August 21, 2005
CR Sunday Magazine
Enjoying 2005: Eight Stories to Hold Our Interest
With the calendar year 2005 pushing more pages up and under the thumbtack than are left hanging below the fold, it seems the usual late-summer reduction of energy has begun to seep into comics' various communities and industry mechanisms. Luckily, there's a ton of stuff happening or about to happen that's way too interesting, fun, and enjoyable for anything less than our full attention.
For the next eight afternoons, I'll list and discuss a developing story here to hopefully spark your interest about the months ahead.
1. The Publication of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
Let's All Pitch In and Buy Them a Retirement Package
Mark Evanier has begun to discuss this summer's comics crossover that doesn't
involve grimacing superheroes and their comic relief running around murdering each other: Blondie's 75th anniversary celebration. He starts here
and continues here
. On Monday here
Early Thought of the Day
In the few years since I moved to New Mexico from the Pacific Northwest, I'd grown used to stopping by Modern Age Comics in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on trips from my home to El Paso's airport. Modern Age was a very modest shop; it carried little more than the latest comics from big American mainstream superhero companies and a few big-name back issues, either in longboxes or on the wall. Depending on how much cash I had in my pocket when I hit exit 142 I would usually $3-$5 of comics from four or five quarter-bin boxes or I would indulge that wonderful, not-to-be-duplicated-anywhere-else comic shop experience of dropping $25 and getting a little snapshot of what's going on in the industry right at that moment. Modern Age Comics was a clean store, with lots of parking, and easy to access from the highway. The clerk was friendly and seemed comfortable dealing with people. Whenever I thought of the typical comics shop, I thought of it.
If you're paying to attention to verb tenses, you may have guessed that yesterday I discovered Modern Age has closed since the last time I visited (I figure the worst, anyway: the store is gone and the phone is disconnected). I think, although I could be wrong, that it was the last comic shop in town, or at least the last shop that functioned primarily as a comics shop. Las Cruces is only a small city, with a population of 75,000. But that makes it the second biggest city in the state according to one count, and New Mexico cities are generally supported by impressive surrounding-county populations. Las Cruces is the home of New Mexico State, so it's definitely a college town, too.
It's always been my suspicion that the post-collectible boom implosion hastened along by so many companies looking to short-term competitive solutions had a disproportionate impact on shops servicing smaller than major urban areas. If nothing else, losing 3 of 5 comic shops in your area has to have a different impact than losing 1 of 1. If Modern Age somehow miraculously survived, a single comic shop on seven hours of major America highway isn't exactly a boom. I'm now three hours from a comic shop, more than four hours to one I would actually choose to visit once a month if I lived in city limits. It can't be healthy for an industry that presumes an international audience for its offerings to leave large stretches of the country without reasonable access to even its most popular product. Is there anything that can be done about this? Is anyone else concerned?
I have yet to form an opinion specific to the Batman art story
worth digging into in any great detail. DC couldn't have done the art, the art gallery, or the phrase "Gay Batman" any bigger publicity favor, though. Sheesh.
posted 2:45 pm PST
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