The Best Super Team Kitchens, Criterion Comic Collections, and Fake Comic Fandoms: It’s the June 2023 Mailbag Q&A!

After a few months away, the SKTCHD/Off Panel Mailbag Q&A is back with its June edition. Are we ready for that?

Yes, chef!

The Bear is returning this month (Editor’s Note: today! the day this mailbag goes up!), which is very exciting for me. Which super team would run the best restaurant, and who works which job? – Matthew Cranor

There are a lot of great answers for this I feel. There are so many teams out there that it would be easy to pick any of them. That said, the top teams – the Justice League and the Avengers – are out immediately, at least in part because I feel like Superman and Captain America would both be terrible at this specific job. I don’t believe in either of their palates or their interest in successfully running a restaurant, and given that they’re often the leaders of the squads, both teams are out. The X-Men are interesting because there are so many variations of the roster, but to be honest, they’re just too dramatic. The Titans are promising, but I feel like Nightwing primarily eats Wayne Industries nutrition bars and cannot be trusted around true flavor. Like I said, lots of choices.

It really comes down to two, and I can’t decide which, so I will share both.

One is a mix of the New Mutants roster from the first 60 or so issues of the initial run, but as the adults they are now. That squad has everything you need. A multi-national roster bringing in a wide mix of flavors. A financier with a taste for the finer, more delicious things in life in Sunspot. Enthusiastic, extraordinarily polite servers in Cannonball and Wolfsbane. A one-stop shop for all the recipes in the world in Cypher (Chef Executif), who teams with Mirage (Chef de Cuisine), Karma (Sous Chef), and Magma (pastry chef) to lead the kitchen (and social media, in Cypher’s case). Warlock would be a combination of the restaurant’s point-of-sale system – removing the possibility of online ordering being on before the restaurant opens – and an extra hand (or hands) on the line for cooking. And lastly, Magik would rule the front of the house with an iron fist, while also being the person who goes on any and all supply runs…because she can teleport and bend the will of any sellers trying to take advantage of them. Plus, everyone likes each other, and they’d have great vibes.

The other would be Justice League…International, specifically after Fire and Ice join. Batman would be the manager and the one who keeps everything going, like Richie except he’s not awful and knows how to pronounce everything on the menu. Booster Gold would work in promotions, acting as the effective face of the restaurant. Fire and Ice would be the leads of the kitchen, with Fire acting as Chef Executif and Ice the pastry chef. Doctor Light (CDC), Doctor Fate (Sous Chef), and Mister Miracle would be support in the kitchen. Martian Manhunter would somehow be every server in the entire restaurant, because he can shape shift and his ability to read minds would be ultra helpful in guiding people to the right item on the menu. Blue Beetle would run the books, and would never leave huge sums of money in tomato sauce. Captain Marvel would be the restaurant equivalent of Neil Fak, the guy who is just around because he’s friendly. And lastly, Guy Gardner would be the janitor. Because that’s where he belongs.

That’s my take. I think the New Mutants would be better, but I do love the idea of Bruce Wayne hyper enunciating names of wines as he hands out a 45 pound list to people who comes to the restaurant. I’m certainly open to ideas on this one, though.

Related but unrelated: I once wrote about which comic characters would make for the best chefs in my previous email newsletter The Crossover, which was a very fun exercise. You might dig it.

You’re familiar with the Criterion Collection, of course. Well, you’ve been out in charge of the SKTCHD Collection, publishing classic and contemporary comics from around the world in deluxe editions with readability foremost in mind, not bulk, with companion volumes for special features—including interviews by David Harper himself. So, it’s your opening salvo. What are the comics in the initial announcement? – Mark Tweedale

With the focus being on readability, anything that’s too long is out immediately. Goodbye Bone. See ya later Preacher. Peace out, 20th Century Boys. My picks have to be one volume wonders or short run series, because otherwise it’s not going to work (unless you just create SKTHCD Collection versions of each of them, which would be possible but probably too much). I’m also going to limit myself to one per publisher, because otherwise I could just list off a bazillion different books from certain publishers. So, with that in mind, here’s my opening wave, comprised of eight books from different houses.

