A little later than promised, but it’s here nonetheless: it’s Mailbag time, people! Here are the answers to November’s questions from the crowd, and thanks to everyone for sending in questions for me to answer. I always appreciate it!
Mark Brooks posed this question to his Twitter followers last week and it’s an incredibly tough one: Which comic artist is the best of the last 40 years? – Rasmus Lykke
The tricky part about this is the word used at the core of the question. Best. Best is difficult, because art is inherently subjective, and the right art for the right project is perhaps different than the best executed art from a technical standpoint. That’s why I usually prefer “favorite” to “best,” as it’s more accurate to what these discussions end up being.
However, if I was required to define it as best, here’s my attempt at covering that. The shortlist would include people like Otomo, Quitely, Miller, Los Bros Hernandez, and let’s throw in there on the maybe side JRJR, Mignola, J.H. Williams III, Ross and Sienkiewicz. Okay maybe Simonson and Darrow are in the conversation. Let’s throw in Stuart Immonen for some personal bias at play.
I’m not going to take any of them.
My pick, from a pound-for-pound basis, is David Mazzucchelli. Like Immonen, he’s capable of anything, but every single thing he has done has been absolutely iconic. Born Again. Year One. Asterios Polyp. His storytelling is unparalleled, his sense for the moment is immense, and he’s one of the best character actors in the history of the medium. While you could make a case for every single name I mentioned above as well as a litany of others, I’m going Mazzucchelli, but if you made a case for someone else, I’m sure I would buy it!
How have your reading levels been this year in comparison to previous years? – JP Jordan
It’s difficult to say because in some ways time has no meaning this year, but I’d say I’m reading as much as ever, if not more. I swear, I’m always reading comics, as I’m reading a little of everything: superhero comics, all-ages books, manga, webcomics, digital comics, comics on varying subscription services, etc. I don’t know if there’s a correlation between the pandemic and that, or if there’s just more comics that interest me as my own reading footprint broadens. But it feels like more than ever, whatever the reason.
What are your top three dream artist commissions that you’d love to make happen one day? – Christopher Cioffi
Daniel Warren Johnson is the clear #1. DWJ is tops on my list for sure, and I would almost certainly get him to do something Star Wars related. Should I be more imaginative? Sure. But it’s a known strength and I love Star Wars. Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it isn’t right.
Matias Bergara is #2 on the list, and while I’m not sure what I’d get from him, I feel like it would be a) colorful and b) something vaguely whimsical, like Howl’s Moving Castle or a piece for my superheroes doing ordinary things sketchbook.
Third I’ll go with Faith Erin Hicks, who doesn’t do a ton of commissions, but I love her work and would love, love, love to own a piece of art from her, just to say I do.
What’s your all-time favorite comic book page? And do you know if it is obtainable? And/or do you already own it? – Nick Bennett
This is a great question. I’d say my favorites are amongst the following:
- The “Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures” page from Bone #2
- “Fin Fang Foom put you in his pants” from Nextwave #2
- The final page from the final issue of FF
- This page from Ampersand’s nightmare in Y the Last Man #42
- The final page from Kingdom Come #3
That’s just top of mind, but I’d say all five of those are probably top 20 at the very least. I’m sure all of them are attainable to a degree, with the FF and Y pages probably the most within my price range (I cannot even imagine how much that page from Kingdom Come would cost). But honestly, I’ve never looked into it. I should! This is a great idea, Nick!
Given the current nature of comics during the pandemic, OGNs are selling like crazy, do you think that indie creators should release their stories in a graphic novel format like Ram V’s “Blue in Green” and Marvel/DC’s YA graphic novels doing gangbusters to help sustain the comic industry going forward? – Raj Patel
While it’s undeniable some graphic novels have been doing tremendously well, it’s also true that a considerable portion of the explosion has been centrally tied to one person: Dav Pilkey. For every person who is getting rich on graphic novels, there’s another who is most definitely not. So I would caution everyone to remember that there’s no silver bullet solution to the comic formula. I think comics’ best self is a mix of everything – every format, every platform, every type of story, etc. – and that shifting towards any one option creates an imbalance and its own difficulties.
So while I do think that graphic novels will have a disproportionately large part to play in that future mix, I do think it’d be a mistake to just decide as a creator or publisher that it’s time to just create or publish those.
Also, I will say I’m not entirely sure that Marvel and DC’s YA graphic novels ARE doing gangbusters. I think some art. I also don’t think Marvel has really entered that space yet. But with Michele Wells departing DC, I’m a little more skeptical of how en fuego the formerly Ink and Zoom lines are. Although, realistically, we know Black Label was doing well, and DC still laid Mark Doyle and Andy Khouri off. So clearly DC’s actions were not results driven.