Saturday, July 26, 2008

Comi-Con 2008

Is it just me or has Comic-Con 2008 been rather ... ho-hum thus far?
I know there have been several announcements of some notable degree (new Vertigo Crime imprint from DC, Disney/Pixar projects at BOOM! Studios, and Devil's Due teaming with among them), but two days into the Con there hasn't really been any big announcements the likes of what we've seen in previous years. Even the panel reports I've read have seemed less promotion-based than usual as they appear to be a lot more Q&A oriented. Q&A is certainly good and it allows the audience to interact more with the publishers, but there just seems to be a lot less excitement overall. Is this a case of publishers no longer holding back announcments for Comic-Con or is there really just not that much stuff to announce this year? In recent years there seemed to be a lot more things at the forefront of the panels along the lines of - 'we signed this guy to an exclusive' or 'this guy is doing a project for us' or 'here is the next major story-arc for this group of titles or line' - and there just seemed to be a heck of a lot more promotion for these projects and 'events'. Where is all the hoopla this year? Have publishers decided to dial it back because they believe they are approaching event overload or is this a case of the economic downturn forcing publishers to trim the lines a bit and not try to throw so many things at the wall at once to see what sticks? Whatever the reason, if the result is that publishers will have a stronger focus on a narrower range of books, I think it will result in better comics.
I do like the idea of the Veritgo Crime imprint, just because it means DC is putting even more resources into the Vertigo family.  When I look at the stack of comics I buy each month, invariably the Veritgo books are the ones I end up enjoying the most.  Superhero titles are here to stay and will certainly continue to drive the direct market, but the real future of the medium is in the type of material you'll find under the Vertigo banner (and with some other small publishers as well).  Those are the projects that are going to continue to open doors and expand to more mainstream audiences.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rogue Angel: Teller of Tall Tales

I'm trying to figure out where the buzz is for this title. I'm trying to figure out why there doesn't really seem to be much of anyone talking about this title. I'm really trying to figure out why some of the people who I would expect to be making mention of this title are not doing so.
Is it simply that no one knows about it???
I realize is it published by IDW and they don't have the presence of a DC, Dark Horse, Image, or Marvel. But they are certainly not Little Tiny Hole In The Ground Publishing Inc.
Is it that no one is buying it because of the cover price? I admit $3.99 is steep. It is the reason I don't buy any of IDW's offerings. The only reason I picked up Rogue Angel in the first place is that I was looking for something to buy at Zeus Comics (when I was up in Dallas for CAPE). I grabbed the first two issues of Rogue Angel (and a couple of other random comics that I don't recall) because there wasn't a whole lot else I was interested in that I didn't already have waiting for me at home. And since I purchased those first two issues, that sort of committed me to buying the rest of the series.
Even if people are not buying it because of the price, that still doesn't explain why it isn't at least being discussed for things outside of the story. For what it is.
So what is it?
First, Rogue Angel is a book series published by Harlequin Publishing. According to Wikipedia, the series first saw publication in July of 2006 and is written under the house name of Alex Archer. The series is about a young woman named Annja Creed. Creed is an archaelogist and host of a sydnicated television show called Chasing History's Monsters. She also happens to be the possessor of Joan of Arc's mystic sword -- key word being mystic. If you want to know more, go read the Wikipedia entry.
Rogue Angel: Teller of Tall Tales is comic mini-series based on the character from the book series. I've never read the books, so I don't know if Teller of Tall Tales is a direct adaptation of any of the novels in specific or if it is something entirely original.
Rogue Angel: Teller of Tall Tales is written by Barbara Randall Kesel and illustrated by Renae De Liz.
Ok. Now let's have a look at what we've got with this title.
Tough, independent, successful, and confident female protagonist. Check.
Written by a long-time comics veteran who also happens to be female. Check.
Illustrated by an up-and-coming artist who, as it just so happens, is also female. Check.
Is this picture coming into focus yet?
WHERE is the buzz? Where is the support?
Why don't I see anyone talking about this title?
I did a search using Google focused on blog entries (which is a pretty nice option I didn't even know was available until tonight) and only came up with a couple of (brief) reviews from people who actually read an issue. I checked out the archives of When Fangirls Attack from February through the end of June to see if there were any headlines containing the word Rogue - but there was nothing relating to the Rogue Angel series. I checked out the archives of Sequential Tart from February through June and didn't see any noticeable mention of the Rogue Angel series. I did a forum search on and it came up with nothing (though that doesn't mean there absolutely wasn't any mention of the series in the forum -- it just means the search didn't bring me any results to prove otherwise). I did a search on the P.O.W.E.R. in Comics forum without any successful results.
So I ask again. Where is the buzz? Where is the support?
Isn't this the kind of thing a fair number of female comic readers have been asking for? A smart and very capable female protagonist who isn't the typical balloon-chested superheroine trading punches in high heels. No porn faces. No crotch shots. No elastic spines. And then you have the bonus of a female creative team (which I imagine is a big part of the reason why there are no porn faces, crotch shots, elastic spines, etc.).
So there it is.
A five issue mini-series that would appear to hit all the right notes has come and gone and no one seems to have noticed.
I don't know if it will be collected in trade form (sales on the individual issues were likely not very strong) so chances are an opportunity has been lost.

[07-14-08 Edit]
Reading through the July Previews today I saw the trade collection for Rogue Angel: Teller of Tall Tales solicited there. So it is indeed being collected and will be available in September.
Thus, there is a still a chance to make good on it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Madame Xanadu

Madame Xanadu No. 1 (DC-Vertigo) - $2.99
Matt Wagner - Writer; Amy Reader Hadley - Artist
Synopsis: Centuries long and around the globe her tale winds before the ageless fortuneteller arrives in modern era New York. Her powers of sight can change the course of human events, but how does the seer see herself? The first issue opens into a medieval kingdom beset by intrigue and foul sorcery. A fair sylph with magic of her own is thrown into the world of war and men — where she encounters a dark stranger who knows not only her past, but her most intimate future as well.
I must admit to having absolutely no familiarity at all with the character Madame Xanadu. And after reading this debut issue of this new series, I still don’t. That isn’t a bad thing though. This issue focuses on a young forest sylph named Nimue Inwudu. She is the sister of the Vivienne (the Mistress of the Lake) and Morganna. Druids have asked for her assistance as the kingdom of Camelot has come under dark times, and they believe Morganna is to blame. Nimue also finds herself visited by a powerful stranger who tells her the fates have already been cast and there is nothing she can do to stem the tide of the coming war. 
I believe this title is supposed to be rooted in the present day (or close enough to it), so I think what Matt Wagner is doing here with this first issue is establishing the history of the character Madame Xanadu (who would appear to be Nimue). I really like the approach and I’m very interested in seeing where Matt takes it when he does jump forward. The art by Amy Reader Hadley is excellent. Her style reminds me quite a bit of Charles Vess, so if you’re a fan of his work, then you should definitely like this. 
I think this is a very fine debut issue and it certainly succeeds in making me want to come back for more. 
4 ½ zombies (out of five)