The October Mailbag is Here!

It’s later than usual, but better late than never. The October Mailbag Q&A is here, and within, we talk about black and white comics, the New 52, SKTCHD itself, the upcoming NBA season, and a whole lot more. Let’s dig into it below, and hey, if you ever have questions you want to run by me, don’t wait! Add them on the forum, email me at david@SKTCHD.com or simply tweet me either on my personal account or on the SKTCHD one and I will add them to the mix.

What are your favorite black and white comics? – Keigen Rea

Bone is first and foremost on that list. I know Jeff Smith’s classic series eventually was reprinted in color, but it will always be black and white to me, as that’s what I grew up reading and what I fell in love with when I was first buying the single issues.

The other three on my Mount Rushmore of black and white comics are Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series, Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard’s The Walking Dead, and my favorite of the lot – but one that features, like, 5% color – in Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys. Those four are probably top 20 comics all-time for me, with The Walking Dead being the most wibbly wobbly one. So I’d say that I’m certainly pro black and white if the right story exists for it to be told in.

What are the comics that make your heart swell with Alaskan pride? – Andrew Tan

This is a tough one, as there aren’t a lot of comics I generally associate with Alaska. I mean, there’s 30 Days of Night, the vampire story by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith that’s set in Barrow, Alaska, but the location is mostly a plot device and it’s not like I read that and think, “HOME SWEET HOME!”

However, there are creators who are from Alaska or live in Alaska, and I have a fondness for them because of that. Maria Capelle Frantz is a heck of a talent, and buying The Chancellor and The Citadel and enjoying it as much as I did made me thrilled that such a rising star came from my state. Tadd Galusha’s Cretaceous, a true labor of love from a resident to this state, is another one. Everything Dustin Weaver does fits that too, as he came from Alaska and he already does a whole lot of work I enjoy. The fact he went to a high school that’s a 30 minute drive my house adds to it.

There are others too. Lukas Ketner! Brandon Seifert! Lucas Elliott! Probably others I’m forgetting! While most of them don’t stay in Alaska, there’s a part of my brain that always remembers that we share that common origin, and it truly makes my heart swell with Alaskan pride, even if I myself am a terrible Alaskan.

What novels do you highly recommend? Are there any that you’ve enjoyed recently? – Keigen Rea

Right now I’m not reading a novel, but a non-fiction book by Shea Serrano. Movies (And Other Things), his follow-up to his similarly titled Basketball (And Other Things). I’m not that far in and it’s meant to be digested in a staccato fashion, but so far, it’s not hitting my funny bone like the first iteration or even The Rap Year Book, Serrano’s first full book. It feels like Serrano is trying harder and it’s not quite as natural as the others, but it’s early.

As for novels I highly recommend, I eternally rep for David Mitchell. Cloud Atlas is the showstopper that people know, but for any comic fan, The Bone Clocks is where it’s at. My dude definitely read comics at some point in his life, and this story gets into that territory. That’s not why I love it, but it’s a perk. It’s a tremendous book, as is its much shorter spin-off, Slade House. If you decide to read the latter, read The Bone Clocks first.

There are a lot of formative books I am ride or die with, not the least of which is Harry Potter. I am…a bit of a fan. But in terms of non-YA novels, I love Steven Hall’s bonkers novel The Raw Shark Texts, James Ellroy’s LA Confidential is gritty, dirty and riveting, despite the author’s extremely problematic nature I still love Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, I’m a big fan of Christopher Moore’s brand of humor (particularly in Lamb and A Dirty Job), and…well, there’s a lot more that I’m likely forgetting. I don’t read novels nearly as often as I should, but there are plenty of go tos I lean on and will revere forever.

How can the comics community continue the quality of discussion that happened around HoX/PoX? – Xavier Files

Unfortunately, I don’t know if it’s up to them. As I wrote in yesterday’s feature, I think a huge part of what made House of X and Powers of X such a conversation starter in the comics community – beyond it being the X-Men, very good and Jonathan Hickman – was that it was just one comic a week everyone could focus on. That made it easy to be at the center of attention, as our eyes couldn’t wander to five other X-Men books.

To continue off my Game of Thrones analogy, comics have a TV problem in that there are too many comics these days to allow for any one title to stand out. Game of Thrones was the last of the water cooler shows because it was seemingly the last (for now, at least) weekly series that everyone agreed that we should all watch. It was part format, part quality and part the period in which the series started. Now that we’re in the full binge era, it’s hard to lock onto one story and engage with it as a group as everyone watches at their own speed.

With comics, we have a similar, splintered nature. Before HoX/PoX started, what comic could anyone say that even half the readers they know were reading? I doubt there’s a single title, especially with Saga on hiatus. If I asked my buddy Brandon and The AV Club’s Oliver Sava, I bet there was almost no overlap because we’re all drinking from a firehose.

I almost think you need publishers to aim for this for it to become a thing again. You could try and force it by trying to work with a notable site to establish almost a comics community book club to work off of, but what comic would actually inspire that level of conversation? I’m not sure if one exists. HoX/PoX was a notably meaty read, and one that attracted everyone. The ordinary assortment of comics we get each week can’t really get there in the same way, which again, I think is almost a niche to aim for if you’re a publisher. How do you capture this type of attention, as it’s a buzz that drives increases in sales rather than waning attention. How do we turn the floppy comic into a conversation starter rather than just another title in a sea of others? That’s probably not the answer you’re looking for, but it’s true. I’m not sure it’s on the comics community, as if House of X and Powers of X did anything, it’s expose the fungible nature of floppy comics.

What’s your oldest favorite film/comic/tv show/video game? (Oldest as in release date, but since you first read it is also game) – Keigen Rea

I’m going to do this two different ways: autobiographically and chronologically. My first favorite movie was either The Transformers: The Movie or The Goonies, both of which I watched hundreds of times in my youth and loved with a passion. My oldest favorite movie, if we’re going with a genuine favorite and not just an older movie I like, is Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. Paul Newman and Robert Redford are my guys, and all of their collaborations are beloved by me. This was their first, so it gets the lead.

First favorite comic, also The Transformers but of the Marvel variety. Oldest favorite comic is…I don’t know. I actually don’t totally love a lot of older comics for stylistic reasons. They just don’t jive with me. Let’s go with Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s The Galactus Trilogy in fantastic Four.

First favorite TV show was a cop buddy comedy I loved when I was super young called Simon & Simon. Fun fact: I loved the theme song so much I would get up and dance to it no matter what I was doing when it came on. One time I did so while bouncing on my parents bed and I broke my arm when I fell off it. Thanks Simon & Simon! Oldest favorite is I Love Lucy. I loved watching I Love Lucy reruns growing up, although I also loved The Jetsons and that was around the same time.

First favorite video game was probably whatever I played first because I was a mark from the jump. The first I can remember loving, though, was Final Fantasy II/IV, a Super Nintendo game I love so much I remember vividly when I first acquired it (as well as the system itself). Oldest favorite is probably Galaga or Pac Man, as I have a lot of love for those old school stand up arcades.

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