The comic industry has a short memory, as titles are hyped on the approach to their first issue and often forgotten shortly thereafter. On to the next is the typical mindset, with what’s new leading the way for readers, comic sites and beyond. Post Hype Machine is a recurring column on SKTCHD built to move against that trend, as it will exclusively be looks at – that’s right, I’m not calling it a review, I’m calling it a “look at” – titles in their second arcs or later.
One of the hardest things to do when you’re working on a single project – no matter what it is – is to find a way to continuously improve. That may be even more difficult in comics, as the accepted schedule of a new issue dropping each month makes reinvention or even self-improvement a struggle to fit in. How are you meant to improve your skills or find new angles for storytelling if you have to churn out new content each and every month into infinity? There’s no time. It’s just work, work, work until the book is out the door.
It’s a demanding structure, and one that requires comic creators to be more like a conveyor belt sushi joint than Jiro Ono and his endless pursuit of perfection, even if they too dream of reaching that point. Don’t get me wrong: writers, artists, colorists, letterers and everyone else involved do what they can to bring the best out in any project. Yet the churn cannot be ignored, and you must feed the beast. That’s how it works. But a question that always enters my mind when I think of comics and the way they work is, “do they always have to be that way?”
Andrew MacLean’s Head Lopper is a perfect example of the advantages of moving away from the formula. This Image series 2 has leveraged an atypical format and release cadence for the noted creator-owned publisher, and this approach has paid substantial dividends for readers and, near as I can tell, MacLean from a creative standpoint.