, that Buffy gets a pass here, just because of Joss Whedon’s direct involvement.
Knockoffs of “Persepolis.” So you grew up under a repressive regime and have been informed by your agent that a “graphic memoir” would be a perfect way to tell your story, but you’ve never made comics before? Get back to me once you’ve gotten your ten years of woodshedding in.
(More on Techland: Emanata: Cheer On the Bad Guys)
Any series that misses the ship date for its first issue. That’s the equivalent of showing up the wrong night for your first date: you’re nice and everything, but I just don’t think it’s going to work out.
Single-issue biographical comics. If you’re willing to devote a few hundred pages of comics to somebody’s biography, you might be Chester Brown, and you might be drawing Louis Riel, and that means you’re OK by me. If you are hoping to sell a poorly drawn, Wikipedia-researched 28-page one-shot about Lady Gaga or Michelle Obama to librarians who don’t know any better, please consider a different career path.
Reprints of public-domain or potentially-public-domain comics that don’t identify where the reprinted material originally appeared or who created it. Have a little goddamn respect.
Creator-driven series that continue after the big-name creator has left. Adjectiveless Spider-Man without Todd McFarlane. Tom Strong without Alan Moore. Nexus without Steve Rude. Which is another way of saying: I don’t yet know what David Finch’s Batman: The Dark Knight is going to be like, but I know for sure I don’t ever want to see an issue that’s not by him.
Celebrity-“created” comics that actually just involve slapping the celebrity’s name onto the cover and having other people do the work. I don’t care if you did make Tonight’s the Night or Live Through This or I Know What You Did Last Summer; you don’t make comics, and you ought to step aside for people who do. Gerard Way puts every one of you to shame. Also, this rule applies even if the cover-billed absentee is famous for making comics.
Any comics involving familiar fictional characters weeping over a real-world catastrophe. No, I still haven’t gotten over the crying Dr. Doom, why do you ask?