Your friendly neighborhood Comics Cuber sometimes gets asked questions, and a lot of the time, they're all the same questions. So here's the hub for FAQs. Got a question? Email me at comicscube @ gmail.com!
Marvel or DC?
I get asked this question pretty much every time someone finds out I'm into comics, and the answer is neither. Or rather, it's a complicated question. I generally love DC's sense of wonder more than Marvel's, which seems to be really focused on rooting itself in real-world situations. The superhero genre, I think, falls apart more the more you try to make it real, and in that sense, I'll take Superman over the Hulk any day. That having been said, my favorite superheroes are Superman, Spider-Man, the Silver Surfer, Promethea, the Mighty Thor, Captain Marvel, and Starman. But in general, I don't see the need to categorize yourself via Marvel or DC. If both companies are putting out good products, then why not avail of both companies? For that matter, why not avail of other companies?
I have been mostly a DC follower in the last few years, since Marvel's events and gloom-and-doom direction have done nothing for me. The Amazing Spider-Man has been the one bright spot in Marvel's dark world. With the recent changes to both editorial teams, though, we'll see how I feel in a year or so.
In general though, DC stuff is cheaper than, like, anything on the market. So that would be the reason why I read more DC/Vertigo/Wildstorm stuff than anything else.
Who is your favorite comics writer?
Hands down, just plain hands down, as in "no contest," my favorite comic writer is "The Bard," Alan Moore. When I was 15, I read Watchmen and it changed how I view comics; I began viewing it on a more formal level and it really changed my love for the superhero genre into a passion for the entire comic book medium. A couple of years later, Moore and a bunch of great artists (not the least of whom are JH Williams III, Rick Veitch, and Gene Ha) started the America's Best Comics (ABC) imprint, and I was just continually blown away. Tom Strong read like a throwback to old comics and the science-fiction element; Promethea was both very real and very escapist at the same time, focusing on magic and the formal elements of the comics page; Top Ten was a superhero take on a cop drama; Greyshirt was the best Will Eisner tribute ever (I can still say that ten years later); The First American was good Simon/Kirby/Kurtzman humor; Splash Brannigan was great Kurtzman humor; Jack B. Quick was not like any comic anyone has ever read; and Cobweb was really experimental. And one guy was writing all that. And it blew my mind.
While I don't think everything written by Moore is a masterpiece (sorry, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fans - the first book is good or great; everything else afterward I thought fell flat), I know two things when I buy a Moore book: (1) I'm almost definitely getting great art, and (2) It will likely not be like anything I've read before. In a medium where creators lack diversity and versatility in their tone, themes, subject matter, and technique, Alan Moore always - and still does - give me something different.
Who is your favorite comics artist?
That one is harder to answer. The sentimental pick is George Perez, since he drew those Who's Who covers in the 80s and really was - and still is - the master of the group shot - a bunch of characters put together. As a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Over twenty years later, I don't think George has lost a step.
Additionally, I find myself running to the store when I find out something was drawn by JH Williams III, Gene Ha, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and Chris Ware.
In comic strips, my favorite of all time is Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes. The only ones I really follow these days are Stephan Pastis' Pearls Before Swine and Brian Crane.
What do you think comics need more of now?
I think comics need to remember their roots - kids - and reach out to the kids of today to ensure they will have an audience tomorrow. It would also be nice if they expanded to increase their female readership. Most of all, I think it's important to treat new readers as new readers, and not as people who can't join the club just because they don't know that Psylocke is a British girl that was mentally put in a Japanese body. Roger Stern's issues of Amazing Spider-Man recently are a good example of this - he provides background for his characters and for his story, and he doesn't take it for granted that his readers know all the information.
I would also like a return to self-contained stories and a halt put on big events. Not everything has to change everything as we know it.
And finally, the price. Comics are expensive, and I don't see how comics can hope to sustain an audience with their current (and increasing) price points.
What's the obsession with Shazam all about?
I'm a huge, huge fan of the Shazam! line of comics. Captain Marvel and company were at one point the biggest sellers in the Golden Age - the age in which comics sold millions and millions of copies - and in general, I think, because Fawcett Comics is no longer in publication, his importance has been downplayed over the decades. As a DC character, I don't think he works, mainly because I don't think he works in the same universe as Superman.
But more than anything else is the fact that more than any other character, I think Captain Marvel embodies the sense of wonder that superhero comics should be all about. His basic concept - a kid who turns into a superhero with a magic word - is perfect escapist fantasy, and his stories were among the best ones done in the Golden Age. Full of whimsy and wonder, those classic Captain Marvel stories brought smiles to many kids' faces - and even to mine, these days.
What do you look for in a comic?
The easy answer to this is rereadability, because (and say this with me) comics are expensive. Given that their size precludes (in general) reading them for a long time like I would a novel, the solution is to get something that I can read multiple times. I find that the best comics I've ever read let me read them more than once. This can be accomplished in many ways, but I find that it can't be accomplished unless the writer and the artist are both carrying their ends of the work.
Art or story?
Art, mostly. You can have the best story in the world, but if the art doesn't convey it well enough, it will never come through as the best story in the world. On the other hand, if the story sucks and the art is great, you can at least always look at the pretty pictures.
Having said that, it's a balancing act and I always think it's best when the artist and writer both know when they should step back to make room for the other.
Why don't you ever say "graphic novel"?
I could give off a whole bunch of reasons (and I do, somewhere on the blog), but at the end of the day, it comes down to me not wanting to. There's nothing wrong with "comics." And there never was.
Why don't you cover other superhero stuff, like movies or TV shows or video games or toys?
Because the medium isn't the same as the genre. This is the Comics Cube, and in it, I'll talk about comics. You won't see me talking about, say, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay unless I was using it to talk about a comic.
In addition, I generally hate comics adaptations, and I'd rather focus on things that don't anger me.
That having been said, I'm open to anyone who wants to cover these things on the blog.
I want to write something about a comics-related topic, but I don't really feel like starting my own blog. Can I hand it to you?
Yep. I'll have to look at it and edit it, and maybe ask you to make some changes to it, but you can send it to my email at comicscube (at) gmail (dot) com.
I am a comic book publisher. Would you be interested in reviewing our content on the Comics Cube!?
Yes, absolutely. Shoot me an email at comicscube (at) gmail (dot) com.