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Apocrypha Entertainment Presents:


The first year of CWR as web magazine has come to an end, and rather than interviewing one comic creator, I decided to interview a few. Plus a few columnists… That’s right, it’s the first annual CWR Round Table. Eight of the Waiting Room gang agreed to answer some questions from their favorite editor-in-chief, and being head honcho, I threw my two cents in as well.

MM: Alright, gang, thanks for doing this with me. Let’s get started with an easy question: What was the best thing about comics in 2008? To me it was watching so many of my friends produce good work. And knowing Matt as long as I have, I was jazzed to see STRANGEWAYS find its way into peoples’ hands and see his vision validated.

Avril Brown: My own awareness of how diverse and colorful it really is. I’ve been given the chance to branch out my reading selection without breaking my wallet, and there are a plethora of exciting projects out there. Not to mention the spotlight the comic industry has been in recently thanks to several successful and kick-ass comic book movies. More of the world is now aware of how awesome comic books can really be. This isn’t just kid stuff, kiddies.

Bryan Miller: They didn't go up to $3.99 yet.

Matt Maxwell: ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. Proof that a self-contained story, even if it uses franchise characters, can be compelling, accessible and great reading. I'd toss in a nod to the success of successful re-inventions of the various Marvel marquee characters into a form that kids can (and adults with a sense of humor) can and will read. Now if only they could get past single issues as the lead edition.

Saurav Mohapatra: DARK KNIGHT showed the world comic book movies ain't all about up, up and away and IRON MAN showed that up, up and away done right still kicks all kinda righteous ass.

Elliott Serrano: It keeps on keeping on. Regardless of what was going on in the world, with crisis of every kind (an 'infinite' variety one might say), comic book writers and artists were still telling stories and giving readers a chance to escape from the everyday.

Vince Moore: That’s a tough one to answer. I just asked my boss at Comics Ink if we were doing the awards again this year and he said no, because he thought it was a lousy year for comics. That said, I think the return of the Milestone characters was a pretty nice way to end 2008 and head into 2009 with Barack Obama becoming President of the United States. And despite complaints to the contrary from the indy/alt comix side of the industry, there were plenty of comics for just about every taste. Not to say they sold well, but that they were there.

Brandon Jerwa:More Brandon Jerwa.

MM: That said, what was the best comic or graphic novel that came out in 2008? I’d pick BOTTOMLESS BELLY BUTTON or ALAN’S WAR, myself.

BM: Jason Lutes' Berlin II is probably it, but it's still sitting on my shelf. I'm confident it will rock. Derf's Punk Rock and Trailer Parks not only made me laugh harder than anything else, it lingered longer than I thought it would. Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart's The Other Side -- I don't know when it came out, but I read it a few months ago and was really knocked out by the clean, compact story and incredibly detailed, fluid art.

SM: Old Man Logan.

AB: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

ES: The Legion of Superheroes story arc that Geoff Johns did in Action Comics was the best stuff I read. That's not to say that there wasn't something better out there, but that's just what I got to read.

Max: Am I allowed to toot my own horn here? Nah, I'd never do that. Best comic I'll have to give to SCALPED, even though it's been running longer than last year. Collected work, it's tough to decide between the Kirby and Ditko books put out this year. Both are essential visual materials, even though there's quibbling with the textual content, at least in terms of the Ditko volume.

VM: For me, there were too many. I loved books like Scalped, Invincible, Dynamo 5, Noble Causes, The Astounding Wolf-Man, New Exiles, Guardians of the Galaxy, Justice League of America, glamourpuss, Jungle Girl, Empowered, Bleach, Negima, Hellboy, Batman, and Action Comics. It’s too difficult for me to pick just one.

BJ: Pick anything with the name Brandon Jerwa on it.

MM: Shifting gears… what was the worst thing about comics in 2008? For me, it was Marvel and DC’s increased reliability on stupid event-driven publishing initiatives.

SM: Virgin Comics closing -- I lost a steady paycheck, so might be biased.

