I got married almost ten years ago at the much-missed Words & Pictures Museum in downtown Northampton MA. Among the million and one things to love about the old place was the permanent gallery up on the 4th floor, where there was an amazing collection of original comic art. Frank Miller’s Dark Knight pages next to Dave McKean’s Sandman covers; even an original Vargas painting over in the corner… not to mention a multitude of works by Richard Corben, Frank Frazetta, Bob Burden, Harvey Kurtzman and many, many others. For me, a personal favorite was the original artwork to the Prince Valiant strip where our hero is knighted. The top of the page was a panoramic battle scene that could only have come from the versatile pen of Hal Foster, if not the deluxe edition DVD of Return of the King. I remember standing in front of that page several times and thinking “if only the Sunday comics were really big like they used to be… there’s so much beauty and detail to see”!
Of course, in this Dilbert age, most newspaper comics are squat, stunted creatures who eke out a meager existence between the Lifestyle and Automotive sections. This is why I’ve been so happy to read Wednesday Comics! DC has, for the last few weeks, putting out a weekly newspaper with no news whatsoever — just big, big comics!
And I mean BIG. Each full newspaper page is a single separate ongoing strip. This is how comic art was meant to be read, on a panoramic scale unknown to all but Alex Ross fans. Paradoxically, it’s this very format that pretty much guarantees that mint copies will be few and far between. This is newsprint, people — a disposable format that was never meant to be bagged n’ boarded. You almost WANT to roll it up and stick it in your back pocket, just for the fun of it.
Not only is this a great format, but the stories are much better than most of the comics out on the stands right now. Batman, Superman, Sgt. Rock, etc. — each one gets an out-of-continuity full-page installment that’s enjoyable and easy to follow. The best by far is Kamandi, telling the Jack Kirby saga by way of Alex Raymond. Actually, the artist in this case is Ryan Sook. I admit, I was never a big fan of his work before, but I am just FLOORED by these pages!! My hat’s off to Sook and the most breathtaking artwork I have seen all year. I can only hope that this story continues for a long, long time!
The one exception, I’m afraid, is whoever’s doing Wonder Woman. This is just unreadable. Ignoring the IMAX format of the strip, this artist feels compelled to cram the page with teeny-tiny panels in hard-to-read font. The story itself isn’t even worth it. It’s a shame, as the figure artwork is pretty good — this guy just needs a few lessons in layouts.
Wednesday Comics has given me another reason to love Wednesdays again…