Let’s wrap up 2009 with the greatest Conan panel of all time.

§ December 31st, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Let’s wrap up 2009 with the greatest Conan panel of all time.

I don’t think I can sum up the last year, or the last decade, any better than that.

Well, okay, maybe I can mention a couple of things I liked from the last ten years. Like Schizo #4, a beautifully-done tabloid-sized collection of cartoons by Ivan Brunetti, released in 2006.

And then there were all those comic strip complete-reprint projects, most notably Fantagraphics’ Peanuts, as well as the long-awaited Bloom County, those gargantuan Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes tomes, IDW’s Dick Tracy, Dennis the Menace, Fantagraphics’ second go at E.C. Segar’s Popeye, and more I’m probably forgetting. It’s a good time to be a fan of classic comic strips. Plus, we have a complete Nancy series to look forward to next year! (Still hoping for a nice collection of those early B.C. strips!)

Dark Horse put out a three-volume set of that ’60s cult classic Herbie, so I can finally stop trying to track down those back issues. And they’re also reprinting John Stanley’s Little Lulu, having moved the reprints to an all-color format after a brief hiatus in releases. Which makes me wonder, of course, if they’re going to go back and reissue the previous volumes in color.

For your standard-issue funnybooks, I think Fables and its associated spin-offs have remained very solid, even if the main series feels like it hit its natural end, but kept going anyway. Incredible Hercules was bit of a surprise, being a far more witty and engaging superhero book than I think anyone expected. Jeff Parker’s Marvel Adventures: Avengers book gave us the double-whammy of the all-MODOK issue and the Ego the Living Planet issue, two of the funniest mainstream superhero comics in recent memory. And Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men provided a nice tour through the trappings and clichés inherent in that particular franchise, while showing how to breathe some new life into them. Over at DC, Morrison and Frank Quitely presented the near-perfect All Star Superman, a stripped-down Superman book that evoked the Silver Age sense of wonder without necessarily copying it or “paying homage.” And on the flip side was Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All Star Batman and Robin, which, given Miller’s particular sense of humor and multiple shifts in tone, was a bit of a challenge for some folks, but, I think, paid off for those who were able to get into it and stick with it. Shame about its scheduling of late, though.

A couple of other albums from earlier in the decade…Mister O and Mister I, both by Lewis Trondheim, are two fine collections of pantomime gags that are easier to show than describe, so check out previews at those links.

I am in no way pretending that this is anywhere close to a complete year-end overview, but there are just a handful of things that have come out over the last ten years that I’ve quite enjoyed, and thought I should mention. There are plenty of other top-lists out there in Comics-Internetland that I’m sure you’ve come across…who knows, maybe you’ll find something new on those lists, or maybe even what’s passing for my list here, for you to try.

One thing I would like to see the last of, however…really late-shipping supposedly-monthly comics. Not like a month or two or even three. But like years. I’m almost on the verge of starting “All Star Batman Day” to celebrate the year anniversary of that comic’s last issue. Has it been a year? I’ll have to check. And the as-yet incomplete Marvels: Eye of the Camera mini-series had its most recent issue back in April. Regardless of the reasons for the delays, this is a huge pain in the ass, and as a person trying to sell these things in a store, it’s no fun having to repeatedly explain why something that should have been out months/years ago still isn’t out yet.

Well, let’s not leave this on a negative note. Hey, there was The Spirit movie! Okay, that came out in 2008, but I didn’t see it ’til 2009, and that’s good enough for me. Yeah, that’s right, I loved The Spirit. Anyone want to say anything about it, I’ll totally fight you out by the monkey bars after school. See you there.

And Howard the Duck finally came out on DVD. Truly we are living in an age of miracles.

That’s enough for now. I hope all of you have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve, and I’ll see you tomorrow in the brave new future of 2010, The Year We Make Contact.

image from Conan the Barbarian #95 (Feb. 1979) by Roy Thomas, John Buscema & Ernie Chan

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