The January Mailbag Q&A is Here!

It’s that time! After a full week of content, we’re closing with the January Mailbag Q&A, in which I answer an array of questions from patrons, subscribers, and folks off Twitter. There’s a lot, so let’s get to it, and hey, if you ever have a question for the Mailbag, you can send them my way any time!

Why do you feel that no reboot has been as effective as Crisis on Infinite Earths? – Foreign Press Comics

The short answer is I don’t think that!

While it depends on how you look at it, I’d argue Infinite Crisis was at least as effective. It was very clean, and it had the one year later gap to work with afterwards and 52 as a bridge. Infinite Crisis is, in many ways, the best event purely from a structural standpoint, and its reboot – or “reboot” – worked. But again, it depends on how you define it.

Now, let’s approach this question from a position where I say I agree with you and that the original Crisis was the most effective reboot.

On average, about how much money do you spend on comics per month? – Andrew Tan

Okay, so this is not based on any actual research or analysis of my own habits, but I’d guess I spend $30 to $60 a week on comics. That’s somewhere between $120 and $240 or, in a five week month, $150 to $300. Now, there might intermittently be other purchases in there, like graphic novels from bookstores or other comic shops, and there’s also staples like my Marvel Unlimited subscription. But I’d say the range is $120 to $300. It’s a broad range but it’s where I live!

Favorite writer? Favorite artist? Favorite book/series? Best up and comer? – Rama Gottumukkala

Okay, so I’m going to go all-time here because it wasn’t specified, except on the last question because that isn’t an option.

Favorite writer: Probably Brian K. Vaughan. Maybe Garth Ennis. John Allison is a sleeper contender. I like witty writers with a sense of the moment. I’d PROBABLY say Ennis, though.

Favorite artist: This one is easy. Stuart Immonen. That’s it. David Mazzucchelli is probably the closest contender, though.

Favorite book/series: Two way tie at the top between Preacher and 20th Century Boys. If I had to choose one it’s probably 20th Century Boys, but that might be recency bias and please don’t make me pick.

Best up-and-comer: I could just lean into my Newcomer of the Year Award from a few weeks ago and say Zoe Thorogood, but I’m going to go a different direction and say that there’s a clear path for Ram V to become one of – if not the – biggest writer in comics within three years. I mean, he’s even writing Swamp Thing, which historically has been a strangely great jump off point to greatness (see: Alan Moore, Brian K. Vaughan, Scott Snyder, Charles Soule). That’s lowkey a thing!

So, I don’t know if you know this, but The Castle in the Stars has got a spinoff title now, The Chimeras of Venus, written by Alain Ayroles and drawn by Etienne Jung. This is the first of two volumes. No word yet if it’s going to get an English release, but I assume so. I’m curious about your thoughts on this new title. – Mark Tweedale

This is actually the first I had heard of this, and my thoughts are…mixed. I found a synopsis of the story and it both sounds delightful and on brand for this larger story, the art looks decent enough, and the production value would be grand if First Second publishes it. But Alex Alice is kind of everything to these books for me? As charming as I find the Castle in the Stars stories overall, would like them without Alice guiding them, even if it’s competent folks doing it? I’m not sure. His watercolors and perspective on the world are crucial to its appeal, and it’s difficult for me to think of a continuation or spin-off of the story minus Alice.

I’ll give it a try if it gets translated, but consider me skeptical.

What’s your favorite Spider-Man story? – Rasmus Lykke

Okay, this is based off memory, so I might be forgetting something. But that’s what you get!

  • Kraven’s Last Hunt: Honestly BARELY an actual Spider-Man story, but it is great and creepy as hell and iconic and has Mike Zeck art. What more can you ask for?
  • Keemia’s Castle: This one is crazy underrated. This two issue story from Fred Van Lente and Javier Pulido is another villain-centric story that isn’t ever what you expect and better for it.
  • That Brand New Day arc where Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo have Spidey face off against a Mayan god during a snowstorm and Spidey has to insulate his suit with newspaper to stay warm: I have no idea if there is a name to this arc but it rules.
  • Superior Spider-Man: Actually excellent! I was honestly amazed by how excellent it was!
  • Spectacular Spider-Man #200: A heartbreaking story of friendship and hatred and all kinds of things. Big time underrated.
  • Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1: Fraction and Larroca made another underrated gem here.
  • Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #310: My all-time favorite Spider-Man story. Chip killed it.

I’ve heard people say that comic book lettering is best when it’s unobtrusive and you, as the reader, aren’t even conscious of it during the reading experience. Essentially, letterers are the offensive linemen of comics because you only notice it when it’s really bad. What would you say to the heathens who have no appreciation for the masterful craftsmanship of Hall of Famers like Todd Klein, John Workman, Ken Bruzenak, Stan Sakai, Jonathan Ogden, Anthony Munoz, Joe Thomas, etc.? – Andrew Tan

First off, I love the comparison. That’s a great one.

Second off, to build off your comparison, bad lettering and line play is like what former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography: “I know it when I see it.” So both are always destined to be underappreciated by your casual fan. That said, I think you can see it a little bit when the good work comes out, or, more specifically, you can feel it (or in the cast of offensive linemen, quarterbacks and running backs can feel the bad work as well). There’s just something different there when it’s working, amplifying the whole and adding just a little something to the goodness of a comic or an offensive drive.

So I guess bad line play or lettering work is seen, but the good stuff is felt. When a pulling guard like my guy Shaq Mason clears a path for a rampaging running back, it’s not unlike Aditya Bidikar creating new solutions. When Todd Klein is doing his A+ work yet again, it’s like Joe Thomas never missing a game or missing a beat as he protects (insert build-a-player Browns QB here). You might not see it, but you know it’s there because if it works, everything has a better chance of working. Love this comparison.

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