VM: For most, I will say the economy. For myself, I will say the full flowering of the merger between comics and Hollywood. That will lead to some troubles ahead for small publishers. Too many new books out there are trying so hard to be the right pitch for Hollywood, instead of being the best comics they can be. I tend not to be impressed by Hollywood-friendly stories; I prefer movies put out by companies like Vivid and Wicked to Hollywood studio pics. Unfortunately, I think this trend is here to stay.

BM: Crossovers. Sounds like a cliche response, doesn't it? You know why: because the crossovers are killing the fun, and even the mouth-breathers have figured it out.

ES: Hmm. Too much hype over comics that, in the end, didn't deserve it. Not pointing any fingers, mind you, but anyone who read any of the 'summer events' this past year would have a title come to mind.

Max: Increased impenetrability when that's the last thing that the big companies need.

BJ: Anything not written by Brandon Jerwa.

AB: Rising prices. I’m kinda broke.

MM: Anyone want to offer up their thoughts on what was the worst comic or graphic novel that came out in 2008? I think maybe the book I openly hated most was the sequel to last year’s worst comic: AFTER THE CAPE. ATC 2 was actually worse.

Max: I really try not to read bad comics. There's a lot of stuff that was celebrated that I came away cold from, but geez, why talk about the bad stuff. I mean, I know why, but let's get more out of the good stuff.

BM: Batman S.U.C.K. I don't know if they made Morrison change the ending, I don't know if he was just so concerned with bundling disparate continuities to notice, but ending a comic with the hero maybe (or maybe not!) alive after disappearing over water following a fiery explosion is how everybody used to end comics in the '80s. Doing it now isn't, like, stunning. Thanks for two years of hype.

VM: Secret Invasion. Simply because I’m tired of the endless conspiracy theory inspired comics produced by Marvel. Why can’t the heroes be heroes? Isn’t the world bleak enough without taking away the sense of wonder and adventure that used to be the hallmark of Marvel Comics?

AB: The New Exiles. It used to be such an amazing book with unlimited creative potential, and now it’s just overloaded with cheese and an outdated writing style (sorry Mr. Claremont).

ES: Oh, definitely Army of Darkness/ Xena: Warrior Princess Series 2. Who the fuck let those guys write a comic? I sure hope they got fired.

BJ: Whatever it was, it wasn't written by Brandon Jerwa.

SM: Umm.... I'll pass on this one.

MM: Let’s tackle reality. How do you see the economy impacting your relationship to comics? I certainly think the economy and raising floppy prices validates my choice to go completely to trades.

AB: I don’t. It’s one of the advantages of making almost no money to begin with; my comic spending is already factored into my insanely small budget.

SM: I'll buy more to escape reality.

ES: I'm buying less and less as it is because, let's face it, they cost more and more and just don't give me my money's worth. And I've gotta watch my pennies these days.

BM:Not well, although long distance relationships are always hard to maintain.

BJ: My relationship to comics IS my economy.

VM: As someone who’s back working on the retail level, I’m actually reading more comics than I have in the past few years courtesy of the extra money and the employee discount. But I’m used to being unusual. So I don’t foresee a negative impact on my relationship to comics due to the economy.

Max: People would have to be buying my comic first, in order to stop buying it. We'll see what it means for stores ordering "marginal" material and if Diamond wants to increase their minimums again. There's already been some changes in Diamond's policies, and those are going to have the most impact on the mainstream.

MM: What would you like to see happen in the comics industry in 2009? I suppose my answer would be kind of selfish- I’d like to see more work from my friends and see it sell bunches.

BM: The same thing I always hope to see -- comics, both corporate-owned and creator-owned, that evolve naturally from the artistic process rather than spawn (get it!) as an editorial mandate for a wider vision that is never realized, probably for good reason. You can have all the Invasions and Crises you want, but the core titles are never better than when individual writers and artists put their stamp on them outside of some universal storyline. That's how you sell trade paperbacks, bitches!

Max: Someone developing an RSS-capable electronic document reader that people would actually want to use. Kindle is interesting, but very limited. iPhone is also interesting, but limited in a very different way. Let's combine the best features of both and leave out the junky stuff, okay?