Marvel: Daredevil: Born Again. The only pick I could have made. Comes with a feature about its influence and impact with insight from modern creators, a deep dive chat with David Mazzucchelli about his art, Frank Miller on its origins and his approach to Daredevil, and more.

DC: Tempted to say Batman: Year One, but that would be treading too much of the same territory, as would The Dark Knight Returns. Kingdom Come is the other obvious pick here. I’m going to pass on the obvious. All of Alan Moore is out, naturally. Some of my other favorites were crafted by folks who have unfortunately passed on. Instead, let’s do All Star Superman, featuring robust conversations with Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. I really wanted to pick We3 though!

Dark Horse: Hellboy in Mexico was my clear pick, but unfortunately, Richard Corben passed away a few years back. Instead, I am going to go with my biggest volume yet: a monster slipcase collection of six books, featuring B.P.R.D. 1946, 1947, and 1948, as well as B.P.R.D. Vampire. The other two books would be a compilation of content and then one book that’s just a conversation between myself, Mike Mignola, Fabio Moon, and Gabriel Ba about those comics, but also everything.

Image: This is a tough one. I have two I really want to pick. One makes more sense than the other. My heart wants to pick Lake of Fire, because I love Lake of Fire. But the answer is The Fade Out, both because it makes logical sense — the perfect movies/comics bridge — and because it just is the right choice. The other volume would just be a mix of me yakking with the creative team and Sean Phillips diving deep into his art, including how big of an impact reference played in this history piece.

Top Shelf: The first extremely not direct market comic I ever read was Craig Thompson’s Blankets. It genuinely changed my view of what comics could be. My mom bought it for me for Christmas. It’s the easy pick here, even though I feel like someone is going to yell at me for not picking From Hell (note: second place actually goes to March, and I may have picked it if it were not for the passing of John Lewis).

First Second: The Nameless City trilogy, obviously. Was it remotely possible I’d pick someone that wasn’t Faith Erin Hicks here? No. It was not. This would be a four volume collection in a slipcase once again, with this thing being a beauty, and having an entire volume where I dive deep into the development and creative decisions that led to Hicks and colorist Jordie Bellaire making this magic happen.

Viz: I’m going to talk with Junji Ito about Uzumaki, and ask him why he decided to haunt me so. I might enjoy what I discover. I might not,

Scholastic Graphix: That’s right. I am doing a young readers imprint for this, just like Criterion does animated movies. The pick is Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, which makes sense because its first readers are now adults and because it’s a great comic that was enormously consequential in this changing era of comics.

It’s 1985 and you’re 14 (don’t think too much about the math on that). You have enough money to buy four comics from this checklist and a candy bar. Which four do you choose from this list and why? Additionally, what’s your candy bar pick? – Jonathan Bell

The candy bar is easy. My ride or die candy bar has been, and always will be, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. If you asked me my favorite food, I’d say something after thinking about for a while, and it’d sound a lot like a real answer. But secretly I’d just be thinking of having a Reese’s.

The four from this list are easy. Daredevil #222 is an easy pick, both because I love Daredevil, and would love to see what Daredevil and Kingpin’s common interest is (my money is on knitting!). Alpha Flight #26, just to see how Box would deal his date’s robot battle suit allergy. Groo the Wanderer #7, because who doesn’t enjoy a little financial hijinks starring our favorite warrior and his pup. And finally, Kit + The Wolf #1, because I’ve heard such good things about that John Allison guy. Easy picks!

David! Quick, I need your help! For some reason, Marvel has tasked me with editing a Stilt-Man six issues limited series, but I don’t know who to hire for the job!? – Rasmus Lykke

This one I’ve covered before, but I will happily share this one once more. Stilt-Man Life Story is written by Chip Zdarsky, penciled and colored by Paolo Rivera, inked by Joe Rivera, lettered by Aditya Bidikar, edited by Wil Moss, and inspired by the life of David Harper. Congrats on the Eisners, everyone!

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