Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Flashback Sequence: 2006 Montage

What is it about the year-end holidays that makes us so reflective? Part of me thinks it's some evolutionary hard-wiring, some sense of self-preservation that we have constructed not one, but a multitude of year-end hoidays, events and traditions. As we humans head into the darkest parts of winter, we all gather round the hearth to celebrate, exchange gifts, drink and crab about the previous year. These things will keep us warm in the coming months til Spring arrives.

So, everybody's doing it...

Rather than gloss over the famous and infamous of the previous year, I'm going to try to keep this in the spirit of Thought Balloon: a rediscovery of the joy of comics and other related things. This will be more of a personal list.

In 2006, I discovered a few comics shops that had actual back-issues. I had a lot of fun catching up on old series that I had missed the first time around. In particular, I was able to find runs of the late 90's series Chase and the more recent Truth: Red, White & Black and Manhunter.

Trades, Trades, Trades...
In lieu of back-issues, it seems a lot more trades are rolling out collecting past series and story arcs. I was able to catch up on a lot of more recent storylines and series in 2006. Ex Machina, Ultimate Galactus, JSA, & Captain America: Winter Soldier to name a few.

There may be a day when the trade replaces the monthly, and that will be a sad day for me. Still, the trades look awfully handsome on my shelf...

The Big Event
I know I was complaining about event-fatigue when Infinite Crisis ended, shifting it's gears to 52 while Marvel was getting the Civil War underway. Still, I think 52 is a triumph of what comics have missed in quite a while, namely excitement, or at least interest, for the next installment. Whether or not this will backfire remains to be seen. Creatively, everything on DC's side seems to be firing on all cylinders. Even when the results fall short, I find myslef applauding the attempt.

Alternative Funny Books
This year, I finally got to enjoy Charles Burns' Black Hole in its entirety. There were also offerings from Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library, a Rocketo trade and various items from James Kolchalka, mostly Super F*ckers. Reminders that if you love the medium, you've got to look for things beyond the mainstream superhero fare. It's worth it.

Since receiving an iPod for Christmas in 2005, I have been doing nothing but hunting for podcasts to fill it with. My favorite, by far, is the wonderful Comic Geek Speak. In conjunction with a forum that has proven to be the most level-headed place on the interweb for comics fandom, CGS is largely responsible for reactivating my nerd gene this year.

Also, I'd like to mention John Siuntres' Word Balloon, Fanboy Radio (who have been getting ridiculously great interviews lately), Raging Bullets, and Indie Spinner Rack. The future is indeed a marvelous place.

Comics Blogosphere
The friends I never had as a youngster. Look no farther than the sidebar here to find some of my favorites. A special thanks to blogging heavy-weight Mike Sterling for giving me a few link-bumps this year. Visits went from 2 to 3 a day to hundreds, and provided a bit of an ego boost here as well as a feeling of belonging to a community.

Finally, I'd like to thank my long-suffering girlfriend, who keeps the flame of my youth alive by indulging my nerdly flights of fancy. I'd like to think that I return the favor by attending the odd chick-flick/ballet/abtract theatre prodcution, but who am I kidding? How can love like this be measured? Sitting through another pre/post-Crisis compare/contrast, and the metatextual meaning of the creative process through the lens of corporate-owned characters may well prove that love is indeed infinite.




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