Please don’t leave a comment under the name “Big Poopypants.”

§ June 24th, 2022 § Filed under cerebus, retailing § 5 Comments

A couple of questions from last Friday’s posting:

Ray Cornwall comes in from the sea to ask

“How many issues of Cerebus from 1-25 do you have? I was heavy into Cerebus for a long time. I’ve kind of walked away from Sim a bit, although I do have the Alex Raymond book here to read at some point…”

Yeah, I have that same book, too, on the ol’ “to read” pile. Hey, did I ever tell you guys about getting a phone call from Dave Sim? He was calling comic shops to plan in-person visits to drum up interest in that very book (The Strange Death of Alex Raymond, it’s called)…he started to introduce himself and what he’s done, and I was like “I’ve read all of Cerebus, don’t worry, I familiar with you!” which amused him. When he started describing the book to me, I asked “is this including any of the material from glamourpuss (which featured strips about cartoonists including Raymond), so I also surprised him with the fact that I’d read all of that series, too.

Anyway, we set a date for him to drop by, and then COVID happened and alas, it never came to pass. Which is too bad, because I probably would have asked him to sign the issue of the Howard the Duck magazine he’d worked on. Ah, well. I still ordered copies of the book, and yes, I sold a copy or two.

But back to your question. A couple of years back, I decided that, despite having the first 25 issues of Cerebus reprinted in the Swords of Cerebus trade paperbacks (now themselves supplanted by the first Cerebus “phone book,” containing all those stories*), I wanted to see if I could track down the individual issues. My posts leading me into looking at eBay and picking up some of those comics can be found here and here.

I’ve probably bought about…8 or 9 issues of those pre-#26 Cerebuses so far, though I haven’t picked any up in a while. I also have issues #1 and #2 in deluxe Kickstartered reprints, which I think are probably going to have to do unless genuine copies slip through the front door of my shop someday. (I write about that #1 here.)

I really need to get my comics at home in some kind of order before I start going on the back issue trail, fillin’ them holes. I’ve said that before and I never seem to find the time to do it. Dealing with comics all day at work usually means not wanting to deal with them at home, so there you go, I guess. But I would like to have a complete Cerebus run in comic format (even with a couple of reprint ringers) someday. The aesthetics of the covers just tickle something in my brain.

• • •

Daniel asks some very good questions, for which I don’t have very good answers

“RE: Tim Sale, did you ever get a sense of what your customers thought of his work? His art was so wonky and esoteric that it always struck me odd that he became so popular with the mainstream. He was never a natural draftsman, but he had such an exceptional design sense that he was able to more than compensate for whatever he lacked as a traditional figurative artist. A real talent. He’ll be missed.

“I guess that’s a broader question: When accounting for the era in which each was at his/her creative peak, are stylized, design-centric cartoonists (Sale, Simonson, Kirby, Mignola) more popular with mainstream customers than traditional, naturalistic draftsmen like Neal Adams, George Perez, John Byrne or any of their imitators? Or are consumers more conservative and literal in their tastes (not that that’s a good thing or a bad thing)?”

Like I said, good questions, and unfortunately I don’t have any real good answers for you. To respond in very, very general terms, if I received customer pushback it would be against comics that looked “weird,” and if I received specific customer approval for comics art, it would be for those drawn in a more typical, representative manner. (Talkin’ superhero comics here, in case that needs to be made explicit.)

This always varied by customer, of course. Most customers seemed to enjoy Sale’s work…unusual it may have been by typcial Marvel/DC standards, but being the artist on a very popular Batman storyline (“The Long Halloween,” natch) helped “sell” him and his style to those members of the comic-buying public who may have been on the fence about that work. But there were also customers who rejected the art as being “too cartoony” (you know the drill, he’s not the only one).

If I had to hazard a guess, there’s more tolerance for the wide variety of styles available on superhero books than one would expect. And for every comic art style out there, there’s always someone who’s gonna love it and someone who’s gonna hate it. And what I consider “good” won’t be someone else’s taste…had a customer once come in and say “I’m looking for comics with really great art, like [x]” where [x] was, in my mind, a pretty terrible artist. Like, “blind people can tell the art is bad” terrible. But I choked down my bile and proceeded to find comics illustrated in a similar vein.

For the general non-usually-reading-comics public, I maybe have a slight sense that comics that don’t look like what they think comics normally look like may appeal slightly more? The Long Halloween and Superman: For All Seasons didn’t look like normal superhero comics. In fact, a person new to comics might look at it and say “ooh, this is pretty” in a way they wouldn’t if they looked at, I don’t know, a comic filled with fights and cramped panels and whatnot.

But on the other hand some newbies looking for comics want a comic book that looks like what they think it should look like, and the more Spider-Man punching the Rhino in this issue, the better.

So Daniel, I may need to think about this some more. This isn’t much of an answer, but I hope it gets across the ambiguity and difficulty of really trying to answer it.

But it does get me to thinking…who’s the one superhero comic book artist everyone can agree on. I mean, agree is good. I’m guessing George Perez, or Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Who doesn’t love George or Jose? Big poopypants, that’s who.

 
 
 

* I don’t believe the phone book contains the new “bonus” material that was included in the Swords volumes.

5 Responses to “Please don’t leave a comment under the name “Big Poopypants.””

  • DavidG says:

    That Sim Alex Raymond book was remarkably enjoyable – his best work in years. It’s a damn shame he didn’t really get to finish it. It’s incredibly eccentric as he goes deeper and deeper into the rabbit holes, but fascinating. And what an artist!

  • BobH says:

    The new comics in the Swords of Cerebus books were reprinted in the Cerebus World Tour Book, and a few issues not included in the phonebooks were reprinted in Cerebus Zero, back in the nineties.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    In the ’90s, most popular super-hero comics artists drew in an exaggerated, hyper-detailed style that featured a lot of big panels of characters posing. Tim Sale’s surfaces didn’t look like, say, Jim Lee’s, but he captured some of the exaggeration and posing found in other artists’ styles. Compare Sale’s Batman capes to McFarlane’s, for example. I think Sale’s “cartoony” surface was more accepted by the people who bought early Image books than an artist like Ty Templeton or Mike Parobeck because of how Sale went big.

    I’m a big fan of Tim Sale’s art, and he will be greatly missed.

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    I second DavidG’s endorsement of Sim & Grubaugh’s book. It’s a fascinating version and vision of comics scholarship that explores much more than just Raymond & Stan Drake. It’s really dense reading, too. Even if it never gets completed, what’s there is quite a book, and I’m glad it’s available after a long, strange, unfinished journey.

  • Thirding the Alex Raymond book. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and very weird and dense, but it’s a masterpiece. And there’s only a very brief cringey moment, which is nice.

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