Monday, March 12, 2007

Looking For Crackle

I miss the crackle.

Old fogey's about to talk. Clear the room.

I finished my penultimate Phonogram and it is brilliant. I finished my Authority , my New Universal. Good, good. I finished three weeks' worth of stash. Uh huh. There is new Ellis, Morrison, Gaiman, Ennis , even Moore out there. But something's off. This isn't prime Ellis, Morrison, Gaiman, Ennis or Moore. There's no crackle. Been missing for months. Nothing but a kind of cursory going through motions of an old habit that dies hard.

I miss it. The crackle.

I used to get it on a weekly basis - - -back when we all worked at the salt mines, back when comics felt like superconductive narcotics. Today's comics, to force a pop metaphor here, smacks of Don't Believe The Truth-era Oasis. Back then,it was Definitely Maybe/Morning Glory ,week after week after week , courtesy of Comic Oddysey in Robinson's Place - - - Planetary and TransMet, Pop Gun War, Grant's X Men and Flash runs and later Vimanarama and of course The Invisibles and The Filth, all three Vertigo Pop!s , Black and White and No.5, Love and Rockets, Moore's entire ABC line but specially Top 10 and LoEG and of course From Hell, Allred's Madman and The Atomics, Astronauts In Trouble, Dylan Robinson's Reporter , Starman, Preacher, Ashley's Automatic Kafka and Popbot, the random Concrete and Hellboy, Steampunk. There was crap back then, of course - - -DC 1 Million , Strange Kiss, 1602, Tomorrow Stories, parts of Promethea - - - but mostly the stash crackled weekly .

None of that is happening now. There isn't a single superhero comic I've picked up in the last twelve months or so (except All Star Superman , NextWAVE and The Ultimates) that I haven't felt a pang of regret over forking out my hard-earneds. Not that they were any bad. Some of them were OK. But that's the thing. They were merely OK. And superhero comics that are merely OK sharpen into relief the inescapable fact that superhero comics are essentially . . . um, silly. Superhero comics have to be very good to transcend that inherent silliness. They have to have a buzz. They have to crackle. There has been none of that for me of late. Maybe I'm just jaded. Maybe I've been collecting for soooo long, nothing surprises me anymore. Maybe comics were really better four years ago when my collecting was at its peak. We are,after all, living in a mainstream superhero climate where the best/bestselling writer on the block is Mark Millar
- - -well he isn't , he just likes reminding us all that he is. Sounds Palanc
. . .este . . . familiar,eh?

That's old fogey talk, of course. So maybe the geek in me is dying a slow death.

I don't think so, though. I am still looking for that crackle.

Darwyn Cooke's The Spirit has it - - its my favorite comic out there. I am checking out Moon Knight for Mico Suayan's art, and so should you - - -Charlie Huston's writing definitely has crackle of a sort but Mico's art just bristles. Jeff Smith's Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil is very good so far. Otherwise , I don't think I'll find that crackle in the pages of DC or Marvel . I'm thinking The Nightly News might have it. I'm waiting for Paul Pope to go creator-owned again. James Robinson, too. Grant should do something soon now that that 52 flapdoodle's wrapping up. Ellis has his novel. Brian Wood, Matt Fraction, Marc-Antoine Matthieu,The Goon. I haven't read Moore's Lost Girls or Clowes' Eightball:Death Ray yet - - -but I will. Beck and Planetes and Embalmer and Fruits Basket look promising. Allred's returning to comics soon. The Hernandez Brothers haven't left. And Farel Dalrymple is working on something. Travis Charest,too. Godland.

So no, I don't think the geek in me's gone soft or terminal. I'm not giving up on comics,after all.

Just superheroes.


PAOLO CRUZ said...

I definitely agree with the overall sentiment of the reliable Veritgo "old guard" lacking their former spark, and writing on autopilot these days (especially Garth Ennis, who almost reached self-parody in The Boys -- unless that was meant to be the point, and it went over my head.)

Just the same, I still feel the "crackle", as you put it, in almost every single thing Brian K. Vaughan has written, so far -- even the superheroes. (In fact, his run on Ultimate X-Men more or less reaffirmed the sense of wonder and youthfulness that I first saw in the X-franchise, circa 1988, just before Cable took up leadership over the New Mutants.)

Ex Machina, his recently concluded Runaways stint, self-contained work like Pride of Baghdad... each one, consistently awesome. When Y finally ends in a couple of months, perhaps I'll start feeling pangs of nostalgia for the crackle. But for now? Pure narrative magic.

Also, if you like Nightly News, then I would assume that you're familiar with Brian Wood's DMZ, too? If not, give it a shot -- far more compelling personalities than the ciphers following The Voice, and many of the same themes being covered, but with a sense of denser long-term plotting.

If I may ask, how do you regard Matt Fraction's recent stuff, especially Casanova and Five Fists of Science?

Dodo said...

Ah yes, Brian Wood. I'm getting into DMZ, a bit slower than I got into other stuff of his like Demo or Local. Love his work.

I like Fraction so far, even his mainstream stuff but I haven't read Five Fists of Science yet. Casanova gives me this pleasant Mario bava/Steranko/Diabolik buzz - - -a crackle, if you will.

Not as into Y as I probably should but I've queued that and Fables up for bigtime catch-up soon. I do like Ex Machina. Of all the post-Gaiman Vertigo I've dipped into and aside from Transmet and Morrison's lovely but underrated post-Invisibles work, A lot of old Vertigo titles - - Rogan Gosh, The Eaters, Beware the Creeper! - - - came my way and I'm planning a long dip into them soon. Hopefully, there's crackle there.