ES: Lower cover prices, like Warren Ellis and Matt Fraction have been able to provide with their 'slim line' books; more titles being made available for free on the internet, like BOOM! Studios has done and has proven to be effective in increasing readership/sales.

AB: No more rising prices, fewer ‘extra’ books (I’d rather publishers and writers keep the focus on telling interesting and gripping stories in the books which already exist), and a bit more attention paid to continuity and timing. Example: readers found out Kitty Pryde wasn’t coming back from her space trip in the Uncanny X-Men book before it actually happened in the Astonishing X-Men book. Annoying as all hell.

VM: I would like to see Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and Diamond finally get over themselves long enough to start promoting the hobby to the general public. The movies and the write-ups in the mainstream magazines are starting to bring people back to comics but it isn’t enough. Neither is hiring folks like Joss Whedon. Comics are cool right now. We need to push that image to the general public to encourage them to pick up the hobby.

SM: Publishers should invest heavily in titles written by a certain writer of Indian origin residing in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

BJ: More Brandon Jerwa.

MM: Is there a comic or graphic novel coming in 2009 that you're particularly excited about? For me, I’m looking forward to the new BLUE MONDAY stuff by Chynna Clugston that should hit trade in ’09. The next LOVE AND ROCKETS annual, too.

BJ: Absolutely. It's a Vertigo book called "Shooters" by Eric Trautmann, Steve Lieber…and Brandon Jerwa.

SM: “Whatever Happened to the Dark Knight?” by Neil Gaiman.

Max: BATTLING BOY and the THB reprints would be great. No, I'm not holding my breath.

BM: It's been at least a year since the end of Like White On Rice, so Adrian Tomine should be putting out a new Optic Nerve soon. That. And, if I can be greedy, another installment of Joe Matt's Peepshow.

AB: More Harry Dresden comic books!

ES: Gonna have to plead ignorance on that one. I just haven't been able to keep up on all the pre-release hype. Maybe I should just stay away from it?

VM: Nothing I’ve heard of as of yet. However, I look forward to what each week’s shipment will bring to the shop. Even though I’m too busy working on New Comics Day to read a single thing. I’m thinking there are 52 more possibilities to discover really cool comics coming next year. I can’t wait.

MM: If you were King or Queen Of Comics for a day and had absolute power, what one thing would you do to change comics... forever!?

SM: Make sure it reads Batman created by Kane AND Finger.

Max: Oh, I don't think anyone wants me changing comics forever. There'd be a lot of very un-happy people if that ever comes to pass.

VM: I would encourage more Joe Six-Packs, and Soccer Moms to buy comics for themselves and their kids.

ES: Heh. We all know that 'change' in comics is all an illusion. The more things change, the more they stay the same. But if I could change one thing, it would be that kids would always be able to afford their favorite books without having to take out a bank loan, and be able to find them at every corner store. Just like in the old days.

BM: Pull back the curtain and point out to everyone (that's right: everyone!) that all their favorite stories exist outside of/regardless of/in spite of continuity and make every series not only self-contained but paced at the speed that currently does not exist in mainstream comics: faster than Xeno's Arrow and slow than a series of film trailers. As for indie books, I would try to make sure all the creators had at least some soup every night. Their books are still the best, even as we stumble drunkenly backwards into an economic depression that will likely make their work better and their sales worse.

AB: Something happens to Remy LeBeau aka Gambit which gives him immunity to Rogue’s powers. They celebrate by getting married and taking a six-week long honeymoon on a beautiful tropic isle, pausing from their constant sex-a-thon briefly to eat, sleep and go snorkeling with the pretty fishies. There will be challenges down the road (like is the baby growing in Rogue’s belly protected from her powers?), but they shall remain blissfully happy and in love for ever and ever.

BJ: Absolute Brandon Jerwa editions on every bookshelf for all time.

MM: And of course, I’d make everybody stop by and read CWR. What else?!


Marc Mason  




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