Recommend this comic to a buddy.

§ April 19th, 2016 § Filed under question time § 7 Comments

Aaaaand I’m back.

Okay, the way I’m handling questions this time around is going to be a little different. I am going to go through your Qs probably two or three at a time, instead of cramming a million of them into one long post. That means things are going to get stretched out a bit, probably interspersed with posts on other topics. I will answer all those questions eventually, but by doing them only one or two at a time, that will give me a chance to give a little longer and/or thoughtful response. Thanks for participating, pals, and if still have a question or topic you want to throw onto the pile, feel free!

• • •

Smicha1 smacks me with:

“Any thoughts on the Wasteland comic that DC published in the late 80s? I always loved that book and am still surprised that it hasn’t come out in trade or omnibus form from Vertigo.”

I thought that was a great comic, and one that I should probably reread at one point (being one of the series that stayed in my collection and not absorbed into the stock of my shop). For those of you unfamiliar with the title, it was an anthology series with stories written by John Ostrander and the late Del Close, and illustrated by a rotating team of artists (at first George Freeman, William Messner-Loebs, Don Simpson, and David Lloyd, with other artists coming on later in the run). The “rotating” bit is that three of the artists would each illustrate one of the three stories, while the fourth would provide the cover, and then the next issue the cover artist would draw one of the stories while someone else would move to cover duties for the month, and so on.

Eventually there was a bit of a foul-up in the production of the series, as issue #5 was accidentially given the cover for issue #6 (not just the cover image, but the issue number as well), which resulted in DC not only reprinting #5 with the correct cover right away, but putting a “blank” cover on #6 the following month (numbered on the cover as “the real No. 6”) since presumably everyone already received the cover art for that issue on the misprinted #5. Yes, it was a little confusing.

Here’s the Real No. 6 in question…it’s almost like a prototype of the modern “sketch cover” variants:


The high point of the series, for me at least, was the recurring adventures of The Dead Detective, by Ostrander and Messner-Loebs, which was pretty much what it sounds like: the immobile corpse of a detective, who is still conscious and thinking, providing a running commentary on (or a continuing stream of bafflement about) the various oddball situations that occur to him. But there was a lot to enjoy in the series…not everything hit, which is to be expected with pretty much any anthology comic outside of E.C., but overall I thought it was a good run of interesting stories.

The graphic nature of some stories inspired some debate about content that went on in its letters pages and in the trade papers, which is a fine and healthy thing, I think. There was a bit of a sour note in the last issue editorial farewell, as a particularly insulting thing was written about a creator I happen to like. That was a shame.

As to why it hasn’t been collected…I don’t know. According to the copyright information in each issue, the material is owned by DC Comics, but perhaps there was some behind-the-scenes ownership/contract stuff to which I am not privy and prevents reissue. Or maybe DC just doesn’t feel like reprinting it. In any case, these should be relatively cheap if you can find them…just make sure you’re getting the right #6.

• • •

Bruce Baugh breaks in with the following:

“Mike, talk to us about what your dream comics format would be for ongoing series. Any quality of pages, prices, etc.. What’s the coolest format you can think of that would probably sell enough to be worth it?”

Actually, something similar to Wasteland‘s format would be idea to me. A 32-page comic, with 27 pages of comics, a couple pages of editorial content, printed on Baxter paper, with cover stock thick enough to actually feel like a cover to a comic/magazine (and not slowly curling on the stands, like a couple of recent Dark Horse books and the new Moon Knight, for example). Not too long, to keep the price down (three bucks!), but long enough to allow for a lead story and a back-up, if desired. Only a few ads.

Okay, realistically, that’s not economically feasible nowadays, probably, but that’s the format I like the most. You know, the 1980s Baxter-era Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes format, only with coloring that doesn’t stab you in the eyes. Nice paper, lots of pages of comic, so on. I liked those.

7 Responses to “Recommend this comic to a buddy.”

  • philfromgermany says:

    Nice to see some love for the Wasteland series. I read several issues just a month or two ago. It is great, one of my favorites was the Dell Close “memoirs” where he travels with a group of thespians into the redneck backwoods! Reminded me a lot of the Denis Eichkorn stuff from Fantagraphics.
    I feel obligated to point out the spectacular Swamp Thing crossover in the story which IIRC was also called “Crossover”.

  • Thom H. says:

    I loved the Baxter format, as well. Such sturdy comics for only what, $1.50?, back in the day.

    The Dead Detective sounds a lot like a short story I read in Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children about the DeadJohnsons. They were an immobile, dead family who went on vacation to have some fun. Good stuff.

  • Thom H. says:

    That’s Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children #2, for anyone who’s curious:


  • Rob S. says:

    What a coincidence! I’d just picked up a nearly complete run of Wasteland at East Coast Comicon last week. (Got both sixes, but I’m missing the last issue, with the offending lettercol…now I’m extra curious!) Digging into them now, for the first time since they were originally published.

  • Smicha1 says:

    Oh man, I totally would have asked about Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children if I’d thought of it first. That was genius!

  • Chris Gumprich says:

    Picked up the whole run a few years ago, and loved the heck out of it. While the Dead Detective was fun, the Del Close memoirs were the highlight for me.

    Maybe the last time a horror comic actually understood horror.

  • g23 says:

    Yes, Wasteland had that brilliant Harvey Pekar parody. That was excellent.

    Also, horray for the “baxter” format! Probably one of the things that made me jump from my “Marvel rules, DC sucks” silliness when I was 12 or so… “hey, this teen titans thing actually looks pretty cool